Earlene Roberts

Earlene Roberts

Earlene Roberts was born in Nashville, Tennessee. Later the family moved to Tyler, Texas. In 1938 she moved to Dallas where she worked at a PBX operator at the Hotel Blackstone. After her marriage she became a housewife but in 1949 began work as a nurse.

As a diabetic, Roberts was forced to give up this work and instead began to take in lodgers. On 14th October, Roberts rented a room to Lee Harvey Oswald.

Roberts testified before the Warren Commission that Oswald arrived home at around 1.00 p.m. on 22nd November, 1963. He stayed only a few minutes but while he was in the house a Dallas Police Department car parked in front of the house. In the car were two uniformed policemen. Roberts described how the driver sounded the horn twice before driving off. Soon afterwards Oswald left the house.

Roberts also testified that she thought the police car's number was 106. Some researchers have suggested that it might have been the car being driven by J. D. Tippit (number 10). However, the Dallas Police denied they had any cars in that area at 1.00 p.m. on 22nd November.

In an article published in Ramparts, David Welsh claims that Roberts was subjected to intensive police harassment. "They visited her at all hours of the day and night, contacted her employers and identified her as the Oswald rooming house lady. As a result she was dismissed from three housekeeping and nursing jobs in April, May and June of 1964 alone; no telling how many jobs she lost after that."

Earlene Roberts died of a heart attack in Parkland Hospital on 9th January, 1966.

Primary Sources

(1) Joseph A. Ball interviewed Earlene Roberts for the Warren Commission on 8th April, 1964.

Earlene Roberts: I had better back up a minute - he came home that Friday in an unusual hurry.

Joseph Ball: And about what time was this?

Earlene Roberts: Well, it was after President Kennedy had been shot and I had a friend that said, "Roberts, President Kennedy has been shot," and I said, "Oh, no." She said, "Turn on your television," and I said "What are you trying to do, pull my leg?" And she said, "Well, go turn it on." I went and turned it on and I was trying to clear it up - I could hear them talking but I couldn't get the picture and he come in and I just looked up and I said, "Oh, you are in a hurry." He never said a thing, not nothing. He went on to his room and stayed about 3 or 4 minutes.

Joseph Ball: As he came in, did you say anything else except, "You are in a hurry"?

Earlene Roberts: No.

Joseph Ball: Did you say anything about the President being shot?

Earlene Roberts: No...

Joseph Ball: When he came in the door, what did he do?

Earlene Roberts: He just walked in - he didn't look around at me - he didn't say nothing and went on to his room.

Joseph Ball: Did he run?

Earlene Roberts: He wasn't running, but he was walking pretty fast - he was all but running.

Joseph Ball: Then, what happened after that?

Earlene Roberts: He went to his room and he was in his shirt sleeves but I couldn't tell you whether it was a long-sleeved shirt or what color it was or nothing, and he got a jacket and put it on - it was kind of a zipper jacket.

Joseph Ball: Had you ever seen him wear that jacket before?

Earlene Roberts: I can't say I did - if I did, I don't remember it.

Joseph Ball: When he came in he was in a shirt?

Earlene Roberts: He was in his shirt sleeves...

Joseph Ball: Did a police car pass the house there and honked?

Earlene Roberts: Yes.

Joseph Ball: When was that?

Earlene Roberts: He came in the house.

Joseph Ball: When he came in the house?

Earlene Roberts: When he came in the house and went to his room, you know how the sidewalk runs?

Joseph Ball: Yes.

Earlene Roberts: Right direct in front of that door-there was a police car stopped and honked. I had worked for some policemen and sometimes they come by and tell me something that maybe their wives would want me to know, and I thought it was them, and I just glanced out and saw the number, and I said, "Oh, that's not their car," for I knew their car.

Joseph Ball: You mean, it was not the car of the policemen you knew?

Earlene Roberts: It wasn't the police car I knew, because their number was 170 and it wasn't 170 and I ignored it.

Joseph Ball: And who was in the car?

Earlene Roberts: I don't know - I didn't pay any attention to it after I noticed it wasn't them - I didn't.

Joseph Ball: Where was it parked ?

Earlene Roberts: It was parked in front of the house.

Joseph Ball: At 1026 North Beckley?

Earlene Roberts: And then they just eased on - the way it is-it was the third house off of Zangs and they just went on around the corner that way.

Joseph Ball: Went around what corner?

Earlene Roberts: Went around the corner off of Beckley on Zangs...

Joseph Ball: You remembered the number of the car ?

Earlene Roberts: I think it was - 106, it seems to me like it was 106, but I do know what theirs was - it was 170 and it wasn't their car.

(2) David Welsh, Ramparts Magazine (November, 1966)

Mrs. Roberts, the plump widow who managed the rooming house where Oswald was living under the name O.H. Lee, was one of the key witnesses before the Warren Commission. She testified that "around 1 o'clock, or maybe a little after" on November 22, Oswald rushed into the rooming house, stayed in his room for "not over 3 or 4 minutes" and walked out zipping on a light-weight jacket. The last she saw of him he was waiting at a nearby bus stop. A few minutes later, one mile away, Officer Tippit was shot dead; Oswald was accused of the crime.

Mrs. Roberts also testified that during the brief time Oswald was in his room, a police car with two uniformed cops in it pulled up in front of the rooming house, and that she did not recognize either the car or the policemen. She heard the horn honk, "just kind of 'tit-tit'... twice," and after a moment saw the police car move off down the street. Moments later Oswald left the house.

The police department issued a report saying all patrol cars in the area (except Officer Tippit's) were accounted for. The Warren Commission let it go at that. It did not seek to resolve the question: what were policemen doing honking the horn outside Oswald's rooming house 30 minutes after a Presidential assassination? Their swift departure would indicate they certainly were not coming to apprehend him. It is perhaps too far fetched to imagine that they were giving Oswald some kind of signal, although it seems as plausible as any other explanation of this bizarre incident.

After testifying in Dallas in April of 1964, Mrs. Roberts was subjected to intensive police harassment. They visited her at all hours of the day and night, contacted her employers and identified her as the Oswald rooming house lady. As a result she was dismissed from three housekeeping and nursing jobs in April, May and June of 1964 alone; no telling how many jobs she lost after that. Relatives report that right up until her death a year and a half later, Earlene complained of being "worried to death" by the police.

Mrs. Roberts died January 9, 1966, in Parkland Hospital. Police said she suffered a heart attack in her home. No autopsy was performed.