“When Robert Anton Wilson printed up letterheads for the Bavarian Illuminati, they carried the notice: ‘Safeguard this letter; it may be an important historical document.’ That was very much how I felt about my first little notebook, penned in 1975. I had just begun to figure out how I was involved in the JFK assassination—in a way related only indirectly to my service in the Marines with Oswald—and I felt I was recording important facts for posterity. These ranged from license numbers of cars that seemed to be following me to suspicious characters, besides me, who hung out in Plaza Drug Store in Atlanta, to nearly lost memories of conversations in the three years leading up to November 22, 1963.” —Notes of a Neon Gringo, Kerry Thornley, Pretzal Press, 1987
The first iteration of Kerry’s writings related to his so-called “involvement” in the JFK assassination started, as noted, in 1975, and it was Greg Hill who ultimately brought some order to this chaotic process (order out of chaos) by compiling Kerry’s various letters, memos, journal entries and affidavits into the collection titled Thornley/Oswald.
In the letter, Thornley mentions his love interest at the time, Judith Abrams, later identified in Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger I as one of the Early Discordians. Also mentioned was one of the more colorful characters to emerge from the 1960s counterculture, A.J. Weberman, a notorious yippie activist and dumpster diving Dylan-documentarian, otherwise known as the foremost “Dylanologist” of his generation—at least in his own estimation.
Weberman’s initial claim to fame (or infamy, as the case may be) started on a lark one night when he was passing by Dylan’s Harlem townhouse and the thought struck him that he might be able to find some interesting material by sifting through Mr. Zimmerman’s garbage. Thus began Weberman’s adventures in Garbology. According to My Life in Garbology:
“Garbology, as we know it today, is the study of human personality and contemporary civilization through analysis of garbage, or ‘garbanalysis.’ The basic premise is ‘You Are What You Throw Away.’ Garbage is a macrocosmic reflection, a mirror on life. The unassailable reality is that every living being makes waste. Excretion is both natural and universal, a process in which all lifeforms participate; the more sophisticated the organism, the more sophisticated the waste it produces…”
Part of Weberman’s dumpster diving proclivities brought him into proximity to the Watergate Break-In caper, and by the early 1970s he had shifted his focus from collecting Dylan’s garbage to, among other things, investigating the JFK assassination and its possible connection a couple of the Watergate burglars, namely E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis.
Greg Hill was living in NYC during this period, and during a visit from Thornley the duo came across a Yipster Times article authored by Weberman that included a photo of E. Howard Hunt comparing him to one of the three mystery tramps picked up Dealey Plaza in the aftermath of the assassination. Kerry recognized Hunt as possibly the same person he’d met in New Orleans in the early 1960s, who went by the name of Gary Kirstein, and who Kerry suspected had been involved in Kennedy’s assassination. Weberman’s evidence that Hunt was one of the mystery tramps was later expanded upon in Coup D’état in America: The CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy co-written with Michael Canfield.
Previous correspondence between Hill and Thornley (discovered in the Discordian Archives—though I can’t lay my hands on it at the moment!) included a back and forth about getting in touch with Weberman, presumably in the prospect of learning more about what he knew about Hunt’s alleged role in the assassination. Ultimately the connection between the two was made, and Weberman sent Kerry the following letter:
Kerry ultimately closed the loop on his interest in talking to Weberman as stated in the below letter to Greg Hill where he commented on how he was “really burned out on the assassination… fuck Weberman… I’m so tired of my own paranoia, let alone other peoples’…”
My pal Michael Marinacci alerted me awhile back to the above photo of Kerry Thornley and his wife Cara that he happened upon on eBay for the low, low price of only $19.95, which I quickly snatched up because the quality was far superior than the faded clippings of this photo that reside in the Discordian Archives.
This photo, which originally appeared in the January 23, 1968 Tampa Tribune, was taken outside of the Tampa, Florida circuit court after Kerry’s release from an arrest orchestrated by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. The circumstances for this arrest were a bit sketchy due to the fact that Garrison hadn’t been able to convince the Orleans Parish Grand Jury to issue an arrest warrant and so Big Jim took it upon himself to issue what’s known as a “bill of information,” which was a kind of end-run around the typical subpoena/warrant process as a means to compel Kerry’s testimony in Garrison’s JFK assassination probe.
This photo is somewhat infamous because it was later cropped and used as part of the Garrison Touch-Up Caper I’ve addressed in previous posts, Part 1 here and Part 2 here, all part of Garrison’s madcap plan to portray Kerry as a diabolical conspirator in the JFK assassination plot as well as one of the notorious Oswald doubles!
The above photo of Robert Anton Wilson, on the fabled Grassy Knoll, popped up on the Twitter a while back courtesy of Mustafa_al_Laylah, taken during a visit to Dallas circa 1998. In said photo, RAW is situated behind the picket fence separating the Grassy Knoll from the adjacent rail-yard bordering Dealey Plaza.
According to one assassination conspiracy theory (examined in the BBC series The Men Who Killed Kennedy), it was from this vantage point that the so-called Badge Man presumably fired the baleful bullet(s) that catapulted President Kennedy’s cranium into the great beyond, a theory based in part on photographic enhancement of the picket fence area at the time the fatal projectile(s) met their mark. Of course, the enhancement and enlargement of an old grainy photo (in this case the Mary Moorman photo) is like peering into a Rorschach Blot, and the longer you do so, the more figures your imagination brings to life, and thus fills in the blanks depending on what you expect to see, or desire to see, a la ‘Who Is The Master That Makes The Grassy Knoll Green?’.
During this tumultuous period, Garrison was viewed as a new darling of the “Radical Left,” presenting himself as a maverick prosecutor taking on corrupt authority in the form of the CIA and the military industrial complex, whom Garrison suggested (at one time or another) were part of the sinister plot that engineered Kennedy’s awful offing.
Due to this view of Garrison as some new hero of the Left, Thornley now found himself in a somewhat peculiar position, as he had long been involved with the burgeoning counterculture, having written for any number of underground magazines and newsletters, but now it appeared he was the odd man out. As RAW recalled in my book The Prankster and the Conspiracy:
“In ’67 or ’68, most of the underground press was publishing a lot of stuff pro-Jim Garrison, and this included Kerry’s role in the assassination. And I had lots of contacts in the underground press, so I starting sending out articles defending Kerry, which nobody would print, because the underground press was behind Garrison and the official corporate media was totally anti-Garrison—I was trying to send the message to the wrong place…”
Among those (in Thornley’s opinion) that had jumped aboard the Garrison bandwagon, was L.A. Free Press publisher/editor Art Kunkin, who, among other pro-Garrison articles, ran the following:
In response, Thornley sent the following letter to Art Kunkin, presenting his side of the story and requesting equal time:
In their efforts to provide counter-programming, Thornley, RAW, and their fellow Discordians launched what became known as Operation Mindfuck, a concerted effort to bombard Garrison and his enthusiasts with a steady diet of zany disinformation under the banner of the Bavarian Illuminati. To further illuminate (or confuse) Art Kunkin, RAW sent the letter below, under the auspices of the Order of the Peacock Angel, signed by his Discordian alter ego, Mordecai Malignatus.
In order to further expand their network of potential Illuminati collaborators, RAW sent the following missive to a select group of underground movers and shakers.
How the Discordian Society became synonymous with the Bavarian Illuminati can be attributed, to a certain extent, to a John Birch Society member named Allan Chapman, who also doubled as a JFK assassination researcher and “Grassy Knoll Irregular,” as they were dubbed; a legion of amateur sleuths who shared their investigative “fruits” with Jim Garrison, which then Garrison regurgitated to greater glory. RAW name-dropped Chapman in his infamous letter & answer in the April 1969 PLAYBOY Advisor.
As Thornley recalled:
“Wilson and I founded the Anarchist Bavarian Illuminati to give Jim Garrison a hard time, one of whose supporters believed that the Illuminati owned all the major TV networks, the Conspiring Bavarian Seers (CBS), the Ancient Bavarian Conspiracy (ABC) and the Nefarious Bavarian Conspirators (NBC).” (The Dreadlock Recollections, Kerry Thornley)
Chapman subscribed to the theory that the Illuminati (who he claimed controlled the Big Three TV networks) masterminded the assassination, and that one of the alleged assassins hid inside a storm drain in the picket fence area of the Grassy Knoll and then popped out of a manhole cover like some diabolical jack-in-the-box and peppered poor JFK with a barrage of bullets before returning to his underground lair there.
It should then come as no surprise that The Grassy Knoll played a part in the Illuminatus! Trilogy, embodied in the character of the Dealey Lama, a robed and bearded holy mad man who lived in the sewers below Dealey Plaza. In retrospect, the Dealey Lama sounds a lot like Kerry Thornley by the mid-1970s, when Kerry lived the life of a homeless holy man of sorts, sporting long hair and a biblical beard, and at one time or another actually lived in a storm drain for a spell.
I recently stumbled upon this oddity in the Discordian Archives, an obscure publication called The National Informer dated March 30, 1969. And no, this wasn’t a Discordian gag as far as I can tell, but an actual magazine or newsletter (published by an apparent crackpot named Hazel Mullins) featuring the conspiratorial meme that JFK was still alive. That’s right, he never died!
The JFK-never-died school of assassinationology is among my all time favs, right up there with the-secret-service-driver-shot-JFK-with-a-poison-dart-filled-with-deadly-shell-fish-toxin. There have been variations on this JFK never died theme throughout years, such as the rumor that he was still alive though withering away in a secret room at the Mayo Clinic. Let’s look at a couple more variations of this theory now, because apparently I have nothing better to do with my time…
George C. Thomson’s The Quest for Truth
My first whiff of this JFK-never-actually-died doo-dah came courtesy of a Southern California swimming pool engineer named George C. Thomson. The gist of Thomson’s theory was that Kennedy narrowly escaped with his life from Dealey Plaza and inserted in his place (in the Presidential limousine) was J.D. Tippit, the Dallas Police officer who had been allegedly shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald in the aftermath of the assassination (in front of Oswald’s apartment in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas). Some suggest that Tippit strongly resembled JFK; photos of the two men do reveal some similarities, although Tippit wasn’t a “dead ringer” by any stretch of the imagination.
As noted, part of Thomson’s theory included this body swap switcheroo of Tippit for JFK—and get this: the assassin, according to Thomson, was none other than soon to be President Lyndon Baines Johnson who used “a drum-fed, fully automatic weapon, two of them…” Approximately 22 bullets were fired (although 23 would have been ideal) and in the crossfire five (Hail Eris!) people were killed, all of which is documented in Thomson’s “Dallas Murder Map,” a fold-out included as part of his magnum opus, The Quest for Truth.
Thomson never really explained why JFK’s assassination was faked, and specifically what became of our supposedly dead President. However, Thomson alleged that JFK had been seen (wearing a mask) at the famous Truman Capote “black and white ball” that occurred in November of 1966.
