Jose Rivera

Jose Rivera

Jose Rivera was born in Lima, Peru, in 1911. After studying medicine at the University of San Marcos he moved to the United States. He resumed his studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He earned his doctoral degree from Georgetown University in 1939.

In 1942 Rivera joined the United States Army and served as first lieutenant in the medical corps. He was stationed at Walter Reed Army Hospital and later assigned to Halloran General Army Hospital in New York. In 1944 he was promoted to captain and went on a series of assignments in Italy and France and at the 198th General Army Hospital in Berlin.

During the Korean War he served in the Medical Field Unit and was promoted to the rank of major. After the war, he was chief of laboratory service and pathology at the U.S. Army Hospital in Tokyo. In 1958, he was assigned to the Reserve Training Center in Washington.

Rivera sat on the National Institute of Health Board of Directors. A fellow director in the early 1960s was Alton Ochsner. In 1963 Rivera was in New Orleans handing out research grants from NIH to the Tulane Medical School.

In April, 1963, Adele Edisen met Rivera at a biomedical scientific conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The conference had been organized by the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology. Rivera told Edisen that he been on the faculty of the biochemistry department at Loyola University in New Orleans, and that he was now living in Washington. Edisen was planning to visit Washington and so Rivera suggested she she telephone him when she arrived in the city.

Adele Edisen arrived in Washington on 22nd April, 1963. She telephoned Rivera and had dinner with him at Blackie's House of Beef restaurant. During the meal Rivera asked Adele if she knew Lee Harvey Oswald. He also talked about the Carousel Club in Dallas.

The following evening Rivera gave Adele Edisen a tour of Washington. When they passed the White House he asked Edisen, "I wonder what Jackie will do when her husband dies?" After Adele replied "What!", Rivera said, "Oh, oh, I meant the baby. She might lose the baby."

During the tour Rivera made several comments about John F. Kennedy. Adele later reported: "He asked me if I saw Caroline on her pony Macaroni, and all kinds of crazy nonsense, and I was beginning to think I was with an absolute madman.... Rivera's part of the conversation at times was difficult to follow, but many of his statements, such as the reference to 'Jackie,' seemed deliberately placed. When he spoke of President Kennedy, Rivera was extremely critical of Kennedy's position on civil rights. Rivera made many disparaging remarks about black people and the civil rights movement."

Later that evening Rivera asked Adele Edisen to carry out a couple of tasks when she arrived home in New Orleans. This included contacting Winston DeMonsabert, a member of the faculty at Loyola University. He then asked her to call Lee Harvey Oswald at 899-4244. "Write down this name: Lee Harvey Oswald. Tell him to kill the chief." Rivera then said, "No, no, don't write that down. You will remember it when you get to New Orleans. We're just playing a little joke on him."

Adele phoned this number in early May and was told by the man who answered that there was no one there by the name of Oswald. Later, when she called again, the same man answered, saying that Oswald had just arrived but was not there at the time. Instead she spoke to Marina Oswald and asked her if she might call again in a few days to speak with her husband when he was at home. Marina only spoke Russian to Adele but seemed to understand her request because she replied, "Da". The next time she phoned she got Oswald, but he denied knowing Jose Rivera. Adele asked Oswald for the address where the telephone he was speaking on was located. Oswald gave her an address on Magazine Street. She did not give Oswald Rivera's message.

Adele was concerned that Rivera might be involved in a plot against President John F. Kennedy. She decided to contact the Secret Service in New Orleans and spoke to Special Agent Rice. According to Adele, "After giving my name, address and telephone number to him, I told him I had met a man in Washington in April who said some strange things about the President which I thought they should know. It was my intention to go there and tell them about Rivera and his statements, but I began to think they might not believe me, so I called back and cancelled. Agent Rice told me they would be there any time I would care to come in."

Two days after the assassination Adele Edisen arranged a meeting with Secret Service Agent John Rice. Also at the meeting was Orrin Bartlett, Liaison Special Agent of the FBI: "Mr. Rice was seated at his desk, and I was seated to his right, and the FBI agent remained standing most of the time. I believe he may have taped it because every time Mr. Rice got up from his desk, there was a partition over there, for example, and there was a phone there which they used even though there was a phone on the desk, which I didn't understand, but apparently there was some reason for that. So every time Mr. Rice got up to answer the phone or to use the phone, I noticed his hand would do this, and I would either hear a whirring, a mechanical sound like a tape recorder or something. It may have been audiotaped."

