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Familiar Faces in Dealey Plaza
Allan Eaglesham and Martha Schallhorn
Originally published in JFK Deep Politics Quarterly, October 2000

One of the more bizarre sub-plots of the Kennedy-assassination saga is the story of Joseph Milteer. A wealthy activist who belonged to several right-wing and racist groups, Milteer was a member of the National States Rights Party, which had close anti-Castro links [1]. Less than two weeks before President Kennedy's visit to Dallas, Mr. Milteer was recorded on audiotape by Miami-police informant William Somerset, predicting that the president would soon be assassinated by a sniper in an office or hotel [2]. Somerset also made the claim that Milteer telephoned him from Dallas on the morning of November 22, 1963, with the prediction that President Kennedy would never visit Miami again. Although Milteer was interviewed by the FBI on November 27 and information was passed to the Warren Commission, neither Milteer nor Somerset was called to testify [3].

If, indeed, Milteer was in Dallas on that day and knew of a plot to kill the president, it is likely that he would have known where it was to occur: in Dealey Plaza. Researcher Robert Groden carefully examined photographs taken there, and discovered one of a portly individual on Houston Street resembling Milteer [4], taken by Associated Press photographer James Altgens.

click to enlarge photos

In this article, we present and discuss others who were captured in photographs--in and around Dealey Plaza immediately before and after the assassination--and who, at least "on face," resemble certain notable individuals often linked to the "crime of the century."

There was at least one other visitor from out-of-town in Dealey Plaza on that fateful Friday afternoon, whose career was even more checkered than Joseph Milteer's: Jim Braden. Approximately thirty minutes after the assassination, Mr. Braden's presence in the Dal-Tex Building, directly across Houston Street from the Texas School Book Depository, aroused suspicion and led to his being taken into police custody. After providing a statement, he was allowed to leave. In fact, Mr. Braden had changed the name on his driver's license just 10 weeks before, from Eugene Hale Brading [5]; if the police had checked their records for that name, they might have held him for further questioning. Brading's lengthy police record included arrests in Dallas, and he had complex ties with Mafiosi [6, 7].

On parole at the time, permission to travel from Los Angeles was contingent upon his reporting to the Federal Parole Office in Dallas, which he did on November 21. The Parole Officer's report states that Brading's plans included seeing tycoon Lamar Hunt on oil business [8]. Although Brading subsequently denied visiting Mr. Hunt [9], it is noteworthy that Jack Ruby, on November 21, visited the building that housed the corporate offices of the Hunt Oil Company [10]. Furthermore, Brading lodged at the Cabana motel, on the Stemmons Freeway close to Dealey Plaza, which was visited by Ruby late in the evening of November 21 [11].

Larry Florer was taken into police custody also as a result of being a stranger in the Dal-Tex Building. In his statement, he claimed not to have been in Dealey Plaza at the time of the shooting, but made his way there after hearing a radio broadcast in a café [12]. Braden, in his statement, made no mention of his location at the time of the shooting [13], which is odd inasmuch as he was taken in for questioning, presumably, with reference to what he had observed of the shooting of the president: "I am here on business (oil business) and was walking down Elm Street trying to get a cab and there wasn't any. I heard people talking saying, 'My God the President has been shot.'"

From this point, Braden's statement is strangely similar to Florer's.

Braden: "I moved on up to the building across the street from the building that was surrounded and I asked one of the girls if there was a telephone that I could use and she said, "Yes, there is one on the third floor of the building where I work."

Florer: "I stopped on east side of Houston Street across the street from the Texas School Book Depository. I stood there for a few minutes and then a lady that was standing next to me, I asked her where there was a telephone, and she said that the only pay phone that she knew of was the County Records building. She said that there were a lot of phones on the third floor of this building that I was standing in front of. She said that she worked on the third floor and that there was probably a phone up there that I could use."

Braden: "I walked through a passage to the elevator they were all getting on (freight elevator) and I got off on the third floor with all the other people and there was a lady using the pay telephone and I ask [sic] her if I could use it when she hung up and she said it was out of order and I tried to use it but with no success."

Florer: "So I rode up the elevator with this lady and got off on the third floor with this lady and we walked to the information desk and this lady went on back to her department, to her spot. So then I, there was a lady at the information desk and I asked her if I could borrow her phone and she said that all the lines were busy or something to that effect."

