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Ruby: I Never Met Oswald Before Killing Him

Jan. 21, 1964 - Jack Ruby denied today that he had ever met Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President Kennedy before killing him. Ruby spoke distraughtly as he appeared at a bail hearing, which ended when his attorneys withdrew their request that he be released on bond. At an impromptu news conference, Ruby also denied that he went to Cuba five years ago to sell supplies to the Government of Fidel Castro. He said he went there early in 1959 for a brief vacation. His plan to export goods to Cuba collapsed earlier for lack of financing, he explained. He termed details of his trip, as presented by the prosecution, “fabrications.” Ruby’s description of the Cuban episode was jumbled and difficult to follow. He was posing for photographers before the hearing when reporters questioned him. The attorney at his side, Joe Tonahill, made no attempt to stop him from answering. Pale and agitated, Ruby recalled that the U.S. was on harmonious terms with Cuba at his visit. Jack Paar, the television performer, and other entertainment figures were in Cuba about that time, he said. Knowing that Cuba was “a new country opening up,” he said, he previously tried to communicate with a Houston businessman about exporting such products as fertilizer and jeeps to the island, “but I never got to first base.” He said he had gone to Cuba by way of New Orleans. In Havana, he said, he stayed at the apartment of a friend, L.J. McWillie. He said the Cuban police had questioned him extensively — “they have a little Gestapo there.”

Asked about any previous contacts with Oswald, Ruby declared: “I never spoke to Lee Oswald in my life. I never saw him or knew of him.” Ruby, who is charged with first-degree murder, became more agitated as he spoke. Unexpectedly, he said: “The word ‘angry’ is not in my vocabulary. I was more remorseful than angry.” Asked what he meant, he said that after President Kennedy’s assassination he had often been described as “angry.” Ruby was swallowing repeatedly; he had become pale and was trembling; tears came to his eyes. He finally said in a high, choked voice: “I can’t understand how a great man like that can be lost.” Mr. Tonahill cut off further questions.


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