Adele told them the story of how she met Rivera in Atlantic City and Washington in April. She also supplied the agents with Rivera's office and home telephone numbers. Edisen later claimed that: "Agent Rice asked me to call them if I remembered anything else, and requested that I not tell anyone I had been there to speak with them. I understood this to be for my own protection as well as for their investigation. Both agents thanked me for speaking with them."

Adele Edisen contacted Rice a few days later and he told her, "Don't worry. That man can't hurt you." Edisen assumed that Rivera had been arrested and that she would be called as a witness before the Warren Commission. "When the Warren Report was published, I was mystified and dismayed by the conclusion that Oswald acted alone, and that Jack Ruby acted alone, for my experiences told me otherwise."

After retiring from the United States Army in 1965 Rivera started a second career as a medical research analyst at the Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness.

Jose Rivera died of pancreatic cancer in Naval Medical Center in Bethesda on 16th August, 1989.

Primary Sources

(1) Adele Edisen, testimony in Dallas, Texas, on 18th November, 1994.

My name is Adele Elvira Uskali Edisen. Professionally I have a bachelor's degree and a doctorate degree in physiology from the University of Chicago. My field is neurophysiology. I am a neuroscientist.

At the time I will be speaking about 1963 from personal experience, but before I do I could give you a brief run down of my background. I have been on the faculty and have done research at Tulane University School of Medicine, at LSU School of Medicine. In fact, in 1963, I was there as a third year post-doctoral fellow of the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness of the National Institutes of Health. I have also been on the faculty of Rockefeller University, that was much later; St. Mary's Dominican College in New Orleans, Delgato College in New Orleans; the University of Texas at San Antonio; and I am currently teaching part-time at Palo Alto College which is a community college of San Antonio. I have also been associated with the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio in the past.

I am seeking specific records which I mentioned in my letter, and there are some others, but perhaps it would be best to give you an idea of the experience I had. I am willing to give you also a narrative that I wrote in 1975 to give to my attorney in the event of my death in case something happened to me so that there would be a record somewhere because we could not obtain records from the Secret Service or the FBI with whom I had an interview on November 24th, 1963.

In 1962, I tried to get back into my field of research after having three children. My children at that time, in '63, were seven, five and three, and I was offered the opportunity to apply for a postdoctoral fellowship. I had already had two years of postdoctoral fellowship support from that institute, that was at Tulane, and Dr. Sidney Harris of LSU's School of Medicine, Department of Physiology suggested that I apply and he told me in December that he had received a phone call from a Dr. Jose Rivera of the Institute telling him that I had been granted that award.

Since my husband had been ill that was a very important award, and by the time that these meetings occurred in April of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, which is an umbrella organization of six major biological societies including the physiological, American Physiological Society, I had accomplished a certain amount of research on a volunteer basis, and I had enough results to report.

So I went to these meetings which were held in Atlantic City and it was there that I met the individual I am going to be speaking about, Jose Rivera, who was manning a booth at the convention hall there.

Well, to make this story shorter, I befriended him or he befriended me, I was planning to go to Bethesda in Washington and visit with colleagues and friends at the NIH and also to see the NIH, and so he had, in the course of our conversations and so on, invited me to his home to have dinner with him and his wife and daughter, and also to help me obtain hotel, motel space for my visit in Bethesda after these meetings, and to give me a site-seeing tour, and so on.

It turned out he had taught at Loyola University in New Orleans, and we knew some people in common who were, for example, Dr. Fred Brazda who was Chairman of Biochemistry at LSU Medical School and a few other people.

So, at any rate, I won't go into all the detail in the interest of time, but I will submit my narrative to you. I also wrote a short paper which was published in The Third Decade, which is a research journal of the assassination of President Kennedy, published and edited by Dr. Jerry Rose. This article, this short article was written by me under a pseudonym of K.S. Turner, I was looking trying to find one of the Secret Service agents because I have not yet received any records of my interviews with them.

Mr. Rivera, or Dr. Rivera or Colonel Rivera he also called himself, mentioned to me, and this is April 1963, seven months before the assassination, on Monday night April the 22nd, it turned out that his wife was a nurse and she was on duty at her hospital and so we didn't go to dinner at his home, but rather he took me to Blackie's House of Beef in Washington, and it was there that he said to me, as we were waiting to be seated, he told me about his trips to Dallas and so on, and he mentioned, he said there is a very nice nightclub there, the Carousel Club and the next time you are in Dallas you should go there.

In the few moments later he asked me if I knew Lee Oswald. I had never heard of Lee Oswald. I vaguely wondered if he was related to a boy I had gone to high school with whose name was Fred Oswald, and I went to high school in New York, but that was all. I said, no, I didn't know him.

