This party got started in the October 1967 Playboy featuring an interview with Jim Garrison:
GARRISON: …and he [Ruby] became the prisoner of the Dallas Police, forced over a year later to beg Earl Warren to take him back to Washington, because he wanted to tell the truth about “Why my act was committed, but it can’t be said here… my life is in danger here.” But Ruby never got to Washington, and he’s joined the long list of witnesses with vital information who have shuffled off this mortal coil.
PLAYBOY: Penn Jones, Norman Mailer and others have charged that Ruby was injected with live cancer cells in order to silence him. Do you agree?
GARRISON: I can’t agree or disagree, since I have no evidence one way or the other. But we have discovered that David Ferrie had a rather curious hobby in addition to his study of cartridge trajectories: cancer research. He filled his apartment with white mice—at one point he had almost 2000, and neighbors complained—wrote a medical treatise on the subject and worked with a number of New Orleans doctors on means of inducing cancer in mice. After the assassination, one of these physicians, Dr. Mary Sherman [an orthopedic surgeon on the staff of Ochsner Clinic at Tulane], was found hacked to death with a kitchen knife in her New Orleans apartment. Her murder is listed as unsolved. Ferrie’s experiments may have been purely theoretical and Dr. Sherman’s death completely unrelated to her association with Ferrie; but I do find it interesting that Jack Ruby died of cancer a few weeks after his conviction for murder had been overruled in appeals court and he was ordered to stand trial outside of Dallas—thus allowing him to speak freely if he so desired. I would also note that there was little hesitancy in killing Lee Harvey Oswald in order to prevent him from talking, so there is no reason to suspect that any more consideration would have been shown Jack Ruby if he had posed a threat to the architects of the conspiracy.
Garrison—as we see—was connecting heavy duty dots, intimating that David Ferrie (one of Big Jim’s key suspects) operated a Super Secret Cancer Research Lab (SSCRL) from his weirdo French Quarter compound (filled from floor to ceiling with hundreds of caged white mice) that somehow was connected to the mysterious death (in July 1964) of Dr. Mary Sherman and also connected to Jack Ruby’s death, well, because Ruby died of cancer. Elementary, dear Watson!
Mary Sherman’s murder was like a scene straight out of one of the weirder episodes of Twin Peaks. Her body (or what was left of it) was stabbed multiple times and then set on fire at her apartment in New Orleans. Sherman’s right arm was damn near completely consumed, including “a portion of the right side of her body extending to the hip,” according to the coroner’s report.
Oddly enough, Sherman’s apartment suffered minimal damage; her bed mattress had been partially destroyed and was smoldering upon discovery. While there was smoke damage to the room, all of the curtains were intact, which was another oddity given the fact that the fire was intense enough to do the number it did on her body.
Haslam’s father, it so happens, was an orthopedic surgeon at Tulane U. and colleague of Dr. Sherman’s. During a sort of deathbed confession, the elder Haslam hinted to his son Ed that there was some kind of nefarious monkey business behind Sherman’s death although Doc Haslam never specifically spilled the exact nature of these beans to his son. These bizarre breadcrumbs—in addition to experiences from Haslam’s youth—propelled him on his literary odyssey.
From this rich tapestry of weirdness, Haslam cobbled together a sort of conspiratorial science fiction detective novel, the components of which coalesced into something that sounds, well, possible—maybe kinda sorta—because it tied together a bunch of disparate threads that had been dangling around in the conspiracy research community over the last several decades and contained enough semi factual elements to lend the story some semblance of truthiness.
Haslam’s theory goes something like this: dastardly David Ferrie had been involved in a clandestine CIA ‘underground laboratory’ (in cahoots with Dr. Sherman), part of a caper to concoct a “cancerous cocktail” (as Haslam so eloquently terms it) that would be used to knock off Fidel Castro. The grand design, according to Haslam’s theory, was that Castro would be slipped a mickey of this cancerous cocktail by his lover and CIA mole, sultry Marita Lorenz, a plot line not entirely outside the realm of reality. As history instructs, the CIA did indeed hatch a number of harebrained schemes to take Castro out of commission; like putting powder in his beard to make it fall out and thus lose face with his followers; or dosing him with LSD right before he delivered a speech which would make it seem like he’d gone off his head—not to mention the old exploding cigar routine you might see in a old Bugs Bunny cartoon.
