JFK Death Threat Note From Nov. 1963 In Miami Revealed For 1st Time

JFK Death Threat Note From Nov. 1963 In Miami Revealed For 1st Time

 

 

 

MIAMI (CBSMiami) –

 

The young president faced threats on his life throughout his brief time in office before things came to a crescendo of terror in late November 1963 and South Florida played a crucial role in the days leading to Kennedy’s murder at the hands of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Just days before Kennedy’s life was ended as shots pierced the cold, November air in Dallas; he was in South Florida for what appeared to be a fairly routine presidential visit. The trip came at a time when there was growing concern over the safety of the young president.

 

Now, for the first-time in history, CBSMiami.com has the documents that reveal a bomb threat against JFK in Miami just days before his death. It’s a threat CBSMiami.com has confirmed that the local police knew about, but the FBI didn’t.

The story starts with a letter postmarked November 16, 1963. The letter was mailed from Miami Beach and addressed to the “Chief of Police of Miami.” The letter was from a group called the “Cuban Commandos” and threatened both President Kennedy’s life and that of then-Miami Mayor Robert King High.

 

The letter read (emphasis from the author):

“The Cuban Commandos have the BOMBS ready for killing JFK and Mayor KING HIGH either at the AIRPORT or at the Convention Hall.

A Catholic PADRE is going to give instruction at Cuban Womens Broadcast at (illegible time) tonight by “(illegible RADIO)” and then all are invited to Bayfront Park Auditorium and take along a BOTTLE of wine, wiskey (sic), Etc. to decide who will throw the bombs. At King High because he did sign the Ord. about (illegible) being only American Citizens and sending refugees away, Etc. Mary”

Kennedy was coming to South Florida on Monday, November 18, 1963.

 

Bob Hoelscher worked for the Miami-Dade Police Department for 50 years and was a counter-sniper and observer on the terrace deck of the airport hotel on November 18, 1963; the day Kennedy arrived in Miami. He guarded almost every VIP that came through Dade County from Kennedy to Clinton and started the tactical special weapons team, later known as SWAT, in 1970.

 

Hoelscher told CBSMiami.com that he knew of potential threats to the president ahead of his November visit.

“I was told that information had been developed that the Cubans might start a protest at an unknown location and they might make an attempt on the life of the President if there was sufficient distraction,” Hoelscher said. “I was told to keep this information to myself, watch the periphery and look for anything unusual.”

While Hoelscher and some others in the police department knew, it was strictly on a “need to know” basis.

“The information about the death threat was not shared with the rank and file out of fear that the media would find out,” Hoelscher said.

Still, the FBI didn’t have any knowledge of the specific threat in Miami.

 

“Doesn’t look like the FBI knew about it (the bomb threat),” said FBI historian Dr. John Fox. “I’m not finding anything involving the FBI for that date and that Presidential visit to Miami.”

The young Kennedy was in town to give a speech to the Inter-American Press Association. Kennedy would speak for 25 minutes before the group. Kennedy was brought by helicopter to Haulover Beach and then by motorcade, only blocks away, to the Americana Hotel, which later became the Sheraton Bal Harbour.

By utilizing a chopper, the Secret Service and local authorities were able to minimize Kennedy’s vulnerability.

“Using the helicopter had always been a part of the plan because an extensive motorcade is always a high hazard. There’s just too much geography involved (between Miami International Airport and Bal Harbour),” Hoelscher said. “There was talk at one point of having a decoy motorcade, but the resources just weren’t there.”

Kennedy had faced attempts on his life since before he even took the oath of office in 1961.

In 1960, Secret Service agents tracked a threat against Kennedy that nearly succeeded. Richard Pavlick came to West Palm Beach to the Kennedy compound with a Buick that the Secret Service said was filled with enough dynamite to “level a small mountain.”

 

Instead of being taken back to Miami International Airport by car, Kennedy was taken back to a waiting helicopter and flown to the airport to board Air Force One. The President’s plane was wheels up by 9:14 p.m. on November 18 on his way to Washington.

