Strange death of Dr. Mary Sherman in 1964
2005, Joan Mellen, 'A Farewell to Justice', pp. 49-54 (generally seems accurate and very well researched; praised by Oliver Stone):
A widow, [Sherman] came to New Orleans in 1952 from the University of Chicago where she joined the staff of the hospital created by Dr. Alton Ochsner, a longtime CIA asset. During the summer of 1963, Mr. and Mrs. Owen Hawes were [Juan] Valdes' next-door neighbors at the Patios. ...
At home with small children, Victoria now saw Lee Oswald frequently visiting Juan Valdes. She thought it odd because Juan was so much older. Together Lee and Juan came to her apartment to make the telephone calls to Miami and to Cuba. The walls were so thin that when they were in Juan's apartment, she could hear them talking in the bathroom, then flushing the toilet over and over, maybe twenty times in a row, and she thought they must be destroying paper. She was curious about them both, not least Juan who often returned from mysterious walks at four o'clock in the morning. Victoria Hawes noticed as well that Oswald and Valdes were both friendly with Dr. Mary Sherman, to whom Juan spoke in Spanish, an odd association, she thought, between a respectable orthopedist and pathologist and a gay Latino orchid grower whose name even seemed dubious. ...
In 1964, relations between Mary Sherman and Juan Valdes deteriorated. They fought over the garbage. It now seems apparent that Oswald the Customs agent and Valdes who worked at the Customs House, and at various import-export companies, obvious CIA proprietaries, had much in common. Oswald as a PSI, Potential Security Informant, would report violations of the Neutrality Act, which forbade self-styled raids into Cuba. The information he conveyed might well have come, in part, from Valdes, now working for a company called "All Transport, Inc.," located at Clay Shaw's International Trade Mart.
Although he lived at the other end of the semi-circular cloor, when smoke issued from Mary Sherman's apartment in the early morning hours of July 21st, it was Juan Valdes who telephoned, not [to] the fire department, but oddly, [to] the police. Mary Sherman's body was found with unspeakable wounds: on the right side of her body, flesh and bone had evaporated, so that her right rib cage and all of her right arm had disintegrated, leaving a stub, with the lung and other organs exposed to view. The massive conflagration necessary to cause her bones to evaporate would have converted the entire apartment complex to ashes had her injuries been inflicted at the Patios. yet the curtains hadn't ven caught on fire. The immediate cause of death was a knife wound to the heart. After Mary Sherman's death, her genitals had been mutilated carelessly through her clothes to make it seem that the crime was somehow sex related. There was no forced entry. Her wallet remained, untouched. Juan had been heard to come in at dawn by his downstairs neighbor, Helen Wattley.
"If I had to say now who did it, it would be Juan," homicide detective Frank Hayward said. No record remains of a search arrent of Valdes' apartment or of his being interviewed at the scene, although Hayward later revealed he had seen orchids everywhere, proving he had been inside Juan's apartment. Interviewed at police headquarters, Valdes was permitted to type his own statement. Then, although Hayward wanted to question him further, Lieutenant James Kruebbe ushered Valdes quickly out the door. Later, as a polygraph operator, Kruebbe would be instrumental in challenging the credibility of important Garrison witnesses. Hayward and his partner Robert Townsend continued to demand that Valdes submit to a polygraph, and Valdes agreed, making an appointment. He did not keep it. His lawyer had advised him to decline, Valdes explained. After a month, the police were ordered by higher authority to cease investigating the Mary Sherman murder entirely. Four months later, Townsend concluded: "they didn't want this thing solved."
Mary Sherman was known to do nighttime work... Circumstancial evidence suggests that [the U.S. Public Health Hospital] was Sherman's extracurricular destination and the scene of her bizarre injuries. .... At "the Lab," secret research--black ops--proceeded in the dead of night. Sherman worked frequently until midnight... "The Lab" was later quarantined and guarded by armed police, suggesting too that secret government research proceeded there. In 1999, Robert Buras discovered that the facility, now empty, was still guarded by armed police. The remains of heavy wiring suggest equipment of great force, like a nuclear particle accelerator through which cancer cells might be transferred from one animal to another, or toxic biological weapons development... Less likely was that Sherman was merely working on an anticancer vaccine. That CIA secret research was proceeding in New Orleans matches Dr. Alton Ochsner's status as CIA asset.
A blank vaccination card signed by "Dr. A. J. Hideel" was found in the possession of Oswald when he was arrested in Dallas; the card had been issued by the same hospital. The fact that Oswald hung around the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital places his summertime companion Ferrie there as well, even as Oswald's connection to Juan Valdes connects him to Mary Sherman.
Reporter David Chandler confirmed to New Orleans author Don Lee Keith that Mary Sherman was doing "research with cancer cases." A former FBI agent named Edgar Saux (Sachs), administrative director of the Ochsner Clinic, where Mary worked at her day job, said Sherman had special connections to obtain valuable drugs at her day job, said Sherman had special connections to obtain valuable drugs was writing a book on bone cancer. Could she have had some relationship to David Ferrie? her colleague Gordon McFarland was asked. 'Absolutely,' he said. Jim Garrison first thought that a fragmentary treatise on cancer research found at David Ferrie's apartment might have been authored by Mary Sherman, and the white mice at Ferrie's apartment might once have belonged to her. Mary Sherman was also a good friend of Ferrie's doctor, Martin Palmer.
