Saturday, November 27, 2010

                                         Dr. Mary’s Monkey—Edward Haslam, an Insider’s Access
                                                                Part One   
                                                     John Delane Williams

In 1995, Edward Haslam self published the book, Mary, Ferrie, and the Monkey Virus. [1] Only 1,000 copies were produced. I’d heard about this fascinating, but inaccessible book. Finally, I was able to get a copy from Andy Winiarczyk (The Last Hurrah Bookshop). It was the most interesting and different of any work on the JFK assassination that I had seen. It addressed questions that I had never thought about before. When I lent this book out, I made a point of getting it back; getting another copy seemed remote. I was enthused that Haslam was in the process of updating and revisiting the issues that were brought up in his first book, as well as enlarging it with new information. That book is Dr. Mary’s Monkey. [2]. In Haslam’s own words, “You will find this book as much of a personal odyssey as a journalistic work. But that’s what happens when you investigate a murder only to discover an epidemic.” [3]

Edward Haslam, by virtue of his birth, had an insider’s access to activities in New Orleans, particularly to those issues relating to medical issues. His father, also Edward Haslam, was a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the Medical School of Tulane University in New Orleans. Hslam’s father would address questions that the young Edward would ask. As a 10 year old, he thought having a monkey for a pet would be fun. Dr. Haslam would explain about diseases and virus associated with monkeys. Then he told young Edward about research on monkeys at the Tulane medical school.

At the death of Dr. Mary Sherman, a colleague of the older Haslam, young Edward learned that Dr. Sherman’s right arm was missing, a point not made in the newspapers at the time. (July, 1964). In a high school classroom at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, in March 1969, the day after Clay Shaw was acquitted, Haslam’s friend and classmate, Nicky Chetta, son of Dr. Nicholas Chetta, coroner for Orleans Parish) said that Jim Garrison got a raw deal. Chetta continued that someone, either from the FBI or the CIA had stolen/or photographed Garrison’s files on the Shaw case; that all of Garrison’s requests for extradition had been denied, as well as requests to subpoena former federal officials. David Ferrie and Guy Banister had been training anti-Castro Cubans for assaults on Cuba near Lake Pontchartrain. It was Nicky’s father who ruled there was no foul play in Ferrie’s death. The day after Ferrie’s death, Bobby Kennedy called the Chetta residence to talk to Dr. Chetta. When Bobby identified himself, Nicky thought it was a prank, and hung up. Kennedy called back, and talked to Dr. Chetta about the autopsy.

Garrison thought that Ferrie was going about trying to figure out a way to use cancer as an assassination weapon against Castro. This discussion was in a 1969 high school classroom, when the general belief was that cancer was thought to be a spontaneous disease, and not caused by a virus. It was hard to believe all the things that Nicky was saying—but then a kid blurted out that there was a kid at the Tulane Medical School dying of the total collapse of his immune system. Then another student jumped up and said that they were developing a biological weapon! What if it escapes into the human population? As class ended, Haslam turned to Nicky and said, ”Well, the good news is that if there’s a bizarre global epidemic involving cancer and a monkey virus thirty years from now, at least we’ll know where it came from.” [4] (AIDs would not wait 30 years; the epidemic was identified in the early 1980’s.)  While Haslam was discussing the events in the classroom with his mother, she confided that research at Tulane did involve David Ferrie; the person working with him was Dr. Mary Sherman!

David Ferrie.
One important detail that was new to me was that Ferrie and Robert Morrow flew to Cuba on April 16, 1961. There, Morrow put in place equipment to collect radio signals from a mountaintop in the Camagueys. A reported large facility was under construction in a deep ravine in the Camagueys’ jungle.  The CIA suspected that the Soviets were moving missiles into Cuba. The intelligence they collected got back to Washington just in time for the Bay of Pigs debacle. A chapter is also devoted to a medical treatise on viral cancer which Jim Garrison assumed was written by Ferrie. Haslam’s analysis was that, while the treatise was in Ferrie’s possession, it was unlikely that it was written by Ferrie.

College Days
 In 1972, Haslam entered Tulane. At registration, he met a young woman, Barbara, who was working on her Ph.D. in anthropology. Haslam invited Barbara to a concert. Eventually, Haslam was invited to Barbara’s apartment at 3225 Louisiana Avenue Parkway. She had acquired the freshly painted apartment for far less than market value.. It seems she was the first tenant in years. She was told that many animals had been housed there. Another tenant said that terrible men had done terrible things to animals in what would become Barbara’s apartment. Barbara asked Haslam if he knew what the other tenant was talking about. Haslam said that he heard about a secret laboratory from the Garrison investigation. It was years later when Haslam realized he had been standing in the apartment that David Ferrie use to house animals for injecting cancer cells into mice.

Dr. Alton Ochsner
Dr. Alton Ochsner also merits a chapter in Haslam’s book. Ochsner was a well respected physician in New Orleans. He was a member of the Tulane University Medical School, and also ran the Ochsner Clinic. Upon Ochsner’s arrival in New Orleans, he unwittingly became involved in a controversy with Senator Huey Long (Long had Ochsner’s appointment at Charity Hospital terminated.). This would push Ochsner to the political enemies of Long, who were influential conservatives.

