JAHS Chapter 6


fix oh yeah to reflect 12-3 conversation with Day

12-1--12-5




What the Bodyguards Saw

On 12-1 we receive a file from the Secret Service containing the statements of the agents in the motorcade. We hope these will help us make sense of the shooting sequence. Once again, no such luck. William Greer was the driver of the limousine. (11-28-63 report, 18H 723) “A short distance ahead the street passed under a railroad or expressway.  A building stood on the right side of us that would have been the last building we would have to pass before entering the underpass. The President’s automobile was almost past this building and I was looking at the overpass that we were about to pass under in case someone was on top of it, when I heard what I thought was the backfire of a motorcycle behind the President’s automobile. After the second shot, I glanced over my right shoulder and saw Governor Connally start to fall, I knew then that something was wrong and immediately pushed the accelerator to the floor and Mr. Kellerman said get out of here.” Too vague.

Roy Kellerman sat on the passenger side of the front seat. (11-29-63 report, 18H724-727) “As the motorcade completed the main thoroughfare through Dallas, we made a sharp right turn for about 1 block, then a curved left turn into a slight downhill grade, entering an area with little or no spectators… Immediately I heard what I firmly believe was the President’s voice, “My God, I’m hit!”  I turned around to find out what happened when two additional shots rang out, and the President slumped into Mrs. Kennedy’s lap and Governor Connally fell into Mrs. Connally’s lap. I yelled at William Greer (the driver) to “Step on it! We’re hit!” and grabbed the mike from the car radio and called SA Lawson in the lead car.” (Our study of the Zapruder film shows us that Kellerman failed to turn back toward the President until after Governor Connally had obviously been hit.  His statement that “two additional shots” rang out after this point is therefore an indication that he heard the last two shots close together, around the time of the head shot.) Double head shot.                                                                          

The men directly behind Kennedy, who would have had the best view of him during the shooting, were the agents in his follow-up car. If there had been a pause between a second shot and the head shot long enough for Oswald to have operated his bolt-action rifle, these men, above all, would have noticed. Sam Kinney was the driver of the Presidential back-up car. (11-22-63 report, 18H732) “The first shot was fired as we were going into an underpass…it appeared that he (the President) had been shot because he slumped to the left.  Immediately, he sat up again.  At this time, the second shot was fired and I observed hair flying from the right side of his head…I did hear three shots but do not recall which shots were those that hit the President.” (11-30-63 report, 18H730-731) "As we completed the left turn and on a short distance, there was a shot…I saw the President lean toward the left and appeared to have grabbed his chest with his right handThere was a second of pause and then two more shots were heard. Agent Clint Hill jumped from the follow-up car and dashed to the aid of the President and first Lady in the President’s car. I saw one shot strike the President in the right side of the head.”Double head shot.  Emory Roberts sat next to Kinney in the front seat of the back-up car. He was directly behind the President. (11-22-63 report, 18H739) “at 12:30 PM, two or three shots were fired, at which time I saw the President lean over on Mrs. Kennedy. I knew he was hit. Just as the second or third shot was fired, Hill ran from follow-up car to president’s car.” (11-29-63 report, 18H733-738) “12:30 PM: First of three shots fired, at which time I saw the President lean toward Mrs. Kennedy. I do not know if it was the next shot or third shot that hit the President in the head, but I saw what appeared to be a small explosion on the right side of the President’s head, saw blood, at which time the President fell further to his left... Just after the third shot was fired, I picked up the car radio and said “Halfback (code name for SS. follow-up car) to Lawson, the President has been hit.” Double head shot.  

We then read the accounts of the two agents riding on the driver's side of the back-up car. Clint Hill rode on the outside of the back-up car by the driver’s door. (11-30-63 report, 18H740-745) “On the left hand side was a grass area with a few people scattered along it observing the motorcade passing, and I was visually scanning these people when I heard a noise similar to a firecracker. The noise came from my right rear and I immediately moved my head in that direction. In so doing, my eyes had to cross the Presidential automobile and I saw the President hunch forward and then slump to his left. I jumped from the follow-up car and ran toward the Presidential automobile. I heard a second firecracker type noise but it had a different sound—like the sound of shooting a revolver into something hard. I saw the President slump more toward his left.” Heard two shots.  William McIntyre rode on the outside of the driver’s side of the back-up car, behind Clint Hill(11-22-63, 18H748) “As we approached the underpass leading to the Thornton Freeway, there was little if any crowd present. I heard three shots fired…I recall a rolling lawn to the right of the area where the President was shot, and seem to also recall an expanse of lawn to the left of the Presidential vehicle.” (11-29-63 report, 18H746-747) “The Presidential vehicle was approximately 200 feet from the underpass when the first shot was fired, followed in quick succession by two more.  After the second shot, I looked at the President and witnessed his being struck in the head by the third and last shot.  By that time, Mr. Roberts had used the radio in our car to direct the vehicles to a hospital. Last two shots bunched together with the last shot the head shot. 

There were also two agents riding on the outside of the passenger's side of the back-up car.  John Ready rode by the passenger's side door. (11-22-63 report, 18H750) “I heard what sounded like firecrackers…The shooting occurred as we were approaching the Thornton Freeway…There appeared to be no spectators on the right side of the roadway…After the initial shot I attempted to locate the area from where they had come from but was not able to. It appeared that the shots came from my right-rear side.” (Undated report, 18H 749) “I heard what sounded like firecrackers going off…I immediately turned to my right rear trying to determine the source but was unable to determine the exact location.” Too vague.  Paul Landis stood along the right side of the back-up car behind John Ready. (11-27-63report, 18H758-759) “At this point the President’s car and follow-up car had just completed its turn and both were straightening out. At this moment, I heard what sounded like the report of a high powered rifle behind me. My first glance was at the President… I did not realize that the President was hit…I saw him moving and thought he was turning in the direction of the sound.  I immediately returned my gaze to the building which I had observed before, at a quick glance saw nothing and dropped my eyes to the crowd, scanning it quickly from right to left... I think I recall Special Agent Jack Ready saying, “What was it?  A firecracker?” I remarked “I don’t know.  I don’t see any smoke.” …I glanced back towards the President, he still appeared upright in his seat, leaning slightly towards Mrs. Kennedy. It was at this moment that I heard a second report and saw the President’s head split open and pieces of flesh and blood flying through the air.” (11-30-63 report, 18H751-757) “At approximately this point, I would say, the President's car and the Follow-up car had just completed their turns and both were straightening out. At this moment I heard what sounded like the report of a high-powered rifle from behind me, over my right shoulder…My first glance was at the President, as I was practically looking in his direction anyway. I saw him moving in a manner which I thought was to look in the direction of the sound. I did not realize that President Kennedy had been shot at this point. I immediately returned my gaze, over my right shoulder, toward the modernistic building I had observed before. With a quick glance I saw nothing and immediately started scanning the crowd at the intersection from my right to my left. I observed nothing unusual…So far the lapsed period of time could not have been over two or three seconds. It must have been another second or two before the next shot was fired...I glanced towards the President and he still appeared to be fairly upright in his seat, leaning slightly toward Mrs. Kennedy with his head tilted lightly back. I think Mrs. Kennedy had her right arm around the President's shoulders at this time. I also remember Special Agent Clinton Hill attempting to climb onto the back of the President's car. It was at this moment that I heard a second report and it appeared that the President's head split open with a muffled exploding sound. I can best describe the sound as I heard it, as the sound you would get by shooting a high powered bullet into a five gallon can of water or shooting into a melon. I saw pieces of flesh and blood flying through the air and the President slumped out of sight towards Mrs. Kennedy. I still was not certain from which direction the second shot came, but my reaction at this time was that the shot came from somewhere towards the front, right-hand side of the road. I did not notice anyone on the overpass, and I scanned the area to the right of and below the overpass where the terrain sloped towards the road on which we were traveling.” Heard two shots. 

