home, he received an eerie, anonymous phone call warning him to keep an eye on,his children and to watch what he said, Griffin recalled recently. Shortly after that, Griffin said, Hearne Police Chief Perkins visited him at work one morning and told him. Bryan Russ, the county attorney, wanted to see him right away. Griffin waited for his boss to return and rushed over to Russ’s office, where he found Russ sitting with Sheriff Howard Stegall. “While I was talking to Howard,” Griffin, now a Hearne city councilman, told the Observer, “he handed me a pen and Bryan shoved a paper under me and asked me to sign it. I didn’t know what itwas, didn’t read it or anything. They were my friends and I just did what they asked me to. A minute or so later, they got up, shook my hand, and I left.” What Griffin did, he now says, was unwittingly sign an affidavit stating that he positively identified the Odessa man on August 21, 1962. This meant, of course, that the testimony he gave the grand jury was effectively discredited, giVing added weight to the local authorities and to the FBI’s suicide theory. “I never positively identified the man. All I did was sign my name when they shoved the thing under me.” The affidavit states: “I told the Rangers on that day that this was the man and I knew it on that date and I know it now. I cannot identify any other person for I am positive that this is the man. Bryan Russ is now in private Practice in. Hearne after nearly a quarter-century as county attorney. Russ said he “doesn’t even remember him [Griffin] signing anything. That’s .20 some odd years ago. I have no recollection at this point.” By the time Billie Sol Estes arrived in Franklin to testify on a steamy Wednesday morning in the middle of June, 1962, most of his properties were in receivership, including his airplanes. Nevertheless, he managed to satisfy even the crustiest among the throng of reporters by swooping into town in a .two-car caravan of his trademark white . Cadillacs. With him were two of his brothers, his father, and two attorneys, Bryan and John Cofer of Austin, one of Texas’ best legal minds and confidant of Lyndon Johnson. Moore, known as the “Bull of the Brazos,” said Billie Sol’s appearance “caused the biggest stir around here since the big watermelon harvest of 1948.” Billie Sol spent almost two hours before the grand jury, but he invoked the Texas version of the Fifth Amendment almost continually refusing to Mac Wallace as a UT student. answer most questions on grounds that he might incriminate himself. On Monday, June 18, at 9:30 p.m., after a long but quiet day of testimony from more of Henry Marshall’s Agriculture Department colleagues and FBI agent McWilliams, the grand jury reported to Judge Barron that it could not decide whether the death of Marshall was murder or suicide. The jury foreman, Goree Matthews, told the judge that after considering all known evidence, the jury considers it “inconclusive to substantiate a definite decision at this time, or to overrule any decision heretofore made:” Not all the grand jurors thought it was suicide. Ralph McKinney, the Agriculture Department employee in Franklin, and Joe Scasta, a Wheelock farmer, dissented, voting for a murder verdict. In an interview, McKinney said that Pryse Metcalfe, Jr., the sheriff’s sonin-law, “attempted to exert pressure” on the other jurors to affirm the suicide verdict. “Pryse was as strong in the support of the suicide verdict as anyone I have ever seen in my life, and I think he used every influence he possibly could against the members of the grand jury to be sure it came out with a suicide verdict,” McKinney said. Metcalfe, who still runs the feed store in Franklin, declined to speak with the Observer. But in a 1984 interview with the Dallas Morning News, he denied that he tried to “lobby” other grand jurors. “I didn’t consciously do that. I didn’t lobby anybody. We didn’t have much time to do any lobbying,” he said. F THE PROPONENTS of the suicide theory hoped the case would then fade away, they were surely disappointed. Henry Marshall’s name, inextricably linked with Billie Sol Estes, bobbed up on the front pages for the rest of the summer. \(In fact, the Associated Press ranked the case one of Just nine days after the grand jury was dismissed, Senator John McClellan, Democrat of Arkansas, convened his Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for three months of hearings on Billie Sol’s wheelings and dealings with the government. Two days after the hearings began, the riddle of Marshall’s death resurfaced. It occurred during the opening testimony of Orville Freeman, when the secretary described the January. 1961, meeting between Marshall and Billie Sol’s laWyer, John Dennison. He referred to Marshall as “the man who left this world under questioned circumstances.” As the hearings lurched on through the stifling Washington summer, an endless parade of witnesses spoke their piece: finance company representatives, cotton farmers, government bureaucrats, former government bureaucrats, lawyers, more lawyers most told how they’d been bamboozled by Billie Sol. On the morning of July 12, Leonard*C. Williams, a former assistant . to Henry Marshall, testified that Marshall warned his staff late in 1960 about Billie Sol’s illegal cotton acreage transfers. Before the hearings resumed after the lunch recess, with the committee room buzzing once again about the Mystery of Henry Marshall’s death, Senator McClellan posed for photographers with a .22 caliber rifle similar to ., Marshall’s. The Senate’s ‘leading investigator stretched his arms fully and pointed the rifle at his chest ,to show the difficulty involved in killing oneself in this fashion. “It doesn’t take many deddctionS to come to the irrevocable conclusion that no man committed suicide by placing this rifle in that awkward position and then [cocking] it -four times more,” McClellan said. The Texas Rangers, meanwhile, continued their probe. In a July 13 letter to Col. Homer Garrison,.director of the rt Texas Depament ,of Public Safety, Ranger Captain. Clint Peoples reported in detail his findings into Marshall’s death. , Peoples’s conclusion: “It would have been utterly impossible for Mr. Marshall’ to have taken. his own Garrison sent a summary of Peoples’s report to. McClellan, Judge Barron, and the FBI, notifying all that the Rangers’ “continuing investigation will be based on the theory that he was murdered.” Given the startling revelation in the THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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