He said, well, he lived in Russia for a while, and he has a Russian wife and a child and they are in Dallas now and they are planning, he is planning to come to New Orleans - they are planning to come to New Orleans, and you should get to know them because they are a very lovely couple. Those are more or less exact quotes.

I didn't think anything of it. We had dinner and so on and so forth. It was the next night, again his wife apparently couldn't make dinner, and we were seated at, this time, the Marriott, I think it is called the Twin Bridges, across the Potomac River, and there were several other things he asked me about, if I knew of John Abt for example. I later, many years later, learned that was the attorney that Lee Oswald asked to represent him. I didn't know John Abt either. But he did later on say to the effect that Oswald would - I presume he meant Oswald would call upon Abt to defend him.

All of these things were only in retrospect that I put it together. But it was that Tuesday night which was the most devastating. We were site-seeing, and we went all around Washington to the cherry blossoms, the White House, every time we toured around the White House he asked me if I saw Caroline on her pony Macaroni, and all kinds of crazy nonsense, and I was beginning to think I was with an absolute mad man.

But the first indication he made of the death of the President was as we were approaching getting near the White House the first time, he said, I wonder what Jackie will do when her husband dies. I said, what? And he said, I mean the baby.

What baby was what went into my mind, I didn't know she was pregnant. He said, well she might lose the baby, and then he began to talk about women having caesarian sections and did I know whether they could have normal deliveries, vaginal deliveries if they have had caesarian sections, and it went on and on like that. I just wondered about what he was - maybe he did make a slip of the tongue or something.

But at the Marriott - let me get back to that, and I am sorry I digressed - it was after dinner and he asked to do a favor for him when I got back to New Orleans, and that was the subject of the note which I mentioned in the letter.

He said that he had talked with this gentleman, I guess it is all right to mention the name, I don't know if he had anything to do with the assassination or not, but it was a faculty member at Loyola who apparently had been a friend of his or was a friend, Winston DeMonsabert. He dictated the name - I think I misspelled it in the note - and said call - tell him to call me when you get back there, and ask him when he is leaving New Orleans, because I heard - this is Rivera talking - I heard he was leaving New Orleans.

So I wrote on the note, Winston DeMonsabert call Dr. Rivera when leaving N.O., my abbreviation for New Orleans. In some more conversation, and he then asked me to write down a number which was 899-4244, and after that he said, write down this name, Lee Harvey Oswald. It didn't ring a bell to me that that was the same name that he had mentioned the night before, and he said, tell him to kill the chief. So underneath that part of the note I wrote in quotes "kill the chief."

Now, let me explain - one more thing, when he saw me writing down the message, he said, no, no, don't write that down. You will remember it when you get to New Orleans.

The reference to chief to me meant NIH because NIH made this joke or description several times during these two days. He said, do you know why NIH is called the reservation? I said, no. He said, because there are so many chiefs and no Indians.

The organization, the internal organization of NIH is, at least it was then and I presume it is the same now, was that different intermural research groups would have a chief of the section. For example, chief of the spinal cord section, or chief of this or chief of that, and even the training grants and awards section of which Rivera was a part had a chief, Elizabeth Hartman.

So all this time I thought that Oswald was a scientist and a friend of Rivera's. I couldn't understand about the Russian wife because, you know, at that time they were citizens of our two countries were not allowed to leave or to visit each other, and so on.

I became very frightened then, I didn't understand what he was talking about even though he had made references to assassination of the President or killing of the President, but he said when he told me not to write down that part, he said, don't write it down, you will remember it when you get to New Orleans. We are just playing a little joke on him, presumably meaning Oswald.

There were other references to the assassination which I only - he said, for example, after - he kept talking about it in this way, he would say, after it happens - it happens, what happens, you know, I don't know what he is talking about - after it happens, he would say, someone will kill him, meaning apparently the assassin, and I presume it was Oswald, although I never considered until much later that Oswald did it, but anyway Oswald. They will say his best friend killed him. After it happens the President's best friend will jump out of a window because of his grief, and there was such an event about two weeks later, the former Ambassador to Ireland jumped out of a window in Miami, his name was Grant Stockdale. Although, again, at the time I didn't make connection....

On Sunday, November the 24th, I called the Secret Service. I had actually called the Secret Service in July and I spoke briefly with Agent J. Calvin Rice, and I was going to go down there and tell them this incredible story which now I had - I thought there was some sort of conspiracy to kill the President after putting it together. And then I thought they wouldn't believe me, and I would only make a fool of myself, and so I called him back and declined.

But when the assassination actually did occur, I did go down there on Sunday and they were very anxious to see me, and Mr. Rice told me not to sign in the register because - I guess it was for protection or something but to call him when I got to the lobby, and I went there.