The Bane In Kennedy’s Existence
Even farther out on a conspiratorial limb was a fellow named Bernard Bane, who authored such obscure JFK assassination classics as The Bane in Kennedy’s Existence (1967) and Is President John F, Kennedy Alive… And Well? (1973).
By and large, The Bane in Kennedy’s Existence is a ponderously inscrutable read, but the basic gist is that in October 1963, Bane was taken into custody and committed to a mental health facility where MK-Ultra like “spychiatrists”—or those he refers to as the “Social Engineers”—injected him with massive doses of LSD, all part of an insidious plot to drive Bane bananas.
Why Mr. Bane was treated in such an unseemly manner is never made entirely clear, although part of the reason, apparently, was due to a book he authored in 1962 entitled The Grand Model of the Mind that presented a psychological theory that appears to have made even less sense than his JFK assassination theory, which is saying quite a lot. I’ll let Bane tell the story in his own words:
“So, I got out [of the psych ward] October 15. And according to expectations, something was going to happen on my birthday. My birthday’s on November 21st. President Kennedy was supposed to be assassinated as a birthday present to me. So, on November 22, he was assassinated. So that’s how I got involved. I figured, there’s something going on here. There was a definite connection. So then, when I read an article in the Boston Globe that said, ‘HOAX IN DALLAS’ — somebody did something that had nothing to do with the Kennedy assassination—but to me, it meant something: “HOAX IN DALLAS” —it means the assassination’s a hoax. And I always felt there was something bizarre about the whole thing. So I concluded, OK. He never got killed. And I realize after concluding that, a lot of people around me knew that all along… but they didn’t admit it. So slowly I leaked out my belief that he wasn’t even killed…” (Donny Kossy’s 1991 interview with Bernard Bane, Kooks Magazine)
Check out this Tom Jackson interview with Adam Gorightly about Caught in the Crossfire in the Sandusky Register.
Here’s a brief summary of the book:
Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation
By Adam Gorightly
Kerry Thornley never imagined that after starting a spoof religion in the 1950s dedicated to the worship Eris—the Greek Goddess of Chaos and Discord—that such an irreverent yet light-hearted endeavor would unleash, in the years to come, a torrent of actual chaos into his life and turn his world upside down.
In 1959, Thornley served in the Marines with Lee Harvey Oswald and was actually writing a novel based on Oswald three years before JFK’s assassination. These connections would later cause New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison to suspect that Thornley was one of the notorious Oswald doubles and part of a JFK assassination plot. Initially, Thornley denied these allegations, but later came to believe that he’d been used as an unwitting pawn in a conspiracy that ran far deeper than the JFK assassination and may also have included the RFK and MLK assassinations, as well as the disturbing specter of government sponsored mind control.
Trigger Warning: The following article is at least two degrees removed from Discordianism… but it is confusing as hell, so there’s that.
For those who’ve dipped their toes into conspiratorial lore, Fred Crisman turns up all over the place; first with the Maury Island UFO incident, and then later his alleged role in the JFK assassination, rumored to have been one of the three mystery tramps picked up in Dealey Plaza after the dirty deed went down. You can take a deeper dive into Crisman and the Maury UFO incident at this previous link, part of our startling six-part Raymond Broshears’ series.
As it turns out, Maury Island wasn’t Fred Crisman’s first and only UFO rodeo. Recent sleuthing by intrepid researchers Jeff Suwak and Kirk Nelson (with a little assistance from yours truly) have uncovered Crisman’s possible ties to a UFO channeling group identified as “Service Awareness” that were mentioned in Crisman’s testimony before the Orleans Parish grand jury during the Jim Garrison investigation.
As noted in part two of our Rev. Broshears extravaganza, Garrison suspected (or believed, or pretended to believe) that an assortment of fringe religious groups—or “odd sects” as he called them—had been used as fronts for a sprawling JFK assassination conspiracy; political assassins running around in clerical garb with instruments of death concealed within the flowing folds of their robes!
As stated in the passage above, when a Garrison staffer quizzed him about “Service Awareness,” Crisman claimed he had no involvement with the group. However, “Service Awareness” was a transcription error; it should have read: “Servants of Awareness.” So who the heck were they?
“On Thanksgiving day, 1962 a voice expressing itself as Cosmic Awareness began speaking through a university lecturer and ex-army officer who had been in the Bataan Death March.” 00001
The “university lecturer and ex-army officer” was a fellow named Frank Duby, thereafter referred to as the “Interpreter.” According to Cosmic Awareness newsletter: “…[Duby] began studies in depth psychology at [a] Seattle church through funding given by the CIA…” 00002 and it was this “depth psychology” research that led to the formation of a Servants of Awareness forerunner, the Organization of Awareness.
“After several severe heart attacks, the interpreter, Ralph [Duby], finally transitioned in January 1967… After the passing of their interpreter the Organization of Awareness experienced much upheaval. Financial stress and disagreements over what information should be released led to a splintering of the organization and its eventual collapse.
“Organization of Awareness ended shortly thereafter and Servants of Awareness was founded, with David Worcester as its Interpreter. This incarnation continued for 3 years…David hosted an ‘August Affair’ and at this function the future founders of CAC [Cosmic Awareness Communications] were approached by Paul Shockley, a man who would change their lives. Paul was doing Awareness readings but had no idea how to make them available for the good of all people, so they put their heads together and began to go down a path that would become a powerful force for good in so many lives…”
In 1970, as noted above, Paul Shockley became the lead channeler—or “Interpreter”—for CAC. Around this time, the channelings took on a distinctly darker and more conspiratorial tone, as documented in this channeled message dated December 9, 1976.
When I came across these supposed CIA connections to the Servants of Awareness, I immediately flashed on Fred Crisman, who was never bashful about fostering the legend that he was some sort of super spook involved with UFOs and all manner of paranormal intrigue. So I could totally see Crisman pushing the idea he was a CIA mastermind to impress Servants of Awareness members or gain some standing in the group.
As it turns out, Mellen lifted these Crisman/Servants of Awareness allegations from an article published in the November 1975 issue of Crawdaddy magazine that was attributed to the Assassination Information Bureau (AIB), a clearinghouse for JFK assassination info founded in 1972 by Carl Oglesby, author of The Yankee and Cowboy War.
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, AIB played a pivotal role in petitioning congress to launch the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1976. None of this, however, answers the question of where this provocative information concerning Crisman and the Servants of Awareness originated, but my guess is that it circles back to Garrison and a handful of “Dealey Plaza Irregulars” who were feeding Big Jim leads, which he then threw against the wall to see what would stick.
Aside from those two tantalizing tidbits (the snippet from Crisman’s grand jury testimony and the Crawdaddy article) I’ve thus far been unable to find any other evidence linking Crisman with the Servants of Awareness.
To recap, the first iteration of the Servants of Awareness was known as the “Organization of Awareness,” which was an outgrowth of a “church” in Seattle involved in “depth psychology.” The church, in this instance, was the Center of Integration, founded in 1953 by a fellow named Bob Carr, who carved out a niche for himself as a trance channeler along the lines of Edgar Cayce. In this regard, Carr conducted trance readings for individuals to help cure them of sicknesses, both physical and mental, and provided personal counseling, a sort of psychic life coach. Over time, Carr gained a somewhat sizable following which you can learn more about in God Men Con Men: Pursuit of Truth.
A key figure in the Center of Integration scene was the aforementioned Ralph Duby, who later became the first “Interpreter” of the Organization of Awareness (a forerunner to the Servants of Awareness). Another Center of Integration alumnus, David Worcester, took over the “Interpreter” role after Duby’s death in 1967, and at that time the group splintered into a number of factions, one of which was Servants of Awareness. (If you’ve been able to follow along thus far, I commend you, because it only becomes more confusing from here, Hail Eris!)
Back in 1958, the lead channeler at the Center of Integration, Bob Carr, discovered that—due to the church’s non-profit status—they could obtain free quantities of d-lysergic acid 25 for “research purposes” direct from Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland. This resulted in the acquisition of 100 milligrams of the mighty molecule, which the group then used to great effect during channeling sessions. In the video below, Bob Carr, discusses this period.
LSD channeling sessions appeared to have reached a peak during the Servants of Awareness era (1967-1970), as things got pretty loosey-goosey with David Worcester filling the role as lead “Interpreter.” According to Revelations of Awareness, the Cosmic Awareness newsletter, 10th anniversary edition:
[Worcester] was a very interesting person. He was a good conductor of LSD sessions for many entities, guiding them through the Bardos and death experience ala the Tibetan Book of the Dead. He [would]…switch on the TV news with Walter Cronkite, pull up a stool, light up, and sit before the TV and talk back to Walter Cronkite. David swore the words were being heard by the newscaster as he read the controlled news from his script and that this routine was changing consciousness. As a magician, David took a lot of credit for certain events that occurred on the world scene. He implied, for example that an earthquake in India was the direct result of a fart he let in Olympia while watching the evening news.”
Now, back to Fred Crisman, and what if any interactions he actually had with the Servants of Awareness. Let’s first examine the drug angle. We do know that, according to a police reports, Crisman was arrested on March 19, 1957 for drunk driving and disorderly conduct, at which time it was discovered he was also under the influence of barbiturates. According to his arrest report, Crisman pulled a gun on the arresting officer. Not smart!
Due to this incident, Crisman was fired from his job as the Superintendent of Schools in Elgin, Oregon. 00003 A second arrest occurred in October 1968, when he was arrested for reckless driving and carrying a concealed weapon.
By 1963, Crisman was employed as a substitute teacher at Mount Rainer High School, a time period that would later become the focus of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, who examined Crisman’s alleged role as one of the three mystery tramps apparently up to no good in Dealey Plaza. The HSCA ultimately determined that Crisman had an iron clad alibi for that infamous day, November 22, 1963, when JFK was blown away.
In 1964, Crisman landed a full-time teaching gig at Cascade Union High School in Salem, Oregon, a position that lasted a mere two years before he was fired for “forming a secret student organization… Crisman formed the organization and conducted meetings on school premises without authority.” A subsequent school board ruling stated that the “organization is of such a nature that it should not be condoned or authorized to exist in this district.”
The above news article begs the question: Was Crisman recruiting students at Cascade Union into a secret psychedelic saucer cult otherwise known as The Servants of Awareness? Seems like a stretch, perhaps, but Crisman was evidently up to something shady. But wasn’t he always?
Another possibility is that Crisman was recruiting students into some sort of shadowy conservative-minded cabal, as he was active as a right-wing operative during this period, as documented in his mighty tome Murder of a City, written under the non-de-plume of Jon Gold, a pseudonym Crisman also employed for the talk radio show he hosted on station KAYE in Puyallup, just a stone’s throw from Tacoma.
Murder of a City is a good place to sniff for clues about what Crisman was up to during the Servants of Awareness period (1967-1970). I recently acquired a copy of this oh, so rare book, which I soon discovered was self-published by Crisman and his buddy Harold Dahl of Maury Island saucer fame (or infamy). Or at least that appears to have been the case according to a note I discovered in said book.
