Monday, May 16, 2022 May 16, 2022
86° F Dallas, TX

A Police Chief’s Bad Luck Continues

By  |

The slate and the nation are watching the trial of the Midlothian High School students who allegedly murdered undercover officer George Raffield. who posed as a student in order to penetrate the high school’s drug rings. The event has already meant unflattering publicity for police chief Roy Vaughn, who sent Raffield into the school. It’s not the first time Vaughn has drawn the lightning.

On November 24, 1963, Vaughn, then a Dallas policeman, had been assigned to guard the ramp beneath the Dallas city jail as Lee Harvey Oswald was to be transported to the county jail. According to the Warren Commission, it was during the forty-five-second period in which Vaughn left his post to direct traffic around the convoy’s lead car leaving the basement that Jack Ruby walked down the ramp and killed Oswald.

During his testimony before the commission, Vaughn never wavered from his belief that Ruby did not pass him on that ramp and that the nightclub owner must have gained access to the area from some other entrance. The results of two polygraph examinations supported Vaughn. However, the eyewitness testimony of former policeman N.J. Daniels, who saw a man resembling Ruby walk down the ramp three to four minutes before the murder of Oswald, painted a different and more damaging portrait.

The commission did not pursue the matter, preferring to believe that Ruby did in fact get by Vaughn unnoticed but that Vaughn was not at fault, negligent, or responsible in any way for the death of Oswald. But Vaughn received rougher treatment in Executive Action, a 1973 movie posing the theory that Kennedy’s murderers were hired and trained (and eventually disposed of) by a cabal of oil men with the nodding approval of the CIA and the FBI. In the film, the actor playing Vaughn deliberately turns his head as the Ruby character walks past him and down the ramp. Vaughn filed suit against the film’s production company and others involved with the film, including fellow Midlothianite Penn Jones, then-editor of the Midlothian Mirror. The suit was settled out of court.

“I will go to my grave convinced that Jack Ruby did not enter the basement through that ramp,” Vaughn says. But with the Midlothian murder trial already in full swing, the police chief has much more timely worries on his mind.