John Kelin

John Kelin

John Kelin was born in Rockford, Illinois, but the family later moved to Michigan. He worked for several years in public radio at WEMU-FM in Ypsilanti, then moved to the news department at WXYZ-TV in Detroit. In 1991, Kelin began working as a technical writer at Sun Microsystems in San Francisco. Shortly thereafter, Kelin and his family moved to Colorado, where they remain.

John Kelin was seven years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and that event remains his earliest clear memory in life. His interest in the assassination and the first-generation critics dates to 1976 when he attended a lecture by Mark Lane.

Kelin co-founded Fair Play magazine in 1994 on the then-fledgling World Wide Web. As the magazine's publisher and editor, he presented the work of many Kennedy assassination researchers and writers, including Christopher Sharrett, James W. Douglass, and Joan Mellen, as well as his 1999 interview with Kerry McCarthy, a cousin of John F. Kennedy. Kelin also wrote other important articles such as The Odio-Connell Mystery (1994), In Defense of Roger Craig (1994), Pictures of the Paines (1995) , and JFK Breakthrough (1998).

In 1998 Kelin met Vincent J. Salandria at a conference in Dallas. Salandria gave Kelin complete access to his assassination-related correspondence from the 1960s. This began almost ten years of full-time research, leading to the publication of Praise from a Future Generation.

In 1999, Kelin was a recipient of JFK Lancer's New Frontier award. He has been listed in several editions of the Master Researcher Directory.

John Kelin published Praise from a Future Generation in 2007. The book is the untold story of the "first-generation critics" of the Warren Commission Report. This includes Thomas G. Buchanan, Mary Ferrell, Joachim Joesten, W. Penn Jones Jr, Mark Lane, Vincent J. Salandria, Josiah Thompson and Harold Weisberg.

Primary Sources

(1) John Kelin, JFK Breakthrough? (1998)

A Texas-based assassination research group has publicly named a man believed to have left a previously unidentified fingerprint on a box making up the so-called "sniper's nest" on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.

At a May 29 press conference in Dallas, researcher and author Walt Brown said that the fingerprints belong to Malcolm E. "Mac" Wallace, a convicted killer with ties to Lyndon Baines Johnson. The fingerprints have been officially unidentified since President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

Brown presented data showing a 14-point match between Wallace's fingerprint card, obtained from the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the previously unidentified print, a copy of which was kept in the National Archives. The match was made by A. Nathan Darby, an expert with certification by the International Association of Identifiers.

The Texas researchers forwarded their findings to the Dallas Police Department, who passed it on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Copies have also gone to Assassination Records Review Board, the federal panel created to oversee the identification and release of records relating to the JFK assassination.

Malcolm Wallace, convicted in a 1951 murder and suspected in others, has been linked to the 1961 death of U.S. Department of Agriculture investigator Henry Marshall. Marshall was reportedly close to connecting Lyndon Johnson to fraudulent activities involving businessman and convicted swindler Billy Sol Estes.

Estes alleged in 1984 that LBJ ordered the killings of Marshall, President Kennedy, and half a dozen others, and that Wallace carried them out. A grand jury decided that same year that Henry Marshall was murdered as a result of a conspiracy involving then-Vice President Johnson, his aide Clifton Carter, and Wallace. No charges were possible since all three men were by then deceased.

Wallace was killed in a single car automobile accident in January 1971.

Barr McClellan, a Houston attorney and part of the Texas research team, told Fair Play that he began to focus on Wallace during his work as attorney-partner with Ed Clark, whom he described as an Austin power broker and one of those behind the assassination. "John Cofer, Wallace's attorney from the start, was our partner specializing in criminal cases," McClellan said. "From that position of insight, I knew Wallace played a key role in the assassination."

In the petition filed with the ARRB, McClellan wrote: "My direct involvement with Clark as his law partner and sole attorney occurred when he sought an additional payoff for the assassination." Negotiations for the payoff, McClellan told Fair Play, were "in May 1974 in a secret meeting with two members of the Railroad Commission."

The Wallace fingerprint match by Darby has been disputed by Glen Sample, who represents California-based researchers whose investigation parallels the Texas research. While Sample says the California group still believes Wallace "was one of the shooters" of President Kennedy, they do not believe his fingerprints are those from the TSBD box.

(2) John Kelin, The Odio-Connell Mystery (November, 1994)

Many readers are no doubt familiar with the Silvia Odio story, but a short refresher is still in order. Briefly, Silvia Odio was the daughter of a prominent anti-Castro activist who was jailed in Castro's Cuba. In September of 1963 she was living in Dallas when three men, whom she did not know, came to her apartment out of the blue one evening. They told her they too were involved in the anti-Castro movement and wanted her help. Two of the men, Odio later said, appeared to be Cuban or Mexican, and identified themselves by their "war names," Leopoldo and Angelo (or Angel). The third was an American introduced as Leon Oswald.