We then read the statements of the two men in the back seat. George Hickey sat on the driver’s side of the back seat of the back-up car. (11-22-63 report, 18H765) “As 100-X made the turn and proceeded a short distance, I heard what seemed to me that a firecracker exploded to the right and rear. I stood partially up and turned to the rear to see if I could observe anything. Nothing was observed and I turned around and looked at the President’s car. The President was slumped to the left in the car. I heard what appeared to be two shots and it seemed as if the right side of his head was hit and his hair flew forward.” (11-30-63 report, 18H761-764) “Just prior to the shooting the Presidential car turned left at the intersection and started down an incline toward an underpass…After a very short distance I heard a loud report which sounded like a firecracker…I stood up and looked to my right and rear in an attempt to identify it. Nothing caught my attention except people shouting and cheering. A disturbance in 679X caused me to look forward to the President’s car. Perhaps 2 or 3 seconds elapsed from the time I looked to the rear and then looked at the President. He was slumped forward and to his left, and was straightening up to an almost erect sitting position as I turned and looked. At the moment he was almost sitting erect I heard two reports which I thought were shots and that appeared to me completely different in sound from the first report and were in such rapid succession that there seemed to be practically no time element between them. It looked to me as if the president was struck in the right upper rear of the head. The first shot of the second two seemed as if it missed because the hair on the right side of his head flew forward and there didn’t seem to be any impact against his head. The last shot seemed to hit his head and cause a noise at the point of impact which made him fall forward and to his left again. Possibly four or five seconds elapsed from the time of the first report and the last.” (Our inspection of the Zapruder film reveals that Kennedy’s hair didn’t fly forward until he was struck by the bullet.)  Shot after the head shot. 

Glen Bennett sat on the right side of the back seat of the back-up car. (11-23-63 report, 18H760) “The motorcade entered an intersection and then proceeded down a grade. At this point the well-wishers numbered but a few, the motorcade continued on down this grade en route to the trade mart.At this point I heard what sounded like a firecracker. I immediately looked from the right/crowd/physical area and looked towards the President who was seated in the right rear seat of his limousine open convertible. At the moment I looked at the back of the President I heard another firecracker noise and saw the shot hit the President about four inches down from the right shoulder. A second shot followed immediately and hit the right rear high of the President’s head. I immediately hollered “he’s hit” and reached for the AR-15 located on the floor of the rear seat.  Last two shots bunched together with the last shot the head shot.  

We also receive the statements of the two agents in the lead car of the motorcade, just ahead of the limousine. Winston Lawson (11-23-63 report, 17H628-629) “It was about the time our car was arriving at this bridge that I heard the first shot. I believe I heard two more sharp reports and looking back saw people scurrying away from the route, as though they were taking cover. Almost immediately the President’s car leaped ahead.” (12-1-63 report, 17H630-634) “As the lead car was passing under this bridge I heard the first loud, sharp report and in rapid succession two more sounds like gunfire. I could see persons to the left of the motorcade vehicles running away.” Last two shots bunched together. Forrest Sorrels (11-28-63 deposition, 21H548) “When we were at a point approximately three fourths of the distance between the Houston and Elm Street intersections and the first underpass, I heard what sounded like a rifle shot and said “What’s that?”, as I turned to my right to look back in the direction of the terrace and the Texas School Book Depository. When I heard two more shots, I said “let’s get out of here.”  Last two shots bunched together.

We are at a loss. The statements of the Secret Service agents largely confirm the statements of the other eyewitnesses. They conflict with both Connally’s recollections and the apparent sequence of events in the Zapruder film. The eyewitnesses taken as a whole assert that the last shot was significantly closer to the second shot than the second shot was to the first. Period. 






Frazier SS statements and Life


Even so, the right-wing rumor mill continued to push that Oswald had been part of a left-wing conspiracy. Conservative commentator and former FBI agent Dan Smoot, in his weekly report dated 12-2, argued that Jack Ruby--whom he pointedly and repeatedly called "Rubenstein"--was a confederate of Oswald's, and that he had killed Oswald to ensure his silence.  While listing the evidence against Oswald, Smoot repeated the lies told by Dallas DA Henry Wade and FBI Agent Gordon Shanklin.  He told his readers that "Oswald's fingerprints were found on the murder weapon" and that "A paraffin test revealed gunpowder flecks on Oswald's cheek, which is presumptive evidence that he had recently fired a rifle.  The powder flecks were identical in kind with powder flecks in the empty cartridges and gun found in the book warehouse."  In his description of the shooting, Smoot confused things even more, relating "The first shot apparently hit President Kennedy in the neck.  He clutched himself and partially rose, as the second shot hit him in the head, inflicting the mortal wound.  As Governor Connally turned to see what had happened, the third shot from the assassin's gun struck him in the back..."

And Smoot wasn't the only one stirring up trouble. Drew Pearson, the most notorious muckraker of his day, dished some dirt of his own in his 12-2 column. Pearson, in opposition to President Johnson's wish that the country just move on, reported that members of Kennedy's Secret Service detail had been drinking the night before the shooting, and raised questions about their readiness. These questions have never been adequately addressed. In time, the Warren Commission would reveal that, of the 6 agents in Kennedy's follow-up car tasked with responding to a threat through self-sacrifice or retaliation (that is, not counting the driver, and the radio man) 4 had been out drinking the night before. John Ready, on the right running board, was out drinking beer, returned to his room around 3:30 in the morning, and reported for duty at 7:20. Clint Hill, on the left running board, was out drinking scotch, returned to his room around 3 in the morning, and reported for duty at 8:05. Paul Landis, on the right running board behind Ready, was out drinking scotch, left a club around 5:00 in the morning, and reported for duty at 8:05. (As he failed to say at what time he returned to his room, it seems possible he never actually returned.) And finally, Glen Bennett, one of the two men in the back seat manning the AR-15, an automatic weapon, was out drinking beer, returned to his room around 3:15 in the morning, and reported for duty at 7:20. (Although off-duty drinking was prohibited while traveling with the President, none of these men were reprimanded for their actions.)  

And it wasn't as if Pearson had singled out the Secret Service.. No, in the second half of his column, in what he would have to have known was a risky move, he criticized the FBI and Dallas Police. He criticized the Dallas Police for the obvious: allowing Jack Ruby into the basement where he killed Oswald. But his criticism of the FBI was not so obvious. He reported that although the FBI was well aware that Oswald, who'd recently been televised passing out leaflets in support of Cuba, had subsequently moved to Dallas, it had failed to notify the Dallas Police and Secret Service of this fact. In a move sure to get some attention, he then blamed this failure on "jealousy" and "squabbles over jurisdiction." 

The FBI's response was both well-reasoned and alarming. In his memo reporting on the column, Assistant Director Cartha DeLoach advised that in order to refute Pearson, the charges made by Pearson would have to be rehashed, and that this was "believed undesirable." This view was supported by Director Hoover, who added, in his own hand "Unfortunately, we are not in a position to completely contradict Pearson." 

