Carl Austin Weiss
(December 6, 1906 – September 8, 1935) was a gifted young Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, physician who was the apparent assassin of U.S. Senator Huey
Pierce Long, Jr., though his family has vigorously disputed the
Baton Rouge doctor
Weiss was born in Baton Rouge to Dr. Carl Adam Weiss
and the former Viola Maine. He was educated in local schools and
graduated as the valedictorian of Catholic High School. He then obtained
his bachelor's degree in 1925 from Louisiana State University in Baton
Rouge. He received his medical degree from Tulane University in New
Orleans in 1927.
He did postgraduate work in Vienna, Austria, and was
thereafter awarded internships in Vienna and at Bellevue Hospital in New
York City. In 1932, he returned to Baton Rouge to enter private practice
with his father. He was president of the Louisiana Medical Society in
1933. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club (Conrad 1988, 2:831).
The Pavy-Opelousas connection
In 1933, Dr. Weiss married the former Yvonne Louise
Pavy of Opelousas, the seat of St. Landry Parish. The couple had one
son, Carl Austin Weiss, Jr. (born 1934). She was the daughter of Judge
Benjamin Henry Pavy (1874–1943) and the former Ida Veazie (died 1941).
Judge Pavy was part of the anti-Long political
faction. Pavy's brother Felix Octave Pavy, Sr. (died 1962), an Opelousas
physician, had run for lieutenant governor in 1928 on an intraparty
ticket opposite the Long slate. Felix Pavy was defeated for lieutenant
governor by Paul N. Cyr of Iberia Parish, who thereafter turned against
Pavy was the Sixteenth Judicial District state judge
from St. Landry and Evangeline parishes. He did not seek reelection in
1936, after Long had the legislature gerrymander the seat to include a
majority of pro-Long voters within a revised district. (Conrad 1988,
2:635). Weiss's father was a prominent eye specialist who had once
treated Senator Long.
On September 8, 1935, Weiss allegedly shot Huey Long
in the Capitol building in Baton Rouge. Long's bodyguards then opened
fire and riddled Weiss's body with as many as sixty bullets. Weiss died
at the scene.
Dave Haas, the leader of an anti-Long group called
the "Minute Men", claimed that five men met in the DeSoto Hotel in Baton
Rouge to draw straws as to who would kill Long. Weiss allegedly drew the
short straw, and according to Haas, "He would have killed Huey as he
would a snake."
Dr. Weiss's sister-in-law, Ida Catherine Pavy
Boudreaux (born 1922) of Opelousas recalls that his body was sent to the
Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., for a study of bullets
entering and exiting the body. Dr. Weiss was interred in Roselawn
Cemetery in Baton Rouge. His body was exhumed on October 29, 1991, for
forensic evaluation, fifty-six years after the event, and never returned
Persistent claims allege that Weiss actually was
unarmed and struck Long with his hand. The scenario then contends that
Long was accidentally shot by his own guards when they opened fire on
These rumors are supported by several witnesses and the fact that
Long had a bruised lip at the time of his emergency surgery. This is a
view voiced by Francis C. Grevemberg (born 1914), the former head of the
Louisiana state police and twice a candidate for governor.
Long backers contend that the senator slipped and hit
the marble wall at the scene of the gunfire. Other theories hold that
Long's assassination was arranged to prevent him from winning the
presidency in 1936, either from within the Democratic Party or as a
third party candidate backed by the Share Our Wealth organization.
It was widely understood that Long's populist,
progressive policies had earned him many powerful enemies who would not
have wanted him to become president . In July 1935, two months prior
to his death, Long claimed that he had uncovered an assassination plot
Long had positioned himself to run against Franklin
D. Roosevelt in the 1936 elections. He even announced his bid in August
1935. A month later, he was dead.
Historian and Long biographer T. Harry Williams of
LSU later claimed that the senator had never intended to run for the
presidency in 1936. Instead, he had been plotting with Father Charles
Coughlin, a Catholic priest and populist radio personality, to run
someone else on the soon-to-be-formed Share Our Wealth Party ticket.
According to Williams, the idea was that this
candidate would split the leftist vote with President Roosevelt and
thereby elect a Republican president and demonstrate the electoral
appeal of "Share Our Wealth". Long would then wait four years and run
for president in 1940 as a Democrat against a sitting Republican
During the 1990s the NBC television series Unsolved
Mysteries raised the possibility that Weiss did not kill Long, but that
the powerful senator was accidentally shot to death by his own
bodyguards who failed to protect him from danger.
On the segment, a
historian questions that if Weiss was armed with a gun, how did he get
through the heavily guarded Capitol Building without having the weapon
Also, he had many opportunities before the actual
shooting took place to assassinate Senator Long as he walked up and down
the hallways ignoring Weiss' repeated requests to speak to him. Long
even had his back to Weiss seconds before the shooting, which would be
the perfect opening to kill him.
In 1991 the body of Weiss was exhumed from Roselawn
Cemetery in Louisiana by James E. Starrs, a forensic scientist with
George Washington University. The remains, which were skeletal, were
found to still contain two bullets which had not been removed by doctors
prior to burial due to how deeply they were embedded in the body.
Both of the bullets which remained in the body were
in the area of the head, and both bullets still had contained in their
hollow points, remnants of white linen. This linen is from the white
linen suit that Weiss was wearing when he died, and due to the fact that
the bullets were found in his head, showed that Weiss was in a defensive
position when he was shot, with his arms up towards his face.
The exhumation of Weiss brought about an
investigation into police evidence that had vanished from the Long
assassination examination, including the gun that Weiss supposedly used
to kill Long.
The investigation uncovered that the gun in question was
in the possession of the daughter of one of the former police
investigators of the case, having been passed down to her upon death.
Also in addition to gun was a clip of ammo from the
gun, a spent .38 caliber bullet and photos of the clothing worn by Huey
Long at the time of his death.
Tests on the gun supposedly used by Weiss to kill
Long found that the spent .38 caliber bullet, while the same caliber as
Weiss' gun, was not fired from the gun. The bullet showed signs of two
strikes, one hard and one soft.
The two strikes have been assumed to
indicate that the bullet struck first the marble walls in the State
Capital building where Long was shot, and then ricocheted and hit Long.
The fatal shot was thought to have come from one of
Long's own bodyguards. All of this is according to James E. Starrs, who
wrote a book on the subject called "A Voice for the Dead."
The Weiss family thereafter
Yvonne Weiss (born 1908) and her son Carl moved to
New York City, where she was a member of the faculty of Columbia
University. Ida Boudreaux, Yvonne's youngest sister and the maternal
aunt of Carl Weiss, Jr., recalled that the move was necessary to avoid
the hostile political climate against the Weiss family in Louisiana in
the late 1930s.
Yvonne Weiss subsequently married Henri Samuel
Bourgeois, a Canadian. She died on December 22, 1963, exactly one month
after the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Carl Weiss, Jr., who resides on Long Island in New
York, has been trying for years to clear his father's name. Weiss, Jr.,
met with U.S. Senator Russell B. Long (1918–2003), Long's son and
successor in the Senate, and the two agreed to put aside past
differences and reach a reconciliation.