18 Kennedy Assassination Chronicles
Regarding Ruth and
Michael Paine
by Steve Jones
I would like present several new items of evidence regarding the
Paine’s that I have discovered since the last Paine panel convened in
1996, and also share how efforts by myself and others to get the Paine’s
deposed for testimony before the ARRB fell on deaf ears.
The first item of evidence regards conversations that I had with a
close personal friend of Ruth Paine. These conversations took place in the
spring and summer of 1997. The friend asked me never to reveal her identity due to fear of possible repercussions. This friend got to know Ruth
very well in Nicaragua during the early 90s when they both were volunteering for the organization Pro-Nica. This was one of the various Christian peace organizations that were trying to help the people of that beleaguered nation in the wake of the war between the Contras and the
Sandanistas. Over the course of several months this friend shared with me
the following information about Ruth that helped to either confirm or
clarify previous leads that have been developed by other Paine researchers and myself:
1. Everyone in Pro-Nica, including this friend, thought that Ruth
was working there in some type of intelligence gathering capacity. Ruth would take copious notes of everything she saw or heard;
she asked people many inappropriate personal questions as if
she were trying to gather information; and she took photographs
of people for supposed purposes that were later proven to be
false. She was confronted about this but consistently and vehemently denied that she had anything to do with the CIA or any
other governmental intelligence agency. Normally when an agent
or asset was outedthey would quietly leave in order to avoid
further embarrassment. But since Ruth never admitted her guilt
and refused to leave, she was instead asked to take a leave of
absence. When she was taken to a R&R camp in nearby Costa
Rica, she was asked to leave because they, too, suspected that
she was an agent. Ruth returned to Nicaragua and finished her
tour of duty and then left for the U.S. where she continued her
relationship with this friend.
2. Upon returning to the U.S. she admitted to her friend that her
father had worked for the CIA as an “executive agent.” Apparently while he was traveling abroad for Nationwide Insurance
and then later while working for the Agency for International
Development he would gather intelligence information for the
agency. Barbara LaMonica, Carol Hewett and myself had previ- Continued on page 20
Steve Jones
holds a B.A. in History from Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA; an ordained Lutheran minister
and a Fellow in the Association of Professional Chaplains and is a chaplain at the Southeastern
Pennsylvania Veterans' Center in PA. Jones began studying the Kennedy assassination in 1983 after
reading Best Evidence by David Lifton and has been researching Ruth and Michael Paine since
1994. He has been published in Probe, The Fourth Decade, Open Secrets, and also in the Humanist
TOPIC: Intelligence connections for Ruth Paine, her work in Nicaragua, her ties to eastern power
structure and the ARRB’s lack of interest in securing a deposition from the Paines.
ously uncovered documented evidence that the CIA had approached her father to run an educational co-operative alliance
in Vietnam in 1957, and that her father’s AID field reports had
been routed through the CIA. Ruth’s friend has now conclusively
confirmed our prior research. We also have documented evidence
that Ruth’s sister worked for the CIA as a staff psychologist in
1961, but Ruth never mentioned her sister to her friend.
3. The friend would often try to get Ruth to open up more about
the Kennedy assassination but all Ruth would say was that she
had old copies of LIFEmagazine that would tell anyone all they
needed to know. There was, however, one occasion when the
friend tried to bring up the assassination when Ruth began to say
how sad she was that her daughter (then about 40) was estranged
from her. Ruth said that her daughter told her that she refused to
talk to her until “she came to grips with the evil that she had been
associated with.” The friend said that Ruth had tears in her eyes
when she said this and was certain that this was a veiled reference to the Kennedy assassination. When the friend tried to gently probe further, Ruth refused to talk about the subject.
4. Ruth told her friend that every summer she would take a long
driving trip from her home in the south to the northeast to visit
friends and relatives. This seems to discredit my theory that her
long summer vacation in 1963 had any clandestine purpose.
