TESTIMONY OF JOHN CARRO
The testimony of John Carro was taken on April 16, 1964, at the U.S. Courthouse, Foley Square, New York, N.Y., by Mr. Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the President's Commission.
John Carro, having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
Mr. LIEBELER - My name is Wesley J. Liebeler. I am a member of the legal staff of the President's Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. Staff members have been authorized to take the testimony of witnesses by the Commission pursuant to authority granted to the Commission by Executive Order No. 11130, dated November 29, 1963, and Joint Resolution of Congress No. 137.
Under the Commission's rules for the taking of testimony, each witness is to be provided with a copy of the Executive order and of the joint resolution, and a copy of the rules that the Commission has adopted governing the taking of testimony from witnesses. The Commission will provide you copies of those documents.
Under the Commission's rules for the taking of testimony, each witness is entitled to 3 days' notice of his testimony. I don't believe you actually received 3 days' notice.
Mr. CARRO - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - But since you are here, I don't believe there is any question that you will -
Mr. CARRO - There's no problem.
Mr. LIEBELER - We want to inquire briefly of you today, Mr. Carro, concerning your recollection of the contact we are informed that you had with Lee Harvey Oswald when he lived here in New York at the time he was approximately 13 years old, back in 1953 - 54.
Mr. CARRO - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Before we get into that, would you state your full name for the record.
Mr. CARRO - Well, my name is John Carro.
Mr. LIEBELER - Where do you live?
Mr. CARRO - 56 Lakeside Drive, in Yonkers, State of New York.
Mr. LIEBELER - Where are you presently employed?
Mr. CARRO - I am employed with the mayor's office here in the city of New York.
Mr. LIEBELER - You are an assistant to the mayor?
Mr. CARRO - An assistant to the mayor.
Mr. LIEBELER - Where were you born?
Mr. CARRO - I was born in Orocovis, P.R.
Mr. LIEBELER - When?
Mr. CARRO - August 21, 1927.
Mr. LIEBELER - When did you come to the United States?
Mr. CARRO - I came to the United States, I believe it was in 1937 - '37.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you came to New York at that time?
Mr. CARRO - New York City; yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you have lived In New York city ever since, or its environs?
Mr. CARRO - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you outline briefly for us your educational background?
Mr. CARRO - Well, I went to junior high school and high school, college and law school here. I attended Benjamin Franklin High School, Fordham University and Brooklyn Law School. I graduated from law school In 1952. In addition, I attended schools in the Navy, the hospital corps school, and I attended one year at NYU, the School of Public Administration, under the city executive program. I am an attorney and have a B.S. degree from the University of Fordham.
Mr. LIEBELER - Have you at any time engaged in the practice of law here in New York?
Mr. CARRO - Yes; I have. I have from the time I was admitted to practice in February of 1956 been in the practice of law. Even at the present time, although I am not, myself, actively engaged, I maintain a law partnership where I practice.
Mr. LIEBELER - I understand that you were a probation officer, assigned as a probation officer to the Domestic Relations Court.
Mr. CARRO - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Here in New York?
Mr. CARRO - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - At what time did you first become so assigned?
Mr. CARRO - Well, I worked with the Probation Department of the Domestic Relations Court, Children's Division, from early 1952 'til 1954. I am trying to recollect - from 1952 to 1954. I believe it was up to October of 1954. It may have been around September of 1954. I'm not sure.
Mr. LIEBELER - Can you tell us, after 1954 did you hold any other public office or any other -
Mr. CARRO - Oh, yes; I worked from 1949 to 1962 as a social investigator for the city of New York. From 1952 to 1954 I was probation officer of the Children's Court. Then, in 1954 for about a month or so I was with the New York City Police Department as a probationary patrolman and left to join the New City Youth Board where I worked as a social - I mean, a street club worker, senior worker and supervisor. I worked with the New York Youth Board for 4 years with their council of Social and Athletic Clubs, which is the common name given to the "street gang project." From 1958 to 1960 I was appointed to the State Commission Against Discrimination. I worked with them as a field representative. In 1960 to 1961 I worked for Mobilization for Youth, which Is a privately financed organization with Federal, State, and city funds and private funds, developing a program for the youth, as an associate director, and from 1961 present I have been an assistant to the mayor of the city of New York.
Mr. LIEBELER - Does your job with the mayor at the present time relate to youth or more generally -
Mr. CARRO - Yes, in the sense that I have liaison responsibility with the various social service agencies, which included the Youth Board, the Department of .Correction and City Commission on Human Rights. I do a great deal of work with education and youth, and I am in charge of the mayor's Information center and the mobile unit, and although that does not give me a direct relationship, the leaning of my own background experience have been so that I have represented the mayor on the President's Committee on Narcotics. I also have worked with the Mobilization for Youth. I have sat In for the mayor on some of the situations. I naturally tend to this kind of work.
Mr. LIEBELER - How did you first become interested In this? Was this because of your work as a probation officer or the work you did prior to that?
