Santa Rosa woman recalls John F. Kennedy’s killer

January 20, 2014

Ruth Paine – a “witting asset” to the CIA and her husband Michael Paine, who worked at Bell Helicopter in Dallas/Ft.Worth under General Walter Dohrnberger, a Nazi war criminal pardoned by High Commissioner of Germany, and later Warren Commission member John J. McCloy, at the request of another Nazi criminal, Wehrner von Braun, whose capture had been arranged at the Swiss border by Allen Dulles and hundreds of Nazi rocket scientists were “arrested” there by Clay Shaw, later indicted by DA Jim Garrison as a prime suspect in the Kennedy assassination – admits her role in getting Lee Harvey Oswald a job a the Texas School Book Depository through manager Roy Truly. Oswald had a better paying job offered but took one that helped to frame him as the patsy in the assassination of JFK. Ruth Paine and Marina Oswald greeted Dallas police who arrived at her house shortly after Oswald’s arrest, and Ruth said, “we have been waiting for you,” but then left the police in the house while she went shopping, signing for the materials they found (planted?) there hours later. Michael Paine’s nephew related that his uncle owned the Minox spy camera that allegedly belonged to Oswald, which somehow had photos taken in the Soviet Union of Oswald and others. He also asserts that Michael Paine came to the house to find police going through the Paine’s personal effects and routed them to the garage to see “Oswald’s stuff”. This early “evidence” found at the house contains many items that were clearly manipulated or altered, and some that actually exonerate Oswald. There were no fibers from the blanket found on Oswald’s alleged rifle, and no oil from the rifle on the blanket, for instance. Paine has continued to blame Oswald for the assassination and supported the official version of events, but she played a role in those events. Her intelligence connections call into question her real motive and role then and now.

Santa Rosa woman recalls John F. Kennedy’s killer
Santa Rosa, CA
September 10, 2013, 5:44 PM

In 1963, Ruth Hyde Paine lived west of Dallas with her two small children and shared their home with a young, Russian-speaking mother whose here-again there-again husband — Lee Harvey Oswald — caused her to question the sort of man he was.

But Paine, now 81 and a retired teacher and school psychologist in Santa Rosa, says she had no reason to suspect that Oswald was a potential assassin. And she’s maintained for 50 years that she will forever regret not knowing that he had a rifle concealed in a blanket in her garage.

On Nov. 21, 1963, Oswald spent his last night ever with his wife, Marina, and their two children in Paine’s simple ranch house in suburban Irving, Texas. At the time, no one was closer to the Oswald family than Paine, then 31.

Amicably separated from her husband, Paine relished having Marina room with her while Lee Oswald stayed during the work week about 20 miles away at a boarding house in Dallas. There, Oswald worked at the new job Paine helped him secure at the city’s multi-story School Book Depository.

History remembers Paine, a tall and learned lifelong Quaker, as Marina Oswald’s sister-like friend and housemate, and as the woman who was helpful to the villain — or patsy, many would say — in America’s most debated national tragedy: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

She doesn’t enjoy talking about it. “It always raises residual grief for me,” she said. But when asked, Paine will speak of the assassination and her intimacy with the Oswalds. She will tell her story Friday in a public presentation to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

C-SPAN will be there. The national cable news outlet intends to air Paine’s address on its “American Perspective” program that features political forums, town hall meetings, lecture series and other important exchanges of ideas and information around the country.

Paine speaks about the most painful experience of her life for several reasons. A major one: she believes the view of the 24-year-old Oswald as a mentally unbalanced lone assassin — a view she shares — is fortified by an often overlooked piece of evidence that she unwittingly brought to public attention, and that she discussed at length as a key witness before the Warren Commission

It’s a handwritten note that Oswald apparently left for Marina before he fired a shot at a vehemently anti-Communist former Army general just seven months before the killing of JFK.

“I would say that note is essential to understanding Oswald,” Paine said.

On the day the president was killed while in a motorcade through Dallas, that incriminating note was at Paine’s house in Irving, tucked into one of Marina Oswald’s books. Marina had lived with Paine through part of 1963 and had shared her home steadily since September.

The friendship of Marina Oswald and Paine was born that February. Paine was invited to a party in Dallas by an acquaintance who made a point of mentioning that his guests would include a young Russian woman whose husband had been to the Soviet Union and spoke Russian.

“The host knew I was studying Russian and he knew the Oswalds would be there,” Paine said.

Reared in Ohio, she’d become a Quaker in 1951 and in the late ’50s began studying the Russian language and writing to contemporaries in the Soviet Union through the Young Friends’ pen-pal program.

At the time the two mothers met at the Dallas party, both of Paine’s children, Lynn and Christopher, were younger than 3 and she’d been separated for several months from their father, Michael Paine. Marina Oswald, then 21, had an 8-month-old daughter, June, and she was pregnant.

