Billie Sol Estes, ne of six children of John and Lillian Estes, was born on a farm near Clyde, Texas, on 10th January, 1925. According to the New York Times: "He was an average student. His family was poor, but Billie Sol showed early promise as a financier. At 13, he received a lamb as a gift, sold its wool for $5, bought another lamb and went into business. At 15, he sold 100 sheep for $3,000. He borrowed $3,500 more from a bank, bought government surplus grain and sold it for a big profit. By 18, he had $38,000."
After marrying in 1946 he moved to the small town of Pecos. As a result of high irrigation costs, local farmers found it difficult to make profits from their cotton crops. Estes started up a company providing irrigation pumps that used cheap natural gas. Farmers had previously used irrigation pumps powered by electricity. Estes also sold anhydrous ammonia as a fertilizer. This was a great success and Estes soon became a wealthy businessman. In 1953 he was named one of America’s 10 outstanding young men by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Estes's business encountered problems when the Department of Agriculture began to control the production of cotton. Allotments were issued telling the cotton farmers how much they could and could not plant. In 1958 Estes made contact with Lyndon B. Johnson. Over the next couple of years Estes ran a vast scam getting federal agricultural subsidies. According to Estes he obtained $21 million a year for "growing" and "storing" non-existent crops of cotton.
In 1960 Henry Marshall was asked to investigate the activities of Billie Sol Estes. Marshall discovered that over a two year period, Estes had purchased 3,200 acres of cotton allotments from 116 different farmers. Marshall wrote to his superiors in Washington on 31st August, 1960, that: "The regulations should be strengthened to support our disapproval of every case (of allotment transfers)".
When he heard the news, Billie Sol Estes sent his lawyer, John P. Dennison, to meet Marshall in Robertson County. At the meeting on 17th January, 1961, Marshall told Dennison that Estes was clearly involved in a "scheme or device to buy allotments, and will not be approved, and prosecution will follow if this operation is ever used." Marshall was disturbed that as a result of sending a report of his meeting to Washington, he was offered a new post at headquarters. He assumed that Bille Sol Estes had friends in high places and that they wanted him removed from the field office in Robertson County. Marshall refused what he considered to be a bribe.
A week after the meeting between Marshall and Dennison, A. B. Foster, manager of Billie Sol Enterprises, wrote to Clifton C. Carter, a close aide to Lyndon B. Johnson, telling him about the problems that Marshall was causing the company. Foster wrote that "we would sincerely appreciate your investigating this and seeing if anything can be done." Over the next few months Marshall had meetings with eleven county committees in Texas. He pointed out that Billie Sol Estes scheme to buy cotton allotments were illegal. This information was then communicated to those farmers who had been sold their cotton allotments to Billie Sol Enterprises.
On 3rd June, 1961, Marshall was found dead on his farm by the side of his Chevy Fleetside pickup truck. His rifle lay beside him. He had been shot five times with his own rifle. County Sheriff Howard Stegall decreed that Marshall had committed suicide. No pictures were taken of the crime scene, no blood samples were taken of the stains on the truck (the truck was washed and waxed the following day), and no check for fingerprints were made on the rifle or pickup.
Marshall's wife (Sybil Marshall) and brother (Robert Marshall) refused to believe he had committed suicide and posted a $2,000 reward for information leading to a murder conviction. The undertaker, Manley Jones, also reported: "To me it looked like murder. I just do not believe a man could shoot himself like that." The undertaker's son, Raymond Jones, later told the journalist, Bill Adler in 1986: "Daddy said he told Judge Farmer there was no way Mr. Marshall could have killed himself. Daddy had seen suicides before. JPs depend on us and our judgments about such things. we see a lot more deaths than they do. But in this case, Daddy said, Judge Farmer told him he was going to put suicide on the death certificate because the sheriff told him to." As a result, Lee Farmer returned a suicide verdict: "death by gunshot, self-inflicted."
Sybil Marshall hired an attorney, W. S. Barron, in order to persuade the Robertson County authorities to change the ruling on Marshall's cause of death. One man who did believe that Marshall had been murdered was Texas Ranger Clint Peoples. He had reported to Colonel Homer Garrison, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, that it "would have been utterly impossible for Mr. Marshall to have taken his own life."
Peoples also interviewed Nolan Griffin, a gas station attendant in Robertson County. Griffin claimed that on the day of Marshall's death, he had been asked by a stranger for directions to Marshall's farm. A Texas Ranger artist, Thadd Johnson, drew a facial sketch based on a description given by Griffin. Peoples eventually came to the conclusion that this man was Mac Wallace, the convicted murderer of John Kinser.
In early 1962, Oscar Griffin Jr., the city editor of The Pecos Independent and Enterprise, published an article arguing that thousands of mortgages had been taking out for nonexistent fertilizer tanks. Soon afterwards Billie Sol Estes was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on fraud and conspiracy charges. Time Magazine reported that "He (Billie Sol Estes) considered dancing immoral, often delivered sermons as a Church of Christ lay preacher. But he ruthlessly ruined business competitors, practiced fraud and deceit on a massive scale, and even victimized Church of Christ schools that he was supposed to be helping as a fund raiser or financial adviser."
It was also disclosed by the Secretary of Agriculture, Orville L. Freeman, that Henry Marshall had been a key figure in the investigation into the illegal activities of Billie Sol Estes. As a result, the Robertson County grand jury ordered that the body of Marshall should be exhumed and an autopsy performed. After eight hours of examination, Dr. Joseph A. Jachimczyk confirmed that Marshall had not committed suicide. Jachimczyk also discovered a 15 percent carbon monoxide concentration in Marshall's body. Jachimczyk calculated that it could have been as high as 30 percent at the time of death.
On 4th April, 1962, George Krutilek, Estes chief accountant, was found dead. Despite a severe bruise on Krutilek's head, the coroner decided that he had also committed suicide. The next day, Estes, and three business associates, were indicted by a federal grand jury on 57 counts of fraud. Two of these men, Harold Orr and Coleman Wade, later died in suspicious circumstances. At the time it was said they committed suicide but later Estes was to claim that both men were murdered by Mac Wallace in order to protect the political career of Lyndon B. Johnson.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations also began to look into the case of Billie Sol Estes. Leonard C. Williams, a former assistant to Henry Marshall, testified about the evidence the department acquired against Estes. Orville L. Freeman also admitted that Marshall was a man "who left this world under questioned circumstances."
It was eventually discovered that three officials of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in Washington had received bribes from Billie Sol Estes. Red Jacobs, Jim Ralph and Bill Morris were eventually removed from their jobs. However, further disclosures suggested that the Secretary of Agriculture, might be involved in the scam. In September, 1961, Billie Sol Estes had been fined $42,000 for illegal cotton allotments. Two months later, Freeman appointed Estes to the National Cotton Advisory Board.