Mr. CARRO - Well, I think it was a combination of both. I grew up in east Harlem, and I belonged to a number of organizations, and actually I desired to get social work experience, and when I went into the welfare department I found out that I would enjoy it much better working with youth, and it was just through reading about it, I happened to read - I heard that probation work with youth - than welfare investigator, and while in probation I read about the youth board work, and I liked the idea of a detached worker ap-
proach, working In the streets, trying to reach the young people before they came to court and had already committed a crime, and this is why I left the police department, In the thought that I would like to do that. I have an interest in young people.
Mr. LIEBELER - During the time that you worked as a probation officer did you have occasion to make the acquaintance of Lee Harvey Oswald?
Mr. CARRO - Yes, I did.
Mr. LIEBELER - Will you tell us everything that you can remember about that in your own words?
Mr. CARRO - Well. I was first assigned to the case, I believe it was about April of 1953. This was a petition that had been brought before the court by the attendance bureau, relating to this boy, Lee Harvey Oswald, because of his truancy from school. He had been absent quite a great deal of time on a prior term, on a transfer to a new school; he had just neglected to attend school altogether, and the Board of Education has a bureau who send out an attendance officer to find out why the boy is not going to school. Apparently their efforts were fruitless, so that the attendance bureau of the board of education had referred the matter to the court for a petition, and the mother had been asked to come into court with the boy.
My recollection, as I recall, is that initially the mother did not bring him in and the judge ordered a warrant for her to bring the boy, and when she did come in with the boy a petition was drawn, alleging truancy, the judge made a finding of truancy, and ordered that the boy be remanded to Youth House for what they call a sociological study. The case is then assigned to a probation officer in the court to make further investigation to bring back to the court for a possible determination as to the case.
This is the instance that I came into the case. The judge having made a finding and ordered an investigation, I was the probation officer assigned to do the investigation in the case.
Mr. LIEBELER - The original finding that the judge made was that Oswald was a truant, and the first finding also ordered Oswald to be committed in the Youth House, is that correct?
Mr. CARRO - Remanded, yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Remanded.
Mr. CARRO - Pending investigation, and for a sociological study while there.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would the probation officer work with the boy while he was in the Youth House or basically after be got out of the Youth House?
Mr. CARRO - No, actually the probation officer's job would be then to develop a history of the family which would entail talking to the boy about the nature of the difficulty which brought him before the court, talking to the parent as to what the parent knew and the boy's whole background from early childhood, whether there was trauma, whether he was a nailbiter, you know, the whole family history, brother, sibling relationship, parental history, look into the school record. In this particular instance it was most important because there was a question of truancy. Also find out about the religions affiliation, whether the boy went to church, look into the environmental surroundings. where he lived; visit the home, talk to the boy, himself, about the nature of his act and why he did the things he did, and actually, In essence, get a full report, about as full as possible as to the boy's background, his parents, his whole situation, make a recommendation to the court, get the reports from the school as to what the probation officer deemed should happen in this instance.
Unlike the special sessions and other courts where the probation officers do not make recommendations, in Children's Court the probation officer does make a recommendation which the judge then can go along with or reject or take it under consideration. This was aside from what was going on in Youth House
In Youth House the boy that is sent there, every worker that has some contact with the boy is required to write something about the contact, and they are in fairly good position because they watch this boy In his off moments for 2 to 3 weeks, in his everyday activities, and he is also seen by a psychiatrist while he is there, and then this report, along with what the probation officer has
been able to get from visits to the home, the parents, talking to the boy himself, is collated and put together, and this forms the basis for the material that is given to the judge, so that the judge is in a better position to render a decision of what should happen, whether this boy should be placed, whether he should be returned home, whether he should be given therapy, whether he should be put on probation, strict probation, or whatever the judge would deem in the particular instance.
Mr. LIEBELER - In this particular case you recall that Oswald was remanded to Youth House?
Mr. CARRO - Yes, he was remanded from the very first day to the Youth House because he had not even bothered to report to school. I forget whether he had just turned 13 or he was still 12, but in New York State we have a law that requires each boy to attend school until at least 16, and this was a young man of tender age who had at this point taken it upon himself to just not bother to go to school any more, and furthermore, this was not the usual hooky-playing type - when I say hooky, the type of boy who does not go to school, to truant with his other friends, to go to the park, fish, play, or whatever it is. This is a boy who would not go to school just to remain home, not do anything.
The judge felt that since there was no father figure at home and it was just a mother who worked, that this was not a salutary situation for a boy this tender age to be in, and he felt he wanted to find out a little more about this boy before he made decision, and consequently he asked for the study at the Youth House.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you know who worked with Lee Oswald at the Youth House?
Mr. CARRO - No; I only know that - I did not know the staff by name. I had been there on some occasions, so I do not know specifically who. I know he was seen by the psychiatrist, Dr. Hartogs, because they do send you their report afterwards, and I did receive a Youth House report, but I don't recall who specifically had the daily contacts with Lee Oswald.
Mr. LIEBELER - How does it come that you remember receiving Dr. Hartogs' report?