I finally decided to ask the friend if she would serve as a gobetween with Ruth and she agreed. I sent her several articles that
Carol, Barbara, and I had written on the Paine’s (and some key
documents) and asked her to show this material to Ruth. Ruth
was due to visit her friend in the near future. Suddenly, out of
blue, the friend called me and told me that Ruth had cancelled
her planned visit. From then on the friend seemed very reluctant
to talk to me anymore. I eventually cut off contact with her, sensing fear and apprehension on her part.
The second line of evidence regards an FBI document dated 12-3-63, stating that the FBI had interviewed two friends of the Paine’s who
vouched for their innocence in having anything to do with the assassination. The friends were Fred and Nancy Osborn. It just so happened that
Fred’s father, Fred Osborn Sr., was a friend and associate of Allen Dulles.
Vol.4, Issue 4, Winter 1998 19
Michael Paine -A Life of Unanswered Paradoxes
by Nancy Wertz
When speaking of Michael Ralph Paine, researchers usually have
to immediately add, “the husband of Ruth Paine.” It is as if he had no
important identity of his own, instead being considered merely as an appendage to the more important personage of his wife. If Ruth Paine was
considered to be the darling of the Warren Commission inquirers, in essence, their Queen, then her husband Michael Paine was, in contrast, treated
as the court jester. His testimony rambles in many areas. He starts to
answer and is cut off and then exhibits an astonishing lack of recall on
many subjects of a personal nature. He jumps back and forth over the
Oswald is guilty/not guilty fence several times. And, of course, when
follow-up questions are needed, they are nowhere in sight. It is this individual however who may hold more keys to Lee Oswald’s character and
actions than has been suspected. In essence, the spotlight to date might
have been shining on the wrong Paine!
Michael was the product of an interesting and eclectic family background. His mother was Ruth Forbes with ancestors of two diverse cultures in her lineage. On one side, there was the artistic faction dating
back to Ralph Waldo Emerson. This background was coupled with the
financial empire building family -- the Forbes.
On Michael’s father, George Lyman Paine Jr.’s side, his paternal
grandfather was a well-known Boston preacher with a lineage dating back
to Robert Treat Paine, signer of the Declaration of Independence. In a
letter submitted to Allen Dulles during his stint on the Warren Commission, an “anonymous friend” of Michael’s mother provided revealing tidbits about Reverend Paine and his antics in Boston during the 20s and
Lyman Paine, Michael’s father, was a promising architect in New
York who had graduated from Harvard, like many of the Paine men in his
family tree before him. The early years of his marriage to Ruth Forbes
produced two children: Michael in 1928 and Cameron (Ronnie) in 1932.
Deeply impressed by the experience of the depression, Lyman rejected
the capitalist system and drifted into Marxist viewpoints. This major philosophical change ultimately caused the dissolution of his marriage. He
later moved to Los Angeles and became actively involved in a socialist
splinter group, espoused Trotskyte principles and married a like minded
woman named Freddie Drake. This geographical and philosophical shift
effectively cut off any type of on-going relationship with both of his children.
Michael’s father remained an elusive shadow filtering in and out of
Continued on page 20
Nancy Wertz
became interested in political violence in the mid 1960s. Since that time, she has dedicated her time to
research the JFK assassination. During the early 1970s, she had a weekly radio college talk show in
California. She has provided assistance to authors and researchers, and together with Gordon Winslow,
created the first Researchers Directory in the early 90s to foster sharing in the research community.
She has specialized in the examination of Marita Lorenz and Ruth Paine.
TOPIC: Michael Paine and his family background and influence, his political persuasions, his work at
Bell, his “lost summer of 1963,” and his actions on November 22-24.
his life. When Michael was only 13 years of age, Lyman had begun to
take him along to meetings of the Communist Party in New York City. At
this time, Michael became aware of intense political discussion, as three
separate groups vied for membership in the area. His family life drifted
until his mother met and married Arthur Young, when Michael was 18
years of age. By this time, he had already lived in New York, Santa Barbara and Cambridge. As one looks at Michael’s life, “drifting” is a word
that often comes to mind.
