Estes Named Cliff Carter as the Master
Strategist in JFK Assassination
John Delane Williams
Billie Sol Estes  has finally put "some" of his ideas into print in his book, Billie Sol Estes: A Texas Legend. One might expect that in a book with only 173 pages, no references and no index, that getting into the details of the assassination would be almost immediate. By page 140, I thought Billie Sol may just have scammed us again. On page 121 (and in Chapter Twenty Two), Estes states, "The details about the JFK assassination are included in Chapter 9." At that point, I thought I might have missed the gist of the book, and reread Chapter 9. There was nothing on the JFK assassination. Finally, on page 141, the book began to live up to expectations.
Billie Sol Estes Met with Carter and Wallace in Late 1963
First, Estes says that his knowledge of the JFK assassination comes primarily through conversations in late 1963 and August 1971 with Cliff Carter. Mac Wallace was present at the 1963 meeting. At the time of the assassination, Estes was trying to unravel his own legal difficulties. On March 28, 1963, Estes had been found guilty of transporting fraudulent documents across state lines (he was financing titles to storage tanks that for the most part did not exist). In late 1963, he was free on bail awaiting the outcome of his appeal. Cliff Carter called him to a meeting at the Driskoll Hotel in Austin. Estes presumed the meeting to be about Lyndon having good news about his legal difficulties. Instead, they informed Estes that they were clamping a lid on any discussion of a host of murders that had taken place of which Estes had knowledge. Estes agreed to this but asked that Lyndon help him with his legal difficulties. Carter told him that it might be necessary for him to serve part of the prison term and wait for a pardon. At the time, Estes informed Carter that Estes had been recording his telephone conversations for his and his family's protection since 1961. He began serving his first sentence on January 15, 1965.
The 1971 Meeting with Carter
Estes says that he was told by Cliff Carter, "Lyndon should not have authorized Mac to kill the President." (p. 143) Cliff's understanding was that Johnson was taken as the Vice Presidential candidate to ensure victory and get more cash for the campaign. (Morris Jaffe was said to have brought enough cash to Los Angeles to help Johnson secure the Vice Presidential nomination ). While there is some disagreement as to whether President Kennedy was considering dropping Johnson from the 1964 ticket (see, for example, ) there is little question that Attorney General Robert Kennedy seemed determined to have Johnson removed from the ticket.
Cliff Carter told Estes that when Johnson decided to take on the Kennedys, J. Edgar Hoover was brought on board immediately. There was concern in Texas that their power base in Washington was being eroded. At risk was the oil depletion allowance (then 27.5%) and the large defense contracts, including the TFX contract for General Dynamics in Fort Worth. (Estes relates an interesting story told to him by Vito Genovese while they both were in Leavenworth Prison, on getting Kennedy to accept General Dynamics for the TFX. The Director of Security for General Dynamics had his two sons place a wiretap on the phone of Judith Exner, a girlfriend of both JFK and Sam Giancana. When placing the wiretap, the two sons discovered that two bugs were already in place! The FBI and the Mafia were there first. Two weeks after the General Dynamics bug was placed, JFK approved General Dynamics for the TFX. )
Estes understood that the final approval for the assassination was given at a poker game at Brownies Restaurant on Grand Avenue in Dallas. Among those present were Cliff Carter, H.L. Hunt, W.O. Bankston, and D.H. Byrd. (There may have been others.) Those present committed to a $1 million dollar slush fund for the act. Carter was to arrange everything and keep the others' names out of it. Carter was to report to them the date and that was all. W.O. Bankston did have another role, that of making sure his friend Sheriff Bill Decker would cooperate and bring key police department personnel into it for coverup and planting false leads. D. H. Byrd was the owner of the Texas Schoolbook Depository building.
According to Cliff Carter (as told by Estes), the plan was simple.