Mr. CARRO - Well, because since he was sent there and he is the doctor who does the report, this comes back to the court, and it is incorporated into the final report before it is put out, and Dr. Hartogs, I knew, was the one who did it for the court. He was the chief psychiatrist or so. All the reports were signed by him m, almost, that came to us.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you know whether Dr. Hartogs actually interviewed these children and talked to them?
Mr. CARRO - I don't know.
Mr. LIEBELER - Or did he just administer the work of other psychiatrists, do you know?
Mr. CARRO - I don't know if he had, you know, colleagues who did the work for him. As a matter of fact, I don't know how many times he saw Lee or his mother. All we used to get is a report signed by Dr. Hartogs. I don't know if he personally saw this boy or not.
Mr. LIEBELER - What else can you remember of your contacts with Lee Oswald?
Mr. CARRO - Let me tell you my recollection of the Oswald case. As you can imagine, from 13 years ago, this was an odd thing, because I did not realize that Oswald was the person that had killed Kennedy the first couple of days. It was only almost - I believe it was after the burial or just about that time, while I was watching the papers, on the day that he actually was killed by Ruby, that I saw some pictures of the mother, and I started reading about the New York situation, that it suddenly tied in, because, you know, something happening in Texas, 1,500 miles, is something you hardly associate with a youngster that you had 10 years prior or 12 years prior.
A friend of mine called me up, a social worker, to tell me, "Carro, you know who that case is?"
And he said, "That was the case you handled. Don't you remember?"
And then we started discussing the case, and I remembered then, and what happened then is I felt, you know, it was a kind of a numb feeling, because you know about it and could not know what to do with it. I was a probation officer and despite the fact that I was no longer one, I still felt that this was a kind of a ticklish situation, about something that I knew that no one else knew, and
I went upstairs and I told the press secretary to the mayor. I told him the information that had just been relayed to me that I had been Oswald's P.O. and that I should tell the mayor about it, and the mayor had gone to Washington, so he told me, "Just sit tight and don't say anything."
The story didn't break in the papers - this was on a Tuesday or Wednesday - until Saturday when someone found out, went to Judge Kelley, and then there were stories Friday, Saturday, and the Post reporter showed up to my house on a Sunday evening. I don't know how he found out where I lived or anything else, but once he got there, I called city hail again, "Look, I got this reporter over here. What do I do with him?"
They said, "So apparently the story has broken. So talk to him." But the reporter it seemed, had more information than I had. He was actually clarifying my mind, because you can understand that you're not going to quote, you know, paraphrase 13 years later what happened. I have worked with a great many children during that time, and I have done a great deal of work with youth. What did stand out, you know, that I really recall as a recollection of my own was this fact, that this was a small boy. Most of the boys that I had on probation were Puerto Rican or Negro, and they were New York type of youngsters who spoke in the same slang, who came from the Bronx whom I knew how to relate to because I knew the areas where they came from, and this boy was different only in two or three respects. One, that I was a Catholic probation officer and this boy was a Lutheran, which was strange to begin with, because you normally carry youth of your own background. And secondly that he did dress in a western style with the levis, and he spoke with this southwestern accent which made him different from the average boy that I had on probation.
And, as I said, my own reaction then was that he seemed like a likable boy who did not seem mentally retarded or anything. He seemed fairly bright, and once spoken to, asked anything, he replied. He was somewhat guarded, but he did reply, and my own reaction in speaking to him was one of concern, because he did not want to play with anybody, he did not care to go to school; he said he wasn't really learning anything; he had brothers, but he didn't miss them or anything. He seems to have liked his stay at Youth House, and this is not - how do you call it - not odd, because in Youth House they did show the movies and give candy bars and this and the other, and they were paid attention, and this is a boy who is virtually alone all day, and only in that respect did it mean anything to me.
As I told reporters at the time there was no indication that this boy had any Marxist leanings or that he had any tendencies at that age that I was able to view that would lead him into future difficulty.
Actually he came before the court with no prior record, with just the fact that he was not going to school, and the other thing that touched me was that the mother at that time seemed overprotective; she just seemed to think that there was nothing wrong with the boy, and that once we got him back to school, which I told him in no uncertain terms he would have to go back because he was just too young to decide he would not go to school any more, that all his problems were resolved. I think it may have been a threat to her to want to involve her in the treatment for the boy, because I did make a recommendation that he - It seemed to me that he needed help, that he needed to relate to some adult, that he needed to be brought out of this, kind of shell that he was retreating to, and not wanting friends, not wanting to go out, and not wanting to relate to anyone, and that I thought he had the capacity for doing this, and the psychiatric report sort of bore this out in perhaps much more medical terms, and they recommended that he either receive this kind of a support of therapeutic group work treatment at home, if it were possible, or if not, in an institution.
Now, the situation in this kind of case is that treatment has to involve the parent, you know, the whole family setup, not just the child, and I think this is where the mother sort of felt threatened herself. People do not always understand what group work and treatment and psychiatric treatment means. There are all kinds of connotations to it, and she resisted this.