It was also revealed that Billie Sol Estes told Wilson C. Tucker, deputy director of the Agriculture Department's cotton division, on 1st August, 1961, that he threatened to "embarrass the Kennedy administration if the investigation were not halted". Tucker went onto testify: "Estes stated that this pooled cotton allotment matter had caused the death of one person and then asked me if I knew Henry Marshall". As Tucker pointed out, this was six months before questions about Marshall's death had been raised publicly.
However, the cover-up continued. Tommy G. McWilliams, the FBI agent in charge of the investigation, came to the conclusion that Marshall had indeed committed suicide. He wrote: "My theory was that he shot himself and then realized he wasn't dead." He then claimed that he then tried to kill himself by inhaling carbon monoxide from the exhaust pipe of his truck. McWilliams claimed that Marshall had used his shirt to make a hood over the exhaust pipe. Even J. Edgar Hoover was not impressed with this theory. He wrote on 21st May, 1962: "I just can't understand how one can fire five shots at himself."
Joseph A. Jachimczyk also disagreed with the FBI report. He believed that the bruise on Marshall's forehead had been caused by a "severe blow to the head". Jachimczyk also rejected the idea that Marshall had used his shirt as a hood. He pointed out that "if this were done, soot must have necessarily been found on the shirt; no such was found."
The Robertson County grand jury continued to investigate the death of Henry Marshall. However, some observers were disturbed by the news that grand jury member, Pryse Metcalfe, was dominating proceedings. Metcalfe was County Sheriff Howard Stegall's son-in-law. On 1st June, 1962, the Dallas Morning News reported that President John F. Kennedy had "taken a personal interest in the mysterious death of Henry Marshall." As a result, the story said, Robert Kennedy "has ordered the FBI to step up its investigation of the case."
In June, 1962, Billie Sol Estes, appeared before the grand jury. He was accompanied by John Cofer, a lawyer who represented Lyndon B. Johnson when he was accused of ballot-rigging when elected to the Senate in 1948 and Mac Wallace when he was charged with the murder of John Kinser. Billie Sol Estes spent almost two hours before the grand jury, but he invoked the Texas version of the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer most questions on grounds that he might incriminate himself.
Tommy G. McWilliams of the FBI also appeared before the grand jury and put forward the theory that Henry Wallace had committed suicide. Dr. Joseph A. Jachimczyk also testified that "if in fact this is a suicide, it is the most unusual one I have seen during the examination of approximately 15,000 deceased persons." McWilliams did admit that it was "hard to kill yourself with a bolt-action 22". This view was shared by John McClellan, a member of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He posed for photographs with a .22 caliber rifle similar to Marshall's. McClellan pointed out: "It doesn't take many deductions to come to the irrevocable conclusion that no man committed suicide by placing the rifle in that awkward position and then (cocking) it four times more."
Despite the evidence presented by Jachimczyk, the grand jury agreed with McWilliams. It ruled that after considering all the known evidence, the jury considers it "inconclusive to substantiate a definite decision at this time, or to overrule any decision heretofore made." Later, it was disclosed that some jury members believed that Marshall had been murdered. Ralph McKinney blamed Pryse Metcalfe for this decision. "Pryse was as strong in the support of the suicide verdict as anyone I have ever seen in my life, and I think he used every influence he possibly could against the members of the grand jury to be sure it came out with a suicide verdict."
Estes trial began in October 1962. John Cofer, who was also Lyndon Johnson's lawyer, refused to put Estes on the witness stand. Estes was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to eight years in prison. Federal proceedings against Estes began in March 1963. He was eventually charged with fraud regarding mortgages of more that $24 million. Estes was found guilty and sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
In 1964 the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations reported that it could find no link between Marshall's death and his efforts to bring to an end Billie Sol Estes' cotton allotment scheme. The following year Billie Sol Estes went to prison for fraud relating to the mostly nonexistent fertilizer tanks he had put up for collateral as part of the cotton allotment scam. He was released in 1971 but he was later sent back to prison for mail fraud and non-payment of income tax.
In 1964 J. Evetts Haley published A Texan Looks at Lyndon. In the book Haley attempted to expose Johnson's corrupt political activities. This included a detailed look at the relationship between Estes and Johnson. Haley pointed out that three men who could have provided evidence in court against Estes, George Krutilek, Harold Orr and Howard Pratt, all died of carbon monoxide poisoning from car engines.
The case was taken up by the journalist Joachim Joesten. In his books, The Dark Side of Lyndon Baines Johnson (1968) and How Kennedy was Killed: The Full Appalling Story (1968), Joesten argues that Lyndon B. Johnson was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and was as a direct result of the scandals involving Estes and Bobby Baker.
Clint Peoples retired from the Texas Rangers in 1974 but he continued to investigate the murder of Henry Marshall. In 1979 Peoples interviewed Billie Sol Estes in prison. Estes promised that "when he was released he would solve the puzzle of Henry Marshall's death".
Billie Sol Estes was released from prison in December, 1983. Three months later he appeared before the Robertson County grand jury. He confessed that Henry Marshall was murdered because it was feared he would "blow the whistle" on the cotton allotment scam. Billie Sol Estes claimed that Marshall was murdered on the orders of Lyndon B. Johnson, who was afraid that his own role in this scam would become public knowledge. According to Estes, Clifton C. Carter, Johnson's long-term aide, had ordered Marshall to approve 138 cotton allotment transfers.
Billie Sol Estes told the grand jury that he had a meeting with Johnson and Carter about Henry Marshall. Johnson suggested that Marshall be promoted out of Texas. Estes agreed and replied: "Let's transfer him, let's get him out of here. Get him a better job, make him an assistant secretary of agriculture." However, Marshall rejected the idea of being promoted in order to keep him quiet.
Estes, Johnson and Carter had another meeting on 17th January, 1961, to discuss what to do about Henry Marshall. Also at the meeting was Mac Wallace. After it was pointed out that Marshall had refused promotion to Washington, Johnson said: "It looks like we'll just have to get rid of him." Wallace, who Estes described as a hitman, was given the assignment.
Billie Sol Estes also told the grand jury that he met Clifton C. Carter and Mac Wallace at his home in Pecos after Marshall was killed. Wallace described how he waited for Marshall at his farm. He planned to kill him and make it appear as if Marshall committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. However, Marshall fought back and he was forced to shoot him with his own rifle. He quoted Carter as saying that Wallace "sure did botch it up." Johnson was now forced to use his influence to get the authorities in Texas to cover-up the murder. The grand jury rejected the testimony of Billie Sol Estes. Carter, Wallace and Johnson were all dead and could not confirm Billie Sol's testimony. However, the Grand Jury did change the verdict on the death of Henry Marshall from suicide to death by gunshot.
