He explained, she said, “We killed the President that day. You could have been a part of it – you know, part of history. You should have stayed.”
From the Testimony of Marita Lorenz at the trial of E. Howard Hunt
“A Queens mother is shedding tears because she can’t wish her son happy birthday. The son, who just turned 33, is Fidel Castro’s lovechild. His name is Andre Vasquez. Her name is Marita Lorenz.”
Cindy Adams New York Post October 23, 1992
I suppose I had been expecting to meet an aging, elegant beauty – something like Garbo’s Mata Hari, her white hair pulled off her face into a sleek chignon. Marita Lorenz had been, after all, the lover of two legendary Latin American strongmen: Cuba’s Fidel Castro and the Venezuelan generalissimo, Marcos Perez Jimenez, each of whom she claimed fathered a child with her. Then there was the 25-year career as an informer for the CIA and FBI as well as gunrunning, the black bag jobs, at least three marriages, and another child with a small-time gangster. Even more chilling were the hushed stories that she holds the key to unraveling the Kennedy assassination. She herself calmly tells you she’s been shot at, poisoned, firebombed, drugged, pistol-whipped, and dumped into the Amazonian rain forest to die. If not entirely a glamorous life, if has certainly been one with all peaks and no valleys.
Indeed, the woman I met looked exhausted. At 54, Marita Lorenz is no longer a femme fatale. Now quite broad in the beam, she wears dark, sexless clothes, usually black jeans, a turtleneck, and a jeans jacket. Crowning this bulky frame is a wide circle of a face, painted the palest of skin tones -like some mournful Kabuki mask – and a raven-dyed 50’s bouffant hairdo. Also in the 50’s motif are her nails – short and blunt but painted frosted pink, carrying a lit Parliament back and forth to her mouth. The only softness is in her eyes – doleful brown saucers huddled under penciled eyebrows.
While Lorenz has long been a patron saint of conspiracy buffs, she has hardly been a household name. Recently, however, her testimony was the centerpiece of Mark Lane’s best selling book on the Kennedy assassination, Plausible Denial, and her life story, Marita, co-authored by Ted Schwartz, is being published by Thundersmouth Press this month.
Over the years, at least eleven would-be biographers have been defeated by the messy sprawl of Lorenz’s story. In interviews spanning more than a month, she agreed to tell it in its entirety, a saga that has the episodic, roller coaster feel of a Spanish language soap opera, but that also offers seemingly tidy resolutions to many of the questions voiced about the intelligence community throughout the 60’s and 70’s. With 76% of Americans believing that “others were involved” in the killing of JFK, according to a 1991 Gallup poll, Marita Lorenz has a story the country wants to hear. However, while at least half of her story is readily documented by the accounts of others and FBI memorandum, the other half lacks any corroboration, at times, flies in the face of existing evidence.
In recent years, Lorenz has been living in a cramped studio apartment in Queens. Although once a sleepy middle class neighborhood, Jackson Heights has become the cocaine capital of the Northeast and the stomping grounds of Colombian drug cartels. None of this fazes Lorenz, who says she has long been used to dangerous Latins. In fact, she says, “it’s the longest time I’ve ever lived in one place.”
Nevertheless, one can’t help but notice a pistol and a dagger on the dresser by her front door, not to mention her two hyperactive dogs, a pit bull and a 15 year old bichon frise. Also on prominent display are a fish tank with one occupant – an orange piranha – a pet rat (caged), a guinea pig, a cat, and seven birds. The only homey touches are some books about spying and Cuban history, a few family photos and several portraits of Fidel.
Although fluent in three languages, Lorenz speaks street English, but it the street talk of another time, like the speech in On the Waterfront. In fact, much of the time, she dresses, walks, talks, drinks and smokes like a longshoreman. At our first meeting, a noontime lunch, she knocks back a water glass of straight vodka minutes after she sits down.
“I’m the mutt of my family,” she declares. Her mother was a second cousin of Henry Cabot Lodge, and her older brother, Joachim Lorenz, a Fullbright scholar, and former State Department diplomat, worked for Senator Howard Baker. Her other brother, the late Philip Lorenz was a concert pianist and a protege of Claudio Arrau, and her sister, Valerie, holds a Phd. in psychology, lives and works as a counselor in Maryland.
Espionage, however, was always a part of the family business. Her mother was a spy, and there is evidence that her father did some double-agenting. Lorenz’s mother, Alice Lofland, started life as an actress and dancer on Broadway. En route to a movie location in France in the early 30’s, she met and fell in love with Heinrich Lorenz, a wealthy German Navy captain. Lorenz talked her into giving up her career and settling down with him in Bremen. The couple had four children, the last being Marita, who was born in August, 1939. Two weeks later, Germany invaded Poland, and Heinrich Loren became commander of a fleet of U-boats. Alice Lorenz was not allowed to leave Germany. Early in the war, she rescued a French soldier and a British pilot, who recruited her into the French underground and British intelligence. In 1944, she was thrown into the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she almost died. Meanwhile, her husband’s ship had been captured, and he was interned in an English POW camp. Five year old Marita was sent to the horrific children’s detention facility at Bergen-Belsen.
Liberated by the Allies, the shattered Lorenz family moved to Bremerhaven, where Alice Lorenz went to work for U.S. Army intelligence and later the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA. Shortly after the family’s reunion, seven year old Lorenz was raped by a deranged American soldier. Many close to Lorenz say that her childhood rape and the subsequent trial, in which she testified against the soldier, set in motion a lifelong pattern of violence and revenge in
her relationships with men.
In 1950, the family moved to the States, settling eventually in Manhattan. While Heinrich Lorenz was a captain of luxury ocean liners, his wife slid into the American intelligence community, working alternately, it appears, with Army intelligence and at the Pentagon. “I was never sure who my mother was working for,” says Valerie Lorenz, “except I knew she worked in intelligence with high security clearance. She didn’t confide in me but she was very close with Marita.” Valerie stresses that she couldn’t be more different from her sister. “I was raising three children in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania while Lorenz was off to god knows where.”
With less than a ninth grade education, Marita persuaded her parents to let her work on her father’s cruise ships, and for several years, she traveled around the Americas. On February 28, 1959, the Berlin dropped anchor in Havana harbor. “I was standing on the bridge,” remembers Lorenz, “and in the distance, I could see this launch coming toward us. It was filled with around twenty seven men, all with the same beard. One was taller than the others. He was standing on the bow and he had a rifle. I said, ‘Oh, shit, what is this? We’re being invaded.'”
Her father taking his afternoon nap, so Marita took command. “I screamed out to them in German. The tall one yelled out, ‘I want to come aboard.’ I asked who he was, and he started laughing and flashing a lot of teeth. ‘Yo soy Cuba,’ he said. ‘Comandante Fidel Castro.'”
Only two months earlier, Castro had seized the island from Batista. “I reminded him, ‘this is German soil.’ Fidel said, ‘yes, but you are in my harbor.'” A good-looking man pushed forward and introduced himself as Che Guevera. “I want a German beer.” Marita, who had never even been on a date, says she was mesmerized by Castro. “When Fidel talks to you,” she says, “he talks to you very close. He looks right in your eye. We had drinks and sloppy joes. He immediately made me feel nervous. I had to kill two hours until my father woke up .I
gave him a tour. Then I had to lose him because I wanted to be more pretty.”