Immediately after high school, Michael was accepted into the fall
of 1947 term at Harvard. His two-year sojourn at the institution that had
awarded high academic honors to several of his ancestors was a disaster.
Majoring in physics, Michael could barely pull D’s and when he finally
succumbed to an F in one class, the Administrative Board voted to dismiss him at the end of the term. Side margin notations in the file describe
the young man as “shy and lazy.”
Disenchanted with the educational environment, Michael worked
at Granby Construction in Colorado for a brief period as a common laborer. This might have been prompted by his father’s reminiscences published on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his graduation from
Harvard in 1922. Lyman wrote of his life: “.... I got a job through the
Civil Works Administration of the NYC Housing Authority .... I shared
the hard work and dreams of liberals .... I joined the Federation of Architects, Engineers, Chemists and Technicians, a union of professional men.
There I came into contact with Marxism. The writings of Marx, Engels,
Lenin and Trotsky opened new doors upon an old world. The theory of
historical materialism began to make clear much that had eluded me these
many years: The relations between the movement of society and the movement of ideas.”
But Granby also failed to provide resolution for the troubled young
Michael Paine -- searching for a way to bridge his sense of privileged
intellectualism and his need to identify with the common man. The fall of
1950 found him at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He left the school
after one year, still lacking that elusive degree. It obviously bothered him
when, on his Army induction forms he attempted to justify his academic
failures and wrote: “I left college twice, although not so much for academic reasons as for personal difficulties.”
The lack of graduate status did not hinder Michael’s ability to secure a job in his chosen field of study - physics. In 1951, he obtained
20 Kennedy Assassination Chronicles
employment with the Bartol Research Foundation at the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia in their nuclear research lab. He described his work
there as working with Van Der Graaf generators making coincidence
counters and instrumentation to run the machinery. This job lasted nine
months. His Army personnel files indicate that while he registered with
the draft board in September 1948, he received student deferments while
he was at Harvard and Swarthmore and also “later an occupational deferment.” Three months after he left Bartol, his deferment lapsed and Michael
Paine entered the U.S. Army, serving for two years in the 40th Division in
Michael had known Ruth Hyde for two years when they married in
December of 1957. The carefree life he had known up until then and had
hoped to continue unabated with a new soulmate was disrupted with the
Jones, Continued from page 18
Wertz, Continued from page 19
birth of a daughter in the second year of their marriage, shortly after they
moved to Irving, Texas. Michael had initiated the move from their Pennsylvania family and friends in order to accept a position of some authority
at Bell Helicopter Research Lab in Arlington.
While he thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to contribute
groundbreaking newly fashioned ideas in helicopter and aerodynamic
design, Michael was being forced to grow up. He no longer could work
isolated in the lab, ignoring the hours he toiled over the craft he loved.
Now he was an administrator, responsible for budgets, project deadlines
and the management of his staff.
In addition, he now had a family to manage. By the time of the
birth of their second child, Christopher, in February of 1961, Michael was
feeling irrevocably trapped. Far away from lifelong family and friends,
neither Ruth nor Michael had a common support group to help bring them
back together. A summer visit by Michael’s father, Lyman, in August of
that year may have been the catalyst to move him into action. Michael
had always admired his father’s ability to act on his beliefs, no matter
how disruptive to the status quo. Even so, Michael moved ahead cautiously.
Just as he had been a child of divorce himself, Michael was clearly
heading towards that same status when the Oswalds entered his life. He
had set up a separate residency from Ruth in September of 1962, in order
to meet Texas divorce requirements. He visited Ruth and the children on
Tuesday and Friday of each week, and often could be found at their home
on weekends too. It was an unusual kind of separation but it was typical
of Michael who had always kept a safety net in his life. He could still
consider himself a family man, yet also keep his wife and children at
arm’s length emotionally.
