Chapter 4d: The Myth of Fingerprints and The Fingerprints of Myth

The Myth of Fingerprints

Now let's take a step back. Oswald's prints were (purportedly) found on the bag.

Does it mean he's guilty of, at the very least, using that bag to smuggle something into the building?

Not necessarily...


(When discussing CE 634, a chart matching a photo of Oswald's left index finger with the fingerprint found on the bag)

Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, without going into detail, there are some apparent dissimilarities on the two sides of that chart. Can you explain why there should be apparent dissimilarities?

Mr. LATONA. The dissimilarities as such are caused by the type of material on which the print was left, because of the pressure, because of the amount of material which is on the finger when it left the print. They would not always be exactly the same. Here again there appears a material difference in the sense there is a difference in coloration. This is because of the fact that the contrast in the latent print is not as sharp as it is in the inked impression, which is a definite black on white, whereas here we have more or less a brown on a lighter brown.

Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, when you find an apparent dissimilarity between an inked and a latent print, how do you know that it is caused by absorption of the surface upon which the latent print is placed, or by failure of the finger to exude material, rather than by the fact that you have a different fingerprint?

Mr. LATONA. That is simply by sheer experience.

Mr. EISENBERG. Would you say, therefore, that the identification of a fingerprint is a task which calls for an expert interpretation, as opposed to a simple point-by-point laying-out which a layman could do?

Mr. LATONA. Very definitely so; yes.

Mr. EISENBERG. How much training does it take before you can make an identification?

Mr. LATONA. Well, I cannot tell you exactly how much in terms of time, insofar as what constitutes an expert. I can simply tell you what we require of our people before they would be considered experts.

Mr. EISENBERG. Yes, could you do that?

Mr. LATONA. We require our people before they would be----

Mr. DULLES. This is the FBI?

Mr. LATONA. Yes; this is the FBI. It would be 10 years of practical work in connection with the classifying and searching and verifying of regular fingerprint cards which bear all 10 prints. Those prints would be searched through our main fingerprint files. That means that that person would have to serve at least 10 years doing that. Of course, he would have to progress from the mere searching operation to the operation of being what we call unit supervisor, which would check--which would be actually the checking of the work of subordinates who do that work. He would be responsible for seeing that the fingerprints are properly searched, properly classified.

Mr. EISENBERG. And how long will he work in the latent fingerprint section?

Mr. LATONA. He would have to take an adaptability test, which would take 3 or 4 days, to determine, first of all, do we feel he has the qualifications for the job. Then if he passed the adaptability test, he would receive a minimum of 1 year's personal training in the latent fingerprint section--which means that he would have to serve at least 11 years in fingerprint work constantly, day in and day out, 8 hours a day in fingerprint work, before we would consider him as a fingerprint expert for purposes of testifying in a court of law.

Mr. EISENBERG. So that when you show us this chart, this is actually, or I should say, is this actually a demonstration, rather than a chart from which we could make an identification?

Mr. LATONA. That's right. The purpose is simply a hope on my part that by my explanation you may have some idea as to how a comparison is made, rather than for me to prove it to you through these chars, because unquestionably there are certain points that you will not see which to me are apparent.

Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, I see that you have marked nine characteristics on your chart. Are these all the characteristics which you were able to find----

Mr. LATONA. On this particular chart; yes. They were the only ones that bore actually, there is still one more characteristic--there could have been 10.

Mr. EISENBERG. Now, is there any minimum number of points that has to be found in order to make an identification, in your opinion?

Mr. LATONA. No; in my opinion, there are no number of points which are a requirement. Now, there is a general belief among lots of fingerprint people that a certain number of points are required. It is my opinion that this is an erroneous assumption that they have taken, because of the fact that here in the United States a person that qualifies in court as an expert has the right merely to voice an opinion as to whether two prints were made by the same finger or not made. There are no requirements, there is no standard by which a person can say that a certain number of points are required--primarily because of the fact that there is such a wide variance in the experience of men who qualify as fingerprint experts.

Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, you said that not all experts are in agreement on this subject. Is there any substantial body of expert opinion that holds to a minimum number of points, let's say, 12?

Mr. LATONA. In the United States, to my knowledge, I know of no group or body that subscribe to a particular number. Now, quite frequently some of these departments will maintain a standard for themselves, by virtue of the fact that they will say, "Before we will make an identification, we must find a minimum of 12 points of similarity." I am quite certain that the reason for that is simply to avoid the possibility of making an erroneous identification. Now, why they have picked 12--I believe that that 12-point business originated because of a certain article which was written by a French fingerprint examiner by the name of Edmond Locard back in 1917, I think--there was a publication to the effect that in his opinion where there were 12 points of similarity, there was no chance of making an erroneous identification. If there were less than 12, he voiced the conclusion that the chances would increase as to finding duplicate prints. Now, today we in the FBI do not subscribe to that theory at all. We simply say this: We have confidence in our experts to the extent that regardless of the number of points, if the expert who has been assigned to the case for purposes

of making the examination gives an opinion, we will not question the number of points. We have testified--I personally have testified in court to as few as seven points of similarity.

Mr. DULLES. But you would not on two, would you?

Mr. LATONA. No, sir; because I know that two points, even though they would not be duplicate points, could be arranged in such a fashion that it might possibly give me the impression that here are two points which appear to be the same even though they are are not.

Mr. DULLES. But it is somewhere between two and seven--somewhere in that range?

Mr. LATONA. That is right. Where that is, I do not know. And I would not say whether I would testify to six, would I testify to five, would I refuse to testify to four.

Mr. DULLES. You say you would--or would you?

Mr. LATONA. I don't know. That's a question I could not answer. I would have to see each case individually before I could render a conclusion. Now, going outside of the United States, we have been approached--I mean the FBI--have been approached by other foreign experts in an attempt to set a worldwide standard of 16 characteristics, a minimum of 16, as opposed to 12, which is generally referred to by people in this country here. Now of course we would not subscribe to that at all. And I think----

Mr. DULLES. That would be 16 on the fingerprint of the same finger?

Mr. LATONA. That's right.

Mr. DULLES. Obviously, if you have two fingers that would alter the number--if you had three on one and two on the other, would you consider that five?

Mr. LATONA. We would.

Now, whether the foreign experts would not, I don't know. In other words, if we were to go along with this European theory of 16 points, we would not testify to this being an identification. That is really what it would amount to. Yet to me, in my mind, there is no question that these prints here----

Mr. EISENBERG. Which is what exhibit?

Mr. LATONA. The enlargements in Exhibit 634 are simply reproductions of the left index fingerprint of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Representative FORD. There is no doubt in your mind about that?

Mr. LATONA. Absolutely none at all. The fact that there are only the nine points charted--and I feel this way, it is purely a matter of experience. They simply do not have the experience that we have in the FBI.

So...let's think about this. Latona has acknowledged that his ID of the fingerprint on the bag is based on 9 points of similarity with Oswald's left index finger, even though most American fingerprint experts require 12 points of similarity, and most European experts require 16 points of similarity. (He has gone further than this even to say he might ID a print based on 4 points of similarity.) And he has simultaneously acknowledged that there are noticeable differences between the bag print and Oswald's print...that he has chosen to ignore...

And he he says he can do this because...he works for the FBI...and the FBI doesn't need rules to tell it when two prints are a match. They just know. They have the experience. (To be clear, Latona's exhibits reflect that there were 9 points of similarity between Oswald's left index finger and the bag fingerprint, 15 points of similarity between Oswald's right palm print and the bag palm print, 11 points of similarity between Oswald's right palm print and the palm print on Box D, 13 points of similarity between Oswald's left palm print and the palm print on Box A, 10 points of similarity between Oswald's right index finger and the fingerprint on Box A, and 11 points of similarity between Oswald's right palm print and the lift from the rifle. And yes, you are correct. Only two of these would have been accepted by most American examiners, and none--not one--would have been accepted by a European examiner.)

At least not in '63...  Over the decades that followed, the FBI convinced experts around the world that they needn't count points, and that an expert can just "know" when two prints are a match based upon an individualized and instinctual algorithm built upon the number of similar points, and the rarity of these points (aka "hunch").

This was, of course, a recipe for disaster. It was only a matter of time, after all, before an "expert" or group of "experts" came to the wrong conclusion in a high profile case. The first crack in the dam came in 1997 when four Scottish experts found 16 points of similarity between a latent print found at a crime scene and the print of one of the detectives on the scene, even though the detective claimed she hadn't been in that room. This led to her termination, and a 1999 lawsuit in which she proved the "experts" had made a mistake and that the print was not her own. Now, this was a mistake in which 16 points were identified. By 4 experts. It seemed clear, then, that the FBI, with its looser standards, was capable of making a similar mistake.

It took five years for such a mistake to surface. In 2004, the FBI identified the left index fingerprint of Brandon Mayfield, an American Muslim, as the print of a terrorist behind an explosion in Spain. Even though the FBI could find no evidence Mayfield had visited Spain, or had even left the U.S., ever, he was imprisoned. The Spanish authorities, to their credit, rejected this identification, and kept searching. But the U.S. Government, feeling certain the FBI was correct in their identification, refused to release Mayfield. Weeks passed. Eventually, the Spanish authorities matched the print the FBI claimed was Mayfield's to a known terrorist, and the U.S. government agreed to Mayfield's release. He sued the government and was awarded 2 million dollars. Oops. 

No, actually it was more than oops. The FBI''s embarrassing mistake led to its re-appraisal of the sanctity of fingerprint evidence, and to its softening its stance regarding the possibility of a misidentification. In doing so, for that matter, the FBI was finally acknowledging what the scientific community had been whispering for decades. The identification of a suspect's fingerprint at a crime scene isn't the sure-fire proof of guilt it was long claimed to be. It just isn't.

The Myth of Fingerprints (1937-2004)

1. No two fingerprints are alike.

2. Fingerprint examination is a precise science, and fingerprint examiners do not make mistakes.

3. Having one’s prints found at a crime scene is a sure sign of guilt.

The Reality of Fingerprints (2004- )

1. Some fingerprints are so similar that an expert can be fooled.

2. Misidentifications are commonplace.

In 1995 Collaborative Testing Services tested 156 U.S. fingerprint examiners in collaboration with the International Association for Identification. This was the first such examination performed for the association.

The results were said to have shocked many members of the forensic science community.

The fingerprint cards to 4 suspects were provided, 40 prints in all. The examiners were then given 7 latent prints, and asked to match these latent prints to the proper suspect card and finger.

The results, as reported in a variety of sources, are as follows:

Only 44% of the examiners identified all 7 latent prints correctly.

34 (22%) made one or more misidentifications.

4% failed to properly identify any of the 7 latent prints.

Although 82% of the latent prints were identified,

48 (6%) of these identifications were misidentifications.

In sum, then, but 78% of the latent prints were properly identified.

This study led to more studies. In 1996, only 3% of the examiners made one or more misidentifications. But this marked improvement was only temporary. By 1997, the percentage of those tested making a misidentification had ballooned back up to 8%, and by 1998 it had ballooned back up to over 15%. After that, they stopped publicizing their results.

3. Fingerprint examiners are subject to confirmation bias.

“We took fingerprints that have previously been examined and assessed by latent print experts to make positive identification of suspects. Then we presented these same fingerprints again, to the same experts, but gave a context that suggested that they were a no-match, and hence the suspects could not be identified. Within this new context, most of the fingerprint experts made different judgements, thus contradicting their own previous identification decisions.”

“Participants were asked by one of their colleagues to examine a set of fingerprints, composed of a latent print (from the crime scene) and a print exemplar (a print obtained from a suspect). They were told that the pair of prints was the one that was erroneously matched by the FBI as the Madrid bomber, thus creating an extraneous context that the prints were a non-match.”

“Only one participant (20%) judged the prints to be a match, thus making a consistent identification regardless of the extraneous context. The other four participants (80%) changed their identification decision from the original decision they themselves had made five years earlier. Three of these four participants directly contradicted their previous decision and now judged the fingerprints as definite non-matches, whereas, the fourth participant now judged that there was insufficient information to make a definite decision (either a match or a non-match).”

(Study by Itiel Dror published in Forensic Science International, 2006)

4. The identification of fingerprints  is, in practice, highly subjective.

“In the United States, the threshold for making a source identification is deliberately kept subjective, so that the examiner can take into account both the quantity and quality of comparative details. As a result, the outcome of a friction ridge analysis is not necessarily repeatable from examiner to examiner. In fact, recent research by Dror has shown that experienced examiners do not necessarily agree with even their own past conclusions when the examination is presented in a different context some time later.”

Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States,

(A 2009 report written by the National Research Council, and published by the National Academy of Science)

With the reality of fingerprints in mind, then, let us now discuss some problems with the JFK assassination fingerprint evidence.

Oh No, Not Again

Much as the paper bag supposedly found in the sniper's nest, NO photographs were taken by the Dallas Police of Box D with (or even without) the palm print on 11-22-63. Now, this would be surprising under normal circumstances. I mean, think about it, they supposedly noticed a box that may have been used as a seat by a person shooting at the president. They then dusted this box for prints, and watched as a palm print on the edge of this box became visible. But it never occurred to them to photograph this box in situ, with the palm print still on the box? Really? This was a professional organization with trained crime scene analysts. They took dozens of photographs of the crime scene and building on 11-22-63. They took multiple photographs of the shells found by the window and the rifle found on the other side of the building. They took photographs of the lunch bag and Dr. Pepper bottle found three aisles over from the sniper's nest. But they failed to take even one photograph of the only box on which they found an identifiable print within the building? 

Here's another reason to doubt. Here is Warren Commission Exhibit 652 from the 4-2-64 testimony of the FBI's fingerprint expert Sebastian Latona:

This exhibit was supposed to show that the palm print on the torn-off section of a box is a match with Oswald's right palm. But there's a problem. The chart for the box print is a big black blob. It's clear from their other exhibit photos and the exhibit photos published in text books that the FBI and Commission could have presented a clear image of this chart if they'd wanted to, but it appears they didn't want to. And it's not just this print. The charts for the other prints supposedly proving Oswald's guilt are nearly all as murky.

There could be something to this, moreover ... Within the numerous FBI files found on the Mary Ferrell Foundation website are files for which Latona's exhibits were photocopied. Well, ironically, these photocopies are easier to read than Latona's exhibits as published by the Warren Commission. Here, see for yourself. 

Now, ask yourself, does this honestly look like a match? I, as you no doubt have guessed, have my doubts. It makes no sense to me that the central crease apparent on the Oswald print would be barely noticeable on the box print. I mean, the box print is presumed to have been created when Oswald put pressure on his right palm as he sat down on or got up off the box. Such an action would presumably amplify the width of this central crease, not give it the shrinks, right?

And then there's this...

Mr. EISENBERG. Again, without going into detail, Mr. Latona, could you show us some of the more salient points which led you to your conclusion that the print on 649 was the palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald?

Mr. LATONA. The easiest points visible here, right offhand, point No. 11 which is a black line that goes upward and its relationship to point No. 10. This is known as the short ending ridge as is seen here. Its relation to point No. 8. Point No. 11 is a black line going upward. Point No. 8 is a black line going downward and there are one, two, three, ridges which are between the two. Over here in the latent print you find No. 11 which is a black line going upward. It is a short line to the other end of the point No. 10, and three ridges intervene between that and point No. 8, which is going downward. One ridge to the right and going in an upward direction is point No. 7--7, 8, 9, 10, 11.

Mr. DULLES. And you identified 11 points of similarity?

Mr. LATONA. That is right.

Mr. DULLES. Between the inked palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald and this palmprint taken from this cardboard carton?

Mr. LATONA. That is right.

Mr. DULLES. What is this white line that goes up through each?

Mr. LATONA. This is a crease in the center of the palm, a flexure crease of that area.

Mr. DULLES. The palm did not touch the carton at that point?

Mr. LATONA. That is right.

Mr. DULLES. And those two creases are in approximately the same location in the photograph and in the latent palmprint?

Mr. LATONA. Very definitely.

What the? I mean, I don't entirely understand Latona's explanation as to why these prints are a match, but it sounds like it might be true. And then Dulles inserts something that seems totally disingenuous.

Dulles notes that the crease is in the same location on the two prints, but fails to point out the elephant in the room--that the crease on the Oswald print is much wider than the crease on the box print?

Well, this observation led me to spend way too much time trying to match the box print on Latona's exhibit with FBI photo 26 from CD 1, the clearest of the FBI's photo of the box print.  Now, I must admit that more than once I've convinced myself they don't match, but my current thinking is yep, they do. (The box print in photo 26 is on the left. The box print in Exhibit 652 is on the right.)

But the matching of these photos has little bearing on the central issue--does the print on photo 26 match Oswald's right palm print? (The box print in photo 26 is on the left. Oswald's right palm print is on the right.)

I'm on the fence. The central crease seems much too wide on Oswald's print and the ridges to the right of the crease are not at all convincing. Heck, the ridges in the upper right corner of the box print on the image above (that is, the ridges above the far right side of the sepia overlay of Oswald's print) don't even head the same direction as the ridges on Oswald's print. Now, is there a logical explanation for this? I don't know.

But there is certainly reason to doubt these prints were a match, right?


The Missing Heel

Observe CE 650, an image created by Latona to demonstrate the palm print torn from Box D. And now compare this to CE 651, an image created by Latona to demonstrate where this print matched up on Oswald's right palm.

