Jack Martin


Jack Martin lived in New Orleans. A private detective he was friendly with both Guy Banister and David Ferrie. On the afternoon of 22nd November, 1963, Martin and Banister went drinking together. On their return to Banister's office the two men got involved in a dispute about a missing file. Banister became so angry that he he drew his Magnum revolver and hit Martin with it several times. Martin was so badly injured that he had to be detained in the local Charily Hospital.

Over the next few days Martin told friends that Guy Banister and David Ferrie had been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. According to Martin, Ferrie was the getaway man whose job it was to fly the assassin out of Texas. He also claimed that Ferrie knew Lee Harvey Oswald from their days in the New Orleans Civil Air Patrol and had given him lessons on how to use a rifle with a telescopic sight.

On 25th November, Martin was contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He told them that he thought Ferrie had hypnotized Oswald into assassinating Kennedy. The FBI considered Martin's evidence unreliable and decided not to investigate Banister and Ferrie.

This information eventually reached Jim Garrison, the district attorney of New Orleans. He interviewed Martin about these accusations. Martin claimed that during the summer of 1963 Banister and David Ferrie were involved in something very sinister with a group of Cuban exiles.

Jim Garrison now became convinced that a group of right-wing activists, including Guy Banister, David Ferrie, Carlos Bringuier and Clay Shaw, were involved in a conspiracy with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to kill John F. Kennedy. Garrison claimed this was in retaliation for his attempts to obtain a peace settlement in both Cuba and Vietnam.

Delphine Roberts worked for Banister and later became his mistress. Roberts told Anthony Summers that during the summer of 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald worked for Banister. She said she was in the office when Banister suggested that Oswald should establish a local Fair Play for Cuba Committee. This story was supported by her daughter who met Oswald during this period.

Primary Sources

(1) Jack Martin was interviewed by FBI agents Regis Kennedy and Claude Schlager on 25th November, 1963.

Martin advised that in his occupation as a private investigator he has had occasion to develop considerable information about Ferrie and reported it to Richard E. Roby, Special Agent, Investigative Division, Office of Compliance and Security, Federal Aviation Agency, Washington, D.C., who must have a big file on Ferrie as they conducted a complete investigation of his activities in New Orleans several years ago. Martin advised that he called WWL-TV Station and furnished the station with background information about Ferrie, particularly his homosexual tendencies and the fact that he formerly operated the Civil Air Patrol. He also told them that Ferrie was an amateur hypnotist and that it was his idea that Ferrie may have hypnotized Lee Oswald and planted a posthypnotic suggestion that he kill the President.

Martin stated that has visited in the home of David Ferrie and he saw a group of photographs of various Civil Air Patrol cadet groups and in this group he is sure he saw several years ago a photograph of Lee Oswald as a member of one of the classes. He stated he did not recall the group that Oswald was in or any other details. In addition he stated that Ferrie conducted military type drills with rifles, fatigue clothes and helmet liners of the Civil Air Patrol Cadets and he recalled that Ferrie claimed to have taught these cadets how to shoot. Martin stated that he observed in Ferrie's home a number of foreign made firearms and it is his opinion that Ferrie could have taught Oswald how to purchase a foreign made firearm or possibly have purchased the gun that was shown on television. He advised that he saw similar type weapons at Ferrie's home when he visited there two years ago.

Martin advised that Ferrie discussed with him the charges of crime against nature which resulted in the his arrest by Jefferson Parish authorities and he recalled that Ferrie had told him that one of the "kids that was a witness against him" had moved to Mississippi from New Orleans and subsequently joined the United States Marine Corps. He heard on television that Oswald had been in the Marine Corps therefore he surmised that Oswald was that "kid," that he was a witness against Ferrie in the crime against nature charge that had joined the Marine Corps. Martin explained that it might have been the same individual or a very close coincidence.

(2) Aaron Kohn, head of New Orleans' Metropolitan Crime Commission, interviewed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (1976)

Jack Martin has always been a kind of harassing influence around here, somebody who wastes a lot of time, but you discover the best thing to do is to let him waste your time when he has things on his mind or else he wastes a lot more of your time when he gets drunk, waking you up in the middle of the night, threatening to kill you... After years of all kinds of wild allegations I threw him out of my office after he wound down to the point where he was 'turn-offable,' if there is any such thing.

(3) Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins (1988)

Martin was seated across my desk, his anxious gaze fixed on my every move. An on-again, off-again alcoholic, he was a thin man with deeply circled, worried eyes. Although he had been written off as a nonentity by many, I had long regarded him as a quick-witted and highly observant, if slightly disorganized, private detective. I had known him casually as far back as my days as an assistant D.A. and always had gotten along well with him.

"Jack," I said, "why don't you relax a little? You should know by now that you're among friends here."

He nodded nervously. He was seated in the roomy, upholstered chair across from my desk, but he looked most uncomfortable. I offered him some coffee. "You're not under cross-examination. Jack," I said "I just want a little help. Understand?"

"The police report says the reason Banister beat you was you had an argument over telephone bills." I pulled a copy of the police report from my desk drawer and shoved it across to him. "Here, take a look at it." He bent his head over and examined it as if he had never seen it before. I was sure that he had seen it many times, probably even had a copy at home.

After a moment he looked up without saying a word. His eyes told me he was deeply concerned about something.

"Now, does a simple argument over phone bills sound like a believable explanation to you?" I asked.