Braden: "I ask [sic] her how I can get out of the building and she said that there is an exit right there and then she said wait a minute here is an elevator now. I got on the elevator and returned to the ground floor and the colored man who ran the elevator said you are a stranger in this building and I am not supposed to let you up and he ran outside to an officer and said to the officer that he had just taken me up and down in the elevator and the officer said for me to identify myself and I presented him with a credit card and he said we'll have to check out everything and took me to his superior and said for me to wait and we will check it out."

Florer: "So I stood there for a minute and a fellow walked up to me. He asked me what I wanted and he told me that I couldn't use the phone. So I walked back down to the elevator and rode it back down to the lobby. As soon as I got to the lobby I walked back outside and the fellow I had talked to about using the phone was pointing out the window, pointing toward me and said that I was the man that was on the third floor. At this time two officers walked up and said for me to come with them."

All indications are, then, that Braden and Florer were considered to be suspicious merely as a result of their presence in the Dal-Tex Building. It stretches credibility that the similarities in their police statements resulted from chance; their encounters with a lady in front of the Dal-Tex Building suggest that Braden and Florer were standing together, or in close juxtaposition, when one or both of them approached her. Alternatively, this was a shared cover story to explain their presence in that building. Several researchers have discussed the possibility that shots were fired from there [e.g. 14-16].

In his book Triangle of Fire, Bob Goodman stated that the west side of the Dal-Tex building, i.e. facing Dealey Plaza, housed the offices of the Dallas Uranium and Oil company on the third floor [17]. Although believed to be owned by H.L. Hunt, Dallas Uranium and Oil was not a registered company and appears to have been a "front" [17].

In a photograph of the crowd in Dealey Plaza minutes after the shooting, snapped by Dallas Times Herald photographer William Allen, an individual is visible in a trench coat, wide-brimmed hat and dark glasses. Dallas Chief Criminal Deputy Alan Sweatt, who assisted in processing Dealey-Plaza witnesses, identified him as Jim Braden [18]. Indeed, comparison with an earlier mug-shot of Eugene Hale Brading reveals a likeness.

click to enlarge photos

Several books on the assassination include photographs of a man in black-rimmed eyeglasses, purported to be Mr. Florer. The original identification of this individual as Florer appears to have been made in the pages of the Dallas Times Herald [19], yet other discussion of that newspaper story indicates that the man in "horn-rimmed glasses" at whom bystanders shouted, "I hope you die," was not identified by name [20]. In 1992, Goodman contacted an individual suspected of being the man in horn-rimmed glasses, presumably Larry Florer, only to be informed that the man was under legal counsel and instructed not to talk [21]. (Attempts to contact Mr. Goodman via his publisher were fruitless.)

In his police statement, Florer gave his age as 23, and although, in another photograph by William Allen (see below), his unlined complexion is consistent with that, the overall impression is of a man in his 30s. The putative Florer looked like Theodore (Ted) Shackley with his hair dyed. At the time of the assassination, Shackley (AKA the Blond Ghost because of his pallor) was about 35 years old and Station Chief of JM/WAVE in Miami, the headquarters of the CIA's huge Operation Mongoose, the single objective of which was to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba, by assassination if necessary. The vain efforts to kill Castro included collaboration with Mafia bosses.

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Video-frame captures of
(presumably) Mr. Florer
being taken into custody

In 1966, Shackley moved to Vientiane, Laos, to lead the CIA-backed Hmong tribes-people in their secret war with the North Vietnamese army [22]. This effort also was unsuccessful, with terrible loss of life among the Hmong. Mr. Shackley moved on to become CIA Station Chief in Saigon in late 1968.

David Sanchez Morales was Ted Shackley's Chief of Operations at the JM/WAVE station [23]. He was a tall (6' 2"), well muscled individual of Mexican-Indian extraction [24] who had been involved in various CIA schemes including the successful coup d'état in Guatemala in 1954 and the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. His Operation Mongoose activities included a close relationship with Johnny Rosselli, the link man to Mafia bosses Sam Giancana and Santos Trafficante [25]. Morales worked with Shackley also in Laos [26] and in Vietnam where he was possibly involved in the Phoenix assassinations program [27]. During a drinking bout with friends in the early spring of 1973, Morales was boasting of his exploits -- involvement in the capture of Ché Guevara, etc. -- when the mention of John Kennedy's name sent him into a frenzy. The lengthy invective ended with: "Well, we took care of that son of a bitch, didn't we?" [28].

