Dovey Roundtree

Dovey Roundtree

Dovey Johnson Roundtree was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1942 she joined the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) . After the war she became a student at the Howard Law School and graduated in 1950. At the time there were only 83 black women lawyers in the United States compared to 6,165 white women.

Roundtree established a law firm (Roundtree, Knox, Hunter & Parker) to serve the black community in Northwest Washington, D.C. In 1955 Roundtree was co-counsel with Julius Robertson and Frank D. Reeves in the Sarah Keys v the Carolina Coach Company. Roundtree won the case with the court ruling: “We find that the practice of defendant requiring that Negro interstate passengers occupy space or seats in specified portions of it’s buses, subject such passengers to unjust discrimination, and undue and unreasonable prejudice and disadvantage, in violation of section 216(d) of the act, and is therefor unlawful.” 

On 12th October, 1964, Mary Pinchot Meyer was shot dead as she walked along the Chesapeake and Ohio towpath in Georgetown. Henry Wiggins, a car mechanic, was working on a vehicle on Canal Road, when he heard a woman shout out: "Someone help me, someone help me". He then heard two gunshots. Wiggins ran to the edge of the wall overlooking the tow path. He later told police he saw "a black man in a light jacket, dark slacks, and a dark cap standing over the body of a white woman."

Mary appeared to be killed by a professional hitman. The first bullet was fired at the back of the head. She did not die straight away. A second shot was fired into the heart. The evidence suggests that in both cases, the gun was virtually touching Mary’s body when it was fired. As the FBI expert testified, the “dark haloes on the skin around both entry wounds suggested they had been fired at close-range, possibly point-blank”.

Soon afterwards Raymond Crump, a black man, was found not far from the murder scene. He was arrested and charged with Mary's murder. Police tests were unable to show that Crump had fired the .38 caliber Smith and Wesson gun. There were no trace of nitrates on his hands or clothes. Despite an extensive search of the area no gun could be found. This included a two day search of the tow path by 40 police officers. The police also drained the canal near to the murder scene. Police scuba divers searched the waters away from where Mary was killed. However, no gun could be found. Nor could the prosecution find any link between Crump and any Smith and Wesson gun.

Crump’s lawyer, Dovey Roundtree, was convinced of his innocence. A civil rights lawyer who defended him for free, she argued that Crump was so timid and feeble-minded that if he had been guilty he would have confessed everything while being interrogated by the police.

No newspaper reports identified the true work of her former husband, Cord Meyer. He was described as a government official or an author. A large number of journalists knew that Meyer had been married to a senior CIA officer. They also knew that she had been having an affair with John F. Kennedy. None of this was reported. In fact, the judge, ruled that the private life of Mary Meyer could not be mentioned in court.

The trial judge was Howard Corcoran. He was the brother of Tommy Corcoran, a close friend of Lyndon B. Johnson. Corcoran had been appointed by Johnson soon after he became president. It is generally acknowledged that Corcoran was under Johnson’s control. His decision to insist that Mary’s private life should not be mentioned in court was very important in disguising the possible motive for the murder. This information was also kept from Crump’s lawyer, Dovey Roundtree. Although she attempted to investigate Mary's background she found little information about her: "It was as if she existed only on the towpath on the day she was murdered."

During the trial Wiggins was unable to positively identify Raymond Crump as the man standing over Meyer's body. The prosecution was also handicapped by the fact that the police had been unable to find the murder weapon at the scene of the crime or to provide a credible motive for the crime. On 29th July, 1965, Crump was acquitted of murdering Mary Meyer. The case remains unsolved.

As well as a lawyer, Roundtree was also an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Dovey Johnson Roundtree retired in 1996.

In July 2000, the American Bar Association presented Roundtree with the coveted Margaret Brent Award which she donated to Howard University School of Law.

Primary Sources

(1) Peter Janney, Mary Pinchot Meyer (29th July, 2007)

The question has been asked who really was "William L. Mitchell," the alleged assassin of Mary Pinchot Meyer? What we know about Mitchell is that the day after the murder, he went to police in Washington and told them that he believed he passed Mary Meyer on the towpath as he was running east back to Key Bridge and she was walking west toward Fletcher's Boat House. Mitchell told police that a black man (who just happened to fit Ray Crump's description - the man who was charged with the murder) was following her about six hundred feet behind her. Mitchell told police that he ran the towpath regularly, worked at the Pentagon, and was a part time teacher at Georgetown University. Mitchell testified at Crump's murder trial in July, 1965, but his testimony was largely discredtied by Crump's attorney, Dovey Roundtree, Esq. who became a legend after getting Crump acquitted.

