Friday, July 21, 2017

Sylvia Odio and Father Machann

From: Oswald Talked – The New Evidence in the JFK Assassination

by Ray and Mary La Fontaine, (Pelican Publishing Co. , Gretna, 1996).

[p.264-265]: “The last time Father Machann was seen in his public role as shepherd of the city’s Catholic exile community was the Tuesday night of October 1, 1963. On that evening, he and other prominent members of the resettlement committee had shared the stage of Highland Park Town Hall with a guest speaker, John Martino, a fifty-two-year-old American and Mafia associate who was on a Bircher-paid tour to talk about his recently published book, ‘I Was Castro’s Prisoner.’ Martino had been imprisoned in Cuba for some thirty-nine months (during which time he befriended Silvia Odio’s father, Amador), and his three-hour book talk dwelled on the barbarism of his confinement by the revolutionary regime – balm to the ars of the gathered refugees and their circle of benefactors on the Town Hall stage…”

“Trudy Castor,…also sat on the stage with Father Machann that last evening,…later said, ‘I have no idea why he [Father Machann] left….After a week or two went by, of course, the Cubans were all talking about, well, ‘Where’s Father Machann?’ After all, this was their spiritual leader and no one seemed to know where he was or what had happened.’”

[p. 268] : “Father Machann’s disappearance was somehow connected to the assassination of the president,….he had heard, perhaps in confession from one of the refugees, perhaps from his mistress Silvia, something about the impending event. This wasn’t an absurd or uncommon opinion, it should be noted. Even Colonel Castorr (who, as Father Machann believed, had some sort of intelligence interest in the Cubans) speculated that he priest had learned something he shouldn’t have. Machann was at his mother’s Dallas home on the day of the assassination, the mother would later reveal, and Colonel Castorr had heard, probably from Mother Machann, that the father, ‘went to pieces in hearing the telecast.’…”

“…investigator Harold Weisberg had also heard that Father Machann entered ‘a home to rest’ following the assassination.”

Page 251: “….A few weeks before the assassination (Fr. Walter M. Machann) had mysteriously dropped out of sight, perhaps from a breakdown, in the city where he had been a lifelong resident. Some weeks later, after the assassination, he quietly left town and has not lived in Dallas since, though returning occasionally to visit his mother. He was last seen in (1993) in Bangkok. (Machann’s mother told Mary in a recent interview that he was visited by the Secret Service or other government investigators as recently as 1992 or 1990.).”

“But in the spring of 1964, Father Machann hadn’t yet made it to Bangkok. That April, apparently at he behest of the Western general counsel J. Lee Rankin, the Secret Service had launched an all-out search for the unusual padre, who was rumored to have bedded a number of women parishioners during his denture as assistant pastor at the Catholic church in east Dallas. After agents failed even to identify the father in Miami (where he had received his training as a Cuban refugee adviser), Secret Service inspector Thomas Kelly managed to locate Machann in New Orleans, interviewing him on Thursday, April 30.”

“The former Dallas priest (he was now on indefinite leave) had been attending classes at LOYOLA UNIVERSITY, and was, as he told Kelly, a frequent visitor of Silvia’s uncle, Dr. Agustin Guitart, a physics professor at the university. Cuitart, it may be recalled, happened also to be a friend of Carlos Bringuier’s, and had attended the New Orleans court hearing of Lee Harvey Oswald following his ‘street scuffle’ with Bringuier and two other members of the local chapter of the Student Revolutionary Directorate (DRE) the previous summer.”

“It wasn’t, of course Machann’s vow-breaking proclivities that interested assassination investigators like Kelley, but the role he was said to have played from 1961 through most of 1963 as chaplain of a Dallas group assisting Cuban refugees; for if rumors were flying concerning the priest’s sexual liaisons, they were even more rampant on a more relevant matter, the possible participation of Cubans – whether pro- or antic-Castro one couldn’t say – in the assassination of the president. On the latter matter, Machann had been in a position to be an invaluable informant.”

