Posted on 1/15/18

January marks 51 years since the death of Jack Ruby, the man who killed Lee Harvey Oswald, who was seemingly the gunman who shot President John F. Kennedy. Jack Ruby died of cancer in 1967 and was interned in his family’s plot in Illinois. The circumstances surrounding Jack Ruby’s mission are bizarre and subject to much speculation. Legal questions remain about culpability, which will be discussed in this article.

Jack Ruby

Born Jack Rubenstein to a Jewish family in Illinois, Ruby later joined the Air Force and worked as a airline mechanic during World War II. He received an honorable discharge and eventually made his way to Dallas. There, he operated two night clubs and was heavily involved in illegal gambling and the prostitution trade. Through these illicit businesses, Ruby garnered customers and friendships both with the Dallas Police Department and with organized crime.

After the Kennedy assassination, the Dallas Police brought Lee Harvey Oswald to its downtown headquarters to question him. They held him there while determining the next steps. On the third day of Oswald’s detainment, Jack Ruby entered the police station through a restricted door and went straight up to Oswald. While the cameras were filming Oswald, Ruby approached him, pulled out a gun, and shot Oswald dead.

The Dallas Police immediately subdued Ruby and placed him under arrest. When asked about his  motive immediately after the shooting, Ruby responded that his motive was “to show that Jews have guts.”

The Aftermath

Ruby faced a criminal trial and was eventually convicted. On appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court overturned the ruling on a technicality and called for a new trial.

The strange events led Congress to set up the Warren Commission. Since then, many others have expressed their opinions on the matter. There are questions about the Warren Commission findings and subsequent Congressional action.

There are also conspiracy theories with regard to Ruby’s cancer. Did the government inject him with the deadly disease? Did organized crime have anything to do with it?

Ruby’s responses to various questions about the events are inconsistent. Due to his strange involvement and his connections with the underworld, various theories have been presented to explain what happened, with respect to both the Kennedy and Oswald murders.


The response “to show that Jews have guts” seems to many as a deflection of the real story, namely that Ruby’s ties to organized crime were the real reason for his actions. This article is not taking a position about conspiracy theories; instead, it is highlighting the issue of complicity. If organized crime was involved, what, if anything, is their responsibility for the Oswald murder? If, as some suggest, organized crime killed Kennedy, it may have used Ruby to silence Oswald by killing him. Ruby had access to the police because he had a history of supplying police officers with prostitutes. If so, Ruby’s handlers were complicit in the murder of Oswald. The district attorney never prosecuted organized crime in connection to the Kennedy or Oswald murders.

Accused of a crime? Contact the Flowermound law firm of Christopher Abel.

(image courtesy of Tia Jones)


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