WFAA-TV coverage is here.
Tarrant County judge rules that Lee Harvey Oswald’s casket belongs to
his brother Robert
A Tarrant County judge has ruled that the rotting casket of Lee Harvey
Oswald belongs to his brother Robert.
Judge Donald Cosby issued that conclusion this morning, almost two
months after the 80-year-old Robert appeared in a Fort Worth courtroom
in an attempt to keep the casket out of a stranger’s hands. Writes
Cosby, he bought his brother’s pine box for $300 on November 24, 1963,
and it remains to this day “the personal property of Robert.” That means
the person who bought it at auction in 2010 can’t have it.
What remains of Lee Harvey Oswald's casket, which will be returned to Robert
In December 2010, a Los Angeles auction house sold the casket to an
unidentified buyer for $87,468. Weeks later, Robert filed a suit in
Tarrant County to stop the transaction, which he blasted as “highly
objectionable to a reasonable person.” Oswald sued Nate D. Sanders,
Inc., and Baumgardner Funeral Home over the sale of the casket, as well
as other grim items tied to his brother’s death.
The casket’s journey from six feet under to a Tarrant County courthouse
is a long one involving the sale of a funeral home, Lee Harvey Oswald’s
exhumation in 1981 (following allegations he wasn’t really buried in
that box) and his transfer to a new casket when he was put back in the
ground at Rose Hill Cemetery. In his lengthy finding, Cosby details its
tortured history. But long story short, he writes: When Baumgardner
Funeral Home kept the 1963 casket following Lee Harvey’s re-burial in
1981, it should have told Robert or Lee’s widow Marina of its
whereabouts. At trial, the funeral home’s attorney argued that it was “a
gift” from Robert to Lee since “Robert would never see the casket again,
and it would remain in the ground forever and ever.”
Instead, it kept the box, and in 2010 partnered with Nate D. Sanders,
Inc., to auction off the casket and other “funeral items.” As far as the
Los Angeles auction house was concerned, Baumgardner had every right to
the casket. Wrong, says the judge, who has awarded Robert the $87,468 in
damages as well as the casket. Baumgardner Funeral Home will have to pay
for its return.
Says the judge, the funeral home “wrongfully exercised dominion and
control over the 1963 casket.”