Murder of a City is a prism to gain insight into Crisman’s strange universe, covering the timeframe he *might* have interacted with the Servants of Awareness, who were located in Olympia, 30 miles from Tacoma. The basic story presented in Murder of a City is that Crisman returned to his hometown of Tacoma in ‘66 or ‘67ish and was horrified at what had become of his formerly fair city that’d been overtaken by the dreaded “City Manager” system that—according to Crisman—was a racket for local politicians to line their pockets under the guise of “urban renewal.”
Murder of a City comes across as an extended bitch session in grievance politics, reading like spin and projection (i.e. Crisman blaming others for himself being a shady sort of character); an alternative history Crisman most likely concocted to muddy the waters about several seemingly sketchy schemes he’d been involved in with Thomas Beckham.
The spin I’m referring can be detected early on in Murder of a City when Crisman suggests that the fellow who ran the local Tacoma branch of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), was in cahoots with the very same corrupt city officials who—according to Crisman—had made his life a living hell by pushing a “Far Left” agenda that was quickly turning his beloved Tacoma into a Socialist shithole. Crisman, however, fails to mention that the Tacoma BBB had uncovered a slew of fraudulent businesses he had started with his young oddball associate, Tom Beckman. In Murder of a City, Crisman also badmouths a Tacoma News-Times reporter named Edd Jeffers who in the November 1, 1968 edition wrote that:
“In late 1968, Crisman and Thomas Edward Beckham incorporated seven businesses in Olympia according to the police department there.
Among the companies were the Northwest Relief Society, Associated Discount Services, TAB Productions, Inc., Professional Research Bureau and the National Institute of Criminology.”
Murder of a City includes a chapter called “The Big Frame” that may provide a clue as to these claims that Crisman (possibly in cahoots the Servants of Awareness) had been involved in some sort of drug ring.
This “Big Frame” chapter deals with a supposed plot by Crisman’s perceived adversaries: City Manager of Tacoma, David Rowlands, and his cadre of commie confederates that included reporters for the Tacoma News-Times, local law enforcement, and almost all of city government (not to mention the Tacoma Better Business Bureau!) in a scam to set up Crisman and his right wing allies, chief among them a fellow named Marshall Riconosciuto.
Riconosciuto ran a PR firm and had his hand in a number of fly-by-night businesses, one of which entailed the acquisition of a pharmaceutical company (or at least that was Crisman’s account of the story). After acquiring this company—which he renamed Drug Sales West—Riconosciuto mothballed some of the lab equipment that came along with the deal at a warehouse in Tacoma that was subsequently broken into and the lab equipment stolen. This lab equipment—once again according to Crisman—later turned up at a major drug bust, an incident recounted in Murder of a City in which Crisman quotes an article from the Tacoma News-Times concerning a police raid of the “largest amount of LSD that had ever been found on the West Coast.” Unfortunately, Crisman failed to give a date for the drug raid, which makes confirming his claim/article problematic (I haven’t had any luck as of yet), but whatever the case, his position was that this drug raid was part of the “Big Frame,” and that the lab equipment in question had supposedly been used to cook-up this record-breaking haul of LSD.
Crisman, quite naturally, blamed the “Big Frame” on his enemies in city government who were comprised of a contingent of left wingers aided in their efforts by a long-haired hopped-up hippie menace in tandem with the Tacoma chapter of the Black Panthers waging war against a proud faction of Crisman-led right wing zealots whose mission in life was to save Tacoma from the ravages of Socialism, interracial marriage and rampant drug use then sweeping the country!
Below is a photo ripped from the pages of Murder of a City depicting a notorious alleyway where apparently a high volume of drug dealing went on that Crisman (at least according to Crisman) was attempting to expose. What’s peculiar about the photo is that I could find no other mention about this perfidious pool-hall/alleyway mentioned elsewhere in Murder of a City.
Elsewhere in Murder of a City, Crisman claimed that a number of death-threats were made against him by Dave Rowland’s band of thugs, and that on one occasion he was shot at and ran off the road. What’s more, Crisman claimed that the radio station he broadcasted from under his Jon Gold persona had been wiretapped and, in retaliation, Crisman and his cohorts bugged the offices of the City Manager Rowlands as part of an all out war for the soul of the city! That gives you an idea of the tenor and tone of Murder of a City, which can best be described by this observer as a literary “hot mess.”
At the end of the day, I still don’t know what to make of this allegation that Crisman was involved in peddling dope with the Servants of Awareness, and all of these tenuous connections I’ve laid out here ultimately leave us with more questions to ponder than any actual answers.
The search continues…
00001The Sound, the official publication of Cosmic Awareness Communications. Date unknown.
“Deep diving back into the New Orleans underbelly with noted author and crackpot historian, Adam Gorightly! We discuss his multipart article on the antics and associations of the shotgun toting Pastor himself.”
As noted in Part 00001 of this seemingly never-ending series, Broshears had been arrested (allegedly) in 1965 for threatening the life of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. According to Bernard Fensterwald’s Assassination of JFK by Coincidence or Conspiracy?, Broshears “made the threat on Johnson’s life in order to be placed under protective custody, where he would be safe from unspecified ‘harassment.’ He later escaped prosecution by basing his defense on mental illness…”
Recently, I discovered some notes by investigator Steve Jaffee regarding this supposed Broshears-LBJ death threat caper, which we’ll get to in a bit. While Jaffee’s not a name that immediately comes to mind in relation to the Jim Garrison investigation, he was nonetheless an active player on several fronts, particularly following up on West Coast leads. Jaffee falls into the category of a “Dealey Plaza Irregular,” one of the many independent researchers Garrison welcomed with open arms, even providing his Irregulars with official identification cards—which meant of course that they were totally official.
Jaffee has been involved in the production of a number of films, including documentaries on the JFK assassination, as well as serving as a technical consultant on Executive Action.
In regards to this supposed LBJ death threat, Jaffee interviewed Rev. Broshears on August 8, 1968, and according to his notes:
“While on a television program in Los Angeles, California, the Stan Bohrman Show, July 8, 1968, BROSHEARS stated that he had been arrested for threatening the life of President Johnson. He said that he had made the statement, ‘President Johnson, who was responsible directly or indirectly for the assassination of our beloved President Kennedy, should be put to death.’ BROSHEARS told us he had made these statements because of what DAVID FERRIE had told him… In approximately September 1965, BROSHEARS was arrested by Secret Service agents and Federal Marshals and taken to the Veterans Administration Hospital in New Orleans. There he was arraigned by Federal Judge Christenberry in the presence of other Secret Service agents for conspiring to assassinate President Johnson. Mark Lane asked BROSHEARS who the other co-conspirators were. BROSHEARS said that he had made statements and discussed President Johnson in a disparaging way with four others who were also arraigned…
“After being questioned at Gulfport Hospital by Secret Service agents, one of the agents returned from Washington, D.C., and told BROSHEARS, ‘You’ll get a compensation pension. You will have to report to us every time you move from one city to another. If you do not do these things, you will be put in a federal jail mental institution…’”
It occurred to me that—if indeed this alleged Broshears-LBJ death threat incident ever actually occurred—there might be some official records pertaining to the matter. That being the case, a light bulb went off in my head (as light bulbs have been occasionally known to do) that perhaps a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was in order. But before going down that road, I decided to scour the web for any Broshears FOIA files that had shaken loose in recent times and, lo and behold, came across this goldmine of Rev. Ray curiosities courtesy of Russ Kick, a whopping 500 pages of FOIA material that is indeed quite revealing, however there was nothing in there about Broshears and the supposed LBJ death threat. To this end, I suspect Reverend Ray was under some sort of delusion regarding this incident because it occurred at the same time he was incarcerated for groping a male youth as chronicled in Part 00001 of this startling series.
Anyway, enough of this LBJ death threat tangent. Let’s jump into the Broshears FOIA files and let them lead us where they may.
Our FOIA foray starts on February 5, 1969, with a letter Rev. Broshears sent to the “director of service” which found its way to J. Edgar Hoover. Apparently, Broshears had a beef with a group called the Economics Opportunities Commission who, according to the Rev., was supporting “activities that are most questionable in the eyes of many…”
On Feb 12, 1969, Hoover responded to “Dr. Broshears” informing him that the matter was not within the Bureau’s “investigative jurisdiction.”
Evidently, Hoover didn’t have a clue what Broshears was going on about, but nevertheless decided to be civil because there’s never any benefit in riling up some crank with an alleged history of threatening a sitting President. As previously noted, Broshears had a long established pattern of complaining to public officials about one thing or another, and usually not liking the responses he received from these complaints, which led to even more complaints and a never ending cycle of Broshears getting miffed at any number of officials, who themselves were probably perpetually perplexed about what all the fuss was. In addition, Broshears filed a flurry of frivolous lawsuits over the years, including one to the IRS when they refused to recognize his ministry as a non-profit.
Broshears next run-in with the Feds occurred on March 3, 1969, when he popped into the San Francisco FBI field office:
“to discuss a [Vietnam war] deserter matter. SA [Special Agent] DEAN subsequently went on a road trip to the Monterey RA from the period 3/19-26-69 and when he returned received word that Rev. BROSHEARS desired that he, SA DEAN, call him. On the following morning, 3/27/69, SA DEAN attempted to contact Rev. BROSHEARS telephonically, however, received no answer. The same occurred on 3/28/69. SA DEAN advised that Broshears called him on 3/31/69, wanted to know why his call was not returned, and when SA DEAN explained that he had been out of town and attempted to return his call to no avail, BROSHEARS was unreasonable, refused to listen to any explanation and told SA DEAN to forget about it.”