But if the FBI's response was measured, what lay beneath the surface was monstrous. DeLoach bragged: "Many of our news media friends have called me and the men in this office today concerning Pearson's unjust and unfounded remarks. These men offered to literally 'tear Pearson apart' if we will just give them the go-ahead. They have volunteered to start an effective campaign against Pearson for his attack on the FBI." He then noted that such a campaign was "justified." Well, this makes it more than clear that DeLoach had at his beck and call a number of media assets ready to smear anyone he or the director wanted to smear, and that Pearson would have been the victim of such abuse had DeLoach and Hoover not been concerned that further discussion of the FBI's failures would backfire. 

This raises the related questions, then, of how many writers had received such treatment in the past, and how many revelatory articles and columns might have been written were it not for fear of such treatment. 


Above: FBI Propaganda Chief Cartha "Deke" DeLoach (R), along with one of his satisfied clients. President Lyndon B. Johnson (L). 

Of course, it's not as if the FBI worked only as a censor, trying to keep certain facts from the public. Nope, the FBI under Hoover was multi-talented, and could plant certain stories as well...

The Leaking of the Report

On 12-2, the Associated Press started spreading the news... A nationally-syndicated article stated "the Federal Bureau of Investigation hopes to send to President Johnson this week its report on the assassination... It will be a narrative account in minute detail of the events surrounding the two deaths. If it follows the patterns of others F.B.I. investigative reports, it will stick to positive statements of what happened, dismissing baseless rumors by not mentioning them...It is expected to state that Lee H. Oswald, acting alone, killed Mr. Kennedy, and that Jack Ruby, acting alone, shot Oswald." 

There was more to come. On 12-3-63, an Associated Press article by Sterling F. Green appeared in dozens if not hundreds of newspapers, and filled in the details. It confirmed  “An exhaustive FBI report now nearly ready for the White House will indicate that Lee Harvey Oswald, a loner all his life, was the lone and unaided assassin of President Kennedy, Government sources said today.” It then claimed "The report will go to President Johnson this week, it was reported, and Mr. Johnson will forward it promptly to the seven-member investigating commission he named on Friday." It then asserted "Various Government sources said the FBI report, incorporating the findings of the Secret Service and at least a half dozen other Federal agencies, would indicate that: 

  1. Oswald, without accomplices, fired three shots at Mr. Kennedy from a self-prepared hideaway at a sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas as the Presidential motorcade passed on November 22. 
  2. The first and third shots struck the President. Either would have killed him.
  3. The second shot missed Mr. Kennedy but struck and seriously wounded Texas Governor John Connally.
  4. About 5 1/2 seconds elapsed between the first shot and the last. Despite questions raised by some rifle experts, Federal agents consider (sic, Green meant "presume") Oswald's bolt-action rifle could have been aimed and fired that rapidly. 
  5. It has been established that all three shots came from the same direction, behind and slightly to the right of the President'a car. This gave the assassin a target moving approximately in the direction of his line of fire, an easier shot than a target moving across it. 
  6. Ballistics studies reportedly substantiate that the same weapon fired all three shots. 
  7. Evidence is lacking of any personal acquaintance between Oswald and Jack Rubenstein, alias Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who broke through a crowd of spectators and killed the prisoner two days later, as Oswald was about to be transferred from Police headquarters in the Dallas City Hall to the county jail.

A 12-4 New York Times article with a 12-3 dateline then jumped on the bandwagon, reporting "it was learned officially, the report of the Federal Bureau of Investigation "probably" will say that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in firing the three shots that killed Mr. Kennedy and seriously wounded Gov. John B. Connally Jr. of Texas..." One notes that these reports call President Kennedy "Mr. Kennedy," an apparent sign of disrespect. If this is any indication of the source, the likely leakers would have to be Hoover and his close cohort, Cartha DeLoach.

Warren Commissioner John McCloy apparently suspected as much. A National Security Administration document (currently available on its website) reports that on 12-4-63 "In conversation with us, McCloy, a member of the Presidential Commission, stated that he has serious doubts of the credibility of the investigation to date. He does not eliminate the possibility that the attempt on Kennedy was made by two persons. However, in view of Johnson's order that the commission investigate also the circumstances of Oswald's slaying, some of the commission's operations and its report could come after Ruby's trial and perhaps even after the verdict and appeals. In the meantime the trial was postponed until 3 January (sic) and the FBI released to the press information that their investigation confirms Oswald's guilt, and that he had no accomplices."

And McCloy was not alone. On 4-3-14, Justice Department attorney Howard Willens published his personal journal regarding his 1964 stint with the Warren Commission. His first entry, dated January 1964, discusses the FBI's report, and notes that in early December 1963 "the FBI gave a briefing session off-the-record to the reporters on the report."

Another 12-4 article in the Times with a 12-3 dateline is also intriguing. It appears to have been designed to overrule the 11-27 article casting doubt on the ability of one man to fire all the shots. It states "From motion pictures of the President's assassination taken here on Nov. 22, authorities have concluded that the three shots were fired over a period of five to five and one-half seconds. But that period is calculated from the moment when the first shot is fired...The man starts the interval himself with the first shot. Therefore, if the interval is five seconds, as some people say it was, he has to fire two shots in five seconds, not three shots. It is possible, and it can easily be done. It's no trick at all...The first and third shots, said authorities, struck the President. Either could have killed him. The second bullet missed the President but struck and wounded Gov. John B. Connally, Jr. of Texas, who was riding with Mr. Kennedy." The frequent reference to "authorities" and the by now familiar "Mr. Kennedy" are indications this article was yet another gift from the FBI. 

On 12-4, Theodore Voorhees, Chancellor-elect of the Philadelphia Bar Association, howled into the wilderness. According to a 12-5 New York Times article, Voorhees told a luncheon that Oswald had been "lynched." He went on to state "it is against the legal profession, not television or the press, that the heavy indictment must lie" and that no member of the legal profession "protested the publication of the evidence, the 24-hour interrogations, the violation of the prisoner's rights." The Warren Commission, which had not yet had a meeting, was, naturally, made up almost entirely of lawyers, as was its future staff. One of their future staff members, Arlen Specter, was an Assistant District Attorney from Philadelphia. One can only wonder then what Specter thought of Voorhees' speech.

And what Voorhees thought of the revelations to come... In any event, he was not alone in noting that something was rotten in Dallas...and Washington. On 12-5, an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle opined that the FBI's leaking its own report to the press was "highly irregular and objectionable" and stated for the record that the editors of the Chronicle registered their "profound objection to this kind of handling of so grave and somber a matter."


Above: an article published in the 12-6-63 issue of Life Magazine that was designed to end rumors. The problem: the article was so biased and flat-out wrong it only made things worse. 

Life's Cavalcade of Errors 

While one might assume some distance and perspective would be good for the media, and that its December stories would thereby be more accurate than those written just after the assassination, this proved not to be the case. The 12-6 issue of Life Magazine, for example, contained even more biased reporting and misinformation than its previous issue. One editorial proclaimed that "Oswald was a misfit Marxist with a life-long persecution complex; a resentful loner who found an evil chance to employ his single skill--marksmanship--against the world's most valuable target." An article--an actual news article not an opinion piece--was titled "In Texas a Policeman and an Assassin are Laid to Rest Too." (An "Assassin"--not an accused assassin or even a presumed assassin--as if Oswald's getting murdered proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he himself was a murderer.)

