Chapter 4c: Shining a Light on Day
Was the scene of the crime a scene of a crime?
Above: a Jim Murray photo of The Dallas Homicide and Robbery Bureau on the weekend of the assassination. The men in the foreground from L to R: Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade, Det. C.W. Brown, Capt. Will Fritz, and Dallas Chief of Police Jesse Curry.
Watching the Detectives
While it is frequently asserted that Oswald left his prints at the crime scene, and that this proves his guilt, an argument can be made that the dubious nature of these prints forms a different set of prints, so to speak, and that these suggest the guilt of others. One needn't stretch much to make this argument, for that matter. There is, in fact, plentiful evidence that at least some of the evidence used against Oswald was manufactured by the Dallas Police and/or FBI.
Now, admittedly, there are no confessions...no smoking guns proving the manufacture of this evidence, but the stench of collusion smothers most every artifact in the case, and the DPD and FBI behaved, from day one, like they had something to hide. We are fortunate, however, in that the organizations disliked each other, and that, as a result, some of the problems with the case were allowed to bubble to the surface, tainting most of the evidence, and swaying the consensus of Oswald's guilt away from the preponderance of guilt accepted and pushed by the Warren Commission, to a preponderance of doubt.
Now, how does one best demonstrate this doubt? Well, we shall employ a two-pronged attack. First, we shall examine the evidence itself, and discuss problems with the evidence. Some of these problems have been discussed for decades, but many of them are discussed here for the first time.
And, second, we shall discuss context--the circumstances under which the evidence was collected, and entered into evidence, and whether these circumstances should contribute to our doubts about the evidence. Included within this corral, moreover, is the behavior of the witnesses testifying about this evidence. While single-assassin theorists locked in Oswald-did-it mode love to recount problems with what Oswald was purported to have told his accusers, and claim his possibly lying as evidence of his guilt, they fail to acknowledge that this is a two-way street, and that there are significant problems with the statements of the Dallas Police as well.
We will be putting these problems under a microscope.
But first, a reminder. The questionable behavior of the Dallas Police did not go unnoticed by the Warren Commission's staff. They just refused to address it. While writing The Death of a President in 1964, William Manchester was provided access to the Warren Commission's staff. Here is his footnote to page 426.
"The author recalls a colloquy between three lawyers of the Warren Commission staff on June 27, 1964, when the Commission's report was being drafted. Here are notes of it: 'X: 'How critical of the Dallas police should we be?" Y: 'We can't be critical enough.' Z: (senior man): 'That's just the problem. If we write what we really think, nobody will believe anything else we say. They'll accuse us of attacking Dallas' image. The whole report will be discredited as controversial. We've just got to tone it way down.' There was a spirited discussion, after which X and Y consented."
And here, from page 513 of The Death of a President, is a related comment by Manchester: "Anyone familiar with police mentality knows that law enforcement officers interpret the law freely, and that it is an article of faith among them that a suspect is guilty until proven innocent. The case against the warehouse stock boy had been airtight within three hours of the murders..."
The Question of Competence...Dallas Edition
Still, before we get all wrapped up in what actually happened, we should remind ourselves (or establish for the first time, if you're not a CSI freak) what should have happened.
1. Excerpts from Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation, by Charles E. O'Hara (1956, 1970).
p.615 "observation should be made of points of entrance and departure, and such objects as doorknobs, window sills, door panels, windowpanes, and porch railings."
p. 616 "Latent fingerprints of value for comparison are not frequently found at the scene of a crime. This is attributable to the delicate nature of the print. To deposit a thin layer of perspiration or grease in the complicated pattern of the friction ridges optimum conditions must be present. The surface must be such that it can retain the print without absorbing and spreading it. Thus hard, glossy objects such as glass and enamel painted walls and doors represent ideal surfaces. Dirty surfaces and absorbent materials do not readily bear prints. The fingerprint, moreover, must be deposited with the right amount of pressure. The object must not be touched with an excess of pressure, since this tends to smear the print. A movement of translation of the finger will result in a smear. The fingers of the person depositing the prints must have a certain degree of moisture or should have some body grease on the ridges. When all these requirements are fulfilled a good latent fingerprint is deposited."
p. 622 "Prior to removal from the scene, the latent print should be photographed one-to-one, or actual size, and also in a way to show relationship with the surrounding area."
"Articles bearing fingerprints should be marked for identification and packed according to instructions."
"If it is inconvenient to move an object because of its excessive size or weight, it may be necessary to detach the part bearing the fingerprint. For example: ...2) Windows may be removed from frames or panes of glass taken from sashes...4) Boards may be lifted from floors or paneling from walls...j. Under ordinary circumstances, it is advisable to leave the fingerprint impression on the surface where it was found. Its subsequent introduction in court in its original location serves to enhance its evidential value."
p. 624 "many authorites on the subject of fingerprint identification state that the lifting process should be employed only when it is impossible to secure good photographs."
2. Excerpt from The Science of Fingerprints, U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, undated edition presumed to have been in use during 1963
p.187 "If a fingerprint is visible, an effort should be made to photograph it before any attempt is made to develop it. In every case a print developed with powder should be photographed before lifting. It sometimes happens that the print does not lift properly although it may be quite clear after development."
3. Excerpts from Crime Scene Search and Physical Evidence Handbook, U.S. Department of Justice, October 1973.
p 16. "one of the principle legal requirements in introducing physical evidence in court is the ability of the person who collected it to later identify it and accurately report the circumstances of its collection and custody. An adequate record of the crime scene aids considerably in this identification process. But just as important is the support the written and photographic record of the scene gives to the furtherance of the investigation and examination of the physical evidence by laboratory experts. Finally, the investigator's notes provide him with an immediate reference as to the actions taken during the search and with a ready means of doublechecking on the thoroughness of those actions before leaving the scene of the crime. The amount of detail involved in a major case is usually so large that very few investigators can successfully rely on their memories."
p.18 "Although the circumstances of the case must always govern the investigator's actions in processing the crime scene, experience has shown that the following general rules are useful in helping to systematize the search and to prevent error...
All of the major evidence items are examined, photographed, recorded and collected, as appropriate, taking them in the order that is most logical, considering the requirement to conserve movement. Making casts and lifting latent prints from objects to be moved from the scene is done as necessary. Items should not be moved until they have been examined for trace evidence. Fingerprints should be taken, or at least developed and covered with tape, before the object is moved...
p.19 After processing the more obvious evidence, the search for and collection of additional trace material is commenced, Trace evidence should be searched for and collected before any dusting for fingerprints is done.
After the trace materials have been collected, other latent prints are lifted.
When sweeping or vacuuming, surface areas should be segmented, the sweeping from each area packaged separately, and the location of their point of recovery noted.
Normally, elimination fingerprints and physical evidence standards are collected after the above actions have been completed...
Trace Material Collection...
Items that will be transported to the laboratory should also be carefully examined before moving them. (By this stage in the search, such items should have been recorded in the notes and in the sketch, and photographs taken of them during the preliminary examination. However, if an item is a new discovery, it should be recorded before it is moved.) Any friction on on a surface will destroy fingerprint traces; therefore, nonporous materials, such as glass, metal, and finished wood, should be processed for fingerprints, or at least the prints should be developed and covered with tape before transporting the item to the laboratory."
p. 51. "It is helpful to view the scene as the criminal did. Hence, such conditions such as time of day, weather, and physical layout may suggest that certain surface areas should be closely examined... Whatever the nature of the crime and the particular circumstances, its reconstruction by the investigator is intended to give practical direction ot the search."
p. 57 "No attempt should be made by the crime scene investigator to develop latent prints on absorbent surfaces with fingerprint powder. To do so, under ordinary conditions at the crime scene, usually results in failure and creates serious problems for the fingerprint specialist at the laboratory.
High humidity will destroy prints of this type by causing them to diffuse. Evidence such as pieces of paper, cardboard, etc., should be placed in containers with tweezers or handled carefully by the edges."
p 58 "Before submitting lifted latent prints recovered from the crime scene to a fingerprint technician for examination, elimination prints of all persons who may have had access to the area should be made. With elimination prints, it is possible to exclude from the prints lifted all persons who had legal acess to the crime scene."
Now, that's what should have happened...but there's also this to consider.
4. Excerpts from Invisible Evidence, by William Turner, 1968
p.115 "The suspect is printed (and photographed) immediately following arrest and a duplicate card prepared if local submissions are routinely made."
p119 "Since prints of all ten fingers are required to form a classification, the chance print or two at the crime scene cannot be searched through the central file. Thus it is necessary to find a suspect before the print is of any use."
Let this last point sink in. Prior to 1968, when the FBI compared a latent print found on the rifle used to kill Martin Luther King, Jr. to hundreds of fingerprint cards before matching it up to the print of an escaped convict, James Earl Ray, prints found at a crime scene were essentially worthless without a suspect to match them to.
Now, this puts it all in perspective, right? Crime scene investigators saw themselves as assistants to the detectives conducting the investigation, and not as a separate team of investigators, which could help clear a suspect. Latent prints were collected for offensive purposes only. If they could place a suspect at the crime scene, they were important. If they suggested someone else was at the crime scene, they were ignored. Only not quite... Latent prints found at crime scenes that could not be linked to a suspect were supposed to be eliminated from suspicion via the taking of elimination prints...that is, the taking of prints of those known to have handled a weapon or been at a crime scene, whose prints might reasonably be found on that weapon or at that crime scene.
As discussed in chapter 2, however, this was not done. Over 2 dozen prints were found on the 4 boxes removed from the sniper's nest, but only 3 of these prints were linked to Oswald by the FBI and Warren Commission. A number of these prints, moreover, were duplicates, that is, they were known to have come from the same hand from the same man (or woman).
And yet the FBI failed to do the basics--to take elimination prints and establish whose prints were all over these boxes--prior to the Warren Commission's nagging them into doing so, more than nine months after the assassination.
So, no, the FBI did not conduct a proper investigation.
Well then what about the Dallas Police Crime Scene Search Section, the agency collecting the bulk of the evidence against Oswald? Did they know how to conduct a proper investigation? And did they do so?
The Crime Scene Search Section members tasked with inspecting the sixth floor crime scene, and protecting and evaluating any evidence they could uncover, were Lt. J.C. Day and Det. Robert Studebaker. Were they competent?
