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Me and Lee (Harvey Oswald)

Posted By on December 19, 2011


Me and Lee: How I came to know, love and lose Lee Harvey Oswald

(2010 Trine Day, LLC)

by Judyth Vary Baker

Book Review- Part I

This review is divided into two parts. Part I discusses Baker and her background. Part II delves into the personality of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Me and Lee is a memoir by the only surviving member of a top secret New Orleans research team (described by Ed Haslam in Dr Mary’s Monkey – see which attempted, in 1963, to create a biologic warfare agent to assassinate Castro. It has a forward by Haslam (see * below) and an afterward by longtime assassination researcher Jim Marrs. It’s also extensively footnoted and cross referenced with photos, newspaper clippings and other documents from Baker’s personal records, Warren Commission testimony, and other records from the JFK archives.

A science prodigy, Judyth Vary Baker was only 19 when she joined this project. The major strength of Lee and Me is the author’s ability to capture the naive idealism behind Baker’s determination to “conquer” cancer. As much a character study as an expose, the book portrays to perfection the blind, headstrong idealism typical of many young people manipulated into joining off-the-books intelligence-security activities.

Baker’s High School Cancer Research

It was obvious from an early age that Baker had a brilliant mind. Thanks to her extreme precociousness and heavy government emphasis on science education (to “catch up” with the Soviet space program), her high school provided her special premises to convert a science fair project into a long term study of techniques to accelerate cancer growth in mice. Thanks to Florida Senator George Smathers, she came to the attention of national cancer researchers. This led to her recruitment, after one year of college, by the prominent anti-Castro anticommunist Dr Alton Ochsner of Tulane University. Baker’s role was to assist cancer researcher Dr Mary Sherman in a project that was sold to Baker as a an effort to develop a vaccine against SV-40. The latter was a monkey virus which contaminated the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines given to children between 1955 and 1963.

Baker arrives in New Orleans in the summer of 1963 and discovers she will be conducting research in CIA pilot David Ferrie’s apartment, rather Dr Sherman’s lab. Moreover her assignment isn’t to work on a vaccine, but to help create a virus capable of causing “galloping” cancer. Her job consists of harvesting fifty or more mice every week that have been injected with SV-40 viruses mutated by exposure to radiation. She then grinds up the most aggressive tumors, suspends them in calf serum medium and centrifuges them to extract the viruses. She then transports them to Dr Sherman’s lab to be re-exposed to high intensity radiation.

Baker’s Relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald

Baker is introduced to Lee Harvey Oswald during this period because he serves as her escort, riding the bus with her to and from work. In addition to her lab research, Ochsner asks her to take a cover job at the Reily Coffee Company, where her immediate boss is a former FBI agent who is also heavily involved with the anti-Castro movement. Oswald also seems to be instrumental in persuading Baker to overcome her scruples about her biological warfare research, by revealing there is a right-wing/Mob/CIA/anti-Castro Cuban plot to kill JFK that might be derailed if they succeed in removing Castro from power. The line Oswald, Ferrie and Sherman give her that if Castro is assassinated, the different factions will start jockeying for power over Cuba and this will split the coalition.

Baker’s cover at Reily Coffee Company is that of secretary, though her main role is to ensure that Oswald, who also has a cover job at Reilly’s, gets his time card clocked in and out when he’s in the field. Both spend most of their time at their top secret jobs. Baker, who is mainly at Ferrie’s apartment dissecting mice, is never totally clear what Oswald’s assignment is. She describes him as getting regular payments from the FBI and CIA, as well as unemployment checks from a former job in Texas. He seems to be a kind of errand boy, both for the CIA and the Mafia. Oswald has relatives with the Mob and introduces Baker to New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello. The Mafia has lost lucrative Cuban casinos in the revolution and is an eager participant in various conspiracies to get rid of Castro. Oswald also introduces her to Jacob “Sparky” Rubenstein (also known as Jack Ruby), who Oswald has known from childhood.

*To protect her five children, Baker kept silent about her involvement with Oswald until her last child left home in 1998, she broke her silence. Her revelations on the Internet provoked a firestorm of controversy, both from pro-conspiracy researchers and Warren Commission diehards, who accuse her of fabricating her story from the wealth of detail on the JFK assassination circulating on the World Wide Web.

Haslam, has exhaustively investigated Baker’s story and defends her for the following reasons:

  1. He has confirmed her identity and her claims about her high school cancer research through the microfilm file at the Bradenton Herald, where he was previously employed overseeing their market research.
  2. He has sighted the W2 slip she provides for her period of employment at the Reily Coffee Company and confirms that it’s genuine.
  3. He has personally interviewed Anna Lewis, wife of CIA agent David Lewis, who worked with Oswald, Jack Martin and Guy Bannister in New Orleans’ anti-Castro movement. She confirms that Baker and Oswald were romantically involved in 1963.

Baker blogs, with long time assassination researcher Jim Fetzer, at

To be continued


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