Well, this opens the door to the possibility the paper samples were used to create the bag, and that Day had asked Montgomery and Johnson to take this freshly-created bag over to the crime lab.
Holding a mirror up to a house of mirrors
Lost And Found
We have already discussed the statements and testimony of Buell Frazier and his sister Linnie Mae Randle which, taken in unison, more than suggest the brown paper bag pulled from the school book depository on 11-22-63 was not the bag they saw in Oswald's possession that morning.
We have also studied some of the press photos of the bag pulled from the building, and wondered if this is even the same bag later photographed in the archives, and shown Frazier and his sister in their testimony.
We shall now take a detailed look at a series of strange circumstances surrounding the purported discovery of this bag within the building, which suggest it was not discovered as claimed.
Let us first consider the 4-2-64 testimony of the FBI's Sebastian Latona, who examined the bag on 11-23-63. (4H1-48)
Mr. LATONA. I received this paper bag on the morning of November 23, 1963.
Mr. EISENBERG. And when did you conduct your examination?
Mr. LATONA. I conducted my examination on that same day.
Mr. EISENBERG. When you had received it, could you tell whether any previous examination had been conducted on it?
Mr. LATONA. When I received this exhibit, 626, the brown wrapper, it had been treated with black dusting powder, black fingerprint powder. There was nothing visible in the way of any latent prints on there at that particular time.
Mr. EISENBERG. Were you informed whether any fingerprints had been developed by means of the fingerprint powder?
Mr. LATONA. No; I determined that by simply examining the wrapper at that particular time.
Mr. EISENBERG. Could you briefly describe the powder process?
Mr. LATONA. The powdering process is merely the utilizing of a fingerprint powder which is applied to any particular surface for purposes of developing any latent prints which my be on such a surface.
Now, we use powder in the FBI only on objects which have a hard, smooth, nonabsorbent finish, such as glass, tile, various types of highly polished metals and the like. In the FBI we do not use powder on paper, cardboard, unfinished wood, or various types of cloth. The reason is that the materials are absorbent. Accordingly, when any finger which has on it perspiration or sweat comes in contact with an absorbent material, the print starts to become absorbed into the surface. Accordingly, when an effort is made to develop latent prints by the use of a powder, if the surface is dry, the powder will not adhere. On the other hand, where the surface is a hard and smooth object, with a nonabsorbent material, the perspiration or sweat which may have some oil in it at that time may remain there as moisture. Accordingly, when the dry powder is brushed across it, the moisture in the print will retain the powder giving an outline of the impression itself. These powders come in various colors. We utilize a black and a gray. The black powder is used on objects which are white or light to give a resulting contrast of a black print on a white background. We use the gray powder on objects which are black or dark in order to give you a resulting contrast of a white print on a dark or black background.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, how did you proceed to conduct your examination for fingerprints on this object?
Mr. LATONA. Well, an effort was made to remove as much of the powder as possible. And then this was subjected to what is known as the iodine-fuming method, which simply means flowing iodine fumes, which are developed by what is known as an iodine-fuming gun--it is a very simple affair, in which there are a couple of tubes attached to each other, having in one of them iodine crystals. And by simply blowing through one end, you get iodine fumes. The iodine fumes are brought in as close contact to the surface as possible And if there are any prints which contain certain fatty material or protein material, the iodine fumes simply discolor it to a sort of brownish color. And of course such prints as are developed are photographed for record purposes. That was done in this case here, but no latent prints were developed. The next step then was to try an additional method, by chemicals. This was subsequently processed by a 3-percent solution of silver nitrate. The processing with silver nitrate resulted in developing two latent prints. One is what we call a latent palmprint, and the other is what we call a latent fingerprint.
And let us now consider the 4-6-64 testimony of Dallas Det. Robert Studebaker (7H137-149). He was first asked to describe the location of the bag. He was then asked to describe its appearance.
Mr. BALL. How long was it, approximately?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. I don't know - I picked it up and dusted it and they took it down there and sent it to Washington and that's the last I have seen of it, and I don't know.
Mr. BALL. Did you take a picture of it before you picked it up?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. No.
Mr. BALL. Does that sack show in any of the pictures you took?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. No; it doesn't show in any of the pictures.
Mr. BALL. Was it near the window?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. Which way from the window?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. It was east of the window.
Mr. BALL. Over in the corner?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Over in the corner - in the southeast corner of the building, in the far southeast corner, as far as you can get is where it was.
Mr. BALL. You say you dusted it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. With that magnetic powders.
Mr. BALL. Did you lift any prints?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. There wasn't but just smudges on it - is all it was. There was one little ole piece of a print and I'm sure I put a piece of tape on it to preserve it.
Mr. BALL. Well, then, there was a print that you found on it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes; just a partial print.
Mr. BALL. The print of a finger or palm or what?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. You couldn't tell, it was so small.
Mr. BALL. But you did dust it and lift some print?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes.
Mr. BALL. When you say you taped it, what did you do, cover it with some paper?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. We have - it's like a Magic Mending Tape, only we use it just strictly for fingerprinting.
Mr. BALL. Let's stick with the paper.
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Well, on the paper I put a piece of 1 inch tape over it - I'm sure I did.
Mr. BALL. After you dusted the print, you put a 1 inch tape over it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
To recap, Latona testified that he could tell the bag had been previously examined by the "black fingerprint powder" on its surface, but made no mention of the tape described by Studebaker. Latona noted further that "There was nothing visible in the way of any latent prints on there at that particular time." He then claimed that he discovered two prints via the use of silver nitrate after first, failing to find any prints upon delivery, and second, failing to find any prints after exposing the bag to iodine fumes.
Well, wait, what happened to the partial print described by Studebaker? Commission Exhibit 632 shows the palm print on the bag purportedly discovered by the FBI, with the presumed initials of detectives Studebaker, Johnson and Montgomery--whom the Dallas Police claimed discovered the bag--nearby. It would be a truly amazing coincidence should the initials of Studebaker, Johnson and Montgomery have been placed right next to the palm print THE FBI says was a print that they--the FBI--discovered using silver nitrate, if the detectives had never noticed such a print. It seems obvious, then, that the print in CE 632 is the print discovered by Studebaker.
Let's look, once more, at Latona's testimony.
Mr. LATONA. I have here a photograph which is a slight enlargement of the latent palmprint developed on the bag. It has a red circle drawn around it showing the palmprint which was developed.
Mr. EISENBERG. Is that a true photograph made by you?
Mr. LATONA. This is. It is approximately a time-and-a-half enlargement of the palmprint which I developed on the paper bag.
Mr. EISENBERG. May I have that admitted, Mr. Chairman, as 632?
So why did Latona claim there was no such print on the bag prior to his discovery of it using silver nitrate? And why did he discuss Exhibit 632 without noting the initials in the photo he'd taken? Was he trying to take credit for the discovery of a print already discovered by the Dallas Police?
And why didn't the Warren Commission get to the bottom of this?
Could the bag or sack removed from the sniper's nest (or wherever it was found) have been smudged with someone other than Oswald's fingerprints? The Dallas PD's Case Report claims Lt. Day lifted a print from the "paper rifle was wrapped in" (24H249). In his testimony, Day, as Latona, testified "no legible print was found." Well, it follows then that an "illegible" print was found. If this is so, well, then what happened to it?
Was the print in CE 632 an "illegible" print discovered by Studebaker and later lifted by Day? Did Latona come along and add silver nitrate to the bag, and then claim he'd discovered the print they'd already decided was "illegible"? Did the silver nitrate make this print "legible"? Or was the print discovered by Latona a different print entirely?
And, while we're thinking of it--was the bag on which Latona found prints (if he did in fact find prints) a different bag entirely than the bag on which Studebaker found a print? And, if so, was 632 a photo of a different bag than the one now in the archives?
Perhaps. Studebaker's testimony was taken on 4-6-64 in Dallas. The bag had been shown to Sebastian Latona during his 4-2-64 testimony in Washington.
One hopes for an innocent explanation. In this light, it sure seems fishy that Studebaker was never shown the bag and asked to identify his initials.
Perhaps the Warren Commission counsel tasked with taking Studebaker's testimony had simply forgot to bring the bag to Dallas...
Shining a Light on Day
And it reappeared on 4-22-64, during the testimony of Studebaker's boss, Dallas Crime Lab Chief Lt. J.C. Day, in Washington.
Mr. BELIN. Where was the sack found with relation to the pipes and that box?
Mr. BELIN. I will now hand you what has been marked as Commission Exhibit 626 and ask you to state if you know what this is, and also appears to be marked as Commission Exhibit 142.
Mr. DAY. This is the sack found on the sixth floor in the southeast corner of the building on November 22, 1963.
Mr. BELIN. Do you have any identification on that to so indicate?
Mr. DAY. It has my name on it, and it also has other writing that I put on there for the information of the FBI.
Mr. BELIN. Could you read what you wrote on there?
Mr. DAY. "Found next to the sixth floor window gun fired from. May have been used to carry gun. Lieutenant J. C. Day."
Mr. BELIN. When did you write that?
Mr. DAY. I wrote that at the time the sack was found before it left our possession.
(Note: by writing "May have been used to carry gun", Day confirms that he did not write this when he first arrived at the crime scene, as believed by many single-assassin theorists. It would have made no sense for him to write this, after all, unless he had reason to believe the gun was not carried in and out of the building in a gun case. It follows, then, that he wrote this sometime after the discovery of the rifle, which came about ten minutes or so after he'd arrived at the sniper's nest. This leads to more confusion. Both Day and his assistant Studebaker testified that they photographed the shells in the sniper's nest before photographing the gun. The bag was within a foot or so of Day and/or Studebaker's position when they photographed these shells. So how could they not have noticed the bag, and photographed it in place? Well, perhaps they did notice it, but were simply not competent enough to realize they shouldn't move the bag before it could be photographed. To wit, Studebaker later told the FBI "the paper bag was removed prior to taking photographs of the southeast corner." (FBI file 105-82555, sec 142, p9)
then, Montgomery and Johnson showed Studebaker the bag while Day was
photographing the shells from the other side. If so, it would help explain why the three of them signed the bag in the building and Day signed it later. It also
seems possible, since the bag was reportedly folded in half, and possibly in half again, that no
one thought much about the bag until after a rifle without a case was found and Day and Studebaker were pulled
away to photograph this rifle. After taking these pictures, Day walked
the rifle over to the crime lab. This would leave the inexperienced
Studebaker alone to deal with the sniper's nest and the bag. That the bag had been considered trash prior to the discovery of the rifle, then, provides a better explanation for why it
wasn't photographed in place. And this in turn helps explain why Day would
later claim he signed the bag before it left "our possession" --as
opposed to "my possession." In either case, the question remains as to
when Day actually signed the bag, and why the Commission never showed
the bag to Montgomery, Johnson, or Studebaker.)
Mr. DAY. When the sack was released on November 22 to the FBI about 11:45 p.m., I put further information to the FBI reading as follows: "FBI: Has been dusted with metallic magnetic powder on outside only. Inside has not been processed. Lieut J. C. Day."
