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JFK Murder "Confession" Video

by Edward Bell

In the video--The Murder of JFK-Confession of An Assassin (MPI Video, #MP 7148), James E. Files, an inmate of Joliet State Penitentiary, confesses to being one of two assassins firing at JFK in Dallas on November 22, 1963. According to Walt Brown's Treachery in Dallas, this makes him one of 28 "suspected shooters in the Kennedy assassination."(1) This confession is the result of an investigation launched by the late private investigator Joe West in 1989. (2)

In a press release of May 11, 1990, West claimed he had new information from an unidentified source directly implicating John Roselli and Charles Nicoletti in the murder. (3) This was followed by a November 1990 appearance on CNBC cable's Morton Downey Jr. show. On that program, West made the following revelations: "There was a firing squad in Dealey Plaza. That firing squad was made up of a coalition of the CIA and the Giancana crime family out of Chicago. The firing squad was sent well-trained to Dealey Plaza for one purpose. That was the assassination of the 35th President of the US--John Kennedy...The top hit man for the mafia in the Western Hemisphere--a part of the hit team that executed upon the Mafia Commission's orders. First of all Sam Giancana, secondly John Roselli, thirdly Charles Nicoletti. These men were interrogated before their deaths and each of of them confessed to this Mafia hit man. I have a video recording of him. I have a sworn affidavit from him in which he says each of them confessed that the Giancana crime family was working with Jack Ruby in Dallas for this assassination. It was all preplanned."

In the 1996 MPI video, producer and interviewer Bob Vernon states "In 1989, Houston private investigator Joe West launched an independent investigation to find the true killer of president John F. Kennedy. After three years of disappointments and dead ends...West suddenly received a tip from an FBI agent who asked to remain unnamed. The tip led West to Joliet and a prisoner named James E. Files...Through months of personal visits and detailed correspondence, Files began to reveal his participation in the JFK killing. Files was nearing a full confession when West took sick and passed away in 1993. It took 13 months after Joe West's death, but on March 22, 1994, associates of West videotaped an interview with Files, in which he admitted to being one of the shooters on November 22. He also implicated organized crime members--Charles Nicoletti, Johnny Roselli, and Sam Giancana."

If Vernon is correct, West and Files did not meet until 1992. If this is true, it would be interesting to know whom West was alluding to in 1990 in his press release and on the Downey show.

James E. Files (Sutton) was born in 1942. He grew up in Chicago, gaining mafia ties by being a driver for Giancana "hit man" Nicoletti. According to Files, he trained Cubans at No Name Key for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. This is where he met his CIA controller--David Atlee Phillips. It was through Phillips that he also met Lee Oswald in early 1963 while running guns to Clinton, La. As a results of the efforts of Jim Garrison, we learned that it was in Clinton that numerous witnesses placed Oswald together with Clay Shaw. (4) "Lee Harvey Oswald had the same controller as I did--David Atlee Phillips." This statement may have validity if one believes Phillips and Maurice Bishop are the same person and that Antonio Veciana was accurate in his sighting of Oswald and Bishop when he spoke to Anthony Summers in 1978.5 It was also Phillips who allegedly gave Files the Remington Fireball pistol that he used to shoot JFK with in Dallas. Whether Phillips would have used his real name, not an alias, is a question to consider.

In June 1963, Files was told by Nicoletti: "We are going to do Kennedy." According to Files-- "First we originally planned to do the assassination in Chicago, but a lot of people didn't like that idea so it was moved to a different location." It should be noted that neither Thomas Vallee nor Joseph Milteer are mentioned by Files.
One week prior to the assassination, Files says he drove a 1963 Chevrolet loaded with weapons to a motel in Mesquite, Texas. The day after he arrived, Oswald allegedly showed up and took him to a place south-east of Mesquite. There, Files "test fired the weapons and calibrated the scopes." Oswald was with him "for a few days" where they drove through Dallas, "so I would know all the streets." Files also claims: "Lee Harvey Oswald could drive; he didn't have a driver's license, maybe, but the man could drive! Hell, he drove military trucks even." (see also Benson, Who's Who in the JFK Assassination, pp. 44-45; re: A.G. Bogard)

On Nov. 22, Files claims he went to the Dallas Cabana Motel where he picked up Las Vegas Mafioso John Roselli. They then drove to a Ft. Worth pancake house where Roselli met Jack Ruby. Here, "Sparky" allegedly gave Roselli an envelope containing Secret Service ID and a map of the motorcade route. When asked if the CIA had anything to do with the killing, Files said, "Someone in government organizations had a heavy hand in it because they supplied Secret Service ID for different people. I don't know who used it but I saw the ID that morning of the assassination." In this assertion, Files is either putting Ruby close to the CIA or contradicting his story.