Yes and maybe. A little background is in order. By 1963, Lt. Day had been working in the fingerprint section of the Dallas Police Department for 15 years. He had been the head of its Crime Scene Search Section for 7 years. He had taken courses on fingerprinting from the FBI, and was presumed to be a competent crime scene investigator. He would head the crime lab for another 13 years.
Studebaker, however, was a different story. While a nine-year veteran of the Dallas PD, and an experienced detective, he'd only been working with the Crime Scene Search Section for 7 1/2 weeks at the time of the assassination. He would, however, continue on with them for another 10 years.
So...in the eyes of the DPD, at least, both men can be presumed to have been competent.
Let us depart, then, from this plane of what should have happened...and dive into the abyss of what actually happened...
The Missing Photos
For many students of the JFK assassination, the paper bag supposedly found in the sniper's nest remains the most compelling piece of evidence linking Oswald to the shooting. I mean, here it is, wrapped up in a ribbon: a bag with the suspect's prints on it, found in the sniper's nest, after the suspect was seen carrying a large object wrapped in a bag into the building, and his rifle was found elsewhere in the building. It's just too sexy.
But on close inspection, it falls apart.
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 above.
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 more than 8 inches wide and could quite possibly be the bag in the FBI and Warren Commission photos. The bag appears to be discolored, for that matter, 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." Twice... If Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry had doubts about the bag, then why the heck shouldn't we?
As discussed in the previous chapters, the only witnesses claiming to have seen Oswald carrying a bag on the morning of the 22nd (Buell Frazier and his sister Linnie Mae Randle) felt the bag they saw in Oswald's possession was not long enough to have held Oswald's rifle, and was far shorter than the bag shown them by the Dallas Police and FBI. We have discussed this problem in detail in the previous chapters.
So that's two strikes against the bag as evidence.
Strike 1) the only witnesses to see a bag in Oswald's possession on the morning of the shooting refused to identify the bag taken into evidence as the bag they saw in Oswald's possession.
Strike 2) this bag was not photographed in place in the building after the shooting nor in the Dallas Police Department's Crime Lab on the night of the shooting.
And these aren't the only problems with the bag.
We shall now discuss a multitude of additional problems with the bag, and determine whether or not these problems constitute a third strike, which, to use a baseball metaphor, would mean it strikes out, and is useless as a piece of evidence against Oswald...
Or even worse, suggestive of a frame-up of Oswald conducted by the Dallas Police, FBI, and Warren Commission...
Let's start with the earliest known photos of the bag.
As shown on the slide above, the bag was photographed by a number of photographers as it was removed from the depository around 3 P.M. on 11-22-63. The time is recorded by Det. Montgomery's watch in the fourth photo from the left.
Seeing as this photo, after its initial discovery by John Hunt in the FBI files, and posting on the no-longer-with-us JFK Lancer Forum, has largely disappeared from the internet, I reproduce it in full here.
Now, here is a close-up of the watch in this photo. (And yes, it's been rotated so we can read it.)
So, yeah, no bull, these photos were taken at 3:00.
More to the point, these photographs show a large light-colored bag that tapers from an open end at the bottom of the photo, to a much-wider closed end at the top of the photo.
Well, as we've seen, the bag later photographed by the Dallas Police is both much darker...and of much different proportions. As shown above, the bag in the FBI photos presented to the Warren Commission measures about 8 1/2 inches at its open end, the width of a sheet of typing paper, or for those of a more recent vintage, printer paper.
Now, this is most surprising. The bag photographed outside the depository appears to be much wider than a sheet of typing paper.
Ye Olde Switcheroo?
That the bag photographed by the press as it was removed from the school book depository was far wider than, and bore scant resemblance to, the bag later photographed by the FBI, and put into evidence as a bag bearing Oswald's prints, is demonstrated once again on the slide above.
When one matches up the folds, the closed end of the bag is inches wider in the press photos than it is in the FBI photos.
It simply defies belief that the bag in the press photos is the same width as the bag in evidence as Commission Exhibit 142.
The Dark Side of the Bag
And yet, one reaches for an "innocent" explanation for the different widths of the bag outside the depository, and the bag now in the archives.
A close inspection of the FBI's photos of the bag proves helpful.
Five problems with the bag are identified on the slide above. Problems 2, 4, and 5 can be explained by the bag's being flattened out by the FBI, or by the low resolution of the FBI photo as published. But problem 1 (that the bag in the press photos is far wider than the bag in the FBI photos) and problem 3 (that the bag in the archives has an angled fold on its closed end that is not apparent in the press photos) are insurmountable.
But possibly connected... Researchers John Hunt and Tony Fratini have found folds and marks on other FBI photos of the bag which suggest that the bag in the FBI photo is in fact the bag in the press photos. This has led me to reconsider my earlier conclusion the bag in the FBI photos was a different bag entirely than the bag in the press photos. And to wonder if instead the bag was refolded and reconfigured into a thinner more uniform dimension subsequent to its removal from the building.
Let's see if this makes sense. The angled fold near the sealed top of the bag in the archives photo is not apparent in the press photos. Well, it follows that several inches of the bag could have been swallowed up in this fold, in order to make the irregularly shaped bag more rectangular, and more in line with the 6-inch wide bag recalled by Buell Frazier.
There are NO photos of the inside of this bag, which might show us what happened to the now-missing inches.
Or perhaps inch. (It has been argued that some of the apparent width of the closed-end of the bag in the press photos is an illusion created by the closed-end's being closer to the camera than the open end.)
O.K. Concession made.
But a problem remains with the width of the bag...
Width, Not Length
And it appears that the Dallas Police were aware of this problem...
Warren Commission Exhibit 1302 appears on the slide above. This is a photo of the southeast corner of the sniper's nest, with a dotted line added in by Det. Robert Lee Studebaker purportedly representing the location of the bag when it was "found" by Detectives L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson. Well, surprise surprise, Studebaker's outline presents the bag as far too small. The box on which Oswald supposedly took a seat was 12 x 18 = 216 square inches. The appearance of this box in CE 1302 allows us to approximate the size of Studebaker's outline. 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. Yikes. The bag in the archives (when folded over) would be approx. 8.875 x 19 = 168.625 square inches. So, yes, the outline drawn by Studebaker was barely half the size of the bag in the archives. It seems more than a coincidence then that Studebaker's far too small outline for the bag helped conceal that the bag, should it have been in the corner as claimed, would have been over 3/4 the size of the box so dominating the corner, and would have been readily apparent...FREAKIN' OBVIOUS--to anyone even glimpsing at the corner.
And this wasn't just a mistake, made by an over-worked policeman. That Warren Commission counsel Joseph Ball failed to double-check Studebaker's outline for accuracy, is also quite suspicious.
Could they have been hiding that the vast majority of those claiming to have viewed the sniper's nest...had NO recollection of a paper bag's covering up most of the open space in the corner?
The 11-23-63 statement of Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney follows: "I then went on back to the 6th floor and went direct to the far corner and then discovered a cubby hole which had been constructed out of cartons which protected it from sight and found where someone had been in an area of perhaps 2 feet surrounded by cardboard cartons of books. Inside this cubby hole affair was three more boxes so arranged as to provide what appeared to be a rest for a rifle. On one of these cartons was a half-eaten piece of chicken. The minute that I saw the expended shells on the floor, I hung my head out of the half opened window and signaled to Sheriff Bill Decker and Captain Will Fritz who were outside the building and advised them to send up the Crime Lab Officers at once that I had located the area from which the shots had been fired. At this time, Officers Webster, Victory, and McCurley came over to this spot and we guarded this spot until Crime Lab Officers got upstairs within a matter of a few minutes. We then turned this area over to Captain Fritz and his officers for processing."
Hmmm... Mooney failed to mention a bag's being on the floor of this 2-foot "cubby-hole.". Perhaps then this was just an over-sight that Mooney subsequently corrected.
Uhh...no. 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)
Well, then, what about Officers Webster, Victory, and McCurley? Surely they saw the bag?
Uhh...no. The 11-22-63 report of A.D. McCurley follows: "We were searching the 6th floor when Deputy Sheriff Mooney, who was also on the 6th floor, hollered that he had found the place where the assassin had fired from. I went over and saw 3 expended shells laying by the window that faced onto Elm Street, along with a half-eaten piece of chicken that was laying on a cardboard carton. It appeared as if the assassin had piled up a bunch of boxes to hide from the view of anyone who happened to come up on that floor and had arranged 3 other cartons of books next to the window as though to make a rifle rest. This area was roped off and guarded until Captain Will Fritz of Dallas Police Department Homicide Bureau arrived."
Note that there's no mention of the bag. And this even though McCurley was captured on camera by photographer William Allen standing within a foot or so of the supposed location of the bag...
Here. see for yourself. This is a crop from one of Allen's photos of the sniper's nest taken from the street below. McCurley is the face in the window
Now, I've compared the shadows in the full version of this photo to a similar photo showing Sgt. Gerry Hill yelling out the next window over, and this comparison proves this photo was taken within a few minutes of the Hill photo. This places the photo around 1:05--1:10. In any event, this photo was taken before the arrival of Day and Studebaker on the scene, and the assignment of Johnson and Montgomery to guard the sniper's nest.
Here's a closer and brighter look at the face in the window.
And here's a look at McCurley in the Alyea film taken on 11-22-63 courtesy the JFK Investigator Identification Project website.
I really think it's him.
Now, curiously, Webster and Victory failed to write reports in which they described the sniper's nest. And yet, even so, we can feel fairly certain that these reports would not have mentioned the bag. 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 Roger Craig, who arrived around the same time, and Detective V. J. Brian, who came over after hearing Hill yell out, further support that there was nothing in the corner when the sniper's nest was discovered. (When asked about the bag by researcher Jeff Meek, circa 1975--in a tape-recorded interview now available on YouTube--Hill, for example, responded "It was found in a different place, later...All we found was the hulls." Deputy Sheriff Jack Faulkner and Police Sergeant Donald Flusche, when they spoke to researcher Larry Sneed decades later, support this as well. 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. Of Mooney, McCurley, Walters, Hill, Craig, Brian, Faulkner and Flusche, not one ever mentioned 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 they saw, and would have been on the lookout for anything suspicious.
And it's not as if Mooney saw the boxes, saw the shells, and left...