Mitchell was listed in the DoD directory in the fall of 1964 as "2nd Lt. William L. Mitchell." But then he disappears from the directory in the winter (1965). He shows up at the trial (July, 1965) and tells reporter Roberta Hornig that he is now a full time teacher in the mathmatics department at Georgetown University (GTU). The only problem with this is that there is no record of any "William L. Mitchell" ever teaching at Georgetown. Leo Damore thoroughly researched this in 1991-2. I again researched it a couple of years ago: there is no record of any "William L. Mitchell" teaching in ANY department at GTU.

Mitchell's place of residence was an apartment at "The Virginian" at 1500 Arlington Blvd. in Arlington, Va. Damore researched this address and found evidence that this was a known CIA safehouse. I followed this up two years ago and two former CIA personnel confirmed that it was indeed an agency safehouse, as were certain teaching appointments at GTU.

In my possession are several hours of tape recorded interviews between Damore and Crump's attorney Dovey Roundtree, Esq. (Award winning author Katie McCabe is now finishing the authorized biography of Dovey Rountree). Both Roundtree and Damore talk about Mitchell and how "convenient" his testimony was, and they both suspected his involvement. Mitchell never returned any of Roundtree's calls before the trial, and Damore could never locate him. So, as a last resort, Damore wrote Mitchell a letter and sent it to his last known address, the address given in the court transcript.

During the very late evening of 3/30/93, "Mitchell" contacted Damore by telephone. The call allegedley lasted more than two hours into the early morning of 3/31/93. At approximately 8:30am on the morning of 3/31/93, Damore called his attorney and good friend Jimmy Smith. Damore started to tell Jimmy about the call and Jimmy started taking notes - 5 pages of them. I have these notes and I have a recorded interview with Attorney Smith going over every detail of his notes.

"Mitchell" told Damore that he had been very impressed with his book Senatorial Priveledge (SP) and what he had uncovered. He wanted to tell Damore what happened but did not want to be the fall guy. "Mitchell" told Damore that he had several aliases, had been a former FBI agent, and then was recruited into the CIA. He had been assigned to surveillance of Mary Meyer right after the Warren Commission had been released. The order then came down to terminate her. There are a number of other details that I do not want share at this point because they are central to my book.

Damore told his attorney that he had taped the call, but I could never find the tapes. I have substaniated however from talking to two of Damore's closest friends that he became quite anxious subsequent to this call in the weeks following because he believed he was being watched.

I have not given up finding the real identity of "William L. Mitchell." But my main military researcher, Roger Charles who won the prestigious Peabody Award for his research with SY Hersch on Abu Ghraib for 60 Minutes II, says the area that Mitchell worked in at the Pentagon was surrounded by other CIA spooks. Charles feels that there is a good case to be make that "Mitchell" was CIA.

Ironically, the last job my father had at the CIA was "Director of Personnel" when he died in 1979.....

Now, let's look at another question: Why was Mary Meyer assassinated (not murdered) ? Mary was killed two weeks after the Warren Commission was released. She bought a paper back condensced version of the WC the day it was released and started reading it. She was furious. She knew it was a complete whitewash, and wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. She told friends that she was thinking seriously of coming out and revealing the truth of what she knew. Allegedley, she confronted Angleton and her former husband Cord about the absurdity of the WC. I think she knew at this point that certain people within the Agency had engineered the assassination. For the future of the CIA, she was definitely a big problem. And she was courageous enough to speak out.

Robert Morrow in his book First Hand Knowledge (Morrow, Robert. First Hand Knowledge. New York: S.P.I. Books, 1992. pp. 274-280) recounts his encounter with another CIA assett who tells him that Mary Meyer has told another CIA wife too many things and that she is trouble. Substaniating this event, I have an account from another CIA official who worked under Richard Helms in the Plans Directorate that they had asked another "helpful" CIA wife to talk to Mary and "settle her down...." in an effort to keep her quiet.

In David Talbott's new book Brothers, the author mentions Bill Walton and how Bobby Kennedy urged him to keep his trip to Russia right after the JFK assassination and take a message to Georgy Bolsholakov. Bobby knew Oswald was just the patsy, and eventually came to believe that the Agency was deeply involved in his brother's demise. Bill Walton was also an artist and a very good friend of Mary Meyer's. He would often escort her to White House social events, knowing full well the affair she was having with JFK. Without going into further details, let's just say that Walton talked to Mary after the assassination and tried to help with her grief.

Mary knew too much. As someone once said, "she knew where all the bodies were buried....." They had to get rid of her because she was too independent and could not be controlled. Think of the trouble she would have caused.