On 9th August, 1984, Estes' lawyer, Douglas Caddy, wrote to Stephen S. Trott at the U.S. Department of Justice. In the letter Caddy claimed that Estes, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mac Wallace and Clifton C. Carter had been involved in the murders of Henry Marshall, George Krutilek, Harold Orr, Ike Rogers, Coleman Wade, Josefa Johnson, John Kinser and John F. Kennedy. Caddy added: "Mr. Estes is willing to testify that LBJ ordered these killings, and that he transmitted his orders through Cliff Carter to Mac Wallace, who executed the murders."
Four days later, the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics ruled that there was now "clear and convincing" evidence to prove Henry Marshall was murdered and State District Judge Peter Lowry ordered that the death certificate should be changed to "homicide by gunshot wounds".
In 1984 Billie Sol Estes' daughter, Pam Estes, published Billie Sol: King of Texas Wheeler-Dealers. This was followed by JFK, the Last Standing Man (co-written with William Reymond) in France (Le Dernier Temoin). In the book Estes claims that Lyndon B. Johnson was involved in assassination of President John F. Kennedy. When interviewed by the American journalist, Pete Kendall, Estes said: “He (Johnson) told me if I wouldn’t talk, I would not go to jail.” Estes has had no contact with LBJ’s other long-ago associates, he said, since the book’s publication. “About all of them are dead, really. I think I’m about the last one standing.” That’s partly why, he said, he wasn’t interested in doing a book sooner. “I’ve been accused of being dumb,” he said, “but I’m not stupid.”
(1) I give great credibility to the accusations made by Billie Sol Estes in the relevant 1984 letter to the U.S. Department of Justice. There were contemporaneous newspaper reports of the untimely deaths of almost all of the persons listed by him in the letter. In addition, Texan historian J. Evetts Haley in his 1964 book, A Texan Looks at Lyndon, wrote in great detail about Estes and the victims.
(2) I don’t think my having met Estes, which originally occurred in 1983 when I was asked to do so by Shearn Moody, Jr., of the Moody Foundation in connection with a grant request from Estes, influenced my assessment of the accusations one way or the other. This is because there already existed in the public record much evidence to support Estes’ accusations.
(3) U.S. Marshal Clint Peoples, who had closely followed Estes’ activities for 25 years, told me on several occasions that his research supported Estes’ accusations. His exact words to me: “It is about time that the truth comes out.” It was Marshal Peoples who arranged for Estes to testify in 1984 before the Robertson County grand jury. Press reports at the time disclosed that Estes reiterated his accusations in his grand jury testimony.
(4) There was no signed and notarized document of Estes dating before I met him that recorded his accusations. He had not determined to tell what he knew until while still in federal prison at Big Spring, Texas, he contacted Shearn Moody, Jr. in 1983 and indicated he was prepared to relate for the public record what he knew.
(5) Estes has maintained that he has taped recordings of conversations of the conspirators that support his accusations. I have not heard the recordings and have no knowledge of their whereabouts.
(6) He confided in U.S. Marshal Peoples of what he knew. Peoples is now deceased. However, the transcript of Estes’ testimony before the Robertson County grand jury in 1984, if it were unsealed, would clarify much.
(7) At the time of JFK assassination, LBJ was facing criminal proceedings stemming from his involvement in the Billie Sol Estes and the Bobby Baker scandals that were reaching the explosive stage. LBJ’s involvement in these two scandals certainly adds credence to what Estes has alleged.
© John Simkin, May 2013
Estes finally said too much and went too far. He believed what he preached. Perhaps it was inevitable but the law finally caught up with him.
In 1962, he was facing federal fraud charges. The problems started during his expansion years because he used the government for enrichment. For the Democrats, and particularly for Johnson, Estes willingly contributed large sums of money. To all appearances, he was a generous man who enjoyed politics. Behind the scenes, he needed help at the Department of Agriculture with cotton allotments. That meant politics and Lyndon Johnson.
The two men had a natural attraction to each other. His relationship with Johnson was strong because he readily contributed large sums to Johnson's campaigns and because he included Johnson in some of these business dealings, all behind the scenes. By 1958, a memo from staff member Lloyd Hand to Johnson recognized Estes as someone the Senate's majority leader was interested in.
The memo is interesting. Never before disclosed, it belies Johnson's later efforts to distance himself from Estes. When criminal charges were filed in 1962, Johnson would only admit he had one personal contact with Estes, inviting him to a party at his Washington home during inaugural week in January 1961. In fact, the relationship was much deeper and involved large sums of cash and other help.
On the night of April 4, 1962, at the western end of Texas, a ranchman came upon the body of George Krutilek in the sandhills near the town of Clint, slumped in his car with a hose from his exhaust stuck in the window. He had been dead for several days, and the El Paso County pathologist, Dr. Frederick Bornstein , held that he certainly did not die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Krutilek was a forty-nine-year old certified public accountant who had undergone secret grilling by FBI agents on April 2, the day after Billie Sol Estes' arrest. . . . Krutilek had worked for Estes and had been the recipient of his favors, but he was never seen or heard of again after the FBI grilling until his badly decomposed body was found.
The Billie Sol Estes case is more than just a scandal. It is more than a sordid picture of favoritism and fraud. It is a study in the operations and attitudes of some of the top officials of government - many of whom are still with us....
This isn't rumour; this isn't speculation. This is on the record, tying the office of the man who now lives in the White House with Billie Sol Estes.... The interim President whose office dealt with Billie Sol Estes does not press for exposure. His power is used for far different ends, and the White House has been turned into the whitewash house.
He (Billie Sol Estes) went into bankruptcy and, at the end of March, 1962, was arrested by the FBI. One year later he went on trial, in federal district court in El Paso, on multiple charges of mail fraud involving the swindling of about 100 individuals and a dozen major finance companies, in mortgage deals which involved $ 24 million. The jury found him guilty on four mail fraud counts and one conspiracy charge; he was declared innocent on nine other counts. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison and later drew additional prison sentences following other indictments in federal and state courts. He was last reported to be serving a 15 year stretch in Leavenworth federal penitentiary.
The most sensational, and probably the most vicious, of the big magazine articles was found in Look magazine dated July 31, 1962, but coming on the news stands around July 15. All copies coming to Pecos were sold out within a day or two.
The article started by picturing Pecos before, and after, the discovery of an abundant supply of water beneath the arid ground in the Pecos area, and the description was fairly accurate.
Then began a systematic, rather thorough, history of the buildup to the Estes scandal. The article did not hesitate to quote many people. One of the most interesting was that made by "Tuffy" Alley, a Pecos old-timer, to a Look reporter, in which he said "I admire Estes in a way. He's a damn thief, but he's no petty thief. If you're going to get caught stealing, don't go to stealing chickens...
