Chapter 7: Pieces in the Plaza
A continuation of our look at the ear and eye witnesses, with a focus on those standing along Elm Street
Over the Underpass
Atop the railroad bridge over Elm Street at the west of end of Dealey Plaza were a number of police officers and railroad whose statements remain intriguing to this day.
J.C. White was the Dallas police officer tasked with guarding the west side of the railroad bridge. He didn't see or hear anything of importance, as far as the shooting itself. But his testimony was nevertheless intriguing, as he remembered a train passing over the underpass as the President's car crossed the plaza. (4-9-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H253-256) (When asked if he saw the President's car in the plaza) "No, sir; first time I saw it, it has passed, passed under the triple underpass... There was a freight train traveling. There was a train passing between the location I was standing and the area from which the procession was traveling, and-a big long freight train, and I did not see it." (When asked how many people were standing on the east side of the overpass) "About 10, approximately. I didn't count them." (When asked if he heard any shots) "No, sir." (When asked to verify that a freight train was crossing the bridge as the motorcade crossed the plaza) "Yes, sir; noisy train." Analysis: Doesn't qualify as a witness.
J.W. Foster was the Dallas police officer tasked with guarding the east side of the railroad bridge. (12-4-63 signed statement to the Dallas Police Department, CD1259 p18) "After the motorcade turned from Houston Street to Elm Street, I was watching the railroad employees very closely so that I would be in a position to prevent any incident. When I heard the shots I was standing directly behind these railroad employees and I then moved to the railroad overpass banister to see what was happening. I then saw the President slumping over in the car and other persons falling down in the grass in the vicinity of the President's car. The President's car and a couple of other cars left the scene immediately at a high rate of speed with a motorcycle escort. I then observed some officers running toward the building on the northeast corner of Elm and Houston. I immediately ran towards the same building and assisted in blocking off the building." (3-26-64 FBI report based upon a 3-25-64 interview, CD897 p.20-21) “Just as the vehicle in which President Kennedy was riding reached a point on Elm Street just east of the underpass, Patrolman Foster heard a noise that sounded like a large firecracker…he realized something was wrong because of the movement of the President. Another report was heard by Patrolman Foster and about the same time the report was heard, he observed the President’s head appear to explode, and immediately thereafter, he heard a third report which he knew was a shot. Patrolman Foster said that because of the distance from the place where the shot appeared to come from he felt the third shot struck President Kennedy as he heard the sound of the second shot that was fired. He stated the shots sounded as if they came from the direction of the Texas School Book Depository Building, Houston and Elm streets.” (4-9-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H248-253) “After he came onto Elm…I heard a loud noise, sounded like a large firecracker. Kind of dumbfounded at first, and then heard the second one. I moved to the banister of the overpass to see what was happening. Then the third explosion.” (When asked what he saw happening) "Saw the President slump over in the car, and his head looked just like it blew up." (Interview with CBS, aired 9-27-64) (When asked if there was any doubt in his mind about the direction of the shots) "No sir, there wasn't, not after I had moved to the railroad. There was no doubt that the shots were coming from back of the motorcade, toward Elm and Houston." (7-9-91 video-taped interview with Mark Oakes) (When asked if he saw a shot hit the manhole cover on Elm) "Yes." (No More Silence p.211-214, published 1998) “When they got about halfway between Houston and the Triple Underpass, I heard three distinct, evenly spaced shots. I could see into the car but couldn’t really determine anything…all I could tell about the shots was that they all sounded about the same, and they came from back toward Elm and Houston Streets. None of them came from the grassy knoll.” Analysis: over the years, Foster “corrected” his recollections of what he saw in order to avoid controversy. He initially acknowledged running towards the Dal-Tex Building. He initially believed he heard a shot after Kennedy's head exploded, which meant either that the last shot missed or that the last two shots were near simultaneous. He then side-stepped these statements in his Warren Commission testimony. By the time he talked to Snead for No More Silence, he was playing stupid. Even so, his placement of the limousine at the time of the first shot is in conflict with the LPM scenario. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot).
S.M. Holland (11-22-63 statement to Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, 19H480, 24H212) “the President’s car was coming down Elm Street and when they got just about to the Arcade I heard what I thought for the moment was a fire cracker and he slumped over and I looked over toward the arcade and trees and saw a puff of smoke come over from the trees and I heard three more shots after the first one but that was the only puff of smoke I saw…After the first shot the President slumped over and Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and tried to get over in the back seat to him and then the second shot rang out. After the first shot the secret service man raised up in the seat with a machine gun and then dropped back down in the seat. And they immediately sped off.” (11-24-63 FBI report, CD5 p. 49-50) “The motorcycle escort and the lead car had passed underneath the underpass and the Presidential car was approximately forty to fifty yards away. He stated that he heard what he first believed to be a firecracker and then saw President Kennedy, who had just waved to the crowd on the President’s left, crumple forward. Jacqueline Kennedy appeared to rise up in the rear seat and caught the President in her lap and then sat back down with the President’s head face down in her lap. Simultaneously with the first shot, he stated he heard either three or four more shots fired together and saw Governor Connally, sitting directly in front of the President, fall forward…When the first shot was fired, Holland stated that a motorcycle officer behind the car stopped his motor …One of the officers in the front seat of the Presidential car stood up with a machine gun…The only unusual thing that Holland could recall was an approximate one and one-half to two foot diameter of what he believed was gray smoke which appeared to him to be coming from the trees which would have been on the right of the presidential car but observed no one there or in the vicinity.” (4-8-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H239-248) “the motorcade was coming down in this fashion, and the President was waving to the people on this side…And she (Jackie) was looking…in the southern direction…And about that time he went over like that(indicating) and put his hand up, and she was still looking off…(he) pulled forward and his hand just stood like that momentarily…His right hand; and that was the first report that I heard…it was a pretty loud report, and the car traveled a few yards, and Governor Connally turned in this fashion, like that (indicating) with his hand out, and another report…And another report rang out and he slumped down in his seat, and about that time Mrs. Kennedy was looking at these girls over here (indicating). The girls standing—now one of them was taking a picture…by the time she could get turned around, he was hit again along in—I’d say along in here (indicating)…It knocked him completely down on the floor. Over, just slumped completely over. I heard a third report and I counted four shots and about the same time all this was happening and in this group of trees…There was a shot, a report, I don’t know whether it was a shot…And a puff of smoke came out about 6 or 8 feet above the ground right out from under those trees…you could see that puff of smoke, like someone had thrown a firecracker, or something out…It wasn’t as loud as the previous reports or shots.”