Well, once again, why is there no mention of the other men's initials on this sack?
Now consider the next bit of Day's testimony...
Mr. BELIN. Did you find anything, any print of any kind, in connection with the processing of this?
Mr. DAY. No legible prints were found with the powder, no.
Mr. BELIN. Do you know whether any legible prints were found by any other means or any other place?
Mr. DAY. There is a legible print on it now. They were on there when it was returned to me from the FBI on November 24.
Mr. BELIN. Do you know by what means they found these?
Mr. DAY. It is apparently silver nitrate. It could be another compound they have used. The sack had an orange color indicating it was silver nitrate.
Mr. BELIN. You mean the sack when it came back from the FBI had a----
Mr. DAY. Orange color. It is another method of processing paper for fingerprints.
Mr. BELIN. Was there anything inside the bag, if you know, when you found it?
Mr. DAY. I did not open the bag. I did not look inside of the bag at all.
Mr. BELIN. What did you do with the bag after you found it and you put this writing on after you dusted it?
Mr. DAY. I released it to the FBI agent.
Mr. BELIN. Did you take it down to the station with you?
Mr. DAY. I didn't take it with me. I left it with the men when I left. I left Detectives Hicks and Studebaker to bring this in with them when they brought other equipment in.
Mr. BELIN. By this you are referring to the bag itself?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Well, hold on there. Let's refresh. According to the reports of the Dallas Police (24H260) and the officers involved (24H314, 24H307) the paper bag by the sniper's nest was both discovered and brought in to the Dallas Police Crime Lab by Detectives L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson. So why does Day, who has already IDed his initials on the bag, and failed to mention that they initialed it before him, fail to mention that they brought the bag into the Crime Lab, and instead mention Hicks and Studebaker? Is he really that forgetful? Or is he trying to hide something?
In his 3:45 PM April 6 testimony, in which he discussed picking up and dusting the bag, Detective Studebaker never mentioned Detectives Johnson and Montgomery. He also failed to mention Lt. Day in connection with the bag. (7H137-149) This echoes a 3-11-64 FBI report on an interview with Studebaker, in which he similarly took full credit for the "discovery" of the bag. (FBI file 105-82555, sec 142, p9) In his 4:00 PM April 6 testimony, just after Studebaker, moreover, Detective Johnson mentioned Montgomery's finding the bag and the bag's being dusted for fingerprints at the scene, but failed to mention who dusted the bag/sack. (7H100-105)
It's as messy as messy can get. In his undated report on the assassination, presumably written within days of the assassination, Det. Montgomery, the supposed discoverer of the bag/sack, claimed "I found a long brown paper sack looking item that looked homemade. It was beneath and to the left of the window where the shooting took place. I believed this to be the container that the rifle Oswald used was in." (24H314) Now watch how this story dissolves. On 3-24-64, just prior to his testifying regarding Oswald's actions on 11-24, Montgomery was interviewed by Warren Commission attorney Burt Griffin. Griffin's internal memo on this interview reflects "Montgomery states that he saw rifle hulls in the area of the window. He states that a Dr. Pepper bottle was on the floor and that a brown paper bag was folded in half and sitting on a box, Montgomery states that when this bag was unfolded it was large enough to carry a rifle." Now, this is curious. The Dr. Pepper bottle was several aisles over from the sniper's nest window, near a bag containing some chicken bones. Presumably, Montgomery never mentioned this bag--the one that was captured in the evidence photos--to Griffin. Should we assume, then, that he was confusing the bag/sack he'd actually seen near the sniper's nest--the bag containing the chicken bones--with a sack he was falsely claiming to have found in the sniper's nest? Probably not. The original version of Griffin's memo reflects that Montgomery said "a brown paper bag was folded in half and sitting on THE box," as opposed to "A box." In this context, then, it would mean that Montgomery thought the bag was found on the box believed to have been used as a seat, which becomes a bit curious when one considers that Oswald's palm print was purportedly found on top of this box.
It's really hard to say what Montgomery saw or did not see. But one can say with some certainty that Montgomery was a terrible witness. In his 4:50 PM April 6 testimony, right up after his partner, Johnson, Detective Montgomery mentioned his finding the bag and the bag's being dusted by Studebaker. Incredibly, however, he was less sure than the others that the bag was laying on the floor in the corner. He testified: "Let's see--the paper sack--I don't recall for sure if it was on the floor or on the box, but I know it was just there----one of those pictures might show exactly where it was...I can't recall for sure if it was on one of the boxes or on the floor there." Montgomery's testimony was vague on other points as well. When asked if he picked the bag up off the ground upon discovery, as claimed by Johnson, he at first said "Yes" but then changed his answer to "Wait just a minute no; I didn't pick it up. I believe Mr. Studebaker did." (7H96-100)
And it's not as if the years were kind to Montgomery's memory, and allowed him to sort out what happened, and say anything that might convince us he really found the paper bag by the sniper's nest. When interviewed by Larry Sneed, decades later, he recalled "I don't remember exactly where I found the brown paper that Oswald had wrapped the rifle in...I recall that it was stuffed between the boxes, not lying out open on the floor as were the shell casings." And it gets worse. On 11-5-02, at the not-completely-ancient age of 69, Montgomery was interviewed by Gary Mack for the Sixth Floor Museum's Oral History project. When asked about the bag, he replied: "while I was looking around, I found a piece of big, brown paper there. And then, that’s the paper that he had the rifle wrapped in...It was, oh, just a little bit away from that wall over there. Around some boxes. I found it over there not far from where he was sitting, over there in-between some boxes." When then reminded that the bag was nowhere to be seen in the photographs taken of the sniper's nest, he added: "like I say, it wasn’t right there by the window. It was a little ways away from the window over there...Not far from where he was sitting." When then asked by Mack where it was in relation to him as he looked out the window onto Elm Street, Montgomery claimed: "It was behind me...Behind me over there. It was... you remember, there was a lot of stacks of boxes up there...And it was in-between some stacks of boxes right back behind us." Well, this is not what he wrote in his police report, told Burt Griffin, or testified to before the Warren Commission. Mack clearly realized this, moreover, and gave Montgomery a chance to preserve the official story, by asking him if the bag could have been in the corner. Amazingly, however, Montgomery refused, and insisted: "No, it wasn't in the corner. It was right there...just right behind where he was sitting. Evidently, he just went over there to sit down and just, you know, took it off and just threw it behind him. Because that's where I found it--back behind him."
It's by no means a stretch to assume that Montgomery's purported finding of the paper bag was the high point of his career in law enforcement. Is it beyond the pale, then, to assume he would remember where he found this bag, should he actually have found it?
Well, then what about Detective Hicks, in whose care Day seemed to think he'd left the bag? Did he back up Lt. Day's claim he found the bag? Or detectives Montgomery and Johnson?
Incredibly, neither. In his April 7 testimony, Detective Hicks not only expressed that he had no recollection of seeing the bag in the building, but seemed to know nothing of it at all, as if its existence had been kept a secret. (7H286-289). So why did Day think he left him holding the bag?
The testimony of another Dallas detective, Richard N. Sims, on the morning of April 6, 1964, only adds to the confusion. When asked if he'd seen the paper bag found in the depository, Sims testified:
Mr. SIMS. Well, we saw some wrappings--a brown wrapping there.
My, what a mess! Sims acknowledged that Johnson and Montgomery were stationed by the hulls (which were found by the sniper's nest) and seemed to be aware that they "found" the bag, but never mentioned witnessing the "discovery" of the bag, nor of Day or Studebaker's dusting the bag upon its discovery. Sims also described the "bag" as "loose paper," and not as a carefully folded and taped piece of wrapping paper in the shape of a gun case. He also "guessed" the location where the bag was found.This suggests then that Sims had but a vague recollection that some paper was found, but had no real recollection of its appearance or of its discovery, even though he had stood but a few feet from the bag's purported location when picking up the hulls from the sniper's nest, and had accompanied Lt. Day from this location after the discovery of the rifle on the other side of the building. This, in turn, reinforces that either no one placed much importance on the "bag" when it was first observed in the depository, and that its possible importance only became apparent later on, or that Sims was trying to support that a bag was found in the sniper's nest without actually having seen it. In support of this second, more disturbing, possibility, Detective Sims' report on his activities on the day of the assassination makes no mention whatsoever of the bag or its discovery. (24H319-322).
Now, if one should wish to believe Sims' testimony is authoritative, and clear evidence the bag was found in the sniper's nest as claimed, then one should be informed that Sims initially testified that he didn't know who took custody of the shells found in the sniper's nest, even though it was, according to others...HIM, and that, as a result, he was forced to return to the stand and claim he'd since been reminded that he'd carried the shells around in his pocket all day on 11-22, and that he now remembered his doing so.
What a witness!
The Blind Detective?
There are a number of other reasons to doubt Sims saw the bag in the building.
Capt. Will Fritz, Sims' boss, not only testified that Sims was with him when he left the Depository, but that he (Fritz, who was only in charge of the investigation) had no knowledge of the paper bag before they departed. (4H202-248) Yep, not only did Fritz claim that he "wasn't there" when the bag was "recovered," he said it was "recovered a little later," and that he "wasn't down there when that was found." Found. He said "found." Well, seeing as Fritz spent some time inspecting the sniper's nest before Lt. Day arrived, and was captured on film by newsman Tom Alyea standing mere feet from the open floor where Day and his assistant Studebaker would later claim the bag was found, Fritz's failure to recall seeing the bag pretty much rules out that it was just sitting there and that everyone had seen it but that no one had thought to pick it up before Montgomery did so.
Fritz's words then should make us suspect that the bag wasn't "found" where it was later claimed to have been found at all, but was in fact "found" somewhere else, sometime after the rifle was found.
This possibility is supported, moreover, by the cameraman, Tom Alyea, who arrived on the sixth floor well before the rifle was found. He filmed Fritz and others standing around the sniper's nest, the search for the rifle, the discovery of the rifle, the dusting of the rifle, the lunch sack found two windows over from the sniper's nest, and the dusting of the Dr. Pepper bottle found beside the lunch sack, and yet neither saw the paper bag supposedly found in the sniper's nest, nor heard mention of its existence, prior to his departure after 2 o'clock.
