Jesse Curry

Jesse Curry

Jesse Curry was born in 1914. After leaving Dallas Technical High School he worked for the Vitalic Battery Company. He also had his own cleaning and pressing shop before joining the Dallas police force in 1936. By taking civil service examinations he was able to gain promotions to a detective, sergeant, lieutenant of police, captain of police, inspector of police. He was sent to the FBI National Academy in Washington and in January, 1960, Curry was appointed as chief of police.

Curry was involved in the discussions with Kenneth O'Donnell (special assistant to Kennedy) and Winston G. Lawson (Secret Service) about the route of that President John F. Kennedy was to take on 22nd November, 1963. However, Curry always insisted that it was Lawson who made all the major decisions.

Curry drove the presidential motorcade's lead car and took control of the situation after the killing of Kennedy. The next day Curry told reporters that he could tell by the sound of the shots that they had come from the Texas School Book Depository.

Curry was also responsible for protecting Lee Harvey Oswald. However, he later claimed that just before Jack Ruby shot Oswald he was "called to take a phone call from Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell".

Dorothy Kilgallen later managed to obtain the Dallas Police Department radio logs for the day of the assassination. This revealed that as soon as the shots were fired in the Dealey Plaza, Curry issued an order to search the Grassy Knoll area. This contradicted what Curry had told reporters and the Warren Commission.

After viewing the Zapruder Film Curry came to the conclusion that Governor John Connally and John F. Kennedy had been hit by separate bullets. He told interviewer Tom Johnson that he was not convinced that Lee Harvey Oswaldkilled Kennedy: "We don't have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle, and never did. Nobody's yet been able to put him in the building (Texas School Book Depository) with a gun in his hand."

Jesse Curry, who published the book, The JFK Assassination File (1969), died of a heart attack in June, 1980.

Primary Sources

(1) Jesse Curry, interviewed by Leon D. Hubert for the Warren Commission Report (15th April, 1964)

Leon D. Hubert: Can you tell us what you know about the matter from that point on, and it may be just as well if you will tell it in a narrative fashion. I will ask you some questions as we go along, or perhaps wait until the end to fill in. We will see how it works out. Briefly, what we want to know is what you know about the whole thing.

Jesse Curry: Well, on November 22, I was in the lead car of the Presidential caravan. With me were Secret Service Winston Lawson and Forrest Sorrels, and the sheriff of Dallas County, Bill Decker, and we were nearing the triple underpass in the western part of Dallas, and which is near Stemmons Expressway - it was necessary for us to move to Elm Street in order to get on the Stemmons Expressway to get the President's caravan down to the Trade Mart where they were going to have a luncheon.

I heard a sharp report. We were near the railroad yards at this time, and I didn't know - I didn't know exactly where this report came from, whether it was above us or where, but this was followed by two more reports, and at that time I looked in my rear view mirror and I saw some commotion in the President's caravan and realized that probably something was wrong, and it seemed to be speeding up, and about this time a motorcycle officer, I believe it was Officer Chaney rode up beside us and I asked if something happened back there and he said, "Yes," and I said, "Has somebody been shot?" And he said, "I think so." So, I then ordered him to take us to Parkland Hospital which was the nearest hospital, so we took the President's caravan then to Parkland Hospital and they were - the President, the Vice President and the Governor - were taken into the hospital and I remained at the hospital for - oh - some hour or so.

At about 1:15 that day - this first incident occurred about 12:30 or so, and about 1:15 I was notified that one of our officers had been shot, and a few minutes later was told that he was dead on arrival at the hospital. At that time we didn't know who shot him. I was just told it was in Oak Cliff. I was still at the hospital at this time and I was told by some of the Secret Service people, I don't recall who, to get my car ready and another car ready to take the President - we were informed that President Kennedy had expired - and we were asked to have two automobiles standing by to take President Johnson to Love Field.

(2) Jesse Curry, interviewed by Leon D. Hubert for the Warren Commission Report (15th April, 1964)

Leon D. Hubert: Did you delegate to any specific person the security of Oswald?

Jesse Curry: No, sir; I could see that he was being taken care of by the captain on duty, Captain Talbert, and Lieutenant Wiggins was assisting in it, so I didn't see any need to particularly call some officer over there and say, "Look, you are in charge of this security in this basement." It was being taken care of, I could see.

