JFK assassination detective Elmer Boyd has died at the age of 96

US news

The last living police detective charged with investigating the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas died Friday at the age of 96.

Elmer L. “Sonny” Boyd died in Corsica, Texas, about 50 miles from Dealey Plaza, where Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy more than 60 years ago, The Sixth Floor Museum announced Tuesday in a Facebook post.

“Elmer was deeply involved in the local investigation into the Kennedy assassination, searching the Texas School Book Depository for evidence and later leading Lee Harvey Oswald through the halls of Dallas Police Headquarters,” the museum said.

Elmer L. “Sonny” Boyd died in Corsicana, Texas on May 24, 2024. Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza

“He was a true Southern gentleman and will be greatly missed. We offer our sincere condolences to the entire Boyd family.”

Born in Blooming Grove outside Dallas, Boyd joined the Dallas Police Department as a patrolman in May 1952 and was later promoted to homicide and robbery detective in October 1957.

Boyd was initially assigned to President Kennedy’s motorcade passing through Dallas on November 22, 1963.

But a last-minute change had him waiting for his former commander and boss at the Trade Mart – the place where JFK was scheduled to meet for lunch that fateful day, according to the Corsicana Daily Sun.

“We were told Kennedy was five minutes away from arrival, but then we found out he had been in an accident,” Boyd told the outlet in 2017.

President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, the Governor of Texas and John Connally in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, minutes before JFK was shot. Bettmann Archive

As news spread that the president had been shot, Boyd and his partner Richard Sims followed Kennedy’s motorcade as it rushed to Parkland Hospital.

After arriving at the hospital, Boyd and other Dallas police officers were called to the Texas School Book Depository building on Dealey Plaza.

“They tracked down everyone except Lee Harvey Oswald. They had an address in Irving, but it turned out to be Marina’s (his wife’s) address,” he explained.

Lee Harvey Oswald in a mugshot after being arrested for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Getty Images
Police officer J.D. Tippit was shot by Oswald shortly after JFK was assassinated.

Boyd was one of three men posted on guard on the sixth floor of the book warehouse when they learned that Officer J.D. Tippit – the Dallas cop killed by Oswald during the raid – had been shot.

“We got a message to call the office… and they said they thought the one they wanted would come – Oswald,” he recalled.

He and Sims were later photographed escorting Oswald to Dallas to the police station.

Boyd (right) and his partner Richard Sims (left) escort Oswald after his arrest in Dallas on November 22, 1963. AFP via Getty Images

According to the website, Boyd noticed this historic photo many years after it was taken when a man from Ireland sent him a copy.

“He wanted me to sign it and send it back so he could hang it in his brother’s pub,” the former Dallas detective explained.

Boyd participated in interrogations of the then-suspected killer, explaining that he participated in approximately “75-80%” of all interrogations with Oswald during his time in custody, he told The Sixth Floor Museum in 2007.

Boyd attended most of the interrogations while Oswald was in custody. Getty Images

After working until 3 a.m. two nights in a row, he said he went to his mother-in-law’s to get some rest.

On the morning of November 24, Boyd and his family watched on television with his family as Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby while being transferred to prison.

Boyd said he immediately recognized Ruby as the killer.

Jack Ruby approaches accused Presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and shoots him as he is being escorted to the Dallas Police Station. Bettmann Archive
Ruby shot Oswald on the morning of November 24 as he was being transferred to prison. Sygma via Getty Images

“Jack Ruby thought he was a big gangster, but he was just a nightclub owner,” Boyd told the Corsicana Daily Sun.

“He wanted to be a hero by killing Oswald, even though he said that by doing so he would spare Jackie (Kennedy) the trauma of having to return to Dallas for trial.”

Boyd and his partner were then called back to duty, where they guarded Ruby after his arrest.

He believed that Ruby could never have planned the shooting because Oswald’s transfer time had changed without informing the public.

Kennedy was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital at 1 p.m., 30 minutes after the shooting. Bettmann Archive
A Dallas policeman holds the rifle that was used to assassinate President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Bettmann Archive

Later, during the investigation into the Kennedy assassination, his name and badge number were included in the “Disturbing Room” report involving Ruby and Oswald – using a pseudonym – that had allegedly linked them since October 1963 – a month before the president’s death.

He explained that the report revealed that “Jr Rubenstein” (Ruby) and “Alek Hidell” (Oswald’s aka) had been involved in an argument in the apartment, but no police action was required, The Sixth Floor Museum said.

This allegation was added to the Warren Commission report, the 888-page official government report investigating the assassination of President Kennedy.

Two men from Washington then met with Boyd to discuss the allegations based on the report they had.

Boyd donated artifacts such as firearms, a cowboy hat and handcuffs used to restrain Lee Harvey Oswald to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza on May 22, 2023. Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza

“They took it as evidence that Ruby and Oswald knew each other before the shooting,” Corsicana told the Daily Sun.

Boyd said he wasn’t sure how his badge number ended up on the Ruby and Oswald report, but it was an official Dallas Police Department data sheet.

The Warren Report ultimately concluded that Ruby and Oswald never knew each other before JFK’s assassination.

Boyd left the Dallas Police Department in 1978 and worked for the Euless Police Department for another 11 years until his retirement in 1989.

He married his wife Yvonne Smith in 1950 and the couple remained together for 65 years until her death in 2015. They had three daughters together.

In 2023, Boyd donated his firearm, cowboy hat, and handcuffs used in Oswald’s arrest to The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.

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