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James Files interview March 22, 1994
Q: Is there anything you
can tell me about the death of Officer J.D. Tippit?
A: I do not wish to touch
base on that. I have no comment on that.
Q: Do you know who killed
A: Yes, I do.(27)
Q: Is the man still alive?
A: The man that killed J.D.
Tippit is still alive. He was alive as of three years ago. I haven't
talked to him in the past three years. Lee Harvey Oswald did not kill
J.D. Tippit.(28) Because the man that
killed a police officer that afternoon had come by my motel and told
me...he said that things got messed up today he said and I killed a
cop...and my remarks to that was well you did what you had to do and
he left shortly thereafter.
Q: So then there was one
other person that was part of the team other than you, Nicoletti and
A: The person that I am referring
to now was not a part of the team to assassinate JFK...as far as I know
his job would have been to kill Lee Harvey Oswald from what I understood
without asking any direct questions because I did not want to know what
anyone else was doing. All I wanted to know was what my assignment was,
what I was to do, and the least I know about other people, the better
off I am because I didn't want very many people knowing who I was or
what I'm doing.
Q: Would you have known who
would have given him orders to kill Officer Tippit?
A: No, I would not because
that contract would have come from a different source.
James Files interview November 19, 2003
J - what can you tell me about the death of J.D. Tippit?
JF - When it comes to J.D. Tippit, they say that Lee Harvey Oswald was the one that shot him. It's not true. The party that shot J.D. Tippit was someone else that had been brought in. I'm not sure where he was coming from, I didn't even know this party was on location. But after that, I am already back at the hotel, when the party comes up, somebody knocks on my door, I picked up my 45, walked to the door, pulled the little curtain back and I kind of looked out the door to see who is there, and I see this party standing there that I recognized, that I know. And I opened the door and I say "What the hell are you doing here?" He says: "I had to stop by, I got a problem." And I say: "You've got a problem?" And I am looking at him, you know, I am still trying to register: How does he even know I'm here? Nobody knows I'm here, you know, this is getting to be a habit, like everybody knows Jimmy is in town. And he said: "I had to burn a cop." And I said: "Well, you have done what you had to do." He said: "I missed Oswald". And I said: "Well, what are you doing here? You've burned a cop! "He says: "Here, you wanna take this and get rid of it (the weapon)?" "Hell no! That's yours! You take it and get rid of it! You just shot a cop! I don't want this weapon. So you get rid of it. That's yours! Get out of here! Go!"
W - What are you talking about? The gun?
JF - I'm talking about the gun that he had. It was a revolver. And he said "I had to burn a cop". I told him: "You did what you had got to do! I don't want that thing! Get away from here, get out of here! Go where you got to go!
J - Kind of dangerous isn't it? You are kind of laying low and then this guy comes
JF - Yeah, somebody knocks on my door at this point. I'm ready to start shooting again, you know. And he said Okay and some other things, I don't remember exactly what it was and he went out into his vehicle and he took off. I don't even know what he was driving because as soon as he walked out that door I closed the door and pulled the curtain back. I don't wanna know anybody, I don't wanna know anything whatsoever at this stage of the game.
W - You are not naming this party?
JF - No, I am not naming this party.
W - What is the reason for it?
JF - What is the reason for it? Well, I don't know if he is still alive or not, but late in 1991, when I got this case, I know for a fact the party was still alive and in good health, okay? But you know, he didn't shoot Kennedy, he shot a cop. You know everybody wants a cop killer, okay, but this guy, I don't know who he is, I mean I know who he is but I'm not going to tell anybody who he is. He is gone! That's out of there. I have no idea where he is at, I don't wanna know where he is at.
J - Give us a statement to the fact, I know that you told Bob Vernon this, and I understand this, that you don't mind talking about things that happened and people that are dead but that you never give up anybody that might still be alive.
JF - Well, when it comes to giving somebody up, I have never given up anybody in my life. I am not gonna put anybody in prison. And as a matter of fact, you probably couldn't get the FBI to admit to it, but when a couple of their people forced their way into Stateville, I was offered all kinds of deals and all kinds of agreements, if I would not give an interview on John F. Kennedy before. You know, I told them to do what they gotta do. They did, sorry to my regret, but the thing is this: I'm not gonna give anybody up, I'm not gonna put nobody in prison. I have never went to court and testified against anybody. And I have got a lot of deals offered in my time, I have told them to put me in jail. I went to jail, I've had cops tell me this and that. You know, we're gonna lock you up, we've got you dead bang! I've had prosecutors come in and tell me: You're dead coal! Plead guilty!
W - If you would hear that this party that killed officer Tippit is dead, would you have no problem revealing his identity?
JF - You're asking me a question right now I can't answer, cause I'm not really sure. Not that it would make any difference probably, if he is dead they couldn't put him on trial. But what I'm saying is this: I really don't know how I feel about that, because you know, to me it's not that relevant, it's not that important. And as far as I am concerned, I'm not gonna help the FBI or anybody else close their records on a murder case. You know, this is Kennedy we are talking about. You know, to me, I never liked Kennedy, I don't even know why I ever did it, I don't even know why the FBI gave Joe West the lead on me. I have never understood that one.