On April 4:
“The Reverend BROSHEARS contacted an Agent on complaint duty in the San Francisco Office…and inquired as to where he should address a communication to lodge a complaint against SA IRVING R. DEAN. Reverend BROSHEARS was invited to discuss this matter with the SAC, however, he stated that he did not feel this would solve anything, since Special Agents of the FBI were rude. He was furnished the address of FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he might address the complaint…”
Rev. Broshears again reached out to Director Hoover on April 9, 1969 about FBI Special Agent Irving Dean, who the good reverend accused of “lack of co-operation and rude speaking…”
Following these interactions, the FBI compiled background info on Broshears in an April 15, 1969 memoranda describing him as:
“a homosexual, hippie minister, with a history of mental illness…during the course of another investigation, in August, 1968, it was determined that BROSHEARS has received treatment at the following Veteran Administration Hospitals: St. Louis and Jefferson Barracks, Missouri; Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi; Topeka, Kansas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Los Angeles, California; Palo Alto, California and Long Beach, California. Hospitals records at Palo Alto reflected that all hospital records treating BROSHEARS had diagnosed him as a schizophrenic reaction, paranoia, incompetent. He is described as having a history of fraudulent enlistments in the military—manipulative behavior—difficulty with authority, assaultiveness, suicidal attempts, strong and poorly controlled hostility, guilty [sic] and hostility, homosexuality, chronic brain syndrome associated with compulsive disorder, probably secondary brain trauma. Agents of this office have been instructed to be extremely circumspect in any future contacts with him…”
Rev. Broshears resumed communications with Director Hoover on July 12, 1969, warning about a “proposed invasion of Alcatraz Island” that he was apparently trying to pin on Dr. Kirby Hensley of The Universal Life Church (ULC), which of course was rather odd because Broshears had received his own mail order ordination courtesy of Dr. Hensley, but now for some reason had decided that Hensley was an enemy of the state. Broshears’ beef with Hensley, I suspect, had to do with the ULC’s policy of indiscriminately issuing ordinations to anyone who desired them—including a large number of Vietnam draft dodgers trying to start their own churches to avoid the draft—and the reason Broshears was ticked off was because he had started his own church using this same shtick, but got busted for it. According to researcher Larry Hancock, “Broshears ordered himself the same mail order religious credentials that [Thomas] Beckham and [Fred] Crisman did [from the Universal Life Church] and when he moved to the west coast he apparently began selling something similar to guys wanting to avoid the draft. When he got challenged over that he apparently decided simply to become an informant and finger his customers. I did have documents on all that but putting my hands on them now would be a real challenge…”
An FBI memorandum, dated July 18, 1969, stated that:
“[Broshears] letter indicated he was concerned about a proposed invasion of Alcatraz Island by Bishop Kirby J. Hensley, Universal Life Church, and others, He indicated he had brought his concern to the attention of our San Francisco Office, but that the Agent with whom he spoke appeared to be quite unconcerned and treated him just as another ‘crank.’ His enclosures were Xerox copies of newspaper articles, from various papers, and concerned the conviction of Hensley for issuing mail order Doctor of Divinity degrees. A handprinted article indicated that Hensley would lead a group of people on an invasion of Alcatraz Island. He also furnished a leaflet from the Council of New Age Churches which denounced ‘mail order ministers’ and sets forth some of the requirements for churches belonging to this organization. It urges support of the police…”
The Council of New Age Churches (CNAC) was an entity of Broshears own creation, started around 1969 or so, and it never really attracted much of a following, as far as I can tell. Broshears eventually passed the CNAC torch to Dr. Frank Stranges, who allegedly met with Venusian space captain named Valiant Thor, as chronicled in Part 00003 of this startling series.
Broshears again came up on the FBI’s radar in August 1969 due to his involvement with an anti-war collective called the Bay Area Peace Action Council (BAPAC). This was during the COINTELPRO period when the FBI was monitoring anti-war activists and “subversives.” Apparently, the Feds obtained a copy of the BAPAC meeting notes, which listed participants, including Rev. Broshears, who was identified as “Ray Allen.” A related FBI memo dated May 4, 1970 stated:
“Captioned individual [Ray Allen aka Rev. Broshears]…as being an officer or leader in the organization with which he is affiliated. In accordance with current Bureau instructions a background investigation should be conducted on this person and a communication be directed to the Bureau with a recommendation as to whether or not subject warrants inclusion on the SI.”
Having nary a clue what “SI” was, I canvassed FOIA experts in my Twitterverse about what exactly this acronym stood for, and received the following response from the Black Vault’s John Greenwald: “I believe that is ‘SECURITY INDEX’ and is along the same lines as COINTELPRO. It is believed Hoover started it in 1939, and not many people were aware of it at the time. My guess is that is what your file is referring to.”
Further internet sleuthing led to this Wikipedia entry that goes in depth on the history of the “Security Index” which was basically a listing of potentially subversive individuals the Bureau decided to keep a live file on.
Broshears, bless his crazy heart, continued pestering the FBI as documented in the memorandum below dated July 8, 1970.
Later that year—according to a memo dated October 10, 1970—Broshears contacted the FBI complaining “that officers of the SFPD [San Francisco Police Department] invaded his church on 9/8/70. He requested the USA to look into the matter and asked that he be given justice, that it was one of the jobs of the USA to halt harassment by the SFPD…” The FBI memo goes on to state that Broshears “is also the subject of a close 100-file in the San Francisco Office. He appears to be the subject of BUFILE 62-112657.” This reference to a 100-page file suggests that Broshears status rose at least to a “Security Index” level.
On March 8, 1973, Broshears treated the San Francisco FBI Field Office to yet another…
“telephonic complaint… His remarks were directed toward newspaper accounts on 3/7/73 of Acting Director GRAY’S testimony, specifically concerning support of Sheriff HONGISTO (San Francisco County) by gay activists. Broshears was most uncomplimentary and abusive in his comments. He demanded a copy of this report or an official release by this office as to whether we were investigating homosexuals. He became paranoiac by insinuating that the Federal Government intended to arrest and shoot all homosexuals. He rambled on about LEE HARVEY OSWALD, SIRHAN SIRHAN, and a host of others who had been described as homosexuals. When he was repeated advised that we would have no comment, he finally asked what would coerce a release by this office, a demonstration? He promised to organize a group demonstration Monday, 3/12/73, in front of the Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco. True to his past tendencies to seek publicity, he requested that we bring cameras and lots of film. No time was specified for the demonstration….”
Our story takes another turn for the weird with an FBI document from May 1, 1975, concerning death threats made against Rev. Broshears and a number of other San Franciscans involved in the civil rights and gay rights communities, including San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. These threats came in the form of scrawling letters, one of which was sent to Benjamin Criswell, President of the NAACP. According to an FBI report:
“The letter, on page four, set out a threat, ‘I will shoot you in black – head and kill – kill – you – 10 – times shoot you in head and cut your head and burn your nigger body up and put in city dump.’ On page six of the letter concluded with, ‘Your old pal, Mr. SIDNEY FRIEDMAN, Jewish Executive Director, Golden Lodge Number 2464, 302 Silver Avenue, San Francisco, California’ Criswell said he was certain there was no truth to the name being on this for he felt he had a good rapport with the Jewish community in San Francisco.
“CRISWELL received a second letter, this one post-marked San Francisco, April 28, 1975, and showing its author to be HECTOR NAVARRO, 83 Sixth Street, San Francisco. It was determined NAVARRO had been head of a publications assembling office at this address, and it was found the office specialized in mailing homosexual literature. It was learned at 83 Sixth Street that NAVARRO is no longer in the area, and had formerly been publicly referred to as President of this publications assembling office. It also is known as the “Society for Individual Rights (SIR)”.
Rev. Broshears received a similar death threat from the same apparent psycho who threatened Benjamin Criswell, as documented in the FBI report below.
This twisted scenario played itself out again a few days letter, when Broshears received yet another letter, this time claiming to be from Benjamin Criswell himself.
The FBI spent considerable time investigating these lurid letters, including analyzing them at the Quantico lab, but could never develop any substantial leads in the case. Ultimately, the FBI decided it was probably just some harmless nut behind the prank.
A few months after all of this death threat craziness, Sara Jane Moore took her infamous pot shot at President Gerald Ford, which we touched on in the previous installment of this series.
To understand Sara Jane Moore’s assassination attempt on Gerald Ford, one must reference the February 4, 1974, kidnapping of Patricia Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).
The hostage negotiations between the SLA and newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst (for the release of his daughter Patty) resulted in Hearst providing funding for an activist collective called People In Need (PIN) to set up a food giveaway program. For a period of time, Moore was PIN’s main bookkeeper, and often the key person involved in processing food deliveries.
An armchair psychologist might suspect that Sara Jane was radicalized through her involvement with these activist groups. Others of a more conspiratorial bent would suggest that the FBI directed Sara Jane to stage an assassination attempt of the President as a way promote what conspiracy matriarch Mae Brussel referred to as a “strategy of tension,” or what is nowadays referred by conspiracy enthusiasts as a false flag operation. This type of conspiratorial fodder was right in Rev. Broshears’ wheelhouse, as evidenced in a flyer he circulated at the time.
Broshears, as it so happens, was knee deep in the Sara Jane Moore saga. First with his role in outing of Oliver Sipple, which we talked about in our previous installment.
If that wasn’t enough, Rev. Broshears (as revealed in these FOIA files) was loosely associated with Moore.
As noted in the memo, Broshears name was discovered in Moore’s address book, which really wasn’t surprising given the circles the two ran in. (Moore’s name is whited-out in the memo.) Moore’s association with Broshears most likely was a result of interactions the two may have had related to PIN. Broshears—as previously noted—ran a free lunch program for senior citizens in the Tenderloin. According Taking Aim at the President, Moore had compiled a list for the FBI of the major players in the San Fran activist scene, and chances are that Rev. Broshears would be on just such a list.
Broshears appears to have behaved himself for awhile—at least until January 1979—when he contacted the San Fran FBI office claiming to have received a bomb threat that he, in turn, reported to the SFPD, who—according to the Rev.— refused to act on his complaint, which of course got Broshears panties in a knot and is probably as good a place as any to end our story of the one and only Reverend Raymond Broshears!
Our last entry recounted Rev. Broshears’ association with Jim Garrison’s investigation, and what Garrison called “Odd Sects” (not to be confused with “odd sex”!) that included a cast of characters scattered not only across JFK assassination lore, but also the funky field of ufology.
Ufology—for those not in the know—is the study of flying saucers, and the spacemen (or spacewomen) who flew in them. As good a place as any to start tugging on this Broshears-UFO thread is with Fred Crisman, who as noted in past installments was (allegedly) one of the three mystery tramps (apparently up to no good) picked up in Dealey Plaza following the JFK’s assassination. But long before Kennedy’s assassination was but a gleam in his eye, Crisman—along with a buddy named Harold Dahl—gained notoriety (or infamy, as the case may be) for their involvement in the Maury Island UFO Incident.
Before traveling back in time to Maury Island, we should acknowledge Kenneth Arnolds’ sighting of “nine gleaming objects” over Mt. Rainer in Washington State on June 24, 1947, an incident that essentially launched the Modern Era of UFOs. An experienced pilot with over 9,000 hours of flight time, Arnold’s sighting added an air of seeming legitimacy to what was considered, at the time, the playing field of crackpots and hoaxers. Not long after his seminal sighting, Arnold became acquainted with Ray Palmer, publisher of the science fiction pulp magazine Amazing Stories, which featured not only the standard sci-fi fare, but also Richard Shaver’s supposedly non-fiction accounts of encounters with diabolical subterranean creatures called Deros who first appeared in his story, “I Remember Lemuria.”
In July of ’47, Palmer received a cigar box filled with “flying saucer fragments” mailed to him from two men in Tacoma, Washington: Fred Crisman and Harold Dahl. Needless to say, Palmer was a tad dubious about these “flying saucer fragments,” as he’d previously corresponded with Crisman a year earlier. At that time, Crisman claimed that during World War II he and another soldier engaged in a firefight with the some Deros in a cavern in Burma at which time his fellow soldier had been shot with a ray gun that left a dime sized hole in his hand. But that wasn’t all: Crisman offered to travel to a cave in Texas to recover some ancient Dero machinery if Palmer was willing to pony up $500 for expenses. Palmer wisely declined Crisman’s come-on. Not sure what to do with the box of “flying saucer fragments,” Palmer enlisted Kenneth Arnold to investigate what would become known in the annals of ufology as the Maury Island Incident.