His closest friend, at this time, was Frank Krystinik, a co-worker
at Bell. Frank was a Catholic family man and they shared mutual interests in their work and basic social values. During the WC testimonies of
both men, it became clear that they hung out together on several occasions and discussed a wide variety of topics on a daily basis.
Then, enter Lee Harvey Oswald. Having heard about this young
fellow, over ten years his junior, who had defected to Russia, become
disillusioned, and returned to the States, Michael was eager to make the
acquaintance. From their first meeting on April 2nd, until the last time he
claims to have seen Lee, on November 11th, they most likely had a dozen
or more earnest conversations.
During his Warren Commission testimony, Michael implied that
he had never really had much serious conversation with Lee about politics. But from other documents and his own revelations to various reOsborn Sr. attended Princeton and graduated right between the two Dulles
brothers, John Foster and Allen. I found personal correspondence at the
Dulles collection at Princeton between Osborn and the Dulles brothers. In
1950, Allen and Osborn co-founded an organization called “Crusade for
Freedom,” which was an early CIA propaganda effort patterned after Radio Free Europe. CFF merged with RFE in 1962. Osborn served as the
first President of this organization and Allen Dulles and Henry Luce were
among the original board of directors.
For many years Osborn was in Who’s Who in America. He had
served on the boards of numerous elitist foundations and large corporations. During WWII, with no prior military experience, he was appointed
a brigadier general in charge of the effort to make films to stir up patriotism on the home front-in other words, propaganda. Osborn died in 1981.
This is a very important indirect connection between Allen Dulles and
Ruth and Michael Paine. It appears to be too much to be merely coincidental.
In August of 1998, I sent a letter to Laura Denk, the Executive
Director of the ARRB, imploring the Board of the utter importance not to
ignore the Paines before their time ran out. She sent me a curt brush-off
that prompted author Jim DiEugenio to send out an action alert to all
subscribers of his publication PROBE. The board was flooded with over
50 angry letters, faxes, and phone calls. Denk then asked DiEugenio to
make a case for the Paine’s deposition that she could present to Board
Jim, Carol Hewett and I spent several days putting a case together
that was subsequentially sent to the Board, along with over 50 pages of
important documentation. The Board at first said that they didn’t have
enough money left to fly the Paine’s to Washington. At that point longtime researcher Vince Salandria offered to pay the airfare. Then the excuse became that they just didn’t have enough time. I regard these as a
phony excuses because the Board members all received PROBEwhere
for several years Carol, Barbara, and I had written a series of articles on
the Paines. These articles explained very clearly why the Paine’s were
important. I had also previously attempted to call Jeremy Gunn about this
but my voice mail message went unreturned.
As early as 1995, I had written a letter to ARRB Chairman Tunheim
regarding the importance of declassifying Ruth’s sister’s CIA files, but
received no response. I believe that the Board deliberately ignored the
Paine’s because they knew that a thorough questioning of these people
would lead them where they didn’t want to go -- the CIA and the eastern
establishment power structure.
Michael Paine interviewed in the 1990s for a documentary.
Vol.4, Issue 4, Winter 1998 21
searchers over the years, a different pattern emerges.
For one thing, Michael was intensely interested in political debate
regarding various governments and their people. This included the legal,
social, philosophical and mundane aspects of how people lived and carried on their daily lives in a continuous effort to improve their lot in life.
