“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up letterheads for the Bavarian Illuminati, they carried the notice: ‘Safeguard this letter; it may be an important historical document.’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’…”
According to the FBI’s book critic, W.A. Branigan, reviewing Kerry Thornley‘s book Oswald:
“This book by Thornley is not a good piece of literature. The language in the book at times is raw and there does not seem to be any continuity of contents. It sells for seventy-five cents a copy, in paperback form and appears to be an effort by Thornley and the publisher to make a quick financial killing. It is highly doubtful if it will achieve this purpose.”
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.
The ideal celebration for this holiday is listening to bootleg recordings of the first Discordian rock band, Jay See and the Disciples of Eris. The rarity of these recordings causes most Discordians to celebrate in some other manner befitting the occasion.
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.
“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!
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!
For some time now I’d been planning a multi-part series on Reverend Raymond Broshears, one of more colorful characters (among a clown car of colorful characters) who careened headfirst into Kerry Thornley, and the Garrison investigation.
A deep dive into Rev. Broshears branches off in a number of directions, including the JFK assassination, UFOs, Discordianism, and “Wandering Bishops”—not to mention Rev. Broshears’ involvement as a gay rights activist in San Francisco in the late 1960s to the early-80s.
The reason I’d been holding off on this series was because I’d discovered, a while back, a Rev. Broshears archive located at the GLBT museum in San Francisco that would no doubt enhance this effort. Finally—in February of this year—I scheduled a visit to the Broshears’ archive, and just prior to my visit was alerted to the following Newsweek article titled “The Most Dangerous Gay Man in America Fought Violence With Violence” by Eric Markowitz, which—as synchronicity would have it—was all about Rev. Broshears! It should be noted that Broshears falls into the category of an “obscure character”—the type of subcultural figure your present author is fond of writing about, but who is so far out of the mainstream that his appearance in Newsweek was about as predictable as Donald Duck becoming President. Markowitz’s article even cites yours truly as a source, quoting Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Oswald and the Garrison Investigation. Pick up your copy today before supplies run out!
Anyway, that’s the way the stars sometimes align themselves in a weird and wonderful way when researching Discordianism, and related subcultural currents. Without further ado, let us proceed…
Born Earl Raymond Allen in Centreville Station, Illinois, in 1935, our hero later adopted the last name Broshears (taken from his stepfather)00001 and in time became known to the world as the Rev. Raymond Broshears, or in some circles simply as “Reverend Ray.”
In the mid 1950s, Broshears served as a Navy medical corpsman before being discharged for what he later described as “medical reasons” resulting from a “serious injury to the head causing what was then thought to be a minor brain dysfunction.”00002
In the late 1950s, Broshears graduated from Lee Bible College in Tennessee, and later studied under the fire and brimstone southern Baptist preacher, Billy James Hargis. George Mendenhall of the Bay Area Reporter later discovered that Hargis excommunicated Broshears when he discovered his sexual proclivities. According to Eric Markowitz:
In the early 1960s, Broshears continued traveling and preaching. At that time, in his late 20s, he got involved in the civil rights movement. He joined the Congress of Racial Equality, which fought for desegregation. That fight got him in trouble. In 1965, he participated in a sit-in in Belleville, Illinois, to protest the mistreatment of African-Americans. The details are murky—and the Belleville police department could not locate records related to the incident—but Broshears was arrested for groping a 17-year-old boy. “It wasn’t child molesting or anything like it,” Broshears told a reporter in 1972. “I was arrested for ‘groping a minor.’ He was fully dressed, there was no other physical contact involved.” That boy, however—who was not named in any reports, likely because of his age—was apparently the nephew of Belleville’s mayor…
The incident was a local scandal, and Broshears was sentenced to six months in county jail…When he was released, in December 1965, news had traveled that Broshears was a sex offender, so he bought a ticket, headed west and left everything behind. “I came to San Francisco, the gay mecca,” he would later say, “to become a faggot.”00003
Before planting permanent roots in San Francisco, Broshears spent a couple of years in Long Beach, California, operating a ministry called “The Church of God of Light” that was “involved in helping ‘skid row’ bums, improving conditions in the ghetto, and publishing an outspoken newspaper called The Light and Understanding.”00004
During his Long Beach sojourn, Broshears came up on the radar of JFK assassination sleuths after an appearance on an episode of Tempo, a Los Angeles TV program hosted by Stan Bohrman.
