Testimony of Don R. Ables

The testimony of Don R. Ables was taken at 9:45 a.m., on April 9, 1964, in the office of the U.S. attorney, 301 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. Joseph A. Ball, assistant counsel of the President's Commission.

Mr. BALL - Would you stand up and be sworn? Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. ABLES - I do.
Mr. BALL - Will you state your name, please.
Mr. ABLES - Don R. Ables.
Mr. BALL - Where do you live, Mr. Ables?
Mr. ABLES - 1520 Kingsley, in Garland.
Mr. BALL - What is your business or occupation?
Mr. ABLES - Jail clerk, Dallas Police Department.
Mr. BALL - How long have you been a jail clerk in the Dallas Police Department?
Mr. ABLES - About 7 months.
Mr. BALL - And you are a member of the police department?
Mr. ABLES - I am a civilian employee.
Mr. BALL - Civilian employee? You are not----
Mr. ABLES - An actual member of the----
Mr. BALL - An actual member of the department?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir.
Mr. BALL - Where were you born and raised?
Mr. ABLES - I was born and raised in Hico, Tex.
Mr. BALL - How do you spell that? You probably know it. I don't.
Mr. ABLES - [Spelling] H-i-c-o.
Mr. BALL - [Spelling] H-i-c-o. Did you got to school there?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - How far through school?
Mr. ABLES - Well, through 10 1/2 grades.
Mr. BALL - Then where did you go?
Mr. ABLES - Joined the Navy.
Mr. BALL - How long were you in the Navy?
Mr. ABLES - Seven and a half years.
Mr. BALL - What did you do when you got out of the Navy?
Mr. ABLES - Came straight to Dallas and went to work for the police department.
Mr. BALL - That was 7 months ago.
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. ABLES - You were on duty on November 22, 1963, were you?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - In the afternoon? Did you take part in a showup?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - With Oswald?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - How did you happen to take part in the showup? Tell me who asked you to, or ordered you to?
Mr. ABLES - Well, my supervisor in the jail office asked me to.
Mr. BALL - What is his name?
Mr. ABLES - Sergeant Duncan.
Mr. BALL - What did he tell you?
Mr. ABLES - Told me that they needed a man for the showup and go out there.
Mr. BALL - To where?
Mr. ABLES - Well, they was all standing in the room, and I just joined in with them.
Mr. BALL - Where did you go?
Mr. ABLES - Went into the showup room.
Mr. BALL - Showup room?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - How were you dressed when you went in the showup room?
Mr. ABLES - I was wearing a white shirt and this sweater here [indicating].
Mr. BALL - You have a gray-knit sweater on?
Mr. ABLES - Yes.
Mr. BALL - And dark trousers?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Have a tie on?
Mr. ABLES - No.
Mr. BALL - Then you were dressed about like you are dressed today, is that right?
Mr. ABLES - Yes.
Mr. BALL - Off the record.
(Discussion off the record.)
Mr. BALL - Were you given any instructions when you went into the showup room?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir; none whatsoever.
Mr. BALL - Had you ever been in a showup before?
Mr. ABLES - No.
Mr. BALL - Had you ever heard of officers or employees of the Police Department being used in a showup before?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir; I have. I hadn't until I went to work for the police department.
Mr. BALL - Did you ever afterwards?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Tell me, it is your conclusion I know, but tell me briefly what you learned as to the practice of the police department of using jail employees or officers in showups? You can generalize. I am not holding you down as to where you learned it. Tell me what you learned about it?
Mr. ABLES - Well, only times that I have heard that--I have never seen a police officer or employee used in a showup but only times I have heard of them being used is when they need somebody in a hurry, or need somebody to do that. Well, to more or less look like they belong in a showup or something.
Mr. BALL - Somebody that looks like the prisoner who is in the showup?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Were you aware when you went in there that you would be asked certain questions?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir.
Mr. BALL - You were not? When you went in there where did you stand in the line?
Mr. ABLES - I was No. 4.
Mr. BALL - That would be facing the audience?
Mr. ABLES - Yes.
Mr. BALL - You were aware then that you were No. 4 in this?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - That would be you were on the left, on the right, facing the audience?
Mr. ABLES - Be on the left.
Mr. BALL - Left facing the audience, is that right?
Mr. ABLES - Yes.
Mr. BALL - Your left?
Mr. ABLES - My left.
