— Or, How Mary Ferrell, Entrusted with National Secrets, Was Ultimately Exposed by Her Own Long Buried Secrets
The Conventional Meme About Mary Ferrell’s Grit and Determination:
“On November 22, 1963 Mary was a 41-year-old successful legal secretary in Dallas. Instinctively, she began collecting information and storing it in whatever form proved convenient at the time. She did not know then that she would become the most comprehensive clearinghouse of facts on the Kennedy assassination, a source so valuable that virtually no researcher working on any aspect of the assassination can ignore her work. At the ASK symposium, Mary Ferrell was accorded the role of “consultant,” and was treated as perhaps the quietest celebrity since St. Francis . . . ‘I’ve never given a speech in my life,’ she told me, and agreed to the interview on the grounds that we focus on her database of assassination information which she is only now readying for distribution in a comprehensive, electronic format.” ~ Jerry McCarthy 
As we begin to unpack the fabled legend of Mary Ferrell, let’s start with an excerpt from her obituary in the Dallas Morning News three days after her death on February 20, 2004:
“Born in Memphis, Tennessee on October 26, 1922, she married Hubert Afton “Buck” Ferrell on June 18, 1940. Together, they had four children. Mary and Buck moved to Dallas with their family in 1957 where she worked more than thirty years as a legal secretary for a law firm and also in the Governor’s office in Austin.”
As we will examine further below, there is much more to that story than most people ever knew. What many did eventually come to know, however, is that Mary Ferrell did not like JFK and never voted for him, that being only one of the inexplicable anomalies related to her strange pursuit of records for three American leaders whom she never supported. In fact, despite being in downtown Dallas on November 22, 1963, she decided to skip the opportunity of watching the motorcade, choosing instead to have lunch at the Chaparral Club at Southland Center. Despite that, she quickly threw herself into an obsessive search for information about JFK’s assassination in the immediate aftermath.
Against that backdrop, a number of veteran researchers have long suspected her real motives were quite different than the common meme. Author Harrison Livingstone, for one, wrote a lengthy section of his book Killing the Truth: Deceit and Deception in the JFK Case, about his suspicions of Mary’s secrets, describing her as the “Mother Goose, or the Dragon Lady . . . [of] whom many people were greatly afraid. She is supposed to be the grandmother of assassination research, but nobody knew what she really was or believed. Everyone was fooled while she lived a double life, like a spy in a foreign country during a war . . . Officially, she never did not believe the findings of the Warren Report, as anybody who truly knows her understands. But researchers had the impression that she believed there was a conspiracy.”
And those are merely where the enigmas begin to germinate.
Mary Resolves to Turn Her Life Around
Most stories about Mary Ferrell’s early history begin by noting that in 1963 she was a 41-year-old legal secretary in Dallas, but little was said about her family. It was generally known that she was married and had four teenage children at that time. A number of people who had gotten to know Mary closely and personally realized that her husband, Hubert “Buck” Ferrell, had become an alcoholic and was very abusive to her during their first decade of married life — years that Mary had referred to in one interview as a period she had spent “barefoot and pregnant.”
The following summary of Mary Ferrell’s life before November 22, 1963 contains a number of facts not previously known by virtually anyone other than a handful of people who had become very close to her. The assertions made here will be backed up through documents to be presented later in the essay.
In this case, we will begin two decades before that, by noting her age (17) when she married Buck (age 20) in 1940, four months before her 18th birthday. Having spent the 1940s in various stages of birthing and nursing babies, by early in the 1950s she had evidently begun thinking about the need to develop other skills; she began by taking a correspondence course in accounting through LaSalle Extension University. That course involved weekly lessons, designed with sample business transactions which the student used to practice double entry accounting exercises; every week, as the previously completed lessons / exercises were mailed in, new lessons were received.
What is not well known is that, in 1952—after nearly 12 years of marriage, at age 29, Mary decided to divorce Buck, a process which was completed in 1953. By that point, still living in Memphis, Mary took custody of her four children ranging in age from 3 to 11, beginning with Carol Anne (1942), Lawrence “Larry” (1943), William “Billy” (1945), and James “Jimmy” (1950). (Another “anomaly” about Buck is that his gravestone indicated he was a veteran of WW II, but, evidently, he didn’t get too far away from Memphis for very long, during the war years).
During this period, sometime in 1954, Mary was introduced by one of her sisters to a wealthy Ohio farmer/landowner named James E. Dean (no apparent relation to the famed actor of that name, though he had grown up not too far away, in Fairmont, Indiana). It was also established, through someone close to his family, that Mr. Dean’s first wife had died of a brain tumor at age 34, in 1950.
According to the same source, when Mary and her children arrived at Mr. Dean’s home in Ohio, they were practically broke, and their only clothing was what they had worn on their trip from Memphis. The first thing Mr. Dean did for them was to take all of them shopping for clothes. James and Mary soon married and moved her family into his home with his own son and daughter, in Hollansburg, Ohio (the family no longer lives there, having moved to another home in a nearby state some years later).
The same source stated that after their “honeymoon” period they had fought often because Mr. Dean felt Mary lacked interest in ordinary housekeeping chores and was too harsh and demanding of her own mother, who was ill at the time. It was stated that after a major row, they both agreed that the marriage was over, after about 18 months. Further, that James agreed to give Mary a “substantial sum” to use to reestablish herself and obtain the divorce.
Sometime in late 1956 or 1957, Mary and James Dean divorced, and research has revealed that she moved herself and the children to New Orleans, where she worked as an accountant for “Merck, Sharpe & Dohme” (a division of Merck & Company, the pharmaceutical giant), for approximately a year and a half (That is a brand name distinction that is generally used only outside of the U.S. and Canada, although for some reason it was the name used at the New Orleans corporate branch offices and laboratory).
Her presence there is based in part upon her address published in the New Orleans City Directories for the period 1958-1960 (they were published in January of each year, using data for the previous year, so “1958” means data collected in 1957, and so on).
During the months she lived in New Orleans, she continued using the Dean surname, possibly as she awaited the completion of divorce proceedings. It appears she did not revert to using the surname “Ferrell” until she relocated to Dallas, where Buck had moved in 1957, according to an FBI document related to an investigation on him following the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis in 1968 (to be examined below).
Another one of my confidential sources indicated that some people close to Mary stated that during her New Orleans period she was rumored to have participated in additional secret training programs, possibly for the purpose of preparing her for future assignments that might arise. Certain government agencies have been known for training people with skillsets for contingencies that may surface at a later date and would then put them on retainer until such an event occurs. Whether that is true in her case is anyone’s guess, but it might help explain how she suddenly developed a strong interest in monitoring and recording everything that spontaneously occurred in the immediate aftermath of the JFK assassination and continued on that task, uninterrupted, for four decades, in the absence of anything realistically plausible regarding the biggest anomaly of all: her true purpose.
With the financial settlement she had been paid by Mr. Dean, and possibly other sources, she took her children back to Dallas in 1959, where she would open an ice cream store, Ferrell’s Ice Cream, located at 4108 Lomo Alto in Highland Park, according to the 1960 Polk’s Directory (based upon 1959 data). That was an area noted for its distinction of being the most expensive real estate in Dallas County, then and now. That business name coincided with her readoption of the Ferrell surname.
The ice cream store business venture was short-lived, leading her to seek employment first as a secretary working for Magnolia Petroleum, later moving to a similar position at Mobile Oil Company through 1962. In 1963 she began working for Philip Burleson (of the firm Abney, Holwell, Abramson and Burleson) again beginning as a secretary (evidently, at this point, her duties were more likely a stenographer) whose primary task was to transcribe oral depositions.
From 1959 through 1963 she lived in a small house at 4016 Holland Street, Dallas. From 1964 through 1967 she is not listed in the Dallas Polk’s Directory at all (which might simply mean that her name was subsumed by Buck’s entry) and in 1968 her name reappeared at a different address a few blocks up the same street, 4406 Holland Street, where she stayed until moving to the assisted living apartment in 2002.
In the mid-to-late 1970s, Mary moved on to a much larger, international law firm called Locke, Purnell, Boren, Laney & Neely. There she progressed up to become the executive secretary for the president of the firm. Eugene Locke, the head of Locke-Purnell, was also the chairman of the state Democratic party in those years and had been scheduled to introduce JFK at the Austin dinner party the evening of November 22, 1963. Locke was politically well-connected to high-level politicians in both Austin and Washington DC.
That law firm, according to Harry Livingstone’s research, had been involved in planning the Dallas motorcade and the decision to reroute the motorcade past the Texas School Book Depository was made [or, more likely approved, at the request of the plotters – Ed.] by Locke and people representing the core of the elite Dallas leadership: Judy Amps, Sam Bloom and Elizabeth Forsling Harris:
Elizabeth Forsling Harris was also known as Betty Forsling, who had been a former assistant to TV star Arthur Godfry as well as being a Newsweek magazine staffer. After her marriage to L. A. Harris, Jr., a Dallas department store executive in 1960, she was also known as Betty Harris, the same person who would work with LBJ aides Bill Moyers and Jack Puterbaugh, following Johnson’s orders on exactly how the Dallas motorcade would be planned to come down Main Street instead of straight down Elm Street. The Main Street route required making a 90 degree right turn onto Houston Street, and another sharper (est. 120 degrees) left turn to Elm Street, which ensured the limo would slow to a crawl just before entering Dealey Plaza. She also worked with Bill Moyers to ensure that the “Bubbletop” was not on the limousine before it left Love Field. As noted on page 393 of LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination” Moyers practically screamed at Ms. Harris: “Get that God-damned bubble off unless it’s pouring rain,” undoubtedly mimicking what LBJ had just yelled to him via telephone (Harris’ actions cited from the HSCA Report, Vol. 11, page 526).
Harrison “Harry” Livingstone: From Friend of Mary to Her Fiercest Enemy
Harrison Livingstone was at one time considered to be among Mary’s closer “friends,” who had visited her a number of times in the 1980s. One of the catalysts for the break in their relationship came about due to an incident he described, relating to a report he had obtained from a retired police detective which Mary mistakenly believed came from a young lady he referred to as “Melissa.” [See HERE]. He wrote: “Nothing like this ever happened — that is, I would not have sent the girl’s report or anything by her to Ferrell. I sent Ferrell something a police officer had written to see if she would falsify it, and she did. How paranoia got the better of these people on Melissa’s account, I’ll never know, other than that they were trying to terrify and make a target of the poor girl, a college student. [Larry] Howard himself had warned us against the Dragon Lady: ‘She’s very dangerous!’ he told us. I’d be safe in saying that half the city of Dallas told us that for the same reasons”. Harry suspected that Mary had gotten her misinformation from the FBI. According to what he was told by Gordon Novel, “She didn’t have help from the FBI. ‘She is the FBI’.” (Italics in original)
Mary Ferrell had accumulated much of her collection before the existence of the 1971 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) — and, evidently, subsequently remained unimpeded by its rigorous and labor-intensive procedural requirements. Interestingly, a researcher named Bud Fensterwald (see HERE) was widely reported to be her primary source; the many allegations of his being a CIA operative (see HERE for example)—likewise her close advisor Robert Chapman (See HERE)—suggest commonalities between them as to the source, not only for the documents, but for the funding she had to rely on to maintain her operation — despite what she had always attempted to portray as being self-financed.
Regarding the point about Mary’s financial enigmas—how she allegedly managed to spend so much time and personal expense acquiring and storing documents in a specially-built “library” for the purpose—one must suspend “disbelief” to square that with how she was concurrently living in style. From the 1993 investigator’s report to Livingstone we find that: “She was driving a late model luxury car and was dressed in expensive clothing that seemed mildly inappropriate . . .” In earlier years (mid 1960s to 1980s) considering the fact of her raising four children with a husband whose unstable job history and problems related to his chronic alcoholism (to be examined further below), it stretches credulity to think that her financial wherewithal from her position as a secretary could possibly be sufficient to account for her expenses.
Though he never admitted it to anyone, with the probable exception of Mary, many researchers had suspected that Robert Chapman was affiliated with one of the “alphabet agencies” in Washington. It was Chapman who would regularly appear in Dallas every time a new shipment of documents arrived (Such as this example). My sources stated that the deliveries were irregular, but perhaps on average once every six to eight weeks during the early 1970s-80s period, and that they would work together all day and into the night for several days at a time. In at least one case he was there for two weeks.