Well, there's a problem, isn't there? The print on Box D fails to display the bifurcation (or split) of the central crease at the heel of Oswald's palm. As the print was presumed to have been left on the box when Oswald pushed down on the edge of the box with his sweaty right palm, this makes little to no sense. One would use the heel of one's palm to push down on a box, not the middle of one's palm, correct? And how could one push down on a box with the middle of one's palm, without the heel touching the box as well?

It's apparent, moreover, that Latona knew CE 651 was deceptive.

Mr. EISENBERG. Did you take a photograph of the known palmprint and make a red circle around it, as you had in previous cases?

Mr. LATONA. Yes.

Mr. EISENBERG. To show what portion of the palm of Oswald that was?

Mr. LATONA. Showing a portion of the right palm.

Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Chairman, may I have that admitted?

Mr. DULLES. It will be admitted as 651.

So, there it is. Latona knew his circle on 651 failed to match his circle on 650. So why use it then? Why didn't he circle the part of the palm circled in 650?

Was he trying to pass a highly questionable match off as an everyday normal match between a palm print and a print found on a box?

It sure looks that way.

A little context becomes relevant at this time. The 1966 Army Fingerprint Manual relates: "A discrepancy that is most frequently encountered in the taking of palm prints is the failure to exert sufficient pressure on the back of the hand to insure the printing of the hollow of the palm and the nodes at the base of the fingers. If pressure is not successful in obtaining prints of these portions of the palm, a satisfactory print can sometimes be obtained by wrapping paper around a bottle and having the subject grasp the bottle in the manner best suitable to produce a complete print. Or, the palm print can be rolled onto the paper by starting with the finger tips and having the subject roll the bottle along a table top, although some distortion might be introduced into a print so obtained."

So, hmm. It's actually quite difficult to place a print of the area of the palm depicted on CE 650 onto a flat surface. The quality of this print is thereby unexpected, one might even say suspicious. And doubly so because the area of the palm one would expect to find on a flat surface--the heel of the palm--is missing from CE 650.

The Fingerprints of Myth

I mean, think about it... Assuming the print supposedly found on Box D is in fact Oswald's...who's to say the DPD didn't tear the cardboard from the box, and only later that night, after failing to find any prints on the rifle, add the palm print to the cardboard?

Now it shouldn't come as a surprise that I've looked into this, and have found such a scenario to be plausible. I have read dozens of articles on fingerprinting, and fingerprint fabrication. These revealed that virtually every documented or suspected case of fingerprint fabrication has been performed by an over-zealous policeman or crime scene investigator. One such policemen was so brazen even as to submit photocopies of fingerprints taken from fingerprint cards and claim they were prints he'd discovered at crime scenes. Other policeman were a bit smarter than that, and had suspects put their hands on the hoods or roofs of their police cars while conducting a search. They then lifted the prints off their cars, and then claimed they were lifted from a crime scene. 

Here's a quick quote from Pat Wertheim, the author of a number of articles on fingerprint fabrication and an expert witness who's testified at a number of high-profile trials involving fingerprint fabrication:

“Many hundreds or even thousands of cases of fabrication of fingerprint evidence have come to light in the century since fingerprints were first used by police as a means of identification. One can only guess how many fabrications have been committed in which defendants have been convicted or pled guilty. These cases of fabrication of latent fingerprint evidence will never be discovered.” 


And here's an excerpt from of one of the many articles I've read on fingerprint fabrication...

"One of the cases that was primarily responsible for the widespread concern about integrity of the identification expert was the DePalma case, publicized in the Readers' Digest, where a police department identification officer identified a latent print which had purportedly come from the counter of a bank that was robbed as having been made by DePalma. The defendand was convicted despite a strong alibi defense. It was later extablished that the "latent" was not a latent print at all, but a xerox print of an inked impression of the defendant's print, and that the faking was done to frame the defendant. Because several FBi experts had been unable, initially, to detect the fabrication, the chairman of the professional association's Science and Practice Committee, Mr. Brunelle, was led to state 'In certain cases it may be very difficult to distinguish between authentic and fabricated prints and...laboratory techniques such as a scanning electron microscope may be necessary to verify and authentic print.' See Brunelle, Science and Practice Committee Report (1976) II Fingerprint Fabrication, Identification News, Aug. 1976, p.7" 

Source: Scientific Evidence in Criminal Cases, 1986, The Foundation Press, Inc, p. 461.

And here's an excerpt from a Wertheim article I found on the internet:

"There are three common methods used by dishonest police employee to fabricate latent print evidence: 1) a lift from an inked print. 2) a mislabeled lift, 3) a staged photograph. One thing these fabricated latents frequently have in common is that they are "perfect" prints. In other words, a fabricator usually prepares a print so clear nobody could fail to see the identification. In addition to that, each of the three methods leaves tell-tale clues, to a greater or lesser degree. 

Consider the lift from an inked print. Clues to this fabrication are numerous. Ink is a different shade of black than fingerprint powder. Lifted inked prints are usually the fully rolled prints, a phenomenon virtually impossible in real latent print work. Lifts from inked prints usually include fibers and microscopic fiber marks. 

Next, consider mislabeled lifts. these are often the hardest of the fabrications to detect. The most reliable methods of detection is by a close inspection of background noise. Each type of surface leaves a trademark background noise, and frequently, fabricators fail to take this into account. A mislabeled latent may also reflect an orientation inconsistent with normal handling. However, a clever fabricator may be able to make a mislabeled latent match expectations of genuineness to such a high degree that it would be virtually undetectable. 

The staged photograph is the third type of fabrication. These photographs are usually taken slightly out of focus in an attempt to hide details which would disclose the fabrication. Or, such a photograph may be over or under-exposed. Strange lines or shadows may be present. The photographs may also contain stray images not expected on the surface from which the latent purportedly came, or background noise may not be consistent with the surface claimed." 

Source: Latent Fingerprint Fabrication by Pat Wertheim, as found on the Iowa Division of the International Association of Identification website 

And here is a summary of the most famous scandal involving fabricated evidence... 

The New York State Trooper Scandal

This scandal came to light when David Harding admitted his deeds to the CIA during a job interview. He thought they’d be impressed. He was wrong.

David L. Harding was sentenced on December 16, 1992, to 4 to 12 years in prison for fabricating evidence in four documented cases.

Robert M. Lishansky was sentenced June 10, 1993 to 6 to 18 years in prison for fabricating evidence in 21 cases.

Craig D. Harvey was a lieutenant who headed the identification unit. He pleaded guilty on July 29, 1993 to fabricating evidence in three cases, and agreed to serve 2½ to 7 years in prison.

Two other officers, David M. Beers and Patrick O’Hara, were also implicated but never convicted of fabricating evidence.

A detailed look at one of these cases...“In April 1993, Craig D. Harvey, a New York State Police trooper was charged with fabricating evidence. Harvey admitted he and another trooper lifted fingerprints from items the suspect, John Spencer, touched while in Troop C headquarters during booking. He attached the fingerprints to evidence cards and later claimed that he had pulled the fingerprints from the scene of the murder. The forged evidence was presented during John Spencer's trial and his subsequent conviction resulted in a term, of 50 years to life in prison, at his sentencing.” (Source:  the summary of the case on Wikipedia...)

More on the scandal: “’Some members of the Identification Unit were so careless with their fabrications they left...’practice’ fabrications behind in the actual case files...’ It is also shocking that the forgeries so easily escaped detection. They ranged from sophisticated, such as lifting a print from an inked fingerprint card and doctoring it to look like a latent print, to extremely crude, such as simply photocopying an inked print and calling it a latent print. According to the outside fingerprint examiners employed by the special prosecutor, the fraudulence of many of the fingerprints offered in these cases should have been blatantly obvious to anyone trained in fingerprint identification...Yet in more than forty criminal cases, some involving homicide, over eight years, the evidence was not once challenged by the defense.” (Source: Suspect Identities, by Simon Cole, 2001.)

Now, these articles on fingerprint fabrication were eye-opening. But I wasn't sure how this might apply to the palm print on the cardboard...until I read Scene of the Crime (1992) by former crime scene investigator Anne Wingate. From page 111:

Wingate then describes her personal reaction when she first heard of this... From page 112:

Notice that Wingate's recollection of the method used to frame DePalma was slightly different than the method mentioned in Scientific Evidence in Criminal Cases. She recalls that a print was lifted from the xerox copy of a known print, and not that the xerox copy itself was submitted.

Well, this is quite intriguing. It could explain how Oswald's print got on CE 649 (should the print on CE 649 actually have been Oswald's print, that is).

So, sad to say, there is a stadium-sized-room for suspicion regarding the print on Box D. There are reasons to doubt it was actually a match, and even more reasons to suspect that, if it was a match, it was a match which should have aroused the suspicions of the FBI.

And that's not even to mention that at least one of the fingerprint experts who ID'ed this print as Oswald's appears to have lied about his identification of this print...

And that he did so in sworn testimony, no less...before the Warren Commission.


Look at the bottom photo on the slide above. It's worthless, right? Now, read NYPD fingerprint expert Arthur Mandella's 4-2-64 testimony before the Warren Commission.

Mr. EISENBERG. Any other identifications?

Mr. MANDELLA. Yes; there is one more on box D, photo No. 13.

Mr. EISENBERG. That is Exhibit 655, which contains two photographs, and I will extract the photograph labeled "13."

Mr. MANDELLA. Commission Exhibit 655, photo No. 13, the right palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald. The section here is at the heel of the palm in the center.

Mr. EISENBERG. In the center of the palm?

Mr. MANDELLA. Yes, sir.

Mr. EISENBERG. You were just pointing to the lower portion of the palm, which you refer to as the heel?

Mr. MANDELLA. Yes; this is the portion of Oswald's palm.

Mr. EISENBERG. Is there handwriting or printing on the back of that photograph?

Mr. MANDELLA. Yes; there is. "Right palm-Oswald-heel of hand."

Mr. EISENBERG. And that is your handwriting, is it, Mr. Mandella?

Mr. MANDELLA. Yes; it is.

Mr. EISENBERG. So you made a total of six identifications?

Mr. MANDELLA. Yes; I did.

Mr. EISENBERG. Now when you made these identifications-or, I should say, when you received the photographs and when you made the identifications, did you have any knowledge of any kind as to how many, if any, prints of Oswald's were found among the many impressions which were given to you?

Mr. MANDELLA. I had no idea, sir.

Mr. EISENBERG. Were you aware in any way of the conclusions of any other body concerning these impressions?

Mr. MANDELLA. I knew nothing about any examination by anyone.

Mr. EISENBERG. At an unofficial level, had you seen anything in the newspapers which would indicate any information on these?

Mr. MANDELLA. In the newspaper several months ago there was reference to a - I don't even recall whether it was fingerprints or paimprints or both but there was some reference in the newspaper I had seen, and that is all.

Mr. EISENBERG. That is all you recall about it?

Mr. MANDELLA. That is all I recall.

Mr. EISENBERG. Did you pay any attention to that in making. your identifications?

Mr. MANDELLA. No; it didn't affect me at all, nothing to do with the identifications.

Mr. EISENBERG. What is your general attitude toward items you see like this in the newspapers, by the way?

Mr. MANDELLA. In the newspapers? It doesn't mean a thing. Attitude relative to fingerprints?

Mr. EISENBERG. I am trying to determine how far this might influence you in your evaluation, and I wonder as a police officer what your opinion is when you read accounts in newspapers of evidence in crimes.

Mr. MANDELLA. No; it doesn't affect me other than for general information purposes.

Mr. EISENBERG. Did I transmit to you any information whatsoever concerning these prints?

Mr. MANDELLA. You did not, other than giving me the photographs.

Mr. EISENBERG. Did I tell you that any of these prints might be Lee Harvey Oswald's?

Mr. MANDELLA. You made no indication as to that it could have been his.

Mr. EISENBERG. Do you know now, apart from your own identification, have you acquired any information at this point, subsequent to your identification but prior to your appearance here, as to these prints, other than your own identifications?

Mr. MANDELLA. I have no knowledge as to what has been done with these prints at all by anyone.

Mr. EISENBERG. Are you absolutely sure as to each of these identifications, Mr. Mandella?

Mr. MANDELLA. I am positive.

Eisenberg and Mandella then went through the exhibits and photos one by one.


Mr. MANDELLA. 655.


Mr. MANDELLA. Photo No. 13, the right palmprint of Oswald, and there is eight points of identity on that one.

Now, glance back at the slide above. If the General Printing Office tasked with publishing the government's reports was able to publish a clear image of photo 26 from the FBI's 12-9-63 report to the President (CD 1), why does the bottom image on the slide of the photo supposedly used by Mandella to effect an identification of Oswald's right palm print on CE 649 (the piece of cardboard torn from Box D) look like a glop of burnt chocolate? It makes no sense, right? Based on this image alone, then, it seems likely Mandella was lying when he said he ID'ed the "print" on the torn off piece of Box D as Oswald's. 

I mean, here is the clearest image I can get of the palm print in Exhibit 655. (It is inverted compared to the image on the slide above.)

Look at it. Ask yourself..."Why the heck is the print in this image so gol-darned dark? This print was discovered, at least officially, via black powder. And it was then taped off. It was not sprayed with silver nitrate, or any other chemical that would change its appearance. So why does the print in this image, the photo of the palm print on Box D in CE 655, look so different than this same print in Photo 26, as published by the FBI?

Well, maybe that's just it. Photo 26 was part of CD1, an FBI report prepared for President Johnson. The photo in CE 655, on the other hand, was a photo prepared by the FBI for the Warren Commission, so the Commission could consult with outside experts. The thought occurs, then, that the FBI deliberately provided Mandella with crappy images, and that Mandella nevertheless claimed the latent prints in these crappy images matched Oswald's prints. 

In such case, he was lying when he ID'ed the black blob in the photo above as Oswald's right palm print, and quite possibly lying about the other prints as well...

What's Up, Mandella?

The six prints ID'ed by Mandella as Oswald's prints are hidden in the black blobs on the slide above. These exhibits come from the Mary Ferrell Foundation website, but are nearly identical to these exhibits as presented in the Warren Commission's volumes on the website of the National Archives.

Aside from the slight possibility the images viewed by Mandella were crystal clear images, and that someone at the Warren Commission or General Printing Office mucked up the images placed into evidence with his testimony, it seems highly unlikely Mandella could have ID'ed Oswald's prints on these images.

Now, to be clear, it seems probable Melvin Eisenberg caught how all this looked, and tried to make Mandella's testimony less troublesome. You see, at the very last minute, on 9-17-64, just as the commission's report was going to print, Eisenberg arranged for Mandella to return to Washington and be shown the actual exhibits on which Oswald's prints were supposedly found, i.e., the bag, the cardboard torn from Box D, Box A, and the lift supposedly lifted from Oswald's rifle. That way the commission could say, hey, Mandella ID'ed Oswald's prints after studying the actual prints, and not just the black and blurry photos presented in his testimony.

Mandella did this, of course.

But even here there's a problem. Note the last line. Mandella says he's matched the FBI's photos of the prints he'd previously ID'ed as Oswald's prints to the items on which these prints were found.

So what's the problem? Four of the six prints--two each on the paper bag and Box A--were found on paper products--wrapping paper and cardboard--through the application of silver nitrate. 

Here's Latona on silver nitrate. 

Mr. LATONA. Silver nitrate solution in itself is colorless, and it reacts with the sodium chloride, which is ordinary salt which is found in the perspiration or sweat which is exuded by the sweat pores.

This material covers the fingers. When it touches a surface such as an absorbent material, like paper, it leaves an outline on the paper. When this salt material, which is left by the fingers on the paper, is immersed in the silver nitrate solution, there is a combining, an immediate combining of--the elements themselves will break down, and they recombine into silver chloride and sodium nitrate. We know that silver is sensitive to light. So that material, after it has been treated with the silver nitrate solution, is placed under a strong light. We utilize a carbon arc lamp, which has considerable ultraviolet light in it. And it will immediately start to discolor the specimen. Wherever there is any salt material, it will discolor it, much more so than the rest of the object, and show exactly where the latent prints have been developed. It is simply a reaction of the silver nitrate with the sodium chloride. That is all it is.

Mr. EISENBERG. Do you frequently find that the silver nitrate develops a print in a paper object which the iodine fuming cannot develop?

Mr. LATONA. Yes; I would say that is true, considerably so. We have more success with silver nitrate than we do with the iodine fumes. The reason we use both is because of the fact that this material which is exuded by the fingers may fall into one of two main types--protein material and salt material. The iodine fumes will develop protein material. Silver nitrate will develop the salt material. The reason we use both is because we do not know what was in the subject's fingers or hands or feet. Accordingly, to insure complete coverage, we use both methods. And we use them in that sequence. The iodine first, then the silver nitrate. The iodine is used first because the iodine simply causes a temporary physical change. It will discolor, and then the fumes, upon being left in the open air, will disappear, and then the color will dissolve. Silver nitrate, on the other hand, causes a chemical change and it will permanently affect the change. So if we were to use the silver nitrate process first, then we could not use the iodine fumes. On occasion we have developed fingerprints and palmprints with iodine fumes which failed to develop with the silver nitrate and vice versa.

Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, looking at that bag I see that almost all of it is an extremely dark brown color, except that there are patches of a lighter brown, a manila-paper brown. Could you explain why there are these two colors on the bag?