"Mooney kept the other policeman away from the area. In time, Fritz arrived. The Crime Laboratory, a mobile unit, had been summoned from headquarters on Main Street. The deputy sheriff was excited. Having made his find, he observed everything. The pile of boxes was high enough to serve as a private screen against prying eyes from anywhere on the sixth floor. The small boxes which had been placed inside, on the floor, were just high enough, with the window one third open, to serve as an assassin's roost. A man could sit on the one nearest the heating pipes, while resting the gun on the one near the window, and looking diagonally down Elm Street toward the overpass. He would have an open, commanding view everywhere except as the motorcade passed the broad tree below. The only open space in the tree was furnished by the "V" of two main branches. Mooney was still dwelling on the subject when ranking officers and their entourages descended on him." (The Day Kennedy Was Shot by Jim Bishop, p. 253, 1968)
Well, then, what about Capt. Fritz?
The Blind Detective?
Mr. McCLOY. When you went up to the sixth floor from which Oswald apparently had fired these shots, what did it look like there, what was the--how were things arranged there? Was there anything in the nature of a gun rest there or anything that could be used as a gun rest?
Mr. FRITZ. You mean up in the corner where he shot from, from the window?
Mr. McCLOY. Yes.
Mr. FRITZ. Yes, sir; there were some boxes stacked there and I believe one box, one small box I believe was in the window, and another box was on the floor. There were some boxes stacked to his right that more or less blinded him from the rest of the floor. If anyone else had been on the floor I doubt if they could have seen where he was sitting.
Mr. McCLOY. Did you see anything other----
Mr. FRITZ. Lieutenant Day, of course, made a detailed description of all of that and he can give it to you much better than I can.
Mr. McCLOY. He is going to be here?
Mr. FRITZ. Yes, sir; and he will give it to you in detail; yes, sir.
Mr. DULLES. When was the paper bag covering that apparently he brought the rifle in, was that discovered in the sixth floor about the same time?
Mr. FRITZ. No, sir; that was recovered a little later. I wasn't down there when that was found.
Mr. DULLES. It was recovered on the sixth floor, was it not?
Mr. FRITZ. Yes, sir; I believe so. We can check here and see. I believe it was. But I wasn't there when that was recovered.
Fritz failed to see the bag.
Well, then, what about his sidekick and assistant, Det. Elmer Boyd? Boyd was like a shadow to Fritz on the sixth floor.
Mr. BALL. Did you see any brown wrapping paper near the window where the hulls were found, near the windows alongside which the hulls were found?
Mr. BOYD. I don't believe I did.
Neither Fritz nor Boyd were shown the DPD's photos of the re-constructed snipers nest to verify their accuracy. That's too bad. I would love to have seen their responses should they have been asked the inevitable "How could you have missed this?"
I mean, it's just shocking that neither Fritz nor Boyd (who were only in charge of the DPD's investigation) saw or even knew about the paper bag before leaving the school book depository around 2:00. 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 the crime scene search section (i.e. Lt. Day and Det. Studebaker) arrived, and was captured on film by newsman Tom Alyea standing a foot or so from the open floor where it was later claimed to have been 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 Det. L.D. 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.
If it was "found" at all...
That the bag was not "found" in the corner as claimed is supported, moreover, by the cameraman who took the footage of Fritz in the corner, Tom Alyea. Alyea 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 from the building around 2:30.
So... that should probably be strike three.
Here are the three strikes, in a revised order.
Strike 1) The bag purportedly found in the sniper's nest was not observed where it was supposedly found by at least ten witnesses claiming to have viewed the area before the arrival of the crime scene search section.
Strike 2) The bag purportedly found in the sniper's nest was not photographed in the sniper's nest, nor in the building, nor in the crime lab, by the crime scene search section, prior to its shipment to the FBI.
Strike 3) The only witnesses claiming to have seen a bag in Oswald's possession on the morning of the shooting refused to identify this bag as the bag they saw in Oswald's possession.
Now, for some, this might still be okie-dokie, provided the Dallas Police have followed protocol and left a paper trail supporting that the bag was indeed found in the sniper's nest and considered an important piece of evidence prior to its being sent the FBI.
Only no such luck...
The Missing Reports
Buried within the Warren Commission's mountain of documents is Commission Document 1285. This is The Departmental Manual of Operating Procedures for the Dallas Police Department.
Although this document was available for decades, I suspect I may have been the first researcher to actually read it when I first read it circa 2010.
Here is a bombshell from page 201.
Daily Activity Report (Crime Scene Search Section)
Prepared by Stenographer 4
Submitted to Deputy Chief Service Division
When Submitted Daily by 9 AM
Original to Deputy Chief, Copy retained by section
Purpose: to inform the Deputy Chief of the daily activities of the Crime Scene Search Section
Explanation: EACH member of the Crime Scene Search Section completes a call sheet regarding EACH investigation made in duplicate. The original is retained to compile the Daily Activity Report and to be filed in the jacket assigned to that investigation. The duplicate is sent to the Bureau requesting the investigation.
Well, yikes, this proves that everyone in the Crime Scene Search Section, including Lt. Day and Det. Studebaker, who performed the search of the sixth floor of the depository, was supposed to complete call sheets for their investigations, and that these were then supposed to be complied into a daily report.
No such report for 11-22-63 has ever seen the light of day (or Day, for that matter). But it's worse than that.
From page 202...
Explanation: The stenographer-4 of the Crime Scene Search Section compiles the information from the Daily Activity Reports and submits the report to the Captain of Identification Bureau to be attached to the Monthly Activity Report of the Fingerprint Section. The Lieutenant of the Fingerprint Section prepares a Monthly Activity Report from the daily activities of the Section.
So it's not just the daily reports of Day and Studebaker that are missing, but the Monthly Activity Report written by the Lieutenant of the Fingerprint Section. Lt. Knight.
So...three key reports are missing...by Studebaker, Knight and Day. Knight and Day, you can't make this stuff up.
But it's worse than that...
The only report on the crime scene written by anyone working for the Crime Scene Search Section that has ever surfaced is a 2-page report written by Lt. Day.
And this was submitted to Deputy Chief Lumpkin on...wait for it...1-08-64, almost 7 weeks after the assassination. (26H833-834)
And, oh yeah, by the way, Day's report never mentions the collection of a paper bag found in the sniper's nest, or anywhere else for that matter. It mentions the collection of three hulls, a rifle, and four boxes, and boasts that around fifty photos were taken of the building, and that a scale drawing was made of the sixth floor. But it makes no reference whatsoever to what many consider to be the second-most important piece of evidence collected at the crime scene...a paper bag purportedly found in the sniper's nest, purported to bear Oswald's palm print and fingerprint.
It's as if Day had forgotten all about the bag sent the FBI, or had for some strange reason assumed it wasn't gonna be used as evidence against Oswald by the Warren Commission.
Let's recall here FBI Inspector J.L. Handley's 11-29-63 memo to FBI HQ: "Lieutenant 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. Lt. Day stated that he and other officers have surmised that Oswald by dismantling the rifle could have placed it in the thick, brown sack folded over and then placed the entire package in the flimsy paper sack." (FBI assassination file 62-109060 section.14 page 123-125)
So, yeah... When faced with Frazier's insistence the bag he saw in Oswald's possession was not the bag shown him by the Dallas Police, Lt. Day relented and "surmised" that the bag shown Frazier was not previously observed by Frazier, but somehow concealed within the bag observed by Frazier.
Had Day assumed from this that the bag was no longer part of the "story"? And that it was best he leave it out of his January report?
Let's call these strikes 4 and 5.
Strike 4) a number of reports in which the bag should have been mentioned were either never written or are missing.
Strike 5) the earliest and only report on the crime scene evidence written by a member of the Crime Scene Search Section wasn't written until 1-08-64, and fails to mention the bag.
Now, to be clear, 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."
Note that Weatherford did not specify that the sack on the floor was adjacent to the shells, or the box with the chicken on it. No, they were all over by "where Mooney was." Well, that leaves open the possibility that the sack he saw was a window or two over along the front of the building, where Bonnie Ray Williams claimed he'd eaten his lunch, and left his trash--which just so happened to be a lunch sack containing chicken bones and an empty bag of Fritos. This lunch sack was captured on film in this location, for that matter, by both news cameraman Tom Alyea and crime scene photographer Robert Studebaker. It seems probable, then, that this was the "sack" noted by Weatherford. I mean, Weatherford went over to Mooney and viewed the sniper's nest long before the supposedly folded-over "bag" was supposedly "discovered" by Montgomery.
And that's not even to mention that his use of the word "sack" is far more suggestive of a lunch sack than a 38 inch-long rifle case made of paper.
The Other Bag
Now, let's look at some other bag sightings.
Kent Biffle was the only newsman besides Tom Alyea to witness the search of the building. Unlike Alyea, who filmed the lunch sack and claimed no one mentioned the supposed rifle bag while he was in the building, Biffle claimed he'd viewed the rifle bag. But did he? Really?
At first glance, it would appear so. In an account purportedly written in March 1964, and subsequently published in bits and pieces numerous times, including 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. An officer in the northwest corner of the room yelled: 'Over here!' I ran over, dodging down narrow alleys in the stacks of packing crates.'"
Well, we've already found a problem. Note that Biffle says this bag 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. And it's worse than that. In a video-taped interview of Biffle posted by his son Patrick Biffle on YouTube in 2013, he makes clear that upon hearing "Over here" he followed Capt. Will Fritz from the sniper's nest over to the location of the rifle. Well, this suggests Fritz was one of the "We all" who'd stood around looking at the bag before the discovery of the rifle. Well, if this was so, why didn't Fritz--or Mooney, Walters, Hill, Craig, Faulkner, Boyd, or Alyea (the only other journalist in the building at the time)--remember seeing the bag?
Now this is important. Det. Marvin Johnson, whose partner L.D. Montgomery was credited with the discovery of the bag, told the Warren Commission the bag was discovered after he'd witnessed the dusting of the area around the lunch sack. And the record is clear that this didn't occur until after the discovery of the rifle.
So...was Biffle mistaken about viewing the bag before the discovery of the rifle? Or was he doubly mistaken--in that he never viewed the bag within the building? Was the sack he'd observed before the discovery of the rifle the lunch sack observed by others before the discovery of the rifle, only with 20-200 hindsight in which it morphed into the "sack" purported to have held the rifle?