Lorenz raced down to her cabin to primp but she was soon interrupted by a knock on the door. It was the steward. “He was making a face,” she says, “and Fidel was standing behind him. He was smoking one of those humongous cigars. My heart’s beating a mile a minute. He just steps in and looks around and says, ‘do you have an ashtray?'” The steward disappeared and Fidel closed the door. “He stands in front of me and he takes both my hands and he is kissing me. And he said, ‘from one comandante to another. He kept saying, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ I said. ‘No. Papa told me Batista is out and somebody else is in. I guess you are that somebody.’ ” Nothing hit me as hard as this ever – like a ton of bricks. He didn’t let me completely undress. He was the sweetest, tenderest. I guess nobody ever forgets their first lover.”
They had dinner that night with Captain Lorenz and at midnight the Berlin headed back to New York. Days later, Marita was in the family apartment on West 87th Street. “I was in love and miserable. I was stirring this jello, and the phone rings…and it’s him.” The following day, she claims that Castro sent his private plane to New York. “My sister was nineteen going on twelve,” says Valerie Lorenz, “when she met Castro. This was the big love of her life.” Joachim Lorenz recalls events differently, remembering a “lot of phone calls” from Havana, and believes that Lorenz hooked up with Castro later having flown down with one of his friends.
From the airport, she was escorted to the Havana Libre Hotel, formerly the Havana Hilton, where Castro occupied one whole floor. For the next seven months, she claimed that she lived there with him. “He wasn’t a Communist then,” she says. “He never mentioned the word ‘communist.’ That was later and he always wore a Madonna and child gold medal around his neck. Always.” She met Castro’s aide and longtime companion, Celia Sanchez, who died in 1980. “She didn’t resent me. She was happier to have only one girl than to have him flying around,” she says. Marita traveled through Cuba with Fidel, she says, learned Spanish and suffered through his flings with other girlfriends. “Every day, letters came in from women all over the world,” she says, “offering to do anything to meet him.”
In April, 1959, Castro flew to the States, determined to meet President Eisenhower and reinforce Cuba’s relationship with the American government. “It was an unofficial meeting,” says Lorenz, who claims she accompanied him. “Fidel invited himself, more or less. I said, ‘Fidel, wear a suit. They’re not gonna go for your uniform.'” The trip was a disaster. Eisenhower refused to meet him, dispatching his vice president, Richard Nixon, who had little patience for the bearded Cuban. “Nixon was quite rude with him,” remembers Lorenz.
During Castro’s U.S. trip, Lorenz says that she discovered she was pregnant, news which she says Castro greeted enthusiastically telling her, “Wonderful! A German-Cuban baby!”
In May, 1959, Lorenz met another man, whom she has cast primarily as the villain in her life’s melodrama. Frank Sturgis, formerly Frank Fiorini of Norfolk, Virginia, who would later make history as one of the Watergate burglars, spent the ’50’s working in Havana. According to Lorenz, he did odd jobs for the mobster, Meyer Lansky and the Batista crowd until 1957, when however, he hitched his wagon to Castro’s star. Sturgis quickly won favor with the emerging new leader by putting his gun running talents at his disposal, then joining Castro’s troops in the Sierra Maestra mountains for their final triumph. In return, Castro rewarded him with the prized position of operating the casinos and promoted him to chief of air force intelligence. Early on, it became clear that forging a relationship with the U.S. was not going to be the anticipated cakewalk. Lorenz claims that Sturgis saw the writing on the wall and knew it was time to switch teams again. “He’s always been a soldier of fortune,” says Lorenz, adding derisively, “or misfortune.” The same could be said of her, course.
Sturgis makes no bones about his various allegiances. “I was a double agent,” he thunders over the phone, when I reach him in Miami. “I was recruited by the CIA in 1958 and stayed in Havana until June 30, 1959.” He and Lorenz met in the lobby of the Riviera Hotel where Sturgis and Castro’s brother, Raul were “looking over the slot machines.” Lorenz says that Sturgis “shimmied by me and said in Spanish, ‘I know who you are. I can help you.’ His lips were moving but his eyes were dead. That’s Frank.” A week later, she had another encounter with Sturgis. Both of them were wearing their revolutionary uniforms, having been made honorary members by Castro in his 26th of July Movement. “I was having coffee downstairs, at the Havana Hilton,” remembers Lorenz, “and he sat down next to me. He wanted me to get him some of Fidel’s papers. So again, I tell Fidel’s people, ‘who is this guy?’ They said, ‘Un Americano, but he’s a sympathizer.’ Maybe somebody talked to him because I didn’t see him again. I think he dived into the American Embassy after that.” According to Sturgis, he denies that he ever worked for the mob, he recruited Lorenz while she was living with Castro. “Fidel would lay a snake if it wriggled,” says Sturgis, “and she was one of the snakes. I tried to get her to poison Fidel but she backed off because she was in love with the sonuvabitch.” Although Sturgis is apoplectic on the subject of Lorenz, he concedes that at the time, “she could have had me taken out and shot in a minute. She didn’t betray me. Not then.”
I’m watching Lorenz on television. She’s the subject of a segment of Hard Copy and she talking about the child she had with Castro. She’s crying, she says, because she never got to raise him. It is a heartbreaking story, but under scrutiny, according to some observers, it unravels like a cheap sweater.
While it is indisputable that Lorenz had an affair with Fidel Castro, there is no evidence that a child was born. What evidence there is leads to several other possible conclusions:
(1.) Lorenz’s pregnancy ending in a late term abortion. (2.) She had a miscarriage followed by a later abortion. (3.) She lost a baby which led her to adopt a child.
In early October, 1959, she says that when she was then seven and a half months pregnant, she was slipped a mickey in a glass of milk. Why this happened she does not know, although one possibility is that the drug was intended for Castro.
Castro has said that the most successful assassination attempt on his life was by a CIA hired cafeteria worker in the hotel, who made his nightly chocolate milkshake. “I realized I was going down,” she says, “I just passed out.” When she came to, she was in a doctor’s office. Somebody said, ‘Everything is fine. The baby is fine,’ Then I was given an injection and taken back to the Havana Hilton.” Fidel wasn’t there for any of this. He was on the other
side of the island.”
However, in 1959, Lorenz told a different story. Soon after her arrival, she was admitted to Roosevelt Hospital where according to retired FBI agent Frank O’Brien, “she was being treated for a botched abortion she had in Havana. She never said anything about having a kid.” O’Brien and his partner, Frank Lundquist, interviewed Lorenz several times, as the FBI having a keen interest in her activities. “She was very young,” remembers Lundquist. “Maybe she was twenty but she looked more like fourteen. I knew one thing: she was in over her head.”
According to an FBI report dated December 3, 1959, Lorenz told the agents that she had had a miscarriage after her return to Havana in the spring of 1959. “Miss Lorenz stated that she is not too clear on the details of the matter…but that she had been told rumors that she had been drugged, taken to a hospital and an abortion was performed. Miss Lorenz stated that she could not positively say whether this was true or untrue… Miss Lorenz stated that it was after this miscarriage and the reaction of Fidel Castro, that she turned against him.”