Robert Chapman somehow ingratiated himself into Mary’s world so thoroughly that his presence with her was a common event, and she had often been seen attached to his right arm, or, in the later years, in a wheelchair that he pushed, controlling how long she conversed with anyone who he felt had spent too much of her, and/or his, time.
Key people in the MFF organization have acknowledged that Mary was closer to Robert Chapman than she was with any of her own sons. Robert even took over many of her oversight responsibilities, initiated research activity, and oversaw research projects being developed by others, providing guidance and encouraging their efforts.
Chapman was also directly involved in the negotiation for the purchase of Mary Ferrell’s collection by businessman Oliver Curme (to be examined closely below) while overseeing the process of rendering over a million pages of JFK assassination documents into becoming an on-line repository now officially known as the Mary Ferrell Foundation.
In still another instance requiring the suspension of disbelief, one must reconcile the likelihood of a small business entrepreneur spending so much time and effort, for over three decades, on an avocation having nothing to do with managing his restaurant business. It simply does not compute in real-world context. But it does raise profoundly important questions that begin to compound, inexorably into what Ian Fleming called too many coincidences: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”
In this baffing case, we have at least four major examples of coincidences, all complicated with a lot of anomalies, paradoxes and incoherent explanations mixed in:
- A middle-aged legal secretary, married and mother of four teenagers holding, in 1963, a relatively low level secretary position (and eventually, due to her alleged perseverance and brilliance, an executive level secretarial position with one of the most powerful law firms in Dallas), who somehow immediately decided to become the “Queen of the Research Community” in her spare time: A right-wing conservative, she apparently disliked JFK such that she once said, “I did not vote for him and if he were alive today, I would not vote for him.” (See HERE – page 2).
- A businessman (restauranteur) from Memphis who would spend weeks at a time assisting Mary sort, index and file documents from various federal agencies (primarily FBI and CIA), actively monitoring the logistics of those shipments, all of which skirted all ordinary rules and procedures (e.g., FOIA rules and other red tape) applicable to anyone else.
- A high-flying venture capitalist—to be examined below—suddenly acting opposite of his normal gig doing multi-million-dollar deals, to dump $2.5 million, figuratively, into a hole in the ground that could never be expected to pay for itself, much less ever produce a nominal profit. No one with reasonable cognitive abilities could realistically believe such an investment would have a “snowball’s chance” of generating any significant income from such a venture.
- And finally, the grand coup de grâce: Said venture capitalist, Oliver Curme, stating unequivocally before a dozen friends and associates of Mary Ferrell, “I don’t know anything about the JFK assassination.” Their reaction was not much different than if he had just announced that he came there direct from outer space in six seconds: Then there was silence—nothing but stunned disbelief.
The larger construct to be explored further below — the question of whether Curme was actually serving as a “Straw Buyer,” fronting for other persons or entities — might be the most plausible explanation that would resolve all of these noted discrepancies. The answer to that will require a fairly intensive look at what venture capitalists do and how that might explain what the mysterious transaction was all about.
Ponder This: Who Had a “Vested Interest” in Preserving Mary’s Collection?
“Vested interest” in this context means who would invest funds into a mechanism that would provide Mary financial security sufficient for her to live out her life free of worry about how that would be paid for. But that was only half of it; the rest would entail providing significant capital investment and start-up operating expenses to convert 1.25 million documents into an easily accessed platform available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world. Who would consider doing all of that, even while essentially the same materials were being made available through other government agencies, as well as other research-related non-governmental organizations?
The same entities that sent Mary those documents in the first place would obviously have had an interest in ensuring Mrs. Ferrell’s efforts would be enshrined into such a “state-of-the-art” facility designed to serve researchers involved in attempting to solve the “Crime of the Century.” It was essential to their success in creating an intuitive interface to explore the files, giving researchers at least the perception of full transparency. The gossamer web of highly professional, super-slick web design, courtesy of Pixelworks Inc., serves to give users a feeling of confidence that their portal is the place to be for all researchers, authors and students of the turbulent 1960s. And there is some truth to that, despite what can be said regarding the materials that are missing or well-sanitized, redacted or purposely misfiled (to be explored below).
It was, evidently, Mary’s and Robert Chapman’s role to decide what would be presented vs. what would be done with any culled pieces or off-narrative material. It was critically important to them that researchers would presume the files to be so thorough that little doubt was left that the files were complete. Looking at it in that context evokes methods used to pack the Warren Commission Report with much impertinent information (e.g. Jack Ruby’s mother’s dental records from 1938, for example), numerous witness testimonies subtly revised, and fabricated evidence (e. g. the second brain) as a means to distract attention to the shell game that was being played out in 1964.
Was Mary merely doing basically the same thing, extended out for decades later?
Several examples of how original records were filled with lies, witness testimony changed, together with records that are still missing, heavily redacted or, in some cases simply misfiled in such a way that impedes their discovery, can be found within my 6/13/2021 essay In Defense of Tosh Plumlee: How his Critics (unintentionally) Help to Vindicate him and his Story of “That Day” (See HERE) (Refer to the section titled “Why Would “Truth Seeking” Researchers Reject Plumlee’s First-Hand Vivid Memories as They Accept the CIA’s Long-Discredited Lies?” scrolled to about 1/3 of page). These examples pertain to both Robert “Tosh” Plumlee and Chauncy Holt, where numerous exculpatory, positive or non-accusatory files of theirs were systematically misplaced, filed instead under John Martino’s name (ergo, possibly others as well?). I noted how certain researchers on the board of directors of MFF had been engaged in specious attacks against Robert “Tosh” Plumlee—how they had used old, fabricated documents that J. Edgar Hoover (among others) had personally and cunningly put into his file—for the purpose of denigrating Plumlee falsely, accusing him of being an airplane thief and check-bouncer, further “gaslighting” him baselessly, forever. This summarized charge has been fully explained in the referenced citation above.
An illustration of how the MFF made revisions to certain documents was how they removed Judyth Vary Baker’s initials from Lee Oswald’s timecards as a way to eliminate that vital evidence of her presence at Reily Coffee Company. Judyth explained it thusly:
ON THE MARY FERRELL SITE, one of Lee’s time cards for three consecutive work weeks at Reily Coffee, that I had researcher Nancy Eldreth obtain for me from a special FBI collection at the National Archives, (knowing they had my writing on them-they were never published by the Warren Commission) shows my ‘j’ initials (two faintly) and “made 40” (hours worked) as the attached document signed at the National Archives demonstrate, but the same set of time cards on the Mary Ferrell site shows all my handwriting on both those cards missing – they were now blank. That, itself, was tampering with evidence, as all of Lee’s time cards had to be signed by either me or V. P. Wm. I Monaghan or Personnel. But the two cards are blank– my initials J’s and “made 40″were erased. (I don’t know if it’s still that way). The people at the Archives were upset about it and specially initialed a true copy, showing my handwriting. (see attached)
Searching for Missing Documents — Like Looking for an Apparition
Beyond the files cited below about Mary’s personal correspondence with Harold Weisberg, were the actual “missing” document files which are available at other internet sources. I had to ask myself, “How does one find the answer to a negative? That is, proof that the MFF collection culls their files of certain subjects which are available elsewhere, thereby censoring what users are able to find. That seemed like a daunting task—having to look for something that was not there, instead of the regular search.
But after a few minutes perusing my files for old FBI documents I had used sometime in the past, I quickly found one from my investigation of the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination. It is an FBI memorandum addressed to William C. Sullivan proposing a program to strengthen the COINTELPRO program dated May 9, 1968. I could not find any trace of it after several attempts to find it on the MFF Website even though an initial search of FBI documents with the appropriate key words returned over a million “hits”, mostly having nothing to do with those key words.
Winnowing them further still never produced this document within the MFF database. In fact, as demonstrated in the copy of the last search page, below, the million+ “hits” were reduced to 78 by adding a filter that should have narrowed all of the remaining documents to the date 05/09/1968, yet that was only achieved for the first two results (which never met the other criteria described in the search):
My copy, obtained four years earlier from the Harold Weisberg collection can be seen HERE:
To increase the type size of this document, hold the cursor over it and right-click, select “Open image in new tab” then go to the new tab, open it and press “Ctrl” and “+” key to enlarge type.
Moreover, there are a number of others in the same (Weisberg) file folder which were not found on the MFF website. One such document is another FBI memorandum related to the illegal COINTELPRO on-going scandal, dated 4/27/71, that may be seen HERE.
Some of the problems appear to be caused by the search engine on the MFF website which returns many items that are outside of the parameters input, especially the date range being searched, thus contributing to the confusion. In this attempt to find two specific documents, over one million “hits” were made in both cases (but none that was pertinent — i.e. to finding those known-to-exist documents) from a search that contained only the names of Sullivan and Brennan, the date of May 9, 1968 (or 05/09/1968) and the term “COINTELPRO.” The result of this exercise in futility speaks volumes about the problem one faces when searching that database for a specific document.
Worse yet are the chances of finding one of those “missing” documents during the conduct of a blind search — looking for any relevant documents related to a specific subject, where one is not aware of the existence of such a document beforehand — when it will be no surprise that such a document was not found. What if it happened to contain a “smoking gun” or two that will never be known because that document was never found? What if the researcher had not known the date of whatever document they might be searching for?
At Age 79, Mary Throws in the Towel, Sells Everything for $2 million
Mary’s relief of finding a home for her documents, one that promised to reward her for her life’s work and to convert the records to a digital format that would open them up to the world must have been the highlight of her life. And that explains why she decided to share and celebrate it with her favorite friends.
At a special invitation-only dinner event on April 5, 2002 in Dallas with approximately twelve people present, Mary Ferrell introduced Oliver Curme to the group, explaining that he was a private investor who had purchased the document files and all other records that she had accumulated into her collection [Interestingly, the buyer did not want any of her very large collection of books, including a number of rare editions].
It was not the only occasion where Mr. Curme went to Dallas to meet with other confidants of Ms. Ferrell, including one in conjunction with the Dallas JFK Lancer Conference the following November.
According to one of the participants of the April event (all of whom will be kept anonymous for their privacy), they were from cities around the country. Suddenly, certain personal friends of Mary who had assisted her in the past were flown into Dallas in what might be characterized as a hastily constructed “Board of Directors” (though no such entity actually existed then) meeting to announce and celebrate her sale to the namesake foundation’s collection. She evidently set the meeting up as a simulacrum of a corporate type of event that she believed was appropriate for what she felt was a momentous occasion for her unique collection.
The meeting was quickly scheduled and invitations sent out as if “time was of the essence.” It was held at a large hotel in the Oaklawn section of Dallas, not far from her home on Holland Street. The invitees were not told in advance about the purpose of the trip so the level of anticipation and suspense was a notable memory for them, at least it was for my sources, who explained to me what had happened. They were told by Mary to keep the information to themselves, for fear of upsetting other researchers who were not privy to what was discussed at the meeting. Mary was livid with one attendee who used a house phone in the lobby to call a friend on Friday evening; on Saturday morning, she confronted the offender about it, but by then it was too late: the information had already leaked out. But the most important information had not yet been revealed and Mary reminded the offender that the rule must be observed for that evening’s session.
The highlight of Saturday evening was when Mary showed the group the two-million-dollar check that Mr. Curme had written, to be deposited in a special MFF account. Mary stated that the check was being put into a financial instrument that would not be paid in full unless she lived to be age 92 (which would not occur until October, 2014 and she died on February 20, 2004). She did not explain how much would be received immediately versus the thirteen years over which the remainder would be paid.
Two researchers who knew Mary well, including one who attended that 2002 gathering with her, and another who didn’t—a close friend of the first, and a person who also knew Mary well enough to attend her funeral—are my anonymous sources. They knew each other over many years and had a number of subsequent conversations about Mary in general, and what had occurred on that day.
Judyth Vary Baker, who had gotten to know Mary Ferrell very well, after over two years spent with her, was also a source for background about the circumstances related to Oliver Curme’s transaction with Mary. Irrespective of one’s opinion as to her claims of knowing Lee Harvey Oswald intimately, or not, it cannot be denied that she came to know Mary Ferrell more closely than any other person now alive, except possibly for two of my anonymous sources and Mary’s own two surviving children. More information on her background and how she has been attacked on mostly specious grounds, may be found HERE.
Mary Befriends Judyth Vary Baker
Judyth Vary Baker —after absenting herself for over three decades from the fallout of JFK’s assassination—had entered the “research community” in 1998 and become very close to Mary Ferrell in 2000-2002, just as Oliver Curme’s purchase was being conducted.