Attorney General Wilson held another hearing in Amarillo, with a large number of important witnesses, and on July 28, 1962 the News came out with a banner headline saying "Estes Associate Tells Hearing Millions May Be Buried in Pecos Pauper's Casket."
Harold Orr said, according to the News, that $3.5 million received by Estes could not be traced. Another witness speculated that the $3.5 million was buried in a pauper's casket, the funeral having been held at Estes' Colonial Funeral Home. Wilson said "the biggest digging Pecos ever had is about to start."
During the first week in August, Texas Ranger Captain Clint Peoples was in Pecos continuing the investigation of the controversial circumstances of Henry Marshall's death. Colonel Homer Garrison, Director of the State Department of Public Safety, still held to the theory that Marshall was murdered. This theory came from the fact that Marshall had been shot five times with a .22 caliber, bolt action, rifle, supposedly by himself.
The next six weeks was more or less a prelude to the trial of Estes, most of the activity being in Washington with the Agriculture Department's concern with Billie Sol's cotton allotments, how he got them, who helped him get them, and were they legal or illegal. John Dennison, one of Estes' lawyers, told the Senators that Estes was innocent of any wrongdoing as far as acreage transfers were concerned...
On September 15 a former general manager of Estes' operations testified at a hearing that, a few days before his arrest, Estes had pretty well "milked" all of his various companies by checks and withdrawal of cash. Estes had given the manager two brown envelopes, sealed, to put in his safety deposit box. A few days later, on Estes' instructions, he recovered the envelopes and delivered them to Estes. The manager did not know what was in the envelopes, but presumed it was probably about $17,000 that Estes had drawn from one of his companies.
Then, on September 21, the News announced that a Federal jury at El Paso had found Orr, Alexander and McSpadden guilty of several counts of fraud and were given prison terms of from six to 35 years each. Sentencing was delayed until January 7, 1963 to allow the three to testify at the Estes trial.
A number of people had been trying to buy Estes' assets. After approval of Estes' creditors, they were finally sold September 23 to Morris Jaffe, of San Antonio, for $7 million.
The Estes trial started September 24, on time, but Estes' lawyers immediately started an attempt to further delay the trial, as was expected. Estes lawyers also demanded that there be no TV live coverage of the trial, but Judge Dunagan overruled the request...
One witness, T.J. Wilson of Pecos, said that his signature was forged to a tank mortgage. All this first day was filled with contentions and arguments, the jury spending more time out of the courtroom than in.
On Thursday, Novermber 1, a new mystery entered the case. The original of the lease made by T.J. Wilson, which he said was forged, had disappeared and only a photo copy was available. The Judge would not allow the photo copy to be introduced as evidence. Again, the defense caused delay after delay in their efforts to protect their client as much as possible.
On November 2, 1962, according to the News, Harold Orr testified that he forged the Wilson instrument, saying Billie Sol told him to do so. Orr also testified that he sent all available blank serial number identification plates to Pecos with two men to change the plates while C.I.T. was making a check.
On January 25, 1963 Judge Dunagan, of Tyler, sentenced Estes to eight years in prison. Cofer promptly announced that it would be appealed...
The selection of Federal jurors for the Estes trial in El Paso began Monday, March 11, 1963. Defense attorney Cofer immediately moved to declare a mistrial, which was promptly overruled by Judge Thomason. Testimony, which proved to be a long, drawn out affair, began on March 15 with more shouting on the part of the lawyers.
Alexander, Orr and McSpadden were never called to testify. Then on March, 20, the government suddenly rested their case, catching the defense off guard, and court was messed until the next day. Upon convening the next morning, Cofer moved for a directed verdict of acquittal, which was again denied.
On April 16, 1963 the Daily News announced that Estes had been sentenced to 15 years in prison. In sentencing Estes, Judge Thomason said "The record shows that you were the perpetrator of one of the most gigantic swindles in the history of our country." Estes was freed-on a $100,000 bond pending appeal. The bond was signed by his uncle, Dr. Sol Estes, and his brother, Dr. John Estes, both of Abilene.
After being relesed on bond, the News gave accounts of Estes' visits to a number of schools and churches in the deep South. He first went to Nashville on April 23, where he visited the Nashville Christian Institute, a negro school, where he was emotionally greeted. Estes haid befriended this school and they were in the process of taking up a collection for his benefit.
Then, on April 23, 1963, he spoke at Highland Avenue Church of Christ in Montgomery, Alabama, a negro congregation. He spoke on race relations, saying the segregation was unchristian. He also spoke at the Gayle Streett Church of Christ (Negro) on the race issue. He spent the night at the home of Mac McLeod, pastor of the church, but was asked to leave the next morning. According to the Daily News, McLeod said "we're not interested in that kind of mess."
On the night of August 8, 1963 a 10 foot high wooden cross was burned on Estes' lawn. Then, the next night, a bullet was fired through the picture window of the Estes living room. Authorities thought both incidents were cause by thrill seekers who had no interest in the Estes case.
The final blow came on January 15, 1965 when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Estes appeal and upheld the 15-year sentence imposed upon him in El Paso. Estes was arrested in Abilene, immediately following the announcement, and placed in jail without bail.
Mr. Estes was a member of a four-member group, headed by Lyndon Johnson, which committed criminal acts in Texas in the 1960's. The other two, besides Mr. Estes and LBJ, were Cliff Carter and Mac Wallace. Mr. Estes is willing to disclose his knowledge concerning the following criminal offenses:
1. The killing of Henry Marshall
2. The killing of George Krutilek
3. The killing of Ike Rogers and his secretary
4. The killing of Harold Orr
5. The killing of Coleman Wade
6. The killing of Josefa Johnson
7. The killing of John Kinser
8. The killing of President J. F. Kennedy.
Mr. Estes is willing to testify that LBJ ordered these killings, and that he transmitted his orders through Cliff Carter to Mac Wallace, who executed the murders. In the cases of murders nos. 1-7, Mr. Estes' knowledge of the precise details concerning the way the murders were executed stems from conversations he had shortly after each event with Cliff Carter and Mac Wallace.
In addition, a short time after Mr. Estes was released from prison in 1971, he met with Cliff Carter and they reminisced about what had occurred in the past, including the murders. During their conversation, Carter orally compiled a list of 17 murders which had been committed, some of which Mr. Estes was unfamiliar. A living witness was present at that meeting and should be willing to testify about it. He is Kyle Brown, recently of Houston and now living in Brady, Texas.
Mr. Estes, states that Mac Wallace, whom he describes as a "stone killer" with a communist background, recruited Jack Ruby, who in turn recruited Lee Harvey Oswald. Mr. Estes says that Cliff Carter told him that Mac Wallace fired a shot from the grassy knoll in Dallas, which hit JFK from the front during the assassination.