W - But the Tippit killing is related to the murder of Kennedy!
JF - No, the Tippit killing is not related to the murder of Kennedy. If you want to get right down to it. The Tippit killing is related to Oswald. Because Oswald is the one that was supposed to die. Not Tippit. Tippit was just one of those people that stopped the wrong person, that got called into the wrong place. And when he got to ask the wrong party something, and you've got an officer in Round Lake Beach by the name of David Ostertag, when he goes out and gives his story, as he talks, he tells people how careful they have to be, these young recruits, cause you never know who you're stopping. Somebody should have given that talk to J.D. Tippit. Because he stopped the wrong party that got him killed.
J - So the party that killed Tippit though, was actually after
JF - He was after Lee Harvey Oswald.
J - Okay, make a statement.
JF - Okay. The party that killed J.D. Tippit, he wasn't there to kill J.D. Tippit. He had parked a little ways from Oswald's boarding house. They went down there to kill Oswald. They wanted to kill Oswald. They didn't want to make a big spectacle out of it. They wanted to silence him at that point of the game. Before anybody could get to him. But I guess
I don't know if Lee got spooked or whatever it was, but then he went to theatre. And he knew who he was going to when he left there, because he was supposed to meet the controller there. Which is David Atlee Phillips. He was the one that was supposed to be at the theatre as far as I understand.
W - How do you know?
JF - Because I knew that's where he was supposed to be. I knew that Lee Harvey Oswald was going to go meet him
J - Start over! It was my understanding that he was meeting his handler
JF - It was my understanding that Lee Harvey Oswald when this was over with, that he was going to be in contact with David Atlee Phillips. I did not know that David Phillips was going to be at the theatre, but I knew Oswald was going to go meet him.
.. Let me start over again, I'm lost now!
W- It was my understanding
JF - My understanding was that Lee, that he was gonna meet his controller, which is David Phillips, who was my controller. He was gonna meet him. I didn't know it was gonna be at the theatre. I have no knowledge of that at that point. But if Lee Harvey Oswald ran to a theatre, that had to be where the meeting was going to take place. Lee must have left his house earlier or for whatever reason, I don't really know, but the party that went there, didn't find Lee there. And when he started to leave, he was stopped by the police. This is when he shot Tippit. What transpired there I can't tell you, who saw this guy there, I can't tell you whether he ran, I can't tell you whether he walked, I don't know. All I understand is this: A party that I know, that had come by my motelroom, told me he had to burn a cop. The cop he burned was J.D. Tippit. That was the only cop killed in Dallas that day, it had to be the one that he burned. At this point he says: "Here, do you want to get rid of that? " I said: " Hell no, you take care and get rid of your own weapon! I've got my own problems, Get out of here. Go! "
J - What kind of weapon was it?
JF - It was a
I think it was a 38 revolver. I'm not sure, I couldn't swear that, I didn't handle it, I didn't touch it. He just had it in his hand, he pulled it out and handed to me. I said: I don't want it, take it out of here!.
J - Well, you know the difference between a revolver and an automatic
JF - Yeah, he had a revolver he was gonna hand me.
W - How did you know that Lee was supposed to meet his contact?
JF - When it comes down to the part that this guy was going for Lee Harvey Oswald, the connection is this: Lee Harvey Oswald had just spent five days with me, Lee Harvey Oswald knew who I was, he knew I was in town, he knew what just happened, he was tied to me basically drastically. When I talked to Charles Nicoletti that morning, I told him this: I said: We 've got a slight problem. And he asked me: What's that, Jimmy? I said: Lee Harvey Oswald. At that time Mr. Nicoletti said: "Jimmy, who is Lee Oswald? I never heard of this guy!" I said he works with the Agency, that he is one of David Atlee Phillips' people. Chuck didn't know who David Phillips was. And I told him he is a tie back to me. I am a tie back to you! I said: This makes me nervous. I'm concerned about it! Mr Nicoletti told me: "Jimmy, don't worry about it. I'll talk to the boss." The only one he could have talked to is Sam. If he talked to Sam, Sam evidently told him: Don't worry, I'll take care of it! The only party that Sam could have called, and that's Sam Giancana, that would have been David Phillips. David Phillips was in the area that day. I know that for a fact. I didn't see him, I didn't talk to him, but I know he was there. Anyway, this party that was there, that killed J.D. Tippit, he was brought in at a last minute notice. He had to be on standby. And where-ever Phillips went, he usually kept several people around that he could use, people that he needed. Whether he needs them or not, they are gonna be available. They always had, what are you gonna call them, contract agents, operatives, co-operatives or whatever, he's got people that he can use. If he needs something done he can pick up a phone and have it initiated in a moments' notice. This party was evidently there on standby cause he did not live in that area. That's why I was shocked to see him at my motelroom. So evidently they took care of it that way.
J - Okay, so this party that shot Tippit, he was more connected to the Agency than the mob?
JF - To the agency. He wasn't tied to the mob. He might have done some work for them along the way, but he was strictly one of David Phillips' people. Because he did not even know Charles Nicoletti.