It was Mary who had begged Judyth to come to Dallas, desiring to find out as much as possible about Judyth’s emerging story, while promising to provide her a room and to help her with expenses if she did so. This was after Judyth had removed herself from anyone or anything related to JFK’s assassination, in fear for her life due to things she had learned about Lee Oswald and activities he, and she, knew about the top-secret plot called “The Big Event.” Mary wanted to know everything that Judyth knew, yet in over two years spent together managed to avoid sharing with her anything substantive about her own information or opinions. Judyth declined the offer of a room due to the fact that she had a service dog (still in training) and Mary had her own dog at that point, and due to small space available, she opted to find her own apartment.
Though she never met Mr. Curme personally, Judyth was there in the background, voluntarily assisting Mary in sorting through the materials to be shipped to Massachusetts and separating all other materials for other disposition, including many that were being sent to Baylor University. Among other things, Judyth provided me with this photograph of those boxes:
Judyth had spent considerable time with Mary by October 14, 2000, when Mary wrote an email to Howard Platzman explaining how she had become convinced that Judyth was telling “the absolute truth as she knows it,” (as well as confirming how she had known Robert Chapman—suspected by many as being her designated secret “handler”—since about 1972).
The lower section of the that email is the original part, dated 10/14/2000; the upper part is dated 11/3/2002, when Platzman rediscovered it:
When Platzman rediscovered it, he forwarded it to eight others, all with masked names in their email addresses. By that time, Mary Ferrell had reversed herself, knowing that her secrets had been exposed, such that now she had to retract all of the good things she had ever said about Judyth and reverse all of it to portray her as a liar and a thief. Platzman, evidently, must have attempted to seek out all such old emails, and this might have been an example of how he alerted others that certain records must be cleansed by the recipients.
As additional background on Robert Chapman, I have reproduced an internet post by long-time researcher Jack White below.
To increase the type size of this document, hold the cursor over it and right-click, select “Open image in new tab” then go to the new tab, open it and press “Ctrl” and “+” key to enlarge type.
Judyth had collected many materials over the years, documenting much of what she personally experienced as outlined in her book Me and Lee, which contains things like old utility bills, W-2 forms, bank statements, old correspondence, vintage photographs, etc.
Keeping those kinds of old mementos was a trait intrinsically embedded into her DNA, at least metaphorically. In return for Mary gaining access to Judyth’s vast knowledge, she promised Judyth a number of things if she would come help her, as noted above. In return, she would endeavor to find out more about what Judyth knew, especially about New Orleans.
According to one of my anonymous sources who knew both of them, “Mary was just playing her up.” Mary did not say anything about why she was so interested in the New Orleans background, but as previously noted, she already knew quite a lot about what had been going on in NOLA.
At one point in the early- to mid-1990s, according to my sources, some of Mary’s closest friends had proposed having a conference in New Orleans, to take advantage of the occasion with tours of the many locations that had been mentioned in articles about the summer of 1963 related to Lee Harvey Oswald’s activities—and the numerous others he associated with there. At first, Mary was excited about the prospect, telling the others that she knew someone there who owned a hotel and would give them discounted rates. Soon thereafter, the idea was dropped like a hot potato, without explanation—even when asked—as though Mary decided that it would risk exposing something, perhaps how she had come to know the city so well.
Judyth Vary Baker Meets Harold Weisberg (And Didn’t Know Who He Was)
In a recent telephone call Judyth explained to me how she had met Harold Weisberg in his publisher’s (Caroll & Graf) New York office in 1999. Though many people have accused her of having done heavy research into the JFK assassination to compile her “story,” she stated that upon meeting him she had no idea of who Harold was, until he explained to her that he had authored Whitewash, Frame-Up and Case Opened, among others. She was being interviewed by him on behalf of the publisher to get his opinion of her credibility, a hurdle she apparently passed. Because, after about four hours of interviewing her and looking over the documents she had brought, he went to another close-by cubicle—clearly knowing that Judyth could overhear his end of the conversation—to call David Lifton’s publisher, warning him not to publish his book, telling him: “you’ll be sorry if you publish his book because he has everything wrong about New Orleans.” That book was never published, to this day.
There is a larger point that should not go unnoticed: Getting the curmudgeon Harold Weisberg’s acceptance and endorsement—given his widely-known critical opinions of practically every other researcher and author who ever existed (except Mary), even certain witnesses and Jim Garrison himself—was a rather remarkable feat.
Yet Mary Ferrell, who reportedly thought that Oswald might have had help in committing the “crime of the century”—but otherwise was thought to have had rather conventional views close to the Warren Report—never really explained to anyone what her opinions were. She often muddied the waters in her comments to others, such as in an interview with a somewhat famous reporter, Mike Cochran, of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, who published an article (“Who Killed JFK? Researcher committed to solving biggest mystery of 20th century”) syndicated to the Associated Press that took almost the entire page on December 24, 2000. Within the article, Mary was quoted as saying that she felt:
“In my heart I believe Lee Harvey Oswald was a patsy, that he was used, and that there were other participants in the planning and execution and certainly in the cover-up.”
Then she added, “I don’t know that” and “I can’t prove definitely that Oswald wasn’t the only shooter,” and simply adding “I don’t know” after everything she might say generally, as a means to hedge all of it whenever she might be questioned about her statements, always denying that she actually believed anything that was not in the Warren Report.
Numerous people who knew her well, including my sources, reported that she would never discuss much about what she thought, but rather, she was always interested in gathering details about what they thought, and what other people might tell her about them and what they thought. Mary’s habit of trolling for as much information as she could gather from others, while becoming circumspect about venturing into her own opinions, grew to be part of her legend among researchers.
Yet that is, and was, contrary to human nature, at least in a situation where the subject is something of common interest, between two people having relatively similar experience; this can be considered yet another anomaly to be added to the stack. Perhaps that skill was part of the secret training that she was alleged to have received in New Orleans, 1957-59.
Mary’s Strange Loans to David Lifton
Interestingly, just as Mary was in the process of selling her collection, she, through the Foundation, loaned David Lifton a total of $165,000 (interest-free and apparently without a real [i.e. enforceable] “maturity date”) to write his Oswald book. Some people close to Mary at that time felt that it was Robert Chapman who advocated for that, to both Mary and Mr. Curme.
Given everything else known at the time about that decision it would seem to be another leap into the bizarro financial fantasy land where commonly held, ages-old, universal tenets and standards are brazenly ignored. Moreover, given Mary’s rather conventional views regarding the existence of a conspiracy, in contrast to how Lifton’s book had broken practically everything about the conventional narrative, it takes considerable mind bending to comprehend “why” that happened. Multiple anomalies can be counted here.
For over 30 years she purportedly managed to keep her avocation going on a shoestring budget without financial help — at least, that’s the meme — until Curme came to her rescue. The “free” money suddenly being injected must have seemed like “manna from heaven” to a number of people. It still remains an unexplained mystery now, twenty years later.
The first loan, for $30,000, shows up as an asset in the MFF 2001 balance sheet tax records (to be presented in further detail below) and in the following years it grew to be $165,000, the total amount loaned to Lifton, evidently. The fact that the loans were given zero interest rates and no maturity date (though it was stated on the first two, it was ignored) meant that there was no real incentive for Lifton to ever repay them.
The fact that they haven’t been repaid, apparently to this day, nor has the book ever been published, stands as another exemplar of how normal rules for financial instruments were completely suspended, just as the norms for venture capitalists were apparently scrapped to facilitate the purchase of her assets, as we will examine below. Thusly does it become yet another “bullet” on the list of anomalies.
The Packing of Mary’s Documents Begins: 2002
In the course of assisting Mary to begin preparing the documents for transfer to Mr. Curme, Judyth Baker knew that some things, like old LIFE, Time and other magazines, were to be consigned to a landfill and she obtained Mary’s permission to rescue them.
Judyth explained to me that, within a stack of old magazines which she was given, she found a set of misfiled financial records containing old receipts and invoices, including newer documents showing that Mary had provided those loans to David Lifton. Judyth said that those records were among the materials given to her by Mary’s daughter, Carol Anne. Judyth wrote me this note to explain what had happened:
“MARY GAVE ME A STACK OF MAGAZINES, THAT’S WHERE THE FILES WHERE MARY USES MARY DEAN WERE FOUND… ONLY WAY CAROL ANN KNEW ABOUT THIS IS I ASKED HER ABOUT THEM’AND SHE EXPLAINED THEM TO ME AND SAID THEY DIDN’T MATTER… AND MARY FERRELL HAD A MELTDOWN WITH CAROL ANN, AFTER WHICH CAROL ANN IMPLIED I STOLE THEM.”
When that became known to Mary, she became furious with Judyth and, apparently, her own daughter. From that time on, Mary made it known to all of her supporters that she distrusted Judyth, and so should they. Instead of her previous statement that “Judyth was telling the absolute truth”, she immediately changed the tune to “Judyth is a liar and a thief,” a meme that has been repeated constantly over the last two decades by her acolytes, most of them unaware of what caused the rift in the first place, after over two years of working together harmoniously.
That was the beginning of a vendetta by everyone associated with Mary or the MFF, then as now, as well as many others in the so-called “JFK Assassination Research Community,” as if it were ever constituted as being a cohesive, unified entity. It was not, of course, and the divisiveness within the “community” related to Ms. Baker was baked into the framework from the day that happened.
Ironically, it was Mary’s own recklessness—in not destroying those records decades earlier—that resulted in those same files now exposing the fallacy of her vaunted legacy as a careful and brilliant researcher/curator.
In the larger context, this might be considered the ultimate “anomaly” to be added to the growing list.
Mary’s Largest Personal Secret
The following documents, dating back to 1955, were those Mary Ferrell wanted to be destroyed (but forgot to do so herself for nearly 50 years, until it was too late).
These training exercises further explain the address label on the manila folder from LaSalle (below), that contained the lesson materials. The date stamp on that envelope, though difficult to read at normal focus, becomes clearer when magnified and appears to be “DEC3055,” the middle numbers being the most unclear.
I have obviously added the note in yellow background, as well as the “blow-up” of the postage label, and the black line leading to the interpretation of the date of postage: December 30, 1955. Those revisions were added to the image as received from Judyth, and simply covered over areas of the folder that were blank.
The date and the appearance of her new name in the contents, and the mailing label of the envelope, suggests that she had just begun using her newly married name, thus a clue that her marriage to Mr. Dean probably occurred sometime in mid or late 1955.
Note how the lower sheets show her name and Memphis address, written cursively, but the one at the top has both her old name and new one, “Mrs. Mary Dean” of Hollansburg, Ohio, all in script identical to the previous documents.
Mary Confides Her Problems with “Buck”— Not to a Priest . . . to Harold Weisberg
Mary had struggled with her alcoholic husband throughout both of their marriages, though that would never be known by anyone whose only source of documents was the MFF website. For three decades, from early 1970s to late-90s, she exchanged letters with fellow researcher Harold Weisberg. They not only wrote each other with regularity—albeit with some notable breaks—they also visited each other a number of times, where either Harold and his wife Lil, would visit Mary and Buck, or Mary would go to Frederick, Maryland to visit the Weisbergs when she had business trips to the Washington DC area.
On January 5, 1991 she wrote to her friend Harold in a much more formal manner than usual, obviously due to the stark circumstances of the troubling story about her husband’s continuing battle with alcoholism:
The description of Buck’s drunken state described in that 1991 letter was only one of many instances in which Mary shared that issue with Harold. One of the first was dated September 12, 1972:
And one of the last was this Post Script to a letter Mary wrote to Harold on June 27, 1995, although she omitted explaining what it was that required a daily reissuance of a drug prescription:
Buck Ferrell evidently had a number of demons to deal with, as reflected in an FBI memorandum issued shortly after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination which related to a comment Buck had made—essentially predicting MLK’s assassination in the weeks before it occurred (See HERE).
Within that document, Mary is quoted as having said “she hoped it [the shooter] wasn’t someone we know.”
Several other FBI documents within the same folder that possibly indicate that Buck had done other things that belied his racism, including having bought property in the Arkansas backwoods in case the “Negro problem” forced their extended families to leave Memphis. Another one from 1968 indicated that Buck had moved to Dallas “14 years ago” which would have meant he moved from Memphis in 1954, the same time Mary had divorced him and moved to Ohio. And it would also explain why Mary decided to move to Dallas (believed to have been in 1959), when she was ready to resume her first marriage and forget the second one.
