Oswald's brother sues over rights to coffin

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by CRAIG CIVALE

WFAA

Posted on January 17, 2011 at 10:55 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 18 at 4:01 AM

The brother of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is suing over the rights to his coffin and other items recently sold at auction.

Robert Oswald filed suit in Tarrant County against Baumgardner Funeral Home in Fort Worth.

The business sold Oswald's original coffin along with his death records and those of his mother.

It also sold the medical instruments and embalming table used during the process.

The auction brought in nearly $160,000.

The lawsuit claims that the coffin was the family's property because Robert Oswald bought it for his brother back in 1963.

"Mr. Oswald felt like it was a breach of that relationship and breach of trust to profit from those items against his wishes and basically sell them to the highest bidder," said Matthew Anderson, Oswald's attorney.

Lee Harvey Oswald's casket was dug up in 1981 to dispel conspiracy theories that the president's assassin wasn't buried in that grave.

At that time, his remains were placed in a separate coffin because the original was badly damaged over the years.

Oswald's family believed the original pine box was destroyed. Instead, it was preserved all these years by the funeral home.

Its owner, Allen Baumgardner, had no comment about the suit.

JFK historian Hugh Aynesworth said he is not surprised about anything concerning the Kennedy assassination.  "It's the most bizarre thing in the world," he said. "People can sell anything;  people will buy anything." 

If Robert Oswald is able to get the items back, he plans on destroying them.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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