The possibility the bag was not found as claimed is further supported by the statements and testimony of Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney, who discovered the sniper's nest. When asked by Warren Commission attorney Joseph Ball if, after discovering the boxes by the sixth floor window, and the shells beside these boxes, he noticed anything over in the corner (the supposed location of the bag, just a few feet away). Mooney testified "No, sir; I didn't see anything over in the corner." (3H281-290)
Deputy Sheriff Ralph Walters, who was "approximately 8 feet" from Mooney when he made his discovery, Sgt. Gerald Hill, who joined Mooney and Walters moments later, Deputy Sheriff A. D. McCurley who rushed over after he heard Mooney yell out he'd found the shells, Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig, who arrived around the same time, and Detective Elmer Boyd, Sims' partner, who arrived on the scene with Detectives Fritz and Sims, further support that there was nothing in the corner when the sniper's nest was discovered. This is also supported by the subsequent words of Deputy Sheriff Jack Faulkner and Police Sergeant Donald Flusche, when they spoke to researcher Larry Sneed decades later. Both Faulkner and Flusche claimed they saw the shells in the sniper's nest before the arrival of Lt. Day, yet made no mention of a paper bag. Neither Fritz, Mooney, Walters, Hill, McCurley, Craig, Boyd, Faulkner nor Flusche had any recollection of seeing a large paper bag on the floor by the sniper's nest, even though they'd have to have been standing within a few feet of its location to see the shells they claimed to have seen, and would have been on the lookout for anything suspicious.
The Other Bag
Now, it's not as if none of those viewing the sniper's nest shortly after its discovery recalled seeing a bag or sack, it's just that there's reason to believe it was the other bag or sack. The 11-23-63 report of Deputy Sheriff Harry Weatherford notes "I came down to the 6th floor, and while searching this floor, Deputy Luke Mooney said "here are some shells." I went over to where he was and saw 3 expended rifle shells, a sack on the floor and a partially eaten piece of chicken on top of one of the cartons which was used as a sort of barricade." This piece of chicken is believed to be the remnants of Bonnie Ray Williams' lunch, which was purportedly found several windows over from the sniper's nest window. It was found near a Dr. Pepper bottle and a lunch sack filled with chicken bones. This lunch sack was captured on film by both news cameraman Tom Alyea and crime scene photographer Robert Studebaker. It is almost certainly the "sack" noted by Weatherford.
Kent Biffle, one of the few newsmen besides Alyea to witness the search of the building, may also have seen this sack. Unlike Weatherford, however, he seems to have confused it with the bag purportedly found in the sniper's nest. In an account purportedly written in March 1964, and subsequently published in the Fall 1998 issue of Legacies, a History Journal For Dallas and North Texas, Biffle claimed that after the rifle shells were found by the "ambush window", "We all stood around staring at the brown wrapping paper found nearby. It was a reasonable conclusion that it held the rifle." Note that he says it was found "nearby," and not right by the window, as later purported by Studebaker. Note also that he says "we all stood around staring" at the wrapping paper, an impossibility if the wrapping paper was sitting folded on the far side of the box purportedly used as a seat by the assassin, in the southeast corner of the building. As shown on the Blind Detective slide, this was an incredibly confined space behind stacks of boxes. The "wrapping paper," should it actually have been found in this location, would not have been visible to more than a few people at a time. Perhaps, then, Biffle saw the bag sometime after it had originally been "found." Perhaps, after its initial "discovery" by Montgomery, wherever it was "discovered," Studebaker placed the bag on the floor in a more accessible location, where it was subsequently viewed by Biffle.
But there's a problem with this scenario as well. In his account, Biffle presents his observation of the bag before he presents the discovery of the rifle. Well, if this was so, why didn't Mooney, Walters, Hill, Craig, Faulkner, Boyd, Fritz or Alyea remember seeing the bag? Was it found after they left the area but before the rifle was found?
Well, if so, then, why didn't Day and Sims--who remained in the sniper's nest until the rifle was found--mention Montgomery's "discovery" of the bag? Studebaker was supposedly near Montgomery when the bag was found. Studebaker arrived with Day. Was the bag found somewhere other than the sniper's nest, while Day was busy in the sniper's nest?
Or was Biffle simply mistaken about the bag? Was the sack he'd observed the lunch sack observed by others, only with 20-200 hindsight in which it morphed into the "sack" purported to have held the rifle?
It sure seems so. A Biffle-authored story was published in the 11-23-63 Dallas Morning News. There, he mentioned that a "gnawed piece of fried chicken" and an "empty cold drink bottle" were found near the sniper's nest, but made no mention of a large bag or wrapping paper. And there are reasons to believe this wasn't an oversight. Biffle's latter-day story, written months later, does not begin with his entering the school book depository. Before that, he discusses his racing over to the grassy knoll after the shots. He then relates "The other side of the fence held no gunman. There was just a maze of railroad tracks and three dazed winos. 'What happened?' one asked me." Well, this is just not credible. None of the police officers claiming to have raced back behind the fence after the shots saw these "winos." If Biffle had talked to one of them, and had not bothered to point this man out to a police officer as a possible witness, then he was not much of a citizen, let alone a reporter. The so-called "three tramps" found in a railroad car passing through town, it should be noted, were not discovered till almost 2:00, an hour and a half after the shooting, and were not arrested until a few minutes later. It only follows then that Biffle had used "artistic license" to incorporate them into his story, and that he may have used this same "license" to add the bag into his story. One certainly can't accept his account as credible when he says "we all" stood around staring at the bag, when none of those to first observe the sniper's nest, including his fellow newsman Tom Alyea, had ANY recollection of the bag. It seems probable the bag Biffle was thinking of, then, was not the bag supposedly used to carry Oswald's rifle, but the other bag reportedly found in the building, the lunch bag, which most all the sniper's nest witnesses remembered, and which Biffle alluded to in his initial article in which he mentioned the gnawed chicken and empty bottle.
But if Biffle was confused about the sack supposedly used to conceal the rifle, he wasn't alone. Undoubtedly aware of the problems with the paper bag and its discovery, on April 9, 1964, Warren Commission counsel David Belin took the testimony of Dallas Motorcycle officers Clyde Haygood and E.D. Brewer, who claimed to have been on the sixth floor during the search of the depository, and to have seen an "approximately rifle length" and "relatively long" paper sack, respectively, in the southeast corner of the building. Unfortunately, however, their stories just further muddied the waters...
Mr. BELIN. What did you do then?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Went up to another location there.
Mr. BELIN. You saw some shells there?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Yes.
Mr. BELIN. Where did you see them?
Mr. HAYGOOD. They were there under the window.
Mr. BELIN. Which window?
Mr. HAYGOOD. On the southeast corner.
Mr. BELIN. South side or east side?
Mr. HAYGOOD. On the southeast corner facing south.
Mr. BELIN. See any paper bags or anything around there?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Yes; there was a lunch bag there. You could call it a lunch bag.
Mr. BALL. Where was that?
Mr. HAYGOOD. There at the same location where the shells were.
Mr. BELIN. Was there a coke bottle or anything with it?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Dr. Pepper bottle.
Mr. BELIN. See any long bags which would be a foot or foot and a half or more long?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Yes; just a plain brown paper bag with tape in the corner.
Mr. BELIN. What tape?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Yes; there was just brown paper tape on it. Just a brown paper bag with paper tape. It had been taped up.
Mr. BELIN. How long was that, if you can remember?
Mr. HAYGOOD. The exact length, I couldn't say. It was approximately rifle length. (6H296-302).
you got it. Although Haygood claimed to see the lunch sack and the paper bag, there were a number of problems with his account. First, he claimed to see the lunch sack by the rifle shells. This is a blow to his credibility, as the lunch sack was actually photographed two aisles over. Belin then pressed Haygood to see if he remembered seeing a bag a foot and a half or so long--the approximate length of the bag when folded over--and Haygood remembered the bag as being "approximately rifle length." This
suggests, then, that Haygood, as Biffle--if Biffle actually did see the bag--only saw it after it
had been "discovered" and moved to a new location by Montgomery...which does little to suggest it was actually on the floor of the sniper's nest as claimed.
Brewer was even less help.Mr. BELIN. Did you go and take a look at the cartridge cases?
Mr. BREWER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. How many cartridge cases did you see?
Mr. BREWER. Three.
Mr. BELIN. Where were they?
Mr. BREWER. They were there under, by the window.
Mr. BELIN. What window?
Mr. BREWER. In the southeast corner of the building, facing south.
Mr. BELIN. See anything else there at the time by the window?
Mr. BREWER. Paper lunch sack and some chicken bones or partially eaten piece of chicken, or a piece at chicken.
Mr. BELIN. Anything else?
Mr. BREWER. A drink bottle.
Mr. BELIN. What bottle?
Mr. BREWER. A cold drink bottle, soda pop bottle.
Mr. BELIN. Anything else?
Mr. BREWER. In relation to what?
Mr. BELIN. Did you see anything else in the southeast corner?
Mr. BREWER. There was a paper, relatively long paper sack there.
Mr. BELIN. Where was that?
Mr. BREWER. It was there In the southeast corner.
Mr. BELIN. Under the window?
Mr. BREWER. No, sir. To the left of it. To the east of it.
Mr. BELIN. To the left as you faced the window?
Mr. BREWER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Did the window come right up next to the corner there, do you remember?
Mr. BREWER. No, sir; it didn't come up next to the corner. It was offset.
Mr. BELIN. Can you remember how far at all, or not?
Mr. BREWER. No, sir; I don't remember the exact distance of it.
Mr. BELIN. Was any part of the paper sack under the window, If you remember or not? That long paper sack?
Mr. BREWER. No, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Do you remember anything about what the sack looked like?
Mr. BREWER. Well, it was assumed at the time that it was the sack that the rifle was wrapped up in when it was brought into the building, and it appeared that it could have been used for that.
Mr. BELIN. Well, you mean you assumed that before you found the rifle?
Mr. BREWER. Yes, sir; I suppose. That was discussed.(6H302-308).
Notice that Brewer, as Haygood, seems to think the lunch sack was found by the shells. This suggests they compared stories. Notice also that Brewer does not describe the paper bag or the timing of its discovery, but "supposes" that it was found before the rifle and that people immediately assumed it had been used to carry the rifle. Well, that's pretty silly. If the bag was folded over, as claimed by Studebaker, or folded twice, as claimed by Johnson, people would not immediately associate it with having been used to carry a rifle, particularly in that the rifle had supposedly not yet been discovered, and could very well have been stashed in a gun case. As we've seen, Captain Fritz testified that the bag was not "found" or discussed while he was in the southeast corner of the building. He also indicated he was not aware of it at any time before leaving the building. His testimony, moreover, was supported by Detective Boyd, who arrived and left with Fritz, and who also had no recollection of the bag. If the bag had been discovered, dusted, and discussed before the discovery of the rifle, or even before Fritz left the building shortly thereafter, certainly someone more involved in the investigation than common motorcycle officers like Haygood and Brewer would have remembered this fact, and have remembered it long before 4 1/2 months after the assassination.
There's also this: Haygood and Brewer were not included on the 3-24-64 list of witnesses to be deposed for the commission in Dallas. There is little of substance in their testimony, beyond their claiming to have seen the bag in the sniper's nest. This, then, raises the possibility they were called primarily for that reason--to support that the bag was where their fellow Dallas Police Department employees Montgomery, Johnson, Studebaker, Day, and Sims claimed it to have been, and suggest it's just a coincidence it was previously overlooked by Dallas Sheriff Deputies Mooney, Walters, Craig, McCurley, and Faulkner. To wit, an undated list of deposition assignments (found on the website of Howard Willens) lists the reasons various witnesses are to be called, and makes note that both Haygood and Brewer saw the paper bag in the southeast corner of the sixth floor.