But it gets worse. Life writer Paul Mandel, in an article entitled "End to Nagging Rumors," listed so many non-facts that one can only assume the whole article was a deliberate attempt to squelch these rumors, even at the expense of the truth. 

It started out well enough, noting that the killing of Kennedy and Oswald had led to "breathless rumors: that Oswald had been a hired killer; that Oswald had used an accomplice; that Oswald had not killed the President at all; that Oswald had been framed and then shot to silence him." But from there it stopped reporting and started blowing bubbles.

Mandel claimed: "Three shots were fired. Two struck the President, one Governor Connally. All three bullets have been recovered--one, deformed, from the floor of the limousine; one from the stretcher that carried the President; one that entered the President's body." Well, this was untrue. Only one and a half bullets were recovered. No bullet was removed from the President. As a result, the third shot heard by most witnesses could have come from almost anywhere, and been fired by almost anyone. Apparently this fact, even though it was true, was not to be considered by the American public. 

Mandel then continued: "The murder weapon, although subsequently manhandled for the benefit of TV, still showed Oswald's palm print." This was also untrue. The rifle was paraded before the cameras BEFORE a palm print was, reportedly, found and lifted by the Dallas Police. The article also fails to note that the FBI was unable to find ANY trace of this print when they inspected the rifle but a few hours later. Now why wasn't this mentioned? Oh, that's right--the article is entitled "END to nagging rumors", not "telling the truth even if it will lead to more rumors." 

Mandel then continued: "His own carbine was missing from its usual place. A witness had seen him bring a long gun-sized package to work." Ouch. This is an outright lie. The witness in question, Buell Wesley Frazier, had passed a polygraph test while claiming that the "gun-sized package" supposedly found in the building and reportedly shown to him was approximately twice as large as the package he'd seen Oswald carry to work. In Frazier's opinion, moreover, the size of the package Oswald was carrying was far too small to carry the assassination rifle.  

This paragraph then came to a merciful end: "And threads from Oswald's clothing were found in the warehouse sniper's nest." Now, really. This bit about the threads is made up of whole cloth. True, the FBI claimed there were threads on the rifle that matched Oswald's shirt, but even this "fact" couldn't end the nagging rumor that Oswald had been framed, as Oswald had insisted that he'd only put this shirt on after returning to his rented room from work, and NONE of his co-workers could recall his wearing the shirt to work that day. 

Mandel then proceeded to discuss the Zapruder film, and its help in establishing that Oswald had enough time to fire three well-aimed shots. He reported: "from the movie camera's known speed of 18 frames a second--two frames a second faster than it should have run--it is possible to reconstruct the precise timing and placing and feasibility of the shots." Well, this is very interesting. Because it's reasonably accurate. The FBI's report on Zapruder's camera notes that Zapruder gave his camera to the FBI on 12-6, and that the camera was subsequently determined to have run 18.3 frames per second. Mandel's article is dated 12-6, but was actually written days earlier. Well, then, how the heck did Life Magazine know the results of the tests performed on Zapruder's camera before these tests were even performed? Had Life, which had purchased the Zapruder film, performed its own tests on the camera? If so, did it provide this info to the FBI? And, if so, should we take from this that the FBI had no plans to test the speed of Zapruder's camera, and only did so to avoid embarrassment after Life had conducted its own tests?

Mandel then described what can be observed on the Zapruder film. He reported that the first shot was fired from behind and struck Kennedy when he was 170 feet from the sniper's nest (at approximately frame 191). While the HSCA eventually agreed with this assessment, the Warren Commission concluded that the President was first struck somewhere between frames 210 and 225. In a bizarre twist, however, Mandel claimed Kennedy was first struck in the throat. From behind... 

But this was just the beginning of Life's cavalcade of errors. Mandel then reported that the second shot hit Connally 74 frames later (at approximately frame 265 of the Zapruder film). Curiously, having Connally hit at this time supported both the scenario outlined in Life's 11-29 issue, and the FBI and Secret Service scenarios for the shooting. It was also strikingly at odds with the film. This leads many to suspect that Mandel's article, designed to end "rumors", was more specifically written as a favor to someone in the government, perhaps even the President. Mandel almost certainly never believed this stuff. Heck, it's so readily apparent that Connally was hit before frame 265 that even the Warren Commission could see it; they claimed he was hit by 225.

Mandel then got something right---he claimed that the head shot came 48 frames later (at frame 313). He then returned to his curious ways. Here, only days after a New York Times article had cast doubt about the assassination rifle's ability to fire three shots in the time allotted for the shooting, Mandel reported that the director of the NRA had successfully re-created Oswald's shooting feat by hitting three moving targets in three tries at similar distances with a similar rifle as Oswald's in 6.2 seconds. The FBI would later determine these claims to have been greatly exaggerated. 

Mandel then hit a new low. To explain the public's confusion over the assassination, he offered: "The description of the President's two wounds by a Dallas doctor who tried to save him have added to the rumors. The doctor said one bullet passed from back to front on the right side of the President's head. But the other, the doctor reported, entered the President's throat from the front and then lodged in the President's body." Well, this is strange already. NO Dallas doctor had claimed a bullet had passed from back to front through the President's head. This was just made up. 

It then got weirder. Mandel wrote: "Since by this time the limousine was 50 yards past Oswald and the President's back was turned almost directly to the sniper, it has been hard to understand how the bullet could enter the front of his throat. Hence, the recurring guess there was a second sniper somewhere else. But the 8mm film shows the President turning his body far around to the right as he waves to someone in the crowd. His throat is exposed--toward the sniper's nest--just before he clutches it." This, of course, is bullshit. The Zapruder film, which was owned by Life, and which was clearly viewed by Mandel multiple times during the creation of this article, shows no such thing. Not even close.

The back wound, inexplicably still a secret, was never even mentioned. 

For what it's worth, someone at Life was quick to realize that Mandel's article was an embarrassment... A week later, when the article was repackaged in a special John F. Kennedy Memorial Edition of Life, its title was changed from the grossly overstated "End to Nagging Rumors" to an almost apologetic "First Answers to the Nagging Rumors." Presumably, Stupid Speculation that We No Longer Stand Behind, although an accurate title, was never considered.

And this wasn't the only Life article revised for the Memorial Edition... The 11-29 article "Split Second Sequence As The Bullets Struck" was also revised and renamed "Split Second Horror As The Sniper's Bullets Struck." Note that along with the addition of the "Horror" the new title specified there was only one shooter, something the editors of Life would have to have known was in question due to Kennedy's being shot from behind, and having an entrance wound on his throat. (Oh, that's right, Paul Mandel had already explained that...)

Here, then is how the shooting is described in the Memorial Edition: "Past the book warehouse the President turned to his right to wave to someone. Just as his car passed the road sign shown in the foreground the first bullet struck him in the neck. He clutched at his throat. Although some onlookers heard the shot, Governor Connally still faced ahead, unaware. With the first bullet still lodged in him, the President slumped forward in his seat and down toward his wife. At the same time the second shot struck Governor Connally. Then the assassin fired a third time. Oswald's bullet, fired at a range of more than 250 feet about two seconds after the shot which hit the governor, struck the President in the rear right part of his head." (The head shot, after which the President's head fell back and to the left, is still not depicted, nor described.) Note that the bullet is now conclusively Oswald's bullet. Note also that, in Life's interpretation of the Zapruder film, Governor Connally was wounded but two seconds before the head shot. This, according to pretty much everyone who would subsequently see the the film, including the members of the Warren Commission, places the Connally shot closer to the time of the head shot than to the time Connally was actually shot.