On July 29, Arnold flew to Tacoma and his first order of business was to find a hotel room for his stay. After calling around to the cheaper hotels and having no luck securing a room, Arnold phoned the most expensive hotel in town, the Winthrop, and was informed by the desk clerk that there was already a room reserved in his name. When Arnold informed the clerk he hadn’t made a reservation—and that it was probably another person by the same name—he was told that the reservation was indeed booked for a Mr. Kenneth Arnold of Boise, Idaho. Later that day, Arnold interviewed Dahl and Crisman, and this was the story they shared…
On June 21, Dahl (a timber salvage worker/harbor patrolman) was out on his boat on the eastern bay of Maury Island along with his teen-age son and dog when “six large donut-shaped machines” appeared in the sky. One of the ships began laboring when another of its companion craft descended and touched the laboring donut ship as if to repair it, after which it “spewed out” molten fragments—later referred to as “slag”—that rained down on Dahl’s workboat, killing his poor pooch and severely scorching his son’s arm. After ejecting slag spew, the craft rejoined its fellow donut ships and zoomed away. Dahl gathered up some of the slag fragments and returned to the harbor to give his supervisor the lowdown. Dahl’s “supervisor” was Fred Crisman.
Uncertain as to the veracity of Crisman and Dahl’s claims, Arnold called in his friend, Captain E.J. Smith (Big Smithy)—a pilot with United Airlines—to assist in the investigation. On the evening of July 30, Arnold received a phone call from UPI reporter Ted Morello, who said he’d received information from some “crackpot” who repeated a full account of Arnold’s investigation up to that point. This led Arnold to suspect his hotel room had been bugged, and that his reservation surreptitiously arranged so that his activities could be monitored. Throughout his investigation, Arnold attempted to keep it on the down-low, and the only ones privy to his activities were Palmer, Big Smithy, Crisman, and Dahl. Because of this, Arnold grew to suspect that Ted Morello had been tipped off by either Crisman or Dahl in an attempt to promote their story. Concerned he was being set up by a couple of confidence men, Arnold placed a call to Air Force Lt. Frank Brown and Captain William Davidson inviting them to join the investigation. The officers accepted Arnold’s invite and flew to Tacoma that same day, but after questioning Crisman and Dahl, they apparently were unimpressed by the men’s story.
Crisman and Dahl invited the Air Force officers to a boat trip to Maury Island, but Brown and Davidson declined, stating they had to return to California early the next morning. As a parting gift, the officers were given a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes filled with slag fragments. Arnold and Big Smithy, however, agreed to the Maury Island trip, which ultimately turned out to be a bust. According to Dahl and Crisman, their “patrol boat” had been severely damaged by the slag that had rained down, but when Arnold and Big Smithy examined the vessel there were no signs it’d been damaged, or recently repaired; nor was there any indication of it actually being a patrol boat, and it appeared totally unseaworthy. Unsurprisingly, Crisman and Dahl were unable to start the engine of the boat, which seemed like a convenient excuse to cancel the outing.
Shortly after take-off from McChord Field in Tacoma—in the early hours of August 1, 1947—the B-52 transporting officers Brown and Davidson caught fire and went down in flames, killing both men. The next afternoon, the Tacoma Times featured a curious headline: SABOTAGE HINTED IN CRASH OF ARMY BOMBER AT KELSO. The article reported that the B-52 “had been sabotaged ‘or shot down’ to prevent shipment of flying disc fragments…” and “that the ill-fated craft had been carrying ‘classified material.’” One can assume that Crisman had a hand in spinning this tale, which—if such was the case—seemed like a tasteless PR stunt. To this end, many suspect that Crisman cooked up the Maury Island caper, the intent of which was to sell it to Ray Palmer and cash in on the sudden saucer-craze sweeping the nation. This would support the theory that Crisman, under an assumed identity, contacted reporter Morello to leak details of Arnold’s investigation, and that Arnold’s hotel room had not actually been bugged—it was simply Crisman (affecting an anonymous identity) repeating conversations he’d had with Arnold.
In the aftermath of the B-52 crash, Ted Morello contacted Arnold and Big Smithy telling them he’d received another phone call from an anonymous tipster who informed him that the B-52 had been shot out of the sky.00001 Morello’s source added that, immediately following the crash, Crisman had been reactivated for military duty and assigned to Alaska, which suggested the Feds swooped in and spirited him away as a means of quashing further Maury Island inquiries.
Before leaving Tacoma, Big Smithy contacted an Army intelligence officer stationed at McChord Field named Major George Sanders, who met with Arnold and Big Smithy and informed them that the B-52 crash had been an accident, and not the result of sabotage.00002 Sanders then drove the men to a local steel mill to show them a smelter which he believed was the source of the supposedly otherworldly slag.
On Arnold’s flight home, the apparent veil of doom hanging over this episode reared its head when he lost power to the engine of his plane. Fortunately, Arnold was able to land safely in Boise, although afterwards he needed a change of undergarments. Shaken by these events, Arnold dropped the Maury Island case, as he felt no conclusive evidence had emerged during his investigation, as well the suspicion that Crisman and Dahl had been trying to pull a fast one.
A few days after Arnold left Tacoma, Crisman and Dahl visited the local FBI office claiming they had no clue about anything related to Maury Island or a saucer sighting there.00003 Crisman and Dahl’s story was that they’d discovered fragments of what they believed might have been flying saucer, then afterwards sent them to a lab at the University of Chicago for analysis. Somewhere along the way—according to Crisman and Dahl—Ray Palmer learned about the slag and contacted them, which in turn led to Kenneth Arnold’s involvement with the case.
The deeper one delves into the Maury Island Incident, the more conflicting stories emerge, which is to be expected when you have an apparent flimflam man like Crisman involved, as demonstrated in this New York Times story from August 10, 1947.
After the dust (or slag) had settled, Project Sign investigators determined that the Maury Island Incident was a hoax, and at one point the Air Force considered filing charges against Crisman and Dahl. Crisman sent a letter to Fate Magazine in January 1950 denying he’d perpetrated a hoax or that he bore any responsibility for the deaths of the two Air Force officers.00004
Contrary to popular legend, Crisman hadn’t actually been spirited away to Alaska immediately following the Maury Island caper, although he had been called up for active duty in the Korean War in 1951 and assigned overseas as a P-51 fighter pilot. According to researcher Mike Sylwester: “[Crisman] suffered a great deal from a premonition he would be killed, and he was reassigned to fly transport flights between Korea and Japan. Eventually, he began to suffer such anxiety that he was hospitalized in Japan. He began to abuse tranquilizers during this period…”00005
In 1953, Crisman separated from the military, leaving with the rank of reserve major. That same year he became a high school teacher in Elgin, Oregon, and then later, in 1956, the Superintendent of Schools in Huntington, Oregon.
Crisman became “involved in the UFO fringe with Frank Stranges and Wayne Aho” in 1958.00006
That same year, in an issue of Ray Palmer’s Flying Saucer magazine, Crisman (using the pseudonym of Eldon Everett) wrote in to the letters section to recount his Maury Island yarn, in addition to other saucer encounters he’d supposedly experienced in the ensuing years. Also in 1958, Crisman was arrested for drunk driving and disorderly conduct, at which time it was discovered he was under the influence of barbiturates. Due to this incident, Crisman was fired from his teaching job. According to Mike Sylwester: ”[Crisman] aggravated this situation [with the police] by making strange remarks, such as that he had a metal plate in his head.” Following his firing from the teaching job, Crisman worked for a couple years at Boeing Aircraft as a “personnel representative.”
In the mid 1960s, Crisman was joined in his flying saucer hobby by the one and only Thomas Edward Beckham, a colorful and criminally inclined character introduced in Part 00002 of this series.
In his testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978, Beckham stated that “Crisman had been a CIA agent and he had worked on a thing called Project Bluebook…”
Crisman claimed it was Harold Dahl who first introduced him to Tom Beckham, which differed from Beckham’s account, who said he was living in Olympia, Washington, in late 1964 when he came across a magazine ad for membership with a “Parapsychology Association” operated by Crisman. Afterwards, Beckham traveled to Tacoma to meet with Crisman and the two men became partners in a wide range of dubious activities. During this same period, Crisman re-entered the teaching profession with a job at Cascade Union High School in Salem, Oregon, a position that lasted only two years before he was fired for “forming a secret student organization… Crisman formed the organization and conducted meetings on school premises without authority.” A school board ruling stated that the “organization is of such a nature that it should not be condoned or authorized to exist in this district.”
After his dismissal from Cascade Union High School, Crisman began a career as what some have described as a right-wing propagandist employed by the Riconosciuto Marketing Agency. Crisman’s job description included speech writing and PR for conservative politicians in the Tacoma area, activities that overlapped with a daily radio show Crisman hosted, using the alias of Jon Gold, on radio station KAYE. At the time—according to certain accounts—Crisman was involved in spreading political propaganda, which he presented as an anti-corruption campaign waged against local government. Crisman’s version of events was later recounted in Murder of a City… Tacoma (1970), authored by Crisman under his Jon Gold pseudonym. The book blurb for Murder of the City… Tacoma reads:
“Fred L. Crisman, known to his radio and television audiences as Jon Gold… born in Tacoma… was swept up in the battle of political philosophy that now rages in that city… Naming himself a Liberal Democrat, he has been classified as a Far Right extremist… He denies being anything but what he is, a sincere man, dedicated to seeing the return of decent, honest, representative government to his home town. His planned broadcasts of political propaganda were never… other than… propaganda. (A) conspiracy… worked to bar him from the airwaves…”
Murder of the City… Tacoma is quite rare, so I haven’t been able as of yet to lay my hands on a copy, but an industrious researcher named Jeff Suwak has been posting about the book here.
One of the players involved in the Murder of a City saga was Crisman’s boss, Marshall Riconosciuto, the father of Michael Riconosciuto (aka “Danger Man”), a scientific whiz kid who referred to Crisman as his “mentor.” In the early 1980s, Riconosciuto was involved with a secret version of the Promis software a la the Inslaw affair, all part of an elaborate conspiracy laid out in The Octopus: Secret Government and the Death of Danny Casolaro.
In the Martinsburg, West Virginia, hotel room where Casolaro allegedly committed suicide in August of 1991, notes were discovered that mentioned “MJ 12—extraterrestrial,” and “Area #51.” The source of Casolaro’s UFO info was Michael Riconosciuto, who also alleged that Fred Crisman had hoaxed the Maury Island Incident to cover up a radioactive liquid metal that had been sprayed over Maury Island by Boeing Aircraft as part of a secret experiment. As previously noted, Crisman worked at Boeing in the late 1950s/early 1960s, and due to this association conspiracy researchers have connected Boeing and Crisman as agents of the dastardly military-industrial complex that also allegedly had a hand in the JFK assassination dance party.