Buck’s employment records indicate that he had great difficulty holding a job for any length of time, from several “insurance company” claims manager positions and at various automobile sales jobs (used autos generally, such as one at “Little Bucket Auto” as a “sales manager”) and another as president of a new dealership named Buckner Chrysler, which author Livingstone was told by “several sources” was financed by Carlos Marcello. Mary had once claimed that Buck had co-founded Downtown Lincoln Mercury with Gordon McLendon, a wealthy owner of a number of radio broadcasting stations who had also been well connected to many Dallas political leaders, police and researchers like Gary Mack. Later, according to Harrison Livingstone’s account, Mary denied ever being involved with McLendon, whom many suspect had insider’s knowledge of the JFK assassination. 
Mary’s Eldest Son, Lawrence “Larry” Ferrell
Of their four children, only son Larry’s name would come up with any regularity in her early letters to Harold Weisberg. But it was always about some latest troubling situation he had been involved with, as noted in the preceding excerpted paragraph dated 9/12/72 in reference to the automobile accident that nearly killed him. That 1972 accident was apparently caused by an elderly woman who had run a red light and hit his car broadside. But by then he had had drug problems far worse than most teenagers and early 20s young adults who limited their usage to occasional experimenting with marijuana.
It was also during this period of time that Larry’s wife decided she wanted a divorce, which news caused him to go “berserk” according to another one of Mary’s letters: “Most of the time since then he has been completely irrational.”
Larry’s troubles began at a young age, possibly related to the abusive behavior of his father towards his mother and the stress he experienced seeing that, but they escalated over time until he completely disappeared in 1986 with little in the way of records left behind. There was not only no obituary for him, there is no public record of his passing.
Once as a teenager he had expressed a desire to become a priest, which came as a shock to Mary, as she described it in a letter to be examined next, and with it, how Mary and Buck finally remarried after going through the divorce four years earlier. A number of other events, to be reviewed below, created a tumultuous period for him in late adolescence at age 14-15, often a boy’s most difficult years in finding himself, and simply “growing up.”
Nearly all public records of his life and death have disappeared from existence. It seemed, to some people who originally discovered this fact, that Mary wanted to erase everything related to her son Larry, as if to pretend that he never existed.
Other than the facts that are known through the gossip at the time—that he had become a drug dealer and that he had been sent a number of times to the Federal Prison in Seagoville, Texas, that the arrests included driving while intoxicated and a drug smuggling incident on the Mexican border—very little is known about his death because it was kept out of the newspapers or other public records, clearly a demonstration of the power Mary wielded with Dallas newspapers.
Even Larry’s gravesite, next to Buck’s and Mary’s, cannot be located on the website “Find a Grave” though his grave marker is next to theirs at Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park.
According to author Livingstone’s account, Mary Ferrell believed that Larry was murdered over a bad drug deal and that “[t]here were some thirteen criminal charges against him between 1973 and 1986 in Dallas, with five of them being felonies.” Livingstone, who had become “friends” with her (until about 1991-92 when that ended), even visiting her at her home and office, stated that one of the felonies involved an attack on Gordon Novel’s girlfriend, which ended after Larry had “popped her eye clean out of her head.”
A persistent rumor circulated about it though, which indicated that on November 8, 1986, at age 43, he was murdered in an alley in the back of Campisi’s Restaurant, related to a disputed drug deal, and that it was mob related. If true, it is a sad denouement for a boy who once dreamed of becoming a priest, but evidently lacked the faith, initiative and resolve to accomplish that goal.
As much as Mary Ferrell liked Campisi’s Restaurant and had been a “regular” there for many years, it is doubted by researchers who knew her closely that she ever returned after that night in 1986 and feel that, if she did, it was only to accommodate someone else’s wishes.
Harry Livingstone summed up the situation at the Ferrell house thusly: “Mary Ferrell was truly the Ma Barker of the assassination research community.”
Mary Lies About the Divorce 40 Years Later — to Her Dear Friend Harold Weisberg
In this March 30, 1993 letter Mary wrote to Harold Weisberg explaining that she had divorced Buck in “1956” (brushing aside the fact it was actually 1952-53), while omitting any mention of her short marriage to James Dean. This is one of many dozens of letters between them found in HIS collection — all missing from hers.
To increase the type size of this document, hold the cursor over it and right-click, then select “Open image in new tab” then go to the new tab, open it and press “Ctrl” and “+” key to enlarge type.
She would also remarry her first husband, “Buck” Ferrell, thereafter, pretending that she had never really divorced him, saying in one letter, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic” while separately admitting that she was actually an atheist. As she aged, she apparently reverted back to her religious upbringing and came to regret leaving Buck.
It is essential now to properly reframe the persona of Mary Ferrell, to correct the historical record and to develop a more accurate assessment of who she was and how she came to her much-vaunted position as the “Queen of the JFK Research Community:”
- Eighteen years have elapsed since Mary’s passing.
- Factual documents have survived the cleansing process at MFF, thanks to the efforts of her dear friend Harold Weisberg, who contemporaneously knew about many of her secrets (some of which she shared with him but obviously not all) and he apparently made a decision to preserve them in the interest of full transparency (or, alternatively, he merely neglected to destroy them). Those documents have been resting there—digitized also, for the last decade or two—clearly many people must have viewed them by now, though few have decided to examine them in depth, or context.
- Additional documents have been furnished by an anonymous researcher who has studied all facets of the assassination, and kept relevant records, for many years.
- Other documents were inadvertently discovered by Judyth Vary Baker that reveal much more about Mary Ferrell’s background which has been ignored by many due to the systemic gaslighting campaign against Judyth, as originally initiated by Mary Ferrell and conducted by officials of the MFF and others also willing to perpetuate myths.
- It is time for the release of all of the remaining secrets related to the 1960s reign of terror inflicted upon the world in the 1963 coup d’état, not just those still pending from the federal government.
Mary had obviously acted in a manner that contradicted the teachings of her church at a time when she considered herself to be an atheist. Her obituary, as noted above, made no mention of any of this, other than the point about the family having moved to Dallas in 1957, though it is unclear whether they had actually been “reunited” before 1959, as explained above.
These were secrets that were very embarrassing to Mary, and she wanted them to be kept hidden. It is an unfortunate dilemma for anyone attempting to flush out real truths to have to expose her personal conflictions, but that must be tempered with the facts that reveal her possible real role of performing as a “gatekeeper,” a point that several researchers have publicly averred, and according to the investigator working for Harrison Livingstone in the early 1990s (see HERE).
Unfortunately for her, Mary had waited too long to clean up her files, then, in 2002, having kept the secrets for 50 years, she must have realized that the “cat is out of the bag:” That she had divorced her husband Buck in 1952-53 then tried to keep it secret, along with her short marriage to James E. Dean and the records of her secret training for what appears to be a long-term covert operation that has been revealed by a plethora of anomalies and unexplained financial wizardry.
Austin Texas, 1972: Another Secret Mission for Mary
Another related subsequent assignment, probably negotiated through her handler Robert Chapman for the phantom employer, occurred when Mary moved herself away from Dallas, to Austin, Texas in 1972 to work on a secret project for over 16 months, purportedly (due to a scarcity of paper trails that exist) for then Governor Dolph Briscoe. Someone’s obvious attempt to bury all other correspondence related to this matter—and the complete absence of any documents about it in the MFF files—gives rise to the suspicions about the highly unusual secrecy of that mission.
Credible sources have asserted that Governor Briscoe’s office was merely a cover, that her assignment was actually about processing the most sensitive classified files bound for the new LBJ Presidential Library. If true, it suggests that her skills related to discretion and secrecy had become widely appreciated in certain quarters, such that her priorities were temporarily reordered to accommodate a much greater existential need.
The “secret assignment” given to Mary in 1972-73 implicitly meant her handlers had determined that her “manipulative – skullduggery” skills were so well honed and proven that she was uniquely capable of sorting and sanitizing the official record of the most criminally corrupt POTUS in U.S. History, then and now.
What other alternative might explain why she would confide some of the most embarrassing details of her personal life to her friend Harold Weisberg, but not the news that she had been selected to be given the “honor” of being in charge of reviewing Presidential papers? Such a paradox can only be explained by an assumption that she had been sworn to absolute secrecy about the real purpose of her assignment. In the middle of that mission, LBJ suddenly died, on January 22, 1973, reportedly of a heart attack (though rumors persisted then, and since, that there was more to it than that — even one which asserted that Lady Bird went shopping in Austin while Secret Service agents ensured that he would die before she returned).
The Austin project was so sensitive that Mary failed to inform her close friend Harold Weisberg that she was even going there. His files contain dozens of copies of their correspondence over nearly four decades, and during that time period (1972-73) he repeatedly asked why she was not responding to his letters. The letters from him are replete with comments such as “the reason for your silence . . . you’ve been silent for so long . . . still concerned about your silence . . . have I offended you?” throughout that period.
Judging by the infrequency of her letters, compared to the number of his during that period, she must have been so busy in Austin that she rarely returned home to Dallas to catch up on her correspondence (since she, evidently, never mailed a letter with an Austin postmark during that period).
Was it Divine Providence that Caused the Manila Envelope to Become Stuck Between Those Magazines — Or Merely Another Random Fly in the Cover-up Ointment?
Judyth had done nothing illegal in taking custody of the clearly abandoned materials, just as Mary had, inadvertently, allowed her to do (a point that should be obvious on its face: prima-facie, as the lawyers would say, due to the lack of due diligence on her part to make certain the files had been cleansed—which is quite a paradox, given her position).
The ethics of Judyth’s actions after the fact are debatable—albeit, only as it pertained to her presumed “loyalty” as a friend to Mary—but nothing that would be litigable in any event. At that point, however, the die was cast, the deed was done, Mary was furious, Judyth was shocked at Mary’s venomous reaction, and the relationship was broken forever. By then, Mary had gotten whatever information she wanted from Judyth and had no further need to pay for Judyth’s expenses, such as the new tires for her car she had previously covered, when she needed to learn as much as she could from Judyth. That need no longer existed—neither did Judyth’s presence.
And neither did Judyth have any obligation to return the items to Mary. Mary should have known by then about Judyth’s interest in gathering pieces of factual history, having lugged suitcases filled with old records around wherever she went. Mary had no excuse for not anticipating such a situation should any of these materials be found.
The irony of how Mary Ferrell—the purported “Queen” of JFK researchers with unmatched skills of document indexing, screening, preservation, censoring and sanitation—carelessly failed to have cleaned up her own files, is the epitome of the phrase “what goes around comes around.”
Judyth’s penchant for collecting old records is an intrinsic part of her legend. It was something her critics—despite the huge amount she has presented through the years—seem to never acknowledge, or even realize, given that many of the fiercest of them have, interestingly, not actually read her books, as noted in the next link. Many of the trolls who have “gaslighted” her for decades seem to acquire their “information” over an internet brimming with disinformation, leaps of logic and endless streams of inane drivel (See HERE for proof of that).
After nearly 50 years of systematic efforts by many of Mary’s present-day apologists to “gaslight” those who seek actual truths, interesting patterns do emerge. It is curious that their actions seem to be more compatible with what the government’s official policies mandate, rather than what pursuing truth to power demands.
The many current-day, incurious fans of Mary Ferrell who consider her a “hero” for her diligence in acquiring government documents at great personal cost and effort, ignore the fact that, when examined closely, many signs point to her having been placed into that unique position for the purpose of routinely receiving, monitoring and controlling the information (and disinformation) which researchers are allowed to access. In that context, arguably, she did not need to aggressively beat down doors to obtain the documents since the evidence suggests that they were being fed to her directly, without significant cost or effort on her part.
Mary’s larger role, which she performed magnificently, was related to becoming personally acquainted with researchers, reporters, authors and anyone else who could provide her “intelligence” about the latest new discoveries, events and planned books or essays; and into what general direction the emerging trends appeared to be moving. It appears, in retrospect, that she was acting as a traffic cop, monitoring all significant activity within her assigned venue. An interesting example of what she was especially good at was illustrated in the opening paragraphs of a letter to Harold regarding the then-breaking Watergate “caper,” in September 1972 (one of the few she managed to write to Weisberg during the period of her Austin assignment):
An Interesting Circle of Friends
Jeanne LeGon, previously an employee of Abraham Zapruder, had a daughter, Chrissa, before she married George DeMohrenschildt, which surprised Marina Oswald many decades later when that was revealed: “As much as we saw him and her, nothing was ever said about a daughter” (a personal memory of a statement Marina once made to an anonymous, highly credible source).