A second pregnancy may have ended in an abortion on September 19, 1959, according to another FBI report, which notes that Jesus Llanes Pelletier, Castro’s mulatto aide-de-camp, was responsible for making the arrangements.Other FBI reports document several visits and contacts made by Llanes to Lorenz in New York. One FBI memo January 15, 1960 states that Lorenz told agents that Pelletier warned her that “Fidel Castro was denying that he was in way involved in the pregnancy and that Llanes Pelletier was the one responsible and that (the Cubans) were willing to pay $500-$1,000 for medical expenses.” Lorenz angrily dismisses these reports as “disinformation,” even though they are based entirely upon information that she provided them at the time. Even more mysterious, is the fact that she freely offered the reports that contradict her “baby” story.
In New York, Lorenz’s mother introduced her to Alexander Rorke, Jr., a Jesuit turned adventurer with impeccable blueblood credentials: son of a prominent judge, graduate of St. Johns University, and son-in-law of Sherman Billingsley, the owner of the Stork Club. A freelance photojournalist, Rorke had covered the Cuban Revolution. After a stint in a Cuban jail, he became a rabid anti-Castroite, eventually working for the CIA. “Alex was a Camelot. He was dapper, well spoken with a trust fund,” says Lorenz. “Alex would take me to church. He taught me how to pray.”
For weeks, Lorenz says, her mother, Rorke and Sturgis hammered away at her on the evils of Castro and communism. Her mother wrote Castro an outraged letter and sent copies to Eisenhower, Cardinal Spellman, and the Pope. In May, 1960, Alice Lorenz and Rorke wrote a maudlin, sensationalized version of Marita’s story entitled, “Fidel Castro Raped My Teenage Daughter,” and sold it to Confidential magazine. “My mother was a big factor in my decision,” says Lorenz. “I was in the spy business before I knew it.” Marita infiltrated the New York chapter of the 26th of July movement and was soon providing the FBI with reports on its members. Lorenz says she became a contract agent for the CIA, a claim which is impossible to confirm due to Agency’s policy of secrecy of personnel. However, it is indisputable that she worked with various anti-Castro groups that were supervised and funded by the CIA. She says that her first assignment was nothing less than the assassination of Castro – an action which gives further credence to her 1959 that she had an abortion and that it was Castro’s unsympathetic “reaction” to her misfortune that turned her against him.
In Miami, where she was trained for her mission, she says she met the man responsible for her operation, an ultra secret unit dubbed Operation 40. “Eduardo,” as Sturgis introduced him, was tall and rather elegant. “He always wore white suits,” she says, “and was very quiet. Eduardo was the money man,” who handed out the envelopes of cash. It was not until Watergate, shesays, that she learned Eduardo’s real name: E. Howard Hunt. “Hunt reported directly to Langley.” she says. “He was very close with (CIA director) Allen Dulles. Sturgis
was always bragging about him and Hunt going down to see Dulles.”
On December 4, Lorenz made a quick “dry run” visit to Havana “to make sure that Fidel would see me and that everything was cool.” The visit is confirmed by FBI reports which note that her stated reason to return was to “handle personal matters” which included seeing a child she had adopted after her miscarriage. A few weeks later, Lorenz says she returned to carry out the assassination. She was given two botulism toxin pills that looked like “white gelatin capsules,” to drop in Castro’s drink. Just one would do the trick, she was told, killing within thirty seconds. Whatever ambivalence she felt about her mission was compounded when she bid goodbye to Alex Rorke as she boarded her plane. “Barely moving his lips, he said very softly, ‘Don’t do it.'” It was also Rorke who told her not to take the “guts pill” she had been instructed to swallow before leaving. “It’s some kind of shit the CIA gives you,” says Lorenz, “that makes you feel very strong, courageous, indifferent. Like speed. I knew the minute I saw the outline of Havana I couldn’t do it.,” she says. “I hopped a jeep and went to the Hilton,” she says. “Just simply walked in, said ‘hi’ to the personnel at the desk, went upstairs to the suite. Room 2408. I went in and waited.”
Even if she had the will to go through with her mission, she had already botched the job, having stashed the capsules in a jar of cold cream. When she looked for them, “they were all gunked up,” she says. “I fished them out and flushed them down the bidet.” When Castro finally did appear, he was wary. “Why did I leave so suddenly,'” was his first question, she says, then “‘Are you running around with those counter-revolutionaries in Miami?’ I said yes. I tried to play it cool. The most nervous I have ever been was in that room. He was very tired and wanted to sleep… He was chewing a cigar and he laid down on the bed and said, ‘did you come here to kill me?’ Just like that. I was standing at the edge of the bed. I said, ‘Yes, I wanted to see you.’ Lorenz says that Castro asked her whether she was working for the CIA. “I said, ‘not really. I work for myself.’ Then he leaned over and pulled out his .45 and handed it to me. I flipped the chamber out and hit it back. He didn’t even flinch. He was so sure of me. We made love. I contemplated staying – to try talking to him later after his speech but it would be too late because he rambles on for eight, ten, twelve hours. That was the hardest part. I wanted him to beg me to stay but he just said, ‘I want you to stay.’ He got dressed and left. I just sat there by myself awhile. I left him a note. I told him that I would be back.”
After a forty five minute flight from the Jose Marti airport, Lorenz was back in Miami. “I was terrified,” she says, “knowing I was going to get hell.” Even before she landed, Sturgis and company knew she had blown having heard Castro speaking on the radio. “One guy said, ‘Now we’ve gotta go to war. Because of you!'”
Beginning in February, 1960, Operation 40 went into full tilt military training for the Bay of Pigs invasion. Lorenz’s group, the International Anti-Communist Brigade, was stationed in the Everglades. Assassination techniques were central to the training. “Frank told us about slow acting poisons, fast acting poisons,” she says, “injections that give you cancer and other diseases.” Lorenz says she often piloted boats loaded with munitionsbound for various destinations – “sometimes Nicaragua, sometimes Guatamela,” which was to be the jumping off point for the Bay of Pigs. “If we needed extra boats, we just took them from people’s back yards. It was an incredible high.” One of her jobs, Lorenz says, was being a “decoy,” while her group stole arm caches from U.S. military bases. “I never understood that,” she says, “why we were stealing from our own.”
Described by one source as “an absolute stunner, ravishing and really wild,” Lorenz quickly won entree into Miami high life – and, its low life. For awhile, she busied herself with millionaire who allowed his company to be used by the CIA as a gun running front. He introduced her to his friend Santo Trafficante, the mafia boss of Tampa who had run casinos in pre-Castro Havana. “The main thing to know about Marita,” says New York theater businessman, Sheldon Abend, and a family friend, “is that she was always pursuing men who were like her father, these powerful, dictatorial types. I met (Johnny) Roselli at the Fountainbleu (Hotel),” Lorenz says. “He was a nice, flashy guy who treated women nicer than the guys I worked with – because he was Italian. He worked for Sam Giancana and they worked with us because the mob guys hated Fidel because of him closing the casinos.
