Dorothy Kilgallen PHOTO: New York Post/Everett Collection
One of the principal early truth investigators of the JFK assassination was the most-famed reporter of that era, Dorothy Kilgallen (1913-1965). Killgallen had both a big audience and was in the thick of investigative reporting on the Crime Syndicate (with a big C) deep-state and Mafia. Note: TNN doesn’t use Crime Syndicate in the narrow sense of the American Mafia. This type of journalism is largely unseen today. When one considers Kilgallen’s fate, we can ascertain why.
As early as July 15, 1959, Kilgallen became the first journalist to suggest that the CIA and the Mafia were working together in order to assassinate Fidel Castro. This disclosure upset high-ranking government officials, and J. Edgar Hoover began to keep a dossier on Kilgallen’s activities.
A week after Jacob Leon Rubenstein aka Jack Ruby eliminated Lee Harvey Oswald, Killgallen’s strong (and now rare) intuition kicked in.
“The case is closed, is it? Well, I’d like to know how, in a big, smart town like Dallas, a man like Jack Ruby — owner of a strip tease honky tonk — can stroll in and out of police headquarters as if it was at a health club at a time when a small army of law enforcers is keeping a ‘tight security guard’ on Oswald. Justice is a big rug. When you pull it out from under one man, a lot of others fall, too,” she wrote.
Kilgallen had a good contact within the Dallas Police Department. He gave her a copy of the original police log that chronicled the minute-by-minute activities of the department on the day of the assassination, as reflected in the radio communications. This enabled her to report that the first reaction of Chief Jesse Curry to the shots in Dealey Plaza was: “Get a man on top of the overpass and see what happened up there.” Kilgallen pointed out that he lied when he told reporters the next day that he initially thought the shots were fired from the Texas Book Depository.
Kilgallen published several articles about how important witnesses had been threatened by the Dallas Police or the FBI. On Sept. 25, 1964, Kilgallen published an interview with Acquilla Clemons, one of the witnesses to the shooting of J. D. Tippet. In the interview, Clemons told Kilgallen that she saw two men running from the scene, neither of whom fitted Oswald’s description. Clemons added: “I’m not supposed to be talking to anybody, might get killed on the way to work.” Clemons’ testimony was never used by the Warren Commission.
Kilgallen also had a source within the Warren Commission. This person gave her a 102-page segment dealing with Jack Ruby before it was published. She published details of this leak, thereby ensuring that the information was in the public realm should it get edited or redacted from final version of the report.
Ruby told Earl Warren that he would “come clean,” if he was moved from Dallas and allowed to testify in Washington. He told Warren “my life is in danger here.” He added: “I want to tell the truth, and I can’t tell it here.” Warren refused to have Ruby moved, and so he refused to tell what he knew about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
In author Mark Shaw’s “The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of ‘What’s My Line’ TV and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen,’ he assembled a unique set of eyewitness accounts of Killgallen’s activities from after the assassination to her sudden and suspicious death on Nov. 8, 1965. We will comb through this for pertinent points.
Keep in mind that Killgallen had to start from scratch and without the benefit of 50-plus more years of background and databases of information that we have now. Had she lived, she would have continued to be a huge thorn in the side of the conspirators.
For example, as we recently reported, secret FBI files released after 54 years of suppression suggest that Ruby informant (Bob Vanderslice) stated that on the morning of the assassination, Ruby had contacted him and asked if he would ‘like to watch the fireworks,’” an FBI record dated April 6, 1977, states. He was with Jack Ruby. They stood at the corner of the Postal Annex Building, facing the Texas School Book Depository Building, at the time of the shooting. Immediately after the shooting, Ruby left and headed toward the area of the Dallas Morning News building. Rubenstein was a busy man throughout the big event with numerous sightings, which we covered here.
Also see from new file releases: Newly Released JFK Files Indicate Evidence of Oswald’s Fingerprints on Rifle was ‘Lost’
Jack Ruby answers reporters’ questions after a pre-trial hearing in February 1964.
The Wikipedia section on Jack Ruby states, “Other investigations and dissenting theories” are actually well done, pretty overwhelming and demonstrate many characters who called the Oswald shooting an orchestrated hit.
For logical reasons, Kilgallen felt that Jacob Rubenstein (aka Jack Ruby) held the key to the JFK hit. Accordingly, she covered the story and was on hand throughout Rubenstein’s trial. After his opportunity to tell his account of the story to the Warren Committee came to an end, Kilgallen used her influence to secure two separate interviews; one lasting eight minutes, the other lasting 10. Tonahill was one of Ruby’s defense lawyers.
- Tonahill describes how Dorothy came to interview Jack Ruby – 01:58
- Tonahill disputes Earl Ruby denial Dorothy interviewed Jack Ruby at trial – 00:49
- Tonahill describes Dorothy interview with Jack Ruby – 00:32
It’s not clear what Ruby told Kilgallen, as he was often cryptic, but it seemed to point to hotbed New Orleans and mob boss Carlos Marcelo. After Rubenstein was convicted on March 14, 1964, Kilgallen headed for New Orleans to pursue leads and told her hairdresser, confident and sidekick Marc Sinclaire to go back to New York and not say a thing. Keep in mind that this was before DA Jim Garrison started establishing the New Orleans connections between 1966 and ’67. Kilgallen, who was deceased at that time, would have never met Garrison.
Kilgallen died weeks before a planned second trip to New Orleans for a meeting with a secret informant, telling a friend it was “cloak and daggerish.”
“I’m going to break the real story and have the biggest scoop of the century,” she told her lawyer.
According to David Welsh of Ramparts Magazine, Kilgallen “vowed she would ‘crack this case.'”
Another New York showbiz friend said Dorothy told him in the last days of her life: “In five more days, I’m going to bust this case wide open.”
She compiled a thick file of evidence, interviews and notes, always keeping it close or under lock and key. It was nowhere to be found after her death. She also gave a copy of her drafts, including interview notes, to her friend Florence Smith. Smith died two days after Kilgallen of a “cerebral hemorrhage.” Smith’s copy of Kilgallen’s draft was also never located.
When the Warren Commission report came out, she had this to say: “[The Warren Commission Ruby testimony] is a fascinating document — fascinating for what it leaves unsaid, as well as what it says. Ruby admits this was a conspiracy involving powerful people.
Commenting on Ruby’s state of mind, she wrote. Note: Ruby died of fast growing cancer on January 3, 1967.
“He opened the floodgates of his mind and unloosed a stream of consciousness that would have dazzled a James Joyce buff and enraptured a psychiatrist. There was a great deal of fear inside Jack Ruby that Sunday in June [when he testified]. He feared for his own life, he feared for the lives of his brothers and sisters.
“It seemed to me after reading the testimony three times that the Chief Justice and the general counsel were acutely aware of the talk both here and in Europe that President Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy. They took pains to prove to themselves and the world that no conspiracy existed.”