We tried - or even before we came Into the case, before the case came to court, I think she had been referred to the Salvation Army, I believe it was
and she had not responded. Actually, when the boy came back with all these reports to the court, he was not put on supervision per se to me. The matter was sort of up in the air where it would be brought back every month while we made referral to various agencies, to see if they would take him into Children's Village or Harriman Farms, and whatever it was, and it was just looking around, shopping around for placement for him. And the mother, I think, felt threatened about that time, that the boy was back in school, we were looking to get him psychiatric treatment, and she came in and wanted to take the boy out of the State, and we told her she could not take him out without the court's OK.
As a matter of fact, I recall the case was put on the calendar before Judge Sicher in November of that year, 1953, when she was told, yes, that it was necessary to have the boy remain here, and that that is when the judge ordered a referral to the psychiatric clinic of the court, and to the Big Brothers who subsequently accepted the boy for working with. With that the mother took off in January, without letting us know, and just never came back.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you have the impression that Mrs. Oswald had the idea that you were going to take the boy and place him?
Mr. CARRO - I think she might have had the idea because we certainly were coming back to court each month, you know, with the judge saying, "Well, try Children's Village. Try Harriman Farms, try this place and try that."
I think she was threatened, that there was a plan afoot, that if the boy would not work out, that he would be placed. This was one of the recommendations that I felt he should be placed, and the court also; something could be worked out, because, incidentally, when he did go back to school he did go to school, but he was presenting, you know, marginal problems in school, and he was not doing as well as expected.
Mr. LIEBELER - There is a summary report in the file that he had been elected president of his class; that the court had been given a report to that effect. Do you recall anything about that?
Mr. CARRO - No. As a matter of fact, the one that I recall is that he neglected ,to salute the American flag in class, and the reason I never said anything of that to the newspapers is because I figured they would pick this up and say, you know, "See, 15 years ago he refused to salute the American flag. This is proof." And I did not want a newspaper headline, you know, "Oswald at the age of 12 refused to salute the American flag."
Mr. LIEBELER - That happens from time to time, I suppose, in children that age?
Mr. CARRO - The kind of reports that came back, he was a little disruptive in class, but nothing of any nature that I would, you know, singly point out. He did not become president of the class that I recall.
Mr. LIEBELER - You indicated that you had the feeling that the possibility of Lee Oswald being involved with psychiatric treatment, which would also involve his mother, whole family group, constituted a threat to or threatened the mother. What did you mean by that?
Mr. CARRO - Well, there was a reluctance in her to get involved in the boy's treatment process. She saw herself as removed, as this having nothing to do with her. Furthermore, she saw the boy's problem as the only problem being he did not go to school, and once we insisted that he go back to school her attitude was, "Why are you bothering me? You're harassing me. He's back in school. Why do you want him to go to the clinic for? Why should I go with him? Why do we have to see the Protestant Big Brothers for? He has brothers. What does he need brothers for? Leave us alone. I don't like New York. I was a woman of means in Louisiana when my husband was alive."
Here In New York she just felt that people were - this was just bothering her; she couldn't understand that in helping the boy you need to have the help of the parent because this is a young boy, and if he is going to go to a court clinic, for example, she has to take him there, and her own attitude toward the help he is receiving, unless it is one that will support whatever we are trying to do for him, if it is negative, and she is rejecting, and she is resisting, the boy himself will resist whatever kind involvement you are doing for him, and we needed her to see this, and did go along with the plan. Or she may have been as disturbed as the
boy but we were just trying to get her involved in whatever plan we had for the boy.
Mr. LIEBELER - I wanted to seek your opinion on that.
Mr. CARRO - I think she was. Even at that time I said that she was so self involved in her own situation that she tended to blame everything, and yet say it was nothing, for the boy's problems. The fact that a boy could stay out of school, I think it was 47 days before he went to this new school and not report at all, and have a parent whom the attendance officer and the bureau of education, bureau of attendance is getting after, and the parent admits that she cannot control or cannot do anything about her boy not going to school, is significant of her inability to cope with this situation.
