Eunice is forever linked to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas -- 49 years ago today.
Many Americans still believe there was a conspiracy to kill JFK – a conclusion reached by the House Select Committee of Assassination of the 95th Congress in March 1979, which stated that the President “was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy”– and many of those think that the proof of a conspiracy, and the conspiracy itself, began in Eunice.
Rose Cherami is the link between Eunice and a possible conspiracy to kill JFK.
Born Melba Christine Marcades in Houston, Texas, Cherami, as she is known to JFK assassination researchers, predicted the future on Nov. 20, 1963, in Eunice but no one listened to the known prostitute-drug addict.
She said that there was a conspiracy to kill the President in Dallas two days before it happened.
While accounts differ as to whether she was leaving a place called Kilroy’s or a place named The Silver Slipper, Cherami claimed to have been thrown out of a moving vehicle, or at least hit by a vehicle on US 190, by men who were travelling to Dallas to shoot JFK.
Cherami was taken to the now-defunct Moosa Hospital and she was admitted on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 4 p.m. to be treated for her injuries.
The incident is featured at the beginning of Oliver Stone’s 1991 film, JFK.
Louis Pavur, a Eunice native and retired radiologic technologist, remembers Cherami and that day well.
“I remember that she said that she was thrown out of an automobile and they called Dr. J.T. Thompson, and I was in the emergency room,” Pavur said. “She was wearing blue jeans and white top. She was a short woman with an average build. This woman claimed she was thrown out of a car, but I didn’t really see any severe evidence of that. I did not hear her say, specifically, that Kennedy would be assassinated. The police took her off to the Eunice City Jail and it wasn’t until a couple of days later, the day of the assassination, that it had come out that she had predicted it.”
One of Pavur’s prized belongings is a photo copy of the original emergency room register with Cherami’s signature in which she listed Thibodaux, La. as her address.
“I thought it was a significant part of history, it’s a piece of history,” Pavur said. “I thought it would be an interesting something to look at one day. I didn’t how deep it was going to go or the extent of the investigation.”
Pavur said that he knew the time was right to make a copy of the emergency room register when FBI, or government officials, allegedly came to Eunice and took medical records from Moosa and arrest records from the Eunice Police Department.
“That’s when I found out that she had predicted that Kennedy would be assassinated, when they came to the hospital and did all of this stuff,” Pavur said. “After that, I said ‘Jesus! I’m going to get a copy of that.’ That happened so many years ago I can’t remember what happened to the original emergency room register.”
Pavur believes that JFK was assassinated as the result of a conspiracy.
Pavur said that he did not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald, a New Orleans native, shot Kennedy, mainly because Pavur’s sister worked in a New Orleans department store with Oswald’s mother and Oswald often around the store.
“She said that Oswald was ‘too stupid to get out of the rain’,” Pavur said. “She said he would just get lost in the department store. That he just wasn’t smart.”
Pavur said that also present at the Moosa hospital that afternoon of November 20, 1963 was the late L.G. Carrier, at the time with the Eunice Police Department.
Pavur said he remembered Carrier arriving shortly after Cherami was brought in.
Jane Carrier, widow of L.G. Carrier, said that her husband related to her that he overheard the radio report about Cherami and then went to the hospital.
She said that he also told her about FBI agents visiting Eunice “within days” after the Kennedy assassination.
“They came a very short time later and picked up all the records,” said Mrs. Carrier. “L.G. told me that they came and took her records from Moosa and from the jail.”
Mrs. Carrier said that her late husband was one of the few locals who actually heard Cherami speak of a plot to kill Kennedy.
“Nobody bothered investigating, they all thought she was a nut case,” Carrier said. “At the time they probably didn’t know that she worked with Jack Ruby. And that’s probably where she overheard something about the plot to kill Kennedy.”
Ruby, a Dallas night club, killed Oswald as the suspected assassin was being led from one place to another after his arrest.
Cherami was then transported from Moosa to the old City Jail.
From there, she was committed to the Jackson East Louisiana State Hospital upon the recommendation of Dr. F.J. DeRouen – who was assistant coroner of St. Landry Parish.
Allegedly, Dr. DeRouen was called to the Eunice city jail because Cherami began to act irrationally.
DeRouen, according to research, determined that Cherami was a heroin addict of about nine years who had had her last intravenous cocktail at about 2 p.m. that day.
Accounts differ as to whether DeRouen administered a sedative to Cherami that seemed to have an adverse affect on her as she allegedly became violent, cutting her ankles and stripping out of her clothes.