Mr. Estes declares that Cliff Carter told him the day Kennedy was killed, Fidel Castro also was supposed to be assassinated and that Robert Kennedy, awaiting word of Castro's death, instead received news of his brother's killing.
Mr. Estes says that the Mafia did not participate in the Kennedy assassination but that its participation was discussed prior to the event, but rejected by LBJ, who believed if the Mafia were involved, he would never be out from under its blackmail....
II. The Illegal Cotton Allotments
Mr. Estes desires to discuss the infamous illegal cotton allotment schemes in great detail. He has recordings made at the time of LBJ, Cliff Carter and himself discussing the scheme. These recordings were made with Cliff Carter's knowledge as a means of Carter and Estes protecting them selves should LBJ order their deaths.
Mr. Estes believes these tape recordings and the rumors of other recordings allegedly in his possession are the reason he has not been murdered.
III. Illegal Payoffs
Mr. Estes is willing to disclose illegal payoff schemes, in which he collected and passed on to Cliff Carter and LBJ millions of dollars. Mr. Estes collected payoff money on more than one occasion from George and Herman Brown of Brown and Root, which was delivered to LBJ.
In his appearance before the grand jury last month, Estes testified that Robert Kennedy may have offered Marshall protection if he would testify against Johnson, sources said.
Sources close to the grand jury said Estes testified that Johnson, while Senate majority leader, controlled a political "slush fund" raised from some of Estes' illegal business dealings.
"He (Sanders) made, several times daily, telephone reports to Robert Kennedy as to what was happening," Wilson said. "We were aware of the tremendous emotional and personal rivalry between Robert Kennedy and LBJ. The Kennedys closely observed the proceedings and followed them by the hour Wilson said he believes Estes is telling the truth about the plot.
Among those watching the grand jury proceedings was Barefoot Sanders, then U. S. Attorney in Dallas and now a federal judge. Former Texas attorney General Will Wilson said Sanders, who has declined repeated requests for interviews on the Estes case, was in constant communication with Justice Department officials, particularly with Robert Kennedy, the U. S. Attorney General. Wilson said he believed Kennedy, who Wilson said had an intense dislike for Johnson, had sent Sanders to monitor the grand jury to see if the Vice President's name arose.
Other sources seemed to agree with this scenario. It was generally known by many, that there was a political rift between Johnson and Robert Kennedy.
A Texas Ranger, Clint Peoples, had befriended Estes and convinced him that he should come clean with the whole truth. True to his word, Estes agreed to appear before a Robertson County grand jury and clear the record concerning the cotton allotments, the death of Henry Marshall and the involvement of LBJ and others. He recounted the whole ugly picture - from the millions he had funnelled into Johnson's secret slush fund, to the illegal cotton allotment scheme, to the murder of Henry Marshall.
Estes testified that Lyndon Johnson, Cliff Carter (an aide of LBJ), Malcolm Wallace and himself met several times to discuss the issue of the "loose cannon" - Henry Marshall. Marshall had refused a LBJ-arranged promotion to Washington headquarters, and it was feared that he was about to talk. Johnson, according to Estes, finally said, "Get rid of him," and Malcolm "Mac" Wallace was given the assignment. According to testimony, Wallace followed Marshall to a remote area of his farm and beat him nearly unconscious. Then while trying to asphyxiate him with exhaust from Marshall's pickup truck, Wallace thought he heard someone approaching the scene, and hastily grabbed a rifle which customarily rested in the window rack of the truck. Quickly pumping five shots into Marshall's body, Wallace fled the scene.
Regrets? Billie Sol Estes has a few. The self-styled wheeler-dealer could have spared the nation from Vietnam, he said, if he’d spilled the beans on Lyndon Johnson prior to the 1964 presidential election.
Johnson, the larger-than-life Texas liberal, defeated conservative Barry Goldwater by a landslide. Then he escalated the war in Southeast Asia. Pre-election mud-slinging between Johnson and Goldwater captured the nation’s attention only briefly. Johnson dodged most of the dirt. It might have connected more solidly had Estes seized the opportunity to provide the Goldwater camp with proof, he said, of several of LBJ’s alleged transgressions. “If I’d made the right move, there would have been no Vietnam War,” Estes, a 78-year-old Granbury resident, said. “Goldwater already had enough on Lyndon. He offered me a million dollars to confirm it.
“If I had, Goldwater would have won the election.” Mid-20th century American politics is the backdrop for Estes’ recent book (JFK, the Last Standing Man), 408 pages, paperback - published in French by mega-publisher Flammarion of France. LBJ is a central character. Estes asserts Johnson played a role in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. “Without a doubt,” Estes said. “It’s tied right around his neck. Any role he had in life, he controlled it. He controlled everything.”
Johnson died in 1973. His supporters have long denied any involvement by Johnson in Kennedy’s death. Estes, in his book, alleges otherwise. His assertions were researched and verified, he said, by a team of investigators retained by his co-author. “Anything I told him, he wouldn’t have printed without investigating it,” Estes said. “I would give him a lead, and he would spend days on it. “The process took about four years. The publisher spent about a million dollars on it.”
Estes’ credibility has come under question. He’s served two prison terms. Detractors have termed him a con man. The book, he said, is undiluted truth. “I have proof of my information,” Estes said. “It’s like when I say Goldwater offered me money. I have the proof. I can give the proof for anything I say.”
Due in part to political friendships with men like Johnson, then a U.S. senator, Estes was granted lucrative government agricultural contracts in far West Texas in the 1950s. Estes was reportedly worth between $140 million and $400 million before his empire crumbled. A federal investigation revealed financial malfeasance.
Arguably, he was more a colorful product of his political times than a hardened criminal. The political times in which he rose and fell were complex. Those times produced victors and victims. Johnson was a victor. Estes was a victim. “To understand the story, you have to understand the political situation at the time,” Estes said. “You’ve got to understand the political power that group had and controlled. “I wanted to do a book to get people to realize what really went on in the history of this country and its politics and who really controlled things.”
The book’s political intrigue begins with the 1940s. “I knew Lyndon then. I made a million dollars with government contracts in the’40s,” Estes said. He and Johnson were not close friends, he said. “I don’t think Lyndon had any close friends,” Estes said. “I think he had associates, people he could use. If he couldn’t use you, he didn’t have time for you.” There was never a time, Estes said, that he and Johnson stopped associating, even as Estes was headed to prison. “He promised he was going to get me out of my trouble,” Estes said. “He told me if I wouldn’t talk, I would not go to jail.” Estes has had no contact with LBJ’s other long-ago associates, he said, since the book’s publication. “About all of them are dead, really. I think I’m about the last one standing.” That’s partly why, he said, he wasn’t interested in doing a book sooner. “I’ve been accused of being dumb,” he said, “but I’m not stupid.”
