Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Web: Serial Killers, Mexico, Alabama, Larry Flynt, & JFK50

Both the mainstream and alternative media are currently abuzz with the JFK50 anniversary.  There is another story that has piqued my interest, however, and it has some curious synchronicities with other November events and my own life.

Judge orders stay in the execution of Joseph Paul Franklin.
Joseph Paul Franklin executed after delay.

Serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin was on death row in Missouri for a 1977 shooting outside of a Missouri synagogue.  Franklin was best known for his attempted assassination of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt in 1978 and the attempted assassination of civil rights activist and future Clinton associate Vernon Jordan Jr.  It is important to note that Franklin confessed to both crimes after having been convicted and sentenced to death.  Franklin confessed to over 20 murders in the late seventies, all committed in accordance with his White Supremacist views.  Franklin targeted African-Americans and Jews in his crimes, particularly focusing on interracial couples.  Born James Clayton Vaughn, Jr. in 1950, Franklin has the distinction of being one of the only serial killers from my home state, Alabama.

The stay in Franklin's execution was due a controversy surrounding what drugs may or may not be used for lethal injection, but his reprieve, brief though it may was, immediately reminded me of the pardoning of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.  Lucas, like Franklin, racked up most of his body count behind bars, confessing to a myriad of unsolved crimes across the nation.  Lucas confessed to over 600 murders, although this is disputed, and had the distinction of being the first person pardoned in the state of Texas since the re-institution of the death penalty in 1982 and the only person pardoned by governor George W. Bush.  The full, bizarre story of Lucas is best summarized by Dave McGowan in his essay "There's Something about Henry."

Lucas' most controversial claim was that he was a member of "The Hand of Death," a satanic paramilitary organization.  It was Lucas' assertion that this group operated out of Florida, Texas, and Mexico, and he was responsible for performing hits and child abductions for the group.  Lucas' Hand of Death has been dismissed by law enforcement as a fantasy, but it is important to note that it hasn't been disproven and, to date, no one has fully investigated his claims.  One specific claim made by Lucas was that he delivered the poison to Jonestown, Guyana for the mass suicide, the 35 anniversary of which was earlier this week.  This claim is most likely specious, since it is documented that Jonestown already had a large supply of drugs and that most of the deceased had not committed suicide but been murdered.

Was there really a "Hand of Death?"  Journalist Maury Terry uncovered the existence of a nation-wide organization responsible for the Son of Sam murders in his book, The Ultimate Evil.  Like the Hand of Death, this group was loosely satanic and performed hits related to organized crime.  The original edition of Ed Sanders' The Family connected the Manson slayings to organized crime and other, loosely satanic groups.  Communion author Whitley Streiber states in his book, The Secret School, that as a boy he was taken to a "secret school" in Mexico where he believes his later alien visitations were implanted in his memory.  Lastly, when Florida police detained two men on suspicion of child abduction (the "Finders" case), the children told the authorities they were on their way to "special school in Mexico." 

Oswald's trip to Mexico:
Lee Harvey Oswald traveled to Mexico via bus in September 1963.  This fact isn't disputed by anyone; however, almost every other detail of this trip is controversial.  "Lee Harvey Oswald" was seen in various places around Texas while he was alleged to have been on this trip and, as I've gone over in an earlier post, the "Lee Harvey Oswald" that visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies was clearly another person. 

The Mexico trip is an important event for many conspiracy researchers, and there are several well-written books solely on the topic.  It was also important enough for the FBI and the Warren Commission to spend considerable man hours finding out every detail they could.  I'd like to focus on a singular aspect of this event today.  Specifically the man seated next to Oswald on the bus from New Orleans to Mexico and referred to by other passengers as "the Englishman": John Howard Bowen aka Albert Osborne.

Much of the FBI's energies regarding the Mexico trip were devoted to finding and interviewing Mr. Bowen, an itinerant Baptist preacher who was eventually found in (again) Alabama.  The Birmingham field office first interviewed Bowen on 02/08/64, which is in CE2443, Vol XXV, Page 571.  Bowen gives what amounts to his life history and he makes three important statements: 1) that he could not positively identify the man seated next to him as Oswald, 2) that he was American by birth, and 3) that he knew "Albert Osborne from Canada" and agreed that he resembled the man.  Bowen claimed that Osborne, too, was an itinerant Baptist minister working in the same area, and mix-up about their identities was due to Bowen using Osborne's identification papers once after his were lost.  Bowen even offered up photos of "Osborne" that he (Bowen) had taken. 

All of these things were lies.

In CE2195, the Dallas field office summarizes the Bowen/Osborne enigma.  The same man had been interviewed by different offices under both names: as Osborne in January and as Bowen in February.  Each claimed not to be the other man but over the course of CE2195, the FBI lays out the evidence proving that Bowen and Osborne were one and the same.  Dozens of people were interviewed, all of whom either knew the man as Bowen or Osborne but the story was the same: he was a traveling preacher.