They wanted to make sure President Kennedy died, and they wanted to surround the assassination with the illusion of false leads. They wanted a single assassin blamed for the murder. Dallas was chosen because they could control the police and the press. Carter called Mac Wallace to build the assassination team. A backup team was needed, along with a large number of persons in Dallas as a diversion. Carter also contacted Carlos Marcello in New Orleans and Santos Trafficante in Florida. Marcellos arranged for some of his people to be in Dallas (as part of the diversion) and Trafficante contributed some of his contacts in the French drug connection (as one of the hit teams?) Vito Genovese was contacted in prison. Next, they had to be sure that JFK made the trip to Texas; this was a job for Johnson. Carter had a man close to the Kennedy's (and on the Kennedy staff) who also helped insure that the Dallas trip took place. Estes is not exactly sure who this person was, but the person worked closely with Carter on LBJ's re-election staff. The same person was in a power position in 1968 when Bobby Kennedy was killed in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Lyndon's people were in charge of arrangements for the motorcade, through John Connally and Jake Puterbaugh, who knew both Carter and Mac Wallace. Credentialling of media personnel was done by Jack Valenti. The plan was for the "lone nut assassin" to be killed after the assassination, during his arrest.
The coverup was to be put in place by Johnson and Hoover. Johnson did not want to know the details of the planned . Cliff Carter was to make sure the job got done. Johnson did not want the Mafia to do the actual job, as he feared they would blackmail him as long as he lived. The Mafia (referred to as "The Italians" by Estes) were to serve as decoys and false leads. Mac Wallace was to recruit the hit team and the lone assassin patsy. Cliff Carter and Mac Wallace had both known George DeMohrenschildt from the 1940's at The University of Texas. They knew that DeMohrenschildt was controlling Lee Harvey Oswald. Wallace asked DeMohrenschildt to be introduced to Oswald and his wife, Marina. DeMohrenschildt was not part of the assassination plot, except as someone who was being used.
It is Estes' understanding that Oswald actually did shoot from the sixth floor at The Texas Schoolbook Depository (TSBD), but that his gun and three spent shells were plants at the scene. Sheriff's deputies were stationed at the rear of the TSBD, writing down
the license numbers of every car entering and leaving the nearby parking lot. Wallace's station wagon was among those automobiles logged. This log was apparently never made available and is now missing. Oswald was supposed to be killed during his arrest. Ruby became involved, as part of a backup plan; Ruby murdered Oswald two days later.
James Melvin Ligget
James Melvin Ligget was a noted mortician. He did the work on Jayne Mansfield, who had been decapitated in an automobile accident; an open casket was used at her funeral; Ligget did amazing work. He also had two jobs to do regarding the coverup. He had to acquire a body that matched Kennedy. This was done before the assassination; the body was stored in a morgue at Restland Cemetery. At the time of the assassination, Ligget was in charge of a funeral (a member of Ligget's wife's family). At 1 PM, in the middle of the ceremony, another cemetery employee whispered something into Ligget's ear. A few minutes later, Ligget and the other employee were in a Restland hearse with the prearranged body on the way to Love Field; the body and Ligget boarded a private airplane. On the way to Washington, messages were relayed from Restland to Ligget. Ligget created an alternative JFK with the appropriate wounds. Apparently this second body was to be used in the making of photographs, and then mixing the photographs of JFK with the previously stored body. Estes surmised that Cliff Carter was quite proud of this part of the coverup.
Also at the 1971 meeting with Cliff Carter, they discussed the then recent death of Mac Wallace. If it was not an accident, they thought it entirely possible that Wallace's death was faked; the federal marshalls would fake a person's death and put them in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Cliff Carter had worked with the federal marshalls and had substituted corpses for persons going into the witness protection plan. Wallace may have also been murdered. Carter died shortly after this meeting with Estes; Estes decided to keep his mouth shut for years after Carter's death.