It appears 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" (which may have been the piece of chicken observed by Mooney by the sniper's nest) and an "empty cold drink bottle" (which was almost certainly the Dr. Pepper bottle left by Williams two windows over) were found by the sniper's nest--but made no mention of a large bag or wrapping paper.
Well, think about it. If he'd viewed the pop bottle, he almost certainly saw the lunch sack. And if he'd described the pop bottle as something found near the sniper's nest, it only follows that he'd remember the lunch sack as something he'd viewed near the sniper's nest...and that he might come to think of this sack as the sack "found" in the sniper's nest.
There's also this. Below, in an image taken from the Owens film, are a bunch of reporters invited up to the sixth floor on the afternoon of the 22nd gathering around the window where Bonnie Ray Williams ate his lunch. They appear to be looking down at something. The man with the tie, in particular, appears to be looking down at where the lunch sack was a few minutes before, before Det.s Johnson and Montgomery took the lunch sack, cigarette pack, and pop bottle to the crime lab.
Well. I'm pretty sure this man is Kent Biffle, pointing out to the other reporters where the lunch sack they'd just seen taken from the building had first been discovered.
Here's a shot of Biffle in the depository.
There's also this... Biffle's latter-day story, written months after the shooting, 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 2:00 or so, 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 or sack supposedly used to carry Oswald's rifle, but the other bag or sack reportedly found in the building, the lunch sack, 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 or bag supposedly used to conceal the rifle, he wasn't alone.
Shining a Light on Sims
The 4-6-64 testimony of Dallas detective Richard N. Sims reflects that he too was confused.
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.
Mr. BALL. Where did you see it?
Mr. SIMS. It was there by the hulls.
Mr. BALL. Was it right there near the hulls?
Mr. SIMS. As well as I remember--of course, I didn't pay too much attention at that time, but it was, I believe, by the east side of where the boxes were piled up---that would be a guess--I believe that's where it was.
Mr. BALL. On the east side of where the boxes were would that be the east?
Mr. SIMS. Yes, sir; it was right near the stack of boxes there. I know there was some loose paper there.
Mr. BALL. Was Johnson there?
Mr. SIMS. Yes, sir; when the wrapper was found Captain Fritz stationed Montgomery to observe the scene there where the hulls were found.
Mr. BALL. To stay there?
Mr. SIMS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. That was Marvin Johnson and L. D. Montgomery who stayed by the hulls?
Mr. SIMS. Yes, sir; they did. I was going back and forth, from the wrapper to the hulls.
Let's stop right here. With the high-lighted statement, Sims either mis-spoke or was misquoted. He almost certainly meant to say "when the rifle was found", and not "when the wrapper was found," and that he "was going back and forth, from the rifle to the hulls" and not "from the wrapper to the hulls." The wrapper and the hulls were, after all, but a few feet apart...at least according to Studebaker... In any event, it's silly in the extreme to assume Sims was going back and forth between the wrapper and the hulls, and that this somehow shores up that he saw a "wrapper" in the sniper's nest.
And no, I'm not kidding. Here is the pertinent section of Sims' report on his activities for 11-22-63: "At 1:20 PM. Lt. J.C. Day and Det. R. L. Studebaker arrived on the sixth floor. Capt. Fritz asked Lt. Day to take pictures of the hulls and the surrounding area. About 1;25 P.M. someone called for Capt. Fritz, and he left Det. L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson to stay with the hulls. Capt. Fritz, Sims and Boyd went over to near the stairway where one of the officers had called Capt. Fritz. Someone said the gun had been found... Sims went back to where Lt. Day was and told him the gun had been found. Lt. Day or Det. Studebaker took another picture of the hulls and said they had already taken pictures of the scene. Sims picked up the empty hulls, and Lt. Day held an envelope open while Sims dropped them in the envelope. Lt. Day then walked over to where the rifle had been found." (24H319-322).
So, yes indeed, Sims did go back and forth between the rifle and the hulls. And did not go back and forth between a wrapper and the hulls.
Still, what a mess! In his testimony, Sims acknowledged that Detectives Johnson and Montgomery were stationed by the hulls (which were found by the sniper's nest) and seemed to be aware that they "found" a bag, but never mentioned witnessing the "discovery" of this bag.. 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, or was supposedly 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. Well, 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 when he had actually never seen one.
In any event, it seems likely Sims stood in the corner before the arrival of Day and Studebaker, and even before Johnson and Montgomery were assigned to guard this location...but nevertheless had no clear recollection of a bag's being in this corner.
In further support of this conclusion, moreover, it should be noted Detective Sims' report on his activities on the day of the assassination makes no mention whatsoever of the bag or its discovery. And that's not even to mention that Sims left the depository with Capt. Fritz and Det. Boyd,, and that neither Fritz nor Boyd had any recollection of Sims (or anyone else) telling them about this bag before they left the building.
Now, should one wish to believe Sims' vague recollections of a bag or wrapper when asked about it 4 1/2 months after the assassination are authoritative, and clear evidence the bag was found in the sniper's nest as claimed by Studebaker, Montgomery, Johnson, and Day, then one should be informed that Sims also testified that he didn't know who took custody of the hulls found in the sniper's nest, even though it was, according to everyone else...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 hulls around in his pocket all day on 11-22-63, and that he now remembered his doing so.
What a witness!
On 4-9-64, Warren Commission counsel David Belin took the testimony of Dallas Motorcycle officers Clyde Haygood and E.D. Brewer,. They 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 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).
Hmmm... Although Haygood claimed he saw both the lunch sack and the paper bag, there are a number of problems with his account. First, he claimed he saw 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 now in the archives 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 of 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. They were thereby similarly confused. 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 they saw the bag in the sniper's nest. This, then, suggests 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, and Day claimed it to have been, and suggest it's just a coincidence it was previously overlooked by Dallas Sheriff's Deputies Mooney, Walters, Craig, McCurley, and Faulkner. To wit, an undated list of Warren Commission deposition assignments (found on the website of Commission counsel 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.
Now note that both Haygood and Brewer described the sniper's nest, and placed the lunch sack in the sniper's nest, but were then prodded by Belin with an "anything else?" into saying they'd also seen a long paper bag in the sniper's nest. Yep, this was coaxed testimony, if not suborned perjury.
Now, to be clear, Belin and the Warren Commission were but the first in a long line of Oswald accusers to employ smoke and mirrors and/or lie, so they could use the bag against Oswald.
First Day Evidence, a 1993 book written by Gary Savage, the nephew of Dallas Crime Lab Detective Rusty Livingston, is a product of this tradition. On page 155, Savage relates "When the sniper's nest was first discovered by Mooney, a paper bag approximately 42" long by 8" wide lay folded in the extreme southeast corner of the sixth floor to the left of the window." Now, this is a two-fer. Not only does Savage conceal that Mooney swore he saw no such bag in the corner, he conceals that the length of the bag was not 42" (which would be long enough to conceal the rifle), but 38" (too short to conceal the rifle, which thereby necessitates that the rifle was brought into the building while disassembled).
But wait, Savage wasn't done. On page 156, Savage finishes his trick by assuring his readers that "the testimony of many officers placed the bag in the corner window when it was originally found."
No, not many, and not really.
So...why the desperation?
I mean, the bag was most assuredly initialed upon discovery, and shown to those who'd initialed it in sworn testimony, so they could authenticate it as the bag they'd discovered.
Lost And Found
We shall now take a detailed look at the circumstances surrounding the purported discovery of the paper bag/rifle case within the building, which strongly 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 purportedly discovered by the FBI, with the presumed initials of detectives L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson--whom the Dallas Police claimed discovered the bag--beside Studebaker's initials. 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 likely, 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 4-22-64 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 on 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?
One hopes for an innocent explanation. In this light, it sure seems suspicious 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
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.
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. DAY. Between the sack and the south wall, which would be the wall at the top of the picture as shown here.
Mr. BELIN. You mean between--you said the sack.
Mr. DAY. I mean the pipe. The sack was between the pipe and the wall at the top of the picture.
Mr. BELIN. That wall at the top of the picture would be the east wall, would it not?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; laying parallel to the south wall.
Mr. BELIN. Did the sack--was it folded over in any way or just lying flat, if you remember?
Mr. DAY. It was folded over with the fold next to the pipe, to the best of my knowledge.
Note: this suggests that Day was not present when the bag or sack was discovered.
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 occurred within ten minutes of his arrival 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 supposedly within a foot or so of Day and 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. In support, on 3-10-64 Studebaker is purported 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).
Perhaps, 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 worked on the rifle a bit and then carried 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. BELIN. All right, anything else that you wrote on there?
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 bag/sack?
And why did Day write "Has been dusted with metallic powder" as opposed to "I dusted this with metallic powder"? Was this because it was Studebaker who'd actually dusted the bag?
Apparently so. When asked, during an 8-15-96 oral history with the Sixth Floor Museum, if he processed the bag, Day responded sharply "No, I didn't do anything to that. I turned it over to the FBI."
So it seems that Montgomery found the bag, and Studebaker dusted the bag. And Day handed it over to the FBI.
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.
Well, wait a second. Belin is putting words in Day's mouth. Belin is partners with Joseph Ball. The two of them took the testimony of Detectives Studebaker, Johnson and Montgomery in Dallas on 4-6-64, but 16 days before Belin took Day's testimony in Washington. Studebaker, Johnson, and Montgomery all claimed to be present when the bag was discovered. Studebaker told them he dusted the bag. None of these men mentioned Lt. Day being present when the bag was discovered or dusted. So why is Belin making out that Day both discovered and dusted the bag? And why is he unable to realize that Day, in saying that he gave the bag to an FBI agent (presumably Vincent Drain) after dusting it and signing it, is as much as admitting he signed it in the crime lab on the evening of the shooting, and not on the sixth floor? The bag, after all, remained in DPD custody until late that evening.
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.
Now, this is getting ridiculous. 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 (under the presumed direction of Ball and Belin) trying to hide something?
In his 3:45 PM April 6 testimony, in which he discussed picking up and dusting the bag, Detective Studebaker failed to mention Lt. Day in connection with the bag. (7H137-149) This echoes a 3-11-64 FBI report on a 3-10 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 11-24-63, 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 photographed 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 in the 1990's, 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 Montgomery 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 Lt. Day seemed to think he'd left the bag? Did he indicate Lt. Day 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?
