The Not-So-Mysterious Death of Eddie Benavides

Eddie Benevides was the brother of Domingo Benavides, a witness to the murder of officer J.D. Tippit. Eddie Benevides is on all the lists of "mysterious deaths" since, according to conspiracy author Robert Groden:
After Domingo Benavides witnessed the Tippit murder, he began to receive numerous threats upon his life. Along with other eyewitnesses, had had claimed that Tippit's killer did not look anything like Lee Harvey Oswald. After Benevides brother Edward (who looked very much like Domingo) was killed in a bar fight a possible case of mistaken identity Domingo Benavides changed his story, stating that the murderer resembled Oswald. (The Killing of a President, p. 98)
So, according to conspiracists, the plotters were trying to knock off Domingo, but killed his brother instead. But that worked fine, since Domingo was intimidated into saying that the shooter might have been Oswald.

Conspiracy books list the date of the Benevides shooting as "2/64," which would work out, since Domingo didn't testify before the Warren Commission until April 2, 1964.

But did Domingo Benavides insist that the shooter was not Oswald? When he testified before the Warren Commission, he gave a vague description of the shooter that would have fit Oswald but also fit the Warren Commission lawyer who was questioning him, David Belin! (6H460-461) But this was after he had supposedly been intimidated by the murder of his brother.

But in fact, there is nothing in the record to suggest that Domingo Benavides ever denied that the shooter was Oswald. He apparently told Detective Leavelle that he could not identify the shooter, and was never taken to a line-up (7H263-264)

But was the shooting of Eddie Benavides anything like the conspiracy books imply? Early secondary sources insist it was not. Charles Roberts' book The Truth About the Assassination says:

Then there is the "strange" death of Edward Benavides, 29-year-old brother of Domingo Benavides. . . . Eddie was shot to death in a Dallas tavern in February 1965. Ramparts magazine, reviewing the [list of supposed mystery deaths] reported that Eddie was shot with a pistol, and that his brother Domingo was probably "the intended victim," implying the case was unsolved. Actually, Eddie was blasted with a shotgun and a 41-year-old drinking companion confessed the crime and served 20 months for manslaughter. (p. 96).
Likewise, in 1966 Time magazine did a review of the "mystery deaths," and reported that:
Eddy Benavides, 29, identified as the look-alike brother of Domingo Benavides, a witness in Oswald's slaying of Patrolman J. D. Tippit, was shot to death in a Dallas tavern in February 1965. Ramparts reports that Dallas police classed it as death by "pistol shot, wrote up a cursory report and marked the case 'unsolved.' " The magazine also suggests that "Domingo was the intended victim." In fact, there is a full police report on the shooting (it was a shotgun, not a pistol). Moreover, one Radford Lee Hill, 41, confessed that he killed Eddy and served 20 months in prison for manslaughter. (November 11, 1966)
Note that both of these sources put the shooting in February 1965, while conspiracy sources inevitably put the date of the shooting in February 1964. This is important, since shooting Edward Benavides in 1965 would be no help at all in intimidating Domingo's testimony before the Warren Commission, which was given on April 2, 1964.

Likewise, a book by Richard Warren Lewis, The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Report (New York: Delacorte Press, 1967, p. 90) states of Benavides that "he was unintentionally shotgunned to death by a crazed crapshooter in a Dallas tavern."

Thus we have reputable journalistic sources on one side, and conspiracy books on the other side, so it's easy to guess which is most likely correct. But it would be nice to find a primary source.

In 2010 author Jean Davison, in a brilliant piece of research, turned up the key source. An article in the Dallas Morning News described the incident at a tavern called the Wheel, in which a fight broke out. Benavides was not involved in the fight, but was shot in the head while ducking for cover.

The article confirms that the February 1965 date is correct. So does the Texas Death Index. And indeed, so does Benavides' death certificate.

Davison found the article by trying an alternative spelling of Eddie's name: "Benavidez." This particular misspelling was carried over into the death notice, which appeared in the Dallas Morning News on the following day. If there is any doubt that this is the same person, it should be resolved by the fact that Eddie's parents are identified as "Mr. and Mrs. Domingo Benavidez," (the Texas birth index shows Domingo, Sr. to be his father) and a brother is identified as "Donnie Benavidez" (a nickname for Domingo).

So what we have here is yet another case of the incestuous and uncritical "research" that has gone into these "mysterious" deaths. In an era when accurate information was available to anybody who would seek it out, Penn Jones, Jr. put Edward Benavides name on the list. This was repeated uncritically in magazines like Argosy and Ramparts, and then repeated again by authors like Jim Marrs in Crossfire (1989) and by Robert Groden in The Killing of a President (1993). Here, as elsewhere in "assassination research," silly factoids get uncritically repeated, with new ones being added to the old ones.

Thus, if there is solid evidence of any mysterious deaths being connected to the assassination, it's buried under layers and layers of bogus nonsense.

Which is the situation with JFK assassination research in general.

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