Leon D. Hubert: Well, for the record, will you tell us what you saw that satisfied you that it was being taken care of?

Jesse Curry: Officers were being stationed at the strategic points in the basement to screen people coming in, and they were moving out the vehicles as I asked them to, so I went on upstairs and I told Chief Batchelor and Chief Stevenson that we should clean out everything in the basement and screen everything that came back in.

Leon D. Hubert: When you ordered everything to be "screened" did you give any specific instructions?

Jesse Curry: No; I didn't.

Leon D. Hubert: Or does that term have any significance in police work ?

Jesse Curry: Well, it means to satisfy yourself that they were people who had a legitimate reason to be there when you screen them.

Leon D. Hubert: In other words, within the organization of the police department, the word "screening" is understood so that you were satisfied that there would not be people there who were not supposed to be there?

Jesse Curry: Any unauthorized people.

Leon D. Hubert: Just one more point on that - under the system, who would be considered as unauthorized persons?

Jesse Curry: I think I specifically stated that only newspaper reporters or police officers would be allowed in the basement.

Leon D. Hubert: Only the news media?

Jesse Curry: Yes.

Leon D. Hubert: Television people would be included, too?

Jesse Curry: Yes.

Leon D. Hubert: Was there any discussion of the route to be taken?

Jesse Curry: Not at that time.

Leon D. Hubert: All right; let's go ahead.

Jesse Curry: Then, I went on upstairs and a little while later I went to Fritz' office and they were interrogating him - they - there were several people in there, some I recognized as FBI agents, some were Secret Service agents, some were Dallas detectives, and Captain Fritz was talking to Oswald at the time, I believe, and I stood around a few moments and when there was a lull in the interrogation, I asked Captain Fritz if he was about ready to transfer Oswald and he said, "Well, no; they were still talking to him," so I left the room.

Leon D. Hubert: That was about what time?

Jesse Curry: As I recall, it was probably 10:30, but I didn't care when they transferred him at all. It didn't make any difference to me. The arrangements had been made to transfer him and then when it was brought to...

Leon D. Hubert: What arrangements had been made?

Jesse Curry: That we would transfer him to the sheriff, but at that time we did not have any armored cars down there. We were just at that time, I believe it was - understood that we would just put him in the car and drive him down there...

Leon D. Hubert: Was a policeman to drive the armored car?

Jesse Curry: No; not the armored car.

Leon D. Hubert: Is that a factor, too - I suppose - it wouldn't be a member of the police force under your control driving that car?

Jesse Curry: No; but he felt like Fritz said if anyone tried to take our prisoner we should be in a position to be able to cut out of the caravan or to take off or do whatever was necessary to protect our prisoner. So, I didn't argue with him about it - there was some merit to his plan, so I told him, "Well, okay, but we would still use the armored car as a decoy and let it go right on down just as we had planned and if anyone planned to try to take our prisoner away from us, they would be attacking an empty armored car," and that his vehicle with the prisoner in it would have cut out of the caravan and proceeded immediately to the county jail and the prisoner would be taken into the county jail, and the way we figured it, he would be there before the other caravan got there. Well, he asked me if everything was ready and I said, "Yes, as far as I know, everything is ready to go," and this was a little after 11 o'clock and I said, "Well, I'll go on down to the basement," and was en route to the basement when I was called to the telephone and Mayor Cabell was on the telephone wanting to know something about the case, how we were progressing, what was going on, and while I was talking to him they made this transfer and Oswald was shot in the basement, and he was rushed to Parkland Hospital and I was notified that he had been shot in the basement.

Leon D. Hubert: Did you know about his being shot before he moved to the hospital in the ambulance?

Jesse Curry: Yes, they called me from the jail office and said he had been shot and an ambulance had been ordered.

Leon D. Hubert: Now, after the shooting, what action did you take - that is, the shooting of Oswald?

Jesse Curry: Well, I don't recall any particular action I took. I was told the man who shot him was in custody and was up in the jail. I think I notified the mayor that the man had been shot while I was still on the telephone with him and then I waited up in my office for word from Parkland Hospital, and about 1:30, or I believe about 1:30, we were informed that he had expired, and during this time I had been informed that the man who shot him was a nightclub operator named Jack Ruby, and that he was in custody up in the jail. After I was informed that Oswald had died, I made an announcement to news media that he had expired and that we had the man who shot him in custody and as I recall, that's about the extent of my activity on that day.