“Organized in 1961, the Cuban Catholic Committee of Dallas had sought to help Cuban refugees by finding them jobs and planning social and religious functions for their families. In march 1963 the committee had gone a step further, setting up a resettlement office funded through the Catholic Relief Service. Responsibility for conduct of the new office, which offered food and other living assistance for arriving exiles (who were frequently met by committee members as they stepped off a plane at Love Field), had been given to the committee’s capable director, Father Machann. In his capacity as benefactor and spiritual liaison with the Church, the clean-cut father had been a popular figure with the refugees. He knew virtually everyone in the Dallas exile community, and everyone knew him – this despite the fact (as Machann told [s.S.] Inspector Kelly in April 1964) he had made it a policy never to attend ‘any of the political meetings of the Cuban groups that were represented by the Cubans in Dallas, although he was often cajoled and entreated to attend them.’”

“That the father had often been cajoled as well by ladies of the flock wasn’t hard to believe. He was twenty-nine - three years older than Silvia – tall, and movie-star handsome. (However, the Secret Service mistakenly reported Machann’s age at this time as twenty-six.) He had dimples; he was intelligent; he was polite; he was perfect….”

“For all its good works, the Cuban Relief Committee of Dallas had been abruptly disbanded immediately after the president’s murder, by which time the handsome and seemingly competent father, though still in town, was nowhere to be found. He had reportedly taken shelter at his mother’s house, and was there on the Friday of the assassination – when he, like Silvia that day, was said to have suffered a collapse. But whatever the priest’s personal problems may have been at this time – the ones that had driven him underground – the Secret Service and other federal agencies knew nothing of them, except for the whispers of his sexual entanglements. That Silvia [Odio] had been a conquest of Machann’s (or vice versa, perhaps) had already been reported to authorities by her old socialite confidante, Lucille Connell, and tacitly acknowledged by Silvia’s psychiatrist, Dr. Burton Einspruch. The psychiatrist told Warren interviewer Burt W. Griffin that he ‘did not believe the affair with Father Machann was as serious as (the Commission) had been led to believe,’ a rather ambiguous assessment….”

April 1964, having located the missing priest, and armed with the knowledge of his suspected past with Silvia Odio, the Secret Service concocted a devious plan that in efficacy, at least, was miles ahead of the ‘straightforward’ approaches of the FBI and Warren Commission. Instead of grilling Silvia directly on her hallway-Oswald story, Inspector Kelly wanted Father Machann to call Silvia long-distance in Dallas (he would be ‘furnished the necessary funds’) and see if he could get her to tell him ‘the name of the JURE representative who had accompanied Oswald.’ As Kelly may have calculated, she might well confine things to the former lover – her ‘father confessor,’ as she called him in a 1993 documentary – that she wouldn’t say under oath or the glare of a federal inquiry. In this the inspector was probably right, but would Machann be snake enough to go along?”

“It turned out he would. He was, in fact, remarkably docile and cooperative, reportedly stating that ‘it was the duty of every citizen to cooperate to the full extent in the President’s Commission investigation and that he felt he was bound in conscience to give whatever assistance he could.’ It is possible that Machann’s docility was caused (as S.S. head James J. Rowley, Kelley’s superior, wrote on the father’s behalf) by the fact that he ‘did not realize at the time that she [siliva] had not made a full and frank disclosure of the names of the people who brought Oswald to her.’ Toward the end of December 1963, while the priest was still laying low in Dallas, Silvia had spoken to him about the Cubans who had supposedly shown up with ‘Leon Oswald’ in September, but she also told Machann she had already ‘discussed this matter fully’ with the FBI agents. Later, after Father Machann moved to New Orleans, she had written him a letter saying she again ‘discussed her meeting of Oswald with government officials.’ Consequently, Machann told Kelly, he didn’t feel that he would be ‘violating a confidence in giving any information previously given [by Silvia to] the proper authorities.’ Even so, the eagerness of Machann to participate in this game – ‘stating that he could not induce her to tell him who the people were, he could induce her to tell it to the proper authorities’ – sounds a bit edgy somehow, as if fear or nervousness is driving at it, if not the passivity that sometimes accompanies convalescence from a mental breakdown.”

“The deal was struck, and it was agreed Machann would call Silvia that same Thursday evening around 6:30. He requested, and received, privacy for his call. Then, “upon his return to Inspector Kelly’s room at 7:30 pm, he said he had made the call to Mrs. Odio in Dallas and she was very anxious to discuss the entire matter. She advised him [Father Machann] the only information she could provide on the people who visited her was that one of them said he was using the code name Leopoldo, that the second man she could identify as Eugenio Cisneros, and the third man was introduced to her as Leon.’”

