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.”
As for Beckman, his background was even more colorful than Crisman’s—if that’s at all imaginable—and to make some sense of it we need to take a dive into Beckham’s Orleans Parish grand jury testimony.
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!
00001 Crisman-Beckham Archives (JFK Lancer)
00003 Oct 12, 2018 email correspondence with Larry Hancock
00004 Mellan, Joan. 2007. A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK’s Assassination, and the Case that Should Have Changed History. (pgs 371-372)