And this even though neither Haygood nor Brewer had written a report claiming as much...
Well, pardon me, but this suggests that Belin had put the word out that he needed witnesses to come forward and claim they'd seen the bag in the building, and that he got but two takers on his offer--two motorcycle cops whose observations and recollections had been held in such low regard by their superiors that they hadn't even been asked to write a report on the events of the day.
In any event, the sum of all this testimony is that none of these men mention Day's initialing or dusting the bag in the depository, and that Montgomery and Studebaker specifically recall that Studebaker was the one who did the dusting. This, then, suggests that Day was not present when the bag was discovered, which in turn suggests that the bag was "found" only after Day was called away to look at the rifle.
And no, this isn't wishful thinking on my part. The 4-6-64 testimony of Det. Marvin Johnson, Montgomery's partner, stands in stark contrast to the FBI's 3-11-64 report on Studebaker. While Studebaker was reported to have told the FBI "the paper bag was removed prior to taking photographs of the southeast corner." (FBI file 105-82555, sec 142, p9), Johnson testified to his guarding the lunch sack and Dr. Pepper bottle prior to the arrival of Day and Studebaker, and to his standing by the sniper's nest and witnessing Montgomery pick up the paper bag "because the Crime lab was already finished where I was, and I had already walked off to where he was." (7H104)
Well, no one, and I mean no one, ever claimed or reported that Day and Studebaker photographed the paper bag and Dr. Pepper bottle prior to their photographing the sniper's nest. They always claimed instead that they went straight to the sniper's nest, and were working there, before being called away to work on the rifle. And Day always said he then took the rifle to the Crime Lab.
Well, this leads in but one direction--that the bag was "discovered" after Day (and Fritz, for that matter) had moved their focus to the northwest corner of the building (where the rifle was discovered), and perhaps after they'd left the building.
Width, Not Length
Now, to be clear, there remains an extremely teeny weenie possibility--the one the Warren Commission ultimately asked us to believe--the one blindly accepting that Fritz et al somehow overlooked the large brown bag on the floor by their feet, and that few outside a few motorcycle officers noticed the bag before it was discovered by Montgomery, and that, as recounted in the Warren Report, "At the time the bag was found, Lieutenant Day of the Dallas police wrote on it, "Found next to the sixth floor window gun fired from. May have been used to carry gun. Lt. J. C. Day."
That the Warren Commission had reason to disbelieve this scenario, but sadly failed to do so, moreover, is further demonstrated by Commission Exhibit 1302. This exhibit is a photo of the southeast corner of the sniper's nest, with a dotted line added in by Studebaker purportedly representing the location of the bag when "found." Well, no surprise, Studebaker's outline presents the bag as far too small. While his outline for the bag is around 18 inches long, very close to the length of the bag in the archives when doubled over (which is consistent with Studebaker's testimony), it is only about 5 inches wide. Hmmm... 5 x 18 = 90 square inches. The bag in the archives would be approx. 8.5 x 19 = 161.5 square inches. The bag in the press photos appears to be approx. 10.75 x 19 = 204.25 square inches. The box on which Oswald supposedly took a seat was 12 x 18 = 216 square inches. In other words, the outline drawn by Studebaker was barely half the size of the bag in the archives, and less than half the apparent size of the bag in the press photos, and completely concealed that the bag, should it have been in the corner as claimed, would be nearly the size of the box so dominating the corner, and would be readily apparent...FREAKIN' OBVIOUS--to anyone even glimpsing at the corner.
That Studebaker failed to demonstrate this is presumably no coincidence. That the Warren Commission failed to double-check his outline for accuracy, and question those not seeing a bag in the corner how they could have missed something so obvious, is presumably no coincidence.
That they published Studebaker's exhibit in their report, and failed to note its inaccuracy, is presumably no coincidence.
There are just too many problems with the testimony regarding the bag for the Commission not to have known something was worng, er, wrong.
I mean, at some point shouldn't somebody have wondered if the sack found in the building by Montgomery, and dusted by Studebaker, wasn't a different sack entirely than the one initialed by Day and placed into evidence by the FBI?
We have reasons to believe as much. Consider the next section of Lt. Day's testimony:
Mr. BELIN. Did you ever get the kind of sample used at the School Book Depository?
Shining a Light On Drain
"On June 9, 1964, Lieutenant J.C. Day of the Crime Laboratory of the Dallas Police Department, Dallas, Texas, was exhibited the wrapping-paper bag, C10, by Special Agent Vincent E. Drain, Federal Bureau of Investigation. After examining this bag, Lieutenant Day advised he could positively identify this bag as the one he and Detective R.L. Studebaker found on the Sixth Floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building immediately after the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Lieutenant Day stated this paper bag was marked on November 22, 1963 by him. This bag was subsequently delivered on November 22, 1963 to Special Agent Vincent E. Drain for transmittal to the Laboratory of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington D.C., for examination." (24H418).
Notice that there's no mention of Montgomery and Johnson, the detectives who, according to the Dallas Police Department's own records, found the bag and took it over to the crime lab. (24H260). Notice also that Day says only that he marked the bag on the 22nd, not that he marked it on the scene. Consider also that the agent tracing the chain of evidence, Vincent Drain, was the one who first took the bag to Washington, and the one who later claimed returning the paper sample to Dallas was unnecessary. Day's claim that he found the bag, and Drain's failure to track down Montgomery and Johnson, and even Studebaker--who'd previously testified that they'd found the bag--is undoubtedly suspicious to those even slightly prone to suspicion.
But, wait, it gets even more suspicious. Drain had discussed the bag with Day at an earlier time as well. An 11-30-63 report by Drain on an 11-29-63 interview of Day reveals:
"Lt. Carl Day, Dallas Police Department, stated he found the brown paper bag shaped like a gun case near the scene of the shooting on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building. He stated the manager, Mr. Truly, saw this bag at the time it was taken into possession by Lt. Day. Truly, according to Day, had not seen this bag before. No one else viewed it. Truly furnished similar brown paper from the roll that was used in packing books by the Texas School Book Depository. This paper was examined by the FBI Laboratory and found to have the same observable characteristics as the brown paper bag shaped like a gun case which was found near the scene of the shooting of the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building. The Dallas Police have not exhibited this to anyone else. It was immediately locked up by Day, kept in his possession until it was turned over to FBI agent Drain for transmittal to the Laboratory. It was examined by the Laboratory, returned to the Dallas Police Department November 24, 1963, locked up in the Crime Laboratory. This bag was returned to Agent Drain on November 26, 1963, and taken back to the FBI Laboratory.
Lt. Day stated no one has identified this bag to the Dallas Police Department." (CD5, p129).
Beyond offering us yet another witness purported to have seen the bag in the depository not shown the bag at a later date by either the Warren Commission or FBI (Roy Truly) this report has numerous, undoubtedly suspicious, errors. The report makes out that Day himself found the bag. There's no mention at all of Montgomery, Johnson, and Studebaker, nor of Studebaker's claim in an 11-22 FBI report that he was the one to find the bag. (CD5, p128) The report also errs in that it says the bag was "immediately locked up by Day", and that it was not exhibited to anyone else. This conceals that on this same day, 11-29-63, Drain interviewed Dallas detective R.D. Lewis who acknowledged giving Buell Wesley Frazier a polygraph on 11-22 during which Frazier was shown the bag and refused to identify it as the bag he saw that morning. (CD7, p291). An 11-29 FBI memo never shown the Warren Commission, and found only in the FBI's HQ files, moreover, reinforces this point, and confirms that Alex Rosen, the assistant director tasked with establishing the basic facts of the crime, knew all about Frazier's failure to identify the bag, and that Drain's report was either grossly in error...or a lie. It states:
Carl Day, Dallas, Texas, Police Department Crime Laboratory, advised
that on November 22, 1963, he recovered a heavy brown sack appearing to
be homemade and appearing to have been folded together at one time.
This sack when laid out was about four feet long but when doubled was
about two feet long. Lt. Day recalls that on the evening of 11-22-63,
about 11:30 p.m., one of Capt. Fritz's officers requested that he show
this thick, brown sack to a man named Frazier. Lt. Day stated that
Frazier was unable to identify this sack and told him that a sack he
observed in possession of Oswald early that morning was definitely a
thin flimsy sack like one purchased in a dime store." (FBI file
62-109060, sec 14, p123.)
If not, however, then we have sufficient reason to believe Drain's deception was orchestrated from above. On 12-06, FBI HQ sent an airtel to Drain's direct superior, Gordon Shanklin, asking him to correct an "inaccurate statement" in a report. (FBI file 62-109060, sec 17, p213) On 12-18, Shanklin, in turn, sent a message back to the Bureau's headquarters telling them that, as a response to the Bureau's 12-06 airtel, he was sending headquarters and New Orleans "10 copies and 1 copy respectively of FD-302 reflecting interview by Vincent Drain with Lt. Carl Day, Dallas Police Department, on 11/29/63. It is requested that the Bureau and New Orleans insert the enclosed pages to replace page 129 of reference report. Appropriate changes are being made in the Dallas files." (FBI file 105-82555, sec 39, p7). The reference report is the Gemberling Report of 11/30. Page 129 is Drain's report on Day. Well, what was all this about, you might ask? Had someone caught the obvious error in Drain's report...that the bag was not shown to anyone?
Nope. An uncorrected version of this report was later discovered in the archives by researcher Gary Shaw. It revealed that the original version of Drain's report said the paper bag found in the depository was "found not to be identical" to the paper sample taken from the depository. Now this is mighty strange. Drain, who escorted the paper bag and sample from Dallas to the FBI's crime lab in Washington on 11-23, and then returned with the bag on 11-24, wrote a report saying the paper bag did not match the sample? And his report was then re-written to hide this "mistake"? While, at the same time, the equally obvious "mistake" (that being that the DPD failed to show the bag to anyone) was allowed to stand uncorrected? (The changing of this document is discussed in much greater detail, here.)
But if the FBI was lying about Day and the bag, they were certainly not alone.
Bad Hair Day
Perhaps they'd been lied to themselves...
In Lieutenant Day's official report on his activities on the day of the assassination, written up on 1-08-64, he completely fails to mention his "discovery" of the bag. Instead, he says he was pulled from the sniper's nest, where he'd been photographing the hulls, at 1:25 PM, to photograph and inspect the rifle found on the other side of the building. He then left the building at 2:00 PM in order to transport the rifle to the crime lab. According to this report he did not return to the building until 2:45 PM. (26H829-831) Well, this would be bad enough. The reports of detectives L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson reflect that they transported the bag over to the crime lab about 2:30. (24H314, 24H307). From reading these reports, then, it seems possible Day did not see the bag in the depository building, but upon its arrival at the crime lab.
