The Clay Shaw preliminary hearing testimony
Transcript of interview of Perry Russo by Jim Kemp
BY MR. KEMP:
Q: Mr. Russo, I wonder if you could tell us how did you come to know David Ferrie and how well did you know him?
A: Well, I came to know Dave Ferrie back in New Orleans through a friend of mine who was at that time a member of the Civil Air Patrol, and actually, what transpired was the friend was having difficulty at home, and after talking to his family, the family blamed it on the guy, Dave Ferrie, and they said that he was messing up the boy's mind, he was making him want to leave home, he was going to alienate him away from the family. So I said, 'Well,' I said, 'there was probably nothing they could do,' because I had played ball a long time and had been associated with Al -- that's the boy -- for some time, and what actually happened was that I intervened and got on Al's side and began to talk him away from Dave and finally he told Dave he didn't want to see him, didn't want to have anything to do with him. At that time, Dave made a personal threat against my life.
Q: Dave Ferrie did?
Q: Did you ever hear Ferrie make any threatening remarks about President Kennedy?
A: Well, during the -- '63, that was an extensive period of time that I knew him, in '62 and '63. Ferrie was obsessed more or less with the idea of Kennedy and what he was doing to Cuba or to Castro, and what Dave Ferrie was -- actually, at any instance coming over to the house. For one thing, I lived on Elysian Fields in New Orleans, and he would come over at night, you know, uncalled, anything like that, as was his habit. And we would talk, and generally speaking, I was a Republican. I was against Kennedy in general, you know, for policies. And that was the opening door and he could elaborate on the issue, and quite frequently, and this is especially during the summer, he talked in general terms, not specifically about Kennedy, about how easy it would be to assassinate a president of the United States because of the fact he was in public view so much and unprotected more or less and there was so many people and the availability of exit and the fact that he could drive a plane to get out of the country, and he used to just posingly -- jokingly pose the question that, you know, he and I could do it; you know, just in a joking way, he said it could be done. And that was all of the conversation during the summer.
Q: Did he ever make any more specific threat, like get him?
A: Well, right. Now, in late September or during October, the month right prior to the Kennedy assassination in November, Dave Ferrie had occasion to come over to the house on several instances and I went to his place, and just passing, and he made specific references that, in talking about Kennedy, he said, 'We will get him and it won't be very long.' Now, the last time I can remember him saying that was sometime in October, but he was obsessed with that idea.
Q: Did he ever mention Lee Harvey Oswald's name?
Q: No conversation at all about --
A: No. I had never heard of Oswald until the television of the assassination.
Q: Did Ferrie ever mention that he was involved in any way with any Cuban exile group or with any other Cuban group or with Castro?
A: Well, now, he never did mention he was in cahoots with any Cuban exile group. He talked in the vein that Castro was getting a bum deal from the papers and the press and the United States and from the United States Government itself by the economic sanctions or what have you, but primarily what he was doing here, and I had reference to the three Spanish-speaking guys that I would say possibly could have been from Cuba, but I am not sure of that, but what he primarily was saying was that -- or what he was doing, in fact, was he had a group of Civil Air Patrol boys and they were eighteen, nineteen, twenty, somewhere around there, and they were practicing jungle warfare. Now, to me, that was, you know -- anybody -- everybody is entitled to their own kick, but he said that they were practicing so later on in their life the individual boys could help complete the liberation of the South American countries and make them freedom loving and democracies and the rest of the terms he used.
Q: Was he the leader of this training group of jungle warfare?
A: He was, right.
Q: Did he ever mention Castro specifically? Did he ever say that he had ever met him?
A: No, he -- the only thing -- reference he had to Castro was the fact that he said that Castro was not as bad as what we pictured him here in the United States and he was a good thing in Cuba, and he had changed the Cuban economy, and although they were in bad years now, that someday they would be in good years because he was a good leader, more or less.
Q: Did you ever talk to any of the associates of Ferrie's other than the fellow that you knew? Did you meet anybody else?
A: He had a roommate on the street parallel with Louisiana Avenue, which I don't know the name of the street, which one it it [sic]. It may be Louisiana Avenue Parkway. I think it is Louisiana Avenue Parkway. But anyway, he had a roommate there. I talked to him on several occasions, but he was just sterile as regards to politics. It seemed to be. He'd talk about everything else. Now, he had three Spanish speaking friends who didn't say anything in English, in front of me, anyway, and they spoke in Spanish. They were dressed in green fatigues, battle fatigues, and one had a beard.
Now, on one instance, he and two of his friends, the Spanish-speaking fellows, came over to the house, and another instance, I went up to his house and dropped in and he had a Spanish-speaking fellow there in battle fatigue.
Q: You mentioned that there was something involving hypnotism with Ferrie, that he had practiced it?
A: Well, Ferrie had shown me that he had received, I think, a doctorate of Psychology, he had received a medical degree that he could practice, and three other degrees, which I don't recall at this moment, and in his house, his first house that I met him in, which was out near the Kenner area or the Metairie area, he had surgery equipment which was kept very clean and things like that, and I had occasion -- that he gave us a demonstration in hypnotism at that time.
Now, later on in talking to Al, Al Landry, Al told me that Ferrie had used hypnotism on the members of the Civil Air Patrol when he was making aggressions -- sexual aggressions on them.
Q: Let me ask you another question. Have you contacted the District Attorney, Jim Garrison? Have you talked with him about this?
A: No. I wrote the District Attorney Garrison a letter which was mailed Thursday. They should have gotten it Friday, and I expected a reply by Monday or Tuesday.
Q: You haven't heard from Garrison yet?
Q: Do you believe in your own mind that he might have had anything to do at all with the assassination in any way?
A: Well, see, that I don't know, and, you know, it would be just speculation.
Q: Dave Ferrie had the ability because of a keen mind and normal ability, say, in the sense of airplane driving. Now, whether or not he would have used that is another thing. Obviously, his level of approach to the United States politics, that he disagreed with Kennedy, and to a real obsessive point of view. Now, what he would have done because of that, I don't know. It's only conjecture that -- what I understand, that what the papers are saying and the news report on television is that Garrison and New Orleans claims that Ferrie was allegedly the pilot that would have driven the conspirator out of the country. Ferrie made the same remark that he could do that. This was during the summer in talking generally about assassinations of presidents and how it could be done. Now, whether he would have done that ultimately, I don't know, or whether he did do anything.
Q: Let me ask you one final question. Why have you never said anything about this before? Didn't it strike you that it might have some connection?
A: Well, when the assassination, of course, caught me by surprise and caught everyone else, I would guess, when it finally was over and the Warren Report -- Warren Commission was set up and they intended to go and examine all of the details and made claims that it was going to do everything extensively, and I left it to the professional. And they were supposed to come out with the verdict. Then they came out with the verdict that Oswald was the only man. So I forgot it. Then Garrison began his probe and subsequently got in the newspapers in New Orleans. And then later on on television everywhere and in that probe, he said that there was a conspiracy and he could prove it. It still didn't ring a bell anywhere along the line. I just -- it was far from me that I would, you know, ever have met a person that would have been a conspirator to kill the President of the United States.
Thereafter, when Dave Ferrie died, the name, I still doubted if it was the same guy. I just through it was another Dave Ferrie. But when I saw his picture in the paper, then I knew it was the same man and I had just as well say something to someone. And I wrote the District Attorney the next day, and he should have gotten it Friday. Now, I saw the pictures this week.
Q: You haven't talked with any federal agents or anybody from the Warren Commission about this?
A: No, no one has contacted me. Actually, the first time I made a remark about this was today and -- to anyone in public was today, and I don't know --