Kennedy had just three days to live.

CBSMiami.com has also obtained two crime lab reports that indicate local police were actively investigating the bomb threat letter.

On Tuesday November 19, the Metropolitan Dade County Public Safety Department issued a lab report, case number 714987, which detailed the analysis of the bomb threat note. The memo was sent to Lt. L.J. VanBuskirk of the Criminal Intelligence Section of the Public Safety Department.

 

The note read:

“On November 18, 1963 Detective Ciacco of our Criminal Intelligence Section submitted to this office an anonymous typewritten card addressed to “The Chief of Police, Miami, Fla.” This card was submitted for documentation and study.”

“Studies of the typewriting on the card reveal that the type-writing was executed on a Royal Typewriter, pica type, with serial numbers near the 4,000,000 series.”

 

“The date of manufacture of such a machine would be before 1952.”

 

The note was signed by Vincent E. Severs, Criminalist, Crime Laboratory Bureau.

But again, the FBI has no record of ever being notified about the threat that was made against JFK for the November 1963 trip. CBSMiami.com reached out to the U.S. Secret Service to ask if they had any record of the bomb threat, but the Secret Service hasn’t responded as of press time.

 

Metro Dade Police’s investigation into the note continued as Kennedy traveled to Dallas, Texas a few days later. The same day Kennedy was driving in his motorcade in Dallas, November 1963, a Metro Dade Police memo was again issued with further test results conducted on the presidential death threat note.

According to the memo dated November 22, 1963, and again directed to Lt. L.J. VanBuskirk, Supervisor Criminal Intelligence, “Additional information reveals that the typewriter the card was written on was a Royal manufactured between 1947 and 1949. It is more likely it was manufactured in 1948.”

 

The second memo was sent from Charles Black, Agent, Criminal Intelligence.

But, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on November 22, the same day the second memo was issued; bullets fired by Lee Harvey Oswald ended the life of America’s 35th president and took much of an entire generation’s innocence with it

 

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About vincepalamara

Vincent Palamara was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in Sociology. Although not even born when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Vince brings fresh eyes to an old case. In fact, Vince would go on to study the largely overlooked actions - and inactions - of the United States Secret Service in unprecedented detail, as well as achieving a world's record in the process, having interviewed and corresponded with over 80 former agents (the House Select Committee on Assassinations had the old record of 46 with a 6 million dollar budget and supboena power from Congress), not to mention many surviving family members, White House aides, and even quite a few Parkland and Bethesda medical witnesses for a corresponding project. The result was Survivor's Guilt: The Secret Service & The Failure To Protect President Kennedy. Vince is also the author of the books JFK: From Parkland To Bethesda and The Not-So-Secret Service. All told, Vince has been favorably mentioned in over 120 JFK and Secret Service related books to date (including two whole chapters in Murder in Dealey Plaza, The Secret Service: The Hidden History Of An Enigmatic Agency by Philip Melanson, and the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board, among many others), often at length, in the bibliographies, and in the Secret Service - and even medical evidence - areas of these works. Vince has appeared on the History Channel, C-SPAN, A COUP IN CAMELOT, KING KILL '63, THE MAN BEHIND THE SUIT, National Geographic, PCN, BPTV, local cable access television, YouTube, radio, newspapers, print journals, at national conferences, and all over the internet. Also, Vince's original research materials, or copies of said materials, are stored in the National Archives (by request under Deed Of Gift by the ARRB), the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Harvard University, the Assassination Archives and Research Center, and the Dallas Public Library. Vince Palamara has become known (as he was dubbed by the History Channel in 2003) "the Secret Service expert." As former JFK Secret Service agent Joe Paolella proclaimed: "You seem to know a lot about the Secret Service, maybe even more than I do!" Agent Dan Emmett calls Vince a Secret Service expert in his new book.
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