A man in dark glasses, in another photograph taken by Mr. Altgens, resembles David Morales. He had mounted the base of a lamppost at the corner of Houston and Main, presumably to obtain a good view of Dealey Plaza as a whole. By comparison with men in front of him and nearer the camera, he appears to have been of large build.

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Also involved in anti-Castro activities in 1963 was Gerald Patrick Hemming, leader of Interpen, the Intercontinental Penetration Force. Hemming was an ex-marine who had joined Castro's rebel army in 1958 as a paratroop instructor. Right-wing in his politics, he exited Cuba in 1960, disillusioned, and offered his services to the CIA, but was refused. Interpen was a multi-national group of a couple of dozen soldiers of fortune financed by exiled Cubans and casino owners who had been thrown out of Havana by Castro [29]. In the far-reaching interviews reported by Noel Twyman in his book Bloody Treason [30], Hemming appeared to know a great deal about the murder of President Kennedy; he claimed to have refused offers made to him to kill the president and had nothing to do with the assassination. Twyman leaves open the possibility of GPH's presence in Dallas on November 22, 1963: Hemming failed to categorically deny that an individual described in a Secret Service document, as follows, was himself.

"John Stevens Rutter Lawrence . . . advised that at 11:45 AM, November 22, 1963, he was walking north on Akard Street from Commerce to Main . . . (when) his attention was called to a man walking in the opposite direction on the same side of the street . . . carrying a rifle . . . (T)he man was about 6' 5'' tall, and weight [sic] about 250 pounds or more. He appeared to be a professional football type and very muscular. He had dirty blond hair and wore it in a short crew cut. The man was in his 30s and was wearing a light colored business suit and white business shirt." (at the bottom of the document someone had hand written: "HEMMINGS?") [31]

In Twyman's words, this is a dead-ringer description of Hemming in 1963, except that he is apparently clean shaven and has cut his hair [32]. Mr. Lawrence's companion, Philip Ben Hathaway, provided a similar description of a man carrying a heavy gun case, in a voluntary police statement on 11/22/63; Mr. Hathaway described the business suit as "gray colored" [33]. The Altgens photograph of the president's limousine as it passed from Main Street into Houston shows a man, apparently tall and broad-shouldered, with facial features resembling those of Gerald Patrick Hemming. The man had a crew cut and was in a dress shirt, tie and dark jacket.

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More pictures of
Gerald P. Hemming

General Edward G. Lansdale was Coordinator of Operations for Operation Mongoose. He had been intimately involved in CIA operations in the Philippines and in Vietnam in the 1950s [34]. The ambassadorship to Vietnam, promised to Lansdale by President Kennedy, was withdrawn as a result of the objections of Secretary of State Dean Rusk [35]. Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, who was liaison officer between the Air Force and the CIA in their cooperative U-2 spy-plane operations, knew Lansdale well and believes that the general was captured in a photograph in Dealey Plaza (taken by George Smith of the Fort Worth Star Telegram), walking away from the camera in front of delivery gates at the Texas School Book Depository.

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Another picture of
Edward G. Lansdale

General Lansdale had a drooping right shoulder, and, indeed, the man in the photograph appears to have a similar posture. On his web site, Col. Prouty quotes Lieutenant General Victor Krulak as saying, "The haircut, the stoop, the twisted left hand, the large class ring. It's Lansdale" [36].

Colonel Prouty has been quoted as saying that he believes that Lucien Conein was, like his erstwhile CIA cohort Ed Lansdale, in Dealey Plaza when President Kennedy was assassinated [37]. During World War II, Conein had served with the elite Jedburghs and had jumped behind enemy lines into France in 1944 where he worked with the Corsican Brotherhood, an underworld organization allied with the resistance [38]; later he parachuted behind Japanese lines in Indochina. In 1951 he established a CIA base in Nuremberg, southwest Germany, from which spies were helped across the border into Czechoslovakia; for a time, Ted Shackley worked alongside Conein in those spy-running operations [39]. Soon thereafter, Conein returned to Vietnam to work closely with Lansdale in various projects, including their successful efforts to establish Ngo Dinh Diem as president. In 1954-56, Conein was in charge of paramilitary groups whose objective was to destabilize North Vietnam and compromise the efforts of the International Commission that had been set up to aid the transition from French to Vietnamese rule [40]. In 1963, "Lou" was still in Vietnam, nominally with the US Army, but actually still operating as a CIA agent [41]. Ironically, he served as liaison between the US and the South Vietnamese generals who overthrew and murdered President Diem--just three weeks before the Kennedy assassination.