Don Lee Keith, attempting to track down Juan Valdes in the late 1970s, interviewed a Mr. Gilley at Emery Ocean Freight, one place where Juan had worked. "You don't want anything to do with him!" Gilley said. Then, abruptly, he hung up. At All Transport, Inc., a Mr. Quartler remembered Valdes well. "I'll never forget him!" Quartler said. "Anything I could tell you about him, I wouldn't tell you over the phone." Quartler was told the reporter had something belonging to Valdes and wanted to give it to him in person. "Throw it away!" Quartler advised.
All references to Dr. Ochsner or his clinic were expunged from the police report of Mary Sherman's death, although he was her employer. Mr. and Mrs. Hawes were left with a sixty dollar unpaid telephone bill. Then an anonymous telephone call came, the voice sounding like Juan's: "You better move," the man said. They did. When Owen Hawes brought the telephone bill to the FBI during Jim Garrison's investigation, another call came: "Stop sticking your nose in business that doesn't concern you!" So they moved again.
On May 24, 1967, Jim garrison subpoenaed Juan Valdes before the Orleans Parish grand jury. The Times-Picayune described him as a "Latin playwright." Valdes was interviewed not by the grand jury, but by a once-and-future CIA operative who had joined Garrison's staff, William Martin. Two months later, on July 28th, Martin finally produced a memo of this interview. Of photographs he was shown, Valdes identified Clay Shaw, whom he had "seen in and around the International Trade Mart for many years." He had "never asociated with or been a member of any of the Cuban Revolutionary anti-Castro groups," he said. The subject of Oswald and the subject of Mary Sherman did not arise, according to this report. martin writes that Valdes was "fat," a "soft and mild-mannered person and would not appear to be the stocky powerful Cuban we are looking for." Garrison had instructed all his investigators to search for a thick-necked, pockmarked Cuba who had appeared on a WDSU television film of Oswald. ... martin was certainly an FBI informant as well. They day after Martin inerviewed Valdes, the FBI's Division Five (Intelligence) did a name check on Valdes for "All References (Subversive & Nonsubversive)." A laundry list of documents involving Valdes emerged from the Bureau files. One, a 105 file, belonging to "Lee harvey Oswald," and dated November 1963, was marked "destroyed."
By 1969, Juan Valdes had disappeared from the New Orleans City Directory. Years later, Edward Butler, head of INCA, the Information Council of the Americas, a right-wing anti-Communist propaganda group, met with Dr. Ochsner, who financed INCA. Butler revealed he knew Jean Valdes, even as Mary Sherman had been a financial contributor to INCA. And long after his official investigation had come to an halt, Garrison learned Mary Sherman had donated money to one of the anti-Castro training caps, a fact known to Life magazine. She had taken care of trainees there.
CIA reporter Hoke May told Don Lee Keith that Mary Sherman had indeed been a close friend of David Ferrie, a fact Jim Garrison was never able to prove. Max thought that Ferrie worked with Mary Sherman on a cure for cancer. ...But, rather than searching for a cure, Ferrie was more likely to be injecting mice with viruses to learn how to transfer cancer from one organism to another, in keeping with his schemes to assassinate Fidel Castro. ... David Ferrie's association with Mary Sherman is not as farfetched as it first appears. There had been thousands of mice in the U.S. Public Health Service building. Ferrie had possessed cages of white mice that some speculate had come to him from Mary Sherman.
Hoke May's source was Jack Martin, who knew that Ferrie and Mary Sherman had a close personal connection. Sherman had been initiated into involvement in clandestine Cuban activities by David Ferrie, Martin toldMay. Having heard rumors that David Ferrie either had killed Mary Sherman, or at least been partially responsible for her death, garrison told Playboy he wondered whether Sherman's death was connected to her association with David Ferrie. Without more evidence, he could go no further.
Forty years later, detective Frank Hayward remained too uneasy to discuss what he knew about the unsolved Mary Sherman case, even with a fellow retired police officer. Sherman's connections to Valdes, Valdes' connections to Oswald, Oswald's connections to Ferrie, Ferrie's connections to Clay Shaw, and Shaw's close connection to his fellow CIA operative, Dr. Alton Ochsner--all link the mystery of Mary Sherman's tragic death to the Kennedy assassination. It is true that there is no direct line of evidence between the murder of Mary Sherman--or Mary Sherman's nighttime research--and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
2005, Joan Mellen, 'A Farewell to Justice', p. 401: "p. 53, line 37: Mary Sherman contributed to INCA: See "A Matter of Motives." Keith quotes "an older physician" who remarks, "some of us didn't mind our names being connected with INCA ... including Dr. Mary Sherman. P. 53, line 39: Mary Sherman donated money to a training camp: Interview with Jim Olivier, October 6, 2000. Based on an interview between Garrison and Olivier. P. 53, line 40: Mary Sherman took care of the trainees: Marc St. Gill interview with Ricardo Davis. Diary of Richard N. Billings. AARC."