CIA mad scientists even toyed with the idea of rigging up an exploding conch shell for Fidel to encounter while gamboling about the beach. Apparently our boys at The Company had a lot of spare time on their hands to cook up these capers that in the end never really panned out. However—as the story goes—the CIA (according to Haslam’s theory) later employed their cancerous cocktail to poison Jack Ruby because of course they had to stop him from running his mouth about the real reason he’d pumped Lee Harvey Oswald full of hot lead outside the Dallas County Jail.
Haslam speculated that the mastermind behind all of this monkey business was a distinguished physician named Dr Alton Ochsner, former President of the American Cancer Society and President of the Ochsner Medical Center at Tulane University.
According to Haslam’s theory (and make no bones about it, Haslam lays it out in a theoretical fashion), Ochsner directed this cookin’-up-a-cancer-cocktail-caper-to-kill-Castro from his lofty perch at Tulane U., ostensibly providing funding for the Op—or the CIA funneled the funding through him—which Ochsner then passed on to diabolical David Ferrie and his alleged cancer causing cohort, Mary Sherman. All of this gets incredibly murky, once again because it’s primarily speculation on Haslam’s part, cobbled together from different sources of varying merit who seemingly held different pieces of a larger puzzle which Haslam collected, tossed together like a conspiratorial salad, then added his own special dressing (or puzzle pieces or pet theories to keeping mixing metaphors even more) to attempt to tie it all together into a unified field theory overlapping the creation of AIDS with the JFK assassination.
When he wasn’t doing distinguished doctorly stuff, Ochsner had a history of staunch anti-communist activities and was a founding member of The Information Council of America (INCA), an anti-communist propaganda outlet that operated out of New Orleans. Among INCA’s anti-commie efforts included an LP called Self Portrait in Red (YouTube Videos: Part 1 and Part 2) that featured a radio debate pitting Lee Oswald against anti-Castro Cuban Carlos Bringuier.
|Self Portrait in Red LP, Side 1
|Self Portrait in Red LP, Side 2
In subsequent years, conspiracy sleuths have come to suspect that this LP (the production of which was overseen by Alton Ochsner) was part of a grand plan to set up Oswald before the fact as a commie lone nutter with an itchy trigger finger, along the same lines as what Garrison claimed Kerry Thornley, Discordian co-founder, was up to: basically framing Oswald for the JFK assassination in advance.
During the period Ferrie and Mary were supposedly involved in this cancer cocktail caper, high tech medical gadgetry was being introduced into the cancer research field and placed at medical universities such as Tulane. This included the use of linear particle accelerators that could blast the bejesus out of cancer cells (and monkey viruses, for that matter). While Haslam was never able to produce any tangible evidence to confirm Sherman might have had one of these linear particle dohickeys at her disposal—or that one was ever housed at Tulane—this nonetheless formed the basis for one of the more science fictional aspects of his story: that Mary was monkeying around with one of these things and accidentally blew herself to smithereens.
Haslam even went so far as to speculate that the supposed linear accelerator explosion caused a mutation of the monkey virus they were messing around with and released it into the atmosphere which a decade later led to the spread of HIV and the AIDS pandemic. (That’s fucked up, dude!)
In the aftermath of this cancer cocktail catastrophe, a clean-up crew was called in to cover-up this messy mishap to keep the secret lab under wraps and the New World Order conspiracy humming along. As part of this clean-up cover up, Sherman was stabbed multiple times to make it look like murder, then transported—under cover of darkness—to her apartment where the culprits started a fire to cover their tracks.
If the creation of AIDS (by way of mutating monkey viruses) wasn’t enough conspiratorial fodder to get your head spinning, Haslam took another ponderous leap by linking his story to the polio vaccine, which also plays into current conspiracy theories suggesting that vaccines have all sorts of awful side effects such as causing autism in children.
As Haslam writes in his intro to Mary, Ferrie and the Monkey Virus:
I also noticed that names connected to the polio vaccine were names connected to Mary Sherman and to the investigation of the JFK assassination. I began to suspect that these secrets were somehow intertwined. A web of secrecy surrounding our national health. Interlocking secrets that protected each other. Secrets which presented serious accountability problems for the people in power. I remembered the warning my father had given me. I could see how unwelcome this news would be in many circles.
Haslam’s conspiratorial-everything-in-the-kitchen-sink-theory notwithstanding, he was never able to produce a paper trail connecting David Ferrie and Mary Sherman to cancer experiments. In Mary, Ferrie and the Monkey Virus, Haslam admits that Garrison’s Playboy interview was “the single document we currently have connecting Sherman to Ferrie’s cancer experiments.”
