Judyth vs. History

High school junior conscripted by intelligence officials while attending a national science fair? How does this claim fare when it bumps up against historical fact?


By Barb Junkkarinen

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Some experiences change one’s life forever.

So, was young Judyth Baker’s trip to a science fair an event that radically changed the direction of her life, bringing her into the orbit of sinister forces and into the midst of sinister events? Or did a good high school science student take a memorable but benign highlight of her young life and -- decades later -- embroider it with an elaborate tapestry of intrigue?

In her book, LEE HARVEY OSWALD: The True Story of the Accused Assassin of President John F. Kennedy By His Lover, Judyth Vary Baker writes in painstaking detail her experiences at the 11th Annual National Science and Engineering Fair held in Indianapolis in May 1960.1 These experiences are the crux of her claim about being recruited into the cloak and dagger world of underground cancer research to develop a bioweapon to kill Castro, “a project sponsored by people connected to the CIA.”2


Judyth Baker
Baker notes that while her project at that fair was in the physical science division (Magnesium From the Sea), her cancer research became known while there because she was able to chat with news reporters, scientists and the like who were swarming around the project of a young man whose project was displayed just across the aisle from hers. She relates that his “conversation, by his own admission, was that of a liberal leftist, while my chatter was that of a patriot who was studying Russian in order to peek into Soviet cancer research journals. Thus, I began receiving the attention of the conservative reporters, military officers and scientists who had originally come to interview” the other student.3

Baker goes on to relate how she was then the subject of “an intellectual feeding frenzy”4 and ultimately was singled out and whisked away to meet with military officers, scientists and doctors where she answered questions about her patriotism. Baker says she then “signed a loyalty oath – as well as a couple of papers about promising to always be loyal to my country in my scientific endeavors – in what seemed to be a recording studio or soundproof room at Eli Lilly, I was asked to write to President John F. Kennedy, offering my services to my country. I was not aware until later that one or more of the people I was talking to represented the CIA.”5 She says she was told that doing these things would bring her more support for her cancer research, and that she was also asked to write to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

So, what’s the problem here?

There was no President John F. Kennedy in May of 1960.

Could she have the dates and fairs mixed up … and all this really happened at what her supporter has called a cancer seminar in the Spring of 1961?

In May of 1960, JFK was not even yet the official democratic nominee, but of course, we do know he became the nominee that July and was elected President in November.

One of Judyth’s most devoted supporters addressed this problem on the Internet newsgroup alt.assassination.jfk by saying first that it was a typo, then that she had the years mixed up, that it happened at a cancer seminar in the Spring of 1961; he suggested that after all these decades she should be cut some slack for not remembering every detail nor the order of things. He noted that since her project at the Indiana fair, in May 1960, had nothing to do with cancer, there wouldn’t have been any reason for anyone to know about, or be interested in, her cancer research at that time. And it was also noted that it had to have been 1961 when all this happened because she had a response from the White House to the letter she wrote to President Kennedy and it was dated 1961.

Unfortunately, these explanations don’t work for Judyth.

Judyth herself explains in her book how it is that despite her project at that 1960 science fair being on magnesium in sea water, her cancer research made her the center of attention by reporters, military officers, doctors, scientists and even a couple of what she later learned were CIA people because she was able to talk to reporters and, as previously quoted, her “chatter” was that of a patriot who was learning Russian so she could read Russian cancer research journals. She also names locations like Indiana State University and Eli Lilly.

Could she have the dates and fairs mixed up … and all this really happened at what her supporter has called a cancer seminar in the Spring of 1961?

No. And here’s why.


Judyth claims she was singled out, whisked away, met with scientists, doctors, military officers and a couple people from the CIA, signed a loyalty oath and was told to write to both President Kennedy and Walter Reed Institute … all while at the National Science and Engineering Fair in Indianapolis, May 1960.

That cannot be because there was no President Kennedy in May 1960.


