Sylvia Odio was the thirty-year-old daughter of two Cuban refugees who were jailed for the attempted assassination of Fidel Castro. According to Odio’s testimony documented by the Warren Commission, in September of 1963 three men arrived unannounced at Odio’s apartment in Dallas. Two of the three men were of Hispanic descent, possibly Cuban or Mexican. These men identified themselves as “Leopoldo” and “Angelo.” The third man was a slender American who went by the name of “Leon Oswald.”
Oswald never spoke to Odio during the encounter in Dallas; however, Odio recalled detailed conversations with the spokesman of the trio, Leopoldo. The men said they were good friends of her father, and gave “almost incredible details that only somebody that knows him or somebody informed well knows.”
The two Hispanics said they were members of JURE (The Cuban Revolutionary Junta), an anti-Castro group in which Odio was also affiliated. They asked for help translating into English a letter they planned to send to businessmen appealing for funds for the anti-Castro cause. Odio later told the Commission she believed the men were trying to feel her out to see if she had any useful contacts in the Cuban underground, but she had no such contacts.
Later in a phone conversation, Leopoldo conveyed that Oswald was an ex-Marine and an expert marksman. “He told us we don’t have any guts,” said Leopoldo, “because President Kennedy should have been assassinated after the Bay of Pigs.” Leopoldo went on to say that Oswald thinks it would be easy to kill the President, but the Cubans didn’t want anything to do with him because he is “loco.”
Odio later wrote her father asking if he knew the three men. Her father replied that he did not know them, and they were not his friends. The letter was marked as an exhibit by the Warren Commission; however, the Commission never followed up on critical questions concerning how the men found Odio and knew such details about her father.
Odio did not initially report her encounter with the three men for fear that her fellow exiles would be implicated in the assassination. She rather confided in her friend, Mrs. C. L. Connell, a worker in a Catholic welfare group that aided Cuban refugees in Dallas.
Although Odio’s testimony was not easily dismissed, seeing as it did not appear that she was seeking publicity, the FBI did not pursue her story for more than six months. The Warren Commission’s final position was to accept unsubstantiated reports that Oswald was riding a Continental Trailways bus from New Orleans to Houston during the alleged visit.
The Odio incident was squashed after the FBI located Loran Eugene Hall claiming to be one of the three men who visited Odio. Hall identified his accomplices as Lawrence Howard, a Mexican American, and William Seymour, an Arizonan who looked like Oswald. Both men denied the accusations, and Hall later recanted his testimony; however, the Commission refused to publish the revised version of the report.
Over the next two weeks after the Odio incident, a man calling himself “Lee Oswald” visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City. The CIA sent the FBI a photograph of the man who was clearly not Lee Harvey Oswald. His true identity was never learned by the Warren Commission. Regardless of the mounting evidence, the Commission never questioned whether someone was impersonating Oswald to implicate him in the assassination.
More than 40 years after the assassination, and upon the release of millions of pages of documentation, researcher David Kaiser wrote a book in an attempt to prove that Odio’s testimony is undeniable evidence that Oswald was the lone assassin. According to Kaiser’s book, The Road to Dallas, the three men who visited Odio were in fact Loran Hall, Lawrence Howard, and Lee Harvey Oswald.
Heedless of whatever weight Kaiser’s newfound evidence may unfold, glaring discrepancies in Odio’s testimony leave much leeway for reasonable doubt. One of Oswald’s former Marine buddies, Sherman Cooley, recalled that Oswald was given the name “Shitbird” because on his first test he couldn’t qualify on the M-1 rifle. Another Marine, Nelson Delgado, said Oswald often got “Maggie drawers,” which meant he missed the target completely. Then there’s the ageless question of how did Oswald assassinate Kennedy, rearrange his box supports, race to the opposite end of the Depository sixth floor where he reportedly stashed his rifle, raced down four flights of creaky stairs unnoticed by office workers only to be discovered calmly drinking a Coke less than two minutes later?
Kaiser, David E. The Road to Dallas: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cambridge, MA:
Belknap of Harvard UP, 2008. Print.
Lane, Mark. Rush to Judgement: A Critique of the Warren Commission's Inquiry into the
Murders of President John F. Kennedy, Officer J.D. Tippit and Lee Harvey Oswald:
With an Introduction by Hugh Trevor-Roper. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967. Print.
Marrs, Jim. Crossfire The Plot That Killed Kennedy. New York: Basic, 2013. Print.
O'Toole, George and Paul, Hoch. "Dallas: The Cuban Connection." Saturday Evening Post
248.2 (1976): 44-96. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5 Sept. 2016.