And Michael found Lee Oswald a perfect candidate for such discussions, however frustrating and seemingly illogical some of his stances
tended to be. Michael had a million questions for Lee but he soon learned
that Lee had limited abilities for engagement in true debate of political
philosophies beyond the theoretical. While Michael searched for the connection between theory and practical reality to enact a social change, Lee
would dig in his heels with repetitive arguments and catch phrases. Lee
was a bona fide bitter pessimist while Michael was the eternal cautious
But it was not just with Lee that Michael conversed and shared
ideas. In June of 1964, the FBI found evidence that Michael had spent
several Sunday afternoons in the spring of 1963 at Luby’s cafeteria, located near Southern Methodist University in Dallas. After interviewing
Michael and a former student who recalled such incidents, it was found
that he would eat lunch at Luby’s after attending weekly church services
at the Unitarian Church nearby. During these lunch visits, Michael would
engage in what he characterized as “intellectual conversations or debates
concerning world affairs with various SMU students.” This FBI interview contains strong and articulate opinions of Michael Paine that we
have seldom found in the official Warren Report record. He spoke unfavorably about the US hard-line towards Castro and felt that Castro did not
start down the Communist path originally and did so only after his mishandling by the United States. He also expressed strong views on increasing trade with Eastern Europe and lessening the tension with Cuba,
all with a strong leaning towards peaceful coexistence. None of this is
surprising, as it is a throwback to the peacenik stance of the Paine/Young
and Hyde families.
Both Ruth and Arthur Young were peace advocates who believed
in participatory government by the people. They thought nothing of putting pen to paper to express a determined viewpoint regarding the threat
of the bomb, nuclear test ban treaties or United States involvement in
international affairs and commerce. As members of the social and economic elite, those letters were read and consideration given.
Michael told a researcher in the 70s that he was eager to meet Lee
Oswald in April of 1963. He wanted to see what made him “tick.” Charged
with the task of bringing the Oswalds from Dallas to Irving, Michael was
glad when he arrived at the Neely St. apartment to find that Marina was
not yet ready with the baby. This gave him the chance to talk with Lee
about his experiences in the Soviet Union one on one.
Michael also discussed Lee Harvey Oswald with his friend and coworker Frank Krystinik on several occasions, but especially after the ACLU
meeting at SMU on a Friday evening nearly one month before the assassination. According to Frank, Michael said that Lee was generally considered to have a rather disagreeable and offensive personality and that
“nine out of ten people would dislike him personally.” In fact, Frank and
Lee’s emotional discussion of the employer/employee relationship after
that ACLU meeting resulted in a general animosity between the two men.
Although Lee never referenced the argument in subsequent conversations
with Michael, Frank did and expressed disappointment in the attitudes he
had heard. Most likely, this only meeting with Lee did not measure up to
the tales Frank had been hearing from Michael, who looked at Lee in a
mixed fashion. While he would criticize Lee’s beliefs, he would be the
first to defend his right to choose those beliefs.
When Ruth had first approached Michael with the idea of Marina
staying with her again in the fall of 1963, Michael had discussed it with
Frank. Michael expressed concern about Lee’s reaction to such a suggestion of separating husband from wife. Could Lee cause his family harm?
After much debate, the two men concluded that all would be well if the
delivery of the offer was made in a non-threatening manner.
Where did this discussion about violence come from? Could the
suspicion have been planted from a letter Marina wrote to Ruth during
mid-July in 1963? Marina had written that her marriage was getting better, although for now she would hold Ruth’s kind invitation in reserve in
case, “Lee gets rough with me again.” Didn’t this send any signals to
Ruth on potential physical danger for Marina and her child? Although
Michael often brushed off Ruth’s concerns, she continued to share them
with him, such as she later did with the Mexico City letter.
Michael was also exploring various political groups in the Dallas
and Fort Worth area on his own. One night would find him at a John
Birch Society meeting and by the end of the same week, he would be
attending an ACLU meeting. And now he had met this young Lee Oswald who seemed, at first glance, to be someone who took action.
While Ruth found communication with Lee difficult, she also felt
that if one disagreed with him, he automatically thought that you were
wrong and therefore stood firmly against him. She avoided having political discussion or any argument. On the other hand, Michael craved such
discourse with Oswald. In FBI interviews in early December, after the
assassination, Michael conveyed much of Lee’s ideological viewpoints,
further illustrating the depth of their conversations.
Michael also realized that some of what Lee said did not add up.