Mary’s close relationship with the DeMohrenschildts’ (in George’s case, up to his mysterious death in 1977), considering his well-known governmental ties, is still another “anomaly” to be added to the list begun above.
Another friend of both Jeanne and Mary was Olga Fehmer, the mother of Lyndon Johnson’s most trusted secretary, Marie Fehmer. Olga and Jeanne were both friends with Abraham Zapruder, from back in the 1950s when all of them worked for the ladies’ garment manufacturer called Nardis. After Johnson’s death, Marie went on to become a high-ranking CIA official, acknowledging the same to Jane Pauley on her Today show appearance there in 1989. As to the purpose of her assignment, there can be little doubt that it might have been related to the objective of ensuring the agency remains loyal to Johnson’s faux legacy, and the need to scrub out anything that might taint it with actual factual truths.
Jeanne DeMohrenschildt and Mary Ferrell had also become close friends with FBI analyst Farris Rookstool as well; the three of them would often socialize together. It is interesting to juxtapose that point with an observation made by Harry Livingston in his 1993 book Killing the Truth:
“Planned and deliberate operations of sophisticated mind control and propaganda techniques divided and conquered, making it impossible for any central provable concepts and evidence to get a fair hearing. The FBI office in Dallas was a source of those operations in place for more than thirty years.”
Having a super-friend like Rookstool to confide in, while being under his influence and personal suasion — along with George and Jeanne DeMohrenschildt and a number of the “Dallas Elite” — would certainly provide Mary the solid networking connections she needed to ensure her realm was well established: With the FBI through Rookstool and the “Intelligence Community” (CIA, DIA, ONI etc.) through DeMohrenschildt and the CIA’s special agent in Dallas, J. Walton Moore.
According to what Mary wrote (see letter below) when Jeanne died, it came as a surprise to everyone else that she had become so close to Rookstool that she willed everything she had to him, while leaving nothing to her daughter Chrissa. That caused Chrissa to sue Rookstool for what she apparently felt was an intrinsic personal ownership in her mother’s ring. (Rookstool has since parlayed his own involvement with his circle of friends into a franchise of sorts with everything anyone might want to know about his illustrious career, including his “Top Ten” Solved Cases).
Mary explains this further in the letter, from the knowledge she had apparently gained from her own granddaughter, Karen Sue Taylor, wife of George DeMohrenschildt’s grandson Gary Taylor, (who had previously been married to Georges’ daughter Alexandra):
Mary Moves From her Home of 40+ Years
Mary’s move from Holland Street to an apartment at an assisted living organization, Victory Towers, located at 5619 Belmont, apt. #109, in East Dallas, occurred before the sale and removal of the documents in 2002. The move to that facility required that she also rent extra space in a second apartment on the floor directly above her, for the storage of the cartons and books. When the deal was struck with Curme, a semi-truck with a 50 ft. trailer was brought in to load the boxes that were destined for the Boston area.
According to Judyth Baker, who was there watching the packing of the trailer, it was not climate-controlled and some of the papers in the shipment were so old and thin (carbon copies) it risked damage to them. But that did not seem to be a concern of the movers, who were not the kind who are usually chosen for rare documents. In Ms. Baker’s opinion, they were men who might have been hired right off the street to load boxes onto trucks, with no special training or guidance.
Also, according to Judyth, there were more boxes than the truck could accommodate, so the remainder were simply left behind, with no discernable attempt to arrange a later shipment. They remained in the storage space, along with the boxes tagged for Baylor University when Judyth’s sudden departure occurred, as we will examine next.
It was at that point that the relationship between Mary and Judyth was broken forever, as noted above. Judyth furnished her drawing, below, of Mary’s apartment. It does not show the adjoining suite occupied by her son Jimmy, who was performing as her personal assistant and caregiver, while also holding his job at Prego’s Restaurant.
Judyth stated that her living quarters there was kept in good order, not as cluttered as her office always was in the heady days of her 1970s-90s era on Holland Street. By this time, Mary was in very frail shape and not physically able to manage anything on the second floor. She relied on Robert Chapman or her son Jimmy, who worked at Prego’s Restaurant (then a Thursday night favorite of R. D. Matthews, a major domo of the Dallas Mob) to handle most chores.
Mary Ferrell’s Death and Funeral
Oliver Curme attended Mary’s funeral and shortly thereafter brokered the investment to Pixelworks, a company on which Curme still sits on the board of directors. (See page 3).
Among other people attending the funeral was Mary’s granddaughter, Karen Sue Taylor, whose husband Gary Taylor was the grandson of George DeMohrenschildt and his first wife. The married grandchildren of Mary and George apparently met each other at a young age—given that Mary, and George’s last wife, Jeanne, had become close friends. Another of their acquaintances, Marina Oswald Porter, had a daughter, June, who was very close in age to Gary Taylor.
After the funeral, one of Mary’s sons made a curious remark while outside on the deck of Mary’s daughter’s home. He had been standing alone on the deck when one of my sources, accompanied by a gentleman (who the source also previously knew) walked onto the deck and stood several feet away from Mr. Ferrell, who was leaning on the railing of the deck and gazing into the distance, suggesting he was not interested in conversing with strangers. At that point they were the only three people on the deck. The two friends began a general conversation with the usual “small talk” like the weather and such, then they began conversing about how well the funeral had gone, and how great it was that Mary had finally been able to sell her document collection to someone who would preserve it.
Then, after only 4 or 5 minutes being on the deck, as they began moving toward the door to go back into the house, Mr. Ferrell, having overheard their conversation, turned towards them and uttered the words “yes, and they got it all.” It was spoken like a “stream of conscience thought” meaning that it had been an instinctive reaction to what had already been on his mind, triggered by their comments. The source also stated that he appeared to be a bit angry, in body language, demeanor and the general tone of that comment. The unbiased source stated that memory with precision and clarity, giving it a high degree of credibility of being accurate.
In a telephone call with me on January 12, 2022, one of the two sons still alive at that time and had attended the funeral, stated that, while he remembered being there on the deck some 18 years earlier, he did not remember making any such comment; further, he stressed that he did not know Mr. Curme or practically anyone else who had attended the funeral and those at this gathering. He also stated that he had been away from Texas for many years, even outside the country for “ten or eleven” of those years, thus, having not known them, it was unlikely that he would have made such a comment. He also said that he was not close to his mother or her business affairs and that he was there merely because he felt he had to be.
Mr. Ferrell indicated generally that he felt that it was a “fair and square deal,” laughing a little as he said that he didn’t get much from his mother’s estate, while mentioning that he and his sister are close and talk to each other at least weekly.
It cannot be denied that Mary Ferrell did have “grit and determination” to find her way into what became a uniquely personal career path. Yet, in retrospect, it seems to be what some might call a “cut-out” role designed for someone pretrained to fill the position before it became open. We’ll never know for sure who might have recruited her for that, but there were probably people on the staff at LaSalle Extension University in Chicago who might have helped. Just as the CIA has favorite campuses to recruit people for high levels (Yale and Brown Universities chief among them) they undoubtedly have similar programs at others for lower levels, and in 1954, possibly even an “extension” college like LaSalle.
As the old saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding.” While we unwind the backstory of Mary Ferrell’s life, it will become clear to the rational and prudent observer that it was not mere serendipity that created that path.
There were many signs left behind that other forces were at work in the creation of her special role to document, index and curate every record, and copy of documents related to JFK’s assassination, while simultaneously becoming a hostess to many visitors, socializing with the Dallas elite and developing a network of intelligence gathering from people around the world.
And that was just in her spare time, while she worked full time as a secretary and mother of four teenagers and wife of a man who struggled daily to find equilibrium somewhere between barely sober and chronically drunk. All while both Mary and Buck drove late model luxury automobiles, dined in Highland Park’s finest restaurants, traveled at least once to Europe, and while Mary shopped only at high-end women’s clothing stores and artsy boutiques.
Enter Oliver Curme, Partner of Battery Ventures L.P., Boston, MA
The complete story of how Mary Ferrell became involved with Oliver Curme (he pronounces it as though it’s spelled “Kerm” in the video presented on page 4) to handle this project has never been told, due to the lack of “transparency” about the unusual nature of what that transaction was all about. There were plenty of rumors and speculation about it on the internet forums however, with some members calling for explanations which were never forthcoming, as though everyone connected with the foundation decided, or were instructed, to ignore such inquiries. Thus, the analysis below, without the benefit of background information from the MFF, has been cobbled together from various other records and witnesses to key events.
Mr. Curme appears to be a good exemplar of a successful venture capitalist, at least superficially indistinguishable from the many others who have similar backgrounds in this generally thriving industry. His own humble abode and large lot are pictured below (which for two years was rumored to have had a semi-trailer parked nearby, possibly on a corner of that secluded lot, or nearby, full of the materials purchased from Mary Ferrell, as they awaited processing). From his biographical entry in his corporation’s website, we have this background information:
“Ollie has made 28 investments, invested $155 million, realized (+value) $480 million, with an overall IRR of 41% and 7 IPOs. He has been a lead investor in many successful public companies including HNC Software (NASDAQ: HNCS), Infoseek (NASDAQ: SEEK), Parallan, and Pixelworks (NASDAQ: PXLW) as well as numerous privately held companies including Fingerhut Direct Marketing, Netezza, and OutlookSoft.”[Ollie] received his B.S. from Brown University and his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.”
(See Page 3 for further information from the cited source)
Why Would an Investment Banker Pay Millions for Mary Ferrell’s JFK Collection to Convert it to a Digital Platform?
Implicit to any discussion about what investment bankers (a.k.a. “venture capitalists) do, and the premise upon which that industry is based, is that a current business entity or a well-defined, detailed plan for the creation of one—together with a presumption that it will succeed financially—exists. That predicate becomes the basis upon which a case is made that a market need exists for whatever product or service is to be created. Investment bankers are generally known for their obsession with their work, and the prospect of a potential investment making them very wealthy in the process, after building and growing it, or selling it off and collecting a capital gains windfall. Big profits for assuming the risk of failure are what makes a venture capitalist’s fondest dreams.
How Investment Bankers “Create Wealth” — A Thumbnail Sketch
The concept behind investment banking boils down to how venture capitalists work with corporations to attract investors who are interested in future paybacks, either in the form of financial interest (e.g., dividends) or capital gains, or both. By definition, they operate in the “for profit” equity business arena, and if either of those kinds of profit cannot be reasonably expected, and statistically predicted through market research, there will be scant interest shown for the project by any investment banker, at least 99.9% of the time. The only realistic exception to that rule might entail the financial resources coming from an “off the usual grid” highly solvent source, not driven by the profit motive intrinsically at the core of the investment banking industry.
It is not an exaggeration to say that this is a fundamental axiom one might learn on the first or second day of a college level “Finance 101” course.
Charities or other “non-profit corporations” (e.g., like the Mary Ferrell Foundation [MFF] for example) are not the kind of entity that would usually attract an investment banker in what might be called “normal circumstances.” Such organizations are generally capitalized with private funding, either supplied by a philanthropic entity or a wealthy person looking for tax write-offs (e.g., the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which provides funds for movements or causes that they wish to promote).
The risks that are underwritten by investors are usually weighed closely to ensure their own solvency, to avoid losing their money, just as individuals do (or should do) when they buy stocks. Though venture capitalists have helped launch profoundly important new products and services, that is of course not a guaranteed outcome, and when “posers” succeed in attracting investors to finance major scams—after their frauds are eventually exposed, suddenly bankrupting the “enterprise,”—they stand to lose much, possibly everything they’ve invested. Anyone who doubts the reality of that statement should watch these two examples of what can only be called “Major Fraud” in that industry:
It is instructive to mention that, in 2021, at least two such major financial scams affecting this industry did crash, to the tune of $9 BILLION for “The Theranos Deception” (HERE), and $34 BILLION for the “Nikola Motors Fraud” (HERE). Those cases must have produced a large number of nightmares to all investment bankers around the world.
To say that these classic scams are “unbelievable” in scope and chutzpah is quite an understatement. Yet the fact that those numbers are so high illustrates the rarefied financial world in which investment bankers play: It is not dominated by “small businesses” any more than it is by non-profit organizations. A quick search on the internet (here, for example) may provide some background information about the role of investment bankers in guiding new enterprises, or assisting existing corporations interested in expanding their operations, to obtain sufficient capital to ensure a successful launch.