Sturgis admits to “using Lorenz to try to kill the bastard (Castro),” but says she never worked for Operation 40 nor did she know Howard Hunt. “She worked for one of the anti-Castro groups,” he says, “There were about two hundred of them. South Florida was the biggest CIA station in the world at that time because of Cuba. I think she tried to do training with Orlando Bosch, an anti-Castro terrorist. Giancana and Roselli would never talk to her. She never met them. I never met them. She’s a lying bitch and a traitor. I mean, she shacked up with Fidel – a communist!”
Lorenz says she was also a courier for her group. In March, ’61, she was instructed to pick up a $200,000 contribution from a “General Diaz” at 4609 Pine Tree Drive in Miami Beach. “When he gave me the money, he said, ‘this is for rice and beans.’ I took it and gave it to Sturgis. I later found out that he was Marcos Perez Jimenez, the former dictator of Venezuela. He was settling into political exile, playing the Peron game. He chased me
around for six weeks.
Perez Jimenez, whose famously brutal regime had been backed by the U. S., had finally been sent packing. Venezuelan authorities pressed charges against Perez Jimenez for a slew of murders and the theft of $13.5 million. Perez Jimenez later boasted to Lorenz that he actually got away with more than $700 million. Though described by Lorenz as “a short, fat balding guy who bit his nails to the quick,” she nevertheless succumbed to his charms, which, no doubt, were connected to his vast fortune. “He was heavily connected. He was CIA connected. He was mob connected. He was police department connected,” she says, “I decided okay.”
Perez Jimenez also provider her with a breather from the Op 40 crowd, particularly after the debacle of the Bay of Pigs invasion. All of her group, she says, returned from the failed mission in a ballistic rage, blaming their military flop on President Kennedy whom they claimed, betrayed them by failing to provide air support during the invasion. “All the guys were very open about their hatred of Kennedy. Always. Orlando Bosch was totally fanatic and Sturgis just hated Kennedy. ‘Fucking Kennedy, this and fucking Kennedy that,’ he wanted the bastard dead. “If we ever get him in position,’ Sturgis would say, ‘we’ll whack him.’ or Bosch saying that ‘If he ever comes down here (Miami), he’s taking his life in his hands.’ They hated him as much they hated Fidel.” Sturgis concedes that there was plenty of anti-Kennedy sentiment around, but denies that he made any threats.
A month after becoming Perez Jimenez’s mistress, Lorenz was pregnant. For more than two years, she was the Evita of Miami, blissfully cocooned by Perez Jimenez’s prodigious wealth and power. It didn’t matter that the hyper-promiscuous Perez Jimenez had numerous wives and children and was married with children. What counted was his promise to provide for Lorenz for the rest of her life. “I went to the apartment of (lawyer) Roy Cohn’s when I was eight and a half months pregnant. I met his mother. He was a shifty little shit. He charged Marcos $20,000 to set up the trust funds for me.” In March, 1962 Lorenz’s daughter, Monica was born in a New York hospital while Perez Jimenez was fighting his extradition in Miami. “He wanted a boy, but he loved Monica,” says Lorenz. She still blames Robert Kennedy, then U.S. Attorney General, for wrecking her domestic paradise by honoring Venezuela’s extradition demand.
With Perez Jimenez sitting in the Dade County jail, Lorenz discovered that she was again pregnant.” (She later miscarried under mysterious circumstances, the victim of a hit-and-run driver in an incident which Lorenz claims “was no accident.”) At the behest of David Walters, Perez Jimenez’s Miami attorney and deal maker, Lorenz says, she filed a paternity suit against Perez Jimenez. “Walters told me, ‘we need an angle for a stay of extradition. We are going to have to use you.’ I loved Marcos. I thought it was just a legal maneuver so I said ‘go ahead.'” On August 16, 1963, Perez Jimenez was sent back to Venezuela where he did five years of very cushy jail time. Upon his release, he and his fortune, were graciously offered asylum in Madrid by fellow tyrant, Generalisimo Francisco Franco.
Lorenz discovered that she had violated a clause in the trust fund created by Roy Cohn by breaking Perez Jimenez’s anonymity with the paternity suit. “When Walters told me about it later, he said, ‘Too bad. Tough shit.’ Everything started to vanish after that. I got death threats. I felt I was going to get killed,” she says. Even today, Lorenz is loathe to acknowledge Perez Jimenez’s abandonment of her. Her villain of choice is David Walters, later to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, who, as Perez Jimenez’s executor, she claims, acted independently of his client, and seized her trust funds.
Reached in Miami, Walters charges that Marita’s paternity suit was instigated solely by her. “The general has always denied that it was his child,” says Walters, though he admits he paid child support to Marita on Perez Jimenez’s behalf “for some time.” Walters adds, “I drafted the trusts. Not Roy Cohn.” He confirms that the trusts were nullified when Marita broke the general’s anonymity in the suit, which Walters characterizes as “out-and-out extortion.”
Fearful, broke and miserable, Lorenz says she drifted back to her old pals. “I wanted protection,” she says, “I intended to shoot Walters but Sturgis talked me out of it. I started running guns again from Miami, New Orleans, and the Keys to Guatamela,” where anti-Castroites were plotting another invasion of Cuba.”
During the summer of 1962, Lorenz claims she met a new recruit at training camps in the Everglades. “Ozzie” was a quiet, thin man who seemed neither particularly fit nor alert. “He was very quiet like he wanted to be part of – but he wasn’t part of the gang. He wasn’t a talker. He was a chimer-in-er. He chimed in. I only saw him once or twice. He looked like pneumonia warmed over. Like he couldn’t carry a rifle. I asked Frank, ‘What’s he going to do?’ And he said, ‘Never mind. He’ll serve his purpose.'” Sturgis denies working with Lee Harvey Oswald and says he never even met him. Curiously, what appeared to be Sturgis’ name, (Fiorini) was found in Oswald’s phone book.
Lorenz claims that her group transported arms to New Orleans, another hub of anti-Castro Cuban activity. She says she vividly remembers David Ferrie, who died days before New Orleans district attorney, Jim Garrison, was to arrest him for conspiracy to murder Kennedy. She says she had driven down from New York with Rorke and Manuel Artime, the great white hope of the CIA to succeed Castro. “Ferrie was a real weirdo,” she says, “real hyper but Alex told me he was one of the Agency’s best pilots – very daring.”
On November 18, 1963, Lorenz says that she got a job call from Frank Sturgis. Narrating her all too fantastic story, she says that she quickly dressed, dropped her daughter with the sitter and drove over to the group’s safe house, “a small, shabby converted hotel,” in southwest Miami. The group, she says, included “Ozzie, Pedro Diaz Lanz (the former head of Castro’s Air Force), Jerry (Patrick Hemming), who was the nicest of them all, and Frank. We picked up two cars with tail fins, – one was black and one was blue – and went over to Orlando Bosch’s house. According to Marita, waiting with Bosch were “the two Novo brothers,” Guillermo and Ignacio, militant ant-Castroites. Alex Rorke, however, was no longer with the group. “In September, Alex had a serious falling out with Sturgis,” says Lorenz. “He told me, ‘I’m sick of all this hating Kennedy stuff. They’re up to something rotten.'”