Dr. DeRouen said he remembers the Friday that Kennedy was assassinated as he was in his office on 2nd Street in downtown.
However, he does not remember treating Cherami two days prior. But he did not deny treating her.
He said that due to a recent stroke, his memory is not what it used to be.“If you say that I did those things, then I must have done them,” Dr. DeRouen said two months ago at his Eunice home. “I just have a hard time remembering that time in my life.”
The late Lt. Francis Fruge, a State Trooper from Basile, was the man who allegedly brought Cherami in to Moosa after she was injured.
He was, without a doubt, the man who was also tasked with driving her to the Jackson East Louisiana State Hospital. And he is, perhaps, the first to hear Cherami’s strange tale of how President Kennedy would be killed in two days in Dallas by the men with whom she travelled.
Fruge would later testify before the House committee about Rose Cherami: “...she said that she was going to, number one, pick up some money, pick up her baby, and to kill Kennedy.”
“She related to me that she was coming from Florida to Dallas with two men that were Italians or resembled Italians. They had stopped at this lounge and they’d had a few drinks...and had gotten into an argument or something. The manager of the lounge threw her out and she got on the road to hitchhike. And this is when she got hit by a vehicle.” said Fruge before the HSCA in 1979.
Fruge delivered Cherami to the East Jackson State Hospital in the early hours of November 21, 1963.
Records indicate that Cherami was in for her second visit to the state hospital in Jackson. She was committed for being “criminally insane” on July 13, 1961, according to Louisiana State Police and FBI records.
Ironically, Cherami was taken to the same institution where Lee Harvey Oswald had applied for employment in the summer of 1963.
The day after she was admitted, Kennedy was murdered in Dealy Plaza in Dallas.
Shots rang out in Dallas.
A phone rang in the Jackson State Hospital.
Fruge was called to get Cherami back in State Police custody. He allegedly told the staff not to release her until he arrived. However, he was told by staff that he could not collect or question Cherami until Monday.
By Monday, the world would know the names of Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby.
Prior publications indicate that Fruge and another State Trooper, Wayne Morein,(who would later become sheriff of Evangeline Parish) would then embark on the first, non-publicized investigation into the murder of JFK.
Morein declined to comment on the matter, only confirming that he did once work with Fruge.
Allegedly, it was then that Cherami told Francis Fruge that she was a one-time performer in Ruby’s Carousel Club in Dallas, that she knew Oswald and Ruby, that they knew each other intimately and that she had direct knowledge of a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy.
Years later, Fruge was assigned to investigate the JFK assassination with Jim Garrison – who was the New Orleans District Attorney and the only person to ever bring a trial in the murder of President Kennedy – as elements of a plot that seemed to originate from New Orleans began to come to light.
The conversation was documented on July 18, 1967, when The Eunice News’ Matt Vernon (Comment Cava) reported perhaps the first news of “Melba Christine Marcades” (aka Rose Cherami) who was “a one-time performer in Jack Ruby’s nightclub” in a brief interview with Lt. Francis Fruge.
According to the article, Cherami “told Francis that Oswald and Ruby were close friends for years. She was found dead on the side of a Texas highway September 4, 1965...she would have been an important witness except that she was, like 23 or more other potential witnesses, dead. Despite her unsavory reputation and record, everything she told Francis...checked out.”
Francis Fruge said he thought Cherami could have had direct knowledge of the assassination plot, according to The Eunice News.
As Fruge believed that Rose Cherami had direct knowledge of the assassination plot, so does her son.
Dr. Michael Marcades, the Director of Music Ministries of First Methodist Church in Opelika, Alabama, has a minor role in the strange tale of Rose Cherami as “her baby”.
He said that he was 10 at time of the JFK assassination.
“My mother may have been a lot of things, but she wasn’t a liar,” said Marcades in a phone interview. “When it came down to life and death, in her mind I think she knew the difference between right and wrong. Was she a prostitute? Yes. Was she a drug trafficker? Yes. Did she lose her entire sense of moral compass? No. I don’t believe that she was lying. I believe that she told the truth out of frustration. I believe in that hospital in Louisiana, she was screaming the truth and no one would listen because of her background. I mean, how different life and history would have been had someone actually paid attention to the ravings of a prostitute-drug trafficker.”
Marcades said that he, like many others, believes that she is the first JFK assassination conspiracy theorist. She believed in a conspiracy while President Kennedy was still alive.
Cherami, according to FBI files and Louisiana State Police records was known to have over 35 documented aliases.