But as confusing as Life's analysis of the shooting was, it had plenty of partners. Its sister publication, Time Magazine, also described the Zapruder film in its 12-6 issue. It related: "What actually happened was made horrifyingly clear in color films taken by Abraham Zapruder, a Dallas clothing manufacturer and an amateur movieman. The strip runs for about 20 seconds--an eternity of history. Kennedy was waving to a friendly crowd. Then came the first shot, and he clutched at his throat with both hands. Connally turned around, raised his right hand toward the President, then fell backward into his wife's lap as the second shot struck him. The third shot all too literally exploded in Kennedy's head." Note that Time failed to present Mandel's bogus claim Kennedy had turned around in his seat before the first shot. Note also that Time claimed Connally reacted to the first shot, while Life claimed that after the first shot "Connally still faced ahead, unaware." And note, finally, that two of the points on which the two sister publications agreed is that the film shows Connally to have been hit by a separate shot from Kennedy, and that Kennedy was hit in the head by the third shot. That Connally was hit by a separate shot was in time rejected by the Warren Commission. That Kennedy was hit in the head by the third shot was also called into question. Hmmm...what was "horrifyingly clear" to the largest media corporation in America was in time rejected by the Warren Commission.

And Time/Life wasn't the only large American media corporation inadvertently spreading the seeds of conspiracy.

On 12-5, an article in the New York Times by Joseph Loftus about a Secret Service re-enactment of the shooting in Dallas, relates: "One question was how the President could have received a bullet in the front of the throat from a rifle in the Texas School Book Depository Building after his car had passed the building and was turning a gentle curve away from it. One explanation from a competent source was that the President had turned to his right to wave and was struck at that moment. The best authority presumably on the exact angle of entry of the bullet is the man who conducted the autopsy. He is Dr. J.J. Humes at the Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD. Dr. Humes said he had been forbidden to talk. Most private citizens who had cooperated with newsmen reporting the crime have refused to give further help after being interviewed by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Dallas city and county police withdrew their help the same way. One high officer said he wished he could answer questions 'because it would save us a lot of work.'" 

By this time, millions of Americans must have been asking "If the FBI has concluded that the long-dead-and-buried Oswald killed Kennedy, and that he acted alone, why all this secrecy?" 

And a few thousand must have been asking "Hmmm... this article says a 'competent source' says Kennedy was turned around when receiving one of his shots, when earlier articles from 11-23 attributed such a belief to a 'White House source.'" Is a 'White House source' trying to convince us the shots all came from the same direction? And is Life Magazine's claim this is shown in the film a mere coincidence? Or has Life, too, been speaking to this 'White House source?'"



The next day we receive a report on an interview with Orville Nix.  Nix had filmed the fatal headshot from the opposite of Zapruder. (12-3-63 FBI report, 24H539) “Nix believed the film depicts the third shot hitting President Kennedy and the sequence of events immediately after including Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy reaching out over the back trunk lid to assist a secret service agent who is running to her aid.” Too vague.  Why wasn’t Nix asked to describe the shooting sequence? Does the description of the head shot as the third shot come from Nix or from the writer of the report?  Has the FBI already made up its mind? Apparently so.  

The 12-3-63 edition of the Washington Evening Star, a newspaper used by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to leak stories he wants before the public, reports: “An exhaustive FBI report now nearly ready for the White House will indicate that…Oswald was the lone and unaided assassin of President Kennedy, Government sources said today."  

The next day, we receive a report on an interview with Marie Muchmore. We've heard rumors that she filmed the assassination from the east end of the plaza, but she denies them. (12-4-64 FBI report CD7 p.31) “She advised that they stood on Main and Houston Streets. As the parade passed by there she heard the first shot but from where they were standing could not observe where the shot came from. She said she panicked after this shot and ran back to the office, later becoming deathly sick over the incident…She said she had a movie camera with her at the time and Wilma Bond had a box camera but she advised that she did not obtain any photographs of the assassination scene.” Too vague.

Also on 12-4, a witness named Carolyn Walther comes forward with a remarkable claim. The FBI report to follow was dictated by Special Agents C. Ray Hall and Maurice J. White. 

Mrs. ERIC (CAROLYN) WALTHER, 4118 Shelley, Dallas, Texas, Stated she is employed in the cutting room for Miller and Randazzo, a dress factory, on the third floor of the Dal-Tex Mart Building, 501 Elm Street, Dallas.

On November 22, 1963 she and another employee, Mrs. Pearl Stringer, ate lunch at 12:00 noon and left the lunch room at about 12:20 PM to go down on the street to see President KENNEDY ride by. They walked out of the front door of the building, crossed the street, and stopped at a point on the east side of Houston Street, about fifty or sixty feet south of the south curb of Elm Street. They stopped next to the curb to await the passing of the President. While standing there, she started looking around, and looked over toward the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) Building. She noticed a man wearing a brown suit and a very dark shirt leaning out a window of the third floor, somewhere about the middle window of the third floor. Shortly after this, a man in the crowd across the street to the west of where she was standing apparently had an epileptic seizure, and an ambulance came by and took the man away. Shortly after the ambulance left, she looked back towards the TSBD Building and saw a man standing on either the fourth of fifth floors, of the window on the south side of the building, which faces toward Elm Street. This man had the window open and was standing up leaning out the window with both his hands extended outside the window ledge. In his hands, this man was holding a rifle with the barrel pointed downward, and the man was looking south on Houston Street. The man was wearing a white shirt and had blond or light brown hair. She recalled at the time that she had not noticed the man there a few moments previously when she looked toward the building and thought that apparently there were guards everywhere. The rifle had a short barrel and seemed large around the stock or end of the rifle. Her impression was that the gun was a machine gun. She noticed nothing like a telescope sight on the rifle or a leather strap or sling on the rifle. She said she knows nothing about rifles or guns of any type, but thought that the rifle was different from any she had ever seen. This man was standing in about the middle of the window. In this same window, to the left of this man, she could see a portion of another man standing by the side of the man with a rifle. This other man was standing erect, and his head was above the opened portion of the window. As the window was very dirty, she could not see the head of this second man. She is positive this window was not as high as the sixth floor. This second man was apparently wearing a brown suit coat, and the only thing she could see was the right side of the man, from about the waist to the shoulders.

Almost immediately after noticing this man with the rifle and the other man standing beside him, someone in the crowd said "Here they come." and she looked to her left, looking south on Houston Street, to see the Presidential Party. As soon as President KENNEDY's car passed where she was standing, she and Mrs. SPRINGER turned away and started walking north towards Elm Street. At about the time they reached the curb at Elm Street, she heard a loud report and thought it was fireworks. There was a pause after the first report, then a second and third report almost at the same time, and then a pause followed by at least one and possibly more reports. The noise seemed to come from up in the air, but she never looked up in that direction. When the second report sounded, she decided it was gunfire, so she and Mrs. SPRINGER started diagonally across the street toward the TSBD Building. About the time she got across the street, she heard someone yell that the president had been hit. She stopped a moment and listened to the police radio on a motorcycle, then returned to the building across the street where she works. She returned to her job at about 12:45 PM. (24H522). 

