Jim Koethe


Jim Koethe worked as a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald. He was involved in the investigation of the killing of President John F. Kennedy. On 24th November, 1963, Koethe and Bill Hunter of the Long Beach Press Telegram interviewed George Senator. Also there was the attorney Tom Howard. Earlier that day Senator and Howard had both visited Jack Ruby in jail. That evening Senator arranged for Koethe, Hunter and Howard to search Ruby's apartment.

It is not known what the journalists found but on 23rd April 1964, Bill Hunter was shot dead by Creighton Wiggins, a policeman in the pressroom of a Long Beach police station. Wiggins initially claimed that his gun fired when he dropped it and tried to pick it up. In court this was discovered that this was impossible and it was decided that Hunter had been murdered. Wiggins finally admitted he was playing a game of quick draw with his fellow officer. The other officer, Errol F. Greenleaf, testified he had his back turned when the shooting took place. In January 1965, both were convicted and sentenced to three years probation.

Jim Koethe decided to write a book about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. However, he died on 21st September, 1964. It seems that a man broke into his Dallas apartment and killed him by a karate chop to the throat. Tom Howard died of a heart-attack, aged 48, in March, 1965.

Primary Sources

(1) Penn Jones, Jr, Disappearing Witnesses included in The Rebel (22nd November, 1983)

Shortly after dark on Sunday night, November 24, 1963, after Ruby had killed Lee Harvey Oswald, a meeting took place in Jack Ruby's apartment in Oak Cliff, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. Five persons were present. George Senator and Attorney Tom Howard were present and having a drink in the apartment when two newsmen arrived. The newsmen were Bill Hunter of the Long Beach California Press Telegram and Jim Koethe of the Dallas Times Herald. Attorney C.A. Droby of Dallas arranged the meeting for the two newsmen, Jim Martin, a close friend of George Senator's, was also present at the apartment meeting. This writer asked Martin if he thought it was unusual for Senator to forget the meeting while testifying in Washington on April 22, 1964, since Bill Hunter, who was a newsman present at the meeting, was shot to death that very night. Martin grinned and said: "Oh, you're looking for a conspiracy."

I nodded yes and he grinned and said, "You will never find it."

I asked soberly, "Never find it, or not there?"

He added soberly, "Not there."

Bill Hunter, a native of Dallas and an award-winning newsman in Long Beach, was on duty and reading a book in the police station called the "Public Safety Building." Two policemen going off duty came into the press room, and one policeman shot Hunter through the heart at a range officially ruled to be "no more than three feet." The policeman said he dropped his gun, and it fired as he picked it up, but the angle of the bullet caused him to change his story. He finally said he was playing a game of quick draw with his fellow officer. The other officer testified he had his back turned when the shooting took place.

Hunter, who covered the assassination for his paper, the Long Beach Press Telegram had written:

"Within minutes of Ruby's execution of Oswald, before the eyes of millions watching television, at least two Dallas attorneys appeared to talk with him."

Hunter was quoting Tom Howard who died of a heart attack in Dallas a few months after Hunter's own death. Lawyer Tom Howard was observed acting strangely to his friends two days before his death. Howard was taken to the hospital by a "friend" according to the newspapers. No autopsy was performed.

Dallas Times Herald reporter Jim Koethe was killed by a karate chop to the throat just as he emerged from a shower in his apartment on Sept. 21, 1964. His murderer was not indicted.

What went on in that significant meeting in Ruby's and Senator's apartment?

Few are left to tell. There is no one in authority to ask the question, since the Warren Commission has made its final report, and the House Select Committee has closed its investigation.

(2) Bill Sloan, JFK: Breaking the Silence (1993)

In light of the strange, unsettling sequence of events that unfolded over the next ten months, some independent assassination researchers have put heavy emphasis on the assumption that Koethe and Hunter were in the apartment before police had a chance to search it. Clearly, this would have heightened the chance of the two reporters finding something while there and could only make an intriguing tale even more so.

Unfortunately, however, it simply isn't true.

In reality, homicide detective Gus Rose arrived at Ruby's apartment at about 2 p.m. that Sunday . . . accompanied by two other Dallas officers and armed with a search warrant issued by Justice of the Peace Joe Brown, Jr.

"I showed the manager the warrant and she let us right in," Rose recalled in an October 1992 interview. "We were there for about an hour and a half, and we searched the place thoroughly." . . . According to Rose, the search failed to turn up anything of significance . . .

"We collected a few notes and telephone numbers that had been written on pads, but that was about all we took. Once we were finished, we just locked the place back up and left again."

"If Rose was there in the afternoon, he was there long before we were," Droby concludes. "I just never realized it because nothing was messed up."

(3) David Welsh, Ramparts (November, 1966)

The body of the young Dallas reporter was found swathed in a blanket on the floor of his bachelor apartment on September 21, 1964. Police said the cause of death was asphyxiation from a broken bone at the base of the neck - apparently the result of a karate chop.

Robbery appeared to be the motive, although Koethe's parents believe he was killed for other reasons. Whoever ransacked his apartment, they point out, was careful to remove his notes for a book he was preparing, in collaboration with two other journalists, on the Kennedy assassination.

Within a week a 22-year-old ex-con from Alabama named Larry Earl Reno was picked up selling Koethe's personal effects and held on suspicion of murder.

Reno's lawyers were Mike Barclay and the ubiquitous Jim Martin, both friends of Ruby roomie George Senator. Martin and Senator, one recalls, were with Koethe at that enigmatic meeting on November 24, 1963. When the Reno case came before the grand jury, District Attorney Henry Wade secretly instructed the jurors not to indict - an extraordinary move for a chief prosecuting officer with as strong a case as he had. The grand jury returned a no-bill.

Reno, however, remained in jail on a previous charge. When they finally sprang him, in January 1965, he was re-arrested within a month for the robbery of a hotel. This time the prosecution, led by a one-time law partner of Martin's had no qualms about getting an indictment, and a conviction. Reno was sentenced to life for the hotel robbery. At the trial his lawyers called no witnesses in his defense.

(4) Gary Richard Schoener, Fair Play Magazine, A Legacy of Fear (May, 2000)

Jim Koethe was a reporter actively researching the assassination and collecting data, possibly in preparation for the writing of a book. Shortly before the publication of the Warren Report, on September 11, 1964, he was found dead on the floor of his apartment. The cause of death was asphyxiation due to a broken neck bone, the result of strangulation or of a blow to the neck. The apparent motive was robbery, the apartment was ransacked, and a 22 year old ex-con named Larry Earl Reno was arrested within a week when he was caught selling Koethe's personal effects. Reno was not indicted, although shortly afterwards he was imprisoned for another offense. Koethe's notes never showed up and there is no way of knowing if they contained anything of substance.

Koethe was one of the few reporters to visit Jack Ruby's apartment the evening Ruby shot Oswald. Another reporter who was there that night, Bill Hunter, was later to be shot to death in a California police station. His death was ruled to be accidental, the result of a police officer who was just horsing around pointing a loaded gun at him and pulling the trigger. The officer was allegedly a friend of his.