A Tarrant County District Court Judge put a stop to the attempted profiteering of a funeral home that sold the casket of murdered presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in an auction in 2010. The outraged judge also ruled the Baumgardner Funeral Home acted maliciously by auctioning off the casket and ordered the funeral home to pay over $87,000 in damages along with other expenses to Oswald’s brother, Robert Oswald.
Allen Baumgardner, the funeral home’s owner, had been storing the used casket for over thirty years, according to a report by WFAA-ABC8. In 1981, Lee Oswald’s body was exhumed from its grave to end rumors that he was not actually buried in the grave. Testing proved the remains were that of the infamous killer of President John F. Kennedy. The casket was replaced because the original pine box Oswald was buried in was too badly damaged by water to be reused.
Baumgardner’s attorneys argued that because no one claimed the casket it became his property by default. He said that when Oswald’s wife and daughters, who are the heirs of Oswald’s estate under Texas law, did not claim the casket he believed it became his property. “She never claimed it,” Baumgardner testified. “There has to be a statute of limitations on everything.”
The attorney for Baumgardner, Brett Meyers, claimed that when Robert Oswald bought the casket for $300 in 1963, he gave it to Oswald’s family as a “gift”. That combined with estate law led Meyers to argue, “Allen Baumgardner owns it now. Who has standing to challenge whether Baumgardner owns it? That’s the estate of Lee Harvey Oswald. Who are the beneficiaries of the estate of Lee Harvey Oswald? That would be Marina and his two daughters.”
Robert Oswald said he had not previously tried to claim the casket because he believed it had been destroyed after Oswald was reburied. He said he would destroy the casket if it were awarded to him.
Selected testimony of Robert Oswald and Baumgardner can be found in another article on WFAA-ABC8 by Jason Whitely.
In the end, 67th District Court Judge Don Cosby ruled against Baumgardner and in favor of Robert Oswald. He ordered Baumgardner to pay $87,468 (the amount he had auctioned the casket for) in damages, according to an Associated Press story by Emily Schmall. He called the funeral home’s conduct “wrongful, wanton and malicious.” He also ordered the funeral home to pay over $10,000 to the auction house for storage fees. Finally he ordered the funeral home to pay transportation charges to return the coffin from the auction house in California to Texas where the family plans on having it destroyed.
Lee Harvey Oswald was accused of murdering President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Oswald was killed on national television when nightclub owner Jack Ruby emerged from a crowd and shot Oswald with a revolver. Oswald was never tried for the assassination but officials concluded that he was the assassin and that he acted alone. Oswald was also accused of murdering Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit who attempted to question him before he was arrested on the afternoon of the assassination of Kennedy.
After Oswald was shot, he was taken to the same hospital where President Kennedy was driven after he was shot. Oswald and Kennedy were buried on the same day, November 25, 1963.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.