(Interview with Mark Lane in Rush to Judgment, filmed 3-21-66) “The first bullet, the President slumped over, and Governor Connally made his turn to the right and then back to the left. And that’s when the second shot was fired and knocked him down to the floorboards…I saw that next bullet that struck the President because it flipped him over almost on his stomach, and the side of his head, and his head was laying on the edge of the seat. He was laying more on his stomach, and his foot was hanging out over the edge of the car upside down…I looked over to where I thought the shot came from and I saw a puff of smoke still lingering underneath the trees in front of the wooden fence. The report sounded like it came from behind the wooden fence…I know where that third shot came from…from behind the picket fence, close to the little plaza…there’s no doubt in my mind, there’s no doubt whatsoever in my mind and the statements that I made in the Sheriff’s Office immediately after the shooting, and the statement that I made to the Warren Commission, I made it very plainly there was no doubt in my mind what there was definitely a shot fired from behind that picket fence. I made it plain to the Warren Commission and I think I made the same statement in the Sheriff’s Office. There was a fourth shot.” (When standing behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll, at a point about 15 feet from the corner, and asked if he saw the President's reaction to the third shot Holland suspected had been fired from behind the fence) "It knocked him over to his left, down into the car...away from here." (Additional segments in the transcript to the 3-21-66 interview with Mark Lane, as found in the Wisconsin Historical Society and posted online by John McAdams) When asked how many shots he heard) "Four...No question in my mind...I'm certain there were four. It is possible there could have been five, but I am certain of four because I am familiar with firearms...Ain't no doubt in my mind that I heard four shots. Now three of the reports were real loud, similar to well, say, a shotgun. And the other report--to compare it--would be like a .45." (When asked where he looked when the shots were fired) "I looked over to where I thought the shot came from, and I saw a puff of smoke still laying underneath the trees. About like you would toss a firecracker out and it would go off and still leave a puff of smoke...The puff of smoke was about 30 or 40 feet from the fence, the picket fence, out under some green trees." (When asked which side of the fence) "I saw the puff of smoke in front of the wooden fence. The report sounded like it came from behind the wooden fence." (When asked if Kennedy and Connally were hit by the same bullet) "The President was hit apparently through the back and he raised his hand up similar to that. Governor Connally turned to his right and then turned to his left like that and about that time Governor Connally was shot. The second report knocked him down on the floor board. Definitely wasn't the same shot that hit the President first." (When asked what happened next) "And then I heard another shot, and that's the one that came from under the trees, and immediately after that--I'd say it was within a second or two seconds--a louder report that hit the President And when the President came under the overpass where I was standing, the car momentarily stopped--when Mrs. Kennedy was getting out of--climbing over the back. The man in the car behind her got out of the car and run up there and pushed her back in the seat, and the President was laying in the seat, more on his stomach and with his foot upside down sticking out the back of the car--over the rear seat or over the edge of the car." (When asked again about the single-bullet theory) "(The) Warren Commission is in error on that because I was a eyewitness to that the same bullet that hit President Kennedy did not hit Governor Connally. At the first bullet, the President slumped over and Governor Connally made his turn to the right and then back to the left, and that's when the second shot was fired and knocked him down on the floor board." (When asked if Governor Connally was visible when the third shot was fired) "No, he was laying down in the seat, and he was not visible, except to the ones that was up on top of that triple underpass." (When asked if he saw the effects of the next bullet) "I saw the effects of the next bullet that struck the President. Because it flipped him over almost on his stomach, and the side of his head--and his head was laying on the edge of the seat." (When asked where he thought the shots came from) "Well, I know the shots came--the first shots came from back up close to Houston Street. I also know where that third shot came from...From behind the picket fence, close to the little plaza....There's no doubt in my mind. There's no doubt whatsoever in my mind...there was no doubt in my mind but what there was a fourth shot. The third shot...the report wasn't near as loud as the other three shots, but there was definitely a shot fired from behind the picket fence." (When standing up on the overpass) "The third shot came--right behind that picket fence--right under between those two trees, right over there." (When asked how far from the end of the picket fence) "I would say about between 20 and 25 feet...The smoke was driftin' out under those two trees...It kindy hung there just like--for a few seconds--long enough that you could see that it was a puff of smoke." (An alternate take in which he's asked from where the shot was fired) "Right over about 20 or 30 feet near the end of that little picket fence...It drifted right out under those green trees--those two trees...From behind the fence...about 30 feet out from the fence..." (When asked again about the impact of the shot) "I saw the President knocked completely over...in the car, to his left, from me...Just to the left of that lamp post." (An alternative take) "I saw the President shot about that time. I couldn't say it was that particular shot that hit him, but at about that time that I--that I saw the smoke from the bridge. Well, it knocked him over to his left down in the car...Away from here...Just a little to the left of that lamppost we're looking at."
Above: a still taken from the 1966 film Rush to Judgment, in which S.M. Holland demonstrates his view of the plaza on 11-22-63.
(6-28-66 UPI article, found in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner) "Holland is certain that a separate shot came from beneath trees on a grassy knoll north and west of the depository building. At the time, he was standing on a railroad viaduct under which Eim Street passes. Looking straight ahead and down, he had one of the best views of any eyewitness. Holland says there were four separate shots. (The Warren report concludes there were three.) He says the first came from the book building and hit the President. The second came from the same place and hit Gov. John Connally riding in the same car.'The third shot came from behind the picket fence to the north of Elm Street. There was a puff of smoke under the trees there like someone had thrown out a Chinese firecracker and a report of a gun entirely different from the one which fired from the book building. I don't know whether it hit anything.' Holland said the fourth shot from the depository struck the President in the head, blowing away a large portion of his skull."
(11-22-66 UPI article, found in the Albuquerque Tribune) "There definitely was a shot fired from behind that fence," maintains S. M. Holland in regard to the assassination of President John Kennedy three years ago...He said in an interview yesterday that one and possibly two shots were fired at the motorcade from behind a wooden fence adjacent to the underpass and some 150 feet from where he was standing..."Four or five of us saw it, the smoke," Holland said. "One of my employees even saw the muzzle flash..."I was close enough to see it and hear it," Holland said. "And if you don't think you can see rifle smoke against a clump of trees, you're mistaken." He added that he is certain there were at least four shots fired, and perhaps five. "Now, the ones that came from up the street (the depository area) were quite a bit louder than the one from the fence. That's how I could tell they were from different rifles." (11-30-66 taped interview with Josiah Thompson, as recounted in Six Seconds in Dallas, 1967) (Thompson summarizes) "He told us of the shooting, of the motorcade swooping toward him as he stood on the railroad overpass, of the sound of the shots. Holland had heard four shots, not three, and the third and fourth were fired so cls. ose together that they sounded almost like a double shot." (On the first two shots) "The first shot, as I said, the first report that I heard, the President slumped over, similar to that, and his hands went up to his neck...And the Governor turned this...to his right, similar to this, then he turned like that, and that's when the Governor was shot...And I made the statement immediately after the assassination to the Warren Commission that he did turn to his right and his left and he was shot and hit by the second bullet. He definitely was not hit by the first shot...I know the Governor was hit by the second shot...I'm positive of that." (When asked the spacing of the first two shots) "about a second apart." (On the sound of the third shot, in comparison to others) "Well, it would be about like I was telling you awhile ago. It would be like you're firing a .38 pistol right beside a shotgun, or a .45 right beside a shotgun...One is not near as loud as the other...the third shot was not so loud; it was like it came from a .38 pistol, compared with a high-powered rifle...That's what drawed my attention...The report of the third shot wasn't nearly as loud as the first and second shot or the fourth shot." (When asked if the direction of the shot seemed different) "There was definitely a sound of direction where it was coming." (When asked about the spacing of shots three and four) "Well, like boom-boom...Pretty fast together. They weren't simultaneous, as we say, They were boom-boom. (When asked if the sound pattern could mean the shots were fired at the same time from different locations) "That's right. The sounds...The bullets travel faster than sound, but the report that I heard of the third one--I heard that before the fourth one, the fourth shot..The fourth resembled the first two. (When asked where the fourth one seemed to come from) "The upper end of the street...the north end of Houston Street...I could tell what direction they were being fired from, but I didn't know whether they were from a building, or whether it was from a street corner or the middle of the street. From where I was I couldn't tell because I was...the trees hid that part of...hid from me." (When asked which bullets hit the President) "Well, the third and fourth bullets hit the President." (When asked if he felt he'd been hit by both) "Well, I say this, the President fell over when the third and fourth shots were fired. Now whether he was caught in a crossfire or whether both of them hit him, I can't say." (When asked if he noticed any dust fly up from the pavement) "I didn't, and I was observing very close because that's what I was up here for." (When asked his opinion on shots three and four) "My opinion is that the third and fourth did, did hit the President...In the head." (When shown a photo and asked the location of the smoke he saw on the knoll, he marks the bottom of the trees just west of the steps) "Right under these trees, right at that exact spot, about ten or fifteen feet from this corner, the corner of the fence here, right under this tree, particular tree. It's that exact spot, right there...That's where it was...just like somebody had thrown a firecracker and left a little puff of smoke there; it was just laying there. It was a white smoke; it wasn't a black smoke or like a black powder. It was like a puff of a cigarette, but it was about nine feet off the ground. It would be just about in line with, or maybe just a little bit higher than that fence, but by the time it got out underneath the tree, well, it would be about eight or nine feet." (When asked about Clemon Johnson's suggestion the smoke seen by the railroad men came from a Dallas police motorcycle abandoned on the street after the shooting) "I saw the smoke before the motorcyclist left the street to go up there." (At a later point in the book, when Thompson is discussing the 'headshots') "S.M. Holland, we recall, saw the President's body as it passed under his vantage point on the overpass. And we recall too his statement that the 'whole right side' of the President's head 'including part of his face' had been blown off.'"