The group piled into the two cars. “I thought we were going to get guns,” she says, “but instead they brought guns.” A third car, carrying, she claims, a small armory of weapons followed them. “Sturgis was in my car. So was Bosch, Pedro, and Gerry.” In the second car was Oswald, she says, flanked by the Novo brothers. The caravan drove through the night to Dallas and settled into two adjoining rooms. “I thought we were going to hit an armory,” Lorenz says. “Like we’re here to do an operation. I thought they were going to use me as a decoy. That’s what I was told. Sturgis brings in a bag with disguises and another bag with automatic weapons and starts clipping them together. It seemed different this time because of the instructions Frank gave. Nobody could make phone calls. No broads. No booze. No contacts with the outside. Don’t go outside.”
The grows even more fantastic as Lorenz adds Jack Ruby to her tale. “This guy comes into the room. He’s like a little mob punk,” says Lorenz. “A short, balding guy with a cocky hat, heavy set with a cleft on his chin.” Ruby, small time mobster who visited Cuba often prior to Castro, “took two steps inside, saw me lounging, and said, ‘Who’s the fucking broad?’ And I said, ‘Fuck you, punk.'”
Never willing to be a mere fly on the wall of history, Lorenz says she exploded into a cat fight with Ruby. “I was furious how he spoke to me. I had been sitting in a crowded car. I had PMS. I said, ‘fuck this, Frank. I’m going home. Give me some plane fare.'” Sturgis, she says, tried to calm her down, then went outside with Ruby. Lorenz watched the two through the window, talking. “Frank and Ruby were leaning against the trunk of the car,” says Lorenz. “And Sturgis came back in and says, ‘Okay.’ ”
Neatly tying up her tale, Lorenz says that E. Howard Hunt showed up next. “I saw Hunt talking to Sturgis outside the motel,” says Lorenz, “handing him an envelope.” Later, she claims to have seen Hunt speaking with Oswald in the adjoining room. “The door was open between the two rooms. Oswald was sitting in the other room with the other guys. On the bed,” Lorenz says, speaking slowly. “Just casually sitting there waiting for instructions. Just hanging out. Nobody knew what they were going to do. That was the last time I saw him,” she intones dramatically.
In the early hours of November 21st, according to Lorenz, Frank Sturgis drove her to the airport. After spending one night in Miami, Lorenz decided to visit her mother in New Jersey. Halfway en route, the co-pilot came out to talk to the passengers. “He said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the President has been shot in Dallas.’ Boom! And I screamed out three times, ‘No! No! No!’ I wanted to tell the pilot, ‘Get this plane down. I got to talk to somebody.’ ”
Frank Sturgis says categorically that he was home watching television in Miami. He says that the day after the assassination he was interviewed by the FBI at his home. “They said, ‘Frank, if there’s anybody capable of killing the President of the United States, you’re the guy that can do it,” he bragged in a 1975 interview. Calling Lorenz a “liar who’s double crossed a lot of people,” Sturgis adds, “She keeps changing who the people were in the cars. It’s ridiculous. I’m not saying that everything Marita says is a lie but she’ll do anything for money.” Sturgis denies that he ever met Jack Ruby, and says that he didn’t meet Howard Hunt until the time of Watergate.
Initially, Hunt claimed that he was out shopping in his Washington D.C. Later he said he was at his CIA office. In 1985, Hunt filed a $3.5 million libel suit against Liberty Lobby, an eccentric right wing D.C. think tank, for running a story in its publication, The Spotlight, by ex-CIA agent, Victor Marchetti, which contended that Hunt was involved in the assassination of JFK. Hunt lost the case on appeal in 1985. That trial is the basis for Mark Lane’s Plausible Denial. Lane says that the evidence that ultimately swayed the jury was the testimony of Marita Lorenz, read by another woman (Lorenz said she was too fearful to appear in person), placing Hunt in Dallas at the time.
Gerry Patrick Hemming, reached at his home in Miami, doesn’t deny knowing Lorenz, nor does he refute the story of the three cars driving to Dallas. He says that “other people” knew about the caravan but, he says he was not among the passengers. “I was asked to go…indirectly through Sturgis,” he says. “I declined, and advised the others not to go.” However, he adds, almost as an aside, he and a cohort were twice solicited in 1962 to participate in an assassination of the President. The first time, he says, was in New Orleans in April. “Guy Bannister, who was working for the CIA until the Bay of Pigs and was freelancing, took us aside and suggested that a considerable sum of money could be had immediately if we did a direct hit on both Castro and JFK,” says Hemming. “We thought it was a FBI set up and we politely backed off.” In late 1962, he says he was again propositioned by “government agents” during a visit to Dallas. Hemming also says that he met Oswald on numerous occasions, first in Monterey Park, California, in January, 1959, then in Miami in December, 1962 and later in New Orleans.
Pedro Diaz Lanz satisfied investigators of the House Select Committee on Assassinations that he was addressing a “womens group” in Wichita, Kansas on November 22, 1963. In the mid-70’s, Orlando Bosch told committee investigator Gaeton Fonzi that he had had only limited contact with Marita Lorenz and described her as “an adventuress with a psychopathic disease.” Bosch contemptuously dismissed Lorenz’s allegations, adding that he had “never traveled west of New Orleans in my life.” Repeated attempts to reach the Novo brothers failed to gain a response.
Pursuing assassination theories is like stepping into a hall of mirrors. The trickiest part is that anyone who has have first hand knowledge is likely to be less than an entirely credible witness. Most of them, like Marita, have been “informing ” for years, and have their own enemies and agendas. Moreover, the quest to resolve the crime of the century has snowballed into a kind of assassination mania, producing an amazing spate of tell-all books in which the authors, ranging from CIA agents to famous mobsters, claim that they killed JFK or know who did.
While most of Marita’s claims concerning Castro, Perez Jimenez and anti-Castro CIA activity can be corroborated, the Dallas story defies any logic. There is zero documentation or testimony from anyone other than her. Pressed for substantiation, Lorenz says she told her story to FBI agents, O’Brien and Lundquist upon her arrival at her mothers. The agents, she says, had their own bad news: Alex Rorke was dead, his plane having disappeared off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico. “I think Alex knew that they were going to kill Kennedy,” she says, “and they got rid of him.” However, neither agent recalls any discussions with Marita Lorenz concerning JFK.
Not surprisingly, Lorenz has spun variations on her story over the years. The first account by Paul Meskil in the New York Daily News in September 1977, reported that Lorenz claimed to have gone to Dallas with Sturgis, Oswald, Bosch, Diaz, Lanz and “two Cuban brothers whose names she does not know.” Meskil, now retired, says he does not recall her mentioning either Jack Ruby or Howard Hunt. “She claimed she had a picture of Oswald taken in the Everglades,” says Meskil, “but I don’t think anyone has ever seen it.” Shelley Abend says he saw the photograph which he says showed Marita and “Ozzie” in South Florida. “I have my own reasons for not thinking the guy was Oswald,” says Abend, “but judging from the picture, he was a dead ringer for Oswald. I think Lorenz was completely sincere. She believed it.” Perhaps she convinced herself. Lorenz says she turned the photo over to the office of Senator Howard Baker, for whom her brother worked.