Estes is aware of other assassination theories. He puts no stock in any. “I’ve got the facts, and I know the story, and I don’t care what anybody else says. My deal will stand up.” One particularly popular conspiracy premise involves the Mafia. “Vito Genovese told me they didn’t have anything to do with it,” Estes said. Genovese was among the most powerful Mafia chieftains of the 20th century. “He told me that in 1966 when we were in prison together,” Estes said. “I knew him real well.”
Grinning like a fat, wily old fox, Billie Sol Estes confirmed what I long suspected: His pal Crooked John tried to kill me one night on a mountain road overlooking El Paso.
"Yeah, he intended to kill you," Estes said. "He was as serious as a heart attack. He even told me the oil well where he was going to throw you."
So began another encounter with my favorite con man, now 72, a former Bible-toting, big-bucks wheeler-dealer whose circle of friends once included Lyndon Johnson.
After two federal prison stints, and a couple of near misses, Estes has quietly settled into this small town on the fringe of the Texas Hill Country.
A bit plumper, his bushy graying mane and familiar horned-rim glasses remain intact and he still fractures the King's English as his mouth races to keep up with his mind.
"I don't usually talk to reporters," he said during the first of two informal meetings, first over coffee at the Club Cafe and later over ribs at Mac's Bar-B-Q.
"The young ones don't even know World War II ended ...," he grumped. "They don't know Texas history. They don't know Texas politics. They don't know nothin'.
"They don't have no Texas roots."
Being young is not among my shortcomings, but, anyway, I'd been writing about Billie Sol for so long that we'd become, if not friends, at least mutually tolerant.
It was in 1983 that he told me he had rooted out the cause of all his problems: compulsiveness.
"If I smoke another cigarette, I'll be hooked on nicotine," he said in a prison interview. "I'm just one drink away from being an alcoholic and just one deal away from being back in prison."
I asked him now if he recalled that diagnosis.
"Exactly," he replied.
In both our recent meetings, Estes reminisced for hours about the "good old days," comparing the Washington scandals of his era with the shenanigans of the current capitol crowd.
"Those kids up there now, they don't know nothing about fund raising," he said, dismissing both the political fund raising and Whitewater intrigue as bush league.
"There ain't nothing there. There's no story. Money's never been Bill Clinton's thing. He don't fly with the other ducks. He looks like a duck and quacks like a duck but nobody knows where he's at. ... Back then, people had power and used that power. They could make a decision and they could get it done.
"They lived by their own set of rules."
People like House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas, Estes asserted, "could tell you behind closed doors what he could do and he'd do it. Now they can't get a creek built. They can't get anything done."
Back in his free wheeling political days, Estes indicated, they often got things done with suitcases stuffed with cash.
While branding himself as a "kind of Robin Hood," Estes sidestepped questions about his most recent legal misadventures and said he's working now on behalf of the "poor and underprivileged."
In 1961, State Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation official Henry Marshall was investigating a broad series of fraudulent government subsidies - amounting to figures in the seven or eight digit range - allotted to Billie Sol Estes, a close personal friend of Senate Majority Leader then Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson. Marshall had uncovered a paper trail that was leading him closer and closer to Johnson himself.
On June 3, 1961, Mac Wallace knocked Henry Marshall unconscious with a blunt object, fed the unconscious man carbon monoxide from a hose attached to Wallace's pick-up truck, then shot him five times with a bolt-action .22 caliber rifle and dumped him in a remote corner of Marshall's farm near Franklin, Texas. Justice of the Peace Lee Farmer
pronounced the death a suicide and ordered Marshall buried without an autopsy - over the protests of Marshall's widow. The verdict remained unchanged until 1984, when Billie Sol Estes, under a grant of immunity, told a grand jury that Wallace had been Marshall's killer, and that the order came from Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson through White House aide Cliff Carter. Based on Estes' testimony and supporting evidence, the grand jury changed the earlier ruling of suicide to murder. Mac Wallace could not be indicted; he died in an automobile accident in Pittsburgh, Texas, on January 7, 1971.
A Pecos doctor, John Dunn, picked up Henry Marshall's investigation. Despite filing his report on Johnson and Estes with numerous law enforcement agencies and US congressmen and senators, Dunn could not convince a single press outlet to report his findings, and no one in Washington would take any action. Out of desperation, Dunn and an associate bought their own newspaper, the Pecos Independent and Enterprise, and began running the Johnson-Estes stories on February 12, 1962. A month later, Billie Sol Estes was in jail; he would receive a light sentence with the help of Johnson's ever-helpful John Cofer. The Senate Investigations Subcommittee chaired by John McClellan conducted a brief and superficial series of hearings that swiftly exonerated Johnson of wrongdoing without any substantial investigation. Dr. John Dunn was soon disbarred from practicing medicine and charged with malpractice and claims that he had taken advantage of a patient, a young black woman, all of which Dunn vigorously denied.
Harold Eugene Orr was the president of the Superior Manufacturing Company of Amarillo, Texas when he was indicted for his role in Estes' fraudulent enterprises, and sentenced to a ten-year prison term. On February 28, 1964, just before Orr was to begin his prison term, he was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in his garage. It was ruled an accidental death. A few weeks later, Howard Pratt, the Chicago office manager of Commercial Solvents, a supplier of farm products for Billie Sol Estes, was also found dead in his car, a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. This strange series of carbon monoxide deaths was discussed in an Amarillo Globe-Times article of March 26, 1964, by reporter Clyde Walters.
Coleman Wade was a building contractor out of Altus, Oklahoma, who had contracted with Billie Sol Estes for many of Estes' storage facilities. In early 1963, Wade was flying home from Pecos, Texas, in his private plane when the craft went down in the area of Kermit, Texas, its occupants instantly killed. "Government investigators swept in and instead of expeditiously cleaning up the wreckage in their routine way, kept the area roped off for days".
On June 19, 1992, US Marshall Clint Peoples told a friend of his that he had documentary evidence that Mac Wallace was one of the shooters in Dealey Plaza. On June 23rd, Peoples, a former Texas Ranger and a onetime friend of Henry Marshall, was killed in a mysterious one-car automobile accident in Texas.
