Dead in the Wake of the Kennedy Assassination
The Men Who Gathered in Ruby's ApartmentBy Dave Reitzes
It certainly sounds sinister to hear Penn Jones, Jr., tell it. According to his article "Disappearing Witnesses" (The Rebel, November 22, 1983):
Shortly after dark on Sunday night, November 24, 1963, after Ruby had killed Lee Harvey Oswald, a meeting took place in Jack Ruby's apartment in Oak Cliff, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. Five persons were present. George Senator and Attorney Tom Howard were present and having a drink in the apartment when two newsmen arrived. The newsmen were Bill Hunter of the Long Beach California Press Telegram and Jim Koethe of the Dallas Times Herald. Attorney C.A. Droby of Dallas arranged the meeting for the two newsmen, Jim Martin, a close friend of George Senator's, was also present at the apartment meeting. This writer asked Martin if he thought it was unusual for Senator to forget the meeting while testifying in Washington on April 22, 1964, since Bill Hunter, who was a newsman present at the meeting, was shot to death that very night. Martin grinned and said: "Oh, you're looking for a conspiracy."This was the beginning of Jones' "mysterious deaths" theory that would be picked up by thousands of assassination researchers, including Sylvia Meagher and Jim Marrs, who each devoted a section of their books on the assassination to these "mysterious deaths."
Let's see how mysterious this early entry into the canon is.
In Breaking the Silence, Bill Sloan describes how 30-year old Dallas Times Herald reporter Jim Koethe (pronounced "Koty") and his friend Bill Hunter, who was in town covering the assassination weekend's events for the Long Beach Press-Telegram, went for a couple beers on the evening of Sunday, November 24, 1963, to wind down after the craziest weekend they'd ever experienced. They went into Bill Martin's TV Bar, where they spotted three lawyers with whom Koethe was friendly: C. A. Droby, Jim Martin and Tom Howard, all of whom had done legal work for Jack Ruby at one time or another. The three lawyers were waiting for Ruby's roommate, George Senator, who was being questioned by the DPD.
Droby, still employed as a lawyer in Dallas, reconstructs the scene: "Senator had been held at the police station for four or five hours, and when they finally turned him loose about 6 PM, he came over and met us at the TV Bar. One of the reporters who was there wanted a picture of Jack, so we decided to go over to the apartment on Ewing and see if we could locate one."
They all arrived at the apartment around 8 PM, and were there for possibly an hour. "According to Droby," Bill Sloan writes, "there was no evidence to indicate that anyone besides Senator had been in the apartment since Ruby himself had left at a little after 10 o'clock that morning, taking his dog, Sheba, with him en route to the Carousel Club."
"The place definitely hadn't been ransacked or anything," Droby told Sloan, "and we just assumed the police hadn't gotten around to searching it yet. We looked around, but we never were able to find any pictures of Jack. In fact, we didn't find much of anything."
Jim Koethe took some notes at the apartment, but didn't think the visit worth writing about for the Times Herald. He told some colleagues there, "It was just a dumpy apartment."
In light of the strange, unsettling sequence of events that unfolded over the next ten months, some independent assassination researchers have put heavy emphasis on the assumption that Koethe and Hunter were in the apartment before police had a chance to search it. Clearly, this would have heightened the chance of the two reporters finding something while there and could only make an intriguing tale even more so.Bill Hunter was back in Dallas to cover the Ruby trial the following year for the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Six weeks later he died in Long Beach. Bill Sloan writes:
At approximately 2 AM on the morning of April 23, 1964, Hunter was sitting at his desk in the press room of the Long Beach police station and reading a mystery novel entitled *Stop This Man,* when two detectives -- both of whom were later described as "friends" of Hunter -- came into the room.Five months later, on September 21, 1964, Jim Koethe didn't show up for work at the Dallas Times-Herald. Later, police would find him in his apartment, lying dead on his bedroom floor, wrapped in a blanket. The Dallas County coroner ruled that Koethe had died the previous Saturday, his neck broken by a blow to the throat. Sloan: "Homicide Detectives Charles Dhority and E. R. Beck described the apartment as being in disarray. There were signs of a scuffle, they said, and several items, including two rifles, a pistol, and Koethe's wristwatch, were unaccounted for." Koethe's car was also missing; it was found parked several blocks away; no fingerprints could be found. Neither the police nor Koethe's friends on the Times Herald staff had any luck tracking down a suspect.
Several months later, an ex-convict named Larry Earl Reno was linked to the Koethe killing after being arrested in an unrelated incident. One of Koethe's guns had reportedly been found in the man's possession, and he had no alibi for the time period in which Koethe had been killed.Reportedly, however, Koethe's relatives were urging state officials to drop the case; a friend of Koethe's learned from a contact in the DA's office that there were homosexual undertones to the murder that the family did not want brought out. The evidence against Reno was never more than circumstantial anyway, and the grand jury did not return an indictment. He was arrested again in 1965 and convicted with the robbery and attempted murder of an Oak Cliff hotel clerk. Koethe's death is still listed as an unsolved crime.
Some also see a sinister hand behind Tom Howard's death in 1965. Howard died of a heart attack well over a year after being dropped from Jack Ruby's defense team.
Two years after Jim Koethe's death, Penn Jones made the connection between Koethe and Hunter, writing about it in the very first chapter of Forgive My Grief, Volume One.
Bill Sloan writes:
Of the six people who were together in Ruby's apartment on the evening of November 24, 1963, only two are still alive at this writing. George Senator, Ruby's roommate, died in the spring of 1992. His death went virtually unnoticed by the media. "Jim Martin and I are the only ones left," says C. A. Droby. "It gives you kind of a funny feeling."Source: Bill Sloan, Breaking the Silence, pp. 69-83.