History In Ink™ Historical Autographs
James R. Leavelle
James Robert Leavelle, 1920–. Detective, Dallas Police Department. Superb content Typed Letter Signed, James R. Leavelle, two pages, 8½” x 11”, Garland, Texas, January 4, 2001, and undated typed questionnaire, 8½” x 9½”, completed by Leavelle in his own hand.
Leavelle was the Dallas homicide detective who was handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy, when Oswald was himself shot by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Police Department on November 24, 1963.
This is an extraordinary questionnaire and letter in which Leavelle recounts his brief discussion with Oswald, the events surrounding Ruby’s shooting of Oswald, and his discussions with Ruby after the shooting; his opinions about Oswald, Ruby, and the assassination; and his views about those who proffer conspiracy theories. Leavelle received the questionnaire from a high school history class. He has answered the questions and then noted at the bottom of the page that he would “send something along that might help” the class. Along with the questionnaire, he sent the letter.
Leavelle recounts that he talked with Oswald briefly as he prepared to move him from the Dallas Police Department to the Dallas County Jail. “About the only conversation I had with Oswald on Sunday was to say to him ‘Lee if any one shoots at you I hope that they are as good a shot as you are’ meaning of course that they would hit him and not me. He gave a short laugh and said ‘no one is going to shoot at me.’” But, Leavelle writes, when Ruby stepped from the crowd and fired the fatal shot, “I knew exactly what was happening. As did Oswald.”
Ruby “got into the basement through the entrance ramp with about a five second break in security,” Leavelle writes. The next day, as he was transferring Ruby, Leavelle “asked him why he did it[.] He told me that he just wanted to be a Hero, but looked like he had just fowled [sic] [the] thing up. Of which I agreed with him. His lawyers later told him he had to come up with a better reason than that. He then said he wanted to save Mrs Kennedy a trip back to Texas for the trial. Not a good one either. She would not have had to come back.”
The letter has never been folded and is in absolutely mint condition. The first page is actually a photo copy of the original, which we presume Leavelle kept in error, but the second page is the original, which was printed on an ink jet printer and signed in black by Leavelle; these are the two pages that the person from whom we acquired the documents received directly from Leavelle. The top portion of the questionnaire has been removed, but the questions and answers are intact, and the questionnaire is in fine condition overall.
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© 2005 History In Ink, L.L.C.