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Ruth Hyde Paine (born September 3, 1932) was a friend of Marina Oswald, who was living with her at the time of the JFK assassination. According to four government investigations, Lee Harvey Oswald stored the 6.5 mm caliber Carcano rifle that he used to assassinate US President John F. Kennedy in Ruth Paine's garage, unbeknownst to her and her husband, Michael Paine.
Paine was born Ruth Avery Hyde. She went to Antioch College and became a Quaker. Through her interest in folk dancing and music she met her future husband Michael Paine. Though strictly speaking not a Quaker, Michael attended meetings with Ruth. They married on December 28, 1957.
In 1959 Michael Paine got a job with Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas and the Paines moved into a house in the suburb of Irving. As liberals in Dallas, the Paines were isolated and Ruth Paine was quite lonely.
Ruth Paine had been studying Russian since 1957. In the late 1950s she participated in Quaker pen pal programs and the East-West Contact Committee, which sponsored visits by three Soviets to the US. In 1963 she signed up to teach a summer class in Russian at St. Mark's School in Dallas, but only one student signed up (William Hootkins, who became an actor and had a minor role in the movie Star Wars as X-Wing pilot Jek Porkins).
Ruth Paine met the Oswalds through her interest in Russian. A friend from a singing group, Everett Glover, invited her to a party on February 22, 1963 because he thought she would be interested in meeting people who spoke Russian. The party was arranged by Oswald's friend, 51-year-old Russian émigré George de Mohrenschildt, a well-educated petroleum geologist with intelligence connections. The Paines and Oswalds spent much time together after the party. Ruth befriended Marina though Lee was more distant, despite Ruth and Michael's efforts (and the Paines did not care for him much).
Ruth Paine drove Marina Oswald to New Orleans when the Oswalds moved there in May 1963 and back to Dallas when they moved again in September 1963. When the Oswalds resettled in the Dallas area, Marina and Lee's child, June, moved in with Ruth Paine the suburb of Irving, Texas while Lee stayed in a boarding house under the name O.H. Lee. The second Oswald child was born after Marina moved in. Marina helped with the housework and Ruth’s Russian studies while Lee visited on weekends. By this time Michael and Ruth had separated, though their divorce was amicable and Michael was a frequent visitor. At the suggestion of a neighbor, Ruth Paine told Lee Oswald about a job opportunity at the Texas School Book Depository.
Lee Harvey Oswald stayed at the Paine home with Marina and his children unannounced on Thursday night, November 21, 1963—the night before President Kennedy was assassinated. When Oswald left for work on the morning of November 22, he brought a large package that he had kept in the Paine's garage with him to work at the Texas School Book Depository. Oswald's coworker and friend, Wesley Frazier testified that Oswald told him the bag contained curtain rods. The evidence demonstrated that the package actually contained the rifle used by Oswald in the assassination.
After the assassination, Marina and Lee Oswald's mother Marguerite briefly stayed with Ruth Paine until Marina was taken into custody by the Secret Service. Marguerite and Lee's brother Robert did not like Ruth Paine, which may have influenced Marina Oswald. They thought Paine sought attention for herself, an opinion Marina would later express before the Warren Commission. Ruth wrote to Marina incessantly, with letters that took an almost desperate tone, but received no response except for a Christmas card. They met briefly in 1964 but afterwards they would never see each other again. Paine heard news about Marina through author Priscilla Johnson McMillan until McMillan’s relationship with Marina broke off in the early 1980s.
Eight days after the assassination of President Kennedy, on November 30, 1963, Ruth Paine inadvertently discovered evidence that Lee Oswald had attempted to assassinate General Edwin Walker. Among the letters that Ruth Paine repeatedly sent to Marina was a thick book of household advice in Russian. The book contained an undated note left by Lee for Marina on April 10, 1963 (the day of the Walker assassination attempt) which Marina would later testify she had concealed. Before the Kennedy assassination, Dallas police had no suspects in the Walker shooting.
Ruth Paine testified before the Warren Commission and has been interviewed by a number of authors, including Johnson, William Manchester and Gerald Posner. She has appeared in numerous documentaries and even a mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald. She also testified in Jim Garrison's trial of Clay Shaw. Paine was not called to testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
Articles that have appeared in the mainstream press and publications about Ruth Paine have generally been kind. However, conspiracy theorists have often depicted the Paines in a negative light, attempting to connect them to various conspiracies going back generations, since Michael Paine’s relatives and ancestors held important government and business positions. In Oliver Stone's JFK, the Paines are depicted as Bill and Janet Williams, played by Gary Carter and Gail Cronauer. While most names in the movie JFK were not changed, it has been suggested the Paines were renamed to avoid potential legal action. (The name Janet Williams was used again in the 1993 TV movie Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald, in which the role was played by Quenby Bakke.)
The City of Irving bought the former Paine home in 2009 and is restoring it to its 1963 condition to be turned into a museum in time for the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination on November 22, 2013.
Ruth Paine returned to Pennsylvania and became principal of a Quaker school. She soon moved to St. Petersburg, Florida and earned a master’s degree in psychology from the University of South Florida. After working for the school system in Franklin County in the Florida Panhandle, she returned to St. Petersburg and worked for the Hillsborough County, Florida school system until her retirement. She is active in Quaker and liberal charities and organizations and lives in Santa Rosa, California.