But it's much more confusing than that. There is a photograph of Johnson and Montgomery leaving the building, in which Montgomery's watch can be read. It reads 3:00. As Day testified to returning at 3:00, the possibility then becomes that Day saw the bag just after his return to the building, and that no one had seen it prior to his return to the building.Only adding to this second possibility is that the 4-1-64 FBI report on Roy Truly's recollections of the bag reflects only that Truly remembered giving paper samples to Lt. Day "on the afternoon of November 22, 1963," but makes no mention of his being shown the paper bag found in the sniper's nest, as purported in Drain's 11-29 report. (FBI file 105-82555, sec 142, p15).
And it's even worse than that. Truly was interviewed for an 11-27-63 article by Dom Bonafede in the New York Herald-Tribune. According to this article, Truly told Bonafede that Oswald "was seen carrying a large object wrapped in newspapers (presumably the murder weapon) into the warehouse the morning of the assassination." Wait. Newspapers? Huh? If Day had shown the paper bag found in the building to Truly on the day of the assassination, and had asked him to supply paper and tape samples from the building for comparison, wouldn't Truly have remembered such a thing but 4 days later?
Okay, let's stop right here. I know that someone somewhere is thinking that Day could have returned to the sixth floor at 2:45, and been standing nearby when the bag was "discovered" just prior to Montgomery and Johnson's leaving with the bag around 3:00. But this makes little sense, and is at odds with the statements of one of the photographers who'd been standing outside the building. In the Spring of 1964, an editor for the Dallas Morning News asked those members of his staff who'd been working on 11-22-63 to record their memories of that day for posterity. These notes were published in 2013 in the book JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes. Well, Jack Beers, who took two photos of the paper bag outside the building and several more of the boxes in the sniper's nest, added an interesting piece to the story. He wrote "Late in the afternoon Dallas Detective Lieutenant Carl Day came out of the building with the gun. It had become obvious that the person who had fired it was gone. He hesitated long enough for most everybody to take a couple pictures then locked it in his crime lab station wagon and returned to the building. We were then told we could come in the building. Lieutenant Day then escorted us to the sixth floor where he pointed out where the gun was found then across the building we went to be shown the nest the assassin had built out of boxed schoolbooks to conceal himself while he lay in wait for the time to do the fatal shooting. I made pictures of this then asked permission to get into the gunman position so as to make a picture out the window he had used. Permission was granted."Well, heck, this suggests that when Day returned at 2:45-3:00 he went upstairs with members of the local press, and that he was personally responsible for providing them access to the sniper's nest.
Note also that Beers said nothing of Day's showing him where the paper bag believed to have held the rifle had been discovered. Well, maybe that's because it was being created downstairs while they were photographing the sniper's nest.
There's also this. In his subsequent reports, testimony, and statements, Day never acknowledged seeing Montgomery and Johnson with the bag when he returned. In fact, as we've seen, in his sworn testimony before the Warren Commission he acted as though Montgomery and Johnson had never even touched the bag, and insinuated instead that he'd found and signed the bag in the sniper's nest and that he'd left the bag with Detectives Hicks and Studebaker to bring in after he'd left the depository for the night.
Let's recall here that Day, while discussing the paper sample, told the Commission: "I had the bag...On the first floor of the Texas School Book Depository, and I noticed from their wrapping bench there was paper and tape of a similar--the tape was of the same width as this. I took the bag over and tried it, and I noticed that the tape was the same width as on the bag." He was thereby claiming the bag was in his possession in the building... In light of all the other evidence, this is truly hard to believe.
Something's undoubtedly wrong here. If Day was lying, however, what was he trying to hide? Was he afraid to admit that he didn't "discover" the bag, and that he, in fact, had never even seen it in the building?
Day's post-1964 statements on the bag confirm that he was not actually present when the bag was "discovered". In 1992, when asked by researcher Denis Morissette if he knew who found the bag, Day responded: "I don't know. It was on the floor next to and north of the box Oswald was sitting on when I arrived at the 6th floor. My men and I collected the bag at this place. As far as I know it had not been moved by any officers." Note that he never describes his spotting or inspecting the bag, only that there was a bag, that it was collected by his men, and that it was found by...someone...north of the sniper's seat. (His testimony had been that it was south of the sniper's seat, directly in the corner.) In 1996, in an oral history recorded for The Sixth Floor Museum, moreover, Day had the chance to finally set the record straight and instead offered smoke. When asked why the bag hadn't been photographed, he responded "There should be a picture of it somewhere." When then asked by interviewer Bob Porter where the bag had been found, he replied "To the best of my knowledge, it was to the right on the floor of where he was sitting, on the box that I showed you a minute ago. It may have been the right, it may have been the left, but there was a bag there." When Porter pointed out that "left" would mean the corner (where Day had testified the bag was discovered), moreover, Day surprised him, and once again asserted that the bag had been found north of the sniper's seat. He responded "Yes, in the corner out back towards the north side of the building, where you headed up to it." He then admitted "I didn’t know anything about a bag at that time. There was a bag laying there...Later examination indicated that it was a bag had been made out of wrapping paper. It appeared to be shipping paper...Of course at that time, we didn’t know anything about Oswald, didn’t know anything about what happened. There was a bag there and it was collected." This, of course, supports that Day hadn't actually seen the bag where he claims it was found, and that others were, in fact, responsible for its collection in the depository. This likelihood is further supported by Day's recollection to Larry Sneed, published in 1998, that "Also found on the sixth floor, as I recall, near the shell area, was a paper bag. It should have been photographed, but for some reason, apparently wasn't."
In fact, in what was to become his final word on the subject, in a 7-11-06 interview with The Sixth Floor Museum, Day came as close to admitting perjury as one can come. In opposition to his Warren Commission testimony that he'd signed the paper bag or sack "at the time the sack was found," Day ultimately admitted that when he and Studebaker left the sniper's nest to go photograph the rifle found on the other side of the building "They had posted guards or something around it and they didn't have the sense to leave things alone. And they'd got in there and picked up a sack that was in this corner. And we didn't get a picture of it. But there was a sack right in that corner...the brown paper bag. It was the one he was supposed to have brought curtain rods in. Well, they picked it up while I was gone, and I didn't get a picture of it while it was sitting there." Hmmm...as Studebaker returned to the sniper's nest after photographing the gun, but Day did not, and as Montgomery, Johnson, and Studebaker were all present or nearby when the bag was "discovered," and made no mention of Day, it seems clear that the bag was "discovered" while Day was busy dusting the rifle or transporting the rifle over to the crime lab, and that he'd therefore never signed the paper bag or sack "at the time the sack was found," and hadn't in fact "left" the bag with others when he transported the rifle to the crime lab.
There are still other reasons to doubt the story recounted by Drain in his 11-30-63 report, repeated by Day in his testimony, and pushed by Warren Commission Counsel David Belin in his book November 22, 1963: You Are The Jury. It seems highly unlikely that Day could photograph, dust and study the rifle as purported, return to the sniper's nest, discover the bag, show the bag to Roy Truly, transport the bag downstairs, and get paper and tape samples from the shipping table--all in less than 35 minutes, mind you--and then decide to take the rifle over to the crime lab and leave the bag behind. It seems much more likely that he worked on the rifle exclusively before taking it to the crime lab, and that the story of his finding the bag and comparing the paper of the bag to the paper at the shipping table is an orchestrated lie.
I don't think this is a reckless charge. Let's recall that Day, in his testimony regarding the paper sample, claimed "I directed one of the officers standing by me, I don't know which, to get a piece of the tape and a piece of the paper from the wrapping bench" and that he was then asked if there was any other writing on the sample, and that he then, and only then, acknowledged that Detective Studebaker was with him at the time, and that he'd also signed the sample.
Well, what's the problem with that, you might ask? Well, let's think about it. Day did not return from the crime lab till 2:45-3:00. When he returned he was accompanied by the media. The bag then left the building around 3:00. So, for Day to have handled the bag in the building as claimed, he would have to have done so before he left for the crime lab around 2:00. Well, there's a problem with this. When asked during his testimony what he did "next" after photographing and inspecting the rifle on the sixth floor, Day said "I took the gun...to the office and locked it up in a box..." Now, this means that his journey to the first floor with the bag--if it actually took place--must have preceded the discovery of the rifle, right? Well, Day pretty much rules this out as well, as he testified that he arrived at the depository at "1:12," was directed to the sniper's nest upon reaching the sixth floor, photographed the sniper's nest, collected the three shells at "1:23," and was then "summonsed" to the northwest corner of the building to work on the newly discovered rifle. There simply was no time for him to be carrying the bag around. And the idea that both he and Studebaker--the only crime scene investigators on the premises--would wander away from the largely unexamined sixth floor crime scene down to the first floor in search of paper samples to match up to a bag that, according to Day, had no readily apparent prints upon its surface, and which might have nothing to do with the shooting--when the president's assassin was for all they knew still on the loose--is beyond belief. Pure moonshine.
That Day was pulling a fast one, moreover, is supported by his testimony that he "directed one of the officers standing by me, I don't know which" to get the tape and paper samples. This conveniently conceals that the person actually retrieving these samples was his assistant Studebaker--among the persons in the building least likely to be on the first floor when the bag was still in the building. It's hard to believe this was merely a coincidence, particularly in that Day acknowledged this person to be Studebaker when interviewed by the FBI on 4-2-64, less than three weeks before. (The report on this interview can be found in FBI file 105-82555 sec 142, p18. Studebaker's acknowledgment on 4-2 that he retrieved the samples at Day's direction can be found in a related FBI report. FBI file 105-82555 sec 142 p19.)
Perhaps, then, Day's story about having the bag with him when he obtained the sample was created to hide that Day took the paper sample before the bag had been "discovered," or even later that afternoon, after a paper bag found in the school book depository had already left the building. Perhaps he found this incriminating, or embarrassing. Perhaps he'd suspected that the bag taken from the building had been made there, for whatever purpose, and had decided that having some "samples" for reference might help him prove this point. Perhaps Day was simply of the mind that simplifying the chain of evidence--and pretending that he'd found the bag, and had kept it in the possession of his crime scene team at all times--was the right thing to do. Or perhaps he took the paper samples because he was part of a conspiracy to fabricate evidence implicating that cop-killing commie, Lee Oswald, in the president's murder. We may never know.
White Lies or a Dark Truth?
But we do know Day lied about the evidence he collected on 11-22-63.
Here is the 4-6-64 sworn testimony of Day's assistant Robert Studebaker regarding the palm print purportedly discovered on a book carton purportedly found in the sniper's nest, and purportedly used by Oswald as a seat while he fired his shots.
Mr. BALL. You lifted a print off of a box?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes.
Mr. BALL. Where was the box?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. The box was due north of the paper that was found, and it was, I believe, we have it that it was - I can read the measurements off of one of these things - how far it was.
Mr. BALL. Fine, do that.
Mr. STUDEBAKER. It was 16 1/2 inches from the - from this wall over here (Indicating).
Mr. BALL. Which wall are you talking about?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. It was from the south wall of the building.
