March 8, 2009
A dope courier for Jack Ruby informed a Louisiana State Police lieutenant and numerous hospital personnel of the planned assassination of President John F. Kennedy two days before he was gunned down in Dallas.
by Don Fulsom
One of the most fascinating and underreported stories in the JFK assassination mystery deals with the Jack Ruby dope courier who accurately predicted the President's murder.
Two days before John F. Kennedy was killed in Dealey Plaza, 34-year-old Rose Cherami (sometimes spelled Cheramie)—a hooker, junkie, drug-runner and ex-stripper at Jack Ruby's Carousel Club in Dallas—was on a Florida-to-Texas heroin run for Ruby.
In rural Louisiana, a violent drunken argument with her two Ruby-connected male traveling companions broke out both inside and outside a seedy roadside tavern/house of prostitution. The argument continued during the next leg of their ride. Rose was tossed out of the gangsters' vehicle and then run over by another car near Eunice, La.
On the way to a nearby hospital, the cut and bruised Cheramie told Louisiana State Police Lt. Francis Fruge that her pending business in Dallas included picking up cash (for the eight kilos of heroin she'd been assigned to purchase in Houston). She said her fellow travelers were out to kill President Kennedy. At the hospital, she told doctors, nurses and others JFK would soon be murdered in Dallas.
After the crime that shook the world on Nov. 22, 1963—and after Ruby had gunned down the alleged Kennedy assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, two days later—Cherami told Fruge that Ruby and Oswald were such close friends they were homosexual lovers.She said Oswald had visited Ruby's striptease joint.
Two emcees at the Carousel Club had also spotted Oswald there, as had a sizeable number of Ruby's employees and customers.
In 1967, Dr. Victor Weiss—who treated Rose at the Louisiana hospital—told New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison's investigators he too had heard her predictions about the planned Kennedy slaying. And he confirmed that, after Ruby shot Oswald, Rose had told him in the hospital that she had seen Oswald sitting with Ruby at a table in the Carousel prior to Nov. 22, 1963.
Another doctor at the same hospital, Wayne Owen, later told the Madison Capital Times that he and other interns were told of the plot in advance of the assassination. Cheramie even predicted the role of her boss. Dr. Owen was quoted as saying that one of the interns was told "… that one of the men involved in the plot was a man named Jack Rubinstein." Owen said that when they learned Rubinstein was Ruby they grew quite concerned. "We were all assured that something would be done about it by the FBI or someone. Yet we never heard anything."
Lt. Fruge told the House Select Committee on Assassinations that Cherami seemed "quite lucid" during her talks with him. The panel found that Rose was "without psychosis" during her hospitalization, but that because of her withdrawal from heroin she "might have a mild integrative and pleasure defect."
House investigators confirmed major elements of Cherami's story—even key details of the drug run—giving her intriguing tale fresh plausibility among conspiracy theorists.
While working for the Garrison investigation, Lt. Fruge tracked down the roadside bar where Rose Cherami and her fellow Ruby-linked cohorts had argued and tussled. Mac Manuel, owner of the Silver Slipper Lounge—once operated by Ruby—vividly recalled and verified the incident. He also picked out a mug shot of one of Rose's companions as Cuban exile Sergio Arcacha-Smith.
Such a link would be highly significant, according to House assassination probers—who pointed out in 1979 that:
- Kennedy assassination investigators knew Arcacha-Smith as an anti-Castro Cuban refugee who had been active in 1961 as the head of the New Orleans Cuban Revolutionary Front. (Author's note: The CRF—a CIA-backed outfit—was located in the same Camp Street building in the French Quarter where assassination suspects Oswald, Ferrie, Guy Banister and E. Howard Hunt hung out.)
- Arcacha-Smith had befriended anti-Castro activist and former commercial pilot David Ferrie, who was named as a suspect in the Kennedy assassination within days of the President's death. (The committee did not know that Oswald was a friend and former Civil Air Patrol student of Ferrie.)
- Ferrie and Arcacha-Smith were also believed to have had ties with New Orleans organized crime figure Carlos Marcello. (Unknown to the committee, Ferrie and Arcacha-Smith were part of Marcello's underworld empire. And both Oswald and Ruby had ties to Marcello. The New Orleans godfather later confessed in prison that he knew Oswald and Ruby, had set up Ruby in the striptease club business, and that he—Marcello—had been behind the JFK assassination.)
The House panel, however, did not comment on a number of other equally important facts that had yet to surface, or had escaped their curiosity:
- Marcello had once offered Arcacha-Smith money in return for gambling concessions in a post-invasion Cuba.
- In October 1961, Arcacha-Smith introduced Marcello errand boy and pilot David Ferrie to Carlos Bringuier.
- On August 9, 1963, Oswald was handing out Fair Play for Cuba leaflets when he became involved in a fight (or fake fight) with Bringuier.Oswald was arrested and on Aug. 12, he was found guilty and fined $10.
- While in jail, Oswald was visited by FBI agent John Quigley.Five days later, Oswald debated the Cuba issue with Bringuier on a New Orleans radio show.
On Nov. 26, 1963, Lt. Fruge tried to interest Dallas police in Rose's astonishing tale—but they turned him down.When Cheramie refused Fruge's suggestion that she talk to the FBI, she was released from the hospital and Fruge went back to his regular police beat. JFK assassination expert Jim DiEugenio, writing in Probe in 1999, thinks the Dallas cops passed up a prime opportunity:
So, just four days after the assassination, with an extremely and provably credible witness alive, with her potentially explosive testimony able to be checked out, the Cheramie testimony was now escorted out to pasture. Eyewitness testimony that Ruby knew Oswald, that Ruby was somehow involved in an international drug circle, that two Latins were aware of and perhaps involved in a plot to kill Kennedy, and that Ruby probably knew the men; this incredible lead—the type investigators pine for—was being shunted aside by (Dallas Police Captain Will) Fritz. It would stay offstage until Jim Garrison began to poke into the Kennedy case years later.
On Sept. 4, 1965, Rose Cherami died in a car crash near Big Sandy, Tex. The Encyclopedia of the JFK Assassination notes that while her death certificate suggests she was killed at the crash scene, hospital records show she might have first been shot in the head at close range:
"The driver said that Cheramie was lying on the roadand, although he tried, he couldn't avoid running over her skull.Although her death certificate reads 'DOA,' official hospital records indicate she was operated on for eight hours after she arrived on a 'deep punctate stellate' wound to her right forehead, which could indicate a gunshot wound at point blank range."
In 1991, Rose would be portrayed by Sally Kirkland in Oliver Stone's JFK.
Editor's Note: Sources include documents from the House Select Committee on Assassinations; Spartucus.com; the Mary Ferrell Foundation; a Probe magazine article by Jim DiEugenio, July/August 1999; Mafia Kingfish by John Davis; and The Encyclopedia of the JFK Assassination (Facts on File).