On March 12, 1998, a 1951 fingerprint of Malcolm "Mac" Wallace was positively matched with a copy of a fingerprint labeled "Unknown," a fresh print lifted on November 22, 1963, from a carton by the southeast sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. This carton was labeled "Box A," and also contained several fingerprints identified as those of Lee Harvey Oswald. The identification was made by A. Nathan Darby, a Certified Latent Print Examiner with several decades experience. Mr. Darby is a member of the International Association of Identifiers, and was chosen to help design the Eastman Kodak Miracode System of transmitting fingerprints between law enforcement agencies. Mr. Darby signed a sworn, notarized affidavit stating that he was able to affirm a 14-point match between the "Unknown" fingerprint and the "blind" print card submitted to him, which was the 1951 print of Mac Wallace's. US law requires a 12-point match for legal identification; Darby's match is more conclusive than the legal minimum. As cardboard does not retain fingerprints for long, it is certain that Malcolm E. Wallace left his fingerprint on "Box A" on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository early on November 22, 1963.
Publicity was given to one of the first whistleblowers to be killed, federal inspector Henry Marshall, an employee of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. He was killed in June 1961 on a farm in Texas, much to the relief of high federal officials. Marshall had evidence linking a multimillion-dollar commodity fraud to an LBJ aide, and to Lyndon Johnson himself. Alongside Marshall's body was the .22 caliber rifle that had fired the fatal bullets. Texas authorities obligingly ruled Marshall's death a suicide, even though the position of the wounds indicated it would have been physically impossible for them to have been self-inflicted.
An AP article prepared by the Dallas Times Herald reported that convicted swindler Billy Sol Estes secretly testified before a grand jury empaneled at Franklin, Texas, relating to the Marshall death. Estes testified that he was present when Lyndon Johnson and two other men discussed having Marshall killed because Marshall knew too much about illegal manipulation of cotton allotments. Johnson reportedly gave the order to have Marshall slain. Estes identified the two men as Clifton Carter and Malcolm Wallace. Carter was once Johnson's top political aide in Texas and later his White House liaison to the Democratic National Committee. Wallace was a former University of Texas student body president.
The Marshall killing and its relationship to Lyndon Johnson had been the subject of intense gossip and rumor in Texas political circles for years. Estes, who had aged considerably since Marshall was killed, agreed to testify about the Marshall killing at the urging of U.S. Marshal Clint Peoples of Dallas, who had pursued the case for more than two decades.
Other testimony in the grand jury hearings revealed that Johnson approved the killing out of fear that Marshall would give Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy evidence concerning cotton allotments incriminating LBJ. Kennedy was known to have no respect for Johnson.
The History Channel recently observed the fortieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination with a series of films, "The Men who Killed Kennedy." The most widely-viewed hour, "The Guilty Men," cast Lyndon Baines Johnson in a starring role for ordering the assassination. The film was offered without fear, and without evidence.
LBJ's family and friends heatedly protested the program. Finally, after former President Gerald Ford weighed in with his objections, the History Channel engaged several of us to evaluate the program, and provided air time to discuss our findings and conclusions. Let us hope that is not the end of the matter.
The Kennedy assassination has been fertile, enduring territory for conspiracy theories. But if such elaborate notions are your cup of tea, put no hope in the scurrilous book by Barr McClellan, a onetime associate who worked in Johnson's personal attorney's office, and British film maker Nigel Turner's farcical film rendering of McClellan's musings, which the History Channel broadcast. Their work is a parody of assassination theories and beliefs; surely, this is history as a joke the living play on the dead. Such programs reflect our desperate desire to embrace a conspiracy rather than the crucial question of truth.
McClellan's wild charges involve characters across the political spectrum, from disgruntled Texas oilmen, to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the CIA, the military, Johnson's crooked Texas cronies, and Texas Governor John Connally - forget he almost was killed himself. The Right has to be pleased with the mugging of LBJ, while the Left can pin more evil-doing on Hoover. A perfect storm. Such are our faded memories that McClellan can afford to omit a Communist plot.
McClellan's background is worth a mention. He is a convicted forger, who then resigned from the bar before disbarment proceedings ran their course. His certitude knows no bounds: "LBJ murdered John F. Kennedy"; Johnson "knew of the assassination"; and he was involved "beyond a reasonable doubt." His "evidence" rests entirely on the alleged utterances of dead people, with the sole exception of that poster child for a con artist, Billie Sol Estes. A McClellan supporter wrote to me, urging that I call Estes to "get the truth." He said "Billie Sol Estes was there when LBJ ordered the killings, 18 of them in all. This includes JFK. Don't take my word for it, get it from the man who was there at the time the killings were ordered. Call Billie Sol Estes..." The FBI has investigated Estes's accusations, and they found his credibility "non-existent." A further cover-up? Then consider how this pitiful figure admitted to his sentencing judge in 1979: "I have a problem. I live in a dream world." In a rare sensible moment, the film maker wisely did without his services - but not without his fabrications.
Assassination conspiracy theories and books expounding them proliferate. But film is special. A conjurer's sleight-of-hand and verbal misdirection are ready ingredients for manipulating a mass audience. Richard Condon, who wrote The Manchurian Candidate, and who managed to spoof every recent American president, gave his own comic twist in Winter Kills, a novel (later a film) naming the perp as Patriarch Joseph Kennedy, distressed because his son had become too liberal. A comic genius, Condon never labeled his work as anything other than fiction. But Oliver Stone, in the new tradition of "docu-dramas,"gave us JFK, which lent an aura of authenticity to Jim Garrison's outlandish, gothic tale. Sadly, many of those under 25 believed him.
The History Channel film takes historical revisionism to unimagined depths. It seems everyone wanted Kennedy dead: he was going to withdraw from Vietnam in December 1963, so the CIA and the military wanted him out of the way; Texans wanted to preserve their oil-depletion allowance; J. Edgar Hoover believed Kennedy was about to replace him; and driving it all, of course, was Lyndon Johnson's insatiable appetite for power. Increasing the improbability of the thesis, it seems, heightens its appeal.
John Simkin: I believe in the past you represented Billie Sol Estes. On 9th August, 1984, you wrote to Stephen S. Trott at the U.S. Department of Justice. In the letter you claimed that Billie Sol Estes, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mac Wallace and Cliff Carter had been involved in the murders of Henry Marshall, George Krutilek, Harold Orr, Ike Rogers, Coleman Wade, Josefa Johnson, John Kinser and John F. Kennedy. You added: "Mr. Estes is willing to testify that LBJ ordered these killings, and that he transmitted his orders through Cliff Carter to Mac Wallace, who executed the murders." Did Billie Sol Estes provide you with any evidence that suggested his story was true?
Douglass Caddy: My relationship with Billie Sol Estes began in 1983 when Shearn Moody, a trustee of the Moody Foundation of Galveston, Texas, asked me to visit Billie Sol who was incarcerated in the federal prison at Big Spring, Texas. Billie Sol had telephoned Mr. Moody at the suggestion of a fellow inmate who knew Moody from past days when that inmate had been a lobbyist in the state capital. Billie Sol told Moody that he wanted to tell the story publicly about his long and close relationship with Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) as LBJ's bagman and requested Moody's assistance in getting this done. Moody was happy to oblige.