“This was amazing, Where did the CISNEROS come from? Silvia hadn’t said a word to the FBI or any other investigative bodyprior to this phone call about one of the two Cubans being Cisneros….”
“…Cisneros himself would immediately jump up and deny the assertion with corroboration of his whereabouts elsewhere in late September of that year…”

“[silvia] Steadfastly refused to admit the obvious, that she had told the priest that one of the men in the hallway had been Rogelio Cisneros. After repeated questioning, the exasperated [Warren Commission attorney Wesley] Liebeler brought out his trump card, the report on the Secret Service-sponsored New Orleans phone call that Kelly’s superior had sent the Commission.”

“MR. LIEBELER. Now, I have a report before me of an interview with Father McKann by a representative of the U.S. Secret Service in which it states that Father McKann told this Secret Service agent that you had told him that one of the men was Eugeneio. But you indicated now that this is not so?”

“MRS. ODIO. No. Perhaps he could have misunderstood me, because he has the same problem with names. Probably I did tell him that the man was not Eugenio….”

[p. 251-256]

“Not many people outside the Catholic circle were talking much about anti-Castro Cubans as possible suspects in the days immediately following the assassination (when the work of the refugee committee was abruptly discontinued by Msgr. Thomas Tschoepe)…” [p. 262]

[Also see: Kennedy Ripples: A True Love Story by Marianne Sullivan (1994, San Clemente, Calf.)]

Robert Howard writes:

…..the Secret Service had a tap on Father Walter M. Machann during one of his conversation's with Silvia Odio, and that in addition he was a 'frequent visitor of Silvia' uncle Dr. Agustin Guitart, a physics professor at Loyola University (where Machann attended classes after leaving Dallas.)
And perhaps more importantly, Guitart it is said also happened to be a friend of Carlos Bringuer!
Incidentally Guitart even pops up at the court hearing for Oswald and Bringuer (Bringuer - jumped? from Alpha-66 to DRE, during that fateful period.)

A point that if correct points to some other machinations is that Odio had mentioned Rogelio Cisneros 'war name' Eugenio in her Warren Commission Testimony, right off the bat (see W.C. XI 380).

From Secret Service memo re: Rogelio Cisneros "Mr. Cisneros said he went to Dallas, TX from Miami, FL in June 1963....specifically for the purpose of contacting Silvia Odio who was to introduce him to a person in Dallas who was interested in selling them small arms. Cisneros said he contacted Sylvia Odio only once,and at that time he was accompanied only be Jorge Rodriquez Alvareda, their [JURE's] Dallas delegate, and no one else. (see W.C. XI 375)

Ostensibly, 'the person of interest' was a Uruguayan gun dealer named Juan (Johnny) Martin, according to Silvia, who also 'owned a washeteria down the street (this is in regards to Odio's residence on Oram, not the Crestwood Apt's on Magellan Circle (this was before the move to there). Regarding Jorge Rodriquez Alvaredo and Antonio Aletando Leon the two were interviewed by the FBI, Rodriguez said that the meeting in Dallas was for the 'purpose of organizing the Dallas Branch of JURE,' However no gun deal was made.

According to the 'discredited?' see 'What the La Fontaines didn't tell you. Lafontaines, pg 253 'Oswald Talked'

Inspector Kelley 'persuaded' Machann to call Silvia long distance in Dallas...and see if he could get her to tell him the name of the JURE Representative who had accompanied Oswald (to the infamous Sept 26th meeting) at Silvia's.

The stage is set and according to the La Fontaines (FWIW, I am only too aware of how controversial this is Robert) She (Silvia) advised him (Fr. Machann) concerning 'the meeting' was that one of them said he was using the code name Leopoldo, that the second man she could identify as Eugene Cisneros and the third man was introduced to her as Leon.

In 'Oswald Talked' the source of the information in the last two paragraphs is cited as 'Chief James J. Rowley (Secret Service) letter to J. Lee Rankin - May 5th, 1964 and Commission Exhibit 2943 (6).

5/7/67 -Harold Weisberg Subject Index Files/C Disk/Castorr L Robert Colonel
Link above to .pdf file of 23 April, 1967 letter to Mrs. Robert L. Castorr from Harold Weisberg.

TAPE #1 (SIDE 2) Subject Index Files/C Disk/Castorr L Robert Colonel

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