Uneasy with these men, Silvia Odio declined any involvement with them, and sent them away. A day or two later, Leopoldo called her on the phone and, among other things, said that Leon Oswald was a former marine, a crack shot - and that he thought President Kennedy should be assassinated.

After the President was indeed slain, Silvia Odio was horrified to recognize Lee Harvey Oswald as the same "Leon Oswald" who had been outside her apartment. This identification was corroborated by her sister Annie who also saw and spoke with the three strangers.

Silvia Odio gave this story to the Warren Commission. But the Commission decided she was mistaken in her identification of Oswald, in part because Oswald was, by the Commission's reckoning, in Mexico City at the time Odio said she was visited.

This story - the conventional "Odio incident" - is explosive enough, tying Oswald to the idea of killing Kennedy several months before it happened. Sylvia Meagher called it "the proof of the plot." Anthony Summers said it represents "the strongest human evidence." And Gaeton Fonzi, who investigated this episode for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, wrote that "the Odio incident absolutely cries conspiracy."

(3) John Kelin, In Defense of Roger Craig (November, 1994)

Roger Dean Craig was an important witness to the JFK assassination, and his testimony is highly indicative of conspiracy. By now his story has been told many times by many different writers. But it appears there are those still attempting to smear Roger Craig's name and discount what he reported seeing on November 22, 1963...

In Case Closed, Gerald Posner dismisses Craig's story as a "tale of a getaway car at Dealey Plaza," though he does not provide any information beyond this fleeting reference. Readers who know little of the JFK case beyond Posner's book might be surprised to learn there is strong evidence to corroborate the former Deputy's "tale."

A photograph turned up a few years after the assassination showing the TSBD about ten minutes after the shooting. The Hertz clock on the roof reads 12:40. That photograph shows what appears to be a Rambler station wagon in the traffic on Elm - lending support Craig's story.

Much stronger, however, is Commission Document 5, which according to author Henry Hurt "was omitted from the twenty-six volumes of Warren Commission exhibits. It finally was discovered years later in documents housed in the National Archives."

Hurt's account of Commission Document 5: "Soon after the shooting, Marvin C. Robinson was driving west along Elm Street in heavy traffic. According to an FBI report dated the next day, just as Robinson crossed the Elm and Houston intersection, he saw a "light-colored Nash station wagon" stop in front of the Book Depository. A white man walked down the grassy incline from the building, got into the Nash, and the car moved off in the direction of Oak Cliff. Robinson was unable to provide any additional information."

There are also the statements of Richard Randolph Carr, a steelworker who also said he saw a Rambler in Dealey Plaza. Carr was on an upper floor of a building that was under construction on November 22. From his position he could see into the sixth floor of the TSBD, where just before the motorcade arrived he saw a stocky man wearing a hat, sportcoat, and glasses. When the shooting stopped Carr descended to ground level, where he again saw the man in the sportcoat. Carr said he followed him for about a block and saw him get into a Nash Rambler driven by a dark-complected man.

Posner also attempts to discredit Craig's testimony of seeing Oswald in Captain Fritz' office after his arrest. Once again a photograph that surfaced a few years later seems to support Craig. It shows the Deputy at police headquarters, where he said he was, as Oswald was being interrogated in Fritz's office. Posner relegates the issue to a footnote, stating, "The picture does not show Craig in the inner office where Oswald was kept, but instead in a separate outer office." This is an extremely weak argument, for that photograph without question places Craig in the vicinity of Oswald--just like he said he was. Like any photo, it shows us one split second in time. It is unlikely Craig sat around twiddling his thumbs. It is entirely possible that Craig was in the inner office, where he said he was, either sometime before or sometime after this photograph was taken.

Furthermore, it must be remembered that none of the interrogation of Oswald was tape recorded, or even written down by a stenographer. Considering the enormity of what had occurred and the enormity of its implications, and also considering the importance of whatever could be learned from Oswald, this is incomprehensible - unless what Oswald had to say was so explosive it was suppressed. I would speculate that if that were the case, Captain Fritz might have more reason to lie than Roger Craig.

(4) John Kelin, Pictures of the Paines (May, 1995)

The Paines have been readily available to the media since their Warren Commission testimony more than thirty years ago, and for the most part they have been consistent: Oswald dunnit. As recently as the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination, both Ruth and Michael appeared on national television - Ruth on a Frontline episode, and Michael on CBS News. Ruth Paine stuck to the story she's told for thirty years. Michael, however, seemed to deviate.

First, consider what Michael Paine told the Warren Commission on March 18, 1964, when he was asked about seeing Oswald on the night of November 22.

Mr. Dulles. The only question I have in mind is as to what took place as far as Mr. Paine is concerned on the night of the assassination. Were you in the police station?

