On Oct. 18, 1939, Lee Harvey Oswald, now widely known as the man who killed President John F. Kennedy in 1963, was born in New Orleans.
Oswald was born to Marguerite Claverie, who lived on Alvar Street in the city’s 9th Ward. His father, Robert Edward Lee Oswald, died two months earlier, leaving his mother struggling to support her children — Lee Harvey Oswald, brother Robert Jr. and half-brother John Pic.
Oswald spent his childhood moving from place to place in New Orleans, living in three homes in the city before the age of two. He would also spend approximately 13 months in an orphanage, Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Orphan Asylum Association, with his two brothers, who were already enrolled. The family would later spend time in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.
In late 1956, Oswald joined the Marines in San Diego under the Second Recruit Training Battalion. While in the Marines, he would be trained to shoot, scoring high enough to qualify as a “sharpshooter” in one early shooting test. He was discharged in 1959.
According to accounts outlined in a section on Oswald in JFK Assassinaton Records in the National Archives, Oswald had displayed an early interest in Marxism, Communism and Russia, even going as far as to learn some Russian.
Oswald left for Moscow about a month after he left the Marines, telling officials at the American Embassy that he desired to renounce his U.S. citizenship. In 1961, Oswald met and married his wife, Marina Prusakova, in Minsk, Belarus. In 1962, he and Prusakova were allowed to return to the United States with their young daughter. The family lived in Dallas and would have another daughter.
He eventually secured a job at the Texas School Book Depository, directly across from Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas.
On Nov. 22, 1963, Oswald allegedly fired three shots from a sixth-floor window of the book depository. Two of them struck Kennedy as he drove in a motorcade with his wife, Jackie Kennedy, and Texas Gov. John Connally through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. Connally was also injured in the shooting.
After leaving the book depository, Oswald allegedly shot and killed Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit on the street, after Tippit pulled his patrol car over to speak to Oswald, who matched a police description of the Kennedy shooting suspect. Oswald was arrested in a movie theater that afternoon.
Encountering reporters after his arrest, Oswald famously referred to himself as a “patsy” in the assassination. Many, it seemed, believed him. Thousands of books and movies have placed the blame for the assassination on others, including the CIA, FBI, the Department of Defense and the Mafia. Two days after Oswald was arrested, at Dallas Police Headquarters, Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner with alleged ties to organized crime, shot and killed Oswald.
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