Mr. LATONA. Yes. The dark portions of the paper bag are where the silver nitrate has taken effect. And the light portions of the bag are where we did not process the bag at that time, because additional examinations were to be made, and we did not wish the object to lose its identity as to what it may have been used for. Certain chemical tests were to be made after we finished with it. And we felt that the small section that was left in itself would not interfere with the general overall examination of the bag itself.

Mr. EISENBERG. That is, the small section of light brown corresponds to the color which the bag had when you received it?

Mr. LATONA. That is the natural color of the wrapper at the time we received it.

Mr. EISENBERG. And the remaining color is caused by the silver nitrate process?

Mr. LATONA. That is correct.

Mr. EISENBERG. Does paper normally turn this dark brown color when treated by silver nitrate?

Mr. LATONA. Yes; it does. It will get darker, too, as time goes on and it is affected by light.

Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, does the silver nitrate process permanently fix the print into the paper?

Mr. LATONA. Permanent in the sense that the print by itself will not disappear. Now, it can be removed, or the stains could be removed chemically, by the placing of the object into a 2 percent solution of mercuric nitrate, which will remove the stains and in addition will remove the prints. But the prints by themselves, if nothing is done to it, will simply continue to grow darker and eventually the whole specimen will lose its complete identity. 

And no, Latona wasn't exaggerating the rapid loss of contrast for prints exposed to silver nitrate. The Science of Fingerprints, the FBI's own handbook, notes that for prints developed through the application of silver nitrate "Prompt photographing is recommended, as, in exceptional instances, silver nitrate prints have become illegible in a matter of hours." 

Now, Latona testified in early April, 4 1/2 months after the application of silver nitrate, and the bag (and boxes) had already turned a dark brown. So, honestly, what are the odds the prints on the bag and Box A (4 of the 6 prints linking Oswald to the sniper's nest) were legible 5 1/2 months later? Next to nothing, right? Well, it seems clear then that Mandella did not, in fact, identify these prints on the bag and box, but, instead, merely acknowledged that dark splotches were apparent on the bag and box where Latona claimed (and perhaps the photos indicated) the prints had been found.

Well, then, what does this prove? Well, seeing as Mandella initially ID'ed Oswald's prints based upon what appear to have been illegible FBI photos provided him by the Warren Commission, and then confirmed his identification of these prints after being shown the actual items upon which these prints were found...even though 4 of these 6 prints had almost certainly since blurred into black proves nothing but provides a strong reason to doubt Mandella's identification of Oswald's prints.

I don't believe Mandella's testimony and statements provided the Warren Commission, and you shouldn't either.

Of course, this doesn't mean Latona's ID of the prints was a fraud.

In fact, it could be he was telling the truth--that the palm print on the cardboard was Oswald's.

Well, this leads to four questions.

1. Was this palm print actually found on Box D?

2. When was it found?

3. By whom?


4. Why wasn't it photographed on the box?

Thus we circle back to Lt. Day....

White Lies or a Dark Truth?

Yes, it's sad but true. Lt. Day's credibility regarding the sniper's nest evidence--and, yes, I mean all of the sniper's nest evidence-- is seriously lacking.

Here is the 4-6-64 sworn testimony of Day's assistant Robert Studebaker regarding the palm print purportedly discovered on a book carton purportedly found in the sniper's nest, and purportedly used by Oswald as a seat while he fired his shots.

Mr. BALL. You lifted a print off of a box?


Mr. BALL. Where was the box?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. The box was due north of the paper that was found, and it was, I believe, we have it that it was - I can read the measurements off of one of these things - how far it was.

Mr. BALL. Fine, do that.

Mr. STUDEBAKER. It was 16 1/2 inches from the - from this wall over here (Indicating).

Mr. BALL. Which wall are you talking about?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. It was from the south wall of the building.

Mr. BALL. Did you take a picture of that box in place before it was moved?


Mr. BALL. The box from which you lifted the prints?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. This box never was moved.

Mr. BALL. That box never was moved?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. That box never was moved.

Mr. BALL. And you took a picture of it?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. And that was the location of it when you lifted the print off it?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. And may I have that, please, and we will mark it Exhibit G.

Mr. STUDEBAKER. I was with them in the corner all the time - they were with me rather, I guess Captain Fritz told them to stay with us and help us in case they were needed.

Mr. BALL. Johnson and Montgomery?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Johnson and Montgomery - they were with me all the time over in that one corner.

Mr. BALL. Now, we have here a picture which we will mark "G."

(Instrument marked by the reporter as "Studebaker Exhibit G" for identification.)

Mr. BALL. This is your No. 26, and that shows the box, does it?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. And that was its location with reference to the corner?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir; that's the exact location.

Mr. BALL. Can you draw in there showing us where the paper sack was found?

(Witness Studebaker drew on instrument as requested by Counsel Ball.)

Mr. BALL. That would be directly south?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. That would be directly south of where the box was.

Mr. BALL. You have drawn an outline in ink on the map in the southeast corner. Now, that box is how many inches, as shown in this picture?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. It is 16 inches from the south wall.

Mr. BALL. You say you lifted a print there off of this box?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. And now, is that shown in the picture?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. What shows in the picture, can you tell me what shows in the picture? Describe what you see there.

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Well, there is a box with a partial print on the - it would be the northwest corner of the box.

Mr. BALL. Was that a palm print or a fingerprint?


Mr. BALL. It was a palm print?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. And does it show the direction of the palm?


Mr. BALL. Which way?


Mr. BALL. It would be made with the hand -

Mr. STUDEBAKER. With the right hand sitting on the box.

Mr. BALL. And the fingers pointed west, is that it?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. Now, you outlined that before you took the picture, did you?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. And that is the outline shown in this picture?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.

(When subsequently asked about the stack of boxes, A-C)

Mr. STUDEBAKER. ...I dusted these first, because I figured he might have stacked them up.

Mr. BALL. Did you find any prints?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. No prints, and then I was standing right there and I told Johnson and Montgomery that there should be a print, and I turned around and figured he might have been standing right in there, and I dusted all these poles here and there wasn't no prints on any of it and started dusting this big box, No. 1 here, and lifted the print off of that box.

Mr. BALL. Did you later examine that print that you lifted off of that box in your crime lab?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. I was up in that building until 1 o'clock that morning and got there at 1 and left at 1 and they had seized all of our evidence and I haven't seen it since. Lieutenant Day compared the print before it was released to Oswald's print.

Mr. BALL. He did?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. He compared it as Oswald's right palm print.

Mr. BALL. Did you put some masking tape over that bit of cardboard before you moved it?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. As soon as the print was lifted, you see, I taped it and then they took the print down there. They just took the top corner of this box down there.

Mr. BALL. They just took the top part of the box down there?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, and when we took this picture, we took it back - that stuff has been up there and back until I was so confused I don't know what was going on.

Well, okay. Studebaker says he discovered the print on Box D after he'd dusted the stack by the window--which was dusted at 1:30 PM at the earliest. Well, think about it. Lt. Day was either working on the rifle, or taking the rifle over to the crime lab, at this time. Huh... It follows, then, that Lt. Day was not present when Studebaker made his discovery.

Now note that Studebaker says "they"--an apparent reference to Johnson and Montgomery--took the print down to the crime lab.

Now here is the 4-22-64 testimony of Lt. Day regarding this same box. 

Mr. BELIN. I want to turn for the moment to 729. I notice that the box on 729 appears to have a portion of it torn off and then replaced again. Is this correct or not?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. I am going to hand you what has been marked as Commission Exhibit 649 and ask you to state if you know what this is.

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. This is a portion torn from the box shown in 729.

Mr. BELIN. While you are holding that I'm going to hand you Commission Exhibit 648 and ask you to state if you know what this is.

Mr. DAY. That is the box shown in 729 at the center of the picture.

Mr. BELIN. Is that the box, 648, from which 649 was torn?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; it is.

Mr. BELIN. Could you relate what transpired to cause 649 to be torn from 648?

Mr. DAY. After I returned to the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository after delivering the gun to my office, we processed the boxes in that area, in the area of the window where the shooting apparently occurred, with powder. This particular box was processed and a palmprint, a legible palmprint, developed on the northwest corner of the box, on the top of the box as it was sitting on the floor.

Mr. BELIN. Then what did you do when you developed this print?

Mr. DAY. I placed a piece of transparent tape, ordinary Scotch tape, which we use for fingerprint work, over the developed palmprint.

Mr. BELIN. And then what did you do?

Mr. DAY. I tore the cardboard from the box that contained the palm print.

Mr. BELIN. Then what did you do?

Mr. DAY. The box was left in its position, but the palmprint was taken by me to the identification bureau.

Mr. BELIN. Did you make any identification of it?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. Later that night when I had a chance to get palmprints from Lee Harvey Oswald. I made a comparison with the palmprint off of the box, your 729, and determined that the palmprint on the box was made by the right palm of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Mr. BELIN. Did you make any identification on Exhibit 649 which would indicate that this is the palmprint you took?

Mr. DAY. It has in my writing, "From top of box Oswald apparently sat on to fire gun. Lieut. J. C. Day," and it is marked "right palm of Oswald. Lieut. J. C. Day."

There is also an arrow indicating north and where the palmprint was found. It further has Detective Studebaker's name on it, and he also wrote on there, "From top of box subject sat on."

Mr. BELIN. Now, when was that placed on that exhibit, that writing of yours, when was it placed on there?

Mr. DAY. It was placed on there November 22, 1963.

Mr. BELIN. Can you identify by any way Commission Exhibit 648?

Mr. DAY. This has my name "J. C. Day" written on it. It also has "R. L. Studebaker" written on it. It has written in the corner in my writing, "Southwest corner box 18 inches from wall."

Mr. BELIN. I also see the name "W. H. Shelley" written on there. Do you know when this was put on?

Mr. DAY. W. H. Shelley is the assistant manager apparently of the Texas School Book Depository.

Mr. BELIN. Did he put it on at the time you found the box?

Mr. DAY. No, sir.

Mr. BELIN. Do you know when that was placed on there?

Mr. DAY. That was placed there November 26. The box was not removed, just the cardboard was removed on November 22 excuse me, November 25 I should say that he put his name on there. I returned to the School Book Depository on November 25 and collected this box.

Now, let's be clear. Studebaker testified that he'd developed the print on Box D (which was 16 1/2 or 16 inches from the wall) after dusting the window boxes (which we can take to mean sometime after 1:30 PM), and then covered it with tape, and that "they"--presumably Det.s Johnson and Montgomery--took this print over to the crime lab (which would be shortly after 3:00 PM). And Day testified that "we" developed the print after he returned from bringing the rifle to the crime lab (which we can take to mean after 3:00 PM), and that he covered it with tape, and tore it from the box (which was 18 inches from the wall)...and that he personally took it over to the crime lab when he next left the school book depository (which he claimed was around 6:00 PM). 

One of them is lying. Or maybe both of them are lying...or just wrong. Since Day never specified that he personally discovered the palm print on the box and since neither Johnson nor Montgomery ever said anything about bringing the corner of the box back to the crime lab, it seems possible Studebaker found the print while Day was off with the rifle, and that Day taped it off and tore it from the box after taking the rifle to the crime lab and returning to the crime scene.

But there's more to it. Although Lt. Day, in his testimony, claimed he'd ripped the cardboard holding the palm print from the box and signed this piece of cardboard on the night of the shooting ...his writing is not apparent on the cardboard in the photographs of the re-construction three days later. It's just not there.

He flat-out lied. Well, it defies belief that Day would fail to sign this critical piece of cardboard if he was there when the print was discovered, or even the one to cover the print with tape, tear the cardboard holding this print from the box, and take it to the crime lab. And this leads me to suspect his whole story was a lie, and that it was Studebaker who discovered the print, and perhaps even gave it to Johnson and Montgomery to bring to the crime lab.  

This suspicion is consistent, moreover, with the rest of Day's testimony.

Mr. BELIN. What else did you do, or what was the next thing you did after you completed photographing and inspecting the rifle on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building for whatever prints you could find, what did you do next?

Mr. DAY. I took the gun at the time to the office and locked it up in a box in my office at Captain Fritz' direction.

Mr. BELIN. Then what did you do?

Mr. DAY. I went back to the School Book Depository and stayed there. It was around three that I got back, and I was in that building until about 6, directing the other officers as to what we needed in the way of photographs and some drawing, and so forth.

Note that at this point Day makes no mention of his dusting the boxes and tearing the palm print off Box D. After returning to the building at 3 o'clock, he supervised the taking of some photos and the creation of a drawing. And so forth.

Mr. BELIN. What did you do when you got back, what photographs did you take?

Mr. DAY. We went, made the outside photographs of the street, we made more photographs inside, and did further checking for prints by using dust on the boxes around the window.

Note that he now remembers that "we" used dust to 'further check" the boxes around the window. Well, who was "we?" He, himself and Studebaker? Did he really make Studebaker re-dust the boxes? Or had Studebaker given up after failing to find anything (beyond the palm print on Box D), only to have Day force him to try his magic dust on a few more boxes?

Mr. BELIN. I hand you what has been marked as "Commission Exhibit 722" and ask you to state if you know what this is.

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. This is a view of Houston Street looking south from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building. 

Mr. BELIN. Do you know when that was taken?

Mr. DAY. About 3 or 3:15, somewhere along there, on November 22, 1963.

Mr. McCLOY. You say from the sixth floor; was it from the farthest east window?

Mr. DAY. The south window on the east end of the building.

Mr. BELIN. You don't mean that. State that again. What side of the building was the window on?

Mr. DAY. It was on the south side of the building, the easternmost window.the print would not have developed with the clarity that it did. 

Wait. This photo was taken after the sniper's nest boxes had been moved. This means that, if Day is to be believed, he returned at 3, went straight to the sniper's nest, finished dusting the boxes, tore the palm print off Box D, and started taking photos out the window to show the sniper's view...all within 15 minutes of his return. Okay. Maybe. But this rules out Montgomery and Johnson's being the ones to bring the cardboard to the crime lab. They left the building at 3. 

Day's words are doubtful. It seems far more likely that Studebaker dusted the boxes, including Box D, when Day was not present. 

And, if this is so--that Day pretended he'd helped discover a print that was discovered when he wasn't even in the building--well, it's probably not just him. Capt. Doughty, Day's boss, is reported to have told Vincent Drain on 8-31-64 that, yessirree, "The portion of the palm print that was raised by the use of fingerprint powder was cut out of the box on Friday afternoon, November 22, 1963, and brought to the Dallas Police Station by Lt. Day."

But, why would Day (and later Doughty) lie about such a thing? They would have to have known someone (like me) would come along and check this stuff, right? When Day testified, on April 22, 1964, it was far from clear his testimony would ever be published, let alone be published in the same volumes as Studebaker's testimony, and pictures of the evidence. It may have been that someone (such as David Belin) coached Day into simplifying the "story" surrounding the sniper's nest evidence, if only for ease of digestion. And that Day thereby took credit for all of Studebaker's actions, and pretended he'd found the bag, and tore the palm print off the box, etc... And that Doughty played along with this.

The Missing Transcript

We have reason to suspect this is so, for that matter.

Let's recall this snippet from Lt. Day's 4-22-64 testimony before the Warren Commission in Washington.

Mr. BELIN. Is there any other testimony you have with regard to the chain of possession of this shell from the time it was first found until the time it got back to your office?

Mr. DAY. No, sir; I told you in our conversation in Dallas that I marked those at the scene. After reviewing my records, I didn't think I was on all three of those hulls that you have, indicating I did not mark them at the scene, then I remembered putting them in the envelope, and Sims taking them. It was further confirmed today when I noticed that the third hull, which I did not give you, or come to me through you, does not have my mark on it.

Mr. BELIN. Now, I did interview you approximately 2 weeks ago in Dallas, more or less?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. At that time what is the fact as to whether or not I went into extended questions and answers as contrasted with just asking you to tell me about certain areas as to what happened? I mean, I questioned you, of course, but was it more along the lines of just asking you to tell me what happened, or more along the lines of interrogation, the interrogation we are doing now?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. Which one?

Mr. DAY. Wait a minute now. Say that again. I am at a loss.

Mr. BELIN. Maybe it would be easier if I just struck the question and started all over again.

Mr. DAY. I remember you asking me if I marked them.

Mr. BELIN. Yes.

Mr. DAY. I remember I told you I did.

Mr. BELIN. All right.

Well, this reveals both that Belin interviewed Day in Dallas, and that no transcript of this interview was created. The other men involved in the collection of evidence from the sixth floor--Studebaker, Sims, Montgomery, and Johnson--were all deposed on 4-6, so it only makes sense that Belin spoke to Day at this time. Ball deposed Capt. Westbrook at 9 AM, Det Sims at 10:20, and Det. Boyd at 11:00. He presumably then took a lunch. He then deposed Officer Dhority at 2:45, Det. Studebaker at 3:45, and Det. Montgomery at 4:50. It seems apparent, then, that Ball scheduled these depositions about an hour apart.

Well, then, what about Belin? What was he up to? He deposed Det. Johnson at 4:00. That's it.

It seems probable, then, that Belin didn't just chitty-chat with Day, but deposed him, for hours and hours, ending shortly before 4:00, when he deposed Johnson.

Now, if this is true, this transcript was then destroyed.

But why? Well, one strong possibility, it seems to me, is that Lt. Day was more truthful in this deposition, and readily admitted it was Studebaker who'd found the palm print on the box, and it was Studebaker who'd dusted the bag, etc. And that someone, probably Belin, told him that that story wasn't satisfactory, and that the Warren Commissioners needed to be told that Day had discovered all the key evidence, etc.