In any event, the sum of all this testimony is that nobody mentioned Lt. Day's discovering, dusting, or signing 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 reported or claimed that Day and Studebaker photographed the lunch sack and Dr. Pepper bottle prior to their photographing the sniper's nest. They always claimed instead that Day and Studenaker 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 even after they'd left the building.
And, by gosh by golly, this shouldn't even be in dispute. The report of Fritz's sidekicks Boyd and Sims notes that Montgomery and Johnson weren't even assigned to guard the sniper's nest until 1:25, when Fritz was called away to look at the rifle just discovered on the other side of the building. It then notes that Day and Studebaker soon followed Fritz over. (24H319-322).
Well, then, perhaps that's it. Montgomery and Johnson were ordered to watch the sniper's nest AFTER Day and Studebaker were finished taking photos of the bullet shells, and not before. If so, then, they may have thought the bag had been photographed in situ by Day and Studebaker prior to their (Johnson and Montgomery's) arrival on the scene...and then picked it up while Day and Studebaker were off taking pictures of the rifle...on the other side of the building.
Day's post-1964 statements on the bag, in fact, confirm he was not actually present when the bag was "discovered."
A summary of Day's 10-18-77 interview with HSCA investigators Harold Rose and Al Maxwell (HSCA record 180-10107-10176) relates: "Lt. Day stated that he remembers the brown wrapping paper in the S.E. corner and stated that he believes his office processed it and it went with the other evidence to the F.B.I."
He "believes"? Really?
In 1992, when asked by researcher Denis Morissette if he knew who found the bag, Day similarly 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 initial spotting and inspection of the bag, or his dusting and signing the bag. He says 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 set the record straight and once again 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."
Now, 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, moreover. Day is reported to have told Sneed 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 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.
If Day lied, however, he wasn't alone... It seems equally clear that the Warren Commission told a big fat untruth of its own when it claimed, on page 135 of its 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."
There were just too many problems with Day's testimony regarding the bag for Ball, Belin, and the Commission not to have known something was worng, er, wrong.
And yet it seems that Belin was determined to push that Day discovered the bag, and dusted it and signed it on the sixth floor...no matter what was suggested by the evidence. Here's Belin at the beginning of Chapter 30 in his 1973 book "November 22, 1963--You are the Jury: "Members of the jury, you may remember that Lt. J. C. Day found a brown paper bag on the floor near the southeast corner window of the sixth floor of the TSBD Building. You heard Lt. Day testify that he had treated the bag with black fingerprint dusting powder and had found no latent prints..."
It just smells.
It's enough to make one wonder if the bag now in the archives was even found within the building...or was instead...created...from samples taken from the building...
Sizing Up the Sample
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?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, I had the bag listed as----
Mr. BELIN. Commission Exhibit 626 or 142.
Mr. DAY. 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.
Mr. BELIN. Did it appear to have the same color?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. All right. Then what did you do?
Mr. DAY. Sir?
Mr. BELIN. Then what did you do?
Mr. DAY. 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.
Mr. BELIN. Handing you what has been marked as Commission Exhibit 677, I will ask you to state if you know what this is.
Mr. DAY. This is the tape and paper collected from the first floor in the shipping department of the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963.
Mr. BELIN. Does this have any identification marks on it?
Mr. DAY. It has my name, "J. C. Day, Dallas Police Department," and also in my writing, "Shipping Department."
Mr. BELIN. Any other writing on there that you recognize?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; Detective Studebaker, who was with me, and in his writing it says, "Paper sample from first floor, Texas School Book Depository, Studebaker, 11-22-63." The tape also has Studebaker's writing on it, "Tape sample from first floor." (4H 249-278)
There is no mention of the size of this sample. As it was not considered evidence, furthermore, it was not even photographed by the Dallas Police. An 11-26-63 report by the FBI's Vincent Drain on his flights from and to Dallas with the primary evidence, moreover, notes that, although he returned the paper and tape samples to Dallas on 11-24 and delivered these samples to Chief of Police Jesse Curry at 3:40 P.M. the "sample of brown paper used by Texas School Book Depository and brown tape used by Texas School Book Depository were not returned since Chief Curry stated these were not evidence and had only been sent to the FBI Laboratory for comparison purposes." (CD5 p161).
Well, this raises a whole heap of questions. First of all, if the samples were not returned to the DPD, what happened to them? There is no record of them being sent back to Washington, that has been discovered, anyhow. And, second of all, what was Curry thinking?
The historical record suggests that this decision was made before the FBI gained jurisdiction over the case. I mean, why, if the case was now the FBI's, would Curry accept the other evidence, including the paper bag, but not the samples taken on 11-22 purportedly establishing the origin of the paper bag?
Think about it. Curry's refusing to accept the samples suggests that the Dallas Police were not particularly concerned about the samples at this time. Perhaps they'd felt that with Oswald dead there would never be a trial of any kind, and that they could have the FBI testify that the paper and tape samples matched the bag placed into evidence without having the samples placed into evidence as well. Or perhaps they thought the samples worthless because at this point in time the story was that the samples did not actually match. (More on this later.)
There are reasons, as one might guess, to suspect something nefarious was afoot.
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 reflect a darker truth.
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?" I don't know. That's a bit of a stretch. The "bag" in the press photos appears to be just that, a bag. Assuming that is, that the bag in the press photos is the "brown paper" listed in the FBI's 11-23 memo...
But there's also this to consider... On this 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. Had someone used the bulk of these samples to create a new and improved bag--one more in line with the bag described by Buell Wesley Frazier?
The 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.
Only adding 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).
Well, 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 a 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 bag in his possession at this time. (Of course, there's also no mention of his having the rifle 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 agent 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:
"On the morning that this incident ---yesterday—the man who drove him to the building where they work, the building from where the shots came, said that he had a package wrapped up in paper —not a blanket. The blanket we found in the garage at home. But the paper in which the gun was wrapped that has also been sent up to us and accommodation will be made of that. He did carry some kind of package down there, which could have been the gun yesterday morning in the car. None of us can swear to that."
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.
Shining a Light On Drain
Adding to this admittedly disturbing possibility the bag was created after the shooting is that, on June 9, 1964, as a response to a May 20th Warren Commission request, the FBI took the paper bag back to Dallas, and inadequately traced back its chain of custody. While the chain of custody on the other items brought back to Dallas--the various bullets, cartridges, and bullet fragments related to the assassination, and even the blanket used by Oswald to store his rifle in the Paine family's garage--were traced back to the first ones to discover them, the brown paper bag was never shown to Montgomery, Johnson, or Studebaker, the three men who first saw the bag in the depository, and who reportedly initialed it on the premises. Instead, it was shown to just one man: Lt. J.C. Day.
The words to this report are as follows:
"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. 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).
Let's be blunt. This report is filled with errors, and/or flat-out freakin' lies.
First, let's look at the "error" regarding Truly. There is no other report or interview or even a smidgen of testimony suggesting Truly saw the bag in the building. But two days after Drain spoke to Day, FBI agents Odum and McNeely contacted Truly and asked him to supply them with the paper and tape needed to make a replica bag. This replica bag was then shown to Buell Frazier, Linnie Mae Randle, Ruth Paine, and Danny Arce, to see if any of them could recognize the bag as something they'd seen in Oswald's possession. None of them would ID the bag. (CD7 p292-300) It is troubling, then, that Truly--who'd purportedly viewed the original bag--was not asked to verify, and apparently, did not verify, that the replica bag did indeed look like the original bag as found in the building, that is, before it was stained with silver nitrate by the FBI. He was the only person involved in the creation of the replica bag who'd (supposedly) seen the original bag in its original condition. And yet he was not asked to comment on the similarity of the replica bag's appearance to the original bag.
It can be taken from Day's subsequent statements, for that matter, that Truly never saw the bag in the building. To wit, on 8-15-96, Day performed an oral history for the Sixth Floor Museum, and told interviewer Bob Porter that when he "came back from City Hall, after I'd placed the gun up there, I came back on the second floor, and I run into Mr. Truly", and that Truly then told him about Marrion Baker's rushing up the stairs after the shooting, and their encountering Oswald in the lunchroom. Day said nothing about Truly's talking to him earlier in the day on the first floor. Day also said nothing about Truly's following him up to the sixth floor, and his witnessing the discovery of the bag used to conceal the rifle, or any such thing. Let's recall that the bag removed from the building on the 22nd had almost certainly been removed by the time Day returned from City Hall. As a result, one can only conclude that this bit in Drain's memo about Truly witnessing the collection of the bag is nonsense. The collection of paper samples from the shipping tables, perhaps, but the collection of the bag on the sixth floor, nope, not falling for it.
Now, let's look at some of the other "errors" in this report. 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 by agent Nat Pinkston 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" when it was, in fact, submitted to the crime lab by Montgomery and Johnson when Day was absent from the crime lab. And it also errs in claiming that the bag was not exhibited to anyone else.
This last "mistake" is actually quite suspicious. It conceals that on this same day, 11-29-63, Drain interviewed Dallas Detective R.D. Lewis, and that Lewis acknowledged giving Buell Wesley Frazier a polygraph on 11-22-63 during which Frazier was shown the bag and refused to identify it as the bag he saw in Oswald's possession. (CD7, p291).
The previously-discussed 11-29 FBI memo never shown the Warren Commission, and found only in the FBI's HQ files, to be sure, reinforces this point, and confirms that FBI headquarters was told all about Frazier's refusal to identify the bag. It states:
"Lieutenant 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."
But it's even worse than that. The memo, from Inspector J.L. Handley in Dallas to Assistant Director Alex Rosen in Washington, reporting on an interview of Day conducted by SA James Anderton, continues: "Lt. Day stated that he and other officers have surmised that Oswald by dismantling the rifle could have placed it in the thick, brown sack folded over and then placed the entire package in the flimsy paper sack." The memo then notes the impossibility of this, and continues "however, the entire package would have been longer than two feet since the stock of the rifle alone was over two feet."
(FBI file 62-109060 sec.14 p123-125)
Well, yikes, this proves that Rosen, the assistant director tasked with establishing the basic facts of the crime, knew Drain's report on Day was incomplete, in that it failed to relate that Frazier had been shown the bag, and had stated it was not the bag he saw in Oswald's possession. And not only incomplete, but totally false. Drain's report, after all, not only failed to mention Frazier's being shown the bag, but insisted instead that the bag had been shown to no one outside Roy Truly.