I met with Billie Sol in prison, who related his desire to tell all. I suggested that he do so in book form and that I would be helpful in any way that I could since I already had two books published.
Moody and I heard nothing more from Billie Sol until soon after his release from prison in early January 1984. At that time he called Moody and Moody again asked me to visit Billie Sol at the latter's home in Abilene, Texas.
There Billie Sol presented me with a copy of the recently released book that his daughter, Pam Estes, had written based on my suggestion to him when he was in prison. Its title was "Billie Sol: King of the Wheeler-Dealers" and it had caused a minor sensation. Based on its limited success, Billie Sol said that he wanted to have his own story published. His daughter's book only told her personal story of the tribulations of the Estes' family in the preceding 20 years.
However, Billie Sol said that before he could tell his full story in book form that he had to get immunity from prosecution by the Texas law authorities and by the U.S. Department of Justice as there is no statute of limitations for murder. A friend of mine, Edward Miller, a former Assistant Director of the FBI, arranged for Miller and myself to meet with Stephen Trott, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, to discuss the question of granting immunity to Billie Sol.
Miller and I met with Trott several times. The Forum has already in its discussions among its members remarked upon the letters exchanged between Trott and myself. In the end the immunity effort came to an abrupt halt when Billie Sol got cold feet at the last moment and backed out of a meeting with three FBI agents sent by Trott to meet with him and myself in Abilene in September 1984.
The contents of the letters between Trott and myself speak for themselves. Billie Sol did not provide me with any evidence that his story, as detailed in the letters, was true. I never heard nor saw the clandestine tape recordings that he claimed that he had in his possession that had been made years earlier, which allegedly supported his contentions.
However, there is quite a bit of supporting evidence from other sources. This is as follows:
(1) In 1964, J. Evetts Haley, a distinguished Texas historian, wrote "A Texan Looks at Lyndon." Millions of copies of this paperback were widely distributed. Haley's book provided concrete evidence concerning most of the murders outlined in my correspondence with Trott.
(2) In attempting to get Billie Sol immunity in 1984, I worked closely with Clint Peoples, U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Texas. Peoples had followed the Estes' story for many years, having been assigned to the Estes' pending criminal case in the 1960's when he was a Texas Ranger. Peoples had several large file drawers containing materials about Estes and the murders that he showed me when I visited him in the U.S. Courthouse in Dallas. He was on good terms with Estes and constantly encouraged me to do my best to get Estes' story out. When he retired he became head of the Texas Rangers Museum in Waco, Texas, and in 1992 was killed in an automobile accident. Where Peoples' extensive files on Estes and the murders are today is unknown.
(3) I arranged for Lucianne Goldberg, then a literary agent and now sponsor of http://www.lucianne.com/, to visit Billie Sol in Abilene in 1984 in an effort to get his story published. Lucianne there disclosed to us that she had once met Malcolm (Mac) Wallace, who was the stone-cold killer retained by LBJ, when she had worked in the White House in LBJ's administration.
(4) The Texas Observer, a highly respected journal of opinion, published a thoroughly researched article by Bill Adler in its November 7, 1986 issue titled, "The Killing of Henry Marshall." The article is required reading for anyone interested in the murders.
(5) In 1998, a video titled "LBJ: A Closer Look" was released, having been produced by two Californians, Lyle and Theresa Sardie. The video contains interviews with key persons who knew of the murders and of the LBJ-Billie Sol connection.
(6) In 2003, the book "Blood, Money & Power: How LBJ murdered JFK" was published. Its author is Barr McClellan, father of Bush's current press secretary in the White House, Scott McClellan. Barr McClellan was a lawyer with the law firm in Austin that handled LBJ's secret financial empire before and after he became President.
(7) Also in 2003, the History Channel showed "The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Final Chapter." Much of this show drew on McClellan's book and my letters to Trott. After it was telecast several times, immense pressure was brought upon the History Channel to withdraw the video from being offered for sale to the public. For the first time in its own history the History Channel succumbed to this outside pressure that was orchestrated by Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Pictures Association of America and former LBJ aide, and reluctantly withdrew the video from public circulation.
(8) Both Barr McClellan and I, among others, have in our possession documents and papers, too numerous and lengthy to detail here, that help to round out the full LBJ-Billie Sol story, including letters from LBJ to Billie Sol.
1. If you were researching the Kennedy assassination, from scratch, and had never met Estes, how much credibility would you afford Estes' accusations?
2. How does your having met Estes influence your assessment?
3. Was there anything, to your knowledge, that would support Estes' accusations?
4. Did he have, for example, a signed and notarized document, dating back to before you met him, in which he recorded his allegations?
5. Had he made a recording, and placed it with someone for safe-keeping?
6. Had he confided in a friend, who would testify in support of his allegations?
7. Were you aware of anything that might convince someone of the truth of his allegations about LBJ, beyond his say-so, years after LBJ's death?
1) I give great credibility to the accusations made by Billie Sol Estes in the relevant 1984 letter to the U.S. Department of Justice. There were contemporaneous newspaper reports of the untimely deaths of almost all of the persons listed by him in the letter. In addition, Texan historian J. Evetts Haley in his 1964 book, A Texan Looks at Lyndon, wrote in great detail about Estes and the victims.
2) I don’t think my having met Estes, which originally occurred in 1983 when I was asked to do so by Shearn Moody, Jr., of the Moody Foundation in connection with a grant request from Estes, influenced my assessment of the accusations one way or the other. This is because there already existed in the public record much evidence to support Estes’ accusations.
3) U.S. Marshal Clint Peoples, who had closely followed Estes’ activities for 25 years, told me on several occasions that his research supported Estes’ accusations. His exact words to me: “It is about time that the truth comes out.” It was Marshal Peoples who arranged for Estes to testify in 1984 before the Robertson County grand jury. Press reports at the time disclosed that Estes reiterated his accusations in his grand jury testimony.
4) There was no signed and notarized document of Estes dating before I met him that recorded his accusations. He had not determined to tell what he knew until while still in federal prison at Big Spring, Texas, he contacted Shearn Moody, Jr. in 1983 and indicated he was prepared to relate for the public record what he knew.
5) Estes has maintained that he has taped recordings of conversations of the conspirators that support his accusations. I have not heard the recordings and have no knowledge of their whereabouts,
6) He confided in U.S. Marshal Peoples of what he knew. Peoples is now deceased. However, the transcript of Estes’ testimony before the Robertson County grand jury in 1984, if it were unsealed, would clarify much.
7) At the time of JFK assassination, LBJ was facing criminal proceedings stemming from his involvement in the Billie Sol Estes and the Bobby Baker scandals that were reaching the explosive stage. LBJ’s involvement in these two scandals certainly adds credence to what Estes has alleged.