While Lee claimed he had become a Marxist in the US and had learned
Marxism from reading books, it was clear that he was expressing some
concepts he had read but had not completely understood. Lee also told
him that he had never met a communist until he went to the Soviet Union.
On the other hand, he did not say if he had ever met any back in the States
after he returned.
Lee told him that he did not believe in the exploitation of man by
man and he quoted frequently from Marx. Yet watching Lee lounging in
the Paine home watching sports on television and ordering his wife to
bring him this or that, led Michael to wonder that “for a man who professed to be a revolutionary, (he) had an awful lot of time on his hands.”
Maybe he wasn’t such a doer after all.
Michael had mixed feelings about Oswald. To the FBI on November 23rd, he claimed that Lee was disrespectful to his wife Marina, showing much anger towards her and insulting her frequently. Michael also
recalled telling Lee during one discussion that he was completely against
violence in any form, but Michael distinctly remembered that Lee did not
provide a return comment.
When he again spoke to the FBI (agents Odum and Peggs) on November 24th, Michael expressed some empathy for Oswald’s lack of ability to hold a job. He felt that Oswald’s expressed Marxist views might
likely cause his job losses, although he could not specifically say it was
so. In the FBI summary, it almost sounds like a certain level of admiration of Oswald coming from Michael Paine. Again, Lee seemed to take
action, while Michael watched.
Michael’s friend, Frank Krystinik, knew of Ruth Paine’s devotion
to the Quaker religion and that Michael attended a Unitarian Church. It
was Frank’s belief that Michael had sympathy for Lee and was trying to
convert him. Later, after Oswald secured full time employment at the
TSBD in Dallas, Michael told Frank that things were improving for the
Oswalds and that this might mean that Lee could begin to assist in the
support of his wife and two daughters.
On some level, Lee Oswald may have influenced Michael Paine to
act on something he had dreamed of for years. Using money he had been
given by his father during a visit to Los Angeles in the summer of 1963,
while Lee and Marina were in New Orleans and Ruth and the children
were traversing the East coast, Michael purchased a small plot of land.
This was the dream of the “old barn research lab” in Paoli during the early
years of his marriage, come to life.
On the day of the assassination, Michael Paine went to work at
Bell. During his lunch break at a cafeteria near the lab, he dined with an
intern. Discussing the various newspaper, magazine and radio commentary on the presidential visit, Michael suggested that there might be trouble
from the right wing element in Dallas. Later claiming that it was with no
thought of Oswald in particular, Michael wondered aloud what type of
22 Kennedy Assassination Chronicles
person would cause trouble like that. A complete pacifist by nature and
background, Michael speculated about the makeup of such an assassin.
It was at this time that a waitress told them that the president had
been shot. Believing this to me a poor joke, Michael listened to a transistor radio report from a nearby table. They then raced back to the lab
to listen to updates on a better quality radio.
Upon his return to the lab, Michael called Ruth to tell her the
news and to turn on the radio. He was informed that she and Marina
had already heard the news. According to Michael, it was a short conversation, as neither had any more news than that available then. Having heard Dealey Plaza, he had not connected it to the TSBD. Shortly
after this, as Michael and Frank listened to the constantly updated news
flashes, they looked at a Dallas map to determine the site of the shooting and discovered that the TSBD was situated there.
Immediately Frank Krystinik advised Michael to call the local
FBI and report Oswald’s proximity to the shooting locale. Michael
wavered, not wanting to go after Lee just because he was a known “black
sheep” already. They debated for twenty minutes back and forth, with
Frank more adamant by the minute. Still, Michael declined to make the
call. Trying to work, but preoccupied with the thoughts racing through
his mind of what all of this might mean, Michael found himself unable
to assemble a simple vibration meter. In this scenario, the next news
they heard on the radio sent him into a tailspin. Oswald’s name was
announced in connection with his apprehension at the theater in connection with the killing of a police officer. Although the news announcer did not connect it with the assassination, Michael later explained
that was all he needed to send him home to Irving.