According to an October 16, 1968, internal CIA memo:
“[Broshears] appeared as a last-minute guest on the Stan BOHRMAN television show in Los Angeles in August 1968. The program is in the format of receiving questions from outside telephone callers… In answer to questions from callers, BROSHEARS admitted he was homosexual and that he was a roommate of David FERRIE for a short time in 1965. BROSHEARS stated that FERRIE admitted being involved with the assassins of President KENNEDY and to being in Houston at the time of the assassination with a plane waiting to fly the assassins on a getaway trip, first to South America, then to South Africa. According to Subject, while FERRIE was waiting in Houston, the assassins fled in a light aircraft from Dallas trying to make their escape all the way to Mexico without stopping. The assassins died in a plane crash that afternoon on the coast of Corpus Christi, Texas.
“After the program, BROSHEARS was visited by Mark LANE who urged him to visit GARRISON in New Orleans to make a deposition. Subject spent six days with GARRISON and when he returned to Los Angeles, was again on the Stan BOHRMAN TV show. On this program, Subject discussed his interview with GARRISON stating that he told GARRISON about FERRIE’s work with the CIA and Subject’s first meeting with Clay SHAW who had been identified to Subject as ‘Bert’. BROSHEARS admitted that this was the first time he had disclosed that he knew SHAW. He said he was at first reluctant to become involved in the investigation but after talking to GARRISON, he is convinced GARRISON is leading a fight for ‘JUSTICE’. He accused the CIA, FBI and Secret Service of impeding the progress of the case.
“BROSHEARS admitted to having been taken into custody by Secret Service agents two years ago for threatening the life of President JOHNSON.”
One of Garrison’s investigators, Steve Jaffe, wrote an article for the August 9, 1968, Los Angeles Free Press in which he noted that Broshears’ TV appearance represented “one of significant historical importance.” According to Jaffee:
“Broshears, who has tried to escape harassment by ‘individuals from mysterious sources’ ever since his short association with Ferrie in 1965, told of the role which Ferrie had played in the plot…Since the time of his arrest by incident of his alleged threat on President Johnson (after which he was questioned and released without conviction or sentence) he has had to be in constant touch with Federal offices of the Secret Service and F.B.I. by order of the Federal government. Agents from those organizations have warned him ‘to keep his mouth shut’ or risk being committed to a mental institution…”00005
The aforementioned CIA memo stated that Broshears had been visited by JFK assassination researcher Mark Lane, who urged him “to visit GARRISON in New Orleans to make a deposition.” Apparently Lane and Broshears had been in contact prior to the Tempo television appearance, as documented in this letter dated July 27, 1968:
Suspicious of Garrison’s motives, Broshears was initially reluctant to provide a deposition, but soon received incentive via subpoena that in short order turned around his way of thinking.
Broshears recounted his meeting with Garrison and crew in the August 1968 issue of his self-published newsletter Light and Understanding:
“…I did not wish to go, for the very word ‘Garrison’, left a bad taste in my mouth. He had (according to establishment press) persecuted many of my ‘fellow-beings’, with whom I have great empathy and ties. I feared for my life (which later proved true), for I didn’t trust Garrison or the U.S. government or Clay Shaw’s friends. [Steve] Jaffee arranged to make the trip as secret as possible, which it was. But, now, after having met Jim Garrison, I am convinced that this is one of America’s truly great and sincere people. I trust Jim Garrison with my life. I was overwhelmed at the honesty and the simplicity at the District Attorneys Office. Mr. James Alcock, the assistant D.A. is a real ‘BRAIN’, for after having spent a couple of hours with Alcock, I was convinced, in Light of what I had been told by David [Ferrie], that Garrison had the ‘goods’ on Shaw. Later I met ‘Moo’ Sciambra, a ‘French Quarter resident’ also working on the case. And I met the Chief Investigator, a good cop, Mr. Louis Ivon. Ivon and Alcock are both articulate men, as is Mr. Garrison, whom I later met at his home, he having just had an operation.
“Mr. Garrison was not the ‘bad boogy man’ he has been portrayed to be. And he does not mince words. He says what is to be said, and looks you straight in the eye while he is talking to you…
“While in New Orleans, I ran into old ‘cold flames’ who didn’t seem too pleased to see me. But the most shocking thing that I discovered while there, was the fact that the government had removed almost all trace of my ever having been in that city. But they ‘slipped’ up, and a couple of cards were found in various agencies, and gave light to the fact I was indeed in Orleans and that I had indeed been involved in the ‘underground’ there.