Then this plus, this idea - I don't know if she, in fact, came from wealth or not; this giving you this Idea that where she came from she was a woman of means and all that, but in New York here, she had been downgraded to this kind of a thing. She mentioned that part of his problem was that when he first came to live here in the Bronx, they lived around the Grand Concourse, and I don't know if you are familiar with the Bronx, but Grand Concourse is an area of fairly middle class Jewish community, and she felt this, that the boy was dressed in a little below the level of the children up there. He did dress in levis and I think his reaction in not going to school was in part the fact that some of the children had poked fun both at his dress and his manner of speech, and he had retreated from this, and this is why he would not mix and why he became a loner, and she reacted in the same way, and she was working, as I think I recall it, in a department store, and she was very unhappy about the whole situation, and she was really in no position to be with this boy any length of time, and she seemed so preoccupied with her own problems at the time that I do not think she really had an awareness as to the boy's own problem and fears.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you get the feeling that Mrs. Oswald felt that if - I can say this because I have lived in New York for the last 7 years myself, so it doesn't bother me too much to bring it out. I am really a New Yorker. Did she have the feeling, do you think, that if these nosey New Yorkers would just leave her alone and keep out of her business everything would be all right? In other words, it was just a kind of situation that exists here in this city because of the nature of the city that was different from the way things were in Texas, maybe, or Louisiana, that this had -
Mr. CARRO - I don't have any doubt about it. I think she must have thought that we were making a mountain out of a molehill, and that in some other States - I was brought up in Puerto Rico, myself; if a boy didn't go to school or so nobody saw to It that he was brought to court, that he was sent to a psychiatrist, that the Big Brothers got involved in it, that you referred him here and there, and this is why I said she must have been threatened by this whole process; there is no question about it in my mind, that she could not see what all this fuss was all about. She said so, too. No question in my mind about that. I am sure that this had an effect on her decision to leave the State and take off, and particularly when she came to see us and we told her she could not go without the OK of the court, that the boy was under the supervision of the court, and he would have to remain so until the court felt that it was OK.
Mr. LIEBELER - She did advise you, however, before leaving the State, that she did intend to leave the State of New York, did she not?
Mr. CARRO - Well, she advised my colleague, Timothy Dunn, I was on vacation I think that month of January, she came in to see him, she was referred by the Big Brothers, who told her she could not leave without coming to see us, and she came in to tell him, and he told her before she did we would have to put the matter on the calendar and that it would be up to the judge.
You see, normally it is not that we don't allow it, that we prohibit it. Routinely, even if a boy is under supervision or probation, what you do is, if the parent comes in, you put It on the calendar, you go up and report to the judge, and the judge will ask the parent, or you will have the information, and the parent wants to go to Newark, N.J., or, you know, Louisiana, that they are going to live with such-and-such a person over there and the court may ask you to write to that jurisdiction, to go out and make a visit to that home to see
if it is a worthwhile home, and to see if there is a realistic plan or just not an effort on the part of the parents to take the boy out of the jurisdiction of the court, and you know if such a plan in reality exists and how feasible and how good is it in the interests of the welfare of the child, because for all the court may know, this is just a fiction on the part of the person to say, "I am moving out to Philadelphia," and they may not be moving at all. You go up to the court, get the child discharged, and they just remain where they are. And this way the boy doesn't have to report to the court any more and the parent doesn't have to bother herself with this sort of thing.
So she came in to tell us, and she was told that the matter would have to be put on the calendar and that the judge would have to pass on this.
Mr. LIEBELER - But despite that fact she left the jurisdiction?
Mr. CARRO - I wrote to her to come in, having heard, and the letter was returned "Moved, address unknown." I was asked about what happens then, and, well, there is very little that one can really do. We don't have extra-state jurisdiction, and we didn't even know where she had gone. This is about the sum total of what happened there.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you yourself try to find a place to place this boy?
Mr. CARRO - Yes; from the very time that we had the recommendations of the psychiatrist, those that I had made were before the judge, and he went along and felt that this boy should be helped, and the next almost 9 months I spent in making referral after referral to the various institutions, the various clinics, to see if they would be able to service this boy either at home or within the institutional confines, because the psychiatric report was very distinctive in the fact that this boy did need this kind of help; and I mentioned that the tragedy of the whole thing was in this instance that because of his tender age and his religion, the facilities that we had here in New York were taxed, and somehow one factor or the other kept us from getting him the kind of help that he needed. It was either that it was a Protestant place and he was - well, he was a Lutheran, it was either a Catholic and he was a Lutheran, or one thing or another, but something mitigated their being able to service him.
I remember, for example, that the Salvation Army got a referral, and they felt they just didn't have the facility to give this boy the intensive treatment he needed. This was their reason for turning him down.
Children's village at the time, which could have given service to this boy and had the kind of setup, did not have any vacancies at this particular time of the year for this particular age boy; and so on down the line. Finally, the only recourse we had was to send it to our own psychiatric clinic, where we would do both, have him seen by a psychiatrist at our clinic, which normally we didn't even do, and at the same time receive the support of help from the Big Brothers, which was one of the recommendations that he should be seen by a male figure preferably because of the fact that he lacked a father, and we were actually complementing both without removing the boy from the home, and this is actually when the mother left. So that the boy was not going to be taken away; we were going to try to work out within, you know, the limits of the situation we had with the boy at home.
Mr. LIEBELER - You mentioned that the boy was going to go to your own psychiatric clinic. That is a different proposition from the Youth House, is it not?
Mr. CARRO - Yes. This is the psychiatric court clinic, that is on 22nd Street, which in some instances, where we are not able to effect the kind of placing we need or so, we will utilize that as a last resort, and the boy would go there periodically and be seen by the psychiatrist.
Mr. LIEBELER - It would be an outpatient-type situation?
Mr. CARRO - An outpatient-type of situation, yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - He never actually did do that, however, because he left the State?
