Sunday, June 15, 2014

Harrelson, a judge and JFK

Woody Harrelson has made a name for himself as a great actor, but few people know about his father Charles Voyde Harrelson.  Charles V. Harrelson was a hitman, the first person to kill a sitting federal judge in the 20th century.  

Our story begins with Jimmy Chagra, a struggling rug salesman.  His family went bust and he turned to gambling and drug smuggling to make his cash.  He was hugely successful as a drug trafficker and became a fixture in Las Vegas.  He lived at Caesars Palace while he was having his mansion built.  He gambled a million a week in the casinos and once lost 500k on a golf game.  He was indicted and arrested twice for drug dealing.  When he drew Judge John Wood, better known as “Maximum John” because he handed down the maximum sentence to drug dealers, he was advised by his brother Joe Chagra, a lawyer, to kill the Judge rather than receive a long sentence.  So he reached out for a hitman.  Charles V. Harrelson was well known as a gun-for-hire, a guy who would do whatever it took to get a job done.   They met in a Las Vegas Casino.  
Charles V. Harrelson Mugshot

Charles was paid an astronomical amount of cash to kill the judge, 250K. This amount is high even in today’s dollars.  Anyone who watches Discovery ID Channel will know that people are killed for much less all the time.   Just look at what those who killed Fat Herbie Blitzstien were paid.  Charles was paid based based on the word that he was on the grassy knoll and fired the famous fatal head shot.   Whether you believe that or not, he did kill the judge with a single shot fired from .240 Wetherby Mark V rifle, killing him from a distance.   He waited for the judge to come home to his San Antomio, Texas townhome.  When he arrived in the parking lot, Charles fired a single shot from a rifle into his body, killing him.  When he was arrested, high on cocaine on the highway in Texas, he was ranting about killing Kennedy. When they searched him they found a card from R.D. Matthews in Dallas.   The FBI launched the biggest investigation in modern history in 1979, interviewing more than 30,000 people and collecting more than 500,000 pieces of evidence, at a cost of 11 million dollars.  

Charles was rumored to be one of the three tramps arrested by the Dallas Police immediately after the Kennedy assassination. There was no official record of ever arresting three tramps, and it would never even be known about except for a series of pictures taken by a reporter in Dealy Plaza immediately after the assassination.   The tramps were trying to board a train very close to the grassy knoll and stockade fence when they were arrested.  They appear very clean shaved with new shoes on their feet, so them actually being real tramps is suspect.   One looks a lot like Charles V. Harrelson.  

The Three Tramps
R. D. Matthews, the man whose card was found on Charles when he was arrested, was a shadowy Dallas gambling figure who was a highly decorated World War II Veteran.  He returned  back home and became part of a large Dallas gang.  He worked with Benny Benion of Horseshoe Casino fame and even had places in Cuba.  Jack Ruby made a 13 minute call to RD's wife's home in Las Vegas a few days before the Kennedy assassination. Jack Ruby saw Dallas Mafia boss Joseph Campisi and RD Matthews after killing Lee H Oswald.  RD had a permanent room at the Horseshoe and that was where Charles Harrelson was paid the 250k to kill the judge.

There is so much to this story and that is why I kept studying the files and getting into contact with Charles Harrelson.  He wrote me back to say that he was going to tell his story, the REAL story.  Unfortunately, that book will never come because he died on March 15, 2007 and his cell was cleaned out.    

A few years back, casino magnate Bob Stupak was roughed up by a then-88 year old RD Matthews.  I called up Las Vegas Reporter Scoop Smith and asked him if he knew who RD was, and he didn’t know. So I filled him in and there was a nice piece in the next paper.

RD Matthews, like Charles, has passed on. On July 21, 2013 he died like he lived, quietly.

No comments:

Post a Comment