And that's not the worst of it. Think about it. Lt. Day, the man credited with finding the bag, has told the FBI that "he and other officers" are willing to accept Frazier's claim the bag recovered by the DPD was not the bag he'd observed in Oswald's possession. Well, this greatly damages the value of the bag as evidence. If it's simply a bag bearing Oswald's prints, that has no obvious link to the rifle, while the bag seen by Frazier is missing, it raises more questions than it answers.
Is it just a coincidence then that Anderton's reports on Frazier and Day, in which he discussed Frazier's failure to ID the bag, and Handley's memo on Day, which repeated this information, were either never sent to Washington, or never provided the Warren Commission? And, similarly, is it just a coincidence that Drain's report on Day, containing false information, and concealing important information, was written up on 11-30, and included in the FBI report of 11-30, and that Drain's report on Lewis (in which this previously concealed information was revealed), which was based on an interview conducted the same day as the day Drain interviewed Day, wasn't written up till 12-1 and forwarded to Washington till 12-10, after the completion of the FBI's 12-9 summary report given to President Johnson and the Warren Commission, and leaked to the press? Maybe. Maybe not.
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?
This is indeed perplexing. One might take from this, however, that Drain's report on his 11-29 discussion with Day, which bore little resemblance to Anderton's 11-29 report and Handley's 11-29 memo based upon Anderton's discussion with Day, wasn't written by Drain, but by someone less familiar with the facts, who was anxious to cover up the more problematic aspects of Anderton's interview with Day (namely, that Frazier had refused to ID the bag, and that this had led the DPD to no longer consider the bag an important piece of evidence).
(Note: the changing of this document is discussed in much greater detail, here.)
Still, one might also search for a more innocent explanation. Should one wish to do so, however, one would be remiss to ignore that, no matter the reason, the FBI's 12-9-63 report to President Johnson and the Warren Commission avoided like the plague that Frazier had been shown the paper bag on repeated occasions and had passed a polygraph while insisting it was not the bag he saw in Oswald's possession.
This is what it barfed up instead: "Mr. Frazier, after viewing the long brown paper bag found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building, could not definitely state whether the bag was the one observed by him in Oswald's possession on the morning of November 22, 1963." (CD 1, Section B, page 6)
Well, this is as good as a lie...in an official report...written for the President of the United States... and a commission convened to establish the truth about the assassination of his predecessor...
The inclusion of the words "could not definitely state whether the bag was the one observed by him" is a gross misrepresentation of Frazier's actual position, in which he definitively stated the bag was not the one he'd observed in Oswald's possession.
The FBI knew this, but kept this from its official report to the President. Why?
Shining a Light on the Warren Report
And why did the Warren Commission follow suit and lie about the bag in its own official report to the President?
We have already discussed an almost certainly false claim on page 135 of the commission's report. Yes, when considering all the evidence and testimony received by the commission, it's truly hard to believe they ever could have believed "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."
But Lt. Day did suggest as much in his testimony. Maybe they believed him...
There is a flat-out lie about the bag in the report, however. Unlike the lie about Lt. Day, moreover, this lie is in direct contradiction to every bit of testimony received by the commission.
Here, see for yourself (from page 135 of the Warren Report):
Footnote 187 refers back to the 4-2-64 testimony of the FBI's Sebastian Latona, where we began our journey through Lt. Day's Adventureland some time ago.
Here's Latona's testimony:
Mr. EISENBERG. Having reference to the paper bag, Exhibit 626, Mr. Latona, could you show us where on that bag this portion of the palm, the ulnar portion of the palm, of Lee Harvey Oswald was found?
Mr. LATONA. This little red arrow which I have placed on the paper bag shows the palmprint as it was developed on the wrapper.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it visible to the naked eye?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; it is. I think you can see it with the use of this hand magnifier.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you mark that arrow "A"--the arrow you have Just referred to on Exhibit 626, pointing to the portion of the palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald?
And then later...
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you show us that chart and discuss with us some of the similar characteristics which you found in the inked and latent print which led you to the conclusion that they were identical?
Mr. LATONA. Yes. I have here what are referred to as two charted enlargements. One of the enlargements, which is marked "Inked Left Index Fingerprint. Lee Harvey Oswald" is approximately a 10-time enlargement of the fingerprint which appears on Exhibit 633A. The other enlargement, which is marked "Latent Fingerprint on Brown Homemade Paper Container," is approximately a 10-time enlargement of the latent fingerprint which was developed on the brown wrapping paper indicated by the red arrow, "B."
Mr. EISENBERG. And that also corresponds to the photograph you gave us, which is now Exhibit 633?
Mr. LATONA. That's correct.
Representative FORD. And the arrow, "B," is on Exhibit 626?
Mr. LATONA. That's correct.
And then later...
Mr. LATONA. Exhibit 632 is approximately a time and a half enlargement of the latent palmprint which was developed on the brown wrapper.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is Exhibit 142.
Mr. LATONA. Exhibit 142--which is indicated by the red arrow A.
And still later
Mr. LATONA. The opinion here, without any question at all, is that this latent print, which was developed on the brown bag marked "A"--142 was made by the right palm of Lee Harvey Oswald.
And then finally...
Mr. LATONA. "B" is the finger, and "A" is the palm.
Mr. MURRAY. Yes; that's correct. And the palm "A"--there I definitely saw what appeared. to be a palmprint, and more faintly I saw a fingerprint in the portion marked "B."
Mr. DULLES. And these are exhibits----
Mr. EISENBERG. This is Exhibit 142.
(At this point Representative Boggs entered the hearing room.)
Mr. DULLES. Both the palmprint and the fingerprint are on Exhibit 142.
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes--marked "A" and "B" respectively.
Yes, this couldn't be more clear. A is the palmprint. B is the fingerprint.
Well, here is the Archives' photo for the paper bag.
And here is a close up shot of the marker and arrow on the side of the bag.
And here is the Archives' photo for the other side of the bag.
And here is a close up shot of the marker and arrow on the bottom of the bag.
The palmprint (A) was near the middle of the bag. The fingerprint (B) was near the bottom of the bag. The Warren Commission lied. There was nothing about these prints to indicate something heavy had been carried in the bag. It was actually just the opposite.
Here is a Warren Commission exhibit in which the bag has been opened up, to show both sides of the bag. I have added Oswald's hand prints on top of this, to show how they matched up on the bag.
The open end of the bag is on the right. The palmprint is upside down in relation to the open end of the bag. The print, therefore, was almost certainly NOT left on the bag when Oswald was carrying a heavy item, let alone a rifle that's been broken down into multiple parts. The print, if anything, suggests Oswald touched the bag while it held nothing.
Shining a Light on B.S.
And it wasn't just the official reports that lied about the bag. Many defenders of the Warren Commission have similarly lied about the bag.
One of the first Oswald-did-it books to discuss the evidence beyond regurgitating the Warren Report was Investigation of a Homicide by Judy Bonner (1969). Bonner was a Dallas science writer. Her book was written with assistance from the Dallas Police Department.
And yet...Bonner's description of the bag's discovery is B.S. In her narrative, she has Lt. Day and Det. Studebaker talk to Capt. Fritz as they inspect the rifle in the northwest corner of the building. Day tells Fritz: "Johnson (Detective Marvin Johnson) found a sack over by those boxes next to the window where the shots were fired. I think our suspect may have brought the gun up here in that. Let's go get it." Bonner then relates: "The three men walked back to the southeast corner where Johnson handed Day a rumpled brown paper bag held together with wide strips of brown wrapping tape. Day dusted it for prints and wrote on the side of the bag with a black grease pencil: 'Found next to the sixth floor window gun fired from. May have been used to carry gun--Lt. J. C. Day.' Then to protect the prints, he placed the bag over a long stick and gave it to a detective to carry from the building."
Well, this is more than curious, it's curious as heck.
1. It has Marvin Johnson discover the bag, instead of L.D. Montgomery.
2. It has Johnson discover the bag before the rifle was discovered, when Johnson testified that the bag was discovered after Studebaker was finished dusting the sack lunch and Dr. Pepper bottle, which were not dusted until after Studebaker was finished photographing the rifle.
3. It has Day know about the discovery of this bag before he inspected the rifle, which Day's subsequent statements suggest is not true.
4. It has Day, Studebaker, and Fritz walk back to the sniper's nest to check out the bag, when Fritz insisted he did not see or even know about the bag prior to his leaving the building.
5. It says the bag was "rumpled", when it was actually neatly folded.
6. It has Day dust and sign the bag right there in the sniper's nest, when no one witnessed such a thing, and Day's own statements are incredibly vague on this point.
7. It has Day not only discover prints on the bag, but place the bag over a long stick before its removal from the building to protect these prints. (While this has no basis in the historical record, it nevertheless feels true! I mean, where did Bonner get this if no one involved in the bag's removal from the building told her such a thing?)
8. It has the bag removed from the building by an anonymous detective, instead of by L.D. Montgomery, the man who, according to the Dallas Police, actually discovered the bag.
While Bonner's B.S. was exceptional, moreover, it was not the exception to the rule. No, the rule is fairly constant. You show me a book claiming Oswald killed Kennedy, and I'll show you a book that flat-out lies about the paper bag.
Here's another example. Warren Commission attorney David Belin released two Oswald-did-it books, You are the Jury and Final Disclosure. He lied about the bag in each of them.
We've already shown how he lied in You are the Jury (1973).
But here he is again in Final Disclosure (1988): p.10 "By the window near the place where the cartridge cases were discovered was a large brown homemade paper sack. After Day photographed the scene, he wrote on the sack, 'Found next to the sixth floor window gun fired from. May have been used to carry gun.'" (Uhh, no, once again. Neither Day nor anyone else ever claimed Day signed the sack before the rifle was discovered.)
And here, just for kicks, is HSCA ballistics consultant Larry Sturdivan in his 2005 epic The JFK Myths: A Scientific Investigation of the Kennedy Assassination: "Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney found a stack of cartons and and three cartridge cases on the floor in front of the corner window at approximately 1:12. Fritz had Mooney guard the area to see that nothing was moved before Lt. J.C. Day of the Identification Bureau arrived to take pictures and retrieve any fingerprints. In the corner of the alcove formed by the stacked boxes, they found a homemade sack measuring 38 inches in length."