Hearing this, we ask Latona once again if he's gonna run some elimination prints, and try to find out who, besides Oswald, had been in the sniper's nest. Silence.

But this is not the most disturbing development of the day. In agent Robert Barrett's memo on an interview with Abraham Zapruder we spot an intriguing sentence, one which we know could prove most problematic. It states that, according to Zapruder, who filmed the assassination from beginning to end, his camera was set to take "normal speed movie film or 24 frames per second." (CD7, p.12). Since Agent Robert Frazier has already indicated that the shooting would take a minimum of 5.6 seconds with Oswald's rifle, and since Agent Barrett's report on the Secret Service reenactment indicates the first and third shots hit Kennedy, Zapruder's film should show Kennedy first hit at least 134 frames before he suffered his fatal blow, should Oswald have acted alone. We are told this is not the case. We take comfort, nevertheless, in Barrett's statement that he has obtained Zapruder's camera and that the camera will undergo testing at the FBI's crime lab.

Yikes. It's beginning to feel like our case for a single-assassin is coming apart. 

And then the next day, 12-5, things get even stranger. A witness has come forward to confirm much of what Mrs. Walther claimed the day before. And no, it's not Pearl Stringer, the witness named by Mrs. Walther, who, when interviewed by agents Hall and White, "recalled that after the first shot there was a pause, then two more shots were fired close together," but did not recall looking at the upper floors of the book depository on 11-22 nor remember Mrs. Walther's mentioning seeing any men on the upper floors of the book depository on 11-22. (24H523) It's Ruby Henderson. Here is the FBI report on this interview. It was dictated by Special Agents James J. Ward and Robert E. Basham:

MRS. TONEY (RUBY) HENDERSON, 1434 Prairie Creek, Dallas, Texas (EX 1.2474), furnished the following information:

On November 22, 1963 at approximately 12:15 PM she was standing on the east side of Elm Street just north of Houston Street awaiting the passing of the Presidential Motorcade at that site. She said shortly after she arrived at this location, and just prior to the arrival of the motorcade, she recalls an ambulance arriving and departing the area to pick up an individual whom she understood had an epileptic fit. Mrs. HENDERSON said after the ambulance departed the area, she heard a woman in the record building located on the southwest corner of Elm and Houston, yell "Yeah, Woodman." which is a Dallas High School, and she looked in the direction from which the yell emanated. She said she thereafter swung around and looked in the building in which she works, the building located on the southeast corner of Elm and Houston and thence around to the Texas School Book Depository Building. 

She said she observed numerous people on various floors looking out of the windows of the Texas School Book Depository Building, and recalls that she saw two men on one of the upper floors of the building. She said she recalls one of the men had on a white shirt and one had on a dark shirt. She said she only observed these men from the waist up and she does not know what their other attire consisted of. She said these men were standing back from the window and she got the impression they were working and yet looking out the window in anticipation of the motorcade passing that building. She said she saw these men before the motorcade reached Houston and Elm, but doesn't have any idea how long it was prior to the motorcade arriving at that location. She says she believes the person in the white shirt had dark hair and was possibly a Mexican, but could have been a Negro as he appeared to be dark-complexioned. She said she couldn't describe the other person other than the fact he was taller than the aforementioned individual. Mrs. HENDERSON said at the time the motorcade passed where she was standing, she heard what she initially thought was a firecracker and saw what she thought was paper fly out of the Presidential car. She said she now realized it was a shot she heard and what she thought was paper was probably flesh. She said after the first shot, she believes she heard two more in rapid succession, and then a fourth shot. 

Mrs. HENDERSON said after the shooting she stood transfixed for some time before returning to work. She said she returned to her place of employment at approximately 12:43 PM. 

Mrs. HENDERSON said she became extremely upset and nervous after the President's assassination and it was necessary for her to take the following Monday off her job. She said she hesitated to mention anything about her observations but felt she should relate same as they might possibly be of some benefit. 

Mrs. HENDERSON reiterated she could not definitely state one of the men she saw in the window of the Texas School Book Depository was not a Negro. She said she does not know what floor of the building the men were on, but doesn't recall seeing anyone on a floor higher up than the one they were on. (24H524)

Well, holy smokes. Henderson confirms Walther's recollections from the day before? They both come forward to say they saw two men standing in a corner window? They both think they heard four shots? Do they know each other? What's going on? 

The thought occurs, then, that Mrs. Walther is somehow behind Mrs. Henderson's coming forward. And that Mrs. Henderson doesn't really believe what she has told agents Ward and Basham. 

Only no such luck. We find this lead sheet in the files of the Dallas FBI office. (This lead sheet was unearthed by Harold Weisberg and can be found in the Dallas FBI files preserved in the Weisberg Archives at Hood University.)  

On 11/28/63, a woman identifying herself as Mrs. TONY HENDERSON telephonically contacted the Dallas Office. She advised she works for a firm known as Miller and Randazzo with offices on the third floor of the building at 501 Elm St. She resides at 1434 Prairie Creek in the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas.

She stated that prior to the presidential motorcade passing the corner of Elm and Houston Streets, she had been down in the street with other persons from the building. She stated that she had been out in the street itself off the curb in an attempt to see better and that as she waited for the motorcade to approach, she had glanced up at and behind her and had seen people at the windows in her own building and had seen people also at open windows in the building of the Texas Book Depository. She stated that she had noticed quite a number of people at the windows on the third floor of the Texas Book Depository building and that it had not occurred to her until yesterday that she had seen two men standing in what she was certain was the corner window facing Elm Street on the sixth floor of the Texas Book Building. She stated she now recalls that she thought at the time that the two men standing there would have a bird's eye view of the entire scene. She stated also that the thought occurred to her that the men were not standing out actually prominent in the window, She said she had wondered why they were standing back a little. She stated that she was certain one of the men had on a white shirt, and she thought the other man, who was somewhat shorter, was wearing a blue shirt, or at least it was a dark shirt. 

When queried as to why she could see into the sixth floor window when she was standing east of the building, she stated that she had been standing far enough out in the street that she could easily observe that window. 

Mrs. HENDERSON advised that small items were coming back to her such as when the second shot was fired she saw what she thought was paper flying out of the presidential limousine and she now realizes it must have been flesh or bone.

LEAD

Contact Mrs. TONY HENDERSON at her residence or at her office and interview for any additional information she may be able to recall and to determine if she spoke of seeing these two men to any other individuals or of she knows of any other individuals who might have observed them. 

So, yikes. If anything, it's the reverse. Mrs. Henderson came forward on the 28th, but the FBI failed to follow up. Mrs. Walther, a co-worker of Mrs. Henderson's, then came forward on the 4th. And this led the FBI to go back and question Mrs. Henderson on the fifth. As Mrs. Henderson failed to cite Mrs. Walther as support for her story, and as Mrs. Walther failed to even mention Mrs. Henderson when she was interviewed, there is nothing to suggest these women shared their stories, or conspired in bringing their stories forward. The record, instead, suggests something else entirely--that the similarity in their stories comes from their standing in a similar location, and similarly looking up at the depository building about 15 minutes before the shooting, just after a young man named Jerry Belknap had suffered an epileptic fit. 

(Note: neither Henderson nor Walther were interviewed further, and neither of them were called before the Warren Commission.)