Mr. Paine. We went down to the police and stayed there until about 8 or 9 o'clock. Then Marguerite came home with us and spent the night.

Mr. Dulles. You didn't see Lee Harvey at that time, did you?

Mr. Paine. They asked me and I declined to see him at that time. I changed my mind. When they immediately asked me, I declined. I did not know what he would ask me, so I did not see him.

Mr. Dulles. You did not see him?

Mr. Paine. No.

No uncertain terms: Michael Paine, under oath, testified he did not see Lee Oswald on the night of November 22, 1963.

But that isn't what he said in 1993. On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the JFK assassination, Michael Paine told CBS that he had seen Oswald that night.

At the police station when I saw him later on that night, he was proud of what he'd done. He felt that he'd be recognized now as somebody who did something.

Perhaps, with the passage of thirty years, Michael Paine was simply incorrect in his recollection of that night, in spite of its historical significance. Perhaps he saw Oswald in jail on Saturday.

The chance for Mr. Paine to tell the Commission he had seen a "proud" Oswald came up several times. There is this exchange with Wesley Liebeler:

Mr. Liebeler. Can you recall any conversations that you had with Oswald that you think would be helpful for us to know other than the ones you have already mentioned?

Mr. Paine. I don't recall one now.

(5) John Kelin, Praise from a Future Generation (2007)

Ray Marcus was a charter subscriber to I.F. Stone's Weekly, which first appeared in January of 1953. In its inaugural issue I. F. Stone wrote that the Weekly was "an attempt to keep alive through a difficult period the kind of independent radical journalism" represented by such by then defunct papers as PM, The New York Star, and The New York Daily Compass, each of which had once employed him. The "difficult period" was, of course, the anti-communist hysteria of the early 1950s. Stone modeled his new Weekly on In Fact, the newsletter published by George Seldes, which had folded a few years earlier. Ray Marcus, who had also been an In Fact subscriber, said he considered Stone's new paper a worthy successor.

I. F. Stone's Weekly was virtually a one-man operation, with its journalist-founder serving as publisher, editor, reporter, proofreader, and layout man. His wife Esther served as his secretary and managed the paper's business operations. The Weekly was launched with some five thousand charter subscribers but in time reached 70,000. Stone promised his readers "politically uninhibited commentary and let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may reporting." Overall, he lived up to that pledge. "I had fought the loyalty purge, the FBI, the House Un-American Activities Committee, and McCarran as well as McCarthy," Stone once said. "There was nothing to the left of me but The Daily Worker."

In the fall of 1964 Ray Marcus was eagerly awaiting Stone's analysis of the Warren Commission. "With his long demonstrated ability to demolish official falsehoods, I had little reason to doubt he would make mincemeat of the just-released Warren Report," he remembered.

(6) Anthony Frewin, Lobster, review of Praise from a Future Generation (Summer, 2008)

While the literature critical of the Warren Commission's findings is vast I can only think of two works off hand that are autobiographical accounts of what it actually meant to be a critic: Mark Lane's A Citizen's Dissent (1968) and Gaeton Fonzi's The Last Investigation (1993), the former describing the early days of the critical community and the latter the background to working on the House Select Committee. One could perhaps also include here David Lifton's Quest for Corvo-style Best Evidence (1980) which is as much a first hand account of uncovering the evidence as it is of the evidence itself.

I've often thought it would be entertaining to read a lengthy article, say 20 to 30,000 words on the emergence of the critical community, but what we have here instead is nearly 600 pages. John Kelin has provided in exhaustive detail a history of the first generation of critics in the 1960s, namely Harold Feldman. Penn Jones Jr, Raymond Marcus, Sylvia Meagher, Vincent J. Salandria, Leo Sauvage, Harold Weisberg, and several others. If you want to know what Raymond said in his telephone call to Sylvia at 3.30 pm and what he then said that evening to Leo and Vincent then this is the book for you.

There's precious little here about Mark Lane and whether you love him or loathe him he was a vitally important part of the mix, and virtually nothing about Sylvan Fox, the author of the first critical study of the Warren Commission's findings put out by a mainstream publisher. The Unanswered Questions about President Kennedy's Assassination (New York: Award Books, 1965). Actually, it was preceded by Thomas G. Buchanan's Who Killed Kennedy? (London: Seeker & Warburg, 1964) which was published before the Warren Report came out. Buchanan was criticizing the "findings" that had been leaked out by the FBI and others and putting the "lone mad nut" thesis into (American) historical perspective. And what was David Lifton up to back then? And whither Thomas G. Buchanan?

These are small cavils though and Kelin has done a remarkable job of research and writing. It's a good read, but at the back of my mind I keep thinking, shouldn't he have been out investigating the case now, and wouldn't 20 to 30,000 words have been enough?