(Late 1966 Interview with Lawrence Schiller recounted in The Scavengers and the Critics of the Warren Report, published 1967) (When asked where the sound of the first shot came from) "Well, it came from the other end of Elm Street, up about the corner of Houston and Elm Street. I couldn't tell whether it was on the ground or whether it was up in the building." (When asked about the third shot) "Third and fourth were so close together. The third shot came from the fence." (When asked where he was looking at the time of the third shot) "My attention on the third and fourth shots was to my left, behind the picket fence, or over to the picket fence, and where I saw that puff of smoke coming from and heard the report. I couldn't swear that it was a rifle. It could have been a firecracker, but I don't think it was." (Schiller interview as presented on the Capitol Records release The Controversy, 1967) "The first loud report, well, he kinda slumped forward a little bit and his right hand went up to his neck. In a second or two, Governor Connally he slumped over just like dropping a sack of flour, and there was just a short pause in there. Until there was another report that wasn't as loud as the first two. It came from my left and behind a picket fence, and there was a puff of smoke that kinda lingered out under that green tree right out behind that picket fence about 8 or 9 feet off of the ground. The third shot came from the fence and it wasn't near as loud as the fourth shot, or the first and second shot." (Interview with CBS broadcast 6-26-67) "Just about the time the parade turned on Elm Street, about where that truck is - that bus is now, there was a shot came from up--the upper end of the street. I couldn't say then, at that time, that it came from the Book Depository book store. But I knew that it came from the other end of the street, and the President slumped over forward like that and tried to raise his hand up. And Governor Connally, sitting in front of him on the right side of the car, tried to turn to his right and he was sitting so close to the door that he couldn't make it that-a-way, and he turned back like that with his arm out to the left. And about that time, the second shot was fired and it knocked him over forward and he slumped to the right, and I guess his wife pulled him over in her lap because he fell over in her lap. And about that time, there was a third report that wasn't nearly as loud as the two previous reports. It came from that picket fence, and then there was a fourth report. The third and the fourth reports was almost simultaneously. But, the third report wasn't nearly as loud as the two previous reports or the fourth report. And I glanced over underneath that green tree and you see a - a little puff of smoke. It looked like a puff of steam or cigarette smoke. And the smoke was about - oh, eight or ten feet off the ground, and about fifteen feet this side of that tree.”
(3-25-68 interview with Barry Ernest recounted in The Girl on the Stairs, published 2011) "As the motorcade approached in the middle lane of Elm, I heard four shots, the first two sounded like they were behind the president with that shot from the knoll being different from the rest.' When I asked what he meant by 'different,' he said it sounded 'I don't know, just different than the others, like it was a pistol, or a different type of rifle or something. The third and fourth shots were very close together, almost at exactly the same second.' Holland said his eyes were focused on Kennedy when 'the second, or possibly the third shot' caused the president's head to 'suddenly lurch backward.' At that moment, he said, his attention was immediately drawn to the left, straight at the far corner of the wooden fence on top of the knoll, where he felt that shot, the 'different' shot, had originated. 'And I saw a puff of smoke come out from that corner and it just didn't hang there but it slowly drifted out under the trees and over the grassy area toward the street below.' The smoke, he added, traveled out about 20 feet from the fence and was located slightly behind a large tree on the knoll." (8-2-68 re-enactment of Holland's actions on 11-22 with Barry Ernest in Dealey Plaza, as recounted in The Girl on the Stairs, 2011) "Holland said he watched as the wounded president passed directly beneath him into the Triple Underpass. He had seen a puff of smoke when Kennedy was shot in the head... In just under a minute, we had reached the corner of the fence where Holland said he'd seen smoke. I noticed during our entire reenactment that Holland had kept his eyes glued to his final destination. I asked if he had done the same thing on November 22. 'I did,' he replied. 'As soon as I could get a full view of that corner, my eyes were on it.' 'What did you see?' 'Nothing,' he said." Analysis: it’s easy to see why Holland is so popular with conspiracy theorists. He said there were four shots and that at least one of them came from the stockade fence. The problem is he doesn’t have a lot of credibility. Over the years his story kept getting better and better, incorporating bits of Connally’s testimony, adding in juicy details like Kennedy’s foot hanging over the side of the car—something he could only have seen in a newspaper. Still, if one goes by Holland’s earliest statements, where he says he saw Jackie get up from her seat after the first shot, and notes that he mentioned the smoke in the trees from the get-go, it’s hard to completely dismiss what he was saying. The man saw smoke in the trees and heard at least one shot after the head shot. Heard four shots? Last two shots probably bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot). Saw smoke on the knoll.
Austin Miller (11-22-63 statement to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, 19H485, 24H217) “I saw a convertable automobile turn west on Elm off Houston Street. It had proceeded about halfway from Houston Street to the underpass when I heard what sounded like a shot a short second two more sharp reports. A man in the back seat slumped over and a woman in a bright colored dress (Orange or Yellow) grabbed the man and yelled. One shot apparently hit the street past the car. I saw something which I thought was smoke or steam coming from a group of trees north of Elm off the railroad tracks.” (12-18-63 FBI report, CD205 p.27-28) “He saw an open top limousine containing people turn left off of Houston, driving west directly in front of the Texas School Book Depository. He heard three shots and also noticed a powder dust spray in the street directly to the driver’s side and rear of the car…It was his first impression that the noise of the shots was a motorcycle backfire or firecrackers….he saw someone fall forward but could not tell who was in the car.” (4-8-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H223-227) “it came down Main Street and turned North on Houston Street and went over two blocks and turned left on Elm. Got about halfway down the hill toward the underpass and that is when as far as I can recall the first shot was fired…I thought at first the motorcycle backfiring or somebody throwed some firecrackers out…just a few seconds later, there was two more shots fired or, or sounded like a sound at the time…it was after that I saw some man in a car fall forward, and a woman next to him grab him and hollered, and just what, I don't know exactly what she said…About that time I turned to look toward the - there is a little plaza sitting on the hill. I looked over there to see if anything was there, who threw the firecracker or whatever it was, or see if anything was up there, and there wasn't nobody standing there, so I stepped back and looked at the tracks to see if anybody run across the railroad tracks, and there was nobody running across the railroad tracks. So I turned right straight back just in time to see the convertible take off fast..." (When asked from where he thought the shots came) "the way it sounded like, it came from the, I would say right there in the car.” (8-1-68 interview with Barry Ernest as recounted in The Girl On The Stairs, 2011) (When asked about the smoke) "He said it definitely was smoke he saw 'around the trees in the corner of the picket fence on the grassy knoll.' (When asked if it could have been exhaust) 'No,' he firmly replied. Miller said he felt there had been three shots, that he saw the smoke just as he heard the third shot." (11-09-83 AP article found in the Indiana Gazette) "Miller, a railyard worker in 1963, had walked over to Elm Street on his lunch-break and was looking right at Kennedy "when shots began to crackle." - - - At first he didn't realize what was happening, he said. But when he saw a Secret Service agent jump onto the back of Kennedy's limousine, he knew. "I've tried to forget all I could of it, but I still remember most of it," said Miller, 25 at the time. "I guess you never forget it." Miller said he has told very few of his friends and co-workers that he was there when Kennedy was killed." (11-22-13 article in The New York Post) "He’s spent the past five decades wishing he never went to watch President Kennedy ride through Dallas. Austin Miller, 76, was working near Dealey Plaza as a mail clerk and tariff compiler for the Texas-Louisiana Freight Bureau when he and several co-workers “just decided we’d walk over and see him.” “We were on top of the overpass” west of the plaza, he said. “Stood there for a while, talking to the other people there.” After watching the motorcade wind its way through the streets, Miller said, “I heard three gunshots.” “We first thought they were firecrackers, but then realized it wasn’t firecrackers after a little bit,” he said. “We were looking right inside the limo. They were moving around in the car a lot, and the Secret Service men were trying to help him.” “A few seconds after it happened, they took off. It was all done in a matter of seconds,” he added. Ever since, Miller has been trying to forget the awful events he witnessed. “It was just something that was horrible to happen, something you wish you hadn’t been a part of,” he said. “How do you put into words what it’s like seeing a man being killed right in front of you?” Analysis: Miller heard the first shot after Z-190, and the last two shots bunched together. He also saw smoke in the trees. His contention that a shot was fired past the limo, when coupled with the FBI report’s mentioning that this shot hit behind the car, might be taken to mean that he thought the shots were coming from the knoll. But when one considers Miller’s view of the limousine, and that the limousine was on a descent throughout the Plaza, it seems more likely this “dust spray” was the cloud created by the explosion of Kennedy’s skull. This cloud exploded upwards and to the left of Kennedy. That Miller notes Kennedy’s falling over but doesn’t note the explosion of his skull makes this all the more likely. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together. Saw smoke on the knoll.