Upon his arrival, he encountered six gruff law enforcement officers searching the house and garage. Marina appeared terrified, Ruth
seemed not to understand the full implications of what was happening
around her and Michael was reeling from the utter invasion of privacy
the situation suggested. Michael was bombarded with questions about
the rifle and the blanket. By the time the entire group was stuffed into
cars and taken to Dallas Police HQ’s, tempers had flared and everyone
was “irked” to some degree or another.
Once at the DPD downtown offices, things began to settle down
and Michael found the officers there much more congenial. But as the
evening crept on, he began to notice an increased sense of suspicion
being placed on both him and his wife. Ruth was no longer there as
interpreter for Marina; they had brought Ilya Mamantov in for that job.
Ruth was there to be questioned herself. Other than asking him if he
wanted to speak with Lee himself, to which he declined, Michael was
more of a bystander that night. Why had the police asked Michael to
talk to Lee? They denied access to him by his family -- Robert, Marguerite and even Marina. Did they hope to overhear something incriminating in a conversation between Lee and Michael? While waiting for
the questioning and affidavit-taking to be completed, Michael contemplated their situation. Later that night at home, Michael and Ruth talked
about whether Lee could have really done all that he had been accused
of by the police, the FBI and the Secret Service. No matter how they
tried to rationalize the situation, they kept coming back to that empty
blanket in the garage and Marina’s face as it fell limp in the arms of the
Michael has left a very muddled trail relating to his knowledge
of the weapons of Lee Harvey Oswald. When I think of Michael Paine
and the alleged Oswald rifle, I am reminded of the most memorable
question that came out of the Watergate era. What did he know and
when did he know it? To answer this query, one must categorize the
various references in which Michael discussed Oswald’s weaponry.
That Friday night at police headquarters, Michael watched through
a glass window as Marina was shown a rifle. The police were asking
her to verify that this was the rifle she had known to belong to her
husband, Lee Oswald. He sensed that she could not truly differentiate
between one rifle and another, but for Michael it was a crystallizing
moment of insight. Recalling the incident in 1973, he claimed that, for
the first time, as he saw Marina’s expression, he made a connection to the
camping equipment that wasn’t turning out to be “camping equipment” at
all. That empty blanket roll that he had seen in the garage may have
actually contained the rifle that had been used to shoot the president.
Twenty years after that, on a Frontline special commemorating the
30th anniversary of the assassination, viewers were shocked to hear
Michael Paine tell them, for the first time, that he had been shown one of
the famous “backyard photos” on that night in April, 1963 when he first
met Oswald. Why hadn’t he mentioned it before? No one had asked him,
he claimed. At the time of seeing this picture, Lee told Michael that in the
Soviet Union, a person could not own a rifle, but could own a shotgun, if
they belonged to a recognized club. Michael got the impression that Lee
clearly adored weapons, but did not make the connection that the weapons in the picture were actually owned by Lee.
This represents three different versions from Michael Paine on the
weapons of Lee Harvey Oswald. Clearly the 1993 recollection sheds an
entirely new light on Michael’s relationship with Lee Oswald. Did Michael
make the connection of guns and violence when he asked Frank Krystinik
if his own family might be in danger? Why would he have been willing to
risk this? Ruth Paine has indicated that her first realization that Michael
knew about the weapons before the assassination was shocking to her
when she heard it in the course of the Frontline documentary preparation.
Even so, seeing it on television when it aired in November of 1993 caused
deep pain for her.