Mr. BALL - Your left, facing the audience. The detective there, did he ask you any questions?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - What did he ask you?
Mr. ABLES - As I recall, he asked me where I was from and what my occupation was and where I went to high school.
Mr. BALL - And where what?
Mr. ABLES - Where I went to high school.
Mr. BALL - Did he ask your name?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir; not that I recall.
Mr. BALL - What did you answer?
Mr. ABLES - When he asked where I was from I told him Dallas. I don't recall what I told him when he asked my occupation.
Mr. BALL - Did you tell him you were a jail clerk?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir.
Mr. BALL - Gave him a fictitious occupation?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - When he asked you where you went to high school, where did you tell him?
Mr. ABLES - I believe I told him Dallas, I'm not quite sure on that.
Mr. BALL - Do you know the name of the detective that asked you the questions?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir; I don't.
Mr. BALL - Could you hear anything from the audience?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir.
Mr. BALL - Did Oswald say anything?
Mr. ABLES - Only time he said anything was when the detective asked him questions.
Mr. BALL - Did he answer the questions?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Did you--you participated in the second showup, too, didn't you?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - About what time of day?
Mr. ABLES - About 6:30.
Mr. BALL - And in that showup, how were you dressed?
Mr. ABLES - Same way.
Mr. BALL - Who asked you to go to that showup?
Mr. ABLES - The detective in charge of the showup wanted the same members back in there.
Mr. BALL - Do you remember who asked you the questions?
Mr. ABLES - I don't remember his name. No, sir.
Mr. BALL - Where were you in that showup? What number?
Mr. ABLES - Same position, No. 4.
Mr. BALL - Who was in that showup?
Mr. ABLES - It was Perry, Oswald, Clark, and myself.
Mr. BALL - Same ones as in the first showup up there?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Ask you questions?
Mr. ABLES - I don't recall on that, on the second showup. I know he did on the first showup.
Mr. BALL - You don't know whether he did or not ask you questions?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir; not on the second showup.
Mr. BALL - If he did ask you questions, he--you don't recall what they were?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir; or what I said.
Mr. BALL - Now, did you take part in another showup?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - When was that?
Mr. ABLES - That was later on that evening. I don't recall what time.
Mr. BALL - Think it would be around 7:55 or 8 o'clock?
Mr. ABLES - Could have been; I don't recall.
Mr. BALL - And who was in that showup with you?
Mr. ABLES - Myself, Oswald, and two prisoners.
Mr. BALL - Four, again, were there?
Mr. ABLES - I believe so.
Mr. BALL - Do you know the names of the prisoners?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir.
Mr. BALL - I have the names here. Richard Walter Borchgardt. Do you know whether he was there?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir.
Mr. BALL - Or Ellis Brazel?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir.
Mr. BALL - You don't know him?
Mr. ABLES - No.
Mr. BALL - Who asked you to take part in this showup?
Mr. ABLES - The same detective that was in charge of the showup said that he wanted me back in there.
Mr. BALL - Had you been in the jail--had you been waiting in the jail during the time?
Mr. ABLES - Well; I performed my duties in the jail office.
Mr. BALL - In between the showups?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Well----
Mr. ABLES - The jail office adjoins the showup room.
Mr. BALL - What were your hours of work that day?
Mr. ABLES - 2:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m.
Mr. BALL - How were you dressed on the third showup?
Mr. ABLES - Same way.
Mr. BALL - As you had been on the first and second?
Mr. ABLES - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Were questions asked of you again?
Mr. ABLES - I don't believe it was asked on the third showup. I am quite sure there was no questions asked.
Mr. BALL - Where were you on the third showup? What number?
Mr. ABLES - I was in my same position, No. 4.
Mr. BALL - Where was Oswald?
Mr. ABLES - He was in his position No. 2.
Mr. BALL - You were at no time handcuffed to Oswald?
Mr. ABLES - No, sir.
Mr. BALL - Can you tell me your height?
Mr. ABLES - About 5'9".
Mr. BALL - What is your weight?
Mr. ABLES - Around 165 or something.
Mr. BALL - And your hair?
Mr. ABLES - Dark.
Mr. BALL - Eyes?
Mr. ABLES - Brown.
Mr. BALL - Complexion?
Mr. ABLES - Ruddy.
Mr. BALL - I think that is all. You can be excused, too.
Mr. ABLES - All right.