Royce Skelton (11-22-63 statement to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, 16H496) “We saw the motorcade come around the corner and I heard something which I thought was fireworks. I saw something hit the pavement at the left rear of the car, then the car got in the right hand lane and I heard two more shots. I heard a woman say “Oh, no” or something and grab a man inside the car. I then heard another shot and saw the bullet hit the pavement. The concrete was knocked to the south away from the car. It hit the pavement in the left or middle lane.” (12-18-63 FBI report, CD205 p.26) “Mr. Skelton noticed that as an open top limousine turned on Elm Street, it had moved approximately one hundred feet at which time he noticed dust spray up from the street in front of the car on the driver’s side. This dust spray came from the direction of the Texas School Book Depository building. A few seconds later, he heard what he believed to be three shots.” (4-8-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H236-238) “Just about the same time the car straightened out—got around the corner—I heard two shots, but I didn’t know at the time they were shots…It sounded like they were right there more or less like motorcycle backfire, but I thought they were these dumbballs that they throw at the cement because I could see the smoke coming up off the cement (when asked how many shots) “I thought I heard four—I mean—I couldn’t be sure…after those two shots, and the car came on down closer to the triple underpass, well, there was another shot—two more shots I heard, but one of them—I saw a bullet, or I guess it was a bullet…hit in the left front of the President’s car on the cement, and when it did, the smoke carried with it—away from the building.” Analysis: while Skelton’s story morphed over only a few months, with the supposed missed shot impacting first behind the limo then in front, we can take a few of the things he said and run with them. In his initial statement he said he heard something that sounded like fireworks. He then mentions seeing something hit the street. As a bullet travels much faster than the speed of sound, whatever he saw hit the street was not related to this first sound. (When studying the words of the railroad men it’s important to remember they were 500 feet or so away from the sniper’s nest, and would hear any shot from that location a half second or so after it was fired, in which time the limousine would have traveled 8-10 feet.) As we saw with Austin Miller, he makes no specific references to the head shot, leaving us to suspect the explosion he saw was somehow related to the head shot. Heard four shots? Last two (or more) shots bunched together (with one or more shots after the head shot). Saw smoke. (But thought it was coming off the street.)
Frank Reilly (12-19-63 FBI report based upon a 12-18-63 interview, CD205 p.29) “He saw two cars turn on Elm toward the underpass and at this time heard three shots which he thought came from the trees west of the Texas School Book Depository.” (4-8-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H227-231) (When asked if he saw the motorcade) “not until it turned and started to come under the underpass.“ (When asked how many shots he heard) “three shots…It seemed to me like they come out of the trees…on the North side of Elm Street at the corner up there...it’s at that park where all the shrubs is up there—it’s to the north of Elm Street—up the slope.” Analysis: Reilly’s Warren Commission testimony is difficult to understand. Did he mean the trees in front of the depository building? If so, why didn’t he make reference to the building? Fortunately, the FBI report exists to tell us which trees he was talking about. Perhaps the “corner” Reilly was referring to was the corner of the stockade fence. While many interpret his statement that the shots came out of the trees to mean he saw smoke, that’s probably going too far. Too vague. Saw smoke. (On the knoll?)
Above: a crop from the James Altgens photo (known as Altgens 7) shown on the slide above. This photo was taken mere seconds after President Kennedy was shot. A blow-up of this image from the original negative could have provided the investigators of Kennedy's murder with some solid leads as to some of the best witnesses to both Kennedy's murder, and any strange activity behind the picket fence, or railroad yards. But the Associated Press cropped the witnesses on the bridge from the photo before sending it out to their subscribers, and the existence of these witnesses on the negative would not become known for years afterward.
And yet, no thanks to the police or FBI, and no thanks to the Associated Press, we learned the identities of most of these witnesses.
Thanks to this man...
James Simmons (3-23-64 FBI report, FBI file 62-109060, p124) "On March 14, 1964, James L. Simmons telephonically advised SA Robert Butler that he is one of ten witnesses who, while standing on the Commerce Street viaduct, observed the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Simmons advised that he furnished his name as did the other people on the viaduct to a man he thought to be a reporter. He stated that none of the ten persons in the group has been interviewed concerning the assassination, to his knowledge. Simmons stated that he and his friends are all employees of the Union Terminal Company...with the exception of a Dallas Police officer who was standing with his group at the viaduct. He stated that he and his friends have not come forward since they were on duty at the time of the assassination and had not been authorized to leave their jobs to observe the parade. Simmons requested that his name not be mentioned to the other witnesses or to his employer in connection with this call. Following is the list of names as furnished by Simmons: Luke Winborn--switchman; (FNU) Potter--Hostler Helper; (FNU) Bishop--Hostler; Richard Dodd--Track Maintenance Foreman; (FNU) Murphy--Mail Foreman at Terminal Annex; (FNU) Holland--Signal Department Foreman; C.E. Johnson--Machinist; Euel (phonetic) Cowsart--Switchman; (FNU) Foster--Patrolman, Dallas Police Department." (3-19-64 FBI report based upon a 3-17-64 interview, 22H833) “stated when the President’s car started down Elm Street he heard three shots ring out. President Kennedy slumped forward in his seat and appeared to have been hit by a bullet…he recalled that a motorcycle policeman drove up the grassy slope toward the Texas School Book Depository Building, jumped off his motorcycle and then ran up the hill toward the Memorial Arches. Simmons said he thought he saw exhaust fumes of smoke near the embankment in front of the Texas School Book Depository Building.” (Interview with Mark Lane in Rush to Judgment, filmed 3-28-66) “As the presidential limousine was rounding the curve on Elm Street, there was a loud explosion…it sounded like a loud firecracker or a gunshot, and it sounded like it came from the left and in front of us toward the wooden fence. And there was a puff of smoke that came underneath the trees on the embankment. It was right directly in front of the wooden fence.” (An additional segment in the 3-28-66 interview with Lane on the transcript of the interview made available by the Wisconsin Historical Society and posted online by John McAdams) (An alternate take) "As the limousine rounded the curve on Elm Street there was a loud explosion--seemed to be from fireworks or gunshot--didn't know at the time. But it seemed like it came from the fence to the left and in front of us." (2-15-69 testimony in the trial of Clay Shaw) (When asked what he heard as the limo approached) "I heard three loud reports I presumed to be shots." (When asked where the limousine was at the time of the first shot) “It had, it was about one-third of the way or maybe half-way between the Depository and the Overpass.” (When asked Kennedy’s response) “Well, I don't remember exactly -- it was between the first or second or thereabouts and he turned to his left and threw his hands up.“ (When asked Kennedy’s response to the third) “Well, he fell and there was matter and a halo of blood.” (When asked which way he fell) "To his left". (When asked what the limousine did then) "It paused and then accelerated real fast after the motorcycle got out the way." (When asked where the red halo appeared to be) "To the left side of his head." (When asked where the matter went) "It went over the side of the car...The left side." (When asked if he noticed anything unusual in the area of the grassy knoll when the second and third shots were fired) "Well, after I heard the shots I looked to see if I could see where they were coming from and underneath the trees up on the grassy knoll by the fence I detected what appeared to be a puff of smoke or wisp of smoke." (When asked again about the red halo) "Well, it looked just like the top of his head blew off and went up in the air." (When asked the direction in which the halo moved) "Like I said, it seemed to go out the left side of the car...Well, the matter." (When asked if the halo was in front of the President) "Well, it seemed to be over his head." (When asked if he saw anything hit the curb) "After the first shot I was screening the area to see if I could see where they were coming from and there was, it looked like dust particles fly in the air from something that had hit the curb or street." (When asked from where he heard the shots) "from in front...the sound was to the left of me." (When asked if this is the direction of the school book depository as well as the grassy knoll) "It is." Analysis: it appears the FBI made a similar “mistake” in their report on Simmons as they did in their report on Potter. Once again, it is purported that something that probably took place on the knoll took place in front of the school book depository. Haygood parked his bike near the grassy slope by the knoll; it seems very doubtful Simmons would say he drove it toward the school book depository. His Shaw trial testimony clears up matters some. His description of Kennedy turning to his left is a description of what one sees in the Zapruder film after Z-224. First shot hit 190-224. Saw smoke on the knoll.
