A gravestone for President John F. Kennedy’s assassin has been returned to Texas after an ownership dispute.
David Card, 75, of Dallas has the granite marker after a settlement with Historic Auto Attractions of Roscoe, Ill. The case involving Lee Harvey Oswald’s gravestone was settled out of court last month, KTVT/Channel 11 reported. Details were not released.
“I’m very relieved and happy to have the stone back here in Texas where it belongs,” Card told the Dallas-Fort Worth television station.
The gravestone bears Oswald’s name, his date of birth, Oct. 18, 1939, and his date of death, Nov. 24, 1963. It’s believed to have been the original marker for his grave.
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Oswald was in police custody when club owner Jack Ruby fatally shot him two days after Kennedy’s death.
Touching the 140-pound tombstone is like “reaching 6 feet down and right into Oswald’s coffin,” Card told The Dallas Morning News.
Card says he might place the marker in the Sixth Floor Museum. The Dallas site is dedicated to Kennedy’s assassination and is located in the former Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald shot at Kennedy as the president’s motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza.
The tombstone vanished from Fort Worth’s Rose Hill Cemetery on Nov. 22, 1967, the fourth anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. It was allegedly taken as a prank by teenagers and was recovered.
From there, it’s been on quite a journey.
The stone, which also has an etching of a cross, was found by authorities in a park in Bartlesville, Okla. They returned it to Marguerite Oswald, the assassin’s mother, who lived on Byers Avenue in west Fort Worth.
Concerned that thieves and vandals might strike again, Marguerite Oswald tucked the stone in the crawl space under her home, Card said.
A few months after her death in 1981, Card’s father and stepmother bought the house.
About four years later, an electrician rooting around in the crawl space found the headstone. Fearful that someone might steal it, Card’s father and stepmother hauled it to the home of Mrs. Card’s sister, who later sent it to her son, Johnny Ragan.
It sat in Ragan’s garage until he died in 2008, David Card said, leaving the tombstone in the hands of Ragan’s wife, Holly.
Auto museum detour
That’s where the odyssey gets murky.
Card contended that the stone is among items that his father and stepmother acquired when they bought the Oswald house. Wayne Lensing, who owns an Illinois auto museum, maintained that the stone was legally in the possession of Holly Ragan, and he obtained it from her in 2010.
“Nobody ever wanted anything to do with it throughout all those years until they found out the thing got sold,” Lensing said. “So now, after 25, 30 years … they all come out of the woodwork.”
For months, the tombstone was displayed at Lensing’s museum in Roscoe, Ill., down a remote road from a body shop. Visitors could see it along with Elvis Presley’s 1972 Lincoln, the Mayberry squad car from The Andy Griffith Show and three Batmobiles.
Card maintained that was no place for it, and he ultimately prevailed in a legal struggle to get it.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Lee Harvey Oswald was buried on Nov. 25, 1963, in Plot 259 of what is now Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Park. The current stone says only Oswald. His mother, Marguerite, who died on Jan. 17, 1981, is buried next to him.