JFK assassination shocker—The secret they kept under wraps for 24 yearsJACK RUBY IS STILL ALIVE
By Kenn Harrell
(This is an article from the tabloid Globe
, dated November 15, 1988)
JACK RUBY, who murdered President John F. Kennedy’s assassin 25 years ago, is still alive, says a woman who describes herself as a retired government agent.
Ruby, says the ex-agent, helped to plot the assassination and has lived for more than two decades under the protective custody of CIA agents also involved in the JFK shooting. The Dallas nightclub owner, she says, was given a new identity—and a new face.
“He’s not dead—but he wishes he was,” the ex-agent told GLOBE in a series of exclusive interviews conducted during three days of mysterious, cloak-and-dagger meetings in Georgia.
Ruby officially died of cancer in a prison hospital in 1967 while awaiting a new trial two years after his conviction and death sentence for murdering Lee Harvey Oswald was overturned by an appeals court on technical grounds.
But Vergie Lunsford, 77, a tiny, silver-haired widow, says she worked as a spy with Ruby for 13 years and knows where he is today—and it’s not in a cemetery.
Lunsford says Ruby confessed to her that he helped plan the assassination and stood next Lee Harvey Oswald in the window of the Texas Book Depository while Oswald fired one shot that struck the President in the head.
She says he told her: “I was there with him until the rifle was fired, and then left,” adding that two other agents on the grassy knoll also shot Kennedy.
Lunsford says she agreed to talk with GLOBE only after Jack Ruby okayed the meeting.
She arranged for me to be taken to a soundproof room to hear a tape recording of a conversation with Ruby in which the gravelly voiced mystery man directs her to “get the truth out.”Secret code
Lunsford says she has known Ruby for more than half a century. Under the name of Gene Dunbar, he was her contact from 1933 to 1945 when she was a secret government. “He was one of the best agents in the business,” she says.
“I believed he was dead until he contacted me, using our secret code word, in 1980.
“Jack Ruby has been brainwashed. He’s undergone numerous electric shock treatments in an attempt to make him forget the past. And now he is a tired, tortured man who wishes he had really died of cancer—instead of having to live as someone else for all these years.”
Lunsford says she and her late husband, Leon, also an agent, met the man who claimed to be Ruby at an inn in Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta.
“We were suspicious of this man,” she recalls. “His face had been redone.The real Ruby
“To my surprise, he grabbed a wrought-iron chair and swung it around backward and straddled it—exactly the way he always sat when we knew him. I looked at Leon, and he lifted his eyebrow. It was the first sign that this was Gene Dunbar, the real Jack Ruby.
“When he began to talk, the language, the swear words that he always used, spilled out. He carried a tape recorder and flicked it on—to play music like we did in the old days, to drown out the conversation. Also, his terrible table manners had not improved.” Lunsford, who has written an unpublished book about Ruby, says she first me him in Atlanta in 1933, when she was engaged to marry Leon.
She delivered a package to the man she would know as Gene Dunbar. He recruited her to work for a government intelligence agency, she says.
“I took the name of Annabel Mills,” she recounts. “My husband was already working under the name of Leo Leach. Gene and my husband carried guns. I never did. To my knowledge Leon never shot anyone. I only know of one man Gene shot—and that was Lee Harvey Oswald.”
In a few years, Lunsford and her husband became the parents of two children, and in 1945, she says, they retired from counter-intelligence work. “The next time I saw Gene Dunbar was on television, and when he shot down Lee Harvey Oswald,” she says. “I was shocked, but I knew that for whatever reason he was doing this, it was government work.
Like the rest of America, Lunsford believed the reports of Ruby’s death in 1967—until, in 1980, she received a bizarre letter without a return address.
“When I opened the letter, chills ran up and down my body,” she says. “The letter was typewritten. It read ‘Gen Dunbar, Jack Ruby. Real name Jacob Rubenstein.’ Then it gave a secret code word that we had used for 12 years.”