That's the most "innocent" way one can spin this, of course. The reality may have been more sinister, perhaps even far more sinister...

One might wonder, even, if this print found on the cardboard had actually been on the cardboard, when the cardboard was still on the box... there anything else about the print on CE 649 that might lead us to suspect it was fabricated after the cardboard had been torn from the box?

Yep. Take another look at CE 649.

Notice that the tape overlays Studebaker's signature. Well, assuming the print is legit, this suggests that as soon as Studebaker developed this print, his first instinct was to sign his name right next to it, and not protect the print. One would think a crime scene investigator would cover the print before signing the cardboard. And yet, in this instance, it appears that Studebaker signed the cardboard before the tape was added.

And this even though Studebaker testified to taping the print "as soon as the print was lifted." His choice of words is interesting here, moreover, as "lifting" a print is a term used to describe the act of pressing tape down on an object holding a print (including, yes, a photocopy of a print), and then pulling the tape taut, thereby "lifting" the print from its former home. "Lifting" is, for that matter, not a term used to describe the discovery of a print via the application of fingerprint powder. The term for that is "raising," as in "we sprinkled some fingerprint powder on the package, and raised a print by the return address" or "developing," as in "we developed a print on the package."

And that's not the only conclusion one can draw from Studebaker's signature being under the tape. Think about it. Although it seems unlikely Studebaker would raise a print on the box, sign his name by the print, and then cover the print and signature with tape, this becomes far more problematic should one accept it was Day who raised the print.  I mean, really, Day raises a print, Studebaker rushes over and signs his name by it, and then Day slaps some tape over the print and Studebaker's signature, but fails to sign it himself?  Spare me.

This reminds me...

Shining a Light on B.S. 2

The Day Kennedy Was Shot by Jim Bishop (1968) is yet another Oswald-did-it book designed to defend President Johnson, the Dallas Police, and the Warren Commission. While writing his book, Bishop spoke to dozens of sources, including members of the Dallas Police and President Johnson. And yet he still managed to get some important stuff really really wrong.

Here, then, is Bishop's account of Lt. Day's actions upon his return to the school book depository, circa 3:00, after depositing the rifle at the station.

"The entire sixth floor had been isolated by policeman. Day and his assistants went to work in that corner window where the empty cartridges had been found. They dusted the bricks on the ledge; they examined the heating pipes behind the assassin's seat on a cardboard box. The man moved about gingerly, disturbing nothing. They got nothing until they brushed the top of the box lying in front of the window. This, it was assumed, would be the low seat for the killer. On the front edge, facing the window, they saw a palm print come up clearly.

It was the first technological discovery, and yet it proved nothing. Anyone could have been sitting near that window, and anyone could have leaned on a box. The case against Oswald was to be built of chips and bits of evidence, the whole weighing more than the sum of its parts. The lieutenant backed his men away from the print, took strips of Scotch Tape and pressed it down on top of the white palm print. Then Day wrote on the box: 'From top of box Oswald apparently sat on to fire gun. Lieut. J.C. Day.' He tore the top off and took it back to headquarters."

Oy. In but one paragraph, Bishop gets five things wrong: 1) it's highly unlikely Studebaker held off dusting the sniper's nest until after Day returned from the Crime Lab; 2) It's doubtful Day taped off the print on the box found in the sniper's nest; 3) the print found on the box wasn't "white"; 4) Day never wrote the words quoted by Bishop on the top of the box, that is, while the cardboard on which it was written was on the box; and 5) it's doubtful it was Day who tore the top off the box.

Now take a close-up look at where this corner of the box was torn from Box D.

Well, heck. As revealed to me by my 8 year-old son, cardboard consists of three layers--a stiff sheet of paper on top, a middle ruffled layer, and a stiff sheet of paper on bottom. As shown above, the bottom layer of the cardboard in the area where CE 649 was torn from the box remained intact, as did much of the middle ruffled layer. Well, this proves that whoever tore the print off the box failed to tear or cut the cardboard all the way through the bottom flap of the box, and just half-assed it, whereby much of CE 649 is only paper thin. And this means that, officially, Studebaker (or Day, if you believe Day) not only failed to take a picture of the one print found on a cardboard box in the sniper's nest, but then tore this print off its box in a half-assed manner, and came damn close to tearing right through the print.

And no, I'm not joking, or trying to pull a fast one. Here, take a look at CE 649, as photographed by the Dallas Police before being sent to the FBI .

Look at the shadow along the bottom. Look at the crease at the bottom of the right side. CE 649 is paper thin, folks. It was so thin, in fact, that FBI fingerprint expert Sebastain Latona repeatedly described it as a piece of paper in his 4-2-64 testimony before the Warren Commission. 

Here, see for yourself...

Mr. EISENBERG. If there are no further questions on the carton 641. I will move on to another exhibit. I now hand you a carton, somewhat larger in area than the 641 which we were just discussing, with various markings on it which I won't discuss, but which is marked Box "D" in red pencil at the upper left-hand corner of the bottom of the box. Are you familiar with this carton, Mr. Latona?

Mr. DULLES. Has that been admitted?

Mr. EISENBERG. It has not so far been admitted.

Mr. LATONA. This Box D, I received this along with Box A for purposes of examining for latent prints.

Mr. EISENBERG. Was that examined by you or under your supervision for that purpose?

Mr. LATONA. Yes, it was.

Mr. EISENBERG. When was that received?

Mr. LATONA. That was received on the 27th of November 1963.

Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Chairman, may I have this admitted as 648?

Mr. DULLES. What date?

Mr. LATONA. 27th.

Mr. EISENBERG. That is 5 days after the assassination?

Mr. LATONA. Yes.

Mr. EISENBERG. May I have this admitted as 648?

Mr. DULLES. It shall be admitted.

(The box referred to was marked Commission Exhibit Number 648, and received in evidence.)

Mr. DULLES. Can you identify it in some further way? I think there are some markings on here.

Mr. EISENBERG. There is "Box D." It is a little hard to read. It says "1 40 N TH&DO"---

Mr. DULLES. "New People and Progress."

Mr. EISENBERG. Apparently referring to the name of the textbook. This is not a Rolling Reader carton.


Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, when you received this box, could you tell whether it had been previously examined for latent fingerprints?

Mr. LATONA. A portion of it had.

Mr. EISENBERG. And can you tell us what portion had been?

Mr. LATONA. The bottom evidently, because a piece had been cut out.

Mr. EISENBERG. You are pointing to a place on the bottom of the box which is to the left of the point at which I have affixed the sticker "Commission Exhibit Number 648," immediately to the left of that point?

Mr. LATONA. That is correct.

Mr. EISENBERG. Was that portion of the box given to you?

Mr. LATONA. Yes, it was.

Mr. EISENBERG. With the box?

Mr. LATONA. At the time we got the box.

Mr. EISENBERG. I think I have that. I now hand you what appears to be a portion of a cardboard carton and a piece of tape with various writings, included among which is "From top of box Oswald apparently sat on to fire gun." Do you recognize this piece of paper, Mr. Latona?

Mr. LATONA. Yes, I do. This is a piece of paper that evidently had been cut from the box.

Mr. EISENBERG. Does that fit into the box?

Mr. LATONA. It does.

Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Chairman, may I have this admitted as 649?

Mr. DULLES. It shall be admitted as 649.

(The piece of carton referred to was marked Commission Exhibit Number 649, and received in evidence.)

Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, did you find any identifiable prints on the cardboard carton 648?

Mr. LATONA. Yes; in addition to this one which has been cut out and which had been covered by a piece of lifting tape, there were, two fingerprints developed in addition to that one.

Mr. EISENBERG. Two identifiable fingerprints?

Mr. LATONA. That is right.

Mr. EISENBERG. Palmprints?

Mr. LATONA. No; they were fingerprints.

Mr. EISENBERG. I mean were there any palmprints?

Mr. LATONA. There were no palmprints.

Mr. EISENBERG. How did you process this box?

Mr. LATONA. By the use of iodine fumes and silver nitrate solution.

Mr. EISENBERG. Did you find evidence of processing prior to your receipt apart from the exhibit which is now 649?

Mr. LATONA. Yes; this particular area which has been cut out had been processed with powder.

Mr. EISENBERG. Was there powder on other areas of the box?

Mr. LATONA. I don't believe there was.

Now, this is interesting. Beyond describing CE 649 as a "piece of paper," Latona also claimed, and claimed repeatedly, that it was "cut out" from Box D.

What's that about?

Well, which makes more sense to you--that Studebaker/Day would casually tear an important piece of evidence from a box in this manner? Or that he/they would casually tear off a section of a box found in the sniper's nest just in case, y'know, they needed to make use of it later?

It's reasonable to assume, then, that the "cut out" story was not just a mistake, or a daily cookie designed to assuage our hunger for conspiracy. It seems possible, even, that the "cut out" story was designed and developed to help Lt. J.C. Day sell the bona fides of CE 649.

Let's recall that Vincent Drain, in his 8-31-64 memo on an interview with Day's and Studebaker's boss, Capt. Doughty, claimed Doughty told him ""The portion of the palm print that was raised by the use of fingerprint powder was cut out of the box." (26H803)

And now add that Drain, in a report written that same day on an interview with Day, repeated "He

stated that four cardboard boxes were stacked against the sixth floor window overlooking the street.

These boxes were dusted for fingerprints, since it was their opinion that the boxes possibly had been used as a shield and a rest for the person who fired the rifle at President JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY and Governor JOHN B. CONNALLY. He stated after dusting these boxes, a palm print was raised on the box, which was believed to have been the box that the person firing the rifle had been sitting on. This part of the box, which contained the palm print, was cut out and brought to the Dallas Police Crime Laboratory. The boxes were then left on the sixth floor and not taken to the Dallas Police Crime Laboratory until the morning of November 25,1963. Lieutenant DAY stated that it did not seem pertinent to him at the time, since there were no other prints on these bars that he observed." (26H805)

And here's the Warren Report on this print: "This print which had been cut out of the box was also forwarded to the FBI." (WR, pages 140-141) The footnote for this passage points to Latona's testimony, moreover, which means the writers of the Warren Report disregarded the statements and testimony of the men who removed the print from the box in favor of a man who only saw the print after it had been removed.

Cutting was, undoubtedly, the preferred method for removing a piece of cardboard containing evidence from a box. By casually tearing the cardboard from the box, Studebaker/Day called into question the legitimacy of CE 649. Is it just a coincidence, then, that the FBI and Warren Commission came to pretend CE 649 had been "cut out" of the box? 

I suspect not.

The "Lucky" Mistake

I mean, rat or no rat, Latona would have to have smelled a rat...

Mr. LATONA. The two fingerprints which were developed on Commission Exhibit 648 by silver nitrate are not identified as anyone's, but the print which appears on the piece which was cut out has been identified. 

Mr. EISENBERG. That is 649?

Mr. LATONA. Of Exhibit 648--which is Exhibit 649----


Mr. LATONA. Which came from Exhibit 649 has been identified as a palm-print of Harvey Lee Oswald, the right palmprint.

Mr. EISENBERG. That is Lee Harvey Oswald, Mr. Latona?

Mr. LATONA. That is right, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, can you tell how this was developed, this print on 649?

Mr. LATONA. The appearance is it was developed with black powder.

Mr. EISENBERG. You testified before concerning the aging of fingerprints. Considering the material on which this print was developed, 649, do you think you could form an opinion, any opinion at all, concerning the freshness or staleness of this print?

Mr. LATONA. Bearing in mind the fact that this is an absorbent material, and realizing, of course, that a print when it is left on a material of this type it starts to soak in. Now, the reason that we in the FBI do not use powder is because of the fact that in a short period of time the print will soak in so completely that there won't be any moisture left. Accordingly when you brush powder across there won't be anything developed. Under circumstances, bearing in mind that here the box was powdered, and a print was developed with powder, the conclusion is that this is comparatively a fresh print. Otherwise, it would not have developed. We know, too, that we developed two other fingerprints on this by chemicals. How long a time had elapsed since the time this print was placed on there until the time that it would have soaked in so that the resulting examination would have been negative I don't know, but that could not have been too long.

Mr. EISENBERG. When you say "not too long," would you say not 3 weeks, or not 3 days, or not 3 hours?

Mr. LATONA. Very definitely I'd say not 3 days. I'd say not 3 weeks.

Mr. EISENBERG. And not 3 days, either?

Mr. LATONA. No; I don't believe so, because I don't think that the print on here that is touched on a piece of cardboard will stay on a piece of cardboard for 3 days.

Mr. EISENBERG. Would you bring that any closer?

Mr. LATONA. I am afraid I couldn't come any closer.

Mr. EISENBERG. 3 days?

Mr. LATONA. That is right.

Mr. EISENBERG. That would be the outermost limit that you can testify concerning?

Mr. LATONA. We have, run some tests, and usually a minimum of 24 hours on a material of this kind, depending upon how heavy the sweat was, to try to say within a 24-hour period would be a guess on my part.

Mr. EISENBERG. I am not sure I understand your reference to a minimum of 24 hours.

Mr. LATONA. We have conducted tests with various types of materials as to how long it could be before we would not develop a latent print.


Mr. LATONA. Assuming that the same print was left on an object or a series of similar prints were left on an object, and powdering them, say, at intervals of every 4 hours or so, we would fail to develop a latent print of that particular type on that particular surface, say, within a 24-hour period.

Mr. EISENBERG. So that is a maximum of 24 hours?

Mr. LATONA. That is right.

Mr. EISENBERG. You would not care, you say, though----


Mr. EISENBERG. To employ that here, but your experiments produced a maximum time of 24 hours.

Mr. LATONA. Bear that out; yes. Like I say, undoubtedly this print was left on there----between the time that the print was left and the time that it was powdered could not have been too long a time.

Well, this should have led Latona to some questions. 

1. Why was the piece of cardboard torn from Box D (CE 649) the only bit of cardboard on which he noticed fingerprint powder?

2. Did Day and Studebaker deliberately use powder on the cardboard torn from Box D, knowing it had a shorter period of effectiveness, and would be more valuable as evidence? 

I mean, this is a HUGE freakin' coincidence, people... According to Latona, not only did the DPD only powder one small piece of one of the boxes, but they found a print with this powder, and their doing so proved Oswald had touched this box within the last day. That's like hitting a bullseye on your first try, while blind-folded. 

Now, one might wonder how the FBI would subsequently try to answer these questions. It is fortunate, then, that in 1995 the FBI Crime Lab would come under fire for its lack of scientific objectivity, and a defense would be written demonstrating just how dang science-y it was, for which the FBI's experts would offer up anecdotes about its most famous cases, including the Kennedy assassination. 

Here. then is the FBI's latter-day explanation for the print found on the cardboard.

"Less than two hours after Kennedy had been shot, Dallas Police found a rifle lying next to a window in the Texas School Book Depository. A barricade of cardboard book cartons had been built around the window. Although Oswald's right palmprint was found on the rifle's stock, someone could have left the rifle there to implicate him. Following standard crime-scene procedure, detectives searched the area for latent prints. Oswald's fingerprints and palmprints were developed on three of the cardboard boxes and on a paper bag.

That proved nothing."

Well, let's stop right here. We have been told 1) that the rifle was found by the assassination window, (which hides that it was found across the building from the supposed sniper's nest), 2) that Oswald's palm print was found on the rifle's stock (which hides that it was supposedly lifted by the Dallas Police from a part of the barrel hidden from sight when the rifle was intact, and that the FBI checked this area for prints and found no signs of such a print), and 3) that the DPD found Oswald's prints on three boxes and a paper bag, (which hides that they purportedly found but one print on one box, and that the FBI itself claimed responsibility for finding prints on one other box--one, not two--and the paper bag). 

Hmm. That's three lies that help conceal the unusual nature of the evidence presented against Oswald. What comes next?

"If prints are to be connected to a crime, they have to be found in places they shouldn't be found. Oswald worked in the building, so it was not at all unusual that his prints would be found there. What the police had to prove was that these were fresh prints, that Oswald had been at that window within the last few hours. Since prints can't be dated, that was an almost impossible job. But not in this case, in which Dallas detectives had made one of the luckiest mistakes in sci-crime history. 

Cardboard is a porous, or absorbent, surface. Detectives should have sprayed chemicals on the boxes, but they mistakenly used dusting powder--and they had developed several prints. The question was, why? The boxes were sent to the lab in Washington for a more complete examination. By experimenting with dusting powder on similar boxes, specialists discovered it would develop prints for up to three hours after they had been made, but then the body fluids would be absorbed into the cardboard, keeping prints from being developed. The fact that Oswald's prints had been developed with dusting powder proved he had been at that window within the time frame of the assassination."

(Hard Evidence by David Fisher, 1995 Dell Publishing p. 163-164 of the paperback)

Note that, in its latter-day zeal to defend the suspicious behavior of the Dallas Police and the conclusions of the Warren Commission, the FBI came to throw its own expert under the bus, and not only claim the boxes were mistakenly dusted, but that several prints were discovered and this proved Oswald had handled these boxes on the day of the shooting, shortly before shots were fired from the sniper's nest. Latona had, of course, said he believed the boxes had not been dusted, and had said the one print discovered by dusting cardboard would have to have been made within 24 hours, not 3 hours.

There's also this. The palm print on the cardboard wasn't the only problematic print on Box D.

