Silvia Odio del Torro (born 1937) is the daughter of a Cuban refugee who was jailed for his attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro in 1962. Odio provided testimony to the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy that Lee Harvey Oswald was one of three men who visited her Dallas, Texas apartment in September 1963 to solicit money for the anti-Castro cause.
Odio was born in Havana, Cuba in 1937; she remained in Cuba until 1960. She was one of ten children born to Amador and Sarah Odio. Her brother, Cesar, was a city manager of Miami, Florida for eleven years.
Warren Commission testimony and investigation
On July 22, 1964, Odio provided testimony to Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the Warren Commission, at the US Post Office Building in Dallas. She stated that in September 1963, three men, whom she described as two Cubans and an American, came to her Dallas apartment and asked her to help them prepare a letter to solicit funds for an anti-Castro organization in which she was involved, the Cuban Revolutionary Junta (JURE). Odio testified that one of the Cubans identified himself by the "war name" of "Leopoldo" and that the American was introduced to her as "Leon Oswald". She said "Leopoldo" told her that the American was in the Marine Corps and was an excellent shot. According to Odio, the American said Cubans "don't have any guts ... because President Kennedy should have been assassinated after the Bay of Pigs, and some Cubans should have done that, because he was the one that was holding the freedom of Cuba actually." She said the men told her that they had come from New Orleans and were about to leave on a trip. Odio testified that she was certain that "Leon Oswald" was Lee Harvey Oswald and that the meeting occurred prior October 1, likely on the preceding Thursday (September 26) or Friday (September 27).
The Warren Commission stated in its final report that it examined Oswald's known or alleged contacts and activities in an attempt to determine whether or not he was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy, and that it investigated Odio's statements as part of that examination.[nb 1] The Commission said its investigation showed that Oswald left Dallas for New Orleans on April 24, 1963 and lived there until traveling to Mexico City in late September. It stated he was in New Orleans at least until September 23, the day Ruth Paine took Marina Oswald back to Dallas, and that the timeline of the delivery of an unemployment check he cashed "firmly established" his presence in New Orleans on September 25. The Warren Commission said Oswald may have taken a Continental Trailways bus from New Orleans to Houston on the September 25, and that there was "strong evidence" in the form of ticket purchase records and eyewitness reports that he took a bus from Houston to Laredo, Texas on September 26. According to the Warren Commission, other evidence established that Oswald had crossed into Mexico on September 26 and out on October 3, the same day he returned to Dallas. The Commission noted a window of time between the morning of September 25 and the early morning of September 26 for which they could not account, but stated that it was not plausible or supported by the evidence that Oswald took a car, bus, or airplane from New Orleans to Dallas to see Odio, then back to Houston where he departed for Laredo in that period of time. It also stated that comments Oswald made to passengers on the bus to Laredo and a telephone call he placed to a resident in Houston indicated that he was not in Dallas on September 25 but was traveling from New Orleans.
The Warren Commission was "almost certain" that Oswald could not have been in Dallas in the time period specified by Odio, however, they requested that the FBI conduct further investigation of her testimony, including the possibility that Oswald may have been with others during his trip to Mexico. In an effort to locate and identify the men Odio said were with Oswald, the FBI interviewed two anti-Castro leaders who denied knowing anything about Odio's allegations. The Commission said that additional investigation, including another interview of Odio, was conducted to find the men who had visited her apartment. It reported that the FBI had located another participant in anti-Castro activities, Loran Eugene Hall, who stated he had visited Odio in September 1964 with Lawrence Howard and William Seymour. Their final report stated: "While the FBI had not yet completed its investigation into this matter at the time the report went to press, the Commission has concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was not at Mrs. Odio's apartment in September of 1963."
House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation
The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) stated in its final report published in 1979 that they investigated the possible involvement in the assassination by a number of anti-Castro Cuban groups and individuals. The Committee's report summarized the Warren Commission's findings regarding the "Odio incident" and stated that J. Lee Rankin did not receive portions of the FBI's investigation until after the Commission's final report had been published. According to the HSCA, Howard and Seymour denied having met Odio, and Hall later retracted his statement that the three of them met Odio.
Odio was again interviewed by the House Select Committee, as were her family, her psychiatrist, Hall, Howard, Seymour, and the FBI agent who had interviewed Hall. The HSCA reported that it was "inclined to believe Silvia Odio" and that at least one of the men looked like Oswald. The Committee stated that it did not agree with the Warren Commission that Oswald could not have been in Dallas during the time period specified in Odio's allegations, and reported the most likely dates for the encounter to be the 25th, 26th, and 27 September. The HSCA stated that Oswald's actions and values were consistent with someone who would favor the Castro regime, and speculated that Oswald may have associated with anti-Castro activists in order to implicate that movement in the assassination or for some unrelated reason. The Committee concluded that "it was unable to reach firm conclusions as to the meaning or significance of the Odio incident to the President's assassination."
Reliability as a witness
Author Gerald Posner profiled Odio as an unreliable witness and one who has a histrionic personality disorder. Posner, a defender of the Warren Report, discredited Odio's character by revealing portions of her psychiatric history and accounts of what her friends told him. Specifically, Posner mentioned Odio's hysterical fainting spells and that she is a divorcee who left a fractious marriage. Odio's psychiatrist, Dr. Burton Einspruch, told the House Select Committee "Let me say, consciously, I don’t think she would want to lie, but to me, it’s very conceivable that in the histrionic personality, the kind of personality that she had that where she would not lie, she could be — has a degree of suggestibility that she could believe something that did not really transpire."
- The Warren Commission's report also said that Odio's sister briefly saw the three men when answering the door and thought that the American was Lee Harvey Oswald.
- "Testimony of Sylvia Odio". Hearings Before the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Volume XI. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1964. pp. 377–399.
- "'JFK' Sparks Debate In Cuban Community". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Sarasota, Florida. AP. December 31, 1991. p. 5B. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
- "Chapter 6: Investigation of Possible Conspiracy". Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1964. p. 322.
- "Dynasty". Miami New Times. October 20, 1996. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
- Powell, Robert Andrew (October 20, 1996). "The Cesar Odio Sentence Reduction Plan". Miami New Times. Retrieved June 4, 2017.
- Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Chapter 6 1964, p. 322.
- Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Chapter 6 1964, p. 321.
- Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Chapter 6 1964, pp. 322-323.
- Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Chapter 6 1964, p. 323.
- Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Chapter 6 1964, p. 324.
- "I.C.". Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1979. p. 129.
- Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, I.C. 1979, pp. 137-138.
- Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, I.C. 1979, p. 138.
- Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, I.C. 1979, p. 138-139.
- Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, I.C. 1979, p. 139.
- Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, I.C. 1979, pp. 139-140.
- Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, I.C. 1979, p. 140.
- Assassination in Camelot: The Complete History of the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jerome A. Kroth, Algora Publishing, 2003, 309.
- United States House of Representatives, House Select Committee on Assassinations, Sworn Testimony of Dr. Burton C. Einspruch, July 11, 1978 (JFK Document 010069) 1979, p. 35-36.