If I'm reading this correctly, Sturdivan has Fritz and Mooney--the two most important witnesses claiming they didn't see a paper bag in the corner--discovering the bag! And that's not all. Even if I'm reading this incorrectly, and Sturdivan mistakenly wrote Mooney when he meant to write Montgomery, Sturdivan was still grossly mistaken. The bag was not "discovered" before the discovery of the rifle, and was not "discovered" while Day was in the corner. Period.
What a mess! 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.
The bag just isn't a convincing piece of evidence. It isn't. If anything, it's more damaging to the proposition Oswald killed Kennedy than helpful.
After all, this is a significant and quite noticeable piece of evidence that
1) was not noticed by any of the initial witnesses to view the crime scene, including the lead investigator on the case, who stood within two feet of its purported location.
2) was not photographed in place by those charged with documenting the crime scene.
3) was not photographed at the crime lab by the Dallas Police prior to its transfer to the FBI.
4) was not identified as the item seen in Oswald's possession by the only witnesses claiming to have seen such an item in Oswald's possession.
5) was misrepresented in an FBI report, in which it was claimed this piece of evidence was not shown to anyone by the Dallas Police.
6) was misrepresented in the FBI's Summary report to the President, which concealed that when this piece of evidence was shown to the man who drove Oswald to work on the morning of the 22nd, he said he'd never seen this item before.
7) was never even mentioned in the only report written by a member of the Dallas Police Crime Scene Search Section, the chief crime scene investigator who, strangely, was repeatedly credited by the FBI as the person who "recovered" this piece of evidence.
8) was never shown to the three Dallas detectives who originally signed this piece of evidence, so they could confirm their initials and authenticate this piece of evidence.
9) was only shown to and authenticated by the chief crime scene investigator, who falsely suggested in his testimony that he'd personally recovered this piece of evidence.
10) was misrepresented in the Warren Report, which falsely presented the prints supposedly found on this piece of evidence as support this piece of evidence was handled in the manner suggested by the man who drove Oswald to work (but who'd actually insisted he'd never seen this item before).
The paper bag reeked of bullshit from the moment it was taken from the building, to the moment it was offered up as evidence in the Warren Report. Whether or not it was created by Oswald, or ever held a rifle, remains unknown. But what we do know is quite damaging to the reputations of the Dallas Police, FBI, and Warren Commission. The Dallas Police and FBI lied and lied repeatedly about this bag, and the Warren Commission looked the other way and flat-out lied in order to present this bag as evidence against Oswald.
So what was it all about?
Here's a thought...
Let's return to Lt. Day.
As discussed, Lieutenant Day, in his official report on his activities on the day of the assassination, written up on 1-08-64, 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. (26H833-834) 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. As we've seen, 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 first "saw" the bag at the crime lab later that night.
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).
Let's dig a little deeper. 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?
Well, this supports that Truly wasn't actually shown the "bag" in the building, and that he'd supplied the paper and tape for reasons other than comparison.
And this, in turn, supports the possibility paper and tape were obtained by Day as he left the building with the rifle, and that he left the paper and tape in the care of Studebaker, and that Montgomery and Johnson were then tasked with taking the freshly-created bag over to the crime lab.
And that they did so just before or after Day returned...
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 as the bag was "discovered" just prior to Montgomery and Johnson's leaving with the bag around 3:00.
But this makes little sense, once one takes into account the statements of the photographers who'd been standing outside the building.
Just look at the photo below.
This image is a crop from a photograph taken by Dallas Times-Herald photographer William Allen on 11-22-63. It shows someone processing the boxes in the sniper's nest. An 11-29-63 memo by agents Barrett and Lee on the photographic evidence (found in the Weisberg Archives) reflects that Barrett's supervisor Richard Rogge had inquired about the identity of the photographer of this photo, and that Barrett had ascertained it to have been Allen, and that this photograph was taken "about 1:30 PM." Well, this was just after the discovery of the rifle, and long before Day's return from City Hall.
And that's not the only way to approximate the time this photo was taken. The shadows along the front of the building in this photo are not as far along as they are in Allen's photographs of the so-called three tramps, which have been closely studied and proved to have been taken shortly after 2:19.
Well, that proves it. The photo was taken between 1:30 and 2:30 or so--a period of time when Lt. Day was busy with the rifle.
Now, look at the image below--it's a still taken from the Alyea film showing Det. Studebaker (L) and Lt. Day (R) on the sixth floor of the depository. Note that Studebaker is wearing a hat and a long tie.
Well, it's clear from this that Studebaker dusted the boxes in the window, and not Day, and that he did so somewhere between 1:30 and 2:30, when Day was busy with the rifle.
Now, the next bit of the timeline is a little more confusing...
FBI agent Richard Rogge inquired about the identity of the photographer of another photo as well. This photo showed the view from the window from the sniper's nest. Well, Robert Barrett ascertained that this "photographer" was also Allen, and further claimed this photo was taken "about 2:30 PM." Now, this suggests Barrett spoke to Allen, and that Allen confirmed both that the sniper's nest was processed before Day returned from City Hall, and that Lt. Day allowed photographers into the sniper's nest upon his return from City Hall, which was around 2:30, not 2:45 or 3:00, as he would come to claim.
Still, we have reason to believe Allen's estimates were not particularly precise...
Here is the 4-14-64 testimony of Jack Beers, a Dallas Morning News photographer invited into the building with Allen. (13H102-112)
Mr. BEERS. ...Prior to admitting us to the building, I made pictures of a sack, very long narrow sack type of affair that was brought down from there, and a pop bottle and some pieces of chicken, and I also made a picture of the rifle which I believe it was Lieutenant Carl Day from the Dallas police crime lab brought that.
The sack, let's remember, was removed from the building around 3. So it seems probable Allen was mistaken, and that the press was allowed up into the sniper's nest shortly after 3, and not before.
In either case, William Allen photographed Det. Studebaker dusting the box in the window--not to mention the pipes by the window--well before Day returned to the building.
Oh, did I fail to mention that Allen also caught Studebaker dusting the pipes by the window?
It seems apparent, then, that Day did little or none of the "processing" of the sniper's nest, and that he sought to conceal this from the Warren Commission.
(On 7-11-06, in an oral history performed for the Sixth Floor Museum, an elderly Day would ultimately admit that he had, in fact, done little or no processing of the sniper's nest boxes. He was, in fact, dismissive of their value, claiming that since Oswald worked in the building, having his prints on the boxes meant very little. When asked if he'd dusted the boxes by the window, Day replied "No, I didn't. He was an employee there. He worked there. We made no attempt to tear those boxes open" (and try to fingerprint them using silver nitrate)...It was an almost impossible job." Day failed to realize, of course, that the stack of boxes by the window were first dusted by Studebaker before Oswald was considered the only suspect. And he also ignored that prints other than Oswald's could have been found--and were in fact found--on these very boxes,)
Still, if Day was concealing that the sniper's nest was processed by Studebaker, this wasn't the only thing he was concealing. No, far from it.
Bad Hair Day
Here's the continuation of Beers' 4-14-64 testimony. (13H102-112)
Mr. BEERS. ...And upon going in the building, I photographed the area where the rifle was found. I photographed the area around the window from which the assassin was supposedly seated, and I moved into that area and made a picture from the window, supposedly the window from which the bullets were fired, that showed a little corner of the boxes which possibly the rifle rested on. It shows the street down below where the automobile was traveling when the President was killed.
Well, that's interesting. Let's hear some more about that.
Okay, here goes. In the Spring of 1964, an editor for the Dallas Morning News asked the members of his staff who'd been working on 11-22-63 to record their memories of that day for posterity. These notes were then filed away. But not forever. In 2013, they were finally published, in the book, JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes. In any event, here's Beers on his strange strange trip to the sniper's nest: "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 Day returned to the school book depository (after the departure of Montgomery and Johnson, after 3:00) and that, when he did so, he took upstairs with him members of the local press, including Beers, and was personally responsible for providing them access to the sniper's nest.
While this might sound crazy, it has plenty of support. In Pictures of the Pain (1994), Richard Trask cites a 1987 interview with Ft. Worth Star-Telegram photographer George Smith on the photographic tour of the building provided the press. (Smith places this tour as beginning sometime between 3:00 and 4:00.) Here's Smith: "We didn't have a bit of trouble getting on up to the building and then right on in. There were Dallas reporters and police, and we just tagged right along with them. Everywhere they went, we went. Nobody seemed to object to anything. We went inside to the sixth floor, took pictures and no one tried to stop us...(I took) all sorts of pictures of where the boxes were stacked...just everything. Even took some pictures out the window towards the motorcade route...I knew where the little stack of boxes was, and the window was open...There were a dozen people up there at that time...I think they finally found out we weren't supposed to be up there, and invited us back out."
Still, Smith doesn't say Day himself was behind this unprecedented access.
He doesn't have to. As shown on the "Bad Hair Day" slide above, Lt. Day posed, yes posed, for the press in a number of photographs taken on the afternoon of the shooting.
And it's worse that that. Incredibly, numerous photos were taken from the sniper's nest window, for which the press photographers taking these photos would have to have come in close contact with a number of boxes not yet tested for prints. (In one of these photos--that of Life Magazine photographer Flip Schulke--moreover, it's clear that a box has been moved from its location in the other photos.)
Now, some might wish to believe that Allen and Beers were simply wrong about the time of their grand tour, and that Day returned to the sixth floor shortly before or after 3, worked on the boxes, and gave the press a tour a bit later, say 4-ish, at the tail end of the time period provided by Smith. When asked by the Warren Commission, after all, Beers said he thought he took his sixth floor photos around 4, or even later. I used to believe this. But then I came across the following claim in the 11-23-63 Dallas Morning News.
Now this was Beers' paper. IF the bulk of the police had already left the building, and the police department had already announced that their search of the building was finished, it seems more than likely the press on the scene, not to mention their editors back at the office, would be clamoring for access to the sixth floor.
That the press was invited up to the sniper's nest long before 4 was supported, for that matter, by Dallas Times-Herald reporter Darwin Payne in an 11-21-13 article in the L.A. Times. There, he claimed "They showed us the spot where he had thrown the rifle when he went out. We peered out the window one at a time. That's when we heard that a police officer had been shot in Oak Cliff." The shooting of Officer Tippit in Oak Cliff, of course, took place around 1:15. And Oswald was arrested around 2:00. It defies belief that Payne would first hear of this incident some two hours later.