The Vanishing Thumb Print

Should one wish to comb through the Dallas Police records on the assassination available on the University of North Texas website, one will discover a number of surprises. One such surprise can be found in the DPD's evidence book for the assassination...on a list of the physical evidence...

A thumb print! What thumb print?

Now, this document was provided the Warren Commission, and published on page 753 of CD 81. As a result, one can assume this has been noticed before... One might assume, for that matter, that this was just a simple mistake and that it was supposed to read "palm print" not "thumb print" and "cardboard" not "cardboard box.

Only not so fast... When one turns the page in the evidence book, one finds that there is a separate listing for the palm print on the cardboard--the cardboard from Box D. Here it is on page 754 of CD 81.

Now, that's a mystery. And it's just beginning...

Here's another image from the UNT website. This is the DPD inventory for the items sent the FBI on 11-26-63. It is signed by Lt. Day and Capt. Doughty. (This was published by the commission on 24H332.)

Well, there it is again--a thumb print--only this time in quotes. Now, just what is being quoted? Lt. Day's notes? His writing on the box?

If so, these notes have never been published and this writing has never been found.

And, should that not be enough, there's this...

These pages come from the evidence list accompanying Capt. Fritz's 12-23-63 report on the assassination. The tan page is from the UNT website and the white page is from the Warren Commission's volumes (24H260-261). This report was written weeks after the FBI inspected Box D and failed to ID any prints belonging to Oswald on the box. And yet...somehow...for some reason...Fritz is still under the impression Oswald's thumb print was found on Box D. He's not mistaking the palm print found on the cardboard for a thumb print, moreover, as he lists both prints on his report. 

This mystery has never been explained. Although the documents we've discussed were available to the Warren Commission, moreover, none of its members or staff is known to have noticed that, oh yeah, the DPD originally claimed there was a thumb print on Box D.

It seems possible, moreover, that this wasn't just a coincidence, and that the Warren Commission was trying to conceal an awkward fact--that the DPD ID'ed a thumb print on Box D as Oswald's but the FBI disagreed...and that it was then determined that this print should be "disappeared." The first report by Lt. Day to ever see the light of, well, day, we should recall, wasn't written till 1-08-64. This was weeks after Fritz wrote his report mentioning the thumb print. Was the thumb print "disowned" by the Dallas Police sometime between 12-23-63 and 1-08-64? And, if so, why?

Was it someone else's thumb print? Who knows?

Let's refresh. We have identified significant problems (forensically speaking) with the fibers found on the rifle butt, the paper bag supposedly used as a gun case, and Box D, the box upon which Oswald was purported to have been sitting while firing his rifle. This leaves us with Box A, the top box of the two boxes stacked by the window, and the rifle itself, as the only remaining pieces of evidence tying Oswald to the sniper's nest."

 Well, guess what?

There are a ton of questions about these items as well.

We'll get to them in a minute. 

But first let's put on our debunking hats. When discussing the boxes in the sniper's nest window, most conspiracy theorists leap to "Yeah, someone moved them between the Tom Dillard photo taken mere seconds after the last shot, and the James Powell photo taken seconds later." And they are within their rights to do so. The HSCA, after all, concluded that the boxes had, inexplicably, been moved between the two photographs. 

But on this point, conspiracy theorists should concede defeat. Photographer Craig Lamson and I had a moderately heated discussion about this somewhere around 2010, and he helped convince me that there is a vast disparity in the perspectives of the two photos, and that this led to a box in back and to the west of the box on the window sill (Box B) to change its apparent location. I even tested this out at home, placing items a foot or so behind a railing on the side of our dining room, and then viewing these items from different perspectives in the living room on the other side of the railing. Sure enough, as I moved from a sharp angle to the right of the object (as in the Powell photo, in color, below) to a more direct view of the object (as in the Dillard photo, in black and white), the object a foot behind the railing jumped to its left (in comparison to the railing). 

Some years later, moreover, I noticed that someone (aka John Mytton) had made a gif of the Powell and Dillard photos demonstrating this very point, and had posted this gif on the JFK Assassination Forum. I present this gif below. Note that the box in question slides to the left (in comparison to the box on the window sill) with the shifting of the angle of the camera to the front of the building. This does not appear unnatural in a manner suggesting the box had been moved between the photos. 

Okay now, let's continue on our journey through Questionland.

Starting with...

Who Moved Box A for the Press?

Now this might seem a bit trivial. But I think it's an important question. At least 4 photographers and a TV cameraman were allowed to photograph or film the view from the sniper's nest window on the afternoon of 11-22-63. (A sample from each is on the slide above.) In the images captured by 4 of these 5, Box A is positioned as it was when captured by the DPD in its second round of photos (that is, the photos of the sniper's nest after the boxes had been re-stacked).

But then someone moved the box for Flip Schulke's photos. Who did this? If it was Lt. Day or Det. Studebaker, well, that's an embarrassment for the Dallas Police. Since when do crime scene analysts not only pose for press photos in the middle of their investigation, but re-arrange the evidence for the press? Well, then, perhaps it was Schulke himself? Well, that would also be a huge embarrassment for the DPD. As we've seen, DPD muckety-mucks wrote a report in which they claimed the sniper's nest was roped off and not made available to the press. That this was not true is bad enough, but should it be that at least one member of the press was allowed to touch an important piece of evidence--and allowed to do so before this item was properly tested for fingerprints, mind you--well, that's just amateur hour. Really embarrassing stuff.

in any event, when all was said and done, there was an unidentified print on Box B. When this case gets re-opened--and it will get re-opened--the FBI should compare this print to Schulke's prints.

This brings us to our next question...

Where Was Box A on 11-23-63?

Unbeknownst to the Dallas PD, FBI agents Robert Barrett and Ivan Lee gained access to the sixth floor sniper's nest on the morning of 11-23-63. They then took some pictures of their own.

These pictures were published by the FBI as part of the 11-30-63 FBI summary report of Robert Gemberling (aka CD 5). Two of the FBI's photos are shown above. The top box of the stack of three boxes captured in a series of DPD and press photos on 11-22-63 was now missing.

Now I know some are thinking... How do we know WHICH of the boxes was missing? I mean, the boxes had been moved. Maybe just maybe it was Box B that was missing, and not Box A.

So let's shut that down pronto. 

Here is a photo showing the boxes on 11-22-63. The top box, with the scar, was eventually designated Box A. This was the box purported to have contained Oswald's prints. Note that the middle box, the window box, Box B, has a piece of tape starting on the right edge along the lower half. 

Now here's a rarely seen FBI photo showing the one box of this size in the sniper's nest on 11-23-63. (This photo comes courtesy The Sixth Floor Museum, which had been gifted some 11-23-63 crime scene photos from Dallas FBI agent Nat Pinkston, including at least two that had not been published by the Warren Commission.) 

The tape on Box B in the first photo is apparent on this box as well. This is Box B, on 11-23, in the same spot it was the day before. Box A, which had been sitting on top of it, is gone...vanished. 

And so I ask again...

No, Seriously, Where Was Box A on 11-23-63?

The slide above presents two more 11-23-63 FBI photos showing but TWO boxes stacked up by the sniper's nest window, when the Dallas police and press photos from the day before showed THREE boxes stacked up by the sniper's nest window. Box A--the only box from the stack that could ever be linked to Oswald (via a subsequently discovered fingerprint and palm print)--was missing!

Now, I know what some are thinking. They're thinking that the box was sitting on the floor somewhere out of sight. But no, the box was missing. Really.

And we know this because... Texas School Book Depository warehouse manager William Shelley told us so...


Mr. BALL. Now, you recall going up to the sixth floor after the shooting, do you?


Mr. BALL. Did you go over to the southeast corner of the building where there was a window open?

Mr. SHELLEY. Not all the way; they had it blocked off.

Mr. BALL. Did you at a later time go over there?

Mr. SHELLEY. No, sir; not for several days afterwards.

Mr. BALL. Did you several days afterward go over there?

Mr. SHELLEY. After they released us to go back to work in the corner. We kept out for several days.

Mr. BALL. When you went back there, were there two Rolling Readers on top of a larger box?

Mr. SHELLEY. No, sir; those were carried in by the local authorities. The boxes---the Rolling Readers were there.

Mr. BALL. They were?

Mr. SHELLEY. But the boxes that they were originally packed in were gone--- they had been carried up to the police station.

Shelley claimed the boxes containing the Rolling Readers--boxes A and B--had already been carried off when he first saw the sniper's nest after the shooting. This was presumably the 25th--the day the DPD re-constructed the sniper's nest for a new set of photos.

But he also said the Rolling Readers themselves, which came 10 to the box, were there in the sniper's nest when he first got a look at it after the shooting.

So...let's look again at the FBI's 11-23-63 photos. If the Rolling Readers can be found in the FBI's photos, we know Box A (and B?) were carried off on the evening of 11-22-63, and not minutes before Shelley saw the sniper's nest on 11-25.

The Disappearance of Box A

As shown above, these Rolling Readers are not apparent in the DPD Photo taken on 11-22 (across top), but are readily apparent in the FBI Photo taken on 11-23 (across bottom).

So let's not be coy. Shelley's testimony about Box A, when coupled with Photo 19 from CD 5, more than suggests Box A was missing on the 23rd, it suggests Box A was missing on the 23rd because it was removed from the building by the Dallas Police on the night of the 22nd.

This did not go unnoticed, moreover. On 11-29-63, FBI agents Robert Barrett and Ivan Lee (who'd taken the 11-23 photographs) wrote a 4-page memo on the photographic evidence (the aforementioned memo found in the Weisberg Archives). It reveals: "A comparison of photographs taken by the PD, 11/22/63, of the sixth floor as they found it, and photographs taken by the FBI, 11/23/63, definitely shows that some items have been moved or removed, during the interim."

And that was it. The FBI failed to follow-up and conduct detailed interviews regarding the removal of a key piece of the crime scene prior to their photographing the scene the next day.

Perhaps they assumed the missing box had been taken to the crime lab on the 22nd.

But that's not all the memo reveals...

Oh, Yeah... Come to Think of It...

The memo reveals as well that Barrett and Lee had forwarded Dallas Police crime scene photos to the FBI on the 27th, and that "All PD photographs of the pertinent crime scene area on the sixth floor were taken on 11/22/63, between the hours of 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM."

Well, wait a second. The most revealing of the sniper's nest photos provided the FBI by the DPD was photo 14 (in Warren Commission Document 5, aka CD 5), and this depicted the sniper's nest as re-constructed on 11-25. Had the DPD "failed" to tell the FBI this photo was a re-construction? Apparently so.

This failure was not without its ramifications, moreover. Beyond the misrepresentation of the photo taken on 11-25 as a photo taken on 11-22 in CD 5, it was also misrepresented in Warren Commission Document 1 (the 12-9-63 summary report provided President Johnson on 12-5). Now, let's be clear. This was a photograph taken of a re-constructed sniper's nest on 11-25 incorrectly presented as a photo of the sniper's nest as found on a report provided the President.

This deception didn't last long, however. The earliest reference to photo 14 as a re-construction, and acknowledgement that most of the sniper's nest photos were of a re-constructed sniper's nest, for that matter, came in a 12-4-63 Dallas to FBI HQ Airtel built upon a 12-2-63 interview with Dallas Chief of Police Jesse Curry. (FBI file 62-109060 sec 25, p 78-83)

Had Day simply forgot to tell Agents Barrett and Lee that he'd taken a box or two to the lab on the 22nd, and returned them on the 25th, and that some of the photos he gave them on the 26th were re-creations?

Fables of the Reconstruction

No. It's worse than that. To begin with, the stack of four large boxes directly to the right of the presumed sniper's position were removed entirely. This is demonstrated by comparing this photo taken on 11-23 by the FBI...

with the following photos taken by the Dallas Police on 11-25...

Note here that the four boxes directly behind the window boxes have gone missing.

Now note the box eclipsing part of the seat box in this second photo. It seems probable that this box was atop the second stack from the seat box in the photos taken on 11-22-63 and 11-23-63. No, scratch that. As the stack with the box turned on its side was shorter than the stack closest to the camera in the photos of a re-constructed sniper's nest, but taller than this stack in the photos taken on 11-22 and 11-23, it seems fairly certain the top box from this stack was removed, for one reason or another...

So that's five missing boxes. No explanation has ever been offered for their disappearance, mind you. Were they taken to the crime lab and exposed to chemicals? Were they just shoved aside? No one was ever asked about this, and no one ever explained.

Now these boxes could have been moved for photographic the window boxes and the seat box could get captured in the same shot.

But there's just something fishy about the movement of these boxes. The drawing below can be found in the Dallas Police archives, and on the University of North Texas website. It is the sniper's nest window area (with the south west corner of the building in the upper left corner) on a diagram listed as "Map of Texas School Book Depository #1." The University of North Texas website claims this was created by Officers B.G. Brown and Robert Studebaker. on 11-25-63. The rectangles represent stacks of boxes, and the numbers reflect the number off boxes in these stacks. 

Note that in this drawing Box D, with its missing corner, is labeled A, and that the stack to the west of Box D...has been crossed-out. Hmmm...

Now let us look at the sniper's nest window area on "Map of Texas School Book Depository #2." This is the finished product. In the lower right corner of this map it reports "Sketch made 11-25-63 10:00 A.M. by Det.s B.G. Brown + R.L. Studebaker." 

Well, why make this "map," if not to deceive? Sure, it may have been accurate--as of 10 A.M. on 11-25--but the officers creating this map knew full well it was inaccurate as of 11-22-63, when there were three stacks in the wall of boxes in back of the window, and not two. 

Heck, if the UNT website is correct about the handwritten drawing being created on 11-25, they knew it was inaccurate as of earlier that morning...

Why remove this stack, and then create a "map" with an inaccurate presentation of the sniper's nest?

And why... yes, it took me a long time to realize this but, yes, it's true...turn around and change the measurements?

Look back at the original drawing. The distance from the wall provided for the two stacks behind the window is 1'11." Now look at the "map" created later. Has someone changed the 1 to a 2, to try and make out that this wall of boxes was really 2'11' from the south wall? I mean, I must admit this never occurred to me--it's so clear from looking at both the original photos and the re-enactment photos that this wall of books was 1'11" from the south wall. It's hard to believe someone would lie about it.

And yet someone did. Here's Lt. Day in his 4-22-64 testimony before the Warren Commission. They are discussing the location of a box visible in the Dillard photo taken just after the shooting, and whether or not this box--not the one on the window sill but the one on the west end of the "sniper's nest"--was also on the window sill.

Mr. BELIN. Let me give you another question. On Exhibit 715 there is only one box shown in the window actually resting on the ledge, which is the box that you identified the corner out of in the eastern part of the window shown on 482. Now, what is the fact as to whether or not this other box on 482 would have been resting on the ledge, or is it a pictorial view of something that actually was in back of the window?

Mr. DAY. I think this is one of the boxes 2 feet 11 inches back from the wall. There were two stacks of them, one behind the window sill that you see here.


WOW. That's three whopping lies in two sentences. More than one per sentence. (That's math. Pretty smurt, huh?) The boxes were not 2 feet 11 inches back from the wall. Obviously. And there were three stacks of boxes. Obviously. And two of these were behind the window sill, until someone (most assuredly Mr. Day and his team of crime scene specialists) removed one of the stacks for the "reconstruction" photos taken on 11-25-63. Obviously. 

One struggles to come up with a legitimate excuse for this. If the DPD wasn't trying to fool anyone with the re-constructed photos, why oh why would they have gone back and altered their original drawing--which showed a stack in the sniper's nest that had been removed for the re-construction. I mean, why cross out the stack?

And why lie about the measurements? And number of stacks? In sworn testimony before the Chief Justice of the United States, even?

Well, one possibility is that the DPD was trying to hide just how confined an area the sniper's nest really was. Think about it. The DPD map claims the second stack was 5'6" inches (or 66 inches) from the wall. Well, the first box against the wall in the reconstruction photo appears to have been turned sideways, which would make it about 14" wide. Then there's a 2" gap. And then there's Box D, which was 18" long. That's 34 inches. And then there's the missing stack of boxes 18" long. So that's 52 inches. Well, this means the opening into the sniper's nest was but 14 inches wide on the day of the shooting, and that it ballooned out to 32 inches wide during the reconstruction.

Now, ain't that convenient.

And no, I'm not kidding. Here again is Life Magazine photographer Flip Schulke's photo of the sniper's nest from the day of the shooting. (Only this time it's been lightened up a bit.)

Now note how close the box at the bottom of the photo (Box D) is to the stack of boxes in back of the stack by the window. That's a tight squeeze. 

I mean, something stinks here...

The Photo 3 Mystery

And it keeps getting stinkier... You see, the evidence suggests the DPD faked another "map" as well...

Let's look at the "map" created by Studebaker to record the locations and directions of the crime scene photos taken on 11-22-63. 

Here is a blow-up showing Studebaker's signature in the bottom left corner of the map. 

And here is a blow-up of the southeast corner of the building. 

Note the location and direction of photo #3 on the map. Here it is.

Now look at the blow-up below. The Rolling Readers apparent in the 11-23-63 FBI photos are apparent in this photo as well. Now look at the box I've marked with an "x".

As shown below, this box is in a different orientation than it is in DPD Photo #1, taken on the 22nd, and FBI photo #19, taken on the 23rd. 

So why was this box flipped around or switched out for Photo #3?