I waited. Then, dreamily, he shook his head slowly. "No," he admitted. "It involved more than that."

"How much more?"

Again I waited. He breathed deeply, sucking in the air.

"It started like it was going to be nothing at all," he began. "We'd both been drinking at Katzenjammer's - maybe more than usual, because of the assassination and all. Banister especially."

Pausing to chug down another cup of coffee, he made a real effort to collect his thoughts.

"Well, when we came back to the office. Banister started hitching about one thing and then another. He was in a mean mood. Then all of a sudden, he accused me of going through his private files. Now I never went through his private stuff ever - absolutely never. And that really ticked me off."

He hesitated for a long moment.

"Go on. Jack," I said gently.

"I guess I blew up," he continued, his face flushed with memories of injustice. "That's when I told him he'd better not talk to me like that. I told him I remembered the people I had seen around the office that summer. And that's when he hit me. Fast as a flash - pulled out that big Magnum and slammed me on the side of the head with it."

"Just because you remembered the people you'd seen at his office the past summer?" I asked.

"Yeah, that's all it took. He went bananas on that one."

"And just who were the people you'd seen in the office that summer?" I prodded softly.

"There was a bunch of them. It was like a circus. There were all those Cubans - coming in and going out, coming in and going out. They all looked alike to me."

Someone once commenced that whenever you really want to do something unseen, whenever you go to great pains to make sure that you are unobserved, there always turns out to be someone who was sitting under the oak tree. At the strange place that was Banister's office. Jack Martin, unnoticed in the middle of it all, was the one sitting under the oak tree.

He drew a long breath and then went on. "Then there were all these other characters. There was Dave Ferrie - you know about him by now."

"Was he there very often?" I asked.

"Often? He practically lived there."

Then Martin fell silent. I saw by the look in his eyes that he had come to a full stop.

I was not about to let my weekend visit to 544 Camp Street go down the drain that easily, so I gave him a hand. 'And Lee Harvey Oswald'" I added.

Jack swallowed, then nodded. It was almost as if he felt relief in finally having a burden lifted from him. "Yeah, he was there too. Sometimes he'd be meeting with Guy Banister with the door shut. Other times he'd be shooting the bull with Dave Ferrie. But he was there all right."

"What was Guy Banister doing while all this was going on?"

"Hell, he was the one running the circus."

"What about his private detective work?"

"Not much of that came in, but when it did, I handled it. That's why I was there."

"So, Jack," I said. "Just what was going on at Banister's office?"

He held up his hand. "I can't answer that," he said firmly. "I can't go into that stuff at all." Unexpectedly, he stood up. "I think I'd better go," he said.

"Hold on. Jack. What's the problem with our going into what was happening at Banister's office?"

"What's the problem?" he said. "What's the problem?" he repeated, as if in disbelief. "The problem is that we're going to bring the goddamned federal government down on our backs. Do I need to spell it out? I could get killed - and so could you."

He turned around. "I'd better go," he mumbled. He wobbled as he headed for the door.

(4) Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy (1980)

David Ferrie, aide in Carlos Marcello's apparatus, and anti-Castro activist, attracted brief official attention less than forty-eight hours after the assassination. Just hours before Ruby killed Oswald, and while Ferrie was still away on his peculiar marathon around Texas, a disaffected member of Banister's staff called New Orleans authorities to say he suspected Ferrie of involvement in the President's murder. This was Jack Martin, a Banister investigator, and he voiced suspicion that Ferrie had been in contact with Oswald. Within hours of the assassination, Martin had been involved in a dispute with Banister - a confrontation that may have occurred when Banister caught Martin trying to examine confidential files. For whatever reason, Banister injured Martin by hitting him on the head with a revolver butt. It was the day after this, following a visit to the hospital, that Martin raised the alarm over Ferrie. A hue and cry began, but Ferrie - as we have seen - was away in Texas. His associates, questioned in his absence, proved uninformative. One did, however, relate a strange incident.

He said that a lawyer had already been to Ferrie's home, promising to act on Ferrie's behalf as soon as he returned. The lawyer, said Ferrie's friend, had remarked that "when Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested by the Dallas police, Oswald was carrying a library card with Ferrie's name on it." The lawyer, G. Wray Gill, was one of Carlos Marcello's attorneys. Ferrie spoke with Gill by telephone, on the evening of the day Ruby killed Oswald, but did not immediately report to the authorities. When he finally did so next day, Ferrie turned up accompanied by the Marcello lawyer. He denied knowing anything about Oswald or the assassination. Martin, the informant who had started the chase after Ferrie, was dismissed as a crank with a grudge. He was indeed an odd character - a fact for which Ferrie may have been most grateful. As this story has shown, there was good reason to suspect him. A case in point is the reported concern by Marcello's lawyer about a library card.

Nothing in the record reflects the finding in Oswald's possession of any document relating to Ferrie. Yet the Secret Service did ask Ferrie whether he had loaned Oswald his library card. Ferrie denied it, but the statements of two witnesses suggest he was panic-stricken over just that. One of Oswald's former neighbors in New Orleans would later tell investigators that Ferrie visited her soon after his Texas trip - asking about Oswald's library card. Oswald's own landlady said the same - and added a disturbing factor. She recalled Ferrie turning up to ask about the card within hours of the assassination - before he set off on his trip. This bizarre episode, which may be of key significance, remains unexplained.