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Carl Austin WEISS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: The actual circumstances of Long's shooting are murky, and the written accounts are filled with contradictions
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 8, 1935
Date of birth: December 6, 1906
Victim profile: U.S. Senator Huey Pierce Long, Jr.
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
Status: Long's bodyguards opened fire and Weiss was hit with sixty-two bullets. Weiss died at the scene

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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 assertion.

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 (18741943) 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 Long.

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.

The shooting

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 to Roselawn.

Doubts persist

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 Weiss.

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 [2]. In July 1935, two months prior to his death, Long claimed that he had uncovered an assassination plot against himself.

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 incumbent.

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 confiscated?

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 (19182003), Long's son and successor in the Senate, and the two agreed to put aside past differences and reach a reconciliation.



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