Well, it seems obvious, doesn't it? Photo #3 was taken after the FBI took its photos on the 23rd. As the highest box in the front row of boxes by the window is missing in Photo #3, and is also missing in the re-enactment photos, moreover, it seems probable Photo #3 was actually taken on the 25th. But why?

And why did the DPD pretend Photo #3 was taken on the 22nd, to the extent Studebaker (R.L.S.) stamped it and signed it as being taken on the 22nd?

Hmmm... Was the "map" created by Studebaker to show the locations of the photos taken on 11-22 a fake, and not an honest record of the photos taken on 11-22? Or was this "map" legit, and Photo #3 a fake--inserted into the record as a replacement for a photo showing something that wasn't supposed to be shown?

Now, I know some are thinking, "Well, wait a second! Maybe the original Photo #3 was too blurry, so Studebaker re-took it on the 25th, and then told a white lie when he dated it as being taken on the 22nd." 

Well, that's quite a stretch, but possible, I suppose. But, alas, that's not the last of the problems with the re-construction...

Two Bricks Down

As it turns out, boxes A, B, and C were also misrepresented in the reconstruction. This is shown on the slide above, and is confirmed by all the photos taken of the sixth floor window in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. These show Box B in the window, with its southeast corner on the ledge about half-way across the easternmost pane of the window. The photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest, however, place Box B 6 inches or so to the west.

So, yeah, the DPD misrepresented the location of the boxes. And this wasn't the last time this happened, mind you. 

Here is a frame from some newsreel footage shot on 5-9-64. It shows what one presumes is a Secret Service Agent reenacting the shooting from the sniper's nest window, while Warren Commissioners Dulles, Cooper, and McCloy look on.

And here is a photo of a similar re-enactment performed on 9-6-64, when Warren Commissioners Russell and Boggs followed suit and performed their own Grand Tour of Dallas, along with repeat customer Commissioner Cooper. (And yes, you're seeing correctly. In this re-enactment the shooter was none other than Senator Richard Russell himself.)

Note that in both instances, the corner of the window box aligns with the center of the window. Well, this is the wrong location. It is, instead, the location the box was placed in the DPD's 11-25-63 re-enactment, 6 inches or more to the west of where it was at the time of the assassination. 

Now, one might argue that the commission had no way of knowing the actual location of the window box at the time of the assassination, and that they had simply deferred to the DPD's photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest. 

But that should not have been the case. They knew the DPD's photos were re-constructions, and they knew there were photos showing the actual location of the box. And they had them in their files. Photographer Tom Dillard, who took a photo of the sniper's nest window mere seconds after the shooting, testified before Commission Counsel Joseph Ball in Dallas on 4-1-64. 

Here's a crop from one of the exhibits entered into evidence by Ball.

Now, let's not forget that Joe Ball had a junior partner, David Belin, with whom he worked so closely that they came to be known as a single-entity, Ball-Belin. Now let's add further that it was David Belin who hosted Dulles, McCloy and Cooper on their "Grand Tour" of Dallas in May 1964, including their viewing of the sniper's nest window, as Warner re-enacted the shooting. 

So, yeah, it's crystal freaking clear that Belin, at the very least, should have known that the window box was in the wrong location during the 5-9-64 re-enactment.

Well, this raises some questions. Is it just a coincidence that the DPD's failure to accurately present the stack to the west of Box D, and its simultaneous failure to accurately present the location of Boxes A, B, and C, have the identical effect of giving a sniper sitting on Box D more room to maneuver, and fire?

And, similarly, is it just a coincidence that Belin and whoever set up the sniper's nest for the commissioners on 5-9-64 and 9-6-64 did so in accordance with the DPD's inaccurate re-enactment photos, even though photos depicting the boxes in their (presumably) original locations were available?

Was the actual sniper's nest just too crowded for anyone to comfortably fire three shots at a moving target, and re-write history?

Let me show you what I mean.

The Crowded Nest

The sepia overlays on the slide above provide an idea of just how crowded the nest really was.

Was this considered "too crowded" by the DPD? Did they seek to conceal this by constructing a more comfortable sniper's nest for their "re-construction"?

Now, this might seem a "so-what." The DPD placed Box B 6 inches too far to the west in their re-construction. So what? The DPD moved five boxes out of the way so they could take better pictures of the sniper's nest on 11-25. So what? And they took Box A to the crime lab on the 22nd. So what? Much as they brought the piece of cardboard torn from Box D back to the sniper's nest for the 11-25 re-construction of the sniper's nest, they brought Box A back to the sniper's nest for the re-construction. Right?


Let me explain. For photo 40 in Drain's 12-5 memo--this is the photo designated as photo 14 in CD 5, that had already been misrepresented as a photo of the crime scene as first observed in two FBI reports--it was claimed that the photo was taken while "Standing on top of boxes looking down towards boxes that were used in shooting."

But this just wasn't true--at least one of the boxes featured in the photos of a reconstructed sniper's nest was not a box that had been "used in shooting."

You see, not only did Day not tell the FBI most of his sniper's nest photos were of a re-constructed sniper's nest when first providing them with copies, he also failed to admit--ever--that the Box A used in these photos was not the original Box A.

I kid you not.

First, let's read the 4-6-64 testimony of Robert Studebaker (in which he discusses a photo that would become Studebaker Exhibit J, a photo of his and Lt. Day's 11-25-63 re-construction of the sniper's nest)...

Mr. BALL. The picture of the boxes; this is after they were moved?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir; they were moved there. This is exactly the position they were in.

Mr. BALL. It is?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes - not - this was after they were moved, but I put them in the same exact position.

Mr. BALL. Were they that close - that was about the position?


Mr. BALL. Let's take one of these pictures and mark it the next number, which will be "Exhibit J."

(Instrument marked by the reporter as "Studebaker Exhibit J," for identification)

Mr. BALL. After the boxes of Rolling Readers had been moved, you put them in the same position?


Mr. BALL. And took a picture?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. And this is Exhibit J, is it, is that right?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Exhibit J, yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. Now, the box that had the print on it is shown?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.

Mr. BALL. Was there any other indentation on that box besides that which is shown in the circle on 3?


And now let's read the 4-22-64 testimony of Lt. Day (in which he discusses CE 733, a different print of this same photo)...

Mr. BELIN. When you came back on the 25th where did you find this box, 641?

Mr. DAY. They were still in the area of the window but had been moved from their original position.

Mr. BELIN. Does that scar appear on the box in 733?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. I see there was one box in the window which you have reconstructed as being box 653, am I correct on that?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. And then there is a box which is stacked on top of another box, the upper box of that two-box stack is 641, is that correct?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. And there is a scar on top of that. Is this the same one that you referred to at the top of 641?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. Do you have any independent recollection of this being the same box that you saw in the window, if you don't remember when you initialed it?

Mr. DAY. No, sir; except that it was still there in that area and had been dusted on the 25th. We did dust it on the 22d.

Mr. BELIN. Let me ask you this: When you were dusting it were there remains of the dust on there?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. When you put your initials on on the 25th were the dust remains still there?

Mr. DAY. The dust was still there; yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. On all of these boxes, 641 and 653, and now handing you 654, was there dust on 654 also?

Mr. DAY. All boxes had dust on them when I collected them.

Mr. BELIN. Were boxes Nos. 641, 653, and 654 open or closed?

Mr. DAY. They were closed and had books in them.

Mr. BELIN. Did they have tape around them?

Mr. DAY. They were sealed with tape.

Well, the sum of Studebaker and Day's testimony is that the boxes used in the sniper's nest re-construction were the boxes found (and dusted) on 11-22-63, and that they remained unopened. (This, as we've seen, was incorrect). Now, to make matters worse, they also claimed the indentation or scar on Box A (CE 641) is apparent in photos Studebaker Exhibit J and CE 733 (which are actually two prints of the same photo.) 


Were they lying?

The Tell-Tale "Scar"

As demonstrated above, the "scar" on Box A in the re-constructed photo (at M) is not the "scar" on Box A in the original crime scene photo (at L), nor the "scar" on Box A currently in the archives (at R).

Well, it follows from this that the "Box A' used in the sniper's nest re-construction was not the real Box A, and that the re-construction was essentially a sham.

I mean, think about it. That the "scar" on Box A was simulated for the re-construction seems obvious, and suggests the use of the "wrong" box in the re-construction was not only not an accident, but a deliberate deception. That Box A was missing in the FBI photos taken but two days before, moreover, further feeds the probability something smelly was afoot.

And, yes, I know. Some of you are thinking the "scar" on the box in CE 733 could be the "scar" in the other photos, only filmed from a different angle, etc.

But the "scar" is not the only problem with the box in CE 733.

Here, see for yourself. Here is Box A as photographed in the sniper's nest on 11-22-63.

And here is "Box A" as photographed during Day and Studebaker's re-construction of the sniper's nest, on 11-25-63..

There are a number of differences between these two boxes. These include:

1. The "scar" is different on the two boxes, with the "scar" on the first box having a deeper gouge..

2. There is a dark mark on the top of the box photographed on the 22nd, that is not visible on the box photographed on the 25th.

3. The rectangular stamp on the side of the box facing the camera is aligned differently with the circular shape above it on the first box, than on the second box. To be clear, the left side of this stamp lines up below the right side of the circle on the first box, and the left side of the circle on the second box.

4. The ink on the left side of this stamp is much thicker on the box photographed on the 22nd than it is on the box photographed on the 25th.

5. There is a line within this stamp that is visible on the box photographed on the 22nd (the real Box A, if you will) that is not apparent on the box photographed on the 25th.

6. There is a dark line to the right of this stamp on the second box that is only sporadically apparent on the first box.

7. The upside-down words "Second Rolling Readers" near the middle of the top of the side of the box run parallel to the top edge of the box photographed on the 22nd, but run at an angle to the top edge of the box photographed on the 25th.

And that's not all. Look at the two pieces of tape along the shadowy side of the box in the re-constructed photo above. The piece of tape on the left is slightly higher than the piece of tape on the right side. Now look at what is supposedly the same two pieces of tape in Archives photo 33-3374a, the National Archives' most recent photo of this box. (Note that the arrow in this photo is purported to point to where a print of Oswald's right index finger was found on this box, and that this was thereby the west-facing side of the box.)

The tape on the right is higher. And not only that, the printed letters above the tape on the right in the re-constructed photo are nowhere to be seen.

Now I know some of you are skeptical. So here's the other side of Box A, in Archives photo 33-3375a.

The bottom of the tape on the right is well below the bottom of the tape on the left. This stands in opposition to the box in the re-constructed photo, in which the bottoms of the right side and left side are at the same level.

It's clear then. It's not the same box!


So what was up? Why would the Dallas Police use a replacement box for the photos of a re-constructed sniper's nest, and then send the original box on to Washington?

Well, the thought occurs that the original Box A was unavailable on the 25th. As this box was subsequently found to bear Oswald's prints, of course, the additional thought occurs that it was unavailable on the 25th due to its being in the possession of some person (or organization) involved in planting these prints on the box.

Now, this could have been a huge problem for the Warren Commission. Day and Studebaker's probable complicity in the faking of the "scar" on the box A used in the 11-25 re-construction undermined its entire case against Oswald.

I mean, think about it. If Day and Studebaker would so brazenly lie about the boxes why wouldn't they also lie about the bag? Or any and all of the evidence compiled by their department against Oswald?

It should come as no surprise, then, that Warren Commission counsel Ball and Belin either failed to catch their deceptions or failed to confront them about these deceptions on the record, and the problems with Exhibits 729 (which proves Day lied about Box D) and 733 (which proves Day and Studebaker lied about Box A) slipped under everybody's radar until I noticed them decades later.

Now, to be clear, I tend to suspect the latter--that the Warren Commission's staff was aware of some or all of the DPD's deceptions, and that they either opted to do nothing about it, or actively encouraged these deceptions.

And here's why...

More of the Same

The Warren Commission's staff not only failed to expose the many problems with the sniper's nest evidence as presented by the Dallas Police, they offered up some deceptive exhibits of their own.

Here's a prime example. Commission Exhibit 1301 is a copy of one of the Dallas Police Department's photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest--with notations added to demonstrate the locations of the fingerprints and palm prints found in the sniper's nest. Now, to be clear, this photo was first provided to the commission mid-March '64 as part of Commission Document 496, an FBI-produced booklet of pictures of the school book depository, which had been created in response to a 3-4-64 written request from Warren Commission General Counsel J. Lee Rankin to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. 

It demonstrates a lot more than the locations of the prints, however.

Should one have been in doubt that the Warren Commission knowingly misrepresented the location of the prints on the paper bag, one only has to look at the location of the prints on Box A in this photo. Because...ding ding ding... the location of these prints was once again misrepresented. And...ding ding ding...their misrepresentation once again helped sell that Oswald left these prints while preparing to shoot the President.

I mean, think about it... a left palm print in the bottom left corner of the top of a box and a right index fingerprint on the opposite corner suggests Oswald was sitting there with his hands on the top of the box, anxiously watching the motorcade... while a left palm print towards the middle of this box destroys this illusion.

If the inaccurate depiction of the location of these prints was an innocent mistake, then, it was quite the coincidence. Another "lucky mistake?" Only this time by the FBI?

It's hard to say for sure. But it seems clear the Warren Commission's staff, at the very least, knew something was rotten.

I mean, how could they not?

Demolishing the Reconstruction

We've already revealed that Studebaker Exhibit J, from the 4-6-64 testimony of Det. Robert Studebaker in Dallas, and CE 733, from the 4-22-64 testimony of Lt. J.C. Day in Washington, are two different prints of the same photo of a reconstructed sniper's nest.

But we haven't noted the differences between these photos. As shown on the slide above, the copies of the Dallas Police crime scene photos brought by Det. Studebaker to his 4-6-64 testimony portrayed the sniper's nest boxes as filthy, and covered with fingerprint powder. This was in stark contrast to the appearance of the boxes in the photos placed into evidence during Lt. Day's 4-22-64 testimony in Washington. Those copies came from the FBI, which had received a set of the DPD's photos back in November.

So what happened? The appearance of fingerprint powder in the photos provided by Studebaker could not have come from their being copies of copies, or anything like that. Unlike the FBI, Studebaker had access to the original negatives. It follows that, if anything, the boxes in Studebaker J should have had a cleaner appearance than the boxes in CE 733.

Just ask Studebaker.

Mr. BALL. Now, this is such a good set of pictures, can we have them?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. You will have to see Chief Curry. He gave orders that no pictures were to be released without his permission. You can call him, if you want to.

Mr. BALL. Well, I already have taken some of them.

Mr. STUDEBAKER. I'm sure he will. We have printed about 10,000 of them - it seems like that and I don't imagine that two or three more would make any difference. This is out of a master set - all of these pictures you have here.

Mr. BALL. The picture of the boxes; this is after they were moved?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir; they were moved there. This is exactly the position they were in.

Mr. BALL. It is?

Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes - not - this was after they were moved, but I put them in the same exact position.

Mr. BALL. Were they that close - that was about the position?


Mr. BALL. Let's take one of these pictures and mark it the next number, which will be "Exhibit J."

(Instrument marked by the reporter as "Studebaker Exhibit J" for identification).

So...the prints of the photos presented by Studebaker to the commission weren't just half-assed re-prints, but were, instead, prints from the DPD's "master set" of photographs.

Well, then, maybe CE 733 is at fault. Maybe the boxes in CE 733 were brightened as a consequence of the copying.

Nope, that doesn't work either. The DPD's photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest were eventually digitized and published on the University of North Texas website.

Here is the DPD's original negative for a photo of the re-constructed sniper's nest (at L) alongside Studebaker Exhibit J (a DPD print purportedly made from this negative).

Note that in Studebaker J the front of Box B (the window box), the whole of Box D (the seat box), and the upper left hand corner of the nearest side of Box A (the rifle rest box) appear to be covered with powder. Now look at the original version of this photo at its left.

The taped side of the box above and to the left of Box D barely changed in appearance between the original image and Studebaker J, while Box D and parts of the other boxes became much much darker, with added splashes of black.

Someone monkeyed with Studebaker J to make it look like these boxes were covered with powder, correct?

If one should still have any doubts about this, moreover, one should take a closer look at Box B in the two photos. Areas of a similar contrast on the original image are presented as having a night and day contrast on Studebaker J. 

The boxes were not filthy and covered with fingerprint powder, but appeared to be so in the exhibits prepared by Studebaker.

Well, it follows then that someone, quite possibly Studebaker himself, took some liberties while processing the photos put into the DPD's "master set" and then provided the commission, and tried to make it look like the boxes in these photos were covered with fingerprint powder.

But why?

Let's recall here a surprising slip by Sebastian Latona, when discussing Box D.

Mr. EISENBERG. Did you find evidence of processing prior to your receipt apart from the exhibit which is now 649?

Mr. LATONA. Yes; this particular area which has been cut out had been processed with powder.

Mr. EISENBERG. Was there powder on other areas of the box?

Mr. LATONA. I don't believe there was.

Now, to be clear, Latona told the commission he saw no signs any of the boxes had been dusted with fingerprint powder. He noted powder on the piece of cardboard ripped from Box D, the bag supposedly found in the building, and the rifle found in the northwest corner of the building, but did not recall there being any powder on the boxes. Hmmm... This seems like something he would have noticed, should these boxes have been thoroughly covered with fingerprint powder.

Well, the thought occurs that when Studebaker was photographed dusting Box B, it was but a lucky snapshot of a whale as it breached, as Studebaker had actually spent very little time dusting this box, or any other box, for that matter.