“But things were different now. David had been murdered. Kerry was not in Orleans, but in Tampa, Kerry, you know, the one whos picture was on the cover of Life with Lee Oswalds head super-imposed upon it. Kerry had the little spider like hands and arms and narrow hips, not Oswald, just ask his wife…”
In New Orleans, Garrison and his team took Broshears under their wings, and among those that helped foster the good reverend’s cooperation was none other than Barbara Reid, who was an early member of the Discordian Society, and key witness against Kerry Thornley in Garrison’s investigation. At one time, Reid even claimed she was the Goddess Eris herself! (You can’t make this shit up.)
Among other mind-gobbling allegations, Rev. Broshears informed Garrison’s investigators that David Ferrie, Clay Shaw, Lee Oswald and Kerry Thornley (!) were members of a homicidal-homosexual cabal that conspired to kill Kennedy. According to Broshears, he was introduced to Thornley by Ferrie, and claimed he’d had sex with Kerry, and knew well “his slender hips.”
While it can’t be denied that Thornley indeed possessed slender hips, I’ve seen nothing to suggest he was gay or bisexual, although he was extremely open minded in regards to sexual experimentation.
Here is an excerpt from Broshears August 1968 deposition:
Q. Do you recognize this man in the picture here?
A. That is the man whom David Ferrie constantly referred to as Kerry Thornley.
Q. And this person here?
A. That is Kerry Thornley.
Q. Where did you meet him?
A. At Lafitte’s in Exile. And I don’t know what—he always maintained that he was not a homosexual… David [Ferrie] has told me numerous times that Kerry Thornley maintains he is not a homosexual. But I say he is and I say to the whole world if he is not a homosexual why was he in homosexual bars, why if he is not? And his resemblance to Lee Harvey Oswald is rather frightening…
To suggest a resemblance between Oswald and Thornley as “frightening” is a stretch. Unless, of course, Broshears based his observations of this supposed Thornley/Oswald likeness on Harold Weisberg’s set of fabricated photos.
Cafe Lafitte in Exile, it so happens, was a landmark French Quarter bar owned by Tom Caplinger, the father of Grace and Lane Caplinger. Grace and Lane were friends with Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley, and it was Lane—according to legend—who helped type the 1st edition of the Principia Discordia after hours at Garrison’s office when she worked there as a secretary in 1965. Her sister Grace later changed her name to Grace Zabriskie after launching an acting career in the late 1970s, and is most famously known for her wonderfully weird role of Sarah Palmer in Twin Peaks.
Although Broshears claimed he encountered Thornley in New Orleans in 1965, this timeline didn’t jibe with the period Thornley actually lived there—from March 1961 until early December 1963. Newsweek reporter Eric Markowitz placed Broshears in lockup at the Belleville County Jail from July through December ‘65 which was the same time Broshears was supposedly in New Orleans hanging out with Ferrie and having sex with Thornley’s “slender hips.”
Researcher David Blackburst interviewed Broshears in the 1970s and discovered further inconsistencies in his story. Although Broshears claimed to have been Ferrie’s roommate, another Ferrie roommate stated that he’d never heard of Broshears. When Blackburst questioned Broshears about the layout of Ferrie’s apartment, he was unable to describe it accurately, and was just as confused about the layout of the streets in the French Quarter. This suggested to Blackburst that Broshears never actually lived there.00006
Broshears claimed that on the night he first met Ferrie, the two men patronized a bar catering to the homosexual community, and it was there that Ferrie introduced Broshears to “one of the wealthiest men in New Orleans” who went by the name of Bert and/or Clara. According to Broshears, Bert/Clara was actually Clay Shaw, Garrison’s chief suspect.
Ferrie allegedly informed Broshears that he had worked as a CIA contract pilot, and that they (the CIA) had blackmailed him with films of “a sixteen year old boy engaged [with Ferrie] in a homosexual act.” This was presumably among the revelations of sexual impropriety that got Ferrie fired from his pilot gig at American Airlines.