Files and Roselli drove back to the Cabana Motel in Dallas to pick up Nicoletti, who was conversing with Eugene Hale Brading when they arrived. Brading did stay at the Cabana the night of the 21st, and was photographed and arrested in Dealey Plaza on November 22. (6) It should also be noted that Roselli and Nicoletti figure into the "Gemstone File" and Chuck Giancana versions of these events, respectively.

Files says he then drove Roselli and Nicoletti to Dealey Plaza, where they parked next to the Dal-Tex Building. Files and Nicoletti walked the plaza. At 10:30 am, Nicoletti asked Files how he would feel about "backing him up on this." Files, who was "honored," was then asked where he would like to position himself, and where he thought the best place for Nicoletti would be. It's hard to believe two men involved in a conspiracy to kill the president would have waited until two hours before the assassination to decide where to locate themselves! It is also hard to believe that Nicoletti would casually ask Files to "back him up," only two hours before the hit on JFK. This is also in direct conflict with Joe West's statement in 1990 that "the firing squad was sent well trained..." (7) According to Files, the two men returned to the car where they picked up their weapons. Files got a briefcase containing the Remington Fireball pistol and Nicoletti took a rifle of unspecified make. Files claimed he turned his jacket "inside out--plaid side showing" and went to his firing position "Behind the tree, behind the fence" on the knoll. On the video, producer Bob Vernon tells Files "there was a picture made of you behind the fence. It was taken by Mary Moorman." Thanks to the efforts of Jack White and Gary Mack, the blowup of the Moorman photo apparently shows three people. One is most likely eyewitness Gordon Arnold, one appears to be a man in a t-shirt, and the other is the "badgeman" figure with a muzzle flash in front of him. The "badgeman" figure is wearing a police uniform and therefore cannot be Files, since he was wearing a jacket, plaid side showing. (See "Men Who Killed Kennedy," Part 2, The Forces of Darkness for an in-depth look at Moorman photo).

Files is vague as to the exact number of shots and also does not specify what floor of the Dal-Tex Building Nicoletti was allegedly firing from. He also is not sure if anyone was firing from the Depository. He claims Oswald "never fired a shot...his plot [sic] was to plant evidence to mislead everybody." Files, along with Canfield and Weberman's book Coup d' Etat, claims Frank Sturgis was in Dealey Plaza on that fateful day. this was investigated and discounted by the HSCA (6 HSCA 260-261). According to Files, Ruby was also in the plaza that day. This has also come up in the recently unearthed Cooper footage and is well examined by Richard Trask in Pictures of the Pain, pp. 177-178.

There is an interesting exchange be-tween Vernon and Files: V: "How much were you paid" for the assassination? F: "I had received $30,000." V: "Before you told me you received $15,000--you just said 30?" F: "In the beginning I said '15' because I didn't think it mattered much what the amount was...I never took checks, he gave me cash."

Files was later asked if he knew who killed David Ferrie: "Yes I do know who killed ...Ferrie. He died of a ceverial [sic] brain hemorrhage,...brought on in a pacific [sic] way. (For complete account of Ferrie's death, see DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, pp. 151-153).

In this last exchange between Files and Vernon, Files leaves us with what is probably his only cohesive thought: V: "When people see this interview on TV, what do you think people with think?" F: "Most of them, I don't think they will believe me."

I certainly don't....


1. Brown, Walt. Treachery in Dallas (New York: Carrol & Graf, 1995) pp.343-344.
2. The Murder of JFK: Confession of an Assassin (MPI Home Video #MP7148.1996)
3. Livingstone, Harrison Edward. Killing the Truth (New York:Carrol & Graf, 1993) pp.259-260
4. Garrison, Jim. On the Trail of the Assassins. (New York: Sheridan Square Press,1988) pp.105-108
5. Summers, Anthony. Conspiracy (New York: Paragon House, 1991) pp.328-329
6. Benson, Michael. Who's Who in the JFK Assassination. (New York: Citadel Press, 1993) pp.51-52 (heading under "Eugene Hale Brading")
7. The Morton Downey Jr. Show ( CNBC-TV, Fort Lee, NJ. November 1990)

Used by permission. Electronic or other reproduction is prohibited. All rights reserved.

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