By David Minier
Could Madera County have a connection to the John F. Kennedy assassination? Maybe.
Fifty years ago today, President Kennedy was gunned down and killed as he rode in a Dallas parade. There has since been continuing debate over how many were involved in the assassination, and how many bullets were fired at the President. Lee Harvey Oswald was proclaimed the assassin, but was murdered before he could stand trial.
Years later, Congress established the House Assassinations Panel in an attempt to provide answers to the lingering questions of a doubtful public. In 1978, the panel requested the nation’s news media to publish photos of three persons of interest, taken at the scene of the assassination, in an effort to discover their identities. One photo appeared to show Claude Barnes Capehart, a one-time resident of Chowchilla, who claimed he was with Oswald at the time of the shooting.
Capehart came to the attention of Madera County Sheriff’s Sergeant Dale Fore in 1978, when he twice asked Fore for protection from men he said had come to town to kill him. Fore investigated and found that outsiders, “men in suits,” were indeed looking for Capehart in Chowchilla.
About the same time, another Chowchilla resident, referred to here as “Jane Doe,” came to Sergeant Fore for protection from Capehart, whom she said had threatened to kill her and had tried to do so.
Doe told Fore that Capehart had briefly lived next door, and had claimed to work for the Central Intelligence Agency. Doe said she saw passports with Capehart’s photo but with different names, along with various firearms, including rifles, a silenced handgun, and a miniature pistol.
Doe told Fore that when she saw the photos of the House Assassinations Panel’s persons of interest, she recognized Capehart and confronted him. Capehart first denied, then admitted it was he. He told her he was with Oswald at the time of the shooting, but it was not Oswald who fired.
Doe told Fore that Capehart said she “knew too much,” and sexually assaulted her in an apparent attempt to introduce poison into her blood. She immediately became ill and was given emergency treatment at a Merced hospital.
Although I will not describe the assault here, a medical expert told me it would be an effective way to kill someone without detection. At a later time, Doe said, Capehart came to her home and started to choke her, stopping only when she told him her daughter was in the house. Shortly thereafter, Capehart left the state.