As we were walking to his office, Mr. Rice told me that they had just gotten word that Oswald had been shot. So it must have been after Jack Ruby shot him. And we went into his office where he introduced me to a burly FBI agent, a balding man, and I believe he might have been Oren Bartlett. The reason I say that is because his first name was definitely Oren because when he was introduced to me I thought I had misheard, and I said, Owen, and he said, no, Oren, and I thought of a pear making some sort of an association to the name.

At any rate, I began to tell him my incredible story, and I was there for about three to four hours in their office. There were only two men there, J. Calvin Rice, Secret Service, who was a youngish man, about in his, I would imagine, 30s, early 30s, not much taller than I was. I had small Cuban, you know, walking heels...

He (Bartlett) took some notes but Mr. Rice was seated at his desk, and I was seated to his right, and the FBI agent remained standing most of the time. I believe he may have taped it because every time Mr. Rice got up from his desk, there was a partition over there, for example, and there was a phone there which they used, even though there was a phone on the desk, which I didn't understand, but apparently there was some reason for that. So every time Mr. Rice got up to answer the phone or to use the phone, I noticed his hand would do this, and I would either hear a whirring, a mechanical sound like a tape recorder or something. It may have been audiotaped.

At the end of the interview, when I was leaving, Mr. Rice asked the FBI agent who had been coming and going more or less, do you have the film and is the plane ready, and they were leaving. I thought they were going to Washington because the FBI agent had been introduced to me as being from Washington, but, no, Mr. Rice said they were going to Dallas. So presumably they were flying that night or immediately, and they all - and he put his hat on and they were ready to leave, and they were showing me out. Mr. Rice showed me out the door.

(2) William E. Kelly, A New Oswald Witness Goes Public (1999)

"After we finished eating, he (Dr. Rivera) asked me to do a favor for him when I arrived home," recalls Edisen. Rivera wanted Edisen to contact Winston DeMonsabert, a Loyola faculty member who was leaving New Orleans. Edisen wrote a note to herself: "Winston DeMonsabert call Dr. Rivera when leaving N.O." Then Rivera said to also call Lee Harvey Oswald at 899-4244. "Write down this name: Lee Harvey Oswald. Tell him to kill the chief." Rivera then contradicted himself, saying, "No, no, don't write that down. You will remember it when you get to New Orleans. We're just playing a little joke on him."

Edisen said that she still assumed "the joke" would be on Oswald, whom she thought was a scientist and friend of Rivera's. She thought "the chief" was a reference to Elizabeth Hartman, "the chief" of the grants and awards section of the NIH, whom Rivera had earlier joked about as being like the chief of a reservation "with too many chiefs and not enough Indians."

Edisen remembers Rivera then being "agitated and excited. He began talking strangely about 'it' happening" and drew a diagram on a napkin, almost incoherent and very agitated. "It will be on the fifth floor, there'll be some men up there," he said. Edisen quoted Rivera as saying nonsensical things like, "Oswald was not what he seems. We're going to send him to the library to read about great assassinations in history. After it's over, he'll call Abt to defend him. After it happens, the President's best friend will commit suicide. He'll jump out of a window because of his grief... It will happened after the Shriners' Circus comes to New Orleans. After it's over, the men will be out of the country. Remember, the first time it happens won't be real."

Edisen recalls, "He did not respond to any of my questions about what was to happen, and I became even more concerned and suspicious about his odd behavior and statements. As I entered his car, he asked me to destroy the note I had made and to forget what had just happened. It did not dawn on me that he could have been referring to an assassination of the President - the Chief."

(3) Adele Edisen, email to John Simkin (10th April, 2004)

I believe Mr. Rice may have taped the interview because, although he began to take written notes at the beginning of the interview, he soon stopped doing that. I noticed that everytime he left the desk to answer a ringing phone located behind a partition behind me, or to make a call himself from that phone, he would touch something beneath the desktop, and when he returned to the desk he would repeat this motion. I could hear a very low whirring or humming sound after he sat down, a mechanical sound like a tape recorder. There was a telephone on the desk, but neither he nor Mr. Bartlett used that phone to make calls and that phone never rang. Possibly the other phone behind the partition was a 'secure' phone?...

A couple of things in Bill Kelly's version are minor things (source 3), but they could become important: Rivera drew a diagram on my notepad (not a napkin). There were statements made by Rivera regarding Oswald: "He's not what he seems to be. After it's over, he'll be killed. They'll say his best friend killed him."