More saucer news! On August 12, 1967, Fred Crisman and Thomas Beckham organized the “First Midwest UFO Conference” in Omaha, Nebraska, although Crisman was a no-show for the event.00007 That same year, Crisman appeared at the “Northwest UFO Space Convention” in Seattle where he recounted the Maury Island Incident and claimed that he possessed photos of the slag spewing donut ships, but for whatever reasons decided not to present them, nor have these photos ever surfaced, if indeed they ever existed (which of course they probably didn’t).
In early 1968, Crisman (using the pseudonym of Fred Lee) wrote to Lucius Farish of the Parapsychology Research Group, stating that, “Mr. Crisman is probably the most informed man in the United States on UFOs and also one of the hardest to find—as the FBI has learned several times!”00008
Researcher Mike Sylwester interviewed Crisman’s son, Fred Lee Crisman, Jr., who informed him that: “In the last weeks of his life, [Fred Crisman] was at home reading a book about alien abductions, and he suddenly passed out because of kidney failure. When he regained consciousness, he was in an intensive care ward, hooked up to a lot of hospital equipment and surrounded by personnel in masks and gowns. For a few moments, [Crisman] wondered if he himself had been abducted on to a spaceship…”00009 Crisman, at one time or another, claimed that the character of David Vincent, portrayed by Roy Thinnes in the ‘60s TV series The Invaders, was based on his life.
Another odd UFO twist in the Crisman saga was his association with a group called the “Servants of Awareness” that nowadays goes by the name “Cosmic Awareness Communications.” According to JFK assassination researcher Joan Mellen: “By 1968 Crisman would be investigated for narcotics activity in connection with… [the] Servants of Awareness.”00010 In the late 1980s, I became aware of this group courtesy of Tim Cridland’s Off The Deep End zine that featured, on occasion, Cosmic Awareness Communications broadsides and advertisements, such as the kooky one below.
Although there’s no evidence that Rev. Broshears ever met Crisman in the flesh, he corresponded, on occasion, with Thomas Beckham. Beckham, Crisman and Broshears were acquaintances of the Reverend (or Dr., depending on how he wished to present himself) Frank Stranges, author of Stranger At The Pentagon, the story of Venusian Captain “Valiant Thor.” According to Stranges, after Val Thor had met with the President and members of the Joint Chiefs, he had a meeting with Stranges at the Pentagon.
Stranges was director of the National Investigations Committee on Unidentified Flying Objects (NICUFO), a group he started after being kicked out of the more well-known and quasi-respectable National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP).
In addition to his saucer activities, Stranges was President of the International Theological Seminary of California, which appears basically to have been a diploma mill he cooked up. To this end, Stranges was famous for bestowing titles upon himself, including the prestigious FBI Gold Medal, which in reality was also a totally made up award. Stranges’ supposed association with the FBI drew the ire of the Secretary of NICAP, Richard Hall, who contacted the Feds on April 27, 1962, as documented in the letter below:
According to an FBI memoranda dated May 3, 1962:
“…a review of the enclosed material indicates that allegations against Dr. Stranges pertain to a period in August and October, 1960. In October, 1960, the Seattle Office conducted an investigation concerning Dr. Stranges after information was received that he was implying that he was at that time or previously connected with the FBI. During the investigation no one was located who had actually heard Dr. Stranges make any such allegation although it was generally conceded that he had left a number of people with such an impression. Dr. Stranges is an evangelist. Based on his background, numerous addresses and organizations which he has had and the fact he claims to have talked to an individual from the planet Venus, it appears he may be also something of a confidence man…”
Rev. Broshears hosted a number of UFO events at which Stranges appeared as guest speaker, such as this following promoted in Broshears’ Light and Understanding from November, 1968.
That same year, Stranges assumed leadership of a “religious organization” formerly overseen by Rev. Broshears called The Council of New Age Churches (CNAC). It’s not clear what CNAC was about, but some of Broshears correspondence suggests it never really amounted to much, but was yet another title that Stranges could add to his ever expanding rolodex of fake titles.
Crisman and Beckham likewise ran a number of dicey diploma mills, and it was from one such that Dr. Stranges earned a Ph.D. from the National Institute of Criminology, a title listed on the back cover of The Stranger from the Pentagon.
Although Stranges presented himself as a pseudo law enforcement official, there’s no indication he was ever on the right side of the law, and on many occasions found himself leaning more towards the dark side. In 1972, an aircraft with a bent propeller attempted to take off from Thermal, California. Besides the pilot, the only other person on board was Rev. Stranges. Police found about 400 pounds of marijuana in the plane. Stranges was convicted of attempting to transport an illegal substance and sentenced to eight months in prison and three years probation.
In 1974, Stranges hosted the “8th Annual UFO Space and Science International Convention” in Anaheim, California, advertising William Shatner, astronaut James Irwin, and U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers as featured speakers. All said they had either refused, cancelled, or never heard of Rev. Stranges.
Another of Broshears’ ufological allies was Rev. Robert Short, for whom Broshears organized an event at the Los Altos Public Library chronicled in a July 9, 1968 Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram entitled “Outer Space Chef Tosses Bewildering Salad.” Staff writer Frank Anderson described Short as:
…an outer space chef, [who] cut some green cheese from the moon, mixed it with horse radish and served it up on flying saucers…
Billed as a lecturer of unidentified flying objects, Short confined most of his remarks to communiqués from extra-terrestrial sources which have been published in the Solar Space Letter of his Solar Space Foundation at Joshua Tree.
The audience of 30 persons appeared mystified by it all, for the knowledge by Short flew by faster than the cafeteria line at a tape worms’ convention.
Short was introduced by Rev. Raymond Broshears, pastor of the sponsoring Church of God of Light. After some Hawaiian music, the lecture began with Short telling his audience how outer space beings tune in on earthlings.
It’s done, he said, by means of a resotron, a device that fits on the head like a hair-dryer and immediately translates earthlings thoughts and language into super space intelligence.
Having cleared up this awesome technology, Short read some documents, the substance of which is that the United Nations just isn’t interested in UFOs and “please stop writing to this office.”
Next came the slides. The first one purported to be outer space lights seen through pink clouds—but if you thought it was a slice of liver left too long in the hot sun, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.
This was followed by what appeared to be a human eyeball the day after New Year’s—or an under-fried egg.
Short —perspiring freely in his royal blue turtleneck, dark blue blazer and canary yellow slacks—got the next slide in upside down and backwards. But his apology was wasted—the audience didn’t know the difference…
Pity the poor Martian trying to decode Monday night’s proceedings on his resotron. He’ll think he blew a fuse.
Like a number of UFO contactees, Rev. Short channeled Commander Ashtar and by the mid-1950s (under the non-de-plume of Bill Rose) started an organization called “Ashtar Command” to monetize his otherworldly communications. Rev. Short and his spunky wife Shirley operate the Blue Rose Ministry out of their home in Cornville, Arizona, and publish The Solar Space Newsletter where “You can learn the mystic connection between the Hopi’s, the Pope’s and the UFO’s!” For many years, the Shorts were familiar figures on the flying saucer lecture circuit where the good reverend was usually more than happy (for a free will love offering of around $20 or so) to put on eye shades and perform psychic readings courtesy of Ashtar or Korton or whatever entity was possessing his vocal chords at the time. As my friend Greg Bishop recalled:
At the International UFO Congress in 2004, Bob Short set up a TV tray in the merch room (because he couldn’t afford a table) and gave psychic readings. I gave him $20 and he gave me a $20 performance. He went into a trance and began to spout extreme generalities which could apply to almost anyone. I was not very helpful with any feedback to lead him, so he continued in this vein. It was a fun session, mainly because I just wanted to help him out with a few bucks and see how good he might be. I recorded the session, but mistakenly recorded over it with a bootleg recording of a Hasil Adkins concert.
Thanks to Greg Bishop for assistance with portions of this article, some of which were ripped from the pages of our recently released “A” is for Adamski: The Golden Age of the UFO Contactees (Available now in a Black & White version or a Full Color version).
I’ve compiled a hot mess of Maury Island files, FOI and otherwise, here.
Jim Garrison not only implicated the military industrial complex, homicidal homosexuals, and anti-Castro Cubans in the plot to assassinate JFK, but he also fingered fringe religions—or “Odd Sects,” as he fancied calling them—in his everything-in-the-kitchen-sink conspiratorial cosmology.
Goddess only knows how Garrison first saddled up on this “Odd Sects” hobby horse, but there’s a good chance that one of his key witnesses, Jack Martin, was responsible for planting this curious seed—as well as our own Rev. Raymond Broshears, who also played a part in advancing the “Odd Sects” theory.
On November 25, 1963—two days after JFK’s assassination—an inebriated Jack Martin phoned the New Orleans FBI office to drop a dime on David Ferrie, implicating him as a getaway pilot in the assassination plot. On November 28, the Feds contacted Ferrie to get his side of the story:
“…FERRIE claimed that JACK S. MARTIN was a private detective who he first met in the fall of 1961. He said that since that time MARTIN has attempted to insert himself into his, FERRIE’S personal affairs. He claimed that at the time he first met MARTIN, MARTIN was working for a woman in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, named CATHERINE WILKERSON or WILKINSON or some similar name. He stated that MARTIN was endeavoring to expose various frauds in the Diploma Mills and Ecclesiastical Mills and was particularly interested in CARL J. STANLEY of Louisville, Kentucky who called himself CHRISTOPHER MARIA. He stated that MARTIN was desirous of obtaining some of the phony certificates of ordination and consecration used by STANLEY and to forward them to Washington, D.C. He said that MARTIN asked his assistance in this investigation and that he accompanied MARTIN to Louisville. He stated that he received only part of his fee for the investigation conducted with MARTIN. FERRIE said that he was slow in catching on to MARTIN but determined that MARTIN WAS dealing in phony certificates. He said that he regarded MARTIN as being an unethical and dangerous person. FERRIE claimed that in 1962 MARTIN disappeared from the scene and after several months suddenly re-appeared. He stated that MARTIN began visiting him at the office of attorney G.WRAY GILL and that Mr. GILL did not want MARTIN hanging out around his office. FERRIE claimed that in June of 1963 he put MARTIN out of Mr. GILL’S office in an undiplomatic manner and that since that time MARTIN has bedeviled him in every manner possible.
