Robert Wilfred Easterling was born at Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on 30th June, 1926. After dropping out of high school he joined a rodeo and obtained the nickname Cowboy.
Easterling eventually became involved in criminal activity. In the 1950s he became a safecracker and helped run an interstate car-theft operation. He was arrested and convicted of burglary and bootlegging and spent some time in prison. He later admitted that he got away with the most serious of his crimes, the placing of a bomb on a National Airlines plane as part of an insurance fraud scheme. Easterling also confessed to killing a man who became aware of this crime.
Easterling was arrested in 1964 and charged with safebreaking in Hagerstown, Maryland and Durham, North Carolina. Found guilty, he was sentenced to five years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. After his release he moved to Mexico City. In 1974 Easterling was committed to a mental institution. The following year he got in touch with the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his knowledge of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Although interviewed by the Secret Service several times between 1974 and 1982, Easterling felt his story was not being fully investigated. He therefore contacted the journalist, Henry Hurt.
Easterling told Hurt that he had been recruited by Manuel Rivera to drive Lee Harvey Oswald from Dallas on the day of the assassination. Easterling claimed that David Ferrie, Jack Ruby and Clay Shaw had been involved in this conspiracy. So also were unnamed members of the Texas oil industry. Easterling also told Hurt that Rivera had been the gunman who killed Kennedy. Rivera used a 7-mm Czech-made automatic rather than the Mannlicher-Carcano that had been planted in the Texas Book Depository to implicate Oswald.
Easterling decided not to take part in this conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy and instead fled to Jackson, Mississippi. On 21st November, 1963, Easterling informed the FBI in Washington of the plot. He was told they knew of the conspiracy. The FBI agent told him: "We know all about it. We're going to catch them red-handed." You're in too deep. You're going to get killed."
Easterling's story appeared in Hurt's book, Reasonable Doubt: An Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy (1986).