Whatever the case, I’ve seen no documentation confirming Ferrie actually worked for the CIA. The initial source for this revelation was Victor Marchetti, a special assistant to CIA Director Richard Helms. Marchetti claimed that a colleague informed him that “Ferrie had been a contract agent… in the early sixties and had been involved in some of the Cuban activities.” Marchetti told author Anthony Summers that “…he observed consternation on the part of then CIA Director Richard Helms and other senior officials when Ferrie’s name was first publicly linked with the assassination in 1967.” Marchetti’s allegations were later contradicted by internal CIA memos, so I guess it’s a case of whom you choose to believe. Trust No One.
At the very least, Ferrie was involved in paramilitary training with anti-Castro Cubans in 1961, an operation either directly or indirectly funded by the CIA and funneled through Guy Banister’s detective agency. (Banister was another supposed plotter in the JFK dust-up.) This hornet’s nest of intelligence agents or assets based in New Orleans (such as Banister) speaks to a nebulous gray area surrounding the Garrison investigation. Garrison and his investigators did indeed stumble upon information pertaining to intelligence agency capers in New Orleans, some of which apparently overlapped with Banister’s op, but to make the leap that these activities were directly related to JFK’s assassination… is indeed a leap, although certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
In the same manner that Barbara Reid was the person most responsible for dragging Kerry Thornley screaming and kicking into the Garrison investigation funhouse, the same can be said of a fellow named Jack Martin (aka Edward Stewart Suggs) in his role of foisting David Ferrie into that very same fray.
Martin, like Reid, had a unique role in Garrison’s mad world; both were “witnesses” and at the same time both worked closely with Garrison’s investigators. Although Reid’s role was absent from Oliver Stone’s JFK, Martin was accorded lofty status, portrayed by Jack Lemmon as a sad sack two-bit private dick who inadvertently stirred up this aforementioned hornet’s nest inhabited by the likes of Ferrie, Banister, Shaw and other sinister and supposed spooks. Or at least that’s how it was romanticized in the film.
Martin first came to the attention of federal authorities just three days after the assassination, on November 25, 1965, when he was interviewed by the New Orleans FBI field office. At this time, Martin informed the feds that he was a private investigator, and had “…developed considerable information about FERRIE… particularly his homosexual tendencies and the fact that he formerly operated the Civil Air Patrol [squadron].”
Martin stated that Ferrie was an amateur hypnotist, and may have and “planted a post-hypnotic suggestion that [Oswald] kill the President.” Martin further alleged that he had visited Ferrie’s apartment and “saw a group of photographs of various Civil Air Patrol cadet groups and in this group he is sure he saw several years ago a photograph of LEE OSWALD as a member of one of the classes… he stated that FERRIE conducted military type drills with rifles… and he recalled that FERRIE claimed to have taught these cadets how to shoot. MARTIN stated that he observed in FERRIE’s home a number of foreign made firearms and it is his opinion that FERRIE could have taught OSWALD how to purchase a foreign made firearm or possibly have purchased the gun that was shown on television…”
In a follow-up FBI interview on 11/27/1963:
“…MARTIN further stated he considered FERRIE to be a completely degenerate person and it was his opinion that FERRIE is capable of any crime. If was for this reason that MARTIN suspected FERRIE of being involved in the killing of President KENNEDY… MARTIN advised that he considered the possibility that FERRIE had taught OSWALD to shoot a rifle and use a telescopic sight, in that he knew FERRIE taught military training to Civil Air Patrol Cadets and OSWALD was a Civil Air Patrol member…”
On November 28, 1963—the day after Martin’s FBI interview—the New Orleans field office reported that their investigation of “allegations against Ferrie stem from Jack S. Martin who was previously confined to the psychiatric ward of Charity Hospital, New Orleans, for a character disorder. Martin is well known to New Orleans office and is considered thoroughly unreliable.”00007
Martin later admitted that his allegations against Ferrie were “a figment of his imagination and that he made up the story after reading the newspapers and watching television.”00008 Martin blamed his false account on what he called “telephonitis” resulting from excessive alcohol intake followed by blabbing on the telephone.
At one time or another, Ferrie and Martin worked as private detectives for attorney G. Wray Gill, most well known for representing mob boss Carlos Marcello, who many have connected to the JFK assassination. Martin from all accounts was a hanger-on, who apparently both Gill and Ferrie considered a pest. In June 1963, at Gill’s direction, Ferrie bounced Martin out of Gill’s office in what was termed an “undiplomatic manner.” This altercation presumably started a beef between the two men which later resulted in Martin’s bout of “telephonitis.”00009
When Garrison launched his investigation in late 1966, Martin once again jumped the David Ferrie shark by trotting out his past claims including the allegation that he saw Oswald in Banister’s office “two or three times” in the company of Ferrie.