On 12-5 we see yet another signed statement from Buell Frazier, who gave Oswald a ride to work on 11-22-63. Frazier was the only person to get a good look at the package Oswald brought to work. Every member of law enforcement working on the case wants to believe this package contained Oswald's rifle, but Frazier told first the Dallas Police, and then the FBI, that the package he saw was only 2 feet long. Unfortunately, the bag reportedly found in the sniper's nest (there is no picture of it in situ) was over 3 feet long. This was barely long enough to have held Oswald's disassembled rifle. This newly-signed statement comes from the Secret Service. The third time's not the charm. Frazier sticks to his guns. He writes: "He had put a package in the back seat of the car. I got into the car and sort of glanced over my shoulder and saw a package in the seat. The package was approximately two feet in length. It was a brown paper sack and was folded so that the contents could not be seen. I asked Lee about the package and he said it was curtain rods." Frazier sticks to his guns (or lack of gun) in other ways as well. He writes: "Lee got out and took the package...The package was under his arm lengthwise and the paper was all that could be seen." (CD87, p795-796). A three-foot long package would not have fit under Oswald's arm in such a manner. If Frazier is correct, Oswald didn't act alone. 



A peek behind the curtain 


A Matter of Degree

So now we’re working for the Warren Commission.  We’ve been tasked with studying the statements of the eyewitnesses and coming to a conclusion about the shots independent of the FBI’s conclusions.  We are also given access to internal Warren Commission documents and new Secret Service and FBI reports as they come in.  

Our new job starts off with a bang as we get a look at a 12-10 FBI Report on Zapruder's camera and film. This report, by Frederick Webb, reveals: 

"It has been determined that the normal operating speed of this camera is 18-1/3 frames per second. Applying this camera speed to the film recording the assassination of President Kennedy, it has been determined that 4.74 seconds elapsed from the third frame (A) after the President emerged from back of a sign to the frame (B) in which he is hit in the head. It is in this third frame (A) after emerging from back of the sign that the President first starts to fall forward. The time from a frame (C) where the President’s head disappears back of the sign, which is about halfway through the sign, to the frame (B) in which he is hit in the head is 5.57 seconds. In frames prior to this his head appears to be turned to the side and he appears to be waving to the crowd.

The time from the third frame (A) after the President emerges from back of the sign to a frame (D) where Governor John Connally makes a sudden move to turn back to face the front of the automobile was determined to be 3.49 seconds. In frames following the third frame (A) after the President emerges from in back of the sign, Governor John Connally turns and faces directly back toward the President until the frame (D) where Governor Connally makes the turn toward the front."

Well, yikes, trouble's-a-brewing. First of all, it's problematic that Webb is operating under the assumption the last shot struck Kennedy in the head, and the second shot struck Connally in the back as he was facing the President. It seems clear from this that the FBI is basing their findings on the recollections of Connally and ignoring the recollections of most all the closest eyewitnesses, who thought the third shot followed the head shot. 

Second of all, look at the timing. Webb has the third shot strike Kennedy 5.57 seconds after Kennedy disappears behind the sign in the film, and the second shot strike Connally 3.49 seconds after the third frame after Kennedy came out from behind the sign in the film, which he'd previously claimed was .83 seconds after he'd disappeared behind the sign. Well, do the math. This means the second shot came 4.32 seconds after Kennedy disappeared behind the sign...and but 1.25 seconds prior to the head shot!

Now, the thought occurs that Webb, and if not Webb, his superiors, knows this isn't possible, should Oswald have been the lone assassin. 

So why won't they say so? And yell out "Hey, fellas, we either need to re-think this thing or start looking for a second shooter"?

(It's curious, for that matter, that Webb's memo never made its way to the Warren Commission, and that it was only brought to the surface through the efforts of Harold Weisberg, and the HSCA. Props to Gary Murr for bringing this to my attention.)

Later that day, in the office of Secret Service Chief Rowley, we get a brief look at the 12-5 survey plat of Dealey Plaza, prepared by surveyor Robert West under the supervision of the Service's Elmer Moore.  We compare this plat to the drawing of the plaza included in the FBI's 11-30 report on the first re-enactment. We see that the school book depository is now much closer to Elm Street, and that, as a result, the angles into the car from the sniper's nest are much less severe. This comes as a welcome relief, as the angles in the first drawing cast doubt on the FBI's conclusion Oswald fired the fatal head shot. It makes little sense, after all, for a bullet heading 17 degrees right to left to strike someone an inch to the right of the mid-line of the back of his skull and exit from the right side of his skull, with the left side undamaged.

Here, then, is the 12-5 plat of Dealey Plaza. 


And here is a close-up of this plat, showing the presumed location of Kennedy at the time three shots were fired. 

We note that, in this rendering, Kennedy was right in front of a street light when the second shot was fired, and 50 feet further down the road and half-way to the next street light when the third shot was fired.

We wonder if this is true...and that's not all we wonder about...

On 12-7-63 the Secret Service finalized its report on the book depository. In a section on janitor Eddie Piper, it revealed “His normal working hours are from 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., and he usually works until 7:00 or 8:00 P.M. Among his duties is to clean the offices and toilets of the Depository after all the employees have left for the day. He also checks to see that all the lights are out and doors locked before he leaves.” Now, that’s not surprising. But here’s the twist. “During the evening hours, and usually after Piper leaves the building, two employees of the Acme Building and Maintenance Company, 1901 Laws Street, Dallas, come to the Depository Building, and they clean the offices of the publishing companies and the toilets on the second, third, and fourth floors. These people usually leave the building around midnight. They are furnished with keys to the building and are required to lock the entrance when they leave. The building then remains unoccupied for the rest of the night.” But wait, it gets worse. “The Smith Detective Agency and Nightwatch Service, 610 N. Akard St., Dallas, makes periodic checks of the building during the nighttime hours, to determine whether all doors are locked and lights out.” (CD87 p776) 

As it turns out, moreover, most of this information came not from Piper but from a signed statement by TSBD Superintendent Roy Truly. (CD87 p792) The one difference in his statement from the SS report, for that matter, is that Truly provided the schedule for the Acme employees who came in to clean the offices--and that was Sunday through Thursday.

Well, this would seem to be a huge door that no one would was willing to walk through. A rifle appeared in the depository on 11-22. The authorities assumed it was brought in by their by-now-long-dead suspect in a paper bag on the morning of 11-22. But the only witnesses to see him with a bag that morning have said the bag they saw was far too small to have held his rifle. Well, in most circumstances, this would raise the possibility someone else brought the rifle into the building the night before. 

But no, not in this case. 

There's also this. Although Truly failed to mention as to whether the “Smith Detective Agency” had keys to the building, we can only assume it did. I mean, if one of its patrolmen were to discover a light on in the building, what were they to do, go in and turn it off? Or wake up Truly, and ask him to get out of bed and drive on over to turn it off? We can suspect the former. 

If this was true, then, we can only assume there were multiple employees of both Acme Building and Smith Detective with access to the keys to the depository. 

And yet...apparently, none of these employees was ever interviewed to see if, you know, any of their keys were missing, or if, you know, they saw anything suspicious the night before the shooting. 

No, actually, it's worse than that. As far as one can tell, no list of these employees was ever compiled, or requested!


The Secret Service Survey

A few days later we receive the 12-11-63 report by Secret Service Agent Elmer Moore on his 12-5 survey. He claims it depicts the "probable trajectory of the bullets." We decide to take a closer look. 