Through the Garrison investigation, much more was learned about Osborne.  His missionary work was actually a cover: Osborne was an espionage agent who had used a variety of aliases.  More specifically, Osborne ran an assassination school in Mexico.  Osborne, whose pro-Nazi views drew the attention of the FBI in 1942, was reportedly a career spy who offered training in clandestine murder to American and foreign intelligence agencies. 

The bizarre story of Osborne/Bowen sheds light on many things:
  1. The involvement of extreme right-wing/fascist elements in the Kennedy assassination.
  2. Intelligence agency involvement with Oswald prior to the assassination.
  3. The existence of a nefarious "secret school" in Mexico.
Franklin & Flynt
Fast-forward to 1977.  Joseph Paul Franklin, inspired by his white supramicist beliefs and what he believes to be "the will of God," begins his campaign of violence against minorities. On March 6, 1978, Larry Flynt was shot with a .44 caliber rifle in Lawrenceville, GA.  Franklin would later confess to the crime, stating he did it because Flynt's Hustler had recently printed a pictorial featuring an interracial couple. 

Is that really the case?  Was there another reason to shoot Larry Flynt?

One possible reason emerges from a little-known incident in Flynt's history; one not talked about much by his supporters, his detractors, or in The People vs Larry Flynt.  In December 1977, Flynt purchased the LA Free Press, an alternative California newspaper.  Flynt wasted little time putting his own spin on the magazine but perhaps not in the way you might think:

The entire issue -- published two weeks before he was shot --  was dedicated to evidence that the CIA was behind the JFK assassination.  On the back cover was Flynt's offer of $1 million dollars to anyone with new evidence in the case:
The ad and the offer would be reprinted in mainstream newspapers where Flynt had paid for advertisement. 
The close timing between Flynt's sudden interest in conspiracy theories and his shooting lead many to question the motives.  The observant among you will notice that Flynt was shot in Lawrenceville, GA, which was the home district of Congressman Larry McDonald, who was also head of the ultra-right wing John Birch Society.  As we've seen in previous posts, the JBS is near the top of the list of suspects in the Kennedy assassination and has intelligence ties. 
It bears noting that Flynt didn't learn his lesson.  Conspiracy researcher Mae Brussell contacted Flynt in 1983 to inform him of the links between the recently-deceased Larry McDonald and his shooting.  Flynt dove into Brussell's research with both feet and quickly started The Rebel, a conspiracy themed magazine featuring Brusell's seminal article, The Nazi Connections to the John F. Kennedy AssassinationSoon after the magazine's publication, Flynt found himself surrounded by a host of characters with intelligence ties: Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy, intelligence agent and possible "Second Oswald" Gordon Novel, and OSS-man and mercenary Mitchell WerBell II.  [Just to bring everything full circle: WerBell actually did run a well-known assassination school in southern Georgia and testified in the trial of the murder of producer Roy Radin, which Maury Terry alleges was committed by the same satanic cult behind the Son of Sam murders.]  This tumultuous period in Flynt's life ended with him in a sanitarium, fighting for the company he had built himself.  His interest in conspiracies ended after he re-emerged. 
It was while Flynt was tucked away in an asylum that Franklin confessed to shooting him.  Franklin was never a suspect, and the source of most of his 20+ body count is Franklin himself.  While in prison he has busied himself confessing to all sorts of crimes, most of which he was never charged with because he was unable to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the crime to convince authorities he was responsible. 
Franklin was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic by Dr. Dorothy Lewis, who felt that he was unfit to stand trial.  However little time has been spent investigating whether or not he actually committed these crimes or was simply taking the rap for someone else.  For what it's worth, Don Black stated on his white supremacist website this week that he had met Franklin in the late-sixties/early-seventies and that the white supremacist groups (the KKK, the Nazi Party) disassociated themselves with him then because of his erratic behavior.  Interesting tidbit: Black (also from Alabama) was part of Operation Red Dog, a plot to overthrow the island of Dominica and establish an all-white nation.  I shouldn't even have to say this at this point, but Operation Red Dog had ties to American intelligence agencies and the mercenary circles that Mitch WerBell ran in. 
Did Franklin really shoot Flynt?  It's possible.  The shooting was similar to the crimes Franklin was known to have committed.  His motive is questionable (Flynt had published interracial couples before) and the timing of Flynt's JFK ad is too curious to immediately dismiss, especially given future events. 
Franklin's reign of (alleged) terror ended in August, 1980.  Just a few short months later, another aimless drifter who was a member of the American Nazi Party would rise to national attention after shooting a public figure: John Hinckley, Jr.
More on that later.