Mr. CARRO - No; because of the mother's own resistance to the thing and having left the jurisdiction. I don't think they got to see him once.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you say that Oswald was more mentally disturbed than most of the boys that you had under your supervision at that time?
Mr. CARRO - Not at all, actually. I have handled cases of boys who committed murders, burglaries, and I have had some extremely disturbed boys, and
this was one of the problems, this was just initially a truancy situation, not one of real disruptive or acting out delinquent behavior. No; I would definitely not put him among those who acted as - I also have had boys whom we have placed who turned out to be mentally defective, mentally retarded, quite psychotic, and who really had gradations of mental illness, of disturbances that were far, you know, greater in depth than those displayed by Oswald; and the behavior which brought him before the court was certainly of a much more extreme nature.
Mr. LIEBELER - Than his?
Mr. CARRO - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - He did not in fact appear to you at that time to be a real mental problem or prone to violence or -
Mr. CARRO - No. He appeared to have problems, but one of the problems in the situation seems to be, why wasn't this boy sent to the New York Training School for Boys at Warwick? And the fact is that the New York Training School for Boys at Warwick is for delinquent boys who commit crimes, really, and whose behavior is such that it is really criminal behavior; and you brand it delinquency because of the tag that attaches because he is under 16. You don't normally send a boy who just stays out of school. It is for boys who commit serious acts. And as a matter of fact, Warwick did not have what this boy needed: extensive psychiatric help. And that is why he was not sent to the only school we have in the city, which is Warwick, for the more serious boy. More seriously, it is even a drastic action to place a boy away who comes in for truancy, because truancy is itself a passive delinquent act. It is not an act which vitiates against society or mores or does harm to other people. It is an act of omission, a failure to go to school rather than an aggressive acting out, where you are destroying property or injuring persons or other things. And this is one of the factors in here.
It was surprising in this instance that we wanted placement and the reason we felt placement was needed in this instance was because although you may get boys acting out in other areas, there is always someone in the community who can help out, and the court will hesitate to put a boy away if some plan can be formulated within, because the court In social work feels that there is no substitute for love and parents, even in the best of institutions that you can place children.
But here the boy had no parents; he had no father; he wasn't going to school; he had no friends; he had - no agency was working with the family. He was on his own. He was just watching television all day. He wasn't mixing with anybody. He was an extremely introverted young man. He didn't want to go to school. So that in effect he had nothing going for him outside.
Mr. LIEBELER - And in addition to all that, that his mother didn't show any inclination to cooperate.
Mr. CARRO - She was ineffectual. She didn't want to cooperate and there was nothing that I as a probation officer could hang my hat on to say, "Keep him here in New York City. The mother will see him through, between his mother and I, this agency and I." There was nothing there out of the total community that would be a prop or a crutch to help him see these things through.
Mr. LIEBELER - And it was these reasons that prompted you to recommend placement rather than a peculiar extreme mental disturbance in the boy himself, you would say?
Mr. CARRO - Yes; it was just the sum total of the environmental factors rather than the boy's own inward manifestations of mental disturbance or psychotic disorder.
Mr. LIEBELER - You mentioned before that his particular type of truancy was different from the kind of truancy that you many times run into where the kids will just take off and go fishing or just go out -
Mr. CARRO - Fly kites or pigeons, you know.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you think it was different because Oswald just had a tendency to stay home and watch television?
Mr. CARRO - No -
Mr. LIEBELER - Wait, please -
Mr. CARRO - I am sorry.
Mr. LIEBELER - Or did you think that the fact that he had this different kind of truancy was a reflection of some sort of mental disturbance on Oswald's part, or would you say that it was just as much a function of environment, the environment that he found himself in here in New York?
Mr. CARRO - Well, I don't think there is any question in my mind that there was an inability to adapt, to adapt from the change of environment. One of the things that probably influenced me in this is that I came to New York City when I was 9 years of age and when I came here I didn't speak a word of English, and I lived in what we call East Harlem, in an area where there was a Puerto Rican community within a Negro area, and I recall when I went to school there were four Puerto Rican boys In a class that was otherwise all Negro, and I used to virtually run home every day in the first 2 months I lived in the city, because at one point or another the Negro boys would be waiting for me outside to take my pencils, my money, and anything that I had in my hands.
I remember my mother bought me a pair of skates and I don't think I was downstairs for 10 minutes with the skates - I don't think I was down thee. for 10 minutes before they took them away from me. And I just stayed upstairs and waited for my mother at 5 o'clock.
Then eventually I made friends with the other three boys, and when somebody took my books, one of the other boys stayed with me, and I fought with the Negro boys until things worked out - and, as I remember, things didn't work out. I had to transfer to another school.
But I can see this kind of reaction taking place. You meet the situations. Either you meet them head on or you retreat from them.