(3) Dorothy Kilgallen, New York Journal American (23rd August, 1964)

Twenty-four hours after the assassination, however, Chief Curry assured reporters that the sound of the shots told him at once they had come from the Texas School Depository and that "right away" he radioed an order to surround and search the building. But actually, as we see from the Police Department's official version of events. Chief Curry's immediate concern was not the Depository, but the triple-tiered overpass: towards which the Presidential car was moving at about eight miles an hour when the fatal shots were fired.

(4) Leo Sauvage, The New Leader (28th September 1964)

The assassination of President Kennedy last November 22 in Dallas was followed by a macabre farce whose bewildering and revolting episodes hardly need to be retold. But no theory is valid if it does not take apart and analyze minutely the various elements of these episodes as they have been related, imagined, evaded, deformed or plainly falsified by the investigators. This is certainly not what Thomas Buchanan has done in his widely publicized L’Express articles, which subsequently were published in expanded form by Editions Julliard as Les Assassins de Kennedy (and will be brought out by Putnam’s in January, under the title, Who Killed Kennedy?). On the contrary, in relating, imagining, evading, deforming or openly falsifying the facts of the case, Buchanan has accomplished the remarkable feat of constructing an even more incredible farce than the one performed in Dallas. Indeed, what L’Express pompously called Le Rapport Buchanan constitutes, in my opinion, exactly the kind of “document” Dallas needs to prove the lack of seriousness of those who attack its Police Department and District Attorney.

In presenting “The True Report on the Assassination” Mme. Françoise Giroud, co-editor of the French weekly, tells us that Buchanan is “a very quiet American, 44 years old, a sensitive novelist but also an artillery captain during the War, and a mathematician, now directing in Paris the programming of electronic computers in a large establishment.” Then, before quoting an anonymous American publisher who supposedly told Buchanan nobody could possibly contradict his “brilliant demonstration,” Mme. Giroud goes on to declare: “Thomas Buchanan, scientific by training and by inclination, has gathered the facts, and it is strictly from the facts that he has undertaken a concise presentation whose logical development is impressive.”

The impressive logical development which the mathematician of L’Express applies to the assassination of John F. Kennedy starts with a first gunman called “Assassin Number 2,” located on the railroad overpass ahead of the Presidential car. This “assassin” could have been Jack Ruby (a theory borrowed from the American journalist Richard Dudman without crediting the source), or someone Ruby could see from the windows of the Dallas Morning News (Buchanan’s own contribution, since journalists who commented on the view from the windows had seen only the Texas School Book Depository).

Buchanan states next that a second gunman, called “Assassin Number 1,” was on the sixth floor of the Depository, but he was not Lee Harvey Oswald. In fact, Oswald is only “Accomplice Number 1.” His role? According to Buchanan, who under the circumstances does not hesitate to replace his electronic brain with a crystal ball, “Oswald had let Assassin Number 1 into the Depository the night before the murder; he had led him to the room on the sixth floor, brought him the rifle, provided him with food and stood guard to make sure no one else came into the room.”

There follows a list of other accomplices, all members of the Dallas Police Department. “If we call Oswald Accomplice Number 1,” Buchanan observes knowingly, “we have no trouble finding Accomplice Number 2; he is the policeman who gave the order to let Oswald leave the building.” ‘Number 3” is “the policeman who issued the order to pick up Oswald before his 90 co-workers had been assembled and counted.” Buchanan, deducing that “this officer already knew Oswald’s role in the conspiracy,” emphasizes that the officer’s “role was more important than that of the other accomplices.” “Number 4” is a plainclothes officer in an automobile, whose mission was to “follow Oswald to arrest him at the proper moment.” “Accomplice Number 5” is the famous J. D. Tippit, whose murder was attributed by the authorities to Oswald. At the “agreed signal” (with Accomplice Number 4), Tippit was supposed to arrest Oswald, induce him to pull out his pistol (the police, Buchanan reveals to us at this point, let Oswald go to his room first only to give him the chance to get his pistol), then kill him in “self-defense.” Instead, Tippit, an “inveterate bungler,” allowed himself to be outmaneuvered and slain by Oswald.