During the early stages of Garrison’s probe, Martin was a member of Big Jim’s investigative team, although Garrison and Martin later had a rift over paperwork Martin filed with the Louisiana Secretary of State entitled, “Articles of Incorporation of ‘Garrison-Intelligence-Agency.’” The intent behind these filings (according to a letter Martin sent to Garrison) was to establish an “independent intelligence force… to render and give aid to Jim Garrison, and to otherwise support him in his efforts…otherwise known as ‘Garrison’s Guerrillas’… just as we’ve talked about.”
Martin admitted in his letter that he “kited a couple of checks (cause we were broke) to get these papers filed.” In the upper right hand corner of Martin’s letter, Garrison wrote: “Spoke to J.M. [Jack Martin] 12/3/67. Must be abolished.” Reading between the lines, it can be assumed that Garrison instructed Martin to cease and desist with this Garrison’s Guerillas caper, then further distanced himself from Martin by kicking him off the JFK investigation team.00010
In On The Trail of the Assassins, Garrison described Martin “as a quick-witted and highly observant, if slightly disorganized, private detective.” However, Garrison confided to LIFE Magazine’s Richard Billings that Martin was “an undependable drunk and a totally unreliable witness.”00011
Martin’s view of himself was in a more heroic vein. He once described himself as an “Author, former newspaperman, professional soldier, adventurer, and philosopher.”
Martin, it turns out, had a long and checkered rap sheet that included the charge he was a back-alley abortionist in the early 1950s going by the name of Dr. Suggs. Martin’s criminal history is documented here by Dave Reitzes.
While the preponderance of Martin’s claims were sketchy as all get-out, his allegation that Ferrie and Oswald had been associated in 1955—to one degree or another—is one that stuck. In this regard, Ferrie and Oswald had been in contact on no less than four occasions during the period Ferrie served as Commander of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) squadron in New Orleans. How significant these meetings were, and how well the two men actually knew one another, is a matter of conjecture. A lot of assassination buffs got their panties in a perpetual twist when the photo below surfaced of Ferrie with Oswald and some other CAP cadets during training exercises in 1955.
Whether or not Ferrie was grooming Oswald to become a future assassin, he was indeed one sketchy dude involved in a number of hinky activities. One of these endeavors concerned a group of young men Ferrie organized called—of all crazy things—“Omnipotent.”
The existence of Omnipotent was revealed in a October 30, 1961, FBI memo forwarded to the U.S. Customs Service, and the U. S. Bureau of Narcotics, concerning an informant’s tip that Ferrie had organized a group of young men and had “been holding something over the heads of the boys in this group and…is keeping them doped up with narcotics, liquor and with hypnotism…”
The FBI memo went on to state that “the members of that organization [Omnipotent] had to swear allegiance and obedience to a 19-year-old or 20-year-old boy, and that the purpose of this organization was to train people concerning what they could do in the event of an all out attack against the United States…” Read the Omnipotent memo here!
It may appear I’ve gone a bit far afield with this Martin-Ferrie-Omnipotent rabbit hole, but I felt some background was necessary before launching off into our next Rev. Broshears installment that will feature, once again, Messrs Martin and Ferrie, along with a whole host of other curious characters that have been identified by author Peter Levenda as the “Wandering Bishops.”
Thanks to Carmine Savastano of the Neapolis Media Group for giving me a heads-up about David Ferrie’s Doomsday Cult!
00002 Eric Markowitz, “The Most Dangerous Gay Man in America”, Newsweek, February 2, 2018.
00004 October 16, 1968 CIA memo. FOIA document 1361-500)
00005 Jaffee, Steve. “Ferrie Confessed His Involvement In John Kennedy Assassination Plot. Los Angeles Free Press. August 5, 1968.
00007 Warren Commission Report page 208.
00008 Warren Report Page 202.
00009 Lambert, Patricia; Lambert, Patricia (2000-09-26). False Witness: The Real Story of Jim Garrison’s Investigation and Oliver Stone’s Film JFK (Kindle Locations 5732-5736). M. Evans & Company.