Now he apparently had one or two incidents where he was taunted over his inability to speak the same way that the kids up here speak and to dress the same way or even comb his hair - you know, here the kids wore pegged pants and they talked in their own ditty-bop fashion. There is no - that this kid was a stranger to them in mores, culture and everything else, and apparently he could not make that adaptation, and he felt that they didn't want any part of him and he didn't want any part of them, and he seemed self-sufficient enough at the time that I recall that I asked him. He felt he wasn't learning anything in school and that he had other, more important things to learn and do. Now, whether this was an artifice on his part, you know, a mechanism, I don't know - but it didn't - let me say it didn't trigger any reaction on my part that this was symptomatic of a deeper emotional disturbance. I thought that this was just symptomatic of a boy who had chosen one way of reacting to a situation than other boys would react to in another fashion.
Mr. LIEBELER - I understand that some statements have been made, based apparently on the psychiatric reports or the observations of people who worked with Lee Oswald here In New York when he was 13 years old, to the effect one might have been able to predict, from seeing the boy at that time, that he might well commit an act such as the assassination, or some similar violent act. Did you see any such indication in Lee Oswald?
Mr. CARRO - No; naturally I didn't see it, and I would say that would be extremely difficult in order to be able to make that sort of projection or prediction. I have even, when I worked with the Youth Board as a streetclub worker, I worked in the street where we had no psychiatrists along with us and where we worked with much more psychotic and deeply disturbed boys, who did kill somebody right along the line, possibly a couple of months later, and even though, you know, the studies we have done here in the city and everything shows that there are a great many people who are extremely disturbed walking around, and the crutch that just keeps them on their marginal - what do you call - on this marginal living, where they just don't go out and commit some violent act, that you don't know what it is, what the factors are that keep them from just blowing up or exploding altogether.
I didn't see any particular behavior that would say that this boy would someday commit this act. I have seen It, let's say, in the Puerto Rican youth I am familiar with, the Negro youth, that sometimes they ascribe this to a crying out of people to say that they exist and that they are human beings, and they commit that violent act, just to get their one day in the sun, the day when all the papers will focus on them, and say, "I am me. I am alive."
I worked with this young man in the case of the killing, this Raymond Serra, and this fellow, after blowing this boy's jaw up, he was flashing the victory sign like this [indicating], and when we visited him in jail he said, "Did you see my picture in the papers?" And the paper played this up as a cold-blooded killer. And they don't realize that 2 days later, sensibility dawns on him, and these are the weakest, the most remorseful kids. This is just the bravado at the moment. And this is their one point in life where they 'draw everybody's attention - most of these kids in private life come from broken homes, and they take this opportunity to show that they are human beings. Mr. LIEBELER - Are you suggesting that this is one of the factors that motivated Oswald?
Mr. CARRO - Well, I am saying that this is a young man who apparently was trying to find himself and really had been - you know, he had been knocking about a great deal from here to Russia and everywhere, and he had come back disgruntled, and nobody paid any attention to him. Some people are prone to this.
I wouldn't speculate on what drove Oswald to do this. I would say in my experience I have encountered many a boy who will do things like this to attract attention to themselves, that they exist, and they want somebody to care for them. It is hard to say what motivated him. I don't really know. I had no inkling of that at that stage.
As a matter of fact, he said when he grew up he wanted to go into the Service, just like his brothers, who were in the Service, and he said he liked to horseback ride; he used to collect stamps. But certainly these things that he said were the normal kind of outlet, the things any normal boy of 13 years of age would do. There was nothing that would lead me to believe when I saw him at the age of 12 that there would be seeds of destruction for somebody. I couldn't in all honesty sincerely say such a thing.
Mr. LIEBELER - Let me ask this, Mr. Carro: After you became aware of the fact, after it was called to your attention that Lee Oswald had been under your supervision as a probation officer, did you have occasion to review the records of the case before you -
Mr. CARRO - No; I had no - there was nothing to review. Those kind of records were all kept in the children's court. The only recollection - and they were not furnished to me. The newspaper guy who came to see me seemed to have gotten, as I mentioned - there were five reports made, and they are sent out to different institutions. I don't know. I am not privy to how newspapermen get their information, but he seemed to have a better knowledge. He was just in a sense corroborating what I may have said at a particular point and all that, with me, and I had nothing to really go on, you know, that would refresh my recollection, except this conversation with this social worker, a friend of mine, who knew of the case, because they had gotten it from me, who called me to say that.
Mr. LIEBELER - So that you yourself have not actually reviewed -
Mr. CARRO - I have no independent record of any sort or had nothing to refresh my recollection about.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you had not seen the court's papers or the petition that was filed, or the memorandum -
Mr. CARRO - No; the only thing that I might have seen, and I don't - an FBI agent come in and spoke to me a couple of months ago, and I don't know if that was the original record he had with him, but he sat down, as you are, and spoke to me, and there was little I could add to what was in the record there.
Mr. LIEBELER - The record that you prepared -
Mr. CARRO - Well, I noticed it was my handwriting. He seemed to have my record with him. I had no Independent recollection or evidence outside of the records he had.
Mr. LIEBELER - The records which you would have prepared would be prepared by you In the course of your work as a probation officer, and they would have reflected your opinions at that time, is that correct?
Mr. CARRO - Correct, and I would have nothing to add now at this point as to what happened 12 years ago.