A short list of essential skills or aptitudes required of candidates for such a career in this industry might start with being wealthy in the first place, but also having great number-crunching and communication skills (oral and written), high intelligence and analytical capability, sales aptitude (extrovert personality) and the ability to work long hours in attracting clients (independent investors) and conducting the detailed market research required to close deals. 
Exceptions to Rules Always Exist, of Course
It is possible that in “special circumstances” there are other, more enigmatic, forces secretly working outside of the box who are determined to “make something happen” regardless of the traditional tenets pertaining to investment bankers and whatever other conventional rules and protocols might exist for the more ordinary projects.
It appears that, in the case of the MFF project, that is the only realistic explanation of what can be likened to getting a round peg to fit into a square hole: Someone apparently decided that a special device, custom-fit for the purpose would be necessary, hiding the real funding source behind a veil of secrecy designed to paper-over those details.
Is it possible that a governmental entity (precisely which one being unknown, of course), one which had previously backed Mary Ferrell both financially and through training, was also the source of financing both the acquisition and digitizing of those million-plus documents? The worthy purpose behind it, protecting the federal government’s interests—to ensure that the documents would be preserved and made even more accessible to the public through the internet—would naturally be of comfort to those relatively few people who had used the material, providing them the satisfaction that their interests would be met, thus quieting any significant objections from the beneficiaries.
A Peek into Mr. Curme’s Business World
Within their corporate webpage, Battery Ventures succinctly describes their business model thusly:
“We practice a collaborative, research-focused style of investing and regularly make early, growth and buyout investments in the same tech sector. We are now investing our 13th family of funds, capitalized at $2 billion, and have raised more than $9 billion since inception. Our core focus areas are: *Application Software * Infrastructure Software * Consumer * Industrial Tech
Nothing about that “growth and buyout” language, other than maybe the “tech sector” referenced, would seem to apply to the MFF acquisition. But it was the technical aspects of converting the million+ paper documents to an accessible internet platform, and the large investment in related costs, that became the basis of the need for the services of a financial guru, such as an investment banker, despite the noted “round peg / square hole” incongruity previously noted. The bridge across that divide, a very unique structural impediment, would obviously require a special “fixer” to design, finance and construct.
In a 2004 interview Mr. Curme did for The Sterling Report (here), he described many facets of the work conducted by venture capitalists and the essential nature of that business.
Oliver Curme: If I’m the only venture capitalist talking to a company and I have the opportunity to invest at any time, why should I invest now if I can wait six months and see how the company does? If I still have the opportunity to invest six months later I’m going to wait. So if you’re talking to just one venture capitalist and you’re expecting that venture capitalist to make an investment decision, you’re out of your mind. In the absence of competition, the investor will never be forced to make a decision. The analogy I always use is ‘successfully raising venture capital is like getting sheep to jump off a cliff’. You can lead the sheep up to the edge of the cliff and encourage that sheep to jump… but ultimately, the sheep will just kind of give you a dumb look and walk away. But if you can get a whole herd of sheep all galloping along, sort of following the leader, you can get the whole flack [sic] of sheep to jump off a cliff.
Angel Mehta: So that is your sense of venture investors in general…they’re like Lemmings?
Oliver Curme: They’re like sheep. They’re bigger than Lemmings, but I don’t know if they’re any smarter. [Laughing] It’s just not in a venture capitalists interest to invest in a company in the absence of competition. It will always be better to delay and see what happens. [Emphasis added by author].
With his own words throughout the interview, he touches on certain points which belie an intrinsic disconnect between key tenets of that industry versus what he stated to a dozen of Mary Ferrell’s most trusted associates in the 2002 meeting noted above (and to be examined more closely below):
- According to Curme, “[i]n the absence of competition, the investor will never be forced to make a decision,” yet nothing was said by either Mary Ferrell or Mr. Curme about any other investment bankers being involved as competitors for the chance to “win” over the MFF’s business model. And, based upon that point—assuming therefore that no other “venture capitalists” were competing with him—then why was he willing to proceed at full speed to close the deal, when “it will always be better to delay and see what happens?”
- In another section of the interview, he states the following general “rule of thumb” about the industry: “It takes often a year of chasing a company down before you can make an investment and then on average five years between the investment and the return. It’s a very long-term-oriented-type of business and you have to be extremely patient because there are very few investments that go straight to the moon. Most companies go up and go down and react to the changing conditions and it can be extremely frustrating but all you’ve got to do hang in there and try to keep an even keel.”
Everything about that statement concerning a typical investor deal—compared to his MFF contract—is conflicted: The MFF contract was quickly made; there were no others competing for the business; the anticipated pay-back period would inherently be much greater than the “average” five years for such projects, it took two years of paper sorting/processing alone; and, most importantly, this was definitely not the kind of investment that anyone might think had the slightest chance of going “straight to the moon.”
A more appropriate metaphor than “straight to the moon” might have been to question “whether it would ever get off the ground.”
In layman’s terms, a venture capitalist would want to know how much revenue might be expected to be generated from the expected market for this product and service, The first question that any layman would expect a prudent investment banker to know would be what most people generally refer to as the “ROI” (Return on Investment) could be expected for such a “property.” The comparable term (as modified for the special factors used by investment banks) is “IRR” (Internal Rate of Return) and venture investors generally seek a “30% gross internal rate of return (IRR) on their successful investments, according to the National Venture Capital Association; further, the average holding period of a VC investment is eight years.
So far, the MFF “property” has been held for 20 years now and the “IRR” it generates is near zero:
Guess What the Actual ROI for the MFF Project was in 2019–a typical year? Would You Believe .0015% — without salaries for anyone?
Thanks to the researcher John J. Kirsch, who pestered the MFF for years (See HERE) to release the government-required tax forms for non-profit organizations, the forms were finally made available to researchers. Mr. Kirsch seemed to drop out of sight in 2016-17 so apparently, he missed out on seeing them when they were released in 2020.
Background of Mary Ferrell’s April 2002 “Board Meeting”
In the April, 2002 meeting with Mary and some of her closest confidants, Mr. Curme first made a few remarks, including one that affirmed that the payment was to be partly paid initially, with deferred payments that would be paid out over 13 years, provided she lived that long (implicitly meaning that payments would immediately cease upon her death, with any further payments due to revert back to himself, not to her estate).
Judyth Baker was not privy to the information provided at the meeting, however, in the background, she said that Mary was worried about what might happen to her remaining estate if she should pass away “sooner than expected.” Judyth advised her to write a will giving everything to her favorite charity, “Poor Clares’ Monastery” in Memphis (which she had helped to fund for several years), if she should die in the first year, 90% the next year and so forth, as “insurance” against such contingencies. She never heard back about that point from Mary before abruptly leaving, at Mary’s request. In any event, Mary apparently decided to maximize her own immediate self-interest by conceding to waive provisions for her heirs.
Judyth did know, from having spent over two years with Mary, at her invitation, that “Mary had visited Curme several times. She described his mansion to me and how she loved the art he had. He invited her there and initiated their friendship.” She also said that it appeared to her they had known each other many years. We will never know for sure the details of their purported friendship, but it does become obvious that there were underlying ties that bound them into their joint mission that were not visible from the surface.
It was anything but a spontaneous joint effort based upon his self-interest, or the true market worth of her collection of index cards and old government documents.
“I don’t know anything about the JFK assassination” — Oliver Curme
As he portrayed the secretive transaction to purchase Mary’s collection at the 2002 meeting with Mary and her closest friends, it was just another business deal to him. As noted above, the comment about not knowing anything about JFK’s assassination (implicitly admitting “and I don’t wish to know, either”), left the group stunned into silence.
In advance of that meeting, he had asked the members of his new “Mary Ferrell Foundation [MFF] Board of Directors” and Mary herself to provide an outline of their thoughts to help the new entity set the direction for its future. This provided the group a sense of urgency and resolve, a “clarion call” for all of them to praise this major acquisition, while tacitly acknowledging his gracious magnanimousness.
In his talk, Ollie began by stating the “Conference Objective”: “To determine the most promising hypotheses for who killed JKF (sic.), and to rank order the research projects required to advance or contradict those hypotheses.” Thusly did he set the mark.
Then came the “Get Set”: And he then set the “Ground Rules”:
- “Focus on the plot, and not on the cover-up except to the extent the cover-up sheds light on the plot.
- “Participation in the cover-up does not imply foreknowledge.
- “Be concise when speaking.
- “Be respectful of everyone.
- “Robert will moderate and I’ll help.”
And then he gave the group his “Apology”: “I am new to this entire field and even if I worked the rest of my life, I would never understand a tenth of what you all know about this event. Forgive me for all my ignorant comments; I’m a newbie.” (See his entire two-page document HERE).
Mary prepared a very well-developed 3-page document outlining her current thinking, which obviously set that future direction, one that, apparently, still remains the theme there. The very first item on her list reads:
1. It seems likely to me that JFK was murdered by members of one or two anti-Castro Cuban groups under direct control of the CIA. The assassination was carried out with the tacit approval—likely the instigation of key figures of considerable rank in the CIA.
(See HERE for the entire three-page document)
Put into proper context, here we have a multi-millionaire venture capitalist with many successful corporate launches—all put together with expectations of great profits—suddenly eager to become the “savior” of Mary Ferrell’s legendary document repository. This despite the fact that there was no discernable possibility of making a dime for his trouble; and a person who, amazingly, declared to all that he had absolutely no interest in JFK’s assassination, thus, extending the point logically, to never having any interest in whether it ever is actually solved, probably because many folks frankly don’t care: “What difference does it make now?” they say.
What then, was his motive for doing all of this, what some might call a “shell game”? Unpacking everything we have gathered, we have found more secrets, shrouded in anomalies, mysteries, and dead ends—our own little “wilderness of mirrors?”
Let’s begin by looking at the original balance sheet for MFF, for the year 2001:
The above balance sheet was from the original 2001 IRS form, apparently reflecting a total investment by Mr. Crume of approximately $2.5 million, based upon the valuation of total assets held by the MFF entity. The balances would change in the following years, evidently as expenses incurred for processing the documents reduced liquid holdings while capital investment would increase. The interest-free loans to David Lifton would increase as well, from $30,000 to $165,000, still being reported as an asset 20+ years later as though they still expect it to be paid off eventually. The valuation of the documents themselves remained very static through future years. That word “STATIC” pretty much sums up the nature of this entity.
In a serious financial audit, the auditors might risk having their lives put at risk, due to a rare morbidity classified as “dying by laughter.”
The potential market for accessing Mary Ferrell’s collection consists primarily of clientele from around the world, mostly aging researchers and authors willing to pay the nominal membership fees being charged for the privilege of accessing those documents—on the very narrow subject of the 1960s assassinations, much of which is accessible elsewhere. And many who do use the service never actually join, they merely confine their services to the free portion, where it can be used for up to three searches per day with no limitation of time for reading the material once it is accessed.
What Mary Ferrell was actually paid “upfront” is only the beginning of the very expensive project of digitizing the records. It does not take a financial genius to realize that the “start-up” expenses of packing and loading tons of materials into a semi-trailer truck, transporting them 1,800 miles to Massachusetts, then—over nearly a two-year period during which neither the present handling nor the future delivery plans were ever revealed—enabling someone(s) having highly developed special knowledge of the documents to complete whatever “screening” process might have occurred, well before the digitation process was begun.
Such a task was probably essential to determine what records had, or had not, been previously cleared by Mary or Robert Chapman that would need “special” treatment for such possible actions as redacting names, possibly censoring or deleting documents entirely if deemed necessary by the actual client.
What is the reason that the MFF non-profit organization is still doing exactly what Hoover started and Deep State Intelligence (CIA, DIA, FBI, NSA, etc. etc.) continued, for decades?
How can their interests correlate, or be consonant, with those of actual truth-seeking researchers of the mysteries related to JFK’s murder? It seems to be a stunning disconnect, at a level much greater than being merely just another strangely incongruous anomaly, given that within its stated mission, as the official government form requires, they claim that they are all about “promoting truth and transparency” — how does their continued actual documented malicious conduct square with that reality?