George Davis (3-18-64 FBI report based upon a 3-17-64 interview, 22H837) “Shortly after the motorcycle escort and Presidential car came into view and was at a point just east of the viaduct, Mr. Davis heard a sound which he described as similar to firecrackers exploding. All shots were very close together and he stated it was impossible for him to determine the number of shots. He stated his first impression was that someone had played a prank, but then he saw guns in the hands of the Secret Service Agents with President Kennedy, saw President Kennedy slumped forward, and the police motorcycle escort maneuver swiftly about the area, and he realized it was not a prank.” Analysis: as he says all the shots were very close together, it sounds like he’s describing the bunching of the last two shots, and perhaps their echoes. Did not hear a shot as early as frame 160. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Richard Dodd (3-18-64 FBI report based upon a 3-17-64 interview, 22H835) “when the motorcycle escort and the automobile carrying President Kennedy approached the area where he was standing his attention was directed on President Kennedy…he saw president Kennedy slump forward and simultaneously heard shots ring out. He stated he did not know how many shots were fired, but that the sounds were very close together.” (Interview with Mark Lane presented in the movie Rush to Judgment, filmed 3-24-66) “We all, three or four of us, seen about the same thing, the shot, the smoke came from behind the hedge on the north side of the Plaza. And a motorcycle policeman dropped his motorcycle in the street with a gun in his hand and run up the embankment to the hedge.” (3-24-66 interview with Mark Lane, transcript found at the Wisconsin Historical Society and posted online by John McAdams. Note: my quotation of this transcript was revised to add-in snippets presented in the transcript to an 11-12-66 showing of this interview on WNEW television) (When asked what he saw) "I saw the President roll over. And then I saw Governor Connally slump over." (When asked what he heard) "I thought, when it started, it was firecrackers. Then I looked again, and I seen the President roll over in--slump over in his seat. And then I saw Governor Connally slump over. And Mrs. Kennedy, she raised up and the Secret Service men came off the fender bumper and shoved her down in the car and fell in on top of her. They went on to the underpass where I couldn't see any further." (When asked if he saw anything to indicate where the shots came from) “We all, three or four of us, seen about the same thing, the shot, the smoke came from behind the hedge on the north side of the Plaza. And a motorcycle policeman dropped his motorcycle in the street with a gun in his hand and run up the embankment to the hedge...” (When asked how many shots were fired) "Actually, I don't know. They were sounding more like firecrackers than it did three shots. They's claimed three shots--but seemed to me like there were more than that happened." (He then discusses the events he described in the film) (When asked if he told government agents he thought there had been more than three shots, and that these shots had come from behind the picket fence.) "Yeah, I did. I told them I thought there was more than three shots." Analysis: heard shots ring out as Kennedy slumped forward, which almost certainly means the head shot. If he was describing an earlier shot, why would he fail to mention witnessing the head shot? Did not hear an early shot. Last two shots bunched together. Saw smoke on the knoll.
Now here's another photo of the railroad men looking down on Dealey Plaza. This one was taken by Tom Dillard from the safety of Camera Car #3...a minute or so after the shooting.
Clemon Johnson (3-18-64 FBI report based upon a 3-17-64 interview, 22H836) “He stated he first realized something was wrong when the motorcycles began moving from their regular course and at or just before this he heard sounds that could have been shots. Mr. Johnson stated at that time he did not know that it was shots and he could not state how many shots he heard. His attention remained on the vehicle carrying President Kennedy and he observed this car until it sped away. Mr. Johnson stated that white smoke was observed near the pavillion, but he felt that this smoke came from a motorcycle abandoned near this spot by a Dallas policeman.” (11-09-83 AP article found in the Indiana Gazette) "Like dozens of other witnesses to the assassination, Johnson was called to testify before the Warren Commission. He told what he saw, which was little. He said he was 'within throwing distance' of Kennedy when the shots were fired and the Warren Commission grilled us as if we had done it.' 'I never like to talk about it,' he said of having seen the incident. 'I always just try to ignore talking about it, because to me it was a sad event, not what we thought it would be — just see the president come along and that'd be it." (No More Silence, p.79-83, published 1998) “The President was headed toward the underpass at the time the shots went off. First, you think of firecrackers going off, then, when you see all the motorcycles buzzing around, falling down, turning around, and running into one another, then you could plainly see that the President’s head was shot off…you could tell that the whole top of his head was probably missing…I heard maybe three shots. I know two plainly… You could tell it was a rifle…The car they were in…you could see it speed up and then stop, then speed up, and you could see it stop while they threw Mrs. Kennedy back up in the car...I didn’t have any idea where the shots came from, not even a guess…I did see smoke, lots of puffs of smoke, but I was of the opinion that the smoke was coming out of those motorcycles. The smoke was coming up off the ground out where the motorcycles were, not on the grassy knoll.” Analysis: his reference to the motorcycles moving from their regular course is a reference to Chaney and Jackson’s braking after the head shot. Here, once again, we have a witness from the bridge whose statements indicate he heard at least two shots beginning around the time of the head shot. If there had been 5 second gaps between these shots he would have had not said “just before or after” and would have had an idea how many shots he heard. His offered explanation for the smoke seen on the knoll doesn’t fly because Officer Haygood, who parked his bike on the street by the knoll, never reached the knoll until Kennedy’s limousine was long gone. Probably heard only two shots. Did not hear a shot as early as frame 160. Last two shots probably bunched together.Saw smoke. (But thought it was coming off the street.)
Walter Winborn (3-18-64 FBI report based upon a 3-17-64 interview, 22H833) “As the motorcycle escort and the vehicle carrying the president approached the viaduct, Mr. Winborn heard three distinct shots ring out...his attention remained on President Kennedy. He stated, however, that the shots sounded as if they all came from the same area.” (3-17-65 interview by Barbara Bridges, as noted in Best Evidence, published 1980) "there was a lot of smoke...from out of the trees, to the left." (5-5-66 interview with Stewart Galanor, transcript on history-matters.com) “I just saw some smoke coming out in a—a motorcycle patrolman leaped off his machine and go up towards that smoke that come out from under the trees on the right hand side of the motorcade…There was a wooden fence there.” (When asked if he told the FBI about the smoke) “Oh yes. Oh yes.” Analysis: as he says the vehicle was approaching the viaduct, his words seem more in line with the first shot coming after frame 160. Probable first shot 190-224. Saw smoke on the knoll.
Now, the thought occurs that Dillard's photo, much as Altgens', could have been used to track down the men on the railroad bridge, should the Dallas Police or FBI have had the gumption to do so. This lack of gumption (and basic competence?) is truly hard to fathom.
Curtis Bishop (3-19-64 FBI report based upon a 3-17-64 interview, 22H834): (He said that) “when President Kennedy’s car came into view he started down Elm Street past the Texas School Book Depository Building. He heard three shots ring out. He then saw President Kennedy slump over as if he had been hit.” Analysis: while his statement that ‘he then saw” President Kennedy slump might be taken as an indication that there were no shots after the head shot, it’s unclear how closely he was watching the President at this time. Too vague.