The letter was postmarked Chicago, so Lunsford ran a discreet ad in a Windy City newspaper. A few days later, her phone rang. “At first, I didn’t believe it was him,” she says. “I tested him on things that only he and I and Leon would know. His mind was fuzzy. He groped for answers. There were long pauses on the phone. He told me that he had been brainwashed, that he had undergone so much hell with electric shock treatment that it had taken all these years to remember who I was.”Face-to-face
Lunsford was still suspicious, so she traveled to Chicago to meet the man face-to-face.
“I was surprised when the address he gave me turned out to be a nursing home,’ she says. “An old man came down the hall calling ‘Virginia,’ the name he always called me when we were alone. I didn’t know the face, but I knew the walk. His hair was long and scraggly. He was wearing a shabby bathrobe and was in his stockinged feet. The only thing halfway recognizable about him was his nose.”
After the visit, Lunsford says Ruby telephoned her often, and in August, 1982, came to Georgia to visit her. “It was on top of Stone Mountain that he told me about the assassination,” she says.
He also described how fellow agents had whished him away from the prison hospital where he had been treated for stomach problems.Plastic surgery
“They took him to Mexico where he underwent plastic surgery and was given the identity he now uses,” she says. “The man buried in Ruby’s grave was an unknown prisoner who actually did die of cancer.
“Gene says he was kept under virtual house arrest for years. He went through a period of brain washing where his mind was altered so that he would forget details of the events.
“He vaguely remembers being taken to a Mexican prison where the brainwashing took place. At least he thinks it was a prison.
“For years, he says, he has lived with a blurry past. But in recent years, somehow, it was all coming back—piece by piece. He wanted to tell his story after his arrest, but they didn’t let him.
“He did get to talk to Washington correspondent Dorothy Kilgallen, but she died at here desk while writing the story. She was one of many who died in those early days after Kennedy was killed.”
(Sidebar to story:)The Ruby tape—an amazing real-life cloak-and-dagger drama
My meetings with self-described intelligence agent Vergie Lunsford were like something out of a spy movie. In one weekend, she moved between three “safe houses,” phoning me from each of them in turn.
“I never stay in the same place twice,” she said. “No one knows where I live. I can’t be traced.”
One meeting took place in a moving cable car on Georgia’s Stone Mountain, where we couldn’t be bugged. On another occasion we met in a crowd to drown out voices. To hear the recent taped conversation supposedly between Lunsford and Ruby, I was instructed to go to a remote country mansion and ushered into a soundproof basement room by a man who held his hand in his pocket the whole time I was there—as though he had a gun in it.
Frankly, I was nervous.
Lunsford explained the reason for Ruby’s breaking his silence was a story in GLOBE on September 6 this year.
In the story, Esther Ann Mash, Ruby’s ex-girlfriend, told of meetings between the two and identified Ruby as the sniper on the grassy knoll who fired the lethal bullet into JFK’s head.
The tape played to me in the soundproof room was chilling.
In it, the man said to be Ruby calls Esther Mash a foul name, says he was never in love with her and accuses her of lying about his shooting JFK.
“Esther can say anything she likes because I’m classified in the grave,” the voice says on the tape. Lunsford replied: “Well, she’ll be surprised to know you’re still alive.”
“How is she going to know?” says the gravelly voiced man. “She don’t know I’m alive. I can’t let anybody know that because I don’t want to be bust off, because that is what would happen to me for sure if it got out.
“That’s why they gave me plastic surgery, a new identity. No one knows what I look like today—except you.
“ I remember the first time I ever took a life,” the man adds. “I felt awfully bad the first time. But after a while, I got used to it. It’s either them, you or I. That’s the way it works.”
Lunsford: “Mash says you blew the president’s head off.”
The man replied: "You know where I was . You saw the photograph. You could see me up in the window right after the shot. That was not me on the grass knoll. (He laughs.) That’s … that’s the man I told to be there. I knew who he was from the photo they gave me the day before the assassination.”