When Krystinik was interviewed by FBI agents Schott and Brown
in Arlington on November 25th, he told them that Michael and he heard
about the locationof the shooting at the same time. Unsure of the exact
location, they looked it up on a Dallas map and it was at this time that
Michael said, “That is right next to the TSBD building.” Frank made the
quick connection that this was where Lee Oswald worked but was quickly
assured by Michael that while this was true, “...he does not even own a
When Michael was hauled back down to the DP headquarters on
Saturday, November 23rd, for a formal affidavit, the FBI (Harrison) also
interviewed him. Michael told him that he had never seen a rifle or other
weapon in the possession of Oswald. Having given no statement on Friday night, Michael now claimed that he had seen the shape of a heavy
pipe-like object wrapped in a rough blanket tied up with a string in the
garage at the Irving house. He had picked it up to move it out of the way
to get to his power saw, which was also stored in the garage. Michael
dismissed the lumpy bundle as tenting equipment of some type belonging
to the Oswalds.
To the questions from Atty. Liebeler for the Warren Commission
testimony, Michael described three separate times he had to step over or
move the bundle in his garage. The question before us then was whether
it was reasonable to assume that Michael, a bright creative man, would
not have suspected that was a rifle all along. Given the 1993 revelation,
the better question is why he never told his wife that there was a weapon
in the garage. Michael knew that Ruth abhorred weapons of any kind,
even refusing to allow her son Chris to have a toy replica. If he did know
that Lee owned a rifle and that it was stored in his garage, did he rationalize it being okay because he did not think Oswald was prone to physical
violence? Did he think that Oswald was only a hunter and would use a
rifle in this manner, as he did in the Soviet Union?
Even granting this consideration, there were actions on Michael’s
part that showed he did have cause to question Lee’s proclivity towards
violence. Although Michael refused to be tricked into leading questioning by Liebeler that he had observed Lee in a violent mode, consider this.
If Michael didn’t know about the photo back in April, and if he didn’t
know or suspect that Lee possibly took a shot at General Walker, and if he
didn’t know about the physical abuse to Marina, then why did he feel the
need to discuss the possibility of Lee becoming violent by offering food
and shelter to Marina and his children?
Vol.4, Issue 4, Winter 1998 23
Why is it so important to know what Michael knew or thought
about Lee Oswald’s rifle? The rifle and the photograph are intertwined as
important evidence in this case. If it is true that Michael saw that photo
on April 2nd, then the allegations of photo tampering on the weekend of
November 22nd come into question and the exact version of the photo
Michael saw at Lee’s becomes very important. There is another interesting facet to this story of the photo and the rifle.
In 1965, Marguerite Oswald was in the Los Angeles area conducting some research associated with her view that her son, Lee Harvey Oswald, was innocent of the assassination of the President. She requested
an interview by the FBI and two agents were dispatched to the Hollywood Plaza Hotel, where Marguerite expressed her belief that her son
was framed and that her chief suspect in the assassination was none other
than Michael Paine. Marguerite further expressed suspicion about the
“extra” car that the Paines owned in 1963. Such unsubstantiated allegations had become routine for Marguerite by this time, but she then revealed a curious recollection.
Marguerite told the agents of her stay at the Paine home on Fifth
Street in Irving, Texas the night of the assassination, November 22nd.
Marguerite slept on the sofa in the front living room. Trying to sleep, she
heard Marina’s muffled cries in the bedroom with her children and the
continued whispering coming from the bedroom of Ruth and Michael
Paine. She claimed that at around 2:00 am on Saturday morning, she
observed Michael Paine go through a doorway into a room which she
thought was another bedroom, but later found it to be the inside door to
the garage. She felt that possibly his purpose in doing so was to plant
incriminating photographs of her son, Lee, and that these were subsequently found by the police during their second search on Saturday afternoon.
These are but a few of the questions it would have been nice to ask
Michael Paine, under the auspices of the ARRB. Unfortunately, that opportunity has been lost, with the closing down of the ARRB in September,
1998. And so, once again, the government has closed another door on yet
another attempt to move us closer to the truth and the facts in this case.
And, once again, the responsibility is shifted to the citizens, like you and
me, to move forward and unearth all of the facts to ensure an accurate and
complete historical record—whether it takes 35 years, or 40 years, or 100