Ewell Cowsert (3-19-64 FBI report based upon a 3-17-64 interview, 22H836) “just as President Kennedy’s car passed the Texas School Book Depository he heard two or three shots ring out and saw President Kennedy slump forward in his seat….he has no idea where the shots came from.” Analysis: as the shots are mentioned together and as occurring after the car had passed the school book depository, Cowsert probably heard the last two shots bunched together. Last two shots probably bunched together.
Nolan Potter (3-19-64 FBI report based upon a 3-17-64 interview, 2H834) “when the President’s car…had driven past the Texas School Book Depository Building, he heard three loud reports which sounded like firecrackers. He then saw President Kennedy slump over in his car…Potter said he recalls seeing smoke in front of the Texas School Book Depository rising above the trees.” Analysis: from the railroad bridge looking up Elm, the knoll was just to the left of the school book depository. A puff of smoke coming out from the knoll would rise up above the trees in front of the depository. Or was saying the trees were in front of the school book depository simply an FBI mistake? As he said the car had driven past the school book depository, a shot as early as frame 160 seems unlikely. First shot 190-224. Saw smoke. (On the knoll?)
Thomas Murphy (3-20-64 FBI report based upon a 3-17-64 interview, 22H835) “Murphy said they watched President Kennedy’s limousine turn down Elm Street past the Texas School Book Depository and start towards them. He stated he then heard what sounded like two shots and he saw President Kennedy and Governor Connally slump in their seats. Murphy said in his opinion that these shots came from just west of the Texas School Book Depository.” (5-6-66 interview with Stewart Galanor, transcription on history-matters.com) (When asked how many shots he heard) “More than three.” (When asked where the shots came from) “they come from a tree to the left, of my left, which is to the immediate right of the site of the assassination…on the hill up there. There are two or three hackberry and elm trees. And I say it come from there.” (When asked if he saw smoke) “Yeah, smoke...in that tree.” Analysis: as he failed to mention a missed shot or a head shot, the shot where he saw Kennedy slump would most probably be the head shot. Since he failed to mention a gap between these shots, he probably heard the last two shots closely bunched together. His adding in additional shots for Galanor could reflect his adjusting his story to match Holland’s. On the other hand, maybe the FBI misunderstood him two years earlier. Heard four shots? Last two shots possibly bunched together. Saw smoke on the knoll.
The statements of these men were known to the Warren Commission. Eleven of them saw or smelled smoke in the moments after the shooting. That they not only saw smoke, but reported it to Sheriff's deputies charging into the railroad yards after the shooting, is confirmed, furthermore, by the reports on the shooting of Deputy Sheriffs A.D. McCurley (19H514) and J.L. Oxford (19H530). Although a few of those seeing smoke thought this smoke came from the motorcycles and/or the impact of a bullet on the street, such smoke was not noted by others closer to the action. As a result it seems possible that, in looking down on the action, they'd confused smoke in front of the limo with smoke behind it. In any event, the bulk of these witnesses thought they'd seen smoke, and thought it had come from the direction of the stockade fence or grassy knoll, to their left.
Their perspective on the action, moreover, was also known to the Warren Commission. Here, in a frame from some 5-9-64 film footage, are Commissioners Cooper and Dulles standing on the overpass, along with Commission Counsel David Belin, Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr (in the white hat) and another man whom I have yet to identify. (Commissioner McCloy was on the trip but evidently passed on visiting the overpass.)
So...were those claiming they saw smoke hallucinating? The debate continues. The railroad men themselves, mostly conservative types, were convinced they saw smoke, and were among the first conspiracy theorists. They risked ostracism in their hometown by refusing to go along with the official story that Oswald acted alone.
Undoubtedly, they behaved admirably. But were they right?
There are frames in the Wiegman and Zapruder films that convince me they were. In these frames, one can see what looks like a puff of smoke hovering in the trees. While one can easily see such things once one starts looking for them, and fool oneself, the fact is there are no other apparent puffs of smoke in the Zapruder film besides the one seen in the reddish tree by the stockade fence as the limousine heads for the underpass. Well, that there appears to be smoke in the trees in the Wiegman film, at this exact same time, seems way too great a coincidence.
Here's a Gif made from frames of the Wiegman film, found online. (If you made this or know who did please let me know so I can provide proper credit.)
Should one need further convincing, one should consider the words of Ed Johnson, a reporter riding in the motorcade press bus. In an 11-23-63 article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, he wrote “Some of us saw little puffs of white smoke that seemed to hit the grassy area in the esplanade that divides Dallas’ main downtown streets.”
Under the Overpass
James Tague (12-16-63 FBI report based upon a 12-14-63 interview, CD205 p31) “he was driving a car on November 22, 1963, and was stopped in traffic at the Triple Underpass…While stopped, he saw that the Presidential Motorcade was going to pass by, and he got out of his car and stood near the Triple Underpass between Commerce and Main Streets. He stood near the curb of Main Street waiting for the motorcade to come to where he was standing. When the motorcade was approximately 100 feet from him he heard a loud noise, and at that time he looked around as he thought someone had shot a firecracker. He then heard two more loud noises in quick succession…During the time of the shooting he felt something hit him on the right cheek…He thought that possibly one of the bullets had hit the curb near his feet and possibly a piece of the curbing had hit him on the cheek… He did not see the shots take effect and stated he could not furnish any information as to where the shots actually came from.” (Interview in the Dallas Times Herald, 6-5-64) "There was that first shot, then the second and the third. Some time, I think it was the second shot, a bullet--I'm sure it was a bullet--hit the curb in front of me and I felt a sting on my cheek." (7-23-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H552-558) “I was standing there watching, and really I was watching to try to distinguish the President and his car. About this time I heard what sounded like a firecracker. Well, a very loud firecracker. It certainly didn’t sound like a rifle shot. It was more of a loud cannon-type sound. I looked around to see who was throwing firecrackers or what was going on and I turned my head away from the motorcade and, of course, two more shots.” (When asked if he saw the President hit) “I did not” (When asked which shot hit him) “maybe the second or third shot, I couldn’t tell you definitely” (When asked if he heard any shots after he was hit) “I believe I did…I believe it was the second shot, so I heard the third shot afterwards. (When asked where he thought the shots came from) “my first impression was that up by the, whatever you call the monument…somebody was throwing firecrackers up there. ” (Interview with Mark Lane in Rush to Judgment, filmed March, 1966) “Right after the presidential car had turned the corner, I heard these three loud noises…My first impression was that they had come from the left of me…somewhere towards the wooden fence.” (Additional segments to the March 1966 interview with Lane found in the transcript of the interview made available by the Wisconsin Historical Society) "I heard a loud explosion which--I say loud--it was like a fire-cracker to me. And then there was another one. And then, of course, the third one." (When asked from where he thought the shots had come) "I did think the shots were coming from the left at the time." (Alternate take) "There was a series of three shots which, to me, at the time, sounded like fire-crackers, loud fire-crackers, very loud." (First person account published in the National Enquirer, 4-7-68) "One of the limousines made the sharp turn into Elm Street and fluttering hands from the curb identified it as the President's car. But my eyes never had a chance to seek out Kennedy. There was a loud report, a sharp sudden crackle of sound that seemed to linger in the air. A gunshot, I thought, but not necessarily from a rifle. It passed fleetingly in my mind that perhaps there was some disturbance in the crowd and an eager-beaver officer had fired a warning shot in the air. But the sound didn't seem exactly right for that. There had to be some other explanation. My gaze swept over the rows of faces on the distant curb. Then it darted on to the grassy slope, taking in the masonry which had spectators perching on it or leaning against it. Restlessly, I moved a step or two. One foot struck the metallic cover of a sewer manhole. Then there was a second blast, louder and even more distinct, as if from closer range. At that instant I was facing the gazebo. My attention was so caught up that I was only dimly aware of a stinging sensation in my right cheek. Then a third report followed quickly, not waiting--as the second one had--until the previous one died away...(Tague's summation) "The other wounded survivor of the Dealey Plaza shooting, Governor Connally, is reported to be satisfied with the one-sniper theory. I am not."