In the Altgens picture showing the limousine turning onto Houston Street, standing close to the man resembling Mr. Hemming, is someone who looked like Lucien Conein.

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More pictures of
Lucien E. Conein


When we wrote to Col. Prouty about this, he responded [42]: "...I noted this same photo you have found and the likeness between that person and Lou...I'd say that the guy is Conein." Although later in his letter he stated, "I make no solid claim for Conein in the Dealey Plaza picture," he went on to say, "but I do know that many of the Vietnam-trained, Mongoose inner circle were there."

Neither do we make solid claims about the identities of the men shown in the pictures in this article. We report for the first time that individuals resembling Theodore Shackley, David Morales, Gerald Patrick Hemming and Lucien Conein were in Dealey Plaza, in addition to those resembling Joseph Milteer, Eugene Hale Brading and Edward Lansdale. We leave it to the reader to surmise on the implications, or lack thereof, of these observations.

Acknowledgement: We thank Walt Brown and John J. Hayes for constructive criticism of a draft of the original manuscript.


[1] Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York (1980) 430.
[2] Robert G. Groden, The Killing of a President, Viking Studio Books, New York (1993) 154-155.
[3] Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., New York (1990 Paperback Edition) 266.
[4] Groden, op. cit. 196-197.
[5] Peter Noyes, Legacy of Doubt, Pinnacle Books, New York (1973) 28.
[6] David E. Scheim, Contract on America: The Mafia Murder of President John F. Kennedy, Zebra Books, Kensington Publishing Corp., New York (1989) 68.
[7] Noyes, op. cit., 47-60.
[8] Noyes, op. cit., 71-72.
[9] Noyes, op. cit., 73.
[10] Warren Commission Hearings Volume XXIV, p. 342 (24H 342).
[11] Marrs, op. cit., 337.
[12] 19H 476.
[13] 19H 469.
[14] Josiah Thompson, Six Seconds in Dallas, Bernard Geis Associates, Distributed by Random House, New York (1967) 132.
[15] Groden, op. cit., 184.
[16] Harrison Edward Livingstone, Killing Kennedy, Carroll & Graf, New York (1995) 18.
[17] Bob Goodman, Triangle of Fire, Laquerian Publishing Co., San José (1993) 216-217.
[18] Richard B. Trask, Pictures of the Pain, Yeoman Press, Danvers (1994) 545.
[19] Ibid. 547.
[20] Marrs, op. cit., 339.
[21] Goodman, op cit., 215.
[22] David Corn, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades, Simon & Schuster, New York (1994) 130-167.
[23] Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, Thunder's Mouth Press, New York (1993) 371.
[24] Ibid., 368.
[25] Ibid., 373.
[26] Corn, op. cit., 138.
[27] Fonzi, op. cit., 378-379.
[28] Ibid., 389-390.
[29] Warren Hinckle and William Turner, Deadly Secrets, Thunder's Mouth Press, New York (1992) 180-181.
[30] Noel Twyman, Bloody Treason, Laurel Publishing, Rancho Santa Fe (1997) 647-748.
[31] Ibid., 722.
[32] Ibid., 722-723.
[33] 19H 477.
[34] Cecil B. Currey, The Unquiet American, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston (1988) 112-185.
[35] Ibid., 227-228.
[36] and click on "PHOTOS."
[37] Harrison Edward Livingstone, High Treason 2, Carroll & Graf, New York (1992) 481.
[38] Corn, op. cit., 33-34.
[39] Corn, op. cit., 41.
[40] Currey, op. cit., 161-163.
[41] L. Fletcher Prouty, JFK: The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate President Kennedy, Birch Lane Press, New York (1992) 259.
[42] L. Fletcher Prouty, written communication, May 7, 1996.