Mr. LIEBELER - Let me ask you to review a photostatic copy of a document that is captioned "Supplementary Facts and Explanations," which appears to be some sort of exhibit to a petition in connection with Lee Oswald. This particular document I refer to consists of eight pages and I would ask you to review that briefly, to look it over and tell me if you recognize what it is, where this gets into the proceedings and if it in fact sets forth the report of some of your work, reports to the Youth House, and would it be the record that was prepared at that time in connection with the court proceedings relating to Lee Oswald?
Mr. CARRO - Yes; as I just briefly peruse over it, first of all, it is the form that is prescribed by the court for making a report by the judge, that you can readily notice it has a prescribed type of form where you begin with the identifying information as to the child, the nature of the petition, the initial court actions, and then you go into the actual history as to the family, previous court record, family history, and then you have paragraphs set off for the home and neighborhood, school record, religious affiliations, activities and special interests, mental and physical condition, child's version, which is the discussion with the child as to the nature of the incidence why he was before the court, parental attitudes, where you discuss with the parent; past records with other agencies and evaluation of the recommendation which is made by the probation officer based on his getting together all this data.
And you will also notice that included then beyond that report, which is signed by the probation officer, includes the summary for the probation officer which is a summary of the psychiatric study, not the actual study.
And then this is a record of the various court actions which preceded, who appeared, when, and I note that my signature - not my signature but my name has been typed in with respect to the various actions that took place subsequent to the boy being returned to the court during the time he was under the supervision of the court, right up to January 1954.
Just perusing over this, I know that this is the various reports that I made to the court.
Mr. LIEBELER - And it finally concludes with your statement -
Mr. CARRO - Yes; concluding with the last statement of the court action of March 11, 1954, before Justice Delaney, where there was no appearance by the people; It was just the attendance officer, myself, the probation officer, before the court, and that Mrs. Barnes reported that she had contacted New Orleans and received no information as to the whereabouts of the family, and there was a question that a former associate thought that the family may have been living in California.
Justice Delaney discharged the case and Lee was no longer in our jurisdiction, which goes along with the fact that we had no idea; we attempted to find out; we wrote to Louisiana and New Orleans but couldn't get back any positive reports.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would this particular document, which I will mark as "Exhibit 1" on the deposition of Mr. John Carro, April 16, 1964, at New York - would that have been attached to the petition or just a part of the record as a special report?
Mr. CARRO - No; this would be part of the court record, and actually the petition is just one petition where the judges make their own small notations when the probation officer appears. And that is the docket. That is kept up in the courtroom in their files. These are the records - this is the actual record that is kept by the probation department, and the only thing that is sent to the other agencies is just this initial report. You don't send in the day-to-day the month-to-month, other subsequent actions. So that this is a separate report.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would this record in the ordinary course reflect all of the action
Mr. CARRO - Yes; this is the record.
Mr. LIEBELER - In connection with the case?
Mr. CARRO - This is the record that the probation officer maintains while the case is under his supervision until the case is closed and reflects the contacts with the child, periodic or - all the contacts. and any work that the probation officer does he is supposed to report here and make a small notation.
Mr. LIBBELER - Mr. Carro, I have initialed Exhibit 1 on your deposition for purposes of identification, and I ask you if you would also initial it near my initials so that we won't have any difficulty in identifying it. I am correct in my understanding, am I not, that you prepared this report?
Mr. CARRO - Yes; this is my report and the entries herein, except for one or two that may have been made by Mr. Dunn - and I refer to the entry of 1-5-54, while I was on vacation - those bearing the name John Carro, bearing my name, are my entries, and this is my report.
Mr. LIEBELER - Let the record show that the exhibit that we hare marked is a somewhat illegible copy.
Mr. LIEBELER - As you have indicated to me, the original was on yellow paper, which does not reproduce well. I will obtain the original and make it a part of the record. Can you think of anything else, Mr. Carro, about Oswald or your contacts with Oswald that you think would be of help to the Commission?
Mr. CARRO - Well, I think that there has been so much written on it that you have probably a much more comprehensive report. since you have been able to get the actual records of these statements that I made at the time I wrote this. I doubt that I could really say anything at this point, 12 years later or so, that would be of any help to you.
Whatever I might say would just be an independent opinion on my own and I don't think that would be that valid. I think you have the original psychiatric report here, the social agency report, and whatever it is, and they are amply - I don't think that I could add anything independently that would be of help to the Commission.
Mr. LIEBELER - In view of that, Mr. Carro, I don't have any more questions. I want to thank you very much on behalf of the Commission for coming here and for giving the testimony that you have. It is another example of the way the city of New York and the people who are associated with it have cooperated with the work of the Commission. The Commission appreciates it very much. We thank you sincerely.
Mr. CARRO - I appreciate very much your having me over here. I would like to offer whatever help I can, and I hope I have been of some help in making whatever decision you have to make on this matter.
Mr. LIEBELER - You have been very helpful, Mr. Carro.
Mr. CARRO - Thank you.