Friday, March 23, 2007

Did Woody Harrelson's Dad shoot JFK?

This account gives a rather full summary of one of the more intriguing tales to emerge from JFK assassination lore: Did Charles Harrelson, father of actor Woody Harrelson, take part in the murder of John F. Kennedy?

The elder Harrelson. who died last week, was convicted of killing Texas Judge John H. Wood in 1979. He committed the crime, it is said, on behalf of accused drug smuggler Jimmy Chagra.

Woody maintains that his father was innocent of that crime.

Before his arrest for the Wood murder, the elder Harrelson bragged about taking part in the JFK murder. Although he later retracted the claim, Chagra's brother has said at trial that Harrelson was hired based on his alleged participation in the JFK assassination. Moreover, a reporter named Chuck Cook has said that Harrelson once promised revelations about "November 1963" if he ever got out of prison. When arrested, Harrelson was found with the business card of a mobbed-up Jack Ruby associate.

Either the man was an attention seeker -- always possible -- or he really did take part in the most notorious American crime of the previous century.

For years, assassination buffs claimed that Charles Harrelson strongly resembled one of the three "mystery tramps" arrested after the assassination. In the mid-1990s, a researcher uncovered paperwork naming the three tramps, none of whom was Charles Harrelson. That documentation led me to consider that aspect of the mystery resolved. However,
...arresting officer David V. Harkness has said that more than three transients were pulled out of the boxcar on that day.
If that is true, then the so-called "tall tramp" may indeed be Charles Harrelson.

I have put together a photo comparison. Note especially the matching cowlicks and the odd "slope" to the mouth, which, in all three shots, does not parallel the eye level.

Come to your own conclusions.

(Incidentally, I have no idea if Oliver Stone discussed this matter with Woody Harrelson during the making of Natural Born Killers.)
Check the ear. Not the same guy; no way.
I heard a local radio interview once with Richard Belzer, the actor who wrote a conspiracy book. A caller phoned in to say that he was an old friend of Woody Harrelson, and Woody growing up had always accepted that his father was involved in Kennedy's assassination. For what it's worth.
sofla said:

Back in the documentary series 'The Men Who Shot Kennedy,' Harrelson was interviewed on this matter, and while denying it was himself in the photo, he said, 'he doesn't resemble me at all, not even close.' Later, upon being shown another group of these photos taken from varying perspectives, he admitted that in one of the photos, there was a rather strong resemblance, and he appeared nonplussed and semi-speachless after seeing that one.

About the ears. I've heard the whorls of the ear and its overall shape are pretty much distinct between people, and offer a reasonably accurate method of identification. But I've also heard that ears continue to grow with age. Obviously, the later picture of Harrelson is when he is quite older. Would his ears remain good markers of identity several decades later?
The ear shape is always a good indicator of identity. However, we don't have sufficient detail, in my opinion, to make a determination based on the ears in this case. You do have to keep in mind the the severe differences in lighting. The flat lighting of a police photograph differs markedly from the severe side lighting in the tramp photo.

All three shots are from the 1960s.
I was dismayed that the ear in the middle picture was inconclusive due to light. But, I did notice a rather deep and strong brow furrow in the center picture and the picture on the right that look rather similar. They appear at the same distance above the eyebrow, similar length, and both perhaps with a downward trend at the ends. I'd give it a positive. Some playing with the pictuers may help.

Miss P.
Yep. IMHO, same guy. Play with darkening the images and you can see about the distinct burrow, the shape of the end of the nose, plus other features.

Miss P.
I'd say the two on the sides are the same person, but the one in the middle is someone else.

In the middle photo the ear on the left side gives the impression of angling outward at the top and inward at the bottom, while in the two mug shots, you can see the ear on the right side is actually identical.

And the eyebrow of the guy in the middle doesn't give the impression of being the even arch of the others.

And he has more curve to the bridge of the nose.

But these guys do look so much alike I can imagine they're related.

What of Woody Harrelson's uncle?
I remember seeing the Man ["Tramp']in the photo interviewed by a news magazine several years ago. He led an ordinary life & was working part time in a small business after retiring. The three men [whose names are available]had left a shelter in Dallas & were possibly hopping a freight when temporarily held by the police. Checkout 'Case Closed" by Gerald Posner. Harrelson Senior also pointed out in the interview that the man was obviously older than him.
SM Connecticut
Speaking of the Kennedy assassination, Rolling Stone has an article about E. Howard Hunt's confessions to his son. It is available online.
Posner's book was exposed long ago as a pack of lies. He claimed to have interviewed people who never talked to him. If memory serves, that list included James Tague, Carlos Bringuer, and one of the autopsy surgeons -- shoot, I can't recall which one offhand.

The guy alleged to have been the "tall tramp" -- the one IDed by some as Charles Harrelson -- is a fellow named John Gedney. He may indeed be the guy. But since the arresting officer said that more than three were arrested, since Gedney himself has said that four were arrested, and since the paperwork (yes, I've seen it) does not specify "this is the tall guy in the photo," then there is still room for doubt. Gedney does not identify himself as the tall tramp in his 1992 FBI interview, which you can find here:

This page...

...argues that the three tramps in the photo were men other than Debney and his companions, based on the report of Deputy Sheriff Harold E.Elkins. I'm not really convinced by this argument. However, the analysis of a police radio broadcast from that day is pretty interesting. As you read what follows, keep in mind that Debney and his two friends were found inside a boxcar:

* * *

Patrolmen G.W. Temple and R. E. Vaughn:

We have information from the agent out here at T & P. Said that the train is stopped on the overpass, the triple overpass; that there was a person jumping at the ninth boxcar from the front engine. Said he is hiding in a car.


Is the train stopped there now?

[61] Temple and Vaughn:

I'm in behind the Texas School Depository. He had the train stopped. He said it is in the ninth car from the engine. Gondola-type car; said he is hunkered down inside.
sofla said....

I agree about Posner. One tip off was that the intelligence community made Yuri Nosenko available to him (iirc the name correctly). This man came to us claiming he'd been the KGB man in charge of paying attention to Oswald, and the FBI thought he was legit. James Jesus Angleton thought he was not, and the man was subjected to solitary confinement, semi-starvation, sensory deprivation, and perhaps overt torture, for a couple of years, to try to break him and his story. (The subject of a movie some years back). After his release, he was more or less put into a federal witness protection style incognito life, and yet Posner gets an interview with him. How, and why? Obviously, because of the PTB and what they wanted conveyed in Posner's book.
Is it not noteworthy how the photo on the right resembles Tom Hanks?

I wonder if someone who has a subscription to a genealogy website could try and find a connection between Hanks and Harrelson.
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