Part of her claim about the events at the 1960 science fair was that she was also told to write to Walter Reed Army Hospital. And while there is no copy of the letter she wrote to Walter Reed in her book, there is a copy of the response she received from a Dr. Jacobus at Walter Reed … and it is dated September 2, 1960. That does not fit with her being confused about the year and location and it all, instead, having happened at a cancer seminar in Florida the Spring of 1961.

That “cancer seminar” the following Spring was not a science fair. No high school students with projects. It was a science writer’s seminar. On page 8 of her book is a newspaper photo of Judyth bearing the date February 3, 1961. The caption notes that Judyth has just been honored in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. Overlapping the edges of that newspaper photo/caption is a newspaper article titled, “Senior Attends National Meet With Scientists.” That article carries no date, but its placement overlapping the edges of the picture rather makes it appear as though it belongs to the photo in the newspaper dated February 3, 1961. It does not. The article relates how Judyth had recently attended the National Cancer Society Seminar for 1961. That “cancer seminar” was held in St. Petersburg on March 18, 1961.6

That date is important.

Another of Judyth’s claims was that she was told to write to President Kennedy. Could it be that she got that instruction at this cancer seminar in Florida in 1961 instead of while at the Indiana science fair in May 1960?

No.

Because, as noted above, the cancer seminar in Florida was held, March 18, 1961. And we now know that Judyth wrote to President Kennedy before that date.

She does have a letter of response from the White House dated May 20, 1961. It’s a generic response from a staffer named Dungan. And it can be found here. As far as I have seen, that letter does not appear anywhere in her book.

Also missing from her book is the letter she wrote to President Kennedy. People asked, and were told Judyth did not have the letter. Thanks to Anthony Marsh, who went to the JFK Library in Boston looking for the letter … we now have it.

Further Resources

Junkkarinen outlines one key implausible aspect of Baker’s book, but even before the book was issued (and then quickly withdrawn) her story was marked by a mélange of wild, constantly changing and vastly implausible elements. See:

The letter looks like a typical teenage fan letter to JFK.

A response from the White House in May 1961 could fit with her not having written to JFK until after the Florida cancer seminar in March of 1961. Could Judyth perhaps have mixed up the events she related as occurring a year earlier?

No. Because the letter she wrote to President Kennedy was written before the cancer seminar where Judyth’s supporter suggests this loyalty oath and so on took place instead of in May 1960.

The letter was written on February 14, 1961. That is over a month before the March 18th cancer seminar.

Why these nefarious characters would want her to write a letter to the White House in the first place is rather a mystery.

In short:

Judyth claims she was singled out, whisked away, met with scientists, doctors, military officers and a couple people from the CIA, signed a loyalty oath and was told to write to both President Kennedy and Walter Reed Institute … all while at the National Science and Engineering Fair in Indianapolis, May 1960.

That cannot be because there was no President Kennedy in May 1960.

Judyth cannot have the dates/events mixed up where she claims all this occurred because she has a response letter from Walter Read dated September 2, 1960 (6 months before the “cancer seminar” the following Spring). And because . . .

Whoever coined the phrase, “The devil is in the details” knew of what he spoke. This time the detail that devils her claim is American History. John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, was elected 6 months after Judyth Vary Baker claims she was told to write to him.


Sources:

What follows are page numbers for specific quotes used. This article is based on the information Judyth relates in, LEE HARVEY OSWALD The True Story of the Accused Assassin of President John. F. Kennedy By His Lover, Judyth Vary Baker, Volume 1, pp. 3 – 8, except where otherwise sourced.

1 The science fair is now sponsored by Intel; we know Judyth was at the 11th annual fair because her book, on page 7, includes a photo of a program of tours available to the science fair participants, and in its header it says “11th.” As the science fair link notes, the fair was started in 1950 … making 1960 the 11th annual.

2 LEE HARVEY OSWALD The True Story of the Accused Assassin of President John. F. Kennedy By His Lover, Judyth Vary Baker, Volume 1, p.10

3 Ibid., pp. 3 – 4

4 Ibid., p. 4

5 Ibid., p. 5

6 See: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/canjclin.11.3.113/pdf and scroll to bottom of page; note Dr. Moore of Roswell Park was one scheduled to speak.