And that wasn't the last time Payne spoke of his "guided tour" of the crime scene. When performing a May 23, 2016 oral history with the Sixth Floor Museum. Payne said that, beyond Day, there were only "two or three lawmen" present at the time he was shown the sniper's nest, and that this was around "three or so." He identified, for that matter, Joe Sherman and Kent Biffle as two of the newsman with whom he'd inspected the sniper's nest. (Sherman is the tall reporter in the Beers photo on the slide above. Payne is the man to his left, and Biffle is not shown.)
Now, it's not as if the Dallas Police tried to deny they invited the press up to the sixth floor. In fact, Deputy Chiefs Lumpkin, Batchelor, and Stevenson, in their report on their activities for 11-22-63, not only didn't deny it, they admitted it. After describing the searches performed in the depository, they reported "At about 2:45 P.M. these searches were completed, however, the Crime Scene Search Section, Lieutenant Carl Day, Detective R. L. Studebaker, and Detective J.H. Hicks, had several hours more of work in the building. At this time, Lumpkin had the news and press men assembled in one group on the outside of the building. They were accompanied by two police officers to the sixth floor, kept outside of a line where the Crime Scene Search Section was dusting for fingerprints, and allowed to take pictures. Lumpkin then had the police escort the newsmen back to the first floor where they interviewed Mr. Truly briefly, and escorted outside the building..." (21H582)
Well...heck again, or double heck. This sure smells like they're lying to protect Lt. Day, correct? I mean, first they claim it was Lumpkin's idea to bring the press up to the crime scene, and then they claim the crime scene was roped off for dusting when the press photos were taken--which totally ignores that the photos prove the crime scene was not not roped off and that the press was in fact allowed to walk all over the crime scene.
And...triple heck... This suggests Day was obfuscating, or that FBI Agents Drain and Bookhout were obfuscating for him, in an 8-31-64 interview, in which he was asked about the sanctity of the crime scene, and how an identified print, apparently unrelated to anyone working for the school book depository, could end up on one of the sniper's nest boxes. Drain and Bookhout's report (26H805) offers: "Day stated there were many people there on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, who he assumed were newsmen, whose identity he did not know." (Yes, you got it. No acknowledgement whatsoever that Day himself invited these men up to the sniper's nest.) The report further alibis: "Lieutenant Day stated that on Saturday November 23, 1963, many persons unknown to him had apparently been on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building and had taken a lot of photographs, in view of the fact he noticed many empty film pack cartons near where the boxes were located, and the boxes had been rearranged, apparently for the purpose of taking photographs." (Now this is smoke. This suggests that the sniper's nest photos published in the papers and magazines were taken on the 23rd, when Day was not present, and conceals that Day gave a tour to men he "assumed were newsmen" on the 22nd, and even posed for their photos. And that's not all. The only sniper's nest photos taken on the 23rd--that have ever surfaced, anyhow--were taken by FBI agent Robert Barrett. It seems likely, for that matter, that Drain and Bookhout were aware of this.)
And quadruple heck (yes, quadruple heck). All these statements strongly suggest that Day lied when he testified "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."
Yep, Day's Warren Commission testimony (and subsequent story) is shot full of holes...
And ought to be left for dead... In his subsequent reports, testimony, and statements, Day never acknowledged seeing Montgomery and Johnson with the bag when he returned to the school book depository. 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 (who didn't arrive at the building till after 3:00--after the departure of Montgomery and Johnson) and Studebaker, to bring in after he'd left the depository for the night.
This is utter crappola. I mean, no one, but no one, believes Day was telling the truth about this.
Let's recall now 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...
Well, this could very well be more nonsense. I mean, in light of all the other evidence, this is truly hard to believe.
It's just incredibly hard to grasp how Day could have run around with the bag prior to his leaving the building with the rifle.
To be clear, we have strong 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. There just wasn't enough time. It seems highly unlikely that Day would 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. No, 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.
Let's nail this down. 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 un-examined 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.
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. Hmmm... Was Day attempting to conceal that the person actually retrieving these samples was his assistant Studebaker--who later claimed to be present when the bag was found by Montgomery?
Not to be redundant but... What a mess! It's hard to believe Day's failure to mention Studebaker was a coincidence, particularly in that Day acknowledged this person to be Studebaker when interviewed by the FBI on 4-2, less than three weeks before his 4-22 testimony. (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 from the roll before the bag had been "discovered," or even existed.
Perhaps the bag was created to cover the rifle for Day's walk back to his office, and that he decided to leave without it, whereby it was "re-purposed."
There's more to this than idle speculation, moreover... Warren Commission attorney David Belin, who questioned Day both off and on the record, claimed in his book You Are the Jury (1973) that "As Lt. Day was leaving the building and was walking across the first floor" he noticed the wrapping bench and retrieved the paper sample, and that Day then "delivered the rifle to his office and then returned" to the school book depository.
Well, this puts the gathering of this sample around 2:00, well ahead of the departure of the bag from the building at 3:00.
In any event, researcher Tony Fratini has come to conclude 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 has come to believe, 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."
Of course, there's also 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.
It seems possible then that Day took Studebaker down to the first floor to have Studebaker make a bag for the rifle, but then changed his mind. And that the bag was then used to transport something else while Day was absent... And that the Dallas Police then decided to pretend this bag was found in the sniper's nest...
This conjecture is consistent, moreover, with a 2019 discovery by Patrick Jackson, who'd been studying the Dallas Police crime scene photos...
The Bag on the Box
As shown below, there is something atop a box in one of these photos (negative 91-001/062). (Red rectangle added by John Mytton.)
No, I'm not kidding. There is something atop one of these boxes. Here, take a closer look.
Do you see it? It's atop Box #2. (To be clear, these numbers have been added by moi.)
In any event, here is a close-up of this shape, courtesy Jackson.
Well, I'll be. Look inside the red circle. That sure looks like the folded-over open end of a bag. Now follow this bag to the right. It appears to stretch over a mostly obscured box (let's call this Box #3), and down onto Box #2, where it is folded over on top of itself.
Now, here's the thing. This photo is believed to have been taken between 2 and 3 P.M. on 11-22-63. So, yes, this shape could very well be the paper bag taken from the building around 3.
But here's the problem. A screen grab from the Alyea film, shown below, taken around 1:20 P.M. (that is, before the arrival of Day and Studebaker on the sixth floor) shows Boxes 2 and 3--upon which the presumed bag sits sometime between 2 and 3--with NO bag upon them.
So, NO, the bag was not discovered in this location.
The Beers photo showing Lt. Day's dome makes this more than clear, moreover. The significance of this photo--taken sometime between 3 and 4 P.M.-- lies not within itself, but within its relationship to the other photos. As shown above, it proves (or, at the very least, strongly, strongly, suggests) Box 2 in the Alyea film is Box 2 in the Beers photo, which, in turn, matches Box 2 in negative 91-001/062.
So, hmmm, someone draped a bag across some boxes (numbers 2 and 3 in the photos above), after the discovery of the sniper's nest, and the departure of the vast majority of deputies and detectives, and Studebaker left it there while he was photographing the sniper's nest from afar.
Well, this suggests the scenario pushed by Fratini, correct? That the bag was used to carry the window sill to the crime lab, and later re-purposed.
Maybe. Or maybe it's not as bad as all that. Maybe, by golly, Biffle was right, about seeing the bag, but was wrong about when it was seen in that he saw it after, not before, the discovery of the rifle.
Or Maybe, huh, Montgomery and Johnson brought the bag up to the sixth floor and put it down near the sniper's nest on purpose so it could be observed by Biffle, the lone remaining member of the news media after the 2:00 to 2:30 departure of Alyea.
So maybe it's a whole lot worse. Maybe, just maybe, the bag was not made for an innocent reason, and then re-purposed. Maybe it was made...designed from the onset...to help sell Oswald's guilt.
The Problematic Falsification of the Timeline
In 2014, I discovered 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 to help nail Oswald. 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, of course not. An 11-28-63 article in the Dallas Morning news, built around interviews with Walthers, Weatherford and Oxford, relates that they drove to the Paine residence with two Dallas detectives, and not that the detectives were waiting for them when they got there.
And there's also this. When asked by Warren Commission counsel Albert Jenner if the police arrived at 3:30, as claimed, Ruth Paine replied "Oh, I think it was earlier, but I wouldn't be certain."
Hmmm... We have reason to doubt the story handed down by the Dallas detectives--that they waited till 3:30 for the sheriffs--do we not?
Let's see, then, if we can pin down the actual time the Dallas detectives started talking to people at the Paine residence. In Marina and Lee--a 1977 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?
We have another way to confirm this 2:30 approximation, moreover. 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.
Here are some recent examples:
In 2002, Thomas Mallon published Mrs. Paine's Garage, a book built upon numerous interviews of Ruth Paine. Here is how Mallon described the arrival of the police at Mrs. Paine's door on 11-22-63: "There was a knock at the door. Ruth answered it and discovered a whole group of law enforcement officers, including men from the the Dallas County sheriff's department. She surmised that they were there to serve papers in connection with the divorce, until one of them announced that Oswald was in custody for shooting a policeman."
And we needn't rely upon Mallon's words, either. In Where Were You? (2013), Ruth Paine 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 she wasn't done. The 2013 book November 22, 1963 similarly includes a chapter written by the famous Ruth Paine. There, she related: "I first heard about Oswald's being in custody when police arrived at my door and told me so."
So, let's think--when was Oswald's arrest announced on TV? An email chain from Gary Mack to David Von Pein, posted online, reflects their conclusions Oswald's name was first mentioned on WFAA TV around 2:40 and WBAP TV at 2:43. Hmmm... 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.
And, no, we're not done. The Warren Commission testimony of Michael Paine further erodes the credibility of the detectives' story. 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.
There are still other reasons to doubt the 3:30 time of arrival proposed by detectives Rose, Adamcik, and Stovall in their report. 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.
It could be that the bag was made for another purpose but then re-purposed once the DPD heard Oswald had been carrying a bag. It could 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. And, heck, it could even be that the bag was made to fool Randle and her brother into identifying the bag as the bag they saw in Oswald's possession.
Something happened there and we don't know what it was, now do we?