Unpacking / Sorting / Digitizing Circumscribed Documents for Future Investigators
Given everything we know about how these records had previously been handled—including how much of it was fabricated (e.g., the numerous reports of changed testimony of witnesses) or destroyed (e.g., the complete destruction of Secret Service documents for the entire period leading up to the assassination)—we can be assured that “past is still prologue”.
Returning to the point about the expenses of converting paper documents to on-line instant retrieval, there was the preparation and logistical work to process the digitation of each individual page such that it is sorted, labeled and stored for retrieval, then prepared for “housing”—both the paper documents as well as the digital reproductions such that they are safe, secure and retrievable for many years into the future. It is these processes and procedures which undoubtedly gave Mr. Curme (and/or possibly his mystery-clients) some concern since that might have been the most difficult expense to quantify and realistically estimate.
Nothing about any of the financial underpinnings of the deal was revealed to the invited guests at the 2002 gala. Mary did show the attendees the check which had been received ($2 million) to set up her account and explained to the group that full payment would only be made if and when she lived to be age 92. She did not reveal how much she had already received or expected to receive monthly or annually. Judyth Baker’s understanding was that she had received $1.2 million; it is possible that some of it might have been directed to payment for her apartment at the assisted living facility.
Mary’s happiness with the deal, as expressed that evening to her most intimate friends, was quite apparent to the anonymous source, and presumably the others as well. But, for many attendees, the lack of transparency on the part of Curme, or anyone else from Pixelworks, resulted in a feeling of general confusion and apprehension about what was happening to Mary Ferrell’s collection.
The vacuum of information led to rumors growing like topsy during the months immediately after the transaction, including assertions that manipulations of Pixelworks stock might have had something to do with the source of the capitalization of MFF. While nothing like that was ever proven, clearly the stock price during this period was very volatile, followed by many years of stability—at a very low price range—to be examined next.
As shown in the 2001 IRS filing for MFF, Oliver Curme funded (HERE), in the first of two installments, over $1.5 million through the gift of 60,000 shares @ $25.26/share-presumably his average cost/share, since that very week the stock was selling in a range of $80 (highest) and the low was $54. Even the lowest price in that week’s range was over twice as much as accounted for by the stated value.
In 2002 he gifted it another 60,000 shares for an additional $348,000, equaling $5.80/share, when its market price was in the $20-30 range. Unexplained is the obvious question of “what happened to the difference,” since the values put into the balance sheet do not comport with the actual market prices at those points in time.
Note also the fact that at the time of the April 2002 meeting referenced above, the stock price had just tumbled by 76% from the year before, from a range of $120-140 to $30 on March 30, then back to $107 three months later (June 29). It then dropped, on October 22, 2001, to a price of $31.00, rebounded again in the next few days, hit $75 and two days later it closed over $100, before precipitously falling again to the $30 range. For the next four years the volatility lessened and eventually the stock price leveled off to a sharply reduced range that continued for many years at the $2 – $6 level, once hitting an all-time low of 37 cents per share (on 3/2/2009:
Pixelworks Stock Prices 2000-2021
None of this “proves” that there was any intentional stock pricing manipulation going on, however the extreme fluctuation in stock prices during the same period as the funding for the MFF capitalization was being assembled does raise questions, given that the valuations reported on the financial documents are also at variance with the reported stock prices throughout this period.
All of this financial data, with the attendant questions of what Oliver Curme expected to gain from this project if not a (clearly impossible) financial gain—and, given his rather proud non-interest in understanding the JFK assassination—leads one to suspect there were other forces at work in the background, using his position to create a cover story to accomplish a “mission.”
And all of that seems to be the only realistic explanation for why a man of his background would dump $2,500,000 into a non-profit enterprise running on a shoestring budget and no ordinary “payback” on the horizon, all of it without a trace of another possible motive.
As we close this brief look into the financial record of Oliver Curme’s company the answer to the question of what motivated him to do what he did still remains, although it is less elusive: It can be conclusively presumed that it had nothing to do with any possible “profit motive,” which is ordinarily precisely what drives Curme’s core business. There is no indication either that he had a history of philanthropic activity other than what might be considered normal for a man of his socio-economic position.
Moreover, we may safely conclude that it was something directly opposite of that — one resembling a bottomless pit, a metaphor that seems to fit what he evidently bargained for. The methods were right off the standard covert ops playbook — semi-transparent assistance from well-funded Washington-based entities, all famous for routinely putting billions of dollars into similar holes.
Was Mary Connected to the CIA?
In 2000, documents originally obtained by ex-CIA official Robert Crowley were released, taking the agency by surprise (See HERE). Those documents published the names of all CIA operatives and “persons considered to be sources for the CIA” as of 1996. Mary Ferrell’s name was prominent among the 2, 619 total “sources.”
One of my confidential sources furnished email correspondence that were exchanged from themselves to Mary, asking about how her name and address appeared on that list and her response to them, dated December 10, 2000:
“Re: Crowley Files . . . Dear XXXXXX, Thank you for sending the Crowley Files. I have never heard of them. It seems to be merely a copy of the AFIO Membership Directory, (Association of Former Intelligence Officers), an organization started by David Atlee Phillips and Gordon McLendon years ago. In the early 90s I was buying books from a man in one of the New England states whose first name was Dan, but I can’t remember more than that at the present time. But the name of his book store was Cloak and Dagger. He could get any book regardless of which country it had been published in. He wrote to me after a year or so and said that he was a retired CIA officer. He made it plain that he had not been an agent but a statistical worker. He told me that membership was open to anyone who believed in the objectives of the organization. I have never been quite sure what their objectives are. He said they published monthly articles that were along the things that I bought. If you had been in any branch of United States intelligence, ONI, DIA, CIA, FBI, etc., you joined as an active member. If you were just an interested citizen, you joined as an associate member. I joined as an associate member and have been extremely pleased with the material I have received from them. I am also appraised of the ex-CIA officers who die, and when and where they died. These I put into my database. Many of those who attend Lancer are members of the AFIO. Robert Chapman and Nancy Worth are members. I have never attended any of their meetings but Nancy attends quite a few of them. She said they have the most interesting speakers in the world. At one meeting in Washington, she sat at the table with Richard Helms and Ted Shackley. I did notice that they think I’m dead. I just hope they keep thinking that. Again, thank you for sending me that. <s> Mary
One must put their mind into a surreal, bureaucratic / intelligence-centered mystic netherworld mode to appreciate the richness of Mary’s written words: The very thought of sharing a place at the dinner table with Richard Helms and Ted Shackley, as the group listened to speakers who were “the most interesting in the world,” to understand and appreciate the level of hubris about which she marveled.
Harrison Livingstone Turns on Mary and Harold — Joins the Elite Society of Dallas for Clues
Harrison “Harry” Livingstone in later years (1991+) became one of the most irascible, cantankerous and generally irritable persons one might ever meet. Except anywhere, other than the “JFK Research Community,” which is populated by numerous people who share those same traits. One must honestly ask themselves, “how can he be considered any more cantankerous than so many other contenders, many of whom should properly be ranked as high, or higher, on that list. For example, the following excerpt from a June 28, 1972 letter to Mary Ferrell shows what Harold Weisberg had to say about no fewer than eight others, much of it from simple jealousy of their wealth relative to his own:
Regardless of his reputation for rudeness and belligerence, Harry Livingstone must be given credit for identifying the many anomalies and paradoxical chasms in Mary Ferrell’s legend. Only rarely have these issues been seriously reviewed by any other researchers, and even then, usually in a perfunctory manner that left more questions than answers.
Harrison Livingstone’s eleven page critique in Killing the Truth (1993) stands alone in that short line, as the only one to put the Legend of Mary Ferrell, and the people around her, into starker relief and fuller context.
In Chapter 17, “The Source” of his tome, he explained how he had become too involved with many people—clearly Mary Ferrell and Harold Weisberg among them—who were:
“. . . covering themselves with the mantle of ‘researchers’ and ‘critics’ worked for the highest bidder or labored to draw a fog over the evidence in the case. Only when I made a public split with them did the real researchers come out of the woodwork where they had been hiding. And the real witnesses. And the real investigation. There were actors posing as witnesses, actors playing researchers, and actors playing investigators. The whole thing had been a show.
“There had been a shadow investigation in the years following the murder. Three former FBI agents conducted it, employing a network of other agents and security operatives. Some were employed by the big companies that had an interest in seeing John Kennedy dead: General Dynamics, Bell Helicopters, Hunt Oil, Clint Murchison’s empire, and Brown & Root at the top of it.
“I tapped into this network of aging, gracious, kindly southern gentlemen. Soon I was staying at the most exclusive hotels in Dallas and lunching at the Petroleum Club, the Adolphus, the Top of the Hill, and the Grill at the Anatole . . . With a police officer at my side, I met with a gentleman at his home in an exclusive, gated section of the city. His house had been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and relied on glass and soaring constructs, light and foliage, with an inner courtyard in a Spanish motif. The house contained illuminated aquariums filled with every sort of exotic fish. This was a man who was cultured and artistic, who abhorred so much of what Texas stood for—a rough-and-ready bravado, violence, and corruption. In this house I began to learn what really had happened. (Emphasis added by author).
“I have to give him a name, so we’ll call my source George Healey. For those readers who are puzzled, I have never made up evidence in my life, and this story is not made up. Healy is real, but he knows he is in danger for telling this story. The wealthiest and most powerful people in the city are perfectly capable of hiring “contractors” to mess with someone who reveals their more nefarious activities . . . “Dallas was the absolute perfect place for the assassination,” he told me. Healey had the core of the story, and only two people were left alive who knew the story. No one had it all. “It was not designed that way,” he said, repeating what several others familiar with the plot had to say.”
Harry Livingstone went on to describe what “Healey” revealed to him about the core of the story, “the broad outlines of the plot and the specifics.” And, Healey explained, the reason he chose to confide in him: “You are only one of two writers that are on the right track.”
Which begs the question: What did he mean by “the right track?” It might be explained by the following conclusions made by Livingstone in that 1993 tome, mostly within Chapter 18, “The Plot,” which outlined key points gained either from “George Healey” or the ex-FBI men hired to investigate what had really happened:
- “‘H. L. Hunt was not invited into the inner circle that did the dirty deed because they couldn’t trust him to keep his mouth shut.’ Hunt’s money, as is widely believed in Dallas, nevertheless found its way into the plotters’ hands for their purpose, and Hunt knew what it was for. He asked no questions.”
- “There was no preexisting organization. The Conspiracy was ad hoc.”
- “JFK was lured down to Texas.” [Once they knew he had taken the bait, his death was assured];
- “There had to be a mastermind, and Healey told me that ‘he was a very brilliant one'” [He was correct about that, of course: See HERE for the reasons that role could have only been filled by Lyndon B. Johnson].
- “Those involved all knew each other right down to the pilots and the shooters”
- “‘There’s so many crossties that keep the cement together. Marriages, business, joint ventures keep the cement together’ Healey told me.”
- “‘My seat-of-the-pants feelings is [sic] that LBJ was up to his ears in it . . . he threw his weight around, and he usually got his way,’ one of the former FBI men told me. ‘This was Lyndon’s last opportunity to become president . . . his swan song.’ And like a lot of others, he said that ‘Lady Bird was even more dangerous than Lyndon . . . Johnson had ducked when the shooting started. Some say he ducked before it started’.” [But Lady Bird didn’t know the details, because, as one of his sources explained], “If she had known about it, she would have ducked along with Lyndon when the gunfire started. He didn’t tell her, hoping a stray bullet would kill the nagging old bitch.”
Finally, according to what Livingston had acquired from H. L. Hunt’s highest-level aide, former FBI agent Paul Rothermel, “Hunt was such a hick, so naive, so indiscreet that you couldn’t plot anything with him. No one would have been stupid enough to draw him in. He got worse as time went on. He was a danger to himself, and everyone around him. His money could have been used in the plot, sure.”
Harry explained further that the Dallas elite funded an effort to ensure there was no threat to the security of any of the conspirators, “so they blew off and even blew away snoops. Most of the time it wasn’t necessary to kill someone when they could simply make the person out as crazy.” Rothermel — deeply invested into the heart of the Dallas elite — averred that “the assassination was too cleverly done, with too many safeguards for anybody ever to solve it.” [Ibid.]
I believe Harry Livingstone’s story was the truth, and not just because he said so.