And that, as a result, the boxes in the DPD's photos showed little to no signs of having been dusted with fingerprint powder....

And that one box in particular, Box A in the re-constructed photos, showed no sign of having been dusted with fingerprint powder...because it wasn't actually present in the sniper's nest when Studebaker, however briefly, dusted the boxes.

And that this was something the DPD sought to hide...

The Small Print

As we've seen, the Warren Commission lied about the location of the left palm print purportedly found on the left side of the top of the Box A. Well, there are also problems with the right index fingerprint purportedly found on the top corner of the right side of Box A.

Let's return to the testimony of NYPD fingerprint examiner Arthur Mandella. When one looks at Commission Exhibit 662, Mandella's notes on the FBI photos sent him by the commission, one finds that Mandella studied 10 photos of prints on Box A, and that he ID'ed one fingerprint as Oswald's, and one palm print as Oswald's, and claimed there were 8 additional unidentified fingerprints and 4 additional unidentified palm prints (one of which he claimed showed insufficient characteristics) on this box. Now, this appears to match up with Commission Exhibit 3131, a letter sent the commission on 9-18-64, just days before the commission closed up shop, in which the FBI gave its final tally for the prints found on the boxes. There, they claimed that, in addition to the Oswald prints, they'd identified 8 fingerprints on Box A as being the fingerprints of Dallas Det. Robert Studebaker, 2 palm prints on Box A as being the palm print of Studebaker, and 1 palm print on Box A as being the palm print of FBI clerk Forest Lucy. Well, this leaves but one palm print, presumably the one Mandella claimed showed insufficient characteristics.

So everything's okay, right? Nope. When one looks at the photos of what is purported to be the print of Oswald's right index finger on Box A, as on the slide above, one can't help but note that the purported Oswald print was sandwiched between two much larger prints, presumably palm prints.

Well, not according to Mandella, who failed to note any palm prints on photo 25.

And it's worse than that. Mandella's notes claim the print on the right side of Oswald's fingerprint in photo 25 is identical to the identifiable print in photo 27.

Here they are, photos 25 and 27 from Commission Exhibit 656, when matched up by the size of the pre-historic post-it notes in each photo.

Well, heck. The middle print in 27 is almost certainly the print of a middle finger. And, heck, there's no way the print to the right of Oswald's print in 25 is the print of a middle finger. Not unless the print was mixed in with another print, or God forbid, Det. Studebaker (the possessor of the only non-Oswald fingerprints found on Box A) had giant fingers. Well, then maybe, just maybe, the print to the right of Oswald's print in 25 Mandella claimed was identical to the print in 27 was the print at the far right edge of the picture.

But if this is so, well, then, it means the print directly to the right of the purported Oswald print in photo 25 was not mentioned by Mandella in his notes. 

Now, to their credit, the Warren Commission foresaw a time when people would come along and question the testimony of Latona and Mandella regarding which print was which on these boxes, and asked the FBI to create a "chart" showing the locations of the prints, both identified and unidentified, on these boxes. This request, moreover, was received by the FBI, and an 8-28-64 internal memo from Alex Rosen to his boss Alan Belmont reflects that, yessiree, Sebastian Latona was hard at work on such a chart in the weeks leading up to the publication of the commission's report. Here it is:

No chart of this kind is included in the commission's records. Are we to believe, then, that the FBI failed to provide the commission with such a chart? Perhaps. It should be noted that around this same time, Latona was tasked with identifying the previously unidentified prints on the boxes. Perhaps, then, he decided that the photos of the prints already entered into evidence during Mandella's testimony were sufficient. Or perhaps he realized that his "chart" would conflict with Mandella's testimony, and that it would be an embarrassment to his profession should his "chart" see the light of day.

There's also this.

The Overlapping Question

Now, it shouldn't come as a surprise that, beyond the problems with the underlying circumstances regarding Box A, there are problems with the overlapping prints on Box A.

And that is that the print attributed to Oswald appears to overlap a print believed to have been attributed to Det. Studebaker, who could only have touched the box after Oswald.

And no, I'm not kidding. Look closely at the overlapping areas below.

While the overlapping areas at the top of the image appear to show two prints on top of each other, with the print on the left (Studebaker's print) dominating, and appearing to be the fresher print, this does not hold true towards the bottom of the image, where Studebaker's print (the print on the left) appears to come to an end at Oswald's print.

Now think about that. Studebaker claimed he'd covered this box with powder, but was unable to find a print. So the Oswald print was not a particularly strong print. And yet it appears that a number of the ridge lines on the Studebaker print to the left of this print come to an end at Oswald's print.

If this is so, well, then, it should be obvious. The print was forged.

Now, hold it right there, I know some of you are thinking. The movement of a visible print from a fingerprint card onto the cardboard torn from Box D would be one thing, but the faking of the prints on Box A would be something else it would involve placing Oswald's unseen prints onto a box before it was treated with silver nitrate, which would then make the prints visible.

But this is possible as well.

From Pat Werthheim in the Journal of Forensic Identification v.6 (1994): "The third method of forging a print involves using a genuine latent with substantial amount of oil or sebum in the latent. The forger would lift this latent, undeveloped, with a transfer medium. Regular tape can be used for transferring the print, as can clay, putty, smooth wax, cling wrap, waxed paper, or just about any smooth, non-porous material which can be pressed flat against a surface. The transfer medium picks up a portion of the fingerprint residue. When the transfer medium is then pressed against a second surface, some of the residue is left on the second surface."

So, yes, it's possible someone collected some sweaty prints of Oswald's from the police station, and transferred these to Box A. Of course, Box A was not sent to the FBI until after Oswald's death. And the Dallas crime lab and the FBI both admitted taking Oswald's fingerprints after his death. So, yikes, it seems possible one or more of these entities started off their post-mortem printing by smearing some oil on Oswald's hands and fingers, and then collecting some prints via a "transfer medium," y'know, just in case.

But even if this didn't happen, and the Oswald print does not overlap the Studebaker print, and I'm just seeing things, there's a problem with the prints on Box A that has nothing to do with my vision, and everything to do with my sense of smell.

Dumb Luck?

Yes, there is yet another smelly fact about Box A. And that is that Robert Studebaker's signature runs right across the palm print determined to have been Oswald's palm print on this box. Now, it's unclear when Studebaker placed his signature on this box. At one point I would have assumed that he signed this box on 11-25-63, when he took this box from the school book depository down to the crime lab. But, this box wasn't actually in the depository on the 25th, now was it?

So where was it? I have an innocent explanation that's not so innocent. But it's the best I can come up with. When Studebaker was questioned by the HSCA in 1978 he made a surprising admission. Not only had he made numerous copies of various evidence photos and handed them out as souvenirs to a number of Dallas detectives, he'd made a complete set for himself, which he attempted to sell for 30,000 dollars (which translates to roughly 100,000 dollars in 2018), via Johnny Grizzaffi, a Dallas figure affiliated with organized crime.

So where was this box on the 25th? It seems possible that Studebaker, after dusting Box A and declaring it free of prints, took it home as a souvenir. This was the box, after all, with the scar, which many believed was created by the movement of the rifle during the shooting. It would have fetched quite a bundle on the collector's market.

If this is so, then, Studebaker returned this box after being told the FBI wanted it and that it was going to be sent to Washington.

We should recall here that, when Boxes A-D were sent to Washington, the FBI found only 2 prints (the palm print and fingerprint on Box A) that they could link to Oswald, but found another 25 prints that they believed could be identified. We should recall as well that they never got around to identifying these prints until 9 months later, after being pressured to do so by the Warren Commission. When they made this attempt, furthermore, they identified but 24 of these prints, leaving a palm print on Box B unidentified. On Box D, they found 2 prints which they attributed to FBI clerk Forest Lucy. On Box C they found 2 prints which they attributed to Studebaker, and 1 which they attributed to Lucy. On Box B they found 6 prints which they attributed to Studebaker, and 2 which they attributed to Lucy. And On Box A they found...10 prints which they attributed to Studebaker, and 1 print which they attributed to Lucy.

So Studebaker spent a lot of time with Box A.

Now, the problem with this theory--that Studebaker took Box A home but then returned it, and "dirtied" up the boxes in the photos of the reconstruction supplied the Warren Commission to hide that Box A was a different Box A that had never been dusted--is that I don't believe it's as simple as that. I just don't.

And why don't I believe it? Well, the story goes that Box D was dusted by Studebaker, and a palm print was discovered along its edge. It only makes sense then that Studebaker would sign the cardboard by the print. And the story goes that a palm print was found on the paper bag, right by Studebaker's initials. Now, Studebaker testified that he found a print on this bag--and one might be tempted to think the print by his initials was that print--except that Studebaker said he taped off that print, and Latona testified there were no taped-off prints on the bag when it reached Washington. So the story goes that Studebaker's placing his initials right by the palm print was just a coincidence, an incredible coincidence. I know that's tough to believe. But now consider that Studebaker signed Box A right across the middle of the box, and that--you guessed it because I already told you--it turned out he'd signed his name across the only palm print of Oswald's found on the box.

So that's three for three. Three palm prints attributed to Oswald are purported to have been found in the sniper's nest. And all three of them were found by Studebaker's signature or initials...even though two of these three prints were not discovered until after Studebaker signed or initialed the evidence.

Such a coincidence is a defense attorney's wet dream, folks. Present these facts. Then season the story with some facts about how easy it is to add a suspect's fingerprints onto an object once you get access to his fingerprints. And then recall Studebaker's subsequent admission he tried to sell copies of the crime scene evidence for money.

That's a recipe for acquittal.

A, B, But Not C...Or D?

Now, here's another little problem, that might signify a larger problem.

Here's a crop from a recent archives photo showing the signatures on Box A.

Note that Robert Studebaker signed the box below the current location of a white sticker pointing out the one-time location of the palm print, and that Studebaker's bosses, George Doughty and J.C. Day left their marks on the box above the current location of this sticker.

Now, here's a close-up of the signatures on Box B.

Well, there they are again--Doughty at the top, then Day, and then Studebaker's signature.

Now, look at the end of Box C, which was purportedly on top on 11-22-63.

Now this is admittedly hard to make out. So here's a close-up view of the only area in which I detect signatures or initials.

Where in the world are Doughty's and Day's marks? Studebaker marked it twice. He wrote RLS with a red pen--presumably the same pen with which he designated the direction the box was facing. And he also signed the box. Below his signature, moreover, is the upside down mark of FBI agent Vincent Drain, who supervised the collection of these boxes from the DPD. Drain's mark can be found on all the boxes, at various distances from the marks of the DPD.

But Doughty and Day signed Box A, Box B, and the cardboard ripped from Box D within an inch or so of Studebaker's marks. It's as if they didn't want him to get credit, or be put on the hot seat, whatever. But, as far as I can tell, they failed to mark Box C (CE 654)...anywhere on the box.

And yet, here's Day, claiming he sees his name.

Mr. BELIN. Turning to 654, do you see your name as a means of identification on this box?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; "J. C. Day." It also has the name "R. L. Studebaker" on it.

Mr. BELIN. I see there is an arrow pointing north here, is that correct?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. And the box appears with--it appears to have "top" written on the box as it stands on one end, is that correct?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; that is the top side as it was standing on the floor.

And here he is again, in a 6-9-64 FBI report, written in an attempt to shore up the chain of custody for the sniper's nest boxes, at the request of the Warren Commission: "Lieutenant Day stated he could identify these boxes as being the boxes he observed in the window and on the floor of the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963, inasmuch as he had placed his name on same." (CD 1258, p.16)

So where's Day's signature?

Let's reflect. Studebaker is purported to have dusted the boxes in the sniper's nest on 11-22-63 and to have found but one print--on Box D. It's purported, furthermore, that this print was then torn from the box. Well, think about it, this means that, as far as the DPD was concerned on 11-25, when they purportedly packed up Boxes A-D for shipment to the FBI, all four of these boxes were of equal stature, and equally likely to reveal Oswald's prints after being processed using silver nitrate.

So why did Day and Doughty fail to sign Box C?

And what about Box D? Good question. Box D was sitting upside down on the floor on 11-22-63. The corner torn from the box came from the bottom of the box. Since that time, the archives has released color photos of the boxes. But has, strangely, failed to release photos of the bottoms of these boxes. When I pointed this out to them, and offered to pay for color photos of the bottom of Box D (the only side of the box on which prints were found and marks were placed), moreover, I was rebuffed, and sent a Warren Commission photo of the bottom of Box D.

Here is that image:

Now here is Lt. Day's testimony about Box D.

Mr. BELIN. Can you identify by any way Commission Exhibit 648?

Mr. DAY. This has my name "J. C. Day" written on it. It also has "R. L. Studebaker" written on it. It has written in the corner in my writing, "Southwest corner box 18 inches from wall."

Mr. BELIN. I also see the name "W. H. Shelley" written on there. Do you know when this was put on?

Mr. DAY. W. H. Shelley is the assistant manager apparently of the Texas School Book Depository.

Mr. BELIN. Did he put it on at the time you found the box?

Mr. DAY. No, sir.

Mr. BELIN. Do you know when that was placed on there?

Mr. DAY. That was placed there November 26. The box was not removed, just the cardboard was removed on November 22.  Excuse me, November 25 I should say that he put his name on there. I returned to the School Book Depository on November 25 and collected this box.

Now, I've studied every image of Box D in the photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest, and every photo of Box D in the commission's exhibits, and have zoomed in and changed contrast, etc. And have found some of what Day and Belin claimed to be able to read from the box.

I found Shelley's printed name by the white evidence tag on the commission's photo for Box D, and a lot of other writing nearby, including what appears to be the signature of Lt. Day.

But I could not find Studebaker's signature or Day's writing about the box on the photo sent me by the archives.

This led me to take a closer look at Box D as seen in the police photos of the reconstructed sniper's nest. 

I found what could be Day's writing "Southwest corner box 18 inches from wall" in the corner of the box in the DPD's photos of Box D.

But the words didn't seem to match up exactly. He wrote "S W" and not "Southwest" and I couldn't make out "corner" at all. And I was confused as heck by his claiming he read "Southwest" in the first place. The box, at least officially, was sitting in the southeast corner of the building. Was Lt. Day really this sloppy?

As it turns out, I'm not the first to ask this question...

Mr. McCLOY. Did he say southwest on that or southeast?

Mr. BELIN. I believe he said that he has here that the southwest corner of the box is 18 inches from the wall.

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; that being the south wall.

Mr. McCLOY. This is the southwest corner of the box he is talking about?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. That is what is written on Commission Exhibit 648.

Mr. McCLOY. It depends on where that box was. It is kind of a removable direction, isn't it?

I agree with Commissioner McCloy. It does seem strange that Day would write down where a corner of a box purportedly running parallel to a wall was in relation to that wall, and think it's far more likely Day had a brain fart and thought the box was by the SW corner of the building.

In any event, I decided to compare this bit of writing against what I could make out on the commission's photos of CE 648.

Now here's a surprise. When I looked for it in the photo sent me by the archives, I found that this corner of the box had been smashed. Hmmm... In any event, Day's writing on the box in this corner was nearly impossible to make out on the photo sent me by the archives.

It then occurred to me that this corner looked familiar. I double-checked and, yessirree, this was the corner on which Sebastian Latona discovered two fingerprints...later identified as the prints of FBI clerk Forest Lucy. (Here's the WC's photo of these prints from CE 655.)

Well, this got me thinking. The corner of this box would have to have been smashed before Latona inspected this box and took his photograph of the prints left by Lucy. He did this on 11-27-63. Day testified almost five months later. Subsequent to the taking of the FBI's photos, as a direct response to the silver nitrate used to bring out the prints depicted in the photos, the cardboard making up Box D would have grown progressively darker. It seems doubtful, then, that Day could have made out his words about the SW corner on the box when he testified on 4-22-64.

But he made out as though he could anyhow... And he didn't mention Shelley's signature--Belin did! So, yikes, had Day honestly misread "W.H. Shelley" as "R.L. Studebaker"? Or was he willfully ignoring what was on the box as it existed at the time of his testimony, and, instead, reading from a list of what should have been on the box?

This led me to take another look at the first photo taken of the box.

The Missing Mark

The first photo taken of the box was taken on the afternoon of the shooting. But it wasn't taken by the Dallas Police or FBI. No, instead, it was taken by a Life Magazine photographer named Flip Schulke, who promptly stashed the photo away for decades before publishing it on a college website.

In this photo, the box is in the dark. But when I brightened the photo, I found the box retained much of its detail...but revealed no marks by Studebaker or Day, who both claimed they'd tore a corner off this box after developing a print on this corner. They claimed, moreover, that they assumed this print belonged to the assassin of the President of the United States.

AND YET...THEY DIDN'T EVEN SIGN THE BOX? To be clear, the print they claimed to develop on the torn-off corner of this box would be worthless as evidence if they couldn't show the box from which it was torn, in place, by the sniper's nest window. They were taking quite a chance when they left this box in place. But to not even sign it when they found the print?

Did Day and Doughty know the FBI wouldn't find Oswald's prints on Box C? And did Studebaker, not realizing he would need to sign Box D to have the print torn from it be of any value, have this same intuition about Box D?

And did they know this because, yikes, they were the ones adding Oswald's prints to these boxes?

