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The Spy Who Loved Castro
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.
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."
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."
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!"
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."
(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.
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."
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.
around for six weeks.
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."
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.' "
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.
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."
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
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.
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."
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."
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.
"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.
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?"
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."
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.
says with a laugh. "That was it. It began with him and ended with him."
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."
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