Although, Lorenz remains the darling of the conspiracy set, one former admirer, A.J. Weberman, co-author of Coup d’Etat in America, has become bitterly disillusioned with her. Weberman says he is convinced that Hunt and Sturgis were in Dallas, but that he no longer believes that Lorenz went along for the ride. Weberman met Lorenz in 1976, shortly after Howard Hunt had brought suit against him for libel. (The suit was later dropped.) However, Weberman continues, she did provide some significant information that he was able to corroborate from other sources. “She did see Hunt and Sturgis together in the early 60’s at the anti-Castro training camps. She did see Oswald in the Everglades, and probably saw him at the camp at the No Name Key.” But as to her Dallas story, he doesn’t buy it. “Why would these guys take along a 24- year-old girl,” he asks, “and why would they drive to Dallas when three of them are top-notch pilots? At the risk of discrediting my own witness, I have to state Marita Lorenz has never told a story in her life without embellishment.”
This observation is repeated in an FBI report dating from the early 80s: “Lorenz has provided information in the past, some of which is reliable, however, she does have a tendency to exaggerate.”
On May 31, 1978, Lorenz testified under a grant of immunity to the House Select Committee on Assassinations in closed, secret executive session. She says she told the Committee “everything – the gun-running, the training, the Dallas thing – naming names.” She adds that she paid a “nightmare price” for her testimony, and claims that Sturgis and others had launched a terror campaign a claim Sturgis denies – to prevent her from testifying. One of her alleged pals didn’t make it to the hearings. In 1975, a week before Sam Giancana was to testify before the Senate hearings on CIA-Mafia plots and the JFK assassination, he was murdered in his kitchen. Johnny Roseli, who did manage to testify, ended up in an oil drum, carved into pieces.
According to Congressman Louis Stokes, who chaired the committee Hearings, the committee concluded “that there probably was a conspiracy but we could not designate who the actual co-conspirators were except we believed there was a role played by some members of the Mob and some anti-Castro Cubans. Those were the two main groups.” It is a conclusion that neatly dovetails with Marita Lorenz’s story. However, her story struck the committee as being riddled with ludicrous coincidences. Robert Blakey, chief counsel of the Committee, wrote in his book Fatal Hour that Lorenz “did not help her credibility by telling us that when she arrived in Dallas…they were contacted at their hotel by Jack Ruby.”
Gaeton Fonzi, a staff investicgator for the committee and the author of the forthcoming
The Last Investigation, interviewed Lorenz extensively prior to her testimony. “Marita Lorenz has credible information regarding anti-Castro activities and other things, but I don’t believe her Dallas story.” For one thing, he says, “she did not initially name the Novo brothers who are wonderful candidates. She came up with them later.” Nor does he trust her allegation that enmity existed between her and Sturgis. “They were working together in the mid-70’s after she testified against him,” he says. Her story, he believes, is sophisticated, disinformation which always has some verifiable elements.
Six months after Kennedy’s assassination, Lorenz, hoping to be reunited with Perez Jimenez, flew to Venezuela with two-year-old Monica. “I went down to tell him that David Walters had taken my money, my trust funds, my apartment, my car, the island, the yacht – everything. They left me penniless.” Upon her arrival in Caracas, she says, she was thrown into jail, she says, “in the cell next to Marcos’. I never saw him but we talked through the wall.”
Following her release, she accepted an offer of a sightseeing tour from two Venezuelan intelligence agents. The small military plane landed, she says, “at an abandoned mining camp” in the rain forest on Venezuela’s border with Brazil. “The co-pilot ran back to the plane on the pretext of getting my bag,” she says. “Then they got in and started the engine up. I saw my bag flying out the plane and the door shut.
Lorenz makes the amazing claim that she lived with an Amazon-rain-forest tribe for nine months. Valerie Lorenz confirms that her sister was “in Venezuela for a long time. She talked about the jungle for years afterwards, and how she tried to flag down planes.”John Stockwell, a renegade former CIA agent who was one of Marita Lorenz’s erstwhile biographers, says that while he feuded with Lorenz over some of her stories, “her wildest tale, the jungle saga, turned out to be true. It’s chock-full with convincing detail.”
Lorenz spent most of the next decade in Yorkville, Manhattan’s thriving German neighborhood, around the corner from her mother. She resumed working as an informant for the FBI’s political division and for the New York Police Department’s 23rd precinct. Lorenz lived at 250 East 87th Street, a building which she says housed many of the staff of the Soviet Consulate, as well as other Eastern-bloc consulates. After spending her days sifting through the building’s garbage, the nights were hers. In 1966, she met another Latin-American strongman, Nicaragua’s future dictator, Anastasio Somozoa. “Everyone thought that Tachito and I had an affair,” she says, “but we didn’t. Just friends. We talked about fixing up Monica when she got older, with his son Luisito.”
She tried twice more to visit Perez Jimenez in Madrid, but both times she left without having laid eyes on him; the second time, she was summarily escorted back to the airport.
In the mid-60’s, she married a moody Cuban with whom she had had a torrid fling. She says that “It lasted two weeks,” and that she got an annulment. In 1969, she had another child, a son named Mark, the offspring of another ill-fated romance. She says the father was, “a dumb fucking Irish hump,” a former New York City police chief.” However, her sister believes that Mark’s father was Eddie Levy, a small time gangster who served a sentence in Florida for insurance fraud. In fact, Valerie testified at a paternity hearing that Levy was Mark’s father. “I was there the day Marita decided to change Mark’s dad,” says John Stockwell. “She simply told Mark it was better to have a father who was a cop than one who went to jail.”
Further complicating her dizzying spiral of relationships, Marita was married briefly to a third man, Louis Yurasits, the building superintendent at 250 E. 87th Street, whom she also has on occasion identified as Mark’s father.
Monica Merecedes Perez Jimenez Letelier is a 31- year-old-green-eyed, stunner with one of those killer bodies created in a gym. “She’s a dead ringer for her father, Perez,” says Frank Sturgis, and indeed the resemblance is striking. A body builder who has posed for Playboy, she was recently a finalist in the Miss Fitness USA contest in Las Vegas. She is also the mother of a two year old boy, the child of her marriage to Francisco Letelier, an artist, and the son of the late Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean Ambassador to the United States, who was assassinated on Embassy Row in Washington DC, in 1976. The couple is no longer together. “I feel terrible,” Marita Lorenz says. “My old ops killed his father. Terrible.” Indeed, the Novo brothers – who Lorenz alleges escorted Oswald to Dallas – and Viriglio Paz, all anti-Castro activists, were indicted for the murder of Letelier. Paz and Guilermo Novo were found guilty, but through a series of appeals and technicalities, Novo was eventually acquitted of the murder.
“My mother came from a concentration camp,” Monica is explaining to me over lunch in Beverly Hills, “so her desire to be loved was very strong.” Blithely comparing today’s rock stars to the Latin generales of the ’50’s and ’60’s, she says, “Castro was the big, glamorous hunk at that time. It was like being with Bon Jovi or Patrick Swayze. My mother was a dictator groupie. She was a power junkie,” Monica says matter-of-factly. As for her mother’s lifelong career of spying and informing. Monica says with a shrug, “That was just her job for money.”