(Interview in The Men Who Killed Kennedy, broadcast 1988) "When the first shot, which I thought was a firecracker, happened--then I heard two more--I ducked behind the triple underpass." (1-19-92 interview with Gerald Posner, reported in Case Closed, 1993) (When asked which shot hit the curb) "I actually can't tell you which one. I could try to pick one, but through the years have maintained accuracy. I don't know which one hit me." (Tague's 1-19-92 discussion with Posner according to his 11-19-04 appearance at the COPA Conference in Dallas) "I never talked to Posner...What I think really happened is he talked to one of my daughters, and they told Posner what they thought he wanted to hear. I never talked to Posner..." (As quoted in Breaking the Silence, by Bill Sloan, 1993) "I saw the President's car turn onto Houston Street off Main...It was maybe ten seconds later, just after the car had turned onto Elm Street, that I heard the first shot...Then I heard two more shots." (On the first shot) "It had a different sound, not like the others at all. I thought somebody was throwing firecrackers, and it was only after I heard the other shots that I realized somebody was actually shooting. When I did, I ducked behind the underpass for cover..." (Article by William Goggins available on the website of John McAdams, making repeated reference to a 5-6-97 interview with Tague) (On the first shot) "In an interview with the author, Tague explained that it was a "flat sound", whereas the other two were sharp "cracks" which sounded like a true rifle shot." (On what he did after the third shot) "He told the author he 'did what anyone would do. I scanned the area to see what was going on' (On Posner's quoting him in Case Closed) "After personally interviewing James Tague, he made it aware to me that he was misquoted in Posner's book. Tague told me that it was not the first shot that caused his wound. He told the author in an interview that 'something made me jump back behind the abutment, and that's why I think it was the second one (shot).'" (No More Silence, p.109-115, published 1998) “When I heard the first shot, I thought somebody had thrown a firecracker and was standing there wondering what had happened. Then I heard another sound which was a little different. The third shot sounded the same as the second…I could not honestly tell from where the shots had originated, but the first shot I found the most interesting.” (3-30-99 oral history for the Sixth Floor Museum) I was looking in the general direction toward the School Book Depository. The first noise had a firecracker sound, which I am one of many witnesses to that. It was a pop. I want to be very emphatic about that. I grew up on a farm. I’ve handled rifles, and I grew up with a rifle in my hands. I know what a rifle shot sounds like, and I know what a firecracker sounds like. The first shot was very clearly like the sound of a firecracker. My first thought was, “Oh, God, somebody is throwing firecrackers with the President going by.” Then I heard the crack of a rifle, and it caught my attention and then the crack of another shot." (Truth Withheld, 2003) “I stood there wondering what was going on when a limousine emerged from this crowd and headed down Elm Street toward where I was standing… My thoughts were quickly broken by the pop of a firecracker and I recall thinking 'What kind of idiot would be setting off a firecracker with the President driving by?'…That thought was soon interrupted by the crack of a high-powered rifle shot, and then almost immediately the crack of a second high-powered rifle shot. It was then that something stung me in the face…One thing that I have always been positive of is that the first shot was not the shot that hit the curb near me…The first shot sounded like a firecracker.” (Interview on Fox News Channel program JFK: Case Not Closed, broadcast 11-2003) “I heard a pop. And my first thought was 'Who in the world is throwing a firecracker with the President driving by?' Then I heard the crack crack of two rifle shots.” (Interview within an 11-22-03 WBAP radio program found on Youtube) "I heard a firecracker go off. What kind of fool is throwing firecrackers when the President's driving by." (11-19-04 appearance at the COPA Conference in Dallas, as found on YouTube) "No more had he turned the corner up there, then somebody threw a firecracker. And I sat there, and I stood there, wondering in my mind 'What kind of an idiot would be throwing a firecracker with the President coming by?'...And as I was standing there trying to figure out what kind of an idiot would do that, I heard the crack-crack of two rifle shots, one right after the other. Something stung me in the face...Now the pictures that you see of me down by the triple underpass are about 8 to 10 seconds after the head shot. I'm re-emerging from the protection of the triple underpass...In rehearsing what my thoughts were between that first and second shot, going over it, time after time, it was 3 to 5 seconds. 3 to 5 seconds. The sting did not happen with that first shot. I can tell you positively the first shot was not the missed shot...The first shot was not the missed shot that hit the curb...Now that I've studied it, I can say positively the third shot was the shot that missed...What went through my mind, back then, several times, is 3 to 5 seconds--this delay between the first and second shot. The first shot was not the missed shot. And I'm pretty certain the third shot was the missed shot...The thing that is most vivid in my mind is the time between the first and second shot." (When asked if he could have been confused by echoes) "No echoes. None whatsoever, where I was...These were distinct noises." (When asked the time between the second and third shots) "Maybe a second apart. Maybe two seconds at the most."
(Interview on Nightfright radio, 11-18-09) "I heard what I thought was the pop of a firecracker and the thought went through my mind 'What kind of an idiot would be throwing firecrackers with the president going by'...Then there was a delay. It were about three seconds, and then the crack-crack of two rifle shots...one right after the other. (When asked if he could tell from where the shots had been fired) "Not really. From where I stood, the line of fire--it could have been from anywhere--the Dal-Tex Building, the school book depository, or the grassy, it could have been any one of the three... (When asked if it could have come from his right) "No there wasn't anything coming from my right. It was all straight ahead and to the left." (Interview in JFK: The Lost Bullet, broadcast 11-20-11) "So somebody throws a firecracker. I thought. It turned out it was the first shot. There's a pause, and then the crack-crack of two rifle shots. After the third shot, I ducked back behind the concrete for protection." (11-22-11 e-mail from Tague posted by Jim Pomerville on the JFK Assassination Forum website, 12-2-11) (On Max Holland's theory the first shot missed more than six full seconds before the second shot, and was the bullet causing the wound on Tague's cheek--the theory tested in JFK: The Lost Bullet) "Holland is full of crap. One thing I know for sure is that the first shot was not the missed curb shot. Another thing I am positive about is that the last shot was the missed shot. You may not want to believe the Warren Commission"s final findings, but you can believe the 11 witnesses who state it was the last shot that missed. Only one witness thought it was the first shot that missed, that was Virgie Rachley... " (LBJ and the Kennedy Killing, released 10-22-13) "I noticed the President's limousine up by the School Book Depository. I then heard the pop of a firecracker. As I stood there thinking what kind of an idiot would be throwing firecrackers with the President passing by, there was the crack-crack of two high-powered rifle shots, and I felt something sting me in the face." (Later) "The President's car had barely cleared the crowd around the intersection of Elm and Houston streets when I heard the pop of a firecracker going off...My line of vision was toward the crowd as the Presidential limo was curving down Elm Street directly at me. The limousine was between me and the crowd in front of the School Book Depository. The President's limo was slowing down when I heard the very distinct crack of a high-powered rifle shot, then rapidly, the crack of another shot. The limousine was almost upon me with this shot, there was movement inside the limousine, then the limousine accelerated and went under the triple underpass. Something stung me in the face during the shooting and it took a second or two for all of this to start to register." (11-3-13 article in The Guardian for which four witnesses were interviewed, including Tague) "James Tague never meant to be in Dealey Plaza but ended up so close that he was, he believes, wounded by the debris from a bullet intended for the president. The car salesman was late for a lunch date with a “pretty redhead” who would become his wife, so he was frustrated when he found himself stuck in traffic at a standstill. Only after leaving his vehicle to look for the cause of the hold-up did he see a motorcade ahead and recall that the president was in town that day. Seconds later, he heard what he thought was a firecracker, followed by two more cracks, clearly gunshots now, and a sharp sting to his face." (Fox News Reporting: 50 Years of Questions, 11-9-13) "I was wondering what kind of idiot would be throwing firecrackers. Then the crack crack of two rifle shots, and something stung me in the face." (The Day Kennedy Died, on the Smithsonian Channel, 11-17-13) (On the first shot) "I remember thinking what kind of a nut would be throwing a firecracker with the President coming by." (Alternative take presented on the website for the program) "I remember it slowing down, then somebody throws a firecracker. And then all of a sudden crack crack, two rifle shots, and something stings me in the face." (Interview with the Voice of America website, broadcast 11-19-13) "'I no more than see the President's car and a couple seconds later somebody throws a firecracker,' I thought. It turns out it was the first shot. Then there's a pause and then the crack crack of two rifle shots. Something stung me in the face." (11-20-13 article by Susan Donaldson James on ABCNEWS.go.com) "James T. Tague was an unintended victim in the Kennedy assassination, hit by a stray bullet while stuck in traffic on the way to pick up a luncheon date. 'I was standing on the triple underpass at the time and was wounded by a fragment that bounced off the pavement,' Tague, now 77, told ABC News. When he heard the first shot, Tague thought it was a firecracker. 'It certainly didn't sound like a rifle shot. It was a loud cannon-type sound and it stung me on my right cheek. I wondered what had just happened and a man in a suit who turned out to be a deputy sheriff in plain clothes ran up and asked what had happened. Across the street people were sobbing, 'His head exploded.' The policeman said 'Whose head?' It was the president's. Then he looked at me and said, 'You have blood on your face.'"
