Pictured here is author Todd Elliott as he holds a copy of his book A Rose by Many Other Names: Rose Cherami and the JFK Assassination during a recent radio interview. The book chronicles Rose Cherami’s time spent in Eunice 48-hours before the JFK Assassination as well its connection with the mob influence along Highway 190. (Photo courtesy of Todd Elliott)
A Rose color conspiracy
Shots rang out in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963, that killed the 35th President of the United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The lone suspect was Lee Harvey Oswald, who was perched in a corner on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.
A person along the parade route, Abraham Zapruder, captured the moments on his home movie camera. This Zapruder film shows the president’s head going back and to the left when it was struck by the bullet from Oswald’s gun. Simple physics; however, says that the president’s head should have gone to the front and to the right if hit by a bullet from behind. This has given rise to countless conspiracy theories including those of multiple gunmen standing in the area known as The Grassy Knoll.
Adding fuel to these conspiracy theories are thousands of documents that were sealed by the FBI until last month when President Donald Trump ordered the release of all documents within a 180-day period.
Contained in these documents could be emergency room records from Moosa Hospital bearing the name Rose Cherami from Thibodaux. According to Todd Elliott in his book A Rose by Many Other Names: Rose Cherami and the JFK Assassination, “FBI, government officials, or men flashing such credentials came to Eunice and took medical records from Moosa and an arrest record on Rose from the Eunice Police Department.”
Making a photocopy of the emergency room record from November 20, 1963, was Louis Pavur who was a radiologic technologist. Elliott said in an interview with The Gazette, “Louis Pavur, who was there that day, offered me the only shred of evidence that Rose was even there. If it wasn’t for Louis Pavur making a copy of the register, we might not have any documented evidence Rose was ever even there.”
But, one question still remains. Who was Rose Cherami? Elliott answers that question in his book A Rose by Many Other Names: Rose Cherami and the JFK Assassination. The Lake Charles native brought with him into writing the book his fascination with the JFK Assassination from a young age.
“I had always been interested in the JFK Assassination,” he said. “When I was a kid, I heard about the coincidences and the similarities between (Abraham) Lincoln’s assassination and Kennedy’s assassination. As a kid, that just enthralled me.”
“For one of the first papers I had to write in middle school, I had to write from the point of view of an inanimate historical object, and I chose the JFK limousine as an eighth grader,” he continued. “I’ve always been interested and fascinated by the great mystery and really the crime of the 20th Century that is the JFK Assassination.”
Elliott spent time as a reporter for The Eunice News which gave him an opportunity to research answers to the person of Rose Cherami, who worked for Jack Ruby at his Carousal Club in Dallas, and her connection with the events in Dallas.
“Rose Cherami was Melba Marcades,” Elliott said. “She had many names, but the one that made her famous was Rose Cherami. I always like to say that Rose Cherami is the godmother of the JFK Assassination conspiracy theorists because she actually believed in a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy while he was still alive. She’s kind of like the first conspiracy theorists” for this event.
He continued, “She was a known prostitute, drug addict, and drug runner who made her way through Highway 190 and ended up in Eunice 48-hours before the president was assassinated on Friday, November 22, 1963. She is immortalized at the very opening of the first dramatized scene of the Oliver Stone movie JFK. She is shown thrown from a moving vehicle on Highway 190.”
It is because of this incident where Cherami was thrown out of a car that she was taken to Moosa Hospital. While there at the hospital, Cherami rattled off details of the plot to kill President Kennedy. According to Elliott, “It is certainly without a doubt plausible that Rose knew about the assassination.” He continued, “I kind of stopped believing in coincidences when it pertains to the JFK Assassination, and really Rose might have heard about it through pillow talk because she was a prostitute. Someone might have opened up to her and probably said something they shoudn’t have.”
Whatever Cherami knew caused her to be admitted in the East Louisiana State Hospital in Jackson, La. “That is highly unusual, and what’s more unusual is her being released from Jackson,” Elliott said.
“The real question is why was she released from Jackson. To say that someone was crazy back then was good enough to send them to the hospital. They let a person out who had a record of being criminally insane and released her to state troopers. And, for some reason these state troopers took her across state lines and dropped her off in Houston.”
One of these state troopers was former Evangeline Parish Sheriff Wayne Morein. “He is the only person that I know who is still alive who personally met Rose Cherami and was there that day in history on the Monday after the assassination.”
Elliott, in his book, tells the story of Rose Cherami against the backdrop of organized crime along Highway 190. “It kind of paints a picture like a backdrop of the times back then,” he said. “You still have at the Holiday Lounge the old cat houses in the back. That was just an element of where I think organized crime definitely worked. They had the slot machines in there at the time. There was definitely Carlos Marcello’s gang, and the owners were linked to Carlos Marcello in a way.”
Marcello, according to Elliott, was an organized crime boss in New Orleans. Elliott wrote in his book, “Years later, according to an anonymous Eunice source, this would become well known to certain members of Jim Garrison’s investigative team, who purported that the Silver Slipper in Eunice was owned by none other than Jack Ruby. It was further alleged by Cherami that Carlos Marcello... fronted the money to open the Silver Slipper.”
Elliott then said in an interview with The Gazette, “The Holiday in Mamou was the first place that I stopped when I was doing my research, and I was looking for a man named Hadley Manuel. He was a strange character and wanted to get paid for everything he knew. He ended up dying and didn’t tell me anything, but it kind of paints a picture of what was going on in Louisiana back then.”
“There definitely was organized crime that involved slot machines, gambling, prostitution, and drug running,” he continued. “Mamou, Eunice, and that area right there was kind of like the midway point if you were driving from New Orleans to Dallas. It just shows a snapshot of Louisiana history, and there’s actually more connections to organized crime and the Kennedy Assassination in Louisiana than there is in all of Texas.”
The first edition of A Rose by Many Other Names: Rose Cherami and the JFK Assassination was released in 2013, 50 years after the assassination. Since the time when this second edition came out, Elliott has discovered new information linking Cherami to the events in Dallas. “Rose Cherami lived right around the corner and probably less than half a block away from 1313 Dauphine St (in New Orleans) which is the home of Clay Shaw, who was the only man ever brought forward and put on trial for the murder of President Kennedy,” Elliott said. “(Orleans Parish District Attorney Jim) Garrison is the only person to ever bring a trial forward, and the only man ever put on trial was Clay Shaw.”
A second edition, according to Elliott, features new material and interviews from additional residents of Eunice who decided to go on the record after the book was first released. Whichever edition people choose to read, Elliott hopes they get the same message out of it.
“I think that when somebody like Rose Cherami comes along and speaks the truth openly, loudly, and plainly we should listen,” he said. “I think that we should not judge a person by their character, and Rose was an unsavory character. The reason that no one believed this woman when she warned about everybody about the assassination 48-hours before the president was murdered was because she was a prostitute, drug addict, drug runner, and not a good person.”
Elliott concluded, “I believe Rose ultimately was a good person in telling what she knew. What she knew could have saved the life of the president.”