Mr. BALL. Did you take a picture of that box in place before it was moved?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes.
Mr. BALL. The box from which you lifted the prints?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. This box never was moved.
Mr. BALL. That box never was moved?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. That box never was moved.
Mr. BALL. And you took a picture of it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And that was the location of it when you lifted the print off it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And may I have that, please, and we will mark it Exhibit G.
Mr. STUDEBAKER. I was with them in the corner all the time - they were with me rather, I guess Captain Fritz told them to stay with us and help us in case they were needed.
Mr. BALL. Johnson and Montgomery?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Johnson and Montgomery - they were with me all the time over in that one corner.
Mr. BALL. Now, we have here a picture which we will mark "G."
(Instrument marked by the reporter as "Studebaker Exhibit G" for identification.)
Mr. BALL. This is your No. 26, and that shows the box, does it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And that was its location with reference to the corner?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir; that's the exact location.
Mr. BALL. Can you draw in there showing us where the paper sack was found?
(Witness Studebaker drew on instrument as requested by Counsel Ball.)
Mr. BALL. That would be directly south?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. That would be directly south of where the box was.
Mr. BALL. You have drawn an outline in ink on the map in the southeast corner. Now, that box is how many inches, as shown in this picture?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. It is 16 inches from the south wall.
Mr. BALL. You say you lifted a print there off of this box?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And now, is that shown in the picture?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. What shows in the picture, can you tell me what shows in the picture? Describe what you see there.
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Well, there is a box with a partial print on the - it would be the northwest corner of the box.
Mr. BALL. Was that a palm print or a fingerprint?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. A palm.
Mr. BALL. It was a palm print?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And does it show the direction of the palm?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes.
Mr. BALL. Which way?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. West.
Mr. BALL. It would be made with the hand -
Mr. STUDEBAKER. With the right hand sitting on the box.
Mr. BALL. And the fingers pointed west, is that it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. Now, you outlined that before you took the picture, did you?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And that is the outline shown in this picture?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
And here is the 4-22-64 testimony of Lt. Day regarding this same box.
Mr. BELIN. I want to turn for the moment to 729. I notice that the box on 729 appears to have a portion of it torn off and then replaced again. Is this correct or not?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. I am going to hand you what has been marked as Commission Exhibit 649 and ask you to state if you know what this is.
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. This is a portion torn from the box shown in 729.
Mr. BELIN. While you are holding that I'm going to hand you Commission Exhibit 648 and ask you to state if you know what this is.
Mr. DAY. That is the box shown in 729 at the center of the picture.
Mr. BELIN. Is that the box, 648, from which 649 was torn?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; it is.
Mr. BELIN. Could you relate what transpired to cause 649 to be torn from 648?
Mr. DAY. After I returned to the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository after delivering the gun to my office, we processed the boxes in that area, in the area of the window where the shooting apparently occurred, with powder. This particular box was processed and a palmprint, a legible palmprint, developed on the northwest corner of the box, on the top of the box as it was sitting on the floor.
Mr. BELIN. Then what did you do when you developed this print?
Mr. DAY. I placed a piece of transparent tape, ordinary Scotch tape, which we use for fingerprint work, over the developed palmprint.
Mr. BELIN. And then what did you do?
Mr. DAY. I tore the cardboard from the box that contained the palmprint.
Mr. BELIN. Then what did you do?
Mr. DAY. The box was left in its position, but the palmprint was taken by me to the identification bureau.
Mr. BELIN. Did you make any identification of it?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. Later that night when I had a chance to get palmprints from Lee Harvey Oswald. I made a comparison with the palmprint off of the box, your 729, and determined that the palmprint on the box was made by the right palm of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Mr. BELIN. Did you make any identification on Exhibit 649 which would indicate that this is the palmprint you took?
Mr. DAY. It has in my writing, "From top of box Oswald apparently sat on to fire gun. Lieut. J. C. Day," and it is marked "right palm of Oswald. Lieut. J. C. Day."
There is also an arrow indicating north and where the palmprint was found. It further has Detective Studebaker's name on it, and he also wrote on there, "From top of box subject sat on."
Mr. BELIN. Now, when was that placed on that exhibit, that writing of yours, when was it placed on there?
Mr. DAY. It was placed on there November 22, 1963.
Mr. BELIN. Can you identify by any way Commission Exhibit 648?
Mr. DAY. This has my name "J. C. Day" written on it. It also has "R. L. Studebaker" written on it. It has written in the corner in my writing, "Southwest corner box 18 inches from wall."
Mr. BELIN. I also see the name "W. H. Shelley" written on there. Do you know when this was put on?
Mr. DAY. W. H. Shelley is the assistant manager apparently of the Texas School Book Depository.
Mr. BELIN. Did he put it on at the time you found the box?
Mr. DAY. No, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Do you know when that was placed on there?
Mr. DAY. That was placed there November 26. The box was not removed, just the cardboard was removed on November 22 excuse me, November 25 I should say that he put his name on there. I returned to the School Book Depository on November 25 and collected this box.
Now, here's the surprise. Although Lt. Day left the camera behind with Studebaker when he took the rifle to the crime lab, there is no photo of the box purportedly used by Oswald as a seat from November 22nd. Note that Studebaker tries to get around this by pre-emptively claiming the box was photographed before it was moved. Note that Ball plays along with this and asks Studebaker to verify that he'd outlined the palm print before he took the picture. This helps create the illusion that this photo was taken on November 22.
But it was not. As acknowledged in the Dallas Archives' description of the photo which would later become CE 729, the photo was taken on November 25 as part of a series of photos of a re-constructed sniper's nest. As acknowledged by Warren Commission counsel David Belin, moreover, it's clear the piece of cardboard with the print on it was re-positioned on the box for the photos.
Now here's the shocking part. Although Lt. Day, in his testimony, claimed he'd ripped the cardboard holding the palm print from the box and signed this piece of cardboard on the night of the shooting ...his writing is not apparent on the box in the photographs of the re-construction three days later. It's just not there.
He flat-out lied. Why? I'm not sure. But it may have been to sell that he'd ID'ed at least one of Oswald's prints on his own--without help from the FBI.
Now, this was a big problem for the Warren Commission.
I mean, if Day would so brazenly lie about the book carton, why wouldn't he lie about the bag? Or the palm print on the rifle? Or about all of the evidence compiled by his department against Oswald?
It should come as no surprise, then, that Belin either failed to catch Day's deception or failed to confront him on it on the record, and the problem with Exhibit 729 slipped under everybody's radar until I noticed it decades later.
So, yeah, it's not wild at all to assume Day lied about the bag, and that he wasn't alone in his lying.
There is yet another reason to believe the bag holds secrets, moreover. The only photo of the paper bag in the Dallas Police Archives is a photo in box 12 folder 7 file 1. It is shown below.
The description for this photo in the DPD Archives reads "Photograph of the evidence sent to the FBI. Date unknown." The bag in this photo appears to be about 8 inches wide and could quite possibly be the bag in the FBI and Warren Commission photos. The bag appears to be discolored, however, which suggests that this is a photo of the bag after its return from the FBI Crime Laboratory, where it had been discolored by silver nitrate. Sure enough, this photo can also be found in the FBI files (62-109060 Sec EBF, Serial 1866, p73). Here, however, on the page just before, the back of the photo is presented, and bears the date 11-26-63.
Should one find that unconvincing, one should know that this photo also makes an appearance in Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry's 1969 book JFK Assassination File. Here it is listed as "Evidence released to the FBI Laboratory for tests." No date is provided. Fortunately, however, Curry lists all the items in the photograph, and this tells us what we need to know. Item #5 is listed as "Textile fibers found on the left side of the butt plate of the recovered rifle." These fibers were officially undetected in Dallas, and only discovered during an examination in the FBI Crime Lab on 11-23. This proves that this photograph was taken after the return of the evidence to Dallas. More telling, Item #2 is "Oswald's right palm print found on a book carton which was part of the sniper's perch in the book depository." A close look at the piece of cardboard holding this palm print, moreover, reveals that it has the signature of Lt. J.C. Day along the bottom. Photos taken on the 25th of the sniper's nest, with this piece of cardboard re-attached to its box, reveal that Day had not yet signed the cardboard.
Well, this proves it then, several times over--the only photo of the paper bag in the Dallas Archives is a photo of evidence shipped out on the 26th.
Should one still have doubts, however, one should consider once again the Warren Commission testimony of Lt. Day. When presenting this photo as exhibit CE 738, Day readily admitted he'd taken the photo on the 26th. The Warren Commission, in turn, entitled this exhibit "Photograph of property released by the Dallas Police Department to the FBI on November 26, 1963."
So why did the Dallas crime scene investigators not only fail to photograph the paper bag when found on the scene in the school book depository, but at any time prior to Oswald's death?
Something's undoubtedly wrong here. Really really wrong.
The mind-numbing level of this "wrongness" only gets stronger, however, when one reads the captions to the photos in Curry's book. Here, after confidently presenting evidence such as "the 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, C2766, with a four power scope which was recovered from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository", and captioning the fibers in the evidence photo mentioned above as "Textile fibers found on the left side of the butt plate of the recovered rifle," Curry equivocates on the status of the bag in the photo. He writes "A paper bag probably constructed from wrapping paper and tape at the Texas School Book Depository...This is probably the same bag which was found on the sixth floor by investigators." Yes, you read that right. He wrote "probably." If Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry had doubts that the bag returned from Washington was the bag found in the building, then why the heck shouldn't we?
Sizing Up the Sample
There are still other suggestions the bag in the archives is not the bag found in the building.
When one looks at the early morning 11-23-63 FBI memo describing the evidence sent to Washington, and compares it to the FBI crime lab report on this evidence written later that day, one notices some subtle changes that may very well have meaning.
On the memo (found in FBI file 62-109060, Sec 1, p54) the bag is described as follows: "Brown paper which was found at what was believed to be the point of the firing of the fatal bullets used in the assassination. This paper possibly may have been used to carry above rifle to the scene of the building from which it was fired." Note that it is not described as a bag. Now look at how it's described later that day in the crime lab report (found in file 62-109060, Sec 21, p188): "Wrapping paper in shape of a large bag." Hmmm... Was it originally described as "brown paper" because it was not yet a "bag?"
There's also this to consider... On the memo, item 6 is listed as "Sample of brown paper used by Texas School Book Depository and sample of paper tape used by Texas School Book Depository." Although listed as one item, it seems clear this is really two items: a sample of paper and a sample of tape. Now look at how they're listed in the crime lab report: "K2--Paper and tape sample from shipping department, Texas Public School Book Depository." Sample. Singular.
Warren Commission, perhaps unaware of its significance, published a
photo of this paper and tape sample. As seen on the slide above, this photo shows a fairly small
piece of paper, not even 11 inches x 22 inches, with a piece of paper tape across the top. Since the FBI's earlier
reports revealed that the paper rolls at the depository were 24 inches
wide, this indicates that someone had done some cutting. Did Lt. Day
and/or the FBI make the paper bag placed into evidence--which appears to be far too
narrow to be the bag removed from the depository--from the paper and tape samples
he took on 11-22-63?