“FERRIE said that he had learned that some time after he put MARTIN out of Mr. GILL’S office MARTIN was moving around to various parts of the United States contacting first one clergyman and then another who were connected with the old Catholic Church trying to get ordained and gave FERRIE’S name as a character reference… FERRIE said he also learned that MARTIN had been a sergeant in the U.S. Army and while in the service had been mixed up in obtaining phony degrees in medicine, chiropractic and naturopathy by finding a college that was not in operation but whose charter was not defunct…”
During his November 27, 1963 FBI interview, Attorney G. Wray Gill stated that “Ferrie and Martin were once close friends until they got involved in an ‘ecclesiastical’ deal.” This “ecclesiastical deal” concerned Ferrie’s membership in the Apostolic Orthodox Old Catholic Church (AOOCC). Although details are scant concerning Ferrie’s involvement with the church, Gill informed the Feds that Martin tried to use Ferrie’s standing in the AOOCC to leverage his way into the clergy, which apparently was one of the factors that led to a dispute between the two men, as Ferrie was unwilling to give Martin an endorsement. Due to these events, Ferrie and Martin had a contentious falling out, partly due to the so-called “ecclesiastical deal.” The FBI’s interview with Ferrie was followed a couple days later with this memo:
On February 22, 1967—just one day after Ferrie’s sudden and (some say) mysterious death—Carl John Stanley (aka the Most Reverend Christopher Maria Stanley) placed a call to the Louisville PD, the details of which were passed on to the FBI and captured in the memo below:
Included with the Stanley-FBI memo was the Most Reverend’s rap sheet, a portion of which I’ve included for your possible reading enjoyment. I found it somewhat humorous that a couple of Stanley’s convictions resulted from obscene letters, which—for a man of the cloth—seemed a bit odd… but what part of this story isn’t?
At some point, Garrison wove together his Odd Sects theory like a manic Carrie Mathison in the The Homeland with news clippings, push pins and red strings on the wall, connecting Ferrie to odd ducks like Carl Stanley—and a whole host of other marginal figures—all part of some feverish plot involving rogue men of the cloth moonlighting as CIA hit men.
In Garrison’s “Odd Sects” files you’ll find any number of oddball letters from fringe ministers who wrote in for no other reason, it seems, than to commend Garrison on his investigation and lend their moral support. Each time Garrison or his staff received one of these beauties, into the Odd Sects files it would go!
During Rev. Broshears deposition before Garrison, he identified a number of mail order religions he’d been involved with, such as Kirby Hensley’s Universal Life Church (ULC) in Modesto, California, that in 1967 ordained Rev. Raymond Broshears as a self styled man of the cloth.
The ULC became renowned for ordaining anyone at the drop of a hat—all you had to do was write into headquarters in Modesto, California, to request ministerial credentials and before you knew it your very own embossed certificate was speeding to you in the mail. Discordian Society founder Greg Hill was an ordained ULC minister, and in many ways modeled certain aspects of Discordianism after the ULC, in particular the mantra that anyone could become an ordained minister (or Discordian pope) just by asserting the privilege. The ULC identifies itself “as a non-denominational religious organization founded on a simple doctrine, ‘Do that which is right,’ and states that every person has the natural right (and the responsibility) to peacefully determine what is right.”
The ULC was a nexus for free thinkers, crackpots, draft dodgers, and con men alike. It was through the ULC that Broshears became associated with several of Garrison’s suspects, including Fred Crisman, who was alleged to have been one of the mystery tramps picked up in Dealey Plaza in the aftermath of Kennedy’s assassination.
In his deposition, Broshears was questioned about Crisman and an equally sketchy Crisman associate named Thomas Edward Beckham. Garrison’s investigators showed Broshears a series of photos of suspected conspirators, one of whom was Beckham.
It appears that Broshears was recruited by Garrison as an informant, due to a letter I came across in the GLBT archives dated August 26, 1968, that Broshears sent to the ULC’s Kirby Hensley with the following request:
“…Dr. Hensly[sic], do you have a pic of yourself, Dr. Crisman, Dr. Brister for publication in the next issue of LIGHT? If so, I would sure appreciate them. I already have one of Beckham. I will get one of Brother Douglas this week. This is for a special Universal life section we are preparing…”
“LIGHT” in the letter referred to Broshears’ newsletter, Light and Understanding. It appears Broshears was using this request as a come-on to obtain photos (for Garrison’s investigators) of Hensley, Crisman and other supposed “Odd Sects” suspects. To close his letter, Broshears requested that Dr. Hensley send “minister ordinations” to four members of Garrison’s team: Barbara Reid, Steve Jaffee, James Alcock, and Louis Ivon. This request was most likely a pretext to assist them in infiltrating the ULC, and gather information on other ULC members that Garrison linked to the assassination.
The key evidence that got Garrison hot on Fred Crisman’s trail came in the form of a couple dodgy letters sent from anonymous sources, one of which included the allegation that Crisman was “the first man that Clay [Shaw] called after being told he was in trouble…” However, there’s no evidence that Shaw and Crisman ever actually knew each other.
This link will take you to some of the other phony Crisman docs that ended up in Garrison’s inbox and afterwards provided endless fodder for conspiracy buffs in the years to follow. As you peruse said documents, you will notice that our friends at the FBI or CIA (or some other alphabet soup agency) stamped FABRICATION on several pages to inform future generations of conspiracy sleuths that they were big, fat fakes.
According to researcher Larry Hancock, who has probably taken the deepest dive down this Crisman-Beckham rabbit hole:
“Crisman’s self-promotion was so obsessive and all-encompassing that I strongly suspect he himself wrote the anonymous letters to Garrison, identifying himself as a suspect.”
Beckham—in his mid-twenties at the time of his testimony—described himself as an entertainer, psychologist, criminologist and evangelist. So he was a pretty busy guy. The claim of being a psychologist, it appears, was a title Beckham bestowed upon himself using phony credentials. As for being an evangelist, Beckham received his ordination papers from a shifty character in Toronto named Earl Anglin James, a bishop in the Old Roman Catholic Church.
Garrison claimed that David Ferrie had placed calls to an unlisted number in Toronto supposedly belonging to the aforementioned Earl Anglin James. In a press interview from November 1967, James denied any association with Ferrie, and stated that the only call he had ever received from New Orleans was “in March 1965 and it was from Mr. J. S. Martin. It was personal.”
In 1970, the Toronto P.D. came into possession of a stolen wallet belonging to James, and while going through its contents discovered a number of phony cards, including the sampling below, which included Louisiana law enforcement credentials. It’s my suspicion that Jack Martin was responsible for some of these fake cards. As Beckham noted in his grand jury testimony, he became a protégé of Martin’s because he wanted to acquire all of his “cards.”
As for Beckham’s criminology degree, that was a caper he and Crisman cooked up during the period they first met in late-1965, at which time our dynamic duo formed a number of dummy corporations that included the “Northwest Relief Society,” “Professional Research Bureau,” “Associated Ambulances,” and, most notably, the “National Institute of Criminology, Inc.” from which they advertised a “PHD” course costing several hundreds of dollars. The Seattle FBI Field Office determined that “the firm is very likely a confidence game aimed at those with very little educational background.” According to the Dean of Beckham research, Larry Hancock: “Crisman was involved in bunco activities with Beckham that included stolen car trafficking connected to a car lot in Miami…”
As for the entertainer bit, Beckham promoted himself as a singer going by the name of Mark Evans. During Crisman’s grand jury testimony, when asked about his first visit to New Orleans, he replied:
“I came here with a young man [in early 1966], Tom Beckham, he has a show name of Mark Evans. It was in the vain hope that we could promote a record he was getting ready to cut and I was unfortunate enough to believe that he could promote it here and I went ahead and financed the trip and it turned out to be nothing…”
According to researcher Mike Sylwester:
“While working for the radio station, Subject [Crisman] acquired some knowledge about how the music industry operated. He understood that if a singer managed to sell a certain number of records, then his records would get more air time, which increased the record sales, and this process snowballed. [Crisman] therefore got involved in a scheme to artificially purchase large amounts of records…”00001
One of the more intriguing aspects of Beckham’s testimony was his purported association with Jack Martin dating back to 1960. According to Beckham, he idolized Martin, and for some inexplicable reason modeled his life after him, which was a totally crazy thing to do given the fact that Martin (real name Edward Stewart Suggs) was an alcoholic with a sordid criminal history and sociopathic tendencies. According to researcher, Dave Reitzes:
He was arrested in January 1945 in Fort Worth, Texas, for carrying a pistol; he was fingerprinted in Los Angeles in December 1945; he was arrested in December 1947 for disturbing the peace in San Diego and again in May 1949 in Dallas. He later would be investigated on numerous occasions for allegedly impersonating a doctor, an FBI agent, a CIA employee, a US Army colonel, and an ordained priest. Subsequent to his 1949 arrest, Suggs moved to Texas.
In Houston, Suggs took up a new trade as practitioner of illegal abortions. In 1951, he fled the state when one of his unfortunate patients, one Helen Nichols, died shortly after undergoing an operation at the hands of “Dr. Suggs.” A state grand jury indicted Suggs for murder in June of that year.
Suggs was arrested in Los Angeles on May 2, 1953, as a fugitive from Texas, but he managed to get the murder charge dismissed. He would later describe his philosophy of life as, “The strong take from the weak and the smart take from the strong,” and he “considers himself one of the smart.” He related the details of the “‘murder rap’ he was involved in” and bragged that he “outsmarts everyone.”
In March 1954, Suggs was fingerprinted in Galveston, Texas, for vagrancy and a drunk-and-disorderly charge. Soon after this, he moved to New Orleans and adopted the name, John Stewart Martin, Sr. He had difficulty holding a job and was largely supported by his wife, Paula. Concerned about his erratic behavior and excessive drinking, Mrs. Martin eventually insisted that her husband enter an alcohol treatment program in the Psychiatric Department of Charity Hospital.
In January 1957, Martin caused a disturbance in a New Orleans store and told store authorities he was an FBI agent. The FBI “instituted inquiries in this matter… and determined that he [Martin] was in a psychiatric ward [at] Charity Hospital, New Orleans as of January 17, 1957. His psychiatrist informed our agents that Suggs was suffering from a character disorder…”00002
Beckham followed his mentor’s lead by getting into a number of scrapes himself. In February of 1961—during Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks—Beckham went AWOL, and in short order found himself in the stockade. As is typical in such cases, the Army figured it best just to let him go. Beckham resurfaced later that year in New Orleans where he was arrested for vagrancy.
In 1962, Beckham was running a scam called the “United Cuban Relief Missionary Force” that was subsequently dismantled by the FBI. As part of this con, Beckham sported a clerical collar, pretending to be a Catholic priest, while soliciting donations that he apparently pocketed. That same year he was charged with the rape of a minor, and a second vagrancy charge. Some priest.
Although Beckham repeatedly named-dropped Jack Martin as a close associate and mentor in his House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) testimony, there’s no other evidence I’ve seen to confirm that the two men had actually known one another. I recently posed this question to researcher Larry Hancock, and this was his response:
“I found indications that Beckham was known to some of the street guys who served as sources and runners for Guy Bannister and there is ample reason to think Beckham knew of Bannister and his office – Beckham was a street guy and was charged with a couple of minor robberies along with the underage wife thing before he got his DJ job with the radio station. No sign that he ever knew Jack Martin though.”00003
Like his supposed mentor Martin, Beckham had a history of psychological instability, and was in and out of loony bins during 1962 and 1963, and then later a return visit in 1974. In the latter part of the ‘60s, Beckham shifted his base of operations to Omaha, Nebraska, and spent part of his time traveling around the country preaching the good word, as documented in this letter to our very own Rev. Ray Broshears!