Marina spoke little English, as she’d moved to the United States just eight months earlier. She’d met her future husband in the Soviet Union when the New Orleans native defected in 1959 after having developed an early fascination with Marxism and served an unhappy stint in the Marine Corps.

Soviet authorities didn’t object when Lee Oswald told them in 1962 he wished to return to the U.S. with his wife and newborn daughter. The Oswalds lived briefly in Fort Worth before moving to an apartment in Dallas.

Ruth Paine registered little response to Lee Oswald upon meeting him at the party, but she was immediately drawn to a friendship with Marina.

“This was a chance for me to have adult company,” she said. She and Marina visited each other soon after the party.

Paine would learn later that it was during this period of the fledgling friendship, in March 1963, that Lee Oswald had a mail-order rifle, a bolt-action Mannlicher-Carcano, delivered to the Dallas post office box he’d rented under the name Alek Hidell.

Early in April, Paine invited her estranged husband and the Oswalds to dinner at her home. Table conversation touched on resigned Army Maj. Gen. Edwin A. Walker, known in Dallas as a vociferous defender of segregation and advocate of dealing harshly with Communists.
Oswald’s wife finds a cryptic note from her husband

On the night of April 10, Marina found a note Oswald had written and left on his desk at their apartment on Dallas’ Neely Street. Accompanied by a post office box key, it told her what she was to do if he didn’t return home.

1. Here is the key to the post office box which is located in the main post office downtown on Ervay Street, the street where there is a drugstore where you always used to stand. The post office is four blocks from the drugstore on the same street. There you will find our mailbox. I paid for the mailbox last month so you needn’t worry about it.

2. Send information about what has happened to me to the Embassy (the Soviet Embassy in Washington) and also send newspaper clippings (if there’s anything about me in the papers). I think the Embassy will come quickly to your aid once they know everything.

3. I paid the rent on the second so don’t worry about it.

4. I have also paid for the water and gas.

5. There may be some cash from work. They will send it to our post office box. Go to the bank and they will cash it.

6. You can either throw out my clothing or give it. Do not keep it. As for my personal papers (both military papers and papers from the factory,) I prefer that you keep them.

7. Certain of my papers are in the small blue suitcase.

8. My address book is on the table in my study if you need it.

9. We have friends here and the Red Cross will also help you.

10. I left you as much money as I could, $60 on the second of the month, and you and Junie can live on $10 a week.

11. If I am alive and taken prisoner, the city jail is at the end of the bridge we always used to cross when we went to town. (the very beginning of town, after the bridge.)

Earlier that same night, Walker was seated at his desk in his Dallas home when a bullet pierced a window and passed just above his head. Authorities would determine the rifle slug was deflected upon striking the windowpane.

Many months later, Marina would testify that Lee Oswald looked pale when he arrived home that night. He told her he’d shot at Walker and didn’t know if he’d hit him, she said. News accounts the next day reported that police had identified no suspects in the attempted murder.

Ruth Paine said her friend Marina confided nothing to her about Oswald having been the shooter. By that time in the spring of 1963, Paine said, she’d come to resent that Oswald was physically abusive of Marina and he wanted to control and keep her isolated. But, she said, she had no reason to suspect he was a potential killer.

On April 24, two weeks after the attempted shooting of Walker, Paine arrived at the Oswalds’ apartment for a visit and found that Lee Oswald was preparing to leave Texas and travel by bus to his hometown of New Orleans. He said he needed to find work and he’d have his wife and daughter meet him there once he did.

Paine spoke up. She offered to have Marina and little June stay with her in Irving until the time came for them to join him in Louisiana. The Oswalds accepted.

Paine said the next few weeks were wonderful for her and Marina and their three children. But the happy period ended with a phone call from New Orleans: Oswald announced he’d found work greasing coffee machines and he wanted Marina and June to come at once.

“I was kind of appalled,” Paine said. “He wanted his pregnant wife to take a bus to New Orleans.”

So Paine packed her kids and Marina and June in her 1955 Chevrolet station wagon and drove there. After the good-byes in Louisiana, the women kept in touch through letters for about four months.

In September, Paine took Christopher and Lynn on a long road trip to visit family and play tourist. For their last major stop, they went to New Orleans to reconnect with Marina and June.

As the time approached to head back to Texas, Paine floated a proposal. She told Lee Oswald that if Marina returned to Texas with her, Paine could act as a translator and assist Marina when she went into labor. Oswald agreed.

A good deal of everything the Oswalds owned was stuffed into Paine’s station wagon. The green and brown blanket that Lee Oswald placed in the back of the car set off no alarms in Paine, but inside was the rifle now widely believed to have fired the shot at ex-general Walker.

When the two mothers arrived back in Irving, they stored most of the Oswalds’ possessions in Paine’s garage.