Was the paper and tape sample shown in Commission Exhibit 677 but a scrap left over from the newly-created "bag?"
Possibly. It certainly seems a bit of a coincidence that a paper bag in the shape of a gun case that was not photographed upon discovery, and whose exact measurements were not given in testimony: 1) was never shown to the three detectives who initialed it upon its discovery; 2) was not smeared with the fingerprints of one of these detectives, who'd left 18 finger and palm prints on the four boxes purportedly next to the bag; and 3) appears far different in the photographs taken by the press than in the subsequent photos taken by the FBI. Something is just funky about Day's brown bag. And I'm not talking 'bout Morris Day or James Brown.
to the funkiness... Lt. Day talked about the paper sample one
last time when he was interviewed by Larry Sneed for his 1998 book No
More Silence. He said: "In the shipping room on the first floor, there
were one or two rolls of that paper. We took the end pieces off those
rolls for possible comparison with the bag that was found." He said
"rolls"...as in more than one. Even worse, he also told Sneed that,
beyond the palm print lift he'd failed to send the FBI on 11-22, "We
had a few other items around such as some
of his clothes and paper off the roll at the Book Depository that we
didn't do anything else with." Well, I'll be. What happened to this
"paper off the roll" never submitted to the FBI? And why was Day now
admitting they'd taken multiple samples? Was his memory in error?
Or had he simply forgotten the "official story"? The 11-29 FBI report on the paper bag and paper sample declares that Oswald's boss Roy Truly furnished Day "similar brown paper from the roll that was used in packing books by the Texas School Book Depository." (CD5 p129). A 4-1-64 FBI Airtel from Dallas to Washington, however, reveals that Day was interviewed the day before, and claimed that he "obtained samples wrapping paper...from four opened rolls mounted in Shipping Room." (FBI file 105-82555 sec 125 p62). When testifying before the Warren Commission on 4-22-64, moreover, Day was shown Exhibit 730 and asked if the roll of paper in the photo looked like the one from which he removed Exhibit 677. He replied: "Yes, sir. To the best of my knowledge that is the roll we tore the paper off of." The number of samples removed by Day had thus morphed from one on 11-29-63 to four on 3-31-64, back to one on 4-22-64, and then to two in his later years. If the "official" story is confusing and hard to believe it's due in part to men like Day, who just couldn't keep their stories straight.
In an effort to keep our story straight, however, it should be noted that the FBI caught Day's 4-1-64 reference to four samples and sprang into action. The next day, Washington wired Dallas and requested that since the paper sample in their possession was "only one piece of paper and one piece of tape advise if samples actually obtained from all four opened rolls...If additional paper and tape samples secured on November Twenty Two last...are available forward them to Bureau immediately." (FBI file 105-82555 sec 125 p64). This, in turn, led to an interview with Dallas Detective Robert Studebaker, whose statements appeared to answer the FBI's questions. The report in this interview notes that Studebaker "recalls obtaining a paper sample and a gummed tape sample at the instruction of Lt. Day from the wrapping table located on the main floor of the Depository Building... Studebaker noted that he recalled observing four rolls of the paper, one at each corner, and that he obtained the sample from the northeast corner as it was the most convenient. Studebaker advised he turned over these samples to the custody of Lt. Day. Studebaker advised he recalled he obtained only one sample of paper and one sample of tape at this time, and to the best of his recollection, these are the only samples obtained by his Department." (FBI file 105-82555 sec 142 p19).
what's the matter with this, you might ask? Day has a vague
recollection there were four samples, but Studebaker has a stronger
recollection there was but one. Case closed, you might say. Well, there is
a little problem. On the day Day told the FBI there had been four
samples, the FBI also had a talk with Roy Truly, who'd purportedly
provided Day with the samples. The report of this interview reflects
that Truly "recalls Day obtained samples of wrapping paper from the rolls of Kraft wrapping paper mounted on racks in the shipping room." (FBI file 105-82555 sec 142 p15) Samples. Rolls. Racks.
Plural. It's intriguing that Day and Truly separately recall there
being more than one sample, and that the FBI then contacts Studebaker,
Day's underling, who tells them there was but one, and that Day then
testifies there was but one. It's as if someone was comparing notes.
And recognizing problems. Let's think about this some more. The FBI's report on its 3-31-64 interview with Truly notes that the FBI contacted Truly on 12-1-64 to receive paper to make a replica bag, and that Truly was "quite sure" this came from the same rolls in use on the 22nd from which he had provided samples to Lt. Day. There was a problem, however. The paper obtained on 12-1-64 failed to match the samples provided the FBI on 11-22. This led to a follow-up interview on 4-2-64, wherein Truly now acknowledged that the northeast paper roll (singular) from which he'd provided a sample on 11-22-63 may have been expended and replaced in the 4 business days following the assassination.
Now let's go back. There were four paper rolls by the wrapping table, one on each corner. If Day and Studebaker were taking samples to see if one of them matched up to the paper bag, they would have taken samples from all four of them, and not just the one "in the northeast corner, as it was the most convenient," as Studebaker purportedly told the FBI on 4-2.
If they were taking samples to create the bag to begin with, however, this makes a lot more sense. I mean, let's presume they were on the up and up. In such case, it would be a coincidence that Studebaker grabbed a sample from but one roll and this just so happened to be the roll from which the bag had been made. A 1-in-4 coincidence. Now, that's not good. But that's still better than Day and Studebaker admitting they'd taken multiple samples, and then admitting they'd sent only one of these on to Washington, and that WOW it was just dumb luck this one matched up with the bag they'd discovered. WOW!
It seems more than possible then that Day and Studebaker really did collect these samples to make the bag. Let's reconsider the 3-31-64 FBI report on Truly. It reflects that Truly "advised that on November 22, 1963 he personally supervised and aided Lt. j. Carl Day...in obtaining Kraft wrapping paper samples and 3" paper tape samples from the shipping room...Truly advised he recalls Day obtained samples of wrapping paper from the rolls of Kraft wrapping paper mounted on racks in the shipping room, as well as samples from rolled,gummed, 3" paper tape mounted on the wrapping table adjacent to the rolls of paper." Now note that there's no mention of Day having the rifle or even the bag in his possession at this time.
And it's not as if Studebaker comes across as an innocent in all this. An 11-23-63 FBI memo by SA Nat Pinkston on the goings-on at Dallas Police headquarters on 11-22 notes that Studebaker "stated that he had found what appeared to be brown wrapping paper and tape in which a rifle had been wrapped for concealment..." (FBI file 105-82555 sec 21 p137). This is most unusual. Wouldn't someone who'd discovered a bag made of wrapping paper say he'd found a bag made of wrapping paper? Why did Pinkston and (presumably Studebaker himself) specify that he'd found "brown wrapping paper and tape"? I mean, why itemize tape when it was part of the bag? It seems apparent then that Studebaker was referring to the bag purportedly found (but possibly created) in the building and the paper and tape samples he'd taken from the building...as if they were the same thing. Most curious.
Which brings us back to the FBI's interview of Studebaker regarding the paper rolls. The report reads: "He advised to the best of his recollection this paper sample was obtained from a roll of Kraft wrapping paper, 24" in width, located at the northeast corner of the wrapping table." So here we have confirmation from a Dallas Detective of the FBI's previous claim that the paper in the depository was 24" wide. The bag placed into evidence, as we've seen, is about 17'' wide when split open. But did this bag have 7 inches of overlap on one of its sides? Perhaps.
If not there is a problem. If Oswald created this bag in the garage of the home where he'd spent the night
before the shooting, as widely presumed, where oh where were the "scraps"?
(Evidently, this same question occurred to Warren Commission counsel
Wesley Liebeler, for he asked Michael Paine, in whose garage the rifle
had been stored "Did anyone notice any scraps of paper or tape similar
to the ones of
which these sacks were constructed that we previously identified,
particularly Commission 142?"...only to receive the unhelpful response
"Not that I remember.")
There is more. At 10:01 on 11-23-63, but a few hours after the bag arrived at FBI headquarters, J. Edgar Hoover called President Johnson and gave him an update on the evidence against Oswald. Transcripts provided by the LBJ Library reflect that Hoover detailed:
Now, what do you think he meant by "accommodation will be made of that"? Might he not have meant "We're gonna find some way to link this bag to Oswald"? I don't know. That might be stretching it. But it sure is curious. So curious, apparently, that Max Holland, an ardent defender of the Warren Commission and the Oswald-did-it scenario, substituted the word "accommodation" with the words "(an inspection)" in the transcript to this phone call published in his book, The Kennedy Assassination Tapes. Now, perhaps Hoover really said, or meant to say, "an inspection," or perhaps even "an examination," which sounds more like "accommodation" than "an inspection." But Holland had no reason to think so, as he had admittedly never heard the tape.
You see, when this tape was to be duplicated for the National Archives in 1999, just prior to its being made more widely available to researchers, including Holland, Cutting Corporation, which was to have done the duplication, found it to have been, in the words of a memo made available to researcher Rex Bradford, and posted on his History Matters website, "most likely...intentionally erased." So...did the FBI make the bag currently in the archives out of materials supplied by the DPD? I don't know, but there is certainly reason to suspect as much.
There is one last point which I would be remiss not to mention... Now, at first this might seem irrelevant, so bear with me... The bag was roughly 38 inches in length. The rifle was, according to the testimony of the FBI's Robert Frazier, 40.2 inches in length. If the rifle was disassembled, so that its longest piece was the 34.8 inch rifle stock, however, it could be made to fit the bag. This led the FBI to push that Oswald brought the rifle into the building disassembled, and that he put it together with a dime before the shooting...
But there's a problem with this. Any shooter worth his salt knows it takes a few shots for a rifle to settle in after being re-assembled. Dismantling the rifle might very well have ruined Oswald's one chance at "success."
This should make us suspect, then, that the bag was supposed to conceal the rifle when fully assembled, and that it's being too small was an accident. This then leads to the possibility the bag was made without the rifle's being present. Perhaps Oswald made the bag at work, and nobody noticed, and then smuggled it home in his clothing, and nobody noticed. If this, in fact, occurred, the bag's being too small to conceal the fully-assembled rifle can be explained in two-ways: 1) Oswald didn't have the rifle in front of him when he made the bag, and had to rely on his memory; and 2) the rifle ordered by Oswald was 36" in length, but he was shipped the 40" model.
Let's think about this last point. If Oswald had simply brought home an insufficient amount of paper and tape, or a completed bag too small to conceal the rifle, as many theorize, one would think he would improvise and tape another piece of paper over the end, or some such thing. Anything to avoid dis-assembling the rifle... But if someone other than Oswald, after being told Klein's had found an order for a 36" rifle on the night of the shooting, had used the available paper and tape samples to make a bag to fit that rifle, not realizing the rifle in evidence was 40", well, he might not have had the opportunity to improvise. By the time he realized his mistake, the bag might already have been in the hands of someone not privy to his plan, or on its way to Washington.