Monica has no memory of her father, Marcos Perez Jimenez, nor has she seen a peseta of his multimillion-dollar fortune. She also has only “the vaguest images” of her life as a two-year-old in the Amazon. However, she suspects that Perez Jimenez masterminded the trip. “I think it was my father who arranged that,” she says between ladylike sips of white wine. “My father is totally capable of having this woman and her child killed,” He’s a dictator. Why not, man?” Aware that her mother blames Perez Jimenez’s lawyer, David Walters, for their jungle adventure which Walters denies any part in – , she says diplomatically, “This is where we differ. Sure, I’d like to believe that it wasn’t my father…”
When Watergate broke, Marita Lorenz instantly recognized most of Sturgis’ fellow plumbers as “the usual suspects,” from the Op 40 gang. There was Eugenio Martinez and Bernard Barker, Sturgis’ close friend, who had been Howard Hunt’s deputy during the planning of the Bay of Pigs. She guessed there would be plenty of singing and plea bargaining.
In 1975, after doing a 14 month jail stint for Watergate, Frank Sturgis decided to tell-all about his life as a double agent, including his and Marita Lorenz’s attempts on Castro’s life, in a series of stories by Paul Meskill in the Daily News. “I never wanted anyone to know about my life with Castro,” Lorenz protests unconvincingly. “He did it. That bastard is my downfall.” It wasn’t long, however, before she was telling her own tales to Meskil, including a chaste rendering of her life with Castro, who she claimed kept her a prisoner until she was rescued by Sturgis.
In 1976, Tom Guinzburg, then president of the Viking Press, read the Meskil stories and saw a blockbuster book in Lorenz’s story. “We gave her and a co-writer a $320,000 advance,” he says, “which was a huge amount of money in those days.” The book, however, came to naught, because Viking had recently been sold to Penguin, and the new owners decided to abandon the project. Nevertheless, Guinzburg says, he became quite close with Marita, and still hears from her on occasion. “She was very attractive, very convincing,” he says. “We checked out all her stuff, and no one said she was not who she said she was. When I met Marita, she was sifting through the garbage at the Bulgarian Consulate. Her gas, phone, and electricity were always off because she couldn’t pay her bills. I think she spent her entire advance in around an hour and a half.”
Over time, Guinzburg noticed something, “skewed and jumpy about her. The level of paranoia was acute, and she was a grievance collector, for sure.” While Lorenz’s detractors have spoken about her predatory approach toward men, Guinzburg says he saw no evidence of her being opportunistic. “Her impulses were very generous,” he says, “but she was a total sucker, and could be taken by anyone.” Robert Yaffee, a computer consultant at New York University, who has known Lorenz since the mid-70’s, agrees only in part. “It’s true she is a victim,” he says. “But she’s a victim who victimizes others. There are very few men in Lorenz’s life that she has not turned against, from Castro to Sturgis to Stockwell. . . all her husbands – just about all of them.”
In 1977, Marita Lorenz claims, Frank Sturgis showed up on her doorstep, eager to jump-start their old friendship. “She’s always had this love-hate thing with Sturgis,” Valerie Lorenz explains. Marita admits to being awed by Sturgis’ bravado. “We were walking down York Avenue,” she says. ” and Sturgis was bragging about all his exploits. So I asked him, ‘Did you kill Alex?’ He said, ‘Alex took too many pictures.’ Then he told me, ‘We can kill anybody we want. Just blame it on national security.’ He said columnist Dorothy Kilgallen ‘got whacked because of her intention to publish a book which included information from her exclusive prison interview with Jack Ruby. I asked him about Kennedy. He says, ‘So what if I fucking did it? Who’s gonna prove it? I have a fucking alibi. I was home watching television.’ And he says. ‘You missed the big one, Marita.'”
According to Lorenz, Sturgis suggested one way for her to dodge the House hearings was to leave the country. “He wanted me to infiltrate Fidel’s military advisers in Angola,” she says, a charge Sturgis denies. “He warned me that if I testified I would be killed.” From the heated exchanges between Sturgis and her mother, Monica learned that Sturgis was planning to come by and “straighten things out” on the afternoon of October 31, 1977. With a pistol borrowed from a friend’s brother, Monica waited for him outside her apartment building. Someone phoned the police, who talked Monica into giving up the gun. Hours later when Sturgis did appear at the apartment, he was arrested and charged with aggravated harassment and coercion.
Sturgis says his arrest was “a set up,” that he had flown to New York at Marita’s request and that she had even paid for his plane ticket. He sued the city for false arrest, and actually won a $2,500 settlement. He says further that he never told Lorenz to avoid the hearings, that he never believed that Dorothy Kilgallen was murdered, and that he had nothing to do with the disappearance of his friend Alexander Rorke.
In December 1977, Alice Lorenz died from an “unknown paralysis.” Valerie recalls her mother’s accusations in the hospital. “She kept saying the CIA had done it,” she says, “Something about an injection.” Marita, who sat with her mother till she died, lowers her voice to as hush and says, “She knew too much. They gave her a shot. Same as they gave Jack Ruby.”
“My grandmother had kept my mother intact,” says Monica. “After she died, everything got very bad. We went on Welfare, we had no money, no electricity or gas – once for six weeks.”
Left in her mother’s will, according to Marita, were a letter imploring her daughter to get out of the spy game and a photograph of a boy named Andre, Marita’s son with Fidel. According to Marita, the note said, “I did not tell you before about he boy because you would have been sidetracked.”
Marita Lorenz is standing over her copying machine, duplicating old news clippings while expostulating on how she almost paid with her life for testifying at the House hearings. First, she says, were the phone and mail threats, followed by a suspicious fire in her Yorkville apartment, a poisoning, a pistol-whipping, and a hit-and-run accident involving her son. In order to escape she moved her family to a small farmhouse in Darien, Connecticut, which bought with her book advance. Within six months, she says, the house was raked with automatic gunfire. After Monica was hospitalized with an inexplicable illness, Lorenz was close to complete breakdown. Some observers suggest, however, that any harassment she suffered to had more to do with her career of befriending, and then informing on, various lowlifes, who were frequently her lovers.
In early 1981, Lorenz marched into the Cuban Mission on Lexington Avenue in New York City. Knowing the building was under continuous surveillance by the FBI and the National Security Agency, Lorenz didn’t dare speak. Instead, she wrote a long note, “‘I need help. There is no justice for me. They are going to kill me and my children.’ I pleaded for help. I showed them the photos of me and Fidel so they knew who I was.” That night, she says, two Cuban bodyguards stationed themselves outside Monica’s room in New York Hospital and stayed there until her release. Emboldened, Lorenz returned to the Mission, requesting a visa to visit Havana. “I’d write these notes,” she says. “They would read them and then I’d burn them with my cigarette lighter.” In September 1981, she boarded a charter plane out of Miami and flew into Havana. She was met by soldiers who escorted her in “a Czechoslovakian Cadillac to Fidel’s house” – one of his 15 homes Lorenz says he has, scattered about Havana. “It’s the one with the satellite dish. I was greeted by two barbudos [the bearded ones as Castro’s soldiers are known], who showed me to my room. Nice big room with a terrace around it. . . I was nervous as hell.” She was also buzzing, having taken three Escatrol pills – amphetamine – before she left Miami, she said.
