David Ferrie: An Overshadowed Character Of The JFK Assassination

It must have felt like the world stood still on that dreadful morning in November 1963. The news of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, followed by the arrest of suspect Lee Harvey Oswald, absorbed the attention of the entire nation. The official ruling was that Oswald was the killer.

To say that Oswald acted alone is a simple explanation and one that the information gathered by the Warren Commission overwhelmingly supported. But the official story has been the subject of scrutiny from everyone ranging from throngs of conspiracy theorists to various former government officials. One of the most well-known counterclaims to the commission's revelations was one put forth by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. Garrison devoted a good portion of his career building a case refuting the idea that Oswald was the only one behind it. He filed charges against Clay Shaw, accusing him of conspiring to kill Kennedy (via The New York Times). Shaw was acquitted. But this didn't stop Garrison from getting some public support for his claims that Oswald was used as a patsy by several individuals, including a man named David Ferrie. Garrison claimed that Ferrie and Shaw worked with the CIA to kill Kennedy out of retaliation for the president's desire to make peace with Cuba and Vietnam (per Playboy).

Ferrie's name has been a part of various JFK conspiracy theories over the decades. Though he is greatly overshadowed by Shaw, Ferrie's trajectory has still been a fascinating subject for some to study. His alleged connection to Oswald and the details surrounding his unexpected death in 1967 has given plenty of fodder for conspiracy theorists.

Ferrie and Oswald were in the New Orleans Civil Air Patrol

David Ferrie (above) had a long history of instability. As a young man, he aspired to become a priest but had to leave the seminary due to emotional issues (via NOLA). He landed a job as a teacher but was fired for taking students to a brothel. A job as an airline pilot fizzled out after he was arrested several times. His pilot training led him to get a job with the Civil Air Patrol's Cadet Squadron. PBS reports that this role led to Ferrie meeting Lee Harvey Oswald. The news source references a photograph that features the two men. For some, this is all the evidence needed to tie the two men together. But as PBS points out, just because two people are in the same picture doesn't mean that they have strong ties or any association with each other at all.

Ferrie was a staunch anti-Communist and began meeting with groups in New Orleans that were in opposition to the Castro regime in Cuba. When New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison later charged Clay Shaw with conspiracy, he alleged that the defendant met with Ferrie at Shaw's home on many occasions, an accusation that Shaw would deny. NOLA tells of details in the Anthony Summers book "Not in Your Lifetime," which ties Ferrie to Oswald outside of the Civil Air Patrol photo. The secretary of private investigator Guy Banister claimed that those two men would meet at her employer's office regularly in 1963. Ferrie worked for Banister, a man who was a former FBI agent.

Garrison tried to link Ferrie to Jack Ruby's death

The FBI questioned David Ferrie about some rumors that had been brought to their attention in 1967. Ferrie was said to have flown shady characters out of Dallas on the day of the assassination. Ferrie admitted he was in Texas that day but said he was in Houston (via NOLA). And that he had driven there. After leaving that city, Ferrie maintained that he took the car to Galveston and later to Alexandria. The FBI was not successful in finding a single link between Ferrie and the assassination, so they let him go. NOLA references a Saturday Evening Post article that proclaimed, "The FBI squeezed Ferrie dry, found nothing there, and discarded him."

Garrison also tried to link Ferrie to the death of Jack Ruby. Ruby became a household name after he shot Oswald on live TV as he was being escorted by police. While in prison, Ruby was treated for a cold with a shot and died of fast-growing cancer soon after. Ruby claimed he was injected with the disease, and Garrison pointed the finger at Ferrie. Garrison maintained that at one time, Ferrie had two thousand white mice in his apartment that he was experimenting on with cancer cells. 

The Daily Mirror reports that the story surrounding Ferrie gets even more interesting. Soon after he was questioned by the FBI, he was found dead in his apartment. Two suicide notes were found, but he was declared dead from natural causes.