JFK Assassination researcher John Simkin sums up Mary, Ferrie, and the Monkey Virus quite succinctly at this link where he writes,
“As intriguing as Haslam’s theories are, he actually offers very little checkable evidence, if you read closely. In his original edition, he seemed to speculate a lot; a few pages later, the speculation would become fact; and he would then pile ‘fact’ upon ‘fact’ to create the impression of something sinister…”
In 2007, Trine Day published a revised edition of Haslam’s mighty tome retitled Dr. Mary’s Monkey: How the Unsolved Murder of a Doctor, a Secret Laboratory in New Orleans, and Cancer-Causing Monkey Viruses (Amazon) are Linked to Lee Harvey Oswald, the JFK Assassination, and Emerging Global Epidemics.
And why a revised version, pray tell? Enter Judy Baker…
Judyth Vary Baker first entered into the JFK assassination fray in the late 1990s with claims she’d been Oswald’s girlfriend and that the two even planned to divorce their respective spouses and tie the knot… until, of course, Jack Ruby’s bullet silenced their steamy romance forever.
In 2000, Baker came to the attention of 60 Minutes who were developing a segment regarding her claims when they came to the conclusion that her story didn’t hold water. Judy afterwards claimed that the reason the episode never aired was because The Man stepped in and shut down production as part of an ongoing conspiracy to keep the truth under wraps. The nerve of ‘em!
It was around this time that Ed Haslam encountered Baker and before you know it, the two were hitched to the hip because, at last (or so it appeared), here was someone who was not only an actual witness to Mary and Ferrie’s super secret lab, but claimed she had worked there, as well! Of course, these claims came many years after the publication of Mary, Ferrie and the Monkey Virus and most sober heads concluded that Baker had simply inserted herself into the story as a means of furthering her claims that she was Oswald’s main squeeze. It wouldn’t be the last time that Baker would insert herself into different JFK assassination scenarios.
Baker—as the story goes—or at least the one she was putting forward, was supposedly some young science student whiz kid, and while in high school was recruited by the CIA to work on this secret cancer cocktail project. In due time, Baker found herself in New Orleans where along the way she met Lee Oswald and it was love at first schtup.
Baker—in her account—portrays Oswald as a do-gooder undercover CIA guy who somehow also got involved in this cancer cocktail caper, and all that business about handing out Fair Play For Cuba pamphlets was just a cover for Oswald’s role in infiltrating communist organizations as a double agent for the good ol US of A.
In 2010, Baker’s Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald hit the shelves, which included in its cast of characters damn near everybody that Garrison ever suspected of being in on the gag, including Ferrie and other usual suspects like Clay Shaw, Guy Bannister, Carlos Marcello, and on and on and on; basically anyone that Garrison even thought he caught a whiff of was included in Baker’s rogue gallery of conspirators.
What initially piqued my interest about Baker’s book were her claims asserting that she’d witnessed Thornley and Oswald together in New Orleans, but after reading those specific passages they came across like a contrived piece of fiction attempting to present itself as fact. As I dug deeper, it soon became apparent that Baker’s timeline for the Thornley/Oswald meetings were inconsistent with the public record and that Thornley had traveled back to California during the timeline Baker alleged that the meetings occurred.
In regard to the Baker’s take on the whole Mary, Ferrie, Monkey theory, she claims that Oswald volunteered to courier the cancer cocktail vials to Mexico City, and once there pass them on to an intermediary who would run them to Cuba where they would be used in the planned attempt to slip Castro a death inducing mickey. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you’re a commie loving creep), the Cuban intermediary was a no-show, and so Oswald—realizing the cancer cocktail had a short shelf life—took it upon himself to attempt to deliver the goods to Cuba, which of course first meant going to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City to get a passport. This explains (I guess) the reason for Oswald’s appearance there which has always been one of the great mysteries surrounding the JFK assassination: What in the dickens was Oswald up to in Mexico?
While Oswald was waiting to get his transit visa, Hurricane Flora blew into Cuba and beat the shit out of the island and basically foiled his plan to deliver the goods, and so that was as far as the cancer cocktail caper ever got.
After this cancerous cocktail caper went south, the evil CIA plotters who cooked up the plan decided to turn their attention on JFK and instead of using the cancer cocktail to do him in, they figured it would be just as easy to blow his head off. This is where Oswald parted ways with the evil CIA plotters and decided he would foil the plot because, like, it was his patriotic duty, dude.
