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Richard Case Nagell - The Man Who Knew Too Much

Richard Case Nagell, whom Dick Russell labeled 'The Man Who Knew Too Much.'
Richard Case Nagell, whom Dick Russell labeled "The Man Who Knew Too Much."

On September 20, 1963, Richard Case Nagell walked into a bank in El Paso, Texas. He fired two shots into the wall near the ceiling, walked back out to his car, and waited to be arrested. Subsequently, Nagell would claim he was a double (or triple) agent of U.S. and the KGB, that he knew Lee Harvey Oswald and was monitoring the JFK assassination plot which involved Cuban exiles, and that he had been ordered to kill Oswald to prevent the plot from being carried out. He also maintained that he had sent a registered letter to FBI Director Hoover, warning him of the plot.

Author Dick Russell interviewed Nagell and corresponded with him, and eventually wrote a book, largely about Nagell, entitled The Man Who Knew Too Much. Nagell was very guarded about what he knew, and some of his correspondence uses humorous pseudonyms for the various persons and organizations.

Who was Richard Case Nagell? A decorated Korean War veteran, Nagell was in a plane crash in 1954 which left him in a coma for weeks. Despite this, he was subsequently granted a Top Secret clearance and served for several years in CounterIntelligence in the Army. Was Nagell's later strange behavior a sign of brain damage or psychological difficulties, or was he "sheep dipped" for a role in undercover work?

The Nagell story is truly one of the weirdest in the JFK assassination literature, and critics of it point to Nagell's many inconsistencies, his failure to ever come up with the hidden-away evidence he claimed he had, and his tendency to "let out" information just at a time where he might have acquired it through public channels. But some of his knowledge remains unexplained. The FBI inquired of the CIA about seven names found in a notebook in Nagell's possession at the time of his arrest. A review determined that all of them were involved in intelligence, and the CIA wrote back to the FBI asking "how the above names came into the possession of Nagell." The question was never answered.

A perhaps fitting if tragic denouement to the story occurred when the Assassination Records Review Board decided to contact Nagell. The ARRB sent a registered letter on October 31, 1995. One day after the letter was mailed, Nagell was found dead in his apartment, victim of an apparent heart attack.



The Man in the Middle: Richard Case Nagell's View of an Evolving Conspiracy, by Larry Hancock.

Who Was Richard Case Nagell's Mexico CIA Contact?, by Tony Basing.

Passages: Richard Case Nagell, in Kennedy Assassination Chronicles, Volume 1, Issue 4.

Mary Ferrell Database

Other Links

Richard Case Nagell: Report of Psychiatric Examination, at JFK Online.



ARRB Final Report:

  • Section 7.A.14, p.130 - Richard Case Nagell. Notes his death the day after the ARRB mailed a latter to Nagell.

Commission Document 197. FBI Reid Report of 20 Dec 1963 re: Oswald. Notes Nagell's statement that "My contact with Oswald was strictly social and that is all I can say."

Commission Document 253. FBI Ray Report of 3 Jan 1964 reporting interviews with Richard Case Nagell in the El Paso County Jail.

Commission Document 404. FBI Reid Report of 30 Jan 1964 re: Oswald. Reports Marina Oswald's statement that she did not know Richard Case Nagell.

Memo from CIA Director of Security to Director, FBI. On 7 April 1964, the CIA responded to an FBI inquiry regarding names found on papers in Nagell's possession.

Memo from Sarah Hall to Chief, LEOB/SRS. CIA officers reported on Nagell's 4 June 1968 appearance at the General Consul's office in Zurich, Switzerland.

Memo from DD/P to Director, FBI. This lengthy 13 Dec 1968 memo from Richard Helms to J. Edgar Hoover lays out some of the Nagell story.

Telegram from American Embassy in Madrid to Secretary of State. This March 1969 telegram reports Nagell's conversation with Consul officer Robert S. Driscoll. See also this April telegram.

Letter to Attorney General from Director, FBI. This 12 June 1975 letter regarding Nagell was prompted by Richard Popkin, author of The Second Oswald.

Affidavit of Richard Case Nagell. Nagell asserted in this 21 Nov 1975 affidavit that he had sent registered mail to J. Edgar Hoover about a conspiracy involving Lee Harvey Oswald to assassination Kennedy.

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