On Oct. 4, it surprised everyone in the house when Lee Oswald phoned and said he was at the Irving bus station. Investigators would later learn that he’d traveled to Mexico in the intervening weeks to request a visa to travel to Cuba, but was denied.

Oswald joined his wife and daughter at Paine’s home. On Oct. 14, a neighbor mentioned to Paine that the Texas School Book Depository had a staff position open. Paine phoned the book warehouse manager to say she had someone in mind for the job. Lee Oswald was hired.

By that time, Paine said, she actively disliked Oswald “but I really hadn’t been worried about his mental stability.”

As he began at the book warehouse, Oswald didn’t have a driver’s license or a car, so he rented a room in a boarding house in Dallas. He started a routine of staying there through the work week and hitching a ride to Paine’s place in Irving after work Friday.

“He came out most weekends,” Paine said.

The period immediately after Oswald started the job was an exceptionally busy one at the Paine household. When Lee Oswald arrived from Dallas on Oct. 18, Paine had baked him a cake for his 24th birthday. Two days later, Marina gave birth to Audrey Marina Rachel Oswald.

Just a month after that, Oswald surprised Paine by appearing at her home. It was a Thursday, and he wasn’t due back from Dallas until Friday.

Later that night, after Paine put her children to bed, she went into her garage to paint some blocks. She was mildly surprised to find the garage light on. Given that Marina was occupied with June and the newborn Rachel, she presumed that Lee Oswald had gone in to get something, perhaps an item of winter clothing stored in the garage.

But today, she said, she has been haunted for nearly 50 years by the certainty that Oswald went into her garage to remove the rifle she didn’t know was there. The next morning, Friday, Nov. 22, Paine awoke to find no sign of him but for a used, plastic coffee cup in the kitchen sink.

At 12:30 p.m., gunshots struck and mortally wounded President Kennedy as his motorcade passed near the Dallas School Book Depository. At 1:22 p.m., police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald.

Quickly, police swarmed Ruth Paine’s home. Investigators took Marina and her children to Dallas, essentially severing the friendship with Paine. Two days later, Lee Oswald was dead from a pistol shot fired at close range by Jack Ruby.

Over the next several days, Paine delivered baby clothes and other items to Marina through the police. On Nov. 30, Paine asked officers to return to Marina one of her books, a Russian-language text for homemakers, “Book of Useful Advice.”

Inside the book, officers discovered the note that Marina Oswald found the night a shot was fired at ex-Gen. Walker.

As painful as the entire ordeal was, Paine said she is grateful that she had a role in disclosing that note, as it establishes that Lee Oswald had attempted an assassination just seven months before the murder of JFK.

In March 1964 and again that July, Paine appeared as a key witness before the Warren Commission, charged by President Lyndon Johnson with investigating the assassination of Kennedy. Paine’s account, supplemented by Marina Oswald’s testimony on the attempted shooting of Walker and other evidence, contributed to the commission’s conclusion that Oswald tried to kill the ex-general. That act, in turn, supported the commission’s finding that Oswald also murdered the President.

Others intrigued by the assassination, though certainly not all, agreed.

“The failure to hit Walker, very close failure though it was, is the Rosetta Stone of the Kennedy assassination. It showed that Lee really wanted to kill someone,” declared Priscilla Johnson McMillan, who wrote the authoritative biography of the Oswalds, “Marina and Lee.”

For Ruth Paine, who left Irving in 1966 and Texas six years later, the past five decades have not changed the conclusion forged by her uniquely personal perspective of the assassination.

“I feel from all I saw and experienced that Oswald did it and he acted alone,” she said. “A lot of the world doesn’t believe that.”

After leaving Texas, Paine lived in Pennsylvania and then Florida. She worked as a teacher before training as a school psychologist, focusing on “trying to find out if you can tell someone is dangerous, ahead of time.”

She retired to Santa Rosa in 2006 because she was drawn to the Friends House retirement community in Rincon Valley. Also, her son, Chris Panym, lives near Sebastopol, where he co-founded the Green Valley Village collective.

Back in Texas, the city of Irving is grateful for her help with its newest historical attraction: the Paine House Museum. The city purchased the house at 2515 West Fifth St. and has restored it to the way it looked in 1963. The city hopes to open the museum in early November.

Will Ruth Paine return again to Texas and to the house that Lee Harvey Oswald slipped out of one morning almost 50 years to do something that still has Americans torn over what happened, and why, and whether he acted alone?

“I haven’t made any plans,” Paine said.

But as strange as it would be to tour the home that’s becoming a museum, Paine said she likely will do so because Irving intends for it to exhibit factual and authenticated history.

And especially when the matter at hand is the JFK-Oswald story, that’s a good thing.

One Response to Santa Rosa woman recalls John F. Kennedy’s killer

  1. January 23, 2014 at 8:48 am

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