No Paper Trail to LBJ
Estes says that his business relationship to Johnson was confidential. Disclosing the relationship and/or details could have caused a scandal for Johnson. "Johnson was paranoid about having any scandal affect his political life."  Johnson apparently refused several offers for money. He wanted to look like a poor farmer. Johnson had all of his business with Estes conducted in Ed Clark's name. Ed Clark was an Austin lawyer who was the center person in the book by a one time associate of Clark's, Barr McClellan: Blood, Money, and Power: How LBJ Killed JFK.  Most of Estes contact with Johnson was by telephone and originated with Johnson.
Mac Wallace, Cliff Carter, and James Melvin Ligget all died in close proximety, in terms of time, in 1971. Estes thinks one or more of these deaths may have been faked, in a manner similiar to the described method used by the United States Marshalls for the Federal Witness Protection Program. (An interesting account was given by Walt Brown; Wallace's ex-wife Mary Andre DuBose Barton moved into a rental duplex in Georgetown, TX after selling her house on December 6, 1978. She lived in the duplex until her death on June 6, 1980. She reportedly had a frequent visitor at the duplex who strongly resembled Wallace. )
Bobby Kennedy Trying to Get Johnson off of the Ticket in '64
Estes is convinced that Bobby Kennedy was doing everything in his power to get Lyndon off the ticket in '64; to this end, Bobby Kennedy was involved with investigations of Johnson, with congressional hearings underway. One such hearing was going on at the very minute of the assassination. Because President Kennedy wasn't interceding with his brother to stop the investigations, Estes assumed that the President was in agreement with his brother. Here, I think Estes underestimated President Kennedy. Kennedy was more familiar with the ways of congress and the degree in which the party in power would protect their former majority leader of the Senate, and who had become Vice-President. In the hearings of November 22, 1963, and those that followed the next year, persons who testified in a negative way about Johnson were treated rather rudely (harassed?) by the majority party members on the committee.  President Kennedy would have been more understanding of this than his brother Bobby. Perhaps President Kennedy's position was that in the unlikely event that Johnson were to resign or be indicted, Johnson would be removed from the ticket by that action. Otherwise, Johnson would remain on the ticket.
Books Addressed by Estes
Estes makes remarks that could be construed to address at least three books and a video, but no book is mentioned by name. Estes confirms that Haley's  comments about his meeting on a plane with LBJ on April 28, 1962 at the Midland Airport were true. Johnson's people put a concerted effort to discredit the story; Hoover was also asked to debunk the report. Estes was called to the plane and told by LBJ not to testify at Estes' trials. If he were convicted, Johnson would see that "things were made right." Estes did not testify; no pardon was forthcoming at the end of Johnson's presidency.
Estes' daughter Pam wrote a biography of her father.  In Estes view, "I knew she could never write the real truth, because it would cause my death."  The confession of James Files , according to Cliff Carter, was bogus. Though Estes only refers to the Loy Factor story, the book of Sample & Collom  was the major source of that story. Estes says he knows some of the Loy Factor story is true; he saw a man who was similiar in appearance to Factor talking to Wallace at the funeral of Sam Rayburn. Wallace was definitely there at Dealey Plaza in his Rambler, and Wallace had a girlfriend of Mexican decent who was with him at the assassination site and tied into the story told by Factor. Estes does not understand why Factor was allowed to live if he was involved in the assassination.
Not mentioned is the Darby  fingerprint match of Wallace to the fingerprint found on the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository (TSBD) Building. This 34 point match conclusively placed Wallace on the sixth floor of the TSBD. Estes makes an intriguing statement that persons interested in multiple Oswald theories would surely want more detail (particularly those who have found John Armstrong's  work compelling): "I [Estes] was present at a meeting with Mac Wallace and Jack Ruby in the Carousel Club. I believe I saw Oswald or one of Carter's fake Oswalds there with Ruby on another visit to the club."  Carter's "fake Oswalds"? Now, that's a phrase that could prove to be very interesting. Finally, there are many points of consistency between Estes and McClellan , though they're coming from different viewpoints, Estes as an insider intimate with LBJ, and McClellan as a former law partner of Ed Clark. Comparing and contrasting McClellan's book with Estes' book would be an interesting venture in itself.