On that dark day that will live in infamy (November 22, 1963), Oswald was sent to Dealey Plaza as one of the shooters but intentionally missed Kennedy, although other shooters, of course, hit the mark. And there you have it, boys and girls, a JFK assassination theory with more moving parts than Jayne Mansfield on a trampoline with a hula hoop twirling 4th of July sparklers.
More recently, Baker associated herself with the Raphael Cruz-JFK Assassination allegations first floated during the 2016 presidential campaign by “journalist” Wayne Marsden.
I wasn’t able to locate Marsden’s original Raphael Cruz-was-up-to-no-good-in-New Orleans-article, but of course Alex Jones was all over the story like a bad suit.
None of this passed the smell test because the story dropped at the same time we were knee deep in the GOP Primary featuring Ted Cruz as Trump’s main competition, and to a lesser degree Little Marco Rubio, who—curiously enough—was likewise targeted (surprise!) by Mr. Marsden in another hit piece entitled “Rubio’s coke house, gayish dance troupe, and foam parties” based on dodgy photos that may or may not have been Little Marco, but they kinda sorta looked like him frolicking at a gay Miami bathhouse (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). It was the same deal as the supposed Raphy Cruz photos that may or may not have been him but looked similar enough that they could be used in a similar manner to gin up a story. This gay angle was further reinforced through media reports that Rubio is fond of wearing fashionable Beatles-style boots, another sure sign of his diabolical homosexual and globalist tendencies!
After Marsden’s article on Cruz broke, long time political dirty trickster and Trump ally Roger Stone (during an appearance on Alex Jones’ Infowars) fanned the flames of this Raphael Cruz dumpster fire in the video below.
At the 1:22 mark, Stone starts laying it on pretty thick: “I had an email last night from Judith Vary Baker. She’s a friend. She also undisputedly was Lee Harvey Oswald’s girlfriend from 1961 to 1963. She knew Raphael Cruz well. She confirms that he was part of Lee Harvey Oswald’s crew…Also, if one will simply do a computer analysis of the facial aspects in the photo, which yes appeared in the National Enquirer, but was released by the Warren Commission with a current photo of Raphael Cruz, it’s a perfect match!”
Soon after, candidate Trump gave the Raphael Cruz-JFK assassination yarn another news dump bump when he regurgitated it to Fox and Friends in his own inimitable word salad way.
“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous, I mean, and nobody even brings it up, they don’t even talk about that. That was reported and no one even talks about it, but I think it was horrible, I think it’s absolutely horrible… I mean, what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death, before the shooting? It’s horrible!”
Around the same time that Raphael Cruz was getting drug through the mud, Judyth Baker posted to her blog about a book of her science fiction stories soon to be released at the time by Trine Day entitled Letters to the Cyborgs that would include a never before seen science fiction story written by her fallen lover Lee Oswald! According to Baker:
“I re-typed Lee’s story so that it could be published, using pink paper for the carbon copies… I fixed many spelling errors, and a few grammar errors, but his dialogue was really good, he had read so much science fiction that he was very familiar with the lingo, and I saw that he had talent But before any thought of such a venture could go beyond that stage, Lee became immersed in infiltrating a plot to kill President John F. Kennedy. And they killed him…”
Curiously enough, when I checked the Trine Day site for further info on Letters to the Cyborgs, I couldn’t find diddly squat about Oswald having a story in the collection, which I thought would’ve been the main angle to market the book—because, really, who the hell cares about Baker’s science fiction? This led me to suspect that Trine Day thought better about repeating such a tenuous claim (that Oswald authored the Sci-Fi story) and omitted it from the book’s promotional material. (But, as usual, I digress… back to Mary, Ferrie and a barrel of monkeys.)
A 2007 review of Dr. Mary’s Monkey in New Orleans Magazine mentions the first researcher to go down this Mary-Ferrie-rabbit hole as Don Lee Keith, who wrote an article on Sherman’s murder for Gambit Magazine entitled “A Matter of Motives.” New Orleans Magazine states that “Keith reconstructed the crime scene in his mind and was the first to smell a conspiracy with a cover-up.“ However, Keith’s “papers reveal NO link between [Sherman and Ferrie], save a document from a local reporter working with Garrison, whose source was… Garrison.”
It eventually dawned on me that the document referred to above was something I might have stumbled upon several years ago when I was researching Kerry Thornley and spending endless hours scouring the National Archives online collection related to Jim Garrison.