What was Assassin Number 1 (that is, Killer Number 2, the man on the sixth floor) doing in the meantime, and who was he? The mathematician truly proves here what an American artillery captain can do when a Parisian weekly gives him the chance to deploy his gifts as a sensitive novelist. “

On November 22, 1963, Assassin Number 1 wore a police uniform,” he declares dramatically. Then he continues with enormous subtlety: “Unless he has been killed since, I believe he still wears it.” At first glance, this signifies the chances are 50-50 the man was Tippit. But the chances mount close to 100 per cent when Buchanan affirms next that Assassin Number 1 left the area of the crime “in a patrol car, without doubt,” and adds “we will speak again of a police car occupied by one man, contrary to the rules” (the case of Tippit). Buchanan is anxious to maintain a little suspense here, and it certainly remains possible that Tippit had been ordered only to pick up Assassin Number 1 at Elm Street and take him elsewhere. But the reader, if he is sufficiently dazzled by Thomas Buchanan’s logic, will reason that Assassin Number 1 and Accomplice Number 5 were one and the same.

All this, one sees, is quite clear. Except, obviously, the reasons for which the author speaks so unjustly of officer Tippit as an “inveterate bungler.” For either Assassin Number 1 or as the unnumbered accomplice (and future Accomplice Number 5) in charge of helping Assassin Number 1 get away from the assassination scene, he had acquitted himself impeccably. Except also that one does not see at all how and why in the first instance Tippit needed Oswald to get into the Depository the night before, and why and how, in the second instance, the assassin needed Tippit to get out of the Depository. Why should Accomplice Number 2 - who, one perhaps recalls, “gave the order to let Oswald leave” - have been unable to do the same for Assassin Number 1, who even “wore a police uniform?”

Let us return now to the thread of deductions which led this astonishing mathematician (he demonstrates all, said L’Express, “from the facts - and only the facts - with an extremely rigorous mind”) to accomplices 2, 3, 4 and their specific tasks.

At the start, there was one actual fact: Oswald was able to leave the Depository without being stopped, even though Police Chief Jesse Curry said he “immediately” gave the order to surround the building. But Buchanan’s peculiarly rigorous mind (which does not keep him from borrowing at will from these same Dallas police for all the roles he needs in his scenario) leads him to avoid, apparently as not scientific, any thought that Jesse Curry’s men - and Jesse Curry himself - could have done a bad job on Elm Street. Thus the actual fact turns, in Buchanan’s mathematics, into a series of postulates such as these: “Almost immediately after the last shot, the police blocked all the exists of the building…There was no panic among the police…They were immediately directed to the Depository”

I have not found anywhere in the writings of Buchanan - who, at the time he made these categorical statements, had not yet even set foot in Dallas - the least hint as to the unpublished information on which he bases his remarks. But once it is admitted that these statements must be recognized and respected, like incontrovertible postulates, on the faith of Thomas Buchanan’s word, there is obviously no difficulty in drawing from them theorems such as the one defining Accomplice Number 2 as “the policeman who gave the order to let Oswald leave the building.” We even have the converse, showing the geometric character of the reasoning: “This order did not only constitute a flagrant violation of the instructions which the police were supposed to observe in such circumstances; it also constituted an act of disobedience to the personal order of the Chief of Police.”

(5) Donald Gibson, The Kennedy Assassination Cover-up (1999)

Jesse Curry makes it clear that individuals from the Secret Service controlled the security arrangements for President Kennedy's trip and people at the FBI controlled the investigation. According to Curry," Winston G. Lawson of the Washington Secret Service office was the central figure in the planning of security arrangements. Curry emphasizes that the security provided by Lawson was heavy except the "short stretch of Elm Street where the President was shot." Curry notes that the Texas Book Depository was "virtually ignored."

Curry points out that neither the Secret Service nor the FBI asked for any help in locating possible conspirators. The FBI had never shared the information it had on Oswald prior to the assassination. Less than twelve hours after the assassination, Curry transferred the evidence to the FBI, trusting them to do a good job and to return the evidence. They did neither. The Secret Service had already seized the body." Curry says that in the days after the assassination Dallas investigators waited for the release of a detailed autopsy report, complete with photographic evidence. It never came and Curry says that he suspected that some of the material was destroyed.

Curry saw signs of a conspiracy in other aspects of the case as well. For example, Curry points to numerous facts and reports which indicated that the President was hit from the front. He also notes that a picture of the Book Depository shows a man who looks like Oswald standing in front at the time the President was killed.