Why Lee Harvey Oswald's car is parked in Chesterfield County, Virginia

Posted at 11:16 AM, Dec 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-15 23:06:51-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Frank Badalson’s hobby is all-consuming. The retiree collects anything and everything related to one of America’s most painful periods. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963 has riveted Frank for nearly 50 years.

”Sad day. It was a sad day. A terrifically sad day,” Frank said. “It is a simple murder case but there is a lot of evidence.”

As we move farther from the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 Badalson’s passion for the subject draws him closer with each passing anniversary.

“New information is still coming out,” Frank said.

When the crime of the century first gripped the former Chesterfield Police Officer in 1976 he was convinced Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone.

”There is a lot of misinformation out there,” Frank said. “I was a hardcore conspiracy theorist. I believed in all of it. I believed the Warren Commission people were lying.”

But after pouring over the mountain of evidence the former Chesterfield Police Officer reversed course.

“There are about 30 or 40 different theories that these conspiracy people have about what happened. And in the real world there is only one way,” Frank said. “It's just that simple.”

Frank Badalson
Frank Badalson sits in Lee Harvey Oswald's old car.

Since dedicating his life to the subject the former lawman befriended JFK’s secret service agents. Many were in Dallas that dark day.

“Well, a friend of mine gave it to me as a gift. It is a bust of President Kennedy and I cherish it along with my other items,” Frank said.

The 69-year-old who grew up in Northern Virginia is always looking to add to his library and collection of artifacts.

Badalson even owns a rifle from 1940 just like the one Oswald used.

“I have the exact same sling that he had on it. The scope. The mount. I did my best to make it as authentic as possible,” Frank said. “Oh, he did it. There is no question.”

But the historian says his most prized possession doesn’t fit on a shelf at all.

“This is a 1955 Chevy Bel Air 4-door station wagon,” Frank said.

This rusting relic hides a sinister past.

“This vehicle on more than one occasion transported the gun that killed President Kennedy,” Frank said.

Lee Harvey Oswald car

Lee Harvey Oswald learned to drive in this very vehicle just weeks before the assassination.

“He drove this car during October and November of 1963,” Frank said. “The steering wheel is the original wheel. This is the very wheel that Lee Harvey Oswald grasped.”

The wagon was once owned by Ruth Paine who was a friend of Oswald and his wife Marina.

“Keeping in mind that in those initial hours, Ruth Paine was a suspect,” Frank said.

In 2015, Frank purchased the car from the former neighbors of Ms. Paine who bought and garaged the Bel Air for nearly 50 years.

“Well, there is no question that it is an eerie connection. However a valuable connection to me,” Frank said.

Aside from a paint job, the car has changed little since 1963.

“The seats being the original seats they sat in. The steering wheel. The ignition switch. The glass you’re looking out of. All original to the day,” Frank said.

Frank says the nearly 70-year-old wagon with its checkered past generates a wide range of emotions.

“Everyone wants to know the story,” Frank said. “Some people just want to come and look at it. Some will sit in it. Some will not sit in it because they say it is creepy.”

Lee Harvey Oswald car

Recently Frank Badalson and his friend Ruth Paine traveled to Dallas to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the assassination and remember the fallen president.

”Being in Dealey Plaza on the 22nd brought it all full circle for me. It is something I’ve always wanted to do. To be there with Ruth Paine made it all that more special,” Frank said.

Frank Badalson taking his hobby to another level of learning.

“Well it has gone by pretty fast for me,” Frank said.

“Seems like it has gone by in a blink of an eye.”

Fueled by an inner drive to safeguard the past on four wheels.

“It has to give you the sense that it is a meaningful, tangible part of that awful day,” Frank said.

All while honoring the memory of a fallen president.

“I think it is an important piece of the history. I’m going to preserve it as best as I can as long as I have it,” Frank said.

“For me personally, it brings me closer to the event,” Frank said.

If you would like to see the 1955 Bel Air that Lee Harvey Oswald drove it is on display at Hancock’s Automotive at 7501 Iron Bridge Rd in Chesterfield.

Do you know about a good news story happening in your community? Click here to email and the CBS 6 News team.

Watch Greg McQuade's stories on CBS 6 and If you know someone Greg should profile, email him at

EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews



Watch 'The Jennifer Hudson Show' weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6!

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.