Strange story: JFK, a burglary, an Alaskan cult and an escape

Posted Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy We may never learn more about President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas.

But if we do, the truth may come from the west side of Fort Worth.

That’s where CIA spies, Cold War-era defense officials and industrial security chiefs all lived within a few miles — in some cases, blocks — of misfit Marine Lee Harvey Oswald.

“Everybody has an opinion, and I don’t pretend to know exactly what happened,” says Patsy Dorris Hale, 70, who grew up as a jeweler’s daughter on Tremont Avenue in Arlington Heights and married into the family of former TCU football star and FBI agent I.B. Hale, by then security chief of what is now Lockheed Martin.

“But I think my family knew a little bit more.”

Hale, a former Hudson Oaks resident, lives in Florida. She’s here this week visiting family and appearing at the Paris Coffee Shop on Thursday to promote a self-published book, He Heard His Brother Call His Name, about the fractured relationship of her late husband, former Fort Worth veterinarian Billy Hale, with twin brother Bobby “Papa Pilgrim” Hale.

Bobby Hale was the late Alaskan cult leader whose long-ago teenage marriage to the daughter of Fort Worth lawyer John B. Connally, Kathleen, ended in her 1959 gunshot death ruled a suicide.

As if that alone couldn’t fill a book, Patsy Hale also writes about picking up Billy Hale when he returned from the twins’ notorious trip to Los Angeles in August 1962.

Quoting unnamed FBI sources, author Seymour Hersh has connected a Hale family Corvette to a burglary suspect’s break-in that week at the West Hollywood apartment of Judith Exner, who later claimed affairs with Kennedy and mobsters.

Billy Hale hitchiked back home separately and she picked him up in Abilene, she said.

“I would describe him as tight-lipped,” she said.

“He never said much about where they had been. He said they went to L.A. to sell the Corvette.”

If you want pat answers, she doesn’t offer many.

But when Kennedy was killed and Connally shot, Patsy Hale remembers brother-in-law Bobby bursting into Billy and Patsy’s Denton apartment and shouting oddly, “They shot Connally!” Without mentioning Kennedy, he rushed away to Dallas.

(She said she has no direct knowledge about the assassination but likes a couple of books guessing that Oswald may originally have been considered for a CIA plot against Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.)

Much of the book tells Billy’s side of the troubled family relationship depicted in Alaska author Tom Kizzia’s book about the brutally violent Bobby, Pilgrim’s Wilderness.

In one vivid scene, Billy reunited with Bobby in New Mexico in winter 1997 but wound up escaping from a mountaintop in a blizzard after Bobby had two sons leave him there to die.

“If the title The Bad Seed hadn’t been taken, that’s what I wanted,” she said.

She has four children and 10 grandchildren.

“They wanted me to write the book, but be very careful,” she said.

She still had plenty to tell.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy

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