An aide came out, she says, “and said, ‘Comandante will see you now.’ And the door opens and he lets it slam against the wall. He always did that. It’s so crude,” she sighs, “And the first thing that struck me was that he’s grey – his beard. And he’s walking back and forth, looking at me. Then he said, ‘Welcome back my little assassin.’ I said, She claims they bantered in Spanish and English. “He’s fluent in English,” she says. “He plays dumb when he wants to with American reporters. ”
“I said, ‘Fidel. Be glad it was me and not somebody else, because you would have been dead.’ And I said, ‘And I still love you.’ I didn’t know what else to say. And then I started to cry. I said, ‘I want to see the boy. I know he’s alive.'” Castro agreed, she says, with one provision: that she would never try to have him extradited to the United States.
“Then Andre came in. I just looked, and my God, it’s alive. It’s real. My God, it’s mine. It’s got my mouth, my eyes. Oh, God, it’s got Fidel’s nose. The first thing I noticed was his white, white skin and Fidel’s curly hair. And I started to cry. He speaks English, too. I remember he shook hands with me. He’s a doctor – a pediatrician. I said, “It’s nice Fidel. You did a beautiful job. ”
After an hour and a half, she says, father and son left. “I never knew when the hell he was going to walk in. I couldn’t believe it after all these years. So I take a shower real quick. The water was lukewarm. The towels were shit – Russian, like dish towels. I believed he would come back – more out of curiosity.” Five hours later, she says, Castro returned. “It was almost dawn. We made love.” She howls with laughter, “Can you believe that?”
In the morning, Lorenz says, she had breakfast with her son – “If you want to call it breakfast,” she snorts. “It was like Spam, dog food. And forget the coffee – no more Cuban coffee. It comes from Nicarauga. It’s like brown water.” From there, she was whisked back to the airport.
Valerie Lorenz, who drove her sister to the Miami airport, says the first time she ever heard about a son with Fidel was when she picked Marita up on her return. “She was in a state of shock,” she says, “She went on and on about her kid. ‘He’s alive! He’s alive!’ She was sort of hysterical. She talked about meeting this old couple who had raised him.”
However, Lorenz returned without a single photograph, letter, or memento of her alleged son. And asked to produce either the photograph or the letter left by her mother, she balks, finding endless excuses. Most damning is her own account in her unpublished Viking biography, describing her stay in Roosevelt Hospital upon her return from Havana in 1959: I saw the doctor look at the X-rays and say, ‘Jesus Christ, they left half the baby in there.’ And I thought I would go crazy. Mother told me they had taken 22 bones out, including the entire rib cage. . . . I cannot think about it without knowing how old the baby would be to the day.”
Still, there is the slimmest of possibilities that she adopted a child, as she told the FBI in 1959. So desperate is Lorenz to prove her claim of having Castro’s child that she offers me what looks like an FBI report in order to verify her story. However, its misspellings, uncharacteristic language and the lack of a FBI file number betray the document as a fraud.
Through the early 80’s, Lorenz continued to do odd jobs for the FBI, most notably infiltrating the Marielitos, Castro’s boat people, and working undercover in a stolen-car ring operated out of Miami. By the late-80’s, however, she seems to have run out of steam. She joined a network of former spies, and spooks, such as Philip Agee. The group formed the Association of National Security Alumni – basically a self-help group. “We call each other now and then,” says Lorenz, “and give each other a boost.”
Meanwhile, nearly all of the old gang whom she alleges were in Dallas for the assassination of JFK have been behind bars for one thing or another. Orlando Bosch spent four years in the federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, for firing a bazooka at a Polish ship in Miami, followed by a 12 -year jail stint in Venezuela for allegedly blowing up a Cuban airplane, which killed 73 civilians. Upon his return to the States, Bosch was jailed for parole violation and held for two years. Recently, according to The Miami Herald, he was seen outside the Republic Bank on West Flagler Street in Miami, selling limes. Both Novo brothers served time for their involvement in the Letelier murder. In 1978, Guillermo was arrested in Miami for possession of illegal weapons and cocaine. Today they live in Miami. Gerry Hemming served eight years of a 35-year sentence on a Florida chain gang for drug
After Watergate, Sturgis was convicted of transporting stolen cars to Mexico. He got off with probation though he was not allowed to carry a weapon for a number of years. According to the New York Daily News, he was arrested again in 1986, for “promising an undercover agent to get someone out of jail in exchange for watches worth $75,000.” (He was acquitted.) Sturgis still lives in Miami, where he works as a “security specialist” and remains active in anti-Castro groups. In 1991 his house was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew.
Master spy E. Howard Hunt, following his release from prison for his involvement in Watergate, lived in Mexico for a few years before returning to live in Miami, where he continues to write spy novels.
Marita said that on her last visit to Havana, in 1988, she stayed 10 days. Her son, she says was in Nicaragua working as a medic for victims of the Contras. She claims that she saw Fidel on one night and that they made love – for the last time. “The last mercy hump,” she
says with a laugh. “That was it. It began with him and ended with him.”
However, John Stockwell, who went to Havana a short time later said the story is bogus and that he met with a Cuban official who told him that Marita had visited the island but that she had not seen Castro. “He said, ‘Look we know who all of Castro’s children are, and we know who the mothers are. Marita is not one of them,'” says Stockwell. “Their attitude is that Marita was just some whore. . . which is typical Cuban macho.” When Lorenz tried to return a year later, she was detained at the airport and sent home without any explanation. Stockwell, she claims, had made the Cubans nervous about her again.
In 1990, on a two-week tour of Nicaragua with Monica, Lorenz met Isabela Letelier and finally realized her dream of forging a match for her daughter with a celebrated Latin. Following the birth of their son, Monica and Francisco Letelier were married. After the couple’s break up this year, Monica moved into an apartment downstairs from Marita.
Lorenz settled into her tiny studio apartment so that she could be near her son, Mark who lived next door until this summer. Mark, who attends college at night and works at a pet store, would just as soon not know anything more about his mother’s checkered life.
For the last 2 years, Marita has been finishing up her autobiography, some 20 years in the works. She is clearly banking on her past to be the meal ticket of her future. She seems depressed, and has few relationships other than those with her children, a neighbor, and some “ops” from the old days. She is forever broke, having never figured out how to make a living outside the spook business.
Shelley Abened says he has been telling her for 25 years to focus on one thing only: getting her money from Marcos Perez Jimenez. “Lorenz has an uncontested, legitimate claim to one of the world’s great fortunes,” says Abend, “and she’s living on Welfare because she never followed through with a lawyer to take care of it.” However, her cycle of poverty may soon be behind her of all goes according to plan with the deal she signed with Oliver Stone for a purchase price of “more than $200,000” for the film rights to her story. Marita’s casual weaving of fact, fiction and fantasy seems to be no impediment to the filmmaker. Tom Guinzburg says he still hears from her once or twice a year – always “needy” and in crisis. “I think she is really unsophisticated when she gets beyond the basics.” He says. “It’s like ice floes keep breaking off in her head. I don’t know how many Maritas there are, but there are a lot.” Her daughter, Monica, muses, “I think my mother thought she was going to have this wonderful, glamorous life.”