He had purposely set out to ingratiate himself into the highest circles of Dallas society to find out for himself what the “Zeitgeist” was among the city’s elite leadership during the post-assassination period, in the shadow of its national-scale humiliation which was then (1980-95) at its zenith. Their major achievement during that period was the creation and grand opening of the Sixth Floor Museum in 1989 and the recruitment of Gary Mack, a supposed “conspiracist” who managed to confuse everyone as to his real beliefs, to eventually run it.
The Dallas Charter Committee, composed of fifty to sixty of the city’s social elite, was in control of the city’s strategy to overcome its tainted past, according to Livingstone:
“Its right hand were the thirteen men of the Crime Commission, an arm of District Attorney Henry Wade that was dedicated to keeping outside crime out, or so we are given to believe. The Charter Committee rubber-stamped the decisions of the Crime Commission. ‘Dallas was wide open, kind of like Galveston. Whorehouses, gambling joints, Dixie Mafia. When Henry Wade got in power, he said, ‘The Mob is not going to control this city! They cleaned Dallas up” . . . “Concentrate on the Crime Commission,” one native told me, “if you want to get some leads on who killed John Kennedy.”
The urgency to save whatever could be salvaged of the city’s reputation was a well-known “secret” throughout the 1970-90s as I personally learned from numerous business trips I made into Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio in that era. I encountered it multiple times, especially in Dallas, where the locals’ tension about the issue was always just below the surface whenever the area called “Dealey Plaza” might pop up, sometimes from me, for my own entertainment. It was similar to the “mass paranoia” effect I experienced on a trip to Munich, Germany in the early 90s, when I ventured to ask a hostess about whether Hitler’s book Mein Kampf was generally available for sale: Just a vapid look and startled stare was her response to that verboten subject, and it explains why she suddenly became uncomfortable around me, since I was, honestly, not previously aware of how that subject was still being avoided there, fifty years after the fact.
Of all the researchers who were active in that period, I believe that Harry Livingstone uniquely had the combination of courage, cojones and chutzpah to do what he did. He was, as numerous letters in Weisberg’s collection attest, an audacious iconoclast of the first order, unintimidated by any of his peers — as attendees of the 1992 ASK Conference would agree, where he peppered certain of the presenters with aggressively-asked questions — much to Mary’s, and Harold’s, consternation.
It was nearly always a topic of their correspondence during that period (1991-1993) because they knew that both of them were going to be attacked within his book, especially Mary (and Robert Groden and David Lifton, among many others). In fact, though she was scheduled to attend a conference in Washington the following year she did not show up, and furnished no explanation for why, although it was obvious to many who had read Harry’s book.
In his zeal to get at the truth of JFK’s assassination, Livingstone stepped on a lot of toes and crushed more than a few egos with his iron-clad resolve to present “a shocking case against certain well known assassination researchers for fraud and misrepresentation that has aided the cover-up” and “details the actual nature of the conspiracy that killed President Kennedy and names those who orchestrated it” (the quotations come from inside the book’s cover flaps).
To examine the point in a bit more detail, among the many examples of clashes he had with Harold Weisberg, much of it was due to Weisberg’s intransigence over what Livingstone had long believed was clear: the fact that there had been numerous examples of photographic and film alteration, including the Zapruder film and the autopsy photographs. Livingstone was one of the earliest major researchers and authors to recognize the full dimension of that brazenness, which has shifted over the decades. It was considered too “radical” a generation ago by many researchers (Weisberg being only one of many) but by now appears to have become the most widely accepted position among researchers, as if by default since there is nothing clear and factual to convincingly and conclusively rebut the well-established point (in my own opinion).
Harold Weisberg, despite accomplishing so much in other respects, stubbornly resisted that notion, among a number of other conflicting points of view with Harry. Indeed, it was arguably Weisberg’s own stubbornness on that and other similar points that was the real cause of their explosive disagreements, not to mention his own personality quirks, which paralleled Harry’s, truth be told.
Within the linked material above, the September 1995 edition of Jerry Rose’s The Fourth Decade newsletter contains Livingstone’s essay on “Mind Control in the JFK Case” (pp. 7-15) where he attempted to describe the then-current status quo of JFK assassination research:
“Researchers and critics of the Warren Report are in disarray, betrayed by their former leaders, tied in knots by conflicting evidence, overwhelmed in the media by Doublespeak and a tremendous onslaught of stories about Lee Harvey Oswald having committed the crime alone. Sincere truth seekers have too many choices of theory and evidence to make sense out of it anymore, and there is no clear leadership getting through to enough people to clarify what the facts really are. This has come to pass because planned and deliberate operations of sophisticated mind control and propaganda techniques divided and conquered, making it impossible for any central provable concepts and evidence to get a fair hearing. The FBI office in Dallas was a source of those operations in place for more than thirty years. We all know what one of their offices did to Martin Luther King, and they did it to the Kennedy case, not to speak of others. I have to add that I don’t mean this as a blanket condemnation of the FBI, which can be otherwise admired for [sic–despite?] all its mistakes.”
What Livingstone is really saying here is that certain people named elsewhere (including Ferrell and Weisberg) were part of the “leadership” that used the “divide and conquer” method to employ “sophisticated mind control and propaganda techniques” to guide the public, and other researchers, away from the real perpetrators of JFK’s assassination. It seems, in broad and retrospective context, to now be so obvious on its face that it was all part of a masterfully orchestrated plot, nearly as well executed as the original “Big Event” itself.
Unfortunately for Harry, his attacks on Mary and Harold (et. al., a dozen or so altogether) nearly killed his book about “Killing the Truth.” It was widely panned in the “community” and the “Library Journal” (one of the sources librarians use to decide which books to buy), all of which ensured that the story he was trying so desperately to tell the world became lost in the kerfuffle that ensued. Expecting that the book would be flying off the shelves as a “blockbuster,” an original print run of 50,000 copies was made. Twenty-nine years later, new copies are still available at close to the original sticker price of $27.95, which is still another anomaly, suggesting its real value as an historical work sustains its place on the retail shelf despite its near demise.
Livingstone’s Vindicated Legend
I believe that Livingstone’s “George Healey” was actually Stanley Marcus, half-owner of Nieman-Marcus, the legendary Texas Luxury Department Store. There was a reason why Livingstone included the fact about who the architect of “Healey’s” home had been, even though he assigned the pseudonym. Because there are only two houses in Dallas that were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Marcus house was one of them—and the only one matching the rest of his description, including the “Spanish motif,” as seen in these photos. The owner of the other one, which did not match Livingstone’s description, died in 1972, thus could not have been “George Healey”, as Harry Livingstone’s account of his meetings with “Healey” occurred in the 1988-90s period. (Stanley Marcus died at age 96 on January 22, 2002).
Livingstone’s “indictment” of Mary Ferrell (et. al.), was the centerpiece of that book, or at least second only to his being the first researcher to find and interview Parkland Hospital nurse Diana Bowron, who had fled back to the UK. She told Harry, among other things, that “there was very little brain left. I had my hands inside his head, trying to clean it up so there wouldn’t be more messing of the coffin. I put cloth inside, and then removed it. The brain was almost gone.” How can anyone believe that there was enough brain matter left to dissect, never mind the 1500-gram specimen allegedly observed at Bethesda? She also verified that other photographic evidence had been tampered with (which must have put Weisberg in a real tither).
The factual information developed by Livingstone, practically hidden away for decades, is now imported into our own collection as “evidence” and that inexorably changes the battlefield arrangements of the “JFK Assassination Research Community.”
Final Thoughts on Mary Ferrell’s Conflictions, and her “True Story”
To an uninterested observer, the many conflictions in Mary Ferrell’s story might have seemed like serendipity at work. For anyone else, with even the slightest awareness of what occurred in her famed wheelhouse, it seemed that Mary Ferrell would have been the last person who might have been expected to run her long journey into assassination lore. Either way, it marked her entry into a new chapter of her life, the one that would bring her fame and a measure of “fortune” in a strange and inexplicably long-term legendary role which she supposedly financed all on her own while being saved at the end by a “White Knight” — a mysterious multi-millionaire ready to plunk down $2.5 million in spare cash.
In the prolonged aftermath of JFK’s assassination, the mystery surrounding Mary Ferrell’s legend was only one of many that were randomly unleashed, all forming an asymmetrical cloud of confusion over nearly every aspect of the assassination and its cover-up. Nearly six decades later, the whole of it, still in place, has become tattered and fragmented enough to expose many of the secrets that could not be contained. Mary’s personal secrets were the least of them, but their exposure now might help researchers understand how her role was not what it has been purported to be.
It was much more sinister than the contrived “appearances” and false perceptions now laid bare for all to see. The evidence previously assembled regarding the long-term gaslighting of one man, Robert “Tosh” Plumlee, must be considered one of very many others. If that be so, then what is left for researchers to examine without fear of contamination, a history embedded with serious questions about the honesty and integrity of those who created it. Now further compounded with numerous anomalies and unanswered questions regarding the purpose and entities behind the original design and its true original financing — as well as the 2002 refinancing and formation of her namesake foundation.
It now seems like a ship adrift and floundering, left with only its decade+ not-so-sparkling anymore website, complete with a seriously misleading mission statement.
For now, all of it is open to questions: How many “anomalies” were in the final tally? How many researchers were given bad information or no leads at all in their pursuit of real truths because of missing information or disinformation? How many honest and actual witnesses were subjected to long-term public ridicule and overt gaslighting as part of their character assassination programs? How much longer is the Mary Ferrell Foundation going to continue their insidious and damnable pursuit — not of “promoting truth and transparency” as their mission statement falsely indicates — but of what now becomes clear, and “transparently” obvious:
The only possible logically derived reason for anyone, or any entity, to oppose the promotion of truth and transparency, while falsely promoting itself as an advocate of said values, must be for a purpose having other, contrary and opposite, objectives.
Click on Page No. below to go to the additional material:
Page 2: ENDNOTES
Page 3: Mary Ferrell Foundation – Financials and IRS Documents
Page 4: Oliver Curme’s Video as Stand-up Comedian
Page 5: Mary Ferrell’s Presentation to 4/5/2002 Meeting
Page 6: Oliver Curme’s Presentation to 4/5/2002 Meeting
4 thoughts on “Mary Ferrell’s Enigmatic Past, And How Her Namesake Foundation Added Even More Enigmata to the Mix”
Well-done, sir. I wish to note that I only saw a 2002 MFF tax document, among the “Mary Dean”materials, that got Mary so mad at me. Certainly, had I stolen them as later claimed, why would I have asked Mary and Carol Ann about them? The 2002 tax document allowed me, in 2006, to use numbers included on it to find the MFF tax records in the public domain, which I then disseminated to the research community to show the connection between David Lifton and the MFF. That caused the MFF’s tax and business records to be removed to another state, I was told, where by law they could not be disclosed to the public. Please correct me if they are still in “Boston.” I also witnessed Mary destroy many index cards from her “earliest” notes which were hand-written, as well as two personal letters from Marina, who she said often visited her. Mary’s son, Jimmy, showed me a Christmas card
Marina had sent to him. To understand the great bulk of materials Mary gave to me, it filled the entire trunk of my car, including stacks of THE GUARDIAN. I was then struck by behind (have the police report) the same day and was hospitalized with a concussion: antifreeze in the trunk split open and spilled over some of the materials. After I got out of the hospital, before the car (which was totaled) was hauled off, my sister and my son rescued what was not ruined. Together, we found the “Mary Dean” records and tax documents in the stack of LIFE magazines. There was also a negative of Mary and Buck IN NEW ORLEANS, by a riverboat, and a letter written to Mary from Memphis by, apparently, a sister or cousin. So there were other odd items, too, in the stack of Life magazines. Mary was going to burn them, and in fact, a big city trash bin in the backyard had been set on fire by somebody when I was at her Holland address for the last time. Mary had also given me all her children’s daily (Catholic) Missals, and even several pairs of expensive shoes– she had dozens of pairs of Salvatore Ferragamos in her bedroom, worth thousands of dollars — stacked brand-new in rows in their original shoe-boxes by her closet. I was so naive and trusting of her. You have provided an accurate picture of The Dragon Lady. Thank you. –Judyth Vary Baker -Apr. 5, 2022-
Judith we spoke over the internet many years ago. You had just set up in Holland and feared for your life. Stiffed by the millionaire who set up his own murder solved website. I told you about the graduate doctors from Liverpool who were on the coach to Mexico with Lee. You said, ” Ask them, did he mention cancer to them”.
I believed you immediately. I know you are a true and Honest person.
Best wishes for your future.