And yes, I've looked into this. And yes, it appears that the FBI knew by 10 o'clock on the 22nd that the rifle found in the depository had been purchased by Klein's Sporting Goods of Chicago from a New York importer named Crescent Firearms, as part of a shipment of 36 inch rifles. Klein's confirmed the receipt of this rifle, moreover, around midnight, shortly before the evidence held by Lt. Day, apparently including the paper sample, was transferred to the FBI. While Klein's was reportedly unable to confirm Oswald's purchase of a 36 inch rifle--through his already discovered alias, Hidell--until approximately 4 o'clock in the morning, the 38 inch bag bearing Oswald's palm and fingerprint may already have been created, under the assumption such confirmation was forthcoming.
Or perhaps that's just too complicated. Perhaps Oswald's ordering a 36 inch rifle, which would have fit inside the bag, is just a coincidence. Perhaps the under-sized nature of the bag came as a result of something as simple as Day's grabbing too small a sample, and his or the FBI's reluctance to use materials not traceable to the book depository while creating the bag placed in evidence. We may never know.
The Problematic Falsification of the Timeline
But as long as we're thinking about it...In 2014, I came across yet another problem with the bag story. This problem was at first a problem for my suspicion the bag removed from the building was made by the DPD, but then became a problem for the official story it was not. Let me explain: the Dallas Police first found out Oswald had been carrying a bag on the morning of the 22nd when Linnie Mae Randle came over to Ruth Paine's house that afternoon and told the policemen there she saw Oswald with a bag that morning. So what time did this occur? If it occurred after the bag was discovered, well, that's a problem for my suspicion the bag was created by the Dallas Police. So what time, then?
Well, the report of Dallas police detectives Adamcik, Rose, and Stovall reflects that shortly after Oswald's arrest, they drove out to the Paine house where Oswald's wife was living. According to this report, they then waited 40 minutes for some deputies from the Dallas sheriff's office to arrive so they could conduct a legal search of the premises. They claimed they approached the door around 3:30 (21H599). This suggests then that the Dallas police found the bag (which the report of Dallas detective L.D. Montgomery says occurred before 2:30) before they even knew Oswald had been carrying a bag that morning (which the report of Dallas detectives Adamcik, Rose, and Stovall suggests occurred shortly after 3:30). Now, I, and I expect most researchers, accepted this for many years.
But then, in 2014, I read a report written by Buddy Walthers, one of the deputy sheriffs the Dallas detectives had been waiting for. Walthers claimed he'd witnessed Oswald's arrest at the Texas Theater, drove back to the sheriff's office, and was then told to drive out to Irving, along with deputies Weatherford and Oxford. He said they drove straight there. Now, this was a hmmm moment for me. I've been to Dallas, and realized that a trip from the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff to downtown Dallas and then back out to Irving would take about 40 minutes. Oswald was arrested around 1:50. Walthers should have arrived at the Paine's residence around 2:30, not 3:30. Now, hmmm, did the deputies take a lunch break, and make three Dallas detectives trying to interview the wife of the suspected murderer of the President--not to mention a Dallas cop--wait for them while they chomped on a burger, or ate donuts?
No, I thought not. An 11-28-63 article in the Dallas Morning news, built around interviews with Walthers, Weatherford and Oxford, related that they drove to the Paine residence with two Dallas detectives. Hmmm... I decided to look through some more accounts to see if I could pin down the actual time the Dallas detectives started talking to people at the Paine residence. In Marina and Lee--a book built upon numerous interviews with Oswald's wife, Marina--it is claimed that the detectives came to the door an hour after Kennedy's death was announced. Well, heck, there it is again. Kennedy's death was announced around 1:30. This put the arrival of the detectives at...2:30. Now, ain't that a coinkydink?
I then found further confirmation for this 2:30 approximation. Marina Oswald and Ruth Paine both claimed they'd been watching TV coverage of the shooting but had no idea Oswald had been arrested when the detectives came to their door. They said as much numerous times. And never wavered. In a chapter by Ruth Paine in the 2013 book November 22, 1963 by Dean Owen, for example, Ms. Paine related: "I first heard about Oswald's being in custody when police arrived at my door and told me so."
So, I thought, when was Oswald's arrest announced on TV? I then found an email chain from Gary Mack to David Von Pein, posted online, which reflected their conclusions Oswald's name was first mentioned on WFAA TV around 2:40 and WBAP TV at 2:43. The timing of these reports makes it really difficult to believe that Marina and Ruth wouldn't have known of Oswald's arrest by the time the detectives arrived, should they have actually arrived at 3:30, as claimed.
Ruth Paine's testimony, in fact, further supports this disbelief. When asked by Warren Commission counsel Albert Jenner if the police arrived at 3:30, as claimed, she replied "Oh, I think it was earlier, but I wouldn't be certain." And her subsequent statements support this testimony. In Where Were You? (2013), for example, she described hearing about the shooting on TV, and then watching the coverage all the way up to the announcement of Kennedy's death. She then related: "It was really not too long after that there was a knock at the door, and several police officers said they had Lee Oswald in custody for shooting an officer."
And the Warren Commission testimony of Michael Paine only adds to my skepticism about the story told by the Dallas detectives. Paine told the commission he arrived at the house around 3:00 or 3:30, after hearing of Oswald's arrest on TV, and driving over from his work. As Paine was reported to have been working at Bell Helicopter, in Arlington, this placed his arrival around 3:00. Paine claimed, moreover, that the police were already searching the house upon his arrival. This last point was confirmed, moreover, by the report of Deputy Sheriff Weatherford, in which he claimed Paine arrived at the house about 15 minutes after he'd arrived. Well, this places the arrival of the police and deputies at the door around 2:45, not 3:30.
I then stumbled upon another reason to doubt the 3:30 time of arrival proposed by detectives Rose, Adamcik, and Stovall. While watching a video of Buell Wesley Frazier's 3-27-13 appearance at the Irving Central Library, one of the questions from the audience rang out like a bell. What, a man asked, led the police to come out to Irving so quickly? This man's wife was friends with Frazier's niece, Diana, and she remembered seeing the police talking to Frazier's family (presumably Frazier's sister Linnie Mae Randle) when she walked home from school at...gulp...2:30. Well, there it is again.
I then realized there was yet another way to check this out. The report of Deputy Sheriff Walthers offers that upon his arrival in Irving Ruth Paine gave him the phone number of Oswald's rooming house, and that he called this in to the Sheriff's office, so they could look it up in a reverse directory. Walthers said he gave the number to Sheriff Bill Decker. Decker said he gave the number to his assistant, Alan Sweatt. As Dallas homicide chief Capt. Will Fritz said he couldn't remember who gave him Oswald's address, but acknowledged receiving the address from someone and then sending three detectives out to the Oak Cliff location, it seems almost certain Sweatt was his source, and that Sweatt called Fritz to give him the address and tell him the address was in his jurisdiction. So...at what time did the Dallas detectives Fritz sent out to Oak Cliff arrive in Oak Cliff?
3:00... In his initial report (24H317) Dallas Police detective Walter Potts said he arrived at Oswald's rooming house at 3:00. He later testified it was "about 3." He was accompanied by detective R.L. Senkel and Lt. E. L. Cunningham. Neither Cunningham nor Senkel testified before the commission, but Senkel did write a separate report that is in the commission's records. In this report, Senkel confirmed that they went to the door "at 3:00 PM" (24H245). They had went to the door at 3:00 PM, let's reflect, in response to information that their fellow detectives would come to claim they didn't receive until after 3:30.
It seems clear as day then that Dallas detectives Rose, Adamcik, and Stovall went up to the Paine residence around 2:30. NOT 3:30, as claimed in their report.
So why would they lie about this? Let's go back. We know Montgomery claimed he took the bag out of the building at 2:30, when photos show it was really about 3:00. And we now have reason to suspect Adamcik, Rose, and Stovall claimed they'd first approached the Paine house around 3:30, when they almost certainly came to the door around 2:30. Well, think about it. If they found the bag shortly before 2:30, but didn't know Oswald had been carrying a bag until after 3:30, when Linnie Mae Randle came over to tell them about it, the bag unseen by nearly everyone to view the sniper's nest prior to 2:30 would appear to be legit. But if they removed a bag from the building at 3:00, after being told of a bag's existence around 2:30, well, then, that's a problem. A big problem. Heck, it could even be that Montgomery, Johnson, and Studebaker made the bag to show Linnie Randle--that is, to see if a bag made from materials contained within the building resembled the bag she saw in Oswald's possession--and that it was only later determined that this bag should be used as evidence against Oswald. If so, well, then, that would go a long way towards explaining some of the problems with the bag story.
Or...it could be something similar... Researcher Tony Fratini believes Lt. Day and Det. Studebaker retrieved some wrapping paper from the depository before 2:00 with the original intent of wrapping the rifle, but that Day went ahead and left the building without it. Fratini believes, furthermore, that Studebaker then took the bag upstairs, and used it to protect the wooden strip from the window sill removed on the 22nd. (While there is an acknowledgement in the Warren Commission's files that this strip was removed and tested for fingerprints, the Dallas Police Department has never released any records relating to its delivery to the crime lab.)
And Fratini's not just blowing smoke... Textbooks on crime scene investigation note that its best to transport items for fingerprinting in clean paper sacks. Evidence for the Law Enforcement Officer (1979), for example, notes that when transporting items for fingerprinting "It is best to transport such an object by placing it in a box in such a manner that it does not roll around or get broken, or by putting it in a clean paper sack..." Criminal Investigation: Basic Perspectives (1970) similarly notes "thoroughly clean and dry containers, wrapping paper, corrugated paper, boxes, and sealing tape are the basic safeguards of physical evidence in transport."
And then, amazingly, there's Day himself. When interviewed by Larry Sneed, Day explained his abandonment of the crime scene with the rifle as follows: "I didn't have anything to wrap it up with at the time, so I carried it out making sure that I didn't touch anything other than the strap. Besides, you had to be careful in wrapping stuff because if there were any prints, you're liable to smear them just from the wrapping."
Day had thereby acknowledged it was routine to wrap an item such as the rifle.
So...is Fratini onto something? Did Day tell Studebaker to make a bag for the rifle, and then change his mind? Was the bag then used to transport something else? Did the DPD then decide to pretend the bag was found in the building?
We may never know. Even if one should make it through this paper bag minefield and come out convinced that all was on the up and up with the evidence presented to the commission, moreover, one must also consider that neither the FBI on its own or at the Warren Commission's request inspected the inside of a similar paper bag after it had carried the rifle around, if just, y'know, to see if there should have been marks inside the bag. The suggestion by the FBI's expert Cadigan that the rifle may have been wrapped in cloth inside the bag shouldn't have cut off such an inquiry, seeing as no cloth was found with the bag or in the sniper's nest.
Something happened there and we don't know what it was, now do we?