I mean, why was Shelley's name on Box D, but not Studebaker's? Studebaker's prints were found on all the other boxes, but not Box D. Had Day and Studebaker returned to re-construct the sniper's find Box D had been moved? Did Day then enlist warehouse manager William Shelley in an effort to find the now-missing box? Had he then asked Shelley to sign the box, so he could verify the box had been moved but had never left the building?

Let's acknowledge here that Studebaker and Day insisted Box D was not moved between the day of the shooting and the re-construction of the sniper's nest on the 25th.

But how did Shelley testify? Shelley first testified on 4-7-64. He wasn't asked about his signature on Box D. David Belin noticed his signature during the 4-22-64 testimony of Lt. Day. Shelley testified again on 5-14-64. His testimony was taken by Joe Ball, Belin's partner. And yet, once again, he wasn't asked about his signature.

And this, even though much of his testimony was about the boxes found in the sniper's nest...

Now look at what Shelley did say about Box D.

Mr. BALL. There was also a Carton of books where they found some handprints and they cut a piece out of the top; do you remember that? Don't you?


Mr. BALL. Do you recognize that carton?

Mr. SHELLEY. That was another carton of "Think and Do" books--sixth grade.

Mr. BALL. Where were those cartons usually stacked?

Mr. SHELLEY. They were stacked in the southeast corner on the east wall.

Mr. BALL. About where that was found, was it not?


Mr. BALL. Now, the "Think and Do" books for the first-grade level, that was underneath the two Rolling Readers; was that out of place?


Mr. BALL. How far away from the place where those books were usually stacked?

Mr. SHELLEY. Where they were previously stacked was over near the west wall.

Mr. BALL. But where you had rolled them to; how far was it?

Mr. SHELLEY. Oh, about 3 feet.

Mr. BALL. About 3 feet?


Mr. BALL. And the "Think and Do" books, sixth-grade level, where the piece had been cut out to examine for his palmprint, was it in its proper place?

Mr. SHELLEY. Well, all that stock was stacked clear to the south wall on the cast side and some cartons had been moved and stacked on top of some more. There was an empty spot there and this one particular carton was sitting on it there.

Mr. BALL. By itself?

Mr. SHELLEY. Yes; by itself. By the side where the rest of them were.

Well, first, note that Ball is pushing that Box D was cut, and not torn. As discussed, this conceals that the DPD admitted tearing a piece of cardboard from the box--something that was highly unlikely should this cardboard have actually contained the palm print of a presumed assassin.

And, second, note that Box D was not actually out of place. Let's recall here that by the time of the DPD's sniper's nest re-construction on the 25th, someone had moved the four boxes of the stack to the west of Box D, and the top box of the next stack to the west. Well, this supports the possibility someone thinking Box D was unrelated to the shooting had moved it from its original location...

And that Lt. Day asked William Shelley to help track it down...and kept this off the record.

Now, I know some are thinking this is unfair to Lt. Day.

But let's get real. 

Postcards From the Ledge

While working on this chapter, I came across a number of mysteries that I couldn't quite resolve. Perhaps the most perplexing of these is presented on the slide above.

In the upper left corner is CE 722, a photo entered into evidence during the testimony of Lt. Day on 4-22-64. It shows the view from the sniper's nest window down Houston Street. Across the bottom of the photo, one can only assume, is the ledge outside the window. So far, so good.

When one looks through the Dallas Police archives, however, one discovers that this was not the original photo presented by the DPD to depict the sniper's nest's view down Houston. That photo, Photo Number 17 on the DPD crime scene map, is on the upper right hand corner of the slide above. It is nearly identical to the photo presented by Day on 11-22, but shows different cars on the street.

So why the switcheroo? Well, to begin with, the ledge across the bottom of Photo 17 has been covered up--made darker--apparently on purpose, and presumably using the same technique used to make the boxes in the photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest appear to have been covered with gunpowder.

But why? And why did Day decide to present the WC with a different photo, which failed to display such alteration?

This led me to seek out the negatives of these photos on the University of North Texas website. These negatives are shown on the slide above.

Well, the negative to the photo presented the commission is whited-out across where the ledge should be shown. That this is not just the ledge when over-exposed is proved, moreover, by the negative to Photo 17, which shows an angle of shadow across the right side of the ledge. This shadow could not be whited-out through over-exposure without the substance of the photo also being whited-out.

So why was the ledge whited-out on the negative to CE 722, and why was it blacked out on Photo 17?

I have no idea. I have studied the ledge blacked out on photo 17, and covered by white on the negative to the photo published as CE 722. But I can't find anything on that ledge that is damaging to the Oswald-did-it scenario.

I did find this, however.

This is Commission Exhibit 724, the DPD's depiction of the sniper's nest view down Elm Street.

Now here is Lt. Day's testimony regarding exhibits 722 and 724.

Mr. BELIN. I hand you what has been marked as "Commission Exhibit 722 and ask you to state if you know what this is.

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. This is a view of Houston Street looking south from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building.

Mr. BELIN. Do you know when that was taken?

Mr. DAY. About 3 or 3:15, somewhere along there, on November 22, 1963.

Mr. McCLOY. You say from the sixth floor; was it from the farthest east window?

Mr. DAY. The south window on the east end of the building.

Mr. BELIN. You don't mean that. State that again. What side of the building was the window on?

Mr. DAY. It was on the south side of the building, the easternmost window.

Mr. BELIN. At the time you took Exhibit 722 had any boxes been moved at all?

Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.

Mr. BELIN. Here is Exhibit 724, and I will ask you to state if you know what that is.

Mr. DAY. This is a view from the same window looking southwest down Elm Street. Actually this is the direction the shots were fired. When this picture was made----

Mr. BELIN. When you say this picture you are referring to---I think I have skipped a number here.

Mr. McCLOY. This is 722.

Mr. BELIN. All right. When 722 was made, you----

Mr. DAY. I did not know the direction the shots had been fired.

Mr. BELIN. All right. I'm going to hand you what I have already marked as 724. What about that one?

Mr. DAY. This was made, 724 was made, some 15 to 20 minutes after 722 when I received information that the shooting actually occurred on Elm rather than Houston Street. The boxes had been moved at that time.

Mr. BELIN. In 724 there are boxes in the window. Were those boxes in the window the way you saw them, or had they been replaced in the window to reconstruct it?

Mr. DAY. They had simply been moved in the processing for prints. They weren't put back in any particular order.

Mr. BELIN. So 724 does not represent, so far as the boxes are concerned, the crime scene when you first came to the sixth floor; is that correct?

Mr. DAY. That is correct.

Mr. BELIN. Let me ask you this: Had all of the boxes of the stack in 724 been replaced there or had any of the boxes been in a position they were at the time you first arrived at the building, if you know?

Mr. DAY. No, sir; they had not been placed in the proper position or approximate position at the time we arrived.

Now, what do we have here? Lt. Day has admitted that CE 722 was taken when he was under the belief the shooting took place on Houston Street. Well, this blows up his credibility. Yet again. The sniper's nest boxes--Boxes A-D--would have been a hindrance should the sniper have been firing down Houston St. Boxes A-C would have been in the way, and Box D would have been of no use.

Is it just a coincidence, then, that CE 722 (and its predecessor Photo 17) fail to show Box B in the window? This box should have been right in the middle of the photo, blocking off a section of the ledge, but it's nowhere to be seen. Was it moved out of the way? Or were 722 and 17 taken looking down over the top of the box shown in 724, from an extremely awkward position, with the photographer, presumably Day, crouched between the window and the first row of boxes, around 23 inches behind?

Such a view makes no sense should one assume the sniper was looking through the scope of a 40 inch long rifle.

722 was a deception, created to sell a trajectory Day knew to be unlikely given the layout of the sniper's nest.

Day's taking this photo while under the belief shots were fired at the limo on Houston is problematic, to say the least.  

Of course, this being the Kennedy assassination, there's reason to doubt he even took this photo.

Day testified to taking CE 722 between 3 and 3:15, and taking CE 724 (at left) about 20 minutes later (i.e. 3:20-3:35). But the shadows on CE 724 reflect that it was taken an hour or more before George Smith of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram took his own images of the view down Elm (at right), along with Jack Beers, William Allen, and Dan Owens. This puts the Smith photo around 4:20-4:35. As we've seen, the combined statements of Beers and Allen put Smith's photo within a few minutes of 3:00, not 4:20 to 4:35.

So where does this lead us? Sunset in Dallas comes at 5:23 on 11-22. The shadow across the southern edge of Box B in Smith's photo proves the sun was still high in the sky. It seems probable, then, that the Smith photo was taken in the 3:00 hour, not the 4:00 hour. And this suggests that CE 722 was taken by Studebaker before Day's return around 3:00.

Still, let's double-check this. Let's compare the DPD photo at left above, with a photo taken by William Allen of the Dallas Times-Herald, within minutes of the photo taken by Smith.

And now let's match-up the tree in the background of these photos, and stack these images on top of each other.

The shadow on the ground moves just a few feet. This leads me to suspect then that my original estimate of the Smith photo's being taken an hour after CE 724 was incorrect, and that Day had, in fact, given the press a tour of the sniper's nest 10 to 15 minutes after the photo that became CE 724 was taken.


In any event, the difference in the shadows in these images makes me suspect CE 722 and 724 were taken by Studebaker, before Lt. Day returned to the building between 2:45 and 3:00. My research into this aspect of the case continues.

An Alternative Timeline

So let's try to put all these thoughts into a narrative, an alternative timeline of the DPD's investigation of the sixth floor crime scene.

Let's start with what the HSCA's investigators claimed Lt. Day had told them...

"On arrival, on the sixth floor, he went over to the Southeast corner and observed three "Hulls" on the floor. There were cardboard boxes stacked around the window. He believes that Captain Fritz was already at the scene, when he arrived. Lieut. Day took photographs of the scene and was able to lift a palm print from the top of a cardboard box stacked by the window at the S.E. corner. Lieut. Day removed (cut out) the piece of cardboard with the print on it. This palm print was later, positively identified as belonging to Oswald. He stated that he believes Captain Fritz told him that the rifle had been found. Lieut Day went back to the area of the freight elevator and observed the rifle between some boxes..."

The report then discusses Day's work on the rifle and journey to the crime lab. It then relates...

"The F.B.I, agent took Lieut. Day back to the T.S.B.D. where he took photographs and measurements until about five or six o'clock."

Well, let's stop right here. Not only does this report suggest that Lt. Day told the investigators he'd cut the cardboard from the box, it suggests that he'd done as much before he even heard about the rifle..

Now let's look at what Lt. Day told Gerald Posner about the boxes in the window and the print on Box D...

"These things were being moved around all the time, so I thought we might get the shooter's prints mixed in with the workers' in the building...But there was one print that I knew was fresh and important the moment it came up."

Now...what's this? Was Day trying to conceal that they found but one print? He continued:

"At the window the assassin fired from, there were two stacked boxes, one on the floor and the other stacked on top, and that is apparently what he aimed from. A little behind that was a carton of books. That position is where he would have sat and looked out the window. It was plenty heavy enough to support him. When we used metallic powder on that box, toward the top of the corner, was a distinct palm print--right where t looked like he had been leaning his hand as he waited for the motorcade. He might have been a little nervous, because as he leaned his hand there, the oil or moisture in his hand left a very clear, unsmudged print. Usually, you can't get a print that good from cardboard, but he had been sitting there long enough to leave a real fine one."

Well, this was gobbledy-gook. Day was trying to convince Posner the surprising quality of the print was related to Oswald's sitting there a long time. But this wasn't true. IF Oswald had been sitting there sweating for any length of time he'd have almost certainly 1) left more than one print on the box, 2) smudged up the print on the box where he'd placed his hand, and 3) shown signs of being sweaty and nervous-looking when confronted by Officer Baker on the second floor moments later. The quality of the print and the fact no other prints were found is an argument for Oswald's having only sat on the box for a moment, not for his having sat there awhile.

Day then continued: "We knew we had a real good print, but we didn't know whether we would match it up to anyone." (Case Closed, 1993, p.270)

Now that's a good point. This print was (at least according to Day) raised around 3:00 on 11-22. While Oswald was in custody at this time, he wasn't finger-printed until 8:00 or so that evening. In the meantime, many of his co-workers, including the whole sixth floor work crew (Shelley, Lovelady, Arce, Williams, Givens, Dougherty) had been dragged down to the police station and interviewed. So why hadn't the DPD prepared for the possibility the print couldn't be matched to Oswald by taking the prints of his co-workers? This was standard procedure. Had they simply not thought of it? Or did they fail to do so because they knew, somehow, that the only print they found would be linked to their only suspect, Oswald?

Now let's look at what Lt. Day told Larry Sneed...

"One of those boxes near the window had a palm print on it. Looking out the window, it was in just the right place where you'd rest your palm if you were sitting on a box. We used a metallic powder and got a palm print which later turned out to be Oswald's.

All those boxes which had his fingerprints on them didn't mean that much to me at the time because the man worked there and handled the boxes. I didn't take all those with me. The prints that we got from the box he was sitting on meant something to me because there weren't any prints on the side of it, just on the top of the corner, indicating that he had not picked it up during the normal course of work. We just tore that off and didn't take the whole box with us." (No More Silence, 1998, p.234)

Well here, once again, Day was making out that the DPD discovered a bunch of prints, but only one that was "special."

And now, finally, let's look at what Lt. Day told Bob Porter, in an 8-15-96 Sixth Floor Museum Oral History...

"That palm print, this part of the palm, was right on the corner of that box. It popped up pretty good. I say it popped up, it appeared pretty good when we put powder on it. Whoever had put it there used a lot of pressure and got a lot of oil off his hand on the box. We didn't at that time find prints on any other boxes that I remember. Of course, powder is not the best way to check a print on a cardboard box. You need a chemical there. We did find that one using the powder, and we selected that print because it looked like it might have been left by someone sitting on the box."

And then, later, when talking to Porter...

"Prints at that time didn't mean too much to me because he worked there. But the one box which somebody had apparently been sitting on, that palm print, did mean something. The way it was on there, it didn't look like somebody had picked it up. It looked like they was just resting on it. And they really put pressure on it to put a lot of grease, oil on their hand. About three or four days later, two days something, I don't remember, but I got another directive from the chief's office...release everything you have to the FBI. I hadn't done anything with any of that other stuff. I think they did have us go back and collect those boxes, many of those boxes down there. I don't remember exactly when that was. But they were given to the FBI also. It was my understanding that they did find prints on those boxes belonging to Oswald, but they used a chemical rather than a powder. But I never got around to using chemicals."

Now, this is curious. For years Lt. Day acted as though the DPD had found a number of prints on the boxes, but only one "special" one. He then admitted they'd found but one, but still hung onto the idea they'd "selected" this oh-so-special print. Well, this sends my head-a-spinning. 

So...let's take this for a spin. If (per Latona) Box D wasn't dusted with fingerprint powder, and (per Day's interview with the HSCA investigators) Day retrieved the box top before working on the rifle, and (per Day's subsequent statements to Posner, Sneed and Porter) Day "selected" the palm print on the seat box because he thought it "meant something," well, this suggests that Day/Studebaker decided to take the box top as an insurance policy, of sorts.

Now, add onto this that Day and Doughty signed Boxes A and B, but failed to sign Box C, and that Studebaker, to all appearances, failed to sign Box D. Well, this suggests that Day, Doughty and Studebaker knew Oswald's prints would not be found on Boxes C and D.

Doughty, we should add, was in charge of fingerprinting suspects. Day, of course, was in charge of finding latent prints, and matching these prints to suspects. Studebaker was in charge of the crime scene in Day's absence. The thought occurs, then, that the three of them were capable of conjuring up evidence should they wish to do so, and of making this evidence stick.

Now, if this is true... if they did in fact conjure up some of the evidence against Oswald, well you wouldn't expect them to ever admit this, right? You would, instead, expect them to tell some real whoppers. 

And not just them... 1993 marked both the 30th anniversary of the assassination and the release of First Day Evidence, a book written by Gary Savage but inspired by and written with the cooperation of his uncle, Rusty Livingston, a Dallas crime lab employee in 1963, working under Lt. Day. On page 180-181, Savage reveals: "Rusty told me that he helped to process the boxes in the Crime Lab Office after they had been brought down on the Monday following the assassination...Rusty told me that he did develop some prints on the boxes using silver nitrate and determined that they were Oswald's."

Well, this was a flat-out freakin' lie. As we've seen, Day and Latona were on the same page on this issue and claimed the boxes were not tested with chemicals prior to their being sent the FBI. Well, it follows then that Livingston was lying to his nephew to inflate both his own role in the assassination investigation, and the case against Oswald put together by Day and his team.

This gives us yet another reason to doubt the integrity of the DPD's crime lab employees, and wonder if they didn't fudge some (or even most) of the evidence suggesting Oswald shot Kennedy.

And, yes, I know it would be cherry-picking to say this is how it definitely went down, or anything like that, but the point is that we really know very little about what actually happened, as too many holes were left in the official story, and too many lies told in sworn testimony. Even if these lies were mistakes, simple stupid mistakes, moreover, the nature and number of these mistakes makes it impossible to come to a firm conclusion about Oswald's guilt or innocence beyond that the government's case against Oswald was weak weak sauce that may very well have evaporated when placed under a microscope by a gifted defense attorney.

Well, this is the preponderance of doubt described at the beginning of the last chapter.

And, yeah, I know some of you are thinking I've forgotten all about the seemingly damning fact Oswald's palm print was found on the rifle used to kill the President.


Chapter 4e: Un-smoking the Gun