Sure enough, across the bottom of the plat surveyor Robert West depicts the angles and distances of three shots fired from the sniper’s nest. The distance of the first shot is 184 feet. As the Warren Commission would eventually propose that the first shot was fired between frame 210 of the Zapruder film, from a distance of 176.9 feet, and frame 225, at a distance of 190.8 feet, this means the first shot proposed by Moore came around frame 217, when the President was behind the sign in the Zapruder film. The second shot, apparently the shot striking Governor Connally, is purported to have been fired from 242 feet. This is much closer to the first shot than the second shot described by the FBI's Gauthier in his memo of 12-9. Even so, this would correspond to a shot fired around frame 283 of the Zapruder film, long after it seems clear Connally has been shot. The final shot, which Moore describes in his 12-11 report as “the second bullet which struck the President (the third bullet fired)” is recorded as a shot of 294 feet. 294 feet is 34 feet farther than the distance from the sniper’s nest to Kennedy at the time of the head shot as determined by Agent Howlett on 11-27 (and 29 feet farther than the distance from the sniper’s nest to Kennedy determined by the Warren Commission). 294 feet, moreover, reflects the distance of the President from the sniper’s nest circa frame 343 of the Zapruder film, almost 2 seconds after the obvious head shot. This is no small mistake. 

(When printed by the Warren Commission as Commission Exhibit 585, this plat will be nearly impossible to read. This may not have been a mistake. When Warren Commission counsel Melvin Eisenberg enters this plat into evidence during the 3-30-64 testimony of Ronald Simmons, who'd tested the accuracy of Oswald’s rifle, Eisenberg explains “I would like to introduce it into evidence solely to show the basis which Mr. Simmons was using in this test, and not for the truth of the measurements which are shown here.”)

Elsewhere in his 12-11 report, Agent Moore explains that the “precise trajectory of bullets striking President Kennedy cannot be positively ascertained by the resulting wounds” but that after studying the Zapruder film, still photographs, eyewitness statements, interviews with the emergency room doctors, the autopsy protocol, and the assassination scene “it is concluded that the wounds indicate that both of the two bullets which struck the President were fired from a position to the rear and above the level of the President.” In support of this, Moore goes on to describe the President’s wounds, boldly asserting that the missile path of the first bullet to strike the President “is from the upper right posterior thorax to the exit position in the low anterior cervical region and is in slight general downward direction.” This is a strange statement. The “cervical region”, by most every definition, is above, the “thorax.” Unless a body was doubled-over, it makes little sense for a bullet to travel “in a slight general downward direction” from the upper thorax to the lower cervical region. 



 

Do It Again  

On 12-5 we also see an FBI teletype message from Special-Agent-in-Charge J. Gordon Shanklin in Dallas. It discloses that the FBI's Exhibits section, under Leo Gauthier, is in Dallas preparing exhibits depicting the shooting, and that "While Gauthier and assistants were making measurements on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building, on December Five, Secret Service Agents Miller and Sorrell arrived on the scene with a motion picture cameraman.  These men identified themselves as Secret Service men to Gauthier.  At approximately three P.M. on December Five, Secret Service Agents Miller and Sorrell supervised re-enactment of the route of the President's assassination. A white convertible similar to the black one in which President Kennedy made his last ride, rolled past the assassination spot.  A man and a woman sat in the back seat just as President and Mrs. Kennedy did, two men were in the front. Looking down on this scene was the movie camera, perched in the same window from which the fatal shots were fired. Field surveyors from the Robert H. West land survey company, apparently employed by the Secret Service, were present, compiling survey data (slope of the road) at the three points on the freeway where it is believed the bullets struck the President and the Governor. Gauthier discontinued making measurements during the time the Secret Service enactment." This tells us that not only are the Secret Service and FBI not working together to investigate the crime, but that they aren't even sharing any basic information.  

The 12-5 New York Times further describes this re-enactment: "An open car with a man and a woman in the back seat simulated again and again today the ride of the President and Mrs. Kennedy on Nov. 22. A motion picture camera in the sixth-floor window that was used by the assassin recorded these trips. A surveyor's transit stood in the parkway on the other side of the street looking up at the window. Each of the simulations differed slightly from the other, either in the speed of the car or the gestures of the occupants, or in some other detail. On one trip both occupants of the back seat waved. On another the man turned to the right, and, moments later, slumped in his seat; then the car's speed picked up. On all simulations, a motorcycle policeman rode on each side near the rear of the car. At all times the car used the middle of the three-lane road." 

The Times article then put this re-enactment in context: "One question was how how the President could have received a bullet in the front of the throat from a rifle in the...Depository...after his car had passed the building and was turning a gentle curve away from it. One explanation from a competent source was that the President had turned to his right to wave and was struck at that moment." 




The Secret Service Secrets

On 1-8-64, the Secret Service provides the Warren Commission photos of its 12-5 re-enactment. These photos, taken from the sniper’s nest, follow a car as it drives the motorcade route.  A tree obstructs the sniper's nest view for part of the route on Elm.  

When we look at the photos in the context of the original photo album, Commission Document 88, we see handwritten captions to three of these photos. These captions indicate that these three reflect the proposed locations for the limousine at the time of the first, second and third shots. (Rex Bradford, who placed Commission Document 88 online, confirms that he scanned the photos directly from the National Archives, and that the Warren Commission documents online on the Mary Ferrell website did not come from the files of a private researcher, who might otherwise be blamed.) Strangely, however, even though the Secret Service study of the Zapruder film at the National Photographic Interpretation Center had placed the first shot at frame 190 and the second at frame 242, and even though the 11-27 efforts of Agent John Joe Howlett had placed the second shot halfway in between the first shot, circa frame 200, and the third shot, at frame 313, the second shot depicted in these re-enactment photos comes much later, around Zapruder frame 283. The final shot also looks suspicious. 

As these shots are presumed to reflect the distances recorded on the 12-5 plat, we begin to question both the accuracy and the integrity of the 12-5 survey.

(When published in the Warren Report’s 26 volumes of supporting evidence as Exhibit 875, these photos were, not surprisingly, published without these captions.) 


The Missing Second Shot

We decide to check our theory--that on 11-27 Howlett concluded Connally was hit by the third shot, that Connally then told the nation he was hit by the second shot, that Howlett then changed his conclusions, and that this was why the SS returned on 12-5 to repeat their re-enactment. 

We watch the 11-27 re-enactment film. Sure enough, while Barrett's 11-29 memo said the Secret Service was unable to identify a moment for the second shot hitting Connally, the film shows Lt. Day of the DPD marking a location for the second shot. And it is just past the location of the head shot. Close enough, even, where one would have to assume this was their proposed location for the head shot. 

The third cone was placed just after.

Well, there were two problems then. Not only did this scenario place the Connally shot after the head shot--a politically incorrect conclusion seeing as Connally, a close personal friend to the new President, had just told the nation he was hit before the head shot--it also placed the second and third shots so close together it would require a second shooter. 

It only makes sense then that the Secret Service decided to trash this conclusion. And start over.  

The more we think of it, moreover, the more we come to trust that our theory is correct. We have seen no SS report on Howlett's 11-27-63 re-enactment, only an FBI memo on his re-enactment written days later--that failed to provide an approximate distance for the second shot. It seems clear, then, that Howlett either filed his report in the circular filing cabinet, or failed to put down on paper what he knew would be re-written. 





JAHS Chapter 7

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