When quizzed by Garrison’s investigators about Rev. Broshears, Beckham gave one of his typically inscrutable answers:
At some point, Garrison got a bee in his bonnet that Beckham was a CIA assassin—but of course Garrison was convinced that everybody and his mother were CIA agents at one time or another, so make of that what you will.
When Beckham was pressed by Garrison about whether he had moonlighted with the CIA—or had known Clay Shaw or David Ferrie—Beckham steadfastly denied these allegations. However, a decade later—during testimony before the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations—Beckham was now singing a completely different tune, claiming he’d indeed been recruited as a would-be CIA assassin by none other than Fred Crisman. Around the time of his HSCA testimony, Beckham was shopping around a “300-page manuscript about the assassination,” so this may have been a ploy to wrangle a book deal. Beckham seemed to be one of those guys always on the make.
In 2005, Joan Mellen jumped the Thomas Beckham shark with A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK’s Assassination, and the Case that Should Have Changed History. The ironically titled Farewell to Justice includes a number of Beckham-related revelations that read like JFK assassination fan fiction, including claims that Fred Crisman and Jack Martin had been Beckham’s CIA handlers, all part of some dastardly plot to groom “Tommy” (as Mellen endearingly refers to him) as an alternate patsy (ala Oswald) in a conspiracy featuring the usual Garrison suspects. Mellen’s source for the Beckham material was none other than Beckham himself, who had somehow snookered his way back into the JFK assassination fray during the 2000s, at the same time he was peddling his self published Remnants of Truth: Revealing Evidence on the Jim Garrison Investigation under the moniker of T.E. Beck’am. This alternate spelling of his name seemed associated with Beckham’s claim he’d became a full-fledged rabbi during this period. In 2003, Rabbi T.E. Beckham founded “The Spanish-American Rescue League Inc,” an LLC that received what’s known as a “Standing B” status from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). (Standing B basically means “bad”). This wasn’t Beckham’s first run-in with the BBB, as they’d been busting his chops as far back as 1967. But you can’t keep a good con down.
The key piece evidence Mellen presented in her book was a letter Fred Crisman allegedly “bestowed upon Thomas Edward Beckham…a government document meant never to be seen…The letterhead is not that of the CIA, but ‘United States Army Air Defense Command’ suggesting that many elements of President Eisenhower’s ‘military industrial complex’ contributed to a collaborative effort to murder John F. Kennedy, an effort in which the CIA stood in the front line…a number connoting his military service name is on this document, along with his correct social security number….The document describes Thomas Edward Beckham’s ‘intelligence service from October 27, 1963,’ under ‘Gov Control Fact Finding Missions.’00004 According to this letter, Beckham was “taught how to be an assassin” in 1963 at Camp Peary, a “CIA training installation…also known as The Farm.”
In my recent email exchange with Larry Hancock, I asked if he had any knowledge of this letter, and this was Larry’s reply:
“Crisman was a proven forger, with a tendency to steal blank stationary from various agencies and departments to use for his work. I advised Joan [Mellen] of that as well as gave her several warnings about Beckham but I’m afraid she decided to trust him as a sincere source…I have no doubt the letter you reference is a Crisman forgery. The ‘United States Army Air Defense Command’ did exist from ‘57 to ‘74 and its primary responsibility was NIKE anti-aircraft missile bases. Crisman may have swiped stationary from them, there were sites in Seattle and at Hanford. It goes without saying that no agency would ever put what was in that letter in print…”
“United States Army Air Defense Command” sounds strikingly similar to an outfit called “Defense Industrial Security Command” that never actually existed, and is cited in a curious tome entitled Nomenclature of an Assassination Cabal (1970).
Also known as the Torbitt Document, it was authored by the pseudonymous William Torbitt, and claimed that:
“The chain of evidence connecting Albert Osborne, Fred Lee Chrismon[sic], alias John M. Bowen, Permindex, and his co-workers became iron clad when a Black Star photographer snapped a picture a few minutes after the assassination of Chrismon, alias Bowen, and two of his charges in the process of being arrested by two young Dallas police officers at Dealey Plaza. Fritz later released all three. The Chrismon, alias Bowen, arrest picture received limited public distribution in 1969 when it was published in the Midlothian Mirror by Penn Jones, the Texas editor.
Co-Director of the Mexico based assassins, John H. Bowen, alias Fred Lee Chrismon, alias Free Lee, alias Jon Gould, alias Jon Gold, and Thomas Beckam [sic], front, and another assassin in the process of being arrested at Dealey Plaza immediately after the assassination.”
One curiosity that jumps out of the above text was the misspelling of the names of both Beckham and Crisman, which seemed intentional and perhaps a way to avoid a potential libel suit.
The smoking gun that some point to as proof of Beckham’s role in the JFK assassination is a photo of Beckham, Oswald and others in front of the New Orleans Trade Mart. According to Larry Hancock, the New Orleans Trade Mart photo “…shows Beckham chatting with his underage wife and some of her friends – they are off to the side of a photo showing Oswald on the same street passing out leaflets. Beckham appears to be paying no attention to Oswald at all…his attention is totally focused on the young women.”
In the mid-2000s, researchers started digging into Beckham’s recent activities and discovered a Kentucky LLC called the Life Management Clinic.
Although this link no longer lists Beckham’s bio, back in 2006 the Life Management Clinic website provided the following info:
r. Thomas Edward Beckham
Dr. Beckham has a degree in Osteopathic Medicine and is educated in both non-allopathic and allopathic medicine, as well as multiple mental health disciplines. He is an internationally known author and speaker…His professional certifications and memberships include the National Association of Forensic Counselors, International Association of Counselors and Therapists, American Medical Directors Association, American Institute of Clinical Psychotherapists, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and International Association of Pastoral Psychologists. Dr. Beckham serves as our Clinical Director making him responsible for all staff, oversight, budgeting and general actions of Life Management Inc. His experience in this role is without parallel.
Beckham continued creating sketchy LLC’s in the years to come. In 2008, he launched a corporation called “World Congress For Justice and Human Rights, Inc.”
In 2012, an individual I assume to be our very own Dr. Beckham rolled out another sketchy enterprise called “The American Institute of Clinical Psychotherapists, Inc.” Beckham’s apparent partner in this operation was an evangelical minister named Josiah Drawhorn.
If that wasn’t enough, I was surprised to find a Youtube video of “Rabbi Dr. Beckham” preaching before a congregation in 2011. Admittedly, I only lasted a couple of minutes with this video, so if you want to torture yourself further go here.
The video is linked to a website no longer active called http://www.shalomrabbi.net/ which I’m guessing was registered our beloved Dr. Rabbi Beckham. However, if you’re jonesin’ for more Dr. Beckham goodness, I discovered he has a blog which appears to be active! On it, Dr. Rabbi dispenses pearls of wisdom he probably copy and pasted from other sources.
Jim Garrison’s “Odd Sects” was further fleshed out by author Peter Levenda with his “Wandering Bishops” theory concerning a network of consecrated con men engaged in political witchcraft. According to Levenda, this lineage of Wandering Bishops started with a schism in Catholicism at the end of the 19th century that resulted in the emergence of the Old Roman Catholic Church, which also appears to have spun-off from the Russian Orthodox Church. This, in turn, gave rise to a smattering of splinter sects which produced “a weird world of monks, priests, and bishops” that crept clandestinely about the country, concealed in the cloak of religion.
This supposed band of Wandering Bishops included the usual “Odd Sects” suspects: Beckham, Crisman, Martin and Ferrie, not to mention our very own Rev. Ray Broshears who got lumped into Levenda’s mix of religious nuts, no doubt due to his association with the Garrison investigation. It’s Levenda’s contention that these Wandering Bishops basically used their religious organizations as fronts for intelligence operations to promote fascist agendas that included the assassinations of U.S. political figures.
Levenda’s entrée into the weird world of Wandering Bishops began in the late ‘60s when he was a “familiar face for about a year at the headquarters of the Old Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, New York…as well as the American Orthodox Catholic Church headquarters in the Bronx.“ These activities involved trying to pass himself off as a priest to avoid getting shipped off to Vietnam. It was through the American Orthodox Catholic Church that Levenda became acquainted with Archbishop Walter Myron Propheta, who he has described as a right wing wacko somehow involved in the JFK assassination. While I doubt Propheta had any real connection to JFK’s assassination, he did indeed make his way into Garrison’s Odd Sects files.
I suspect Propheta’s letter was something Levenda discovered among a trove of Garrison investigation documents that were released in the early 1990s, and from it he wove together his “Wandering Bishops” storyline, which like a lot of Levenda’s material is highly entertaining while at the same time connects dots in a, shall we say, somewhat speculative fashion. Whatever the case, the connecting link—Odd Sects to Wandering Bishops—seems to be Jack Martin, who is named in Propheta’s letter. Martin, in my estimation, was probably the guiding light behind a lot of the Odd Sects conspiracies that bedeviled Garrison’s brain.
In Dead Names, Levenda—using the “Simon” pseudonym—claims that it was through his association with certain Wandering Bishops that he came upon a copy of the original Necronomicon, a grimoire featured in the tales of H.P. Lovecraft that was supposedly written in Damascus in the 8th century A.D. by the “Mad Arab,” Abdul Alhazred.
The Necronomicon was supposedly reprinted in a number of languages including Latin, Greek and English, and then at some point was lost to the ages, mainly because everyone who messed around with the cursed thing ended up dying in a mysterious and/or gruesome manner. Long story short, Simon aka Levenda claimed he came into possession of the only existing copy ofThe Necronomicon in the late-1960s, then afterwards translated it from Greek so your average Joe on the street could summon their very own Cthulhu! This translated version of The Necronomicon—mass marketed as non-fiction in 1977—is considered one of the great literary hoaxes of our times.
Curiously enough, the Cthulhu Mythos was featured in Wilson and Sheas’ Illuminatus! where it was interwoven with a kitchen sink of conspiracies that revolved around the Bavarian Illuminati, ritual magick, and nazi occultism—central themes Levenda later explored in Unholy Alliance and Sinister Forces.
This leads your humble author to conclude that The Necronomicon was deeply influenced by Illuminatus!
Levenda has been steadfast, over the years, in his denial that he was/is Simon, although The Necronomicon is registered at the U.S. Copyright Office with “Simon” listed as Levenda’s pseudonym. The one thing Levenda has been consistent about is his evasiveness in this matter, as he’s continued to try to distance himself (to the point of absurdity) from the persona of “Simon.”
More recently, Levenda has been involved with Tom Delonge’s To The Stars Academy, a group dedicated to UFO Disclosure, which segues nicely into what will be our next startling installment of this series: The Raymond Broshears Files Part 00003: Flying Saucer Attack!