In answer to your email question regarding Rivera's behavior - I don't know why he did what he did. I never had the impression he was trying to "seduce " me. In Atlantic City, he had invited me to have dinner with him, his wife and daughter. That was the ruse he used on Monday and Tuesday night and why I was treated to dinner at Blackie's House of Beef (Monday night) and at the Marriott Motor Hotel (Tuesday night). Each night, he said his wife, a nurse, was on call (?). Maybe I was supposed to be impressed that he knew so much about Oswald, the Kennedy's, and Washington, but I think he was trying to get me to call Oswald and tell him to "kill the chief" so that when the assassination did occur, the FBI investigators would have a nice little conspiracy set up with Oswald and me and some others, and link it to Cuba so that the US could invade Cuba and get rid of Castro and get all that offshore oil there, maybe, and even have a dandy war with the Soviet Union. Remember, Oswald did not have a phone (in fact, he never had his own phone in the US after coming back from Russia), so there would be someone taking his calls, such as the property manager who lived in a separate building and who answered when I called. That would have been Jesse Garner, and I identified myself to him, and I'm pretty sure the FBI and Secret Service knew very early that I had called and asked for Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was under FBI surveillance shortly after he moved into the Magazine Street address. According to Nina Garner, FBI agent Milton Kaack of the New Orleans FBI office knocked on her door and asked about Oswald just two weeks after he moved in.

Also, Rivera, I believe, tried to kill me. When he realized that I wasn't the dumb bunny he thought I was, and I had that incriminating note with Oswald's name and number, and Winston De Monsabert's message, he slipped me something that made me feel as if I were dying. I somehow made it back home and spent the following week sleeping and seeing my physician who told me to take absolutely no medication, not even aspirin. In September 1963, a couple of days after Labor Day, I saw Rivera at the LSU Medical School. He was there on a site visit to the Department of Neurology that had requested a grant from NIH. He was just about ten or twelve feet away from me when he noticed me and blanched, stumbled backwards and almost fell, looking as if he had seen a ghost. "Peculiar behavior," as my attorney said, "for someone who had invited you to his home for a family dinner."

Rivera made a number of references to his important "other job", "on the hill", and "Foggy Bottom". I personally suspect that he had some links to the CIA. In 1963, the CIA was located in that section of Washington known as Foggy Bottom, before the installation in Langley, Virginia, was built...

This may be one more reason I am not able to obtain my interview records from the FBI and Secret Service under the Freedom of Information Act.... I had had hopes that the creation of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) after 1992 would have produced these records. I have heard that the Secret Service did not provide the ARRB with its records and the FBI withheld many of their records, all on grounds of "national security". My records may still be there, or they may have been destroyed.

In answer to your last two questions, (1) I do not know who Oswald (I think we've been talking here about "Harvey" - John Armstrong's designation of the man killed by Jack Ruby and suspected murderer of JFK) was working for. Maybe Office of Naval Intelligence, the CIA, the FBI, Robert Kennedy (not my idea, but suggested to me). He was definitely a spy for the US, sent to the USSR as a phony defector, and maybe a creation of the CIA and its diabolical doubleganger program. I firmly believe he was innocent of the JFK, and the Tippitt killing, and was set up as the patsy to allow the real murderers to escape punishment. Nor do I suspect LBJ of killing JFK, another red herring.

(2) Don't know of anyone else besides Rivera for sure. He may have been on the periphery of it, but he knew too much and was too sure of himself not to have been in some inner circle. A lot of people seem to have been involved, and there were multiple plots, such as keeping Oswald's performances going, the Cuban/Mafia involvement, Clay Shaw/Ferrie, the oilmen of Texas, and probably the least suspected, the Wall Street establishment crowd of certain bankers, industrialists, etc...

This much I do know: Kennedy wanted to remove our monetary system, at least in part, from the Federal Reserve System, which is not federal at all, but a system of privately owned banks that lend money to the United States Government and on which the government (the taxpayers) pay interest. Kennedy had the US print its own money (I have some souvenirs of that) and this was an effort on his part to decrease the US deficit. Naturally, the bankers would be furious at the lose of interest payments. Kennedy also wanted to change the oil-depletion allowance. He took on US Steel, and Sears Roebuck, as I recall. He was not making good friends on Wall Street. People who have lots of money can use their money to get what they want, namely a president who does their bidding, and not the bidding of the majority of hard-working wage earners and the middle class. He was going to get us out of Vietnam, another money-maker for the war industries and helicopter manufacturers. He was going to give racial and other minorities equal rights before the law. Can you understand how dangerous this was to the powers-that-be? They might have to start paying equal pay for equal work. Lower their profits?