What Estes Doesn't Tell Us
Estes declines to discuss the deaths of George Krutilek, Harold Orr, Coleman Wade, or Howard Pratt, because he has not received immunity in any of these cases. All of these men had a business relationship to Estes, and their deaths likely had something to do with their relationship to Estes. He has stated, regarding his telephone tapes, "I am not going to discuss the entire contents of those tapes...These conversations included sensitive discussions about certain aspects of my business with people more dangerous than Lyndon." p.112. Estes also stated, "I have avoided telling the truth for so many years because of my ego and my fear of death. I am still afraid of dying and therefore, there are some things left out of this book. I will go to my grave with things left unsaid. I hope this book will leave you with at least a feeling for the truth." p. 172.
An interesting point is that the Caddy letter,  often cited by assassination researchers wherein the murders of several people, including John Kennedy, are at the behest of Lyndon Johnson, is said to have been illegally released in the United States Attorney's office. In Estes words: "These letters have often been used as proof of LBJ's involvement in the Kennedy assassination by many conspiracy buffs. If you will remember, I have always been wary of people learning too much. I deliberately changed some names to protect myself if the discussions broke down and the letters were leaked." p. 163. It is not clear whether Estes is fully disclosing the correct information now.
There are many things to criticize about this book. An editor/proof reader could have removed some of the obvious flaws. But this book is Billie Sol Estes story with the parts he chooses to tell at this time. There are some misrepresentations. For example, the book jacket calls Estes, "The Man Who Knows Who Shot JFK". Yet, from what Estes tell us, he doesn't know who shot JFK, but only that the shooters were hired by Mac Wallace. It's true that Wallace may have shot at JFK, but Estes does not know who fired the fatal shot. Further, Estes' story is from his vantage point. There are other participants who had their own vantage points. Still, this is an important writing. Some of the details may turn out to be incorrect, but it is important that Billie Sol produced this effort. The book ends on a note of Estes ever being the huckster. He invites the reader to invest in Texas vineyards. "Let's put them [The French] out of business. I know some good land near Pecos and it is available at a low price. In five years we could control the wine industry." p. 173.
 Estes, B.S. (2005).Billie Sol Estes: A Texas Legend. Granbury, TX: BS Productions.
 Haley, J.E. (1964). A Texan Looks at Lyndon.: A Study in Illegitimate Power. Canyon, TX: Palo Duro Press.
 Williams, J.D. & Conway, D. (2001). The Don Reynolds Testimony and LBJ. (2001). Kennedy Assassination Chronicles. 7(1) 19-27.
 Estes, p. 61.
 Estes, p. 58.
 McClellan, B. (2003). Blood, Money and Power: How L.B.J. Killed J.F.K. New York: Hanover House.
 Brown, W. (1998). The Sordid Story of Mac Wallace. JFK/DPQ 3(4) 22-27.
 Williams & Conway.
 Estes, P. (1983). Billie Sol: King of the Texas Wheeler Dealers. Abilene, TX: Noble Crafts Books.
 Estes, B.S., p. 116.
 The Murder of JFK: Confession of an Assassin. (1990). MPI Home Video.
 Sample, G. & Collom, M. (1995). The Men on the Sixth Floor.: The Story of Loy Factor, an Insider/Participant in the JFK Killing. Garden Grove, CA: Sample Graphics.
 Brown, W. (2001).Malcolm Wallace Fingerprint: "It's Him!" JFK/DPQ, 7(1) 4-6.
 Armstrong, J. (2003). Harvey & Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald. Arlington, TX: Quasar Ltd.
 Estes, p. 151.
 Caddy, D. (1984). Letter to Stephen Trott. Reproduced in Sardie, L. (1998). LBJ: A Closer Look-Research Materials.
From JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly. (2005). 10, 4, 13-19.