Monday, December 30, 2013

The story about Oswald's original tombstone

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - It's a November night in 1967, the fourth anniversary of JFK's assassination.

Two boys from Bartlesville take a joyride to Texas and come back with a piece of history -- Lee Harvey Oswald's tombstone.

"They had done some research on where the cemetery was located and went there.  And decided to take the stone," said Charlie Spencer, who was a detective at the Bartlesville Police Department at the time.
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When the boys stole the stone, Spencer and his partner, Joe Glenn, both worked at BPD solving all kinds of cases together, but they did not expect this one.

"Got a call regarding a report that people had allegedly seen the tombstone and had heard stories about the tombstone being in Bartlesville," said Spencer.

The story seemed too outlandish to believe, so the detectives called Fort Worth police.

"They confirmed the stone was in fact missing," said Spencer.

The duo went to work and within hours had a break in the case.  

The son of a police department employee knew who stole the stone and put police in touch with one of the boys' fathers.

The boy's dad got the stone from his son and agreed to meet Spencer and Glenn in Bartlesville's Johnstone Park.  

It's there where the boy's father presented Spencer and Glenn with Lee Harvey Oswald's tombstone.

"It was just a matter of transferring it from his vehicle to Captain Glenn's car," said Spencer.

Spencer and Glenn believed they retrieved the tombstone just in time.  The boys apparently planned on breaking it into pieces and dumping it in the Little Caney River.

"Knowing that the Oswald family wanted that tombstone back, I didn't want to lose it either," said Glenn.

The boys were never charged and their names were never publicly revealed.

They told Spencer and Glenn it was just a prank.

"They weren't bragging or acting like they wanted to be heroes," said Glenn.

Eventually the stone made it back to Lee Harvey Oswald's mother, who was so afraid someone would steal it again she kept it at her house.  Instead, she put a new more simple stone at the grave site.

Oswald's mother's plan worked well until she died.

"The people who bought the house after she died were looking through sort of a crevice, a walkway hidden behind a wall, and there they came across the original tombstone and they couldn't believe it," said Gerald Posner, author of "Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK."

The stone stayed with the homeowners for years before ending up in the hands of one of their relatives, who then sold it to an Illinois museum where it's still on display.

But now the homeowners' relatives are suing to get the stone back, saying their other relative didn't have permission to sell it.

"It went from Fort Worth on the (grave site) of Oswald to Oklahoma back to Texas, now on display in a museum and maybe one day will find its way back to Texas," said Posner.

Wherever the stone ends up, Spencer and Glenn will always have a piece of it.  They made a tracing of the stone that they still have to this day.

It's a way to remember their brush with history in '67.

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