Ochsner later became President of the American Cancer Society, and had been one of the first to recognize that there was a direct link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. [5] Ochsner was one of the first to endorse polio vaccines. To illustrate his faith in the new vaccines, he personally inoculated two of his own grandchildren. The grandson died, and the granddaughter shortly developed polio. These events seemed to be related to events in his career: in 1959, Ochsner severed his relationship with the FBI so that he could begin a sensitive relationship with another government agency, presumably he CIA.  The CIA likely helped set up his new hospital as one of its 159 covert research centers.  It seems that an interest might have been in addressing problems with the monkeys used to culture the polio vaccine. Ochsner also was the surgeon of choice for many South American political leaders.

The Machine
It was while reading Chapter 11 on “The Machine” that I became aware that my ’97 edition was different than the original ’95 version. The 1997 edition had a chapter similar to the one in his current book (reviewed here) regarding Haslam’s investigation into the possibility of a linear accelerator being used in New Orleans. He did his research on the existence of the linear accelerator after the original work was published. While I was familiar with Haslam’s making new chapters available over the internet I wasn’t aware that his original book had quietly gone through revisions. This is possible with small runs of self-published books. This chapter is a focal chapter; it bears on the death of Dr. Mary Sherman, and the possibility that the underground laboratory was changing monkey viruses through mutation, using the linear accelerator, into deadly cancers, perhaps including the development of the AIDs virus.

This chapter is perhaps his most important contribution.
He began by hypothesizing that no normal fire could have completely burned the bones in Dr. Sherman’s right arm. Nor would electricity cause the damage done to her arm and right side and yet leave the rest of her body and clothing virtually unharmed. A linear accelerator might be able to accomplish this outcome, but at the time, there was no public knowledge that there had been a linear accelerator in New Orleans. Haslam interviewed the man who installed the accelerator in New Orleans, who couldn’t tell Haslam the location of the linear accelerator because of a secrecy agreement. Haslam concluded that the CIA must have funded the project, given the unusual payment process. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s most research institutes would pay for an accelerator over a several-year period, as they came with price tags of upwards of $10 million. The one in New Orleans was paid for with 5 or 6 checks paid by different companies and drawn from different banks, all within a week. Haslam eventually concluded that the linear accelerator was located in the Infectious Disease Laboratory of the U.S. Public Health Hospital in New Orleans.

The Witness
On the eve of Haslam’s publication of Mary, Ferrie, and the Monkey Virus, a fellow writer informed him, “You have everything except a witness.” Five years later, 60 Minutes called him with information that they had a woman who told them she had worked in a laboratory that Haslam had described. It was 60 Minutes that would bring him his missing witness. Her story, beyond being a love story between herself and the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had serious political implications. Also disturbing to Haslam was that her name was Judyth Vary Baker, a person to whom he says he had been introduced in 1972.  Haslam was invited, in 1972, to a party because he had argued with people at a previous party that Ferrie had an underground laboratory, and that viruses could actually cause cancers in humans. Two weeks later, Barbara and Haslam were invited to a dinner by “Judyth Vary Baker”. When 60 minutes talked to Haslam, he thought this was the same person. 60 Minutes cancelled the segment on Baker, at least partly on Haslam’s report on the 1972 incident. But Haslam concluded that the two Judyth’s were not the same person; he was left with questions about the 1972 imposter “Judyth”. How did the imposter know so much about the real Judyth?

In 2001 Haslam was living in Bradenton, Florida, and Judyth was planning to visit her mother there. The two of them got together. She had binders with her -- collected documents.  Haslam decided to call the fellow writer who told him he had everything but a witness. The fellow writer assured Haslam that Judyth “…was a walking, talking, disinformation machine sent by the CIA to cause chaos among the JFK assassination research community, and that the documents I had seen were probably forgeries.” [6] But since Haslam worked at the Bradenton Herald, he was able to confirm those newspaper articles were genuine. Haslam thought it important to answer three questions:

1.      Is she the real Judyth Vary Baker from Bradenton, Florida?
2.      Did Judyth know Lee Harvey Oswald in 1n New Orleans in 1963?
3.      Was Judyth trained to handle cancer viruses before going to New Orleans?

Haslam sorted through the evidence on each question. After thoroughly evaluating the evidence Haslam concluded:”Yes, I have my witness.” [7] He is quick to point out that she was a witness to activities in New Orleans, not Dallas. “However, we are not here to figure out who killed JFK. We are here to understand who was using radiation to mutate monkey viruses, and why.” [8]


1.      Haslam, E.T. (1995). Mary, Ferrie, and the Monkey Virus: The Story of an Underground Medical Laboratory. Albuquerque, NM: Wordswoth Communications.
2.      Haslam, E.T. (2007). Dr. Mary’s Monkey. Walterville, OR: Trine Day.
3.      Ibid, p. 9.
4.      Ibid, p. 4.
5.      Wilds, J. & Harkey, I. (1990). Alton Ochsner: Surgeon of the South. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University.
6.      Haslam, (2007), p. 289.
7.      Ibid, p. 298.
8.      Ibid, p. 301.

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