The Mary/Ferrie document to which I refer was a (supposed) affidavit composed by a certain Mr. Robert L. Russell (also known as James Alexander II) dated September 27th, 1986. The affidavit states that Mr. Russell attended a meeting with alleged CIA agent Guy Banister and:
“…with other individuals, at which it was decided to murder Jack Ruby…that at this same meeting, Bannister and others decided to call in Dr. Louis J. West to accomplish this murder by means which were to be both undetectable and beyond suspicion of foul play… at that time…. I was known as James Alexander II, a wealthy oil man, and that I was thereby working undercover for Robert F. Kennedy to obtain information regarding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.”
My initial reaction to this affidavit was that it had to be some kind of hoax, or a red herring intended to spread disinformation. I based this on the inclusion of Dr. Louis Jolyon West in the narrative which seemed just a little bit too good to be true—kind of like a conspiracy theorists’ wet dream—mainly because West has so often been linked to a panoply of MK-ULTRA conspiracy theories over the years like some sort of Dr. Evil super-villain in a Marvel comic book series. It’s no secret (as you can read from his wiki page) that West was indeed involved in at least one MK-ULTRA-related project when he injected an elephant with large dose of LSD and accidentally killed the poor creature. But beyond that, his legend grew somewhat ridiculously, I think, mainly because it gave street cred to different supposed MK-ULTRA mind control conspiracy theories that have circulated over the years.
The affidavit states that Russell (under the alias of Alexander) met with Dr. West in New Orleans “during 1964, 1965 and 1966, and at these meetings observed Dr. Mary Sherman” who gave:
“Dr. West several vials of a solution of live cancer cells on at least one occasion… Dr. Sherman knew that West intended to use these cancer cells and other drugs to inject Jack Ruby, then under West’s care at the Dallas County Jail. …Dr. West routinely hypnotized Ruby and gave him sodium pentothal to render him passive and to obtain information from him (Ruby) regarding what he knew of the Kennedy assassination… Dr. West visited Ruby for the last time in December 1968 and at that time gave him a final massive injection of the live cancer cells… Dr. Sherman was beaten to death in early 1967 by an unknown assailant whom she had discovered searching her apartment for papers relating to Dr. West and the cancer injections for Jack Ruby… the assailant then set Sherman’s apartment on fire in order to cover up the murder…”
As you can see, the Russell Affidavit—as I’ll refer to it henceforth—matches up with some of the key details in Haslam’s books; namely that Sherman was part of the plot that killed Ruby with a cancerous cocktail and that David Ferrie was a player in the caper. In the Russell Affidavit, Sherman was killed ostensibly to cover up Ruby’s murder as opposed to Haslam’s even more dramatic version of events suggesting she was fried with a linear particle accelerator in the lab and then secreted back to her apartment and torched. Of course, there’s no mention of Dr. West in Haslam’s account, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the fact that West was still alive at the time of the first edition of Haslam’s book and most likely would have sued for libel if someone claimed he had orchestrated Jack Ruby’s murder.
At the time I stumbled upon the Russell Affidavit, it was admittedly a bit of a head scratcher, and like so many weird conspiratorial tidbits I’ve come across over the years, I filed it away in one of those odd corners of my mind to ponder again at some future date.
Then, while thumbing through Joan Mellen’s A Farewell to Justice a couple years back (page 364 to be exact), I came across a passage in which Mellen states:
“[Garrison] began to write fiction… he produced a brilliant spoof. Innovative in challenging the boundaries of the conventional short story, the piece is in the form of an ‘Affidavit.’ The author’s name is appended is not ‘Jim Garrison,’ but one Robert L. Russell…”
Mellen refers to the affidavit as a “brilliant spoof,” but you can read it for yourself and make up your own mind if that’s actually the case. It certainly doesn’t read like a spoof; or if it was a spoof, then Garrison evidently was spoofing himself because the only other source at the time linking Mary and Ferrie to this cancer conspiracy was Garrison’s 1967 Playboy interview.
Not only wasn’t the Russell Affidavit a spoof, it wasn’t particularly brilliant, either. The only reason I can figure why Mellen offered this puzzling explanation was because she probably didn’t know what to make of it, either—not to mention that on its face the Russell Affidavit seems somewhat problematic if, indeed, Garrison actually authored it, as it only undermines his credibility and presents the possibility that he was intentionally pushing a false narrative.
This inevitably leads us to the next question: Was Ed Haslam’s Mary, Ferrie and the Monkey Virus inspired by Garrison’s “brilliant spoof?”
Download the Russell Affidavit here in its shocking entirety and decide for yourself!
For more on the curious (*cough* bullshit *cough*) claims of Judyth Baker, check out this classic compilation of hits courtesy of arch debunker Dave Reitzes.