(11-20-13? article on WTVR.com) "Tague stood on the plaza when President Kennedy's convertible turned onto Elm Street. He was there when shots rang out. “I said what kind of idiot would throw a firecracker with the president in town,” Tague recalled thinking at the time. "Then the crack, crack of two rifle shots. And I felt something sting me in the face." (11-21-13 article on FoxNews.com) "I'm standing there maybe four or five seconds, and somebody throws a firecracker," Tague told MyFoxDFW.com. "And I'm thinking, 'What kind of idiot would be throwing a firecracker with the president going by?' Course, that was the first shot. Then the crack, crack, quick shots in a row, and something stings me in the face." (Interview broadcast on Dallas TV station NBC5, 11-22-63) "And then somebody threw a firecracker. And I was wondering what kind of idiot would throw a firecracker with the President driving by? And I'm standing there in disbelief at somebody throwing a firecracker. And then Crack! Crack! Two rifle shots about a second apart. And something stings me in the face." Analysis: Tague’s statements that the second and third shots came in quick succession are in opposition to the currently-popular scenario. Since Tague initially believed he was hit by the second shot, and since he was standing in line with a shot fired from the sniper’s nest at the moment of the head shot, his statements are also consistent with his being hit by a fragment of the head shot bullet. In his book, Truth Withheld, he concludes that yes indeed he was hit by the second shot. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Should you have trouble understanding where Tague was standing, moreover, we are fortunate in that news photographer Frank Cancellare, while taking a picture of the Newman family laying down on the grassy knoll, captured Tague in the distance on the far right edge of his photo. Here is a crop from this photo. The man in the foreground is AP news photographer James Altgens. The Newman family and a number of other photographers are at his left, but have been cropped off the photo so we can make out Tague. Tague is in the background, at far right. The triple underpass was called just that because three streets converged to cross under one overpass. The stopped traffic in the image below was on Commerce Street. The middle of the two vacant streets below was Main Street, and the closest street, of course, was Elm Street. Tague stood on a narrow strip of concrete separating Commerce Street from Main Street. Just up the street from him, and standing behind the open car of a door is another man. This is presumed to be John Dolan.
John Dolan (12-18-63 FBI report based upon a 12-17-63 interview, CD205 p.32) “According to Mr. Dolan, he was stopped at the eastern edge of the triple viaduct where the three streets of Commerce, Main and Elm merge... Inasmuch as all traffic was stopped, he got out of his car and stood at the base of the triple viaduct, facing toward the concrete memorial, which is on the north side of Elm Street and just west of the Texas School Book Depository. As he was standing at this point, and prior to the arrival of the Presidential motorcade, he noticed an unknown white male tossing a white ball, about the size of a softball, in the air. This person would throw the ball up and seem to catch it himself; and it caught his eye inasmuch as this person appeared to be about 30 years of age and was wearing white sneakers. He further described this individual as being about six feet tall with black curly hair, wearing a dark colored jacket and non-descriptive pants. Shortly after he noticed this individual, the Presidential motorcade came into view and from where he stood he could hear three shots fired at the President's car. He advised he did not see where these shots came from, nor who fired these shots, but thought possibly the individual whom he has described and who was standing on the grass triangle between Elm and Main Streets might possibly have either been a decoy or a signal for the assassin when to shoot.” Analysis: too vague.
Here, then is a crop from Zapruder frame 416, taken less than 6 seconds after the fatal shot, as the limousine heads for the underpass. Two unidentified men are running on the grassy island. One of these, presumably the one on the right, would appear to be the man described by Dolan.
And here is a gif from the Bell film showing the limo disappearing into the darkness of the underpass. The man described by Dolan is running towards towards the camera below. And yes, it appears to be the man described by Dolan. He even seems to have something in his right hand.
But what happened to the other figure in the Zapruder frame above. Did it run across Main Street, to the left of the image? And who are the couple on the right? These would be two of the closest witnesses to the fatal headshot. They'd have had a perfect perspective on any suspicious activity on the knoll. And yet we have no idea who they were.
Next up is a frame from Patsy Paschall's film, as published in Life Magazine. The limo has by now disappeared into the shadows of the underpass. Behind the limo, on Elm Street, the Presidential back-up car and Vice-President's car are in close pursuit. On Main Street, Officer D.V. Harkness races his three-wheeler towards the railroad bridge.
Now note the witnesses on the grassy island between Main and Elm. The running man above is in the middle, and the couple seen above is on the right. But there are a number of other unidentified witnesses in the area. As it turns out, it's entirely optional to report or provide a witness statement to the murder of a President, provided I suppose that there are dozens of other witnesses that you can hide behind and say "Yeah, what he said."
Oscar McVey is a little-known witness. His exact location within the plaza is unknown. Although the FBI said he said he was on the north side of Elm by the railroad overpass, no one was photographed in that location after the shooting. It seems possible then that he was on the west side of the overpass. But it could also be that he crossed the street just after the shots, and is one of the men in the images above, or, even better, that either he or the FBI was confused, and that he was actually on the north side of Main/south side of Elm during the shooting. Perhaps, even, he was the man Dolan saw throwing a ball. (11-28-63 FBI report based upon an 11-24-63 interview, CD5 p52) "Oscar McVey... said he, on November 22, 1963, between 12:20 and 12:30 P.M., was standing on the north side of Elm Street near the railroad overpass watching the Presidential motorcade and had just observed four or five motorcycle policemen pass and then saw automobiles following but could not determine the identities of the persons in these vehicles and did not recognize anyone. While standing there he heard two or three loud reports and thought such were backfires from the motorcycles or the automobiles." Analysis: too vague.
Up Close and Personal
In this section we will meet some of the closest bystanders to witness Kennedy’s assassination. We will work our way east from those closest the railroad bridge, occasionally jumping from the south to the north side of the street and then back again.
Jack Franzen, his wife, and 6 year-old son, can be observed in the Zapruder film standing on the south side of Elm street as the limousine races for the underpass. (11-24-63 FBI report based upon an 11-22-63 interview, 22H840) “He said he heard the sound of an explosion which appeared to him to come from the President’s car and noticed small fragments flying inside the car and immediately assumed someone had tossed a firecracker inside the automobile. He heard a second and third and possibly a fourth explosion and recognized these sounds as shots fired from some firearm. At the same time he noticed blood appearing on the top and sides of the head of President Kennedy.” (Family interview recorded 6-18-97 available online) “so we walked on down to the grassy area, just short of the triple underpass...We had a ball and Jeff and I were tossing the ball back and forth and a few people came along...and we moved further west down the hill. Right across from a little people station or something there on the north side of Elm. And, sure enough, you could then start hearing some noise to our east and directly, the cars came down Main… About that time, the Presidential car was turning the corner right there at the School Book Depository, and almost came to a stop as it turned the corner... and about that time there were two explosions. They sounded like fireworks and - to my memory - there were some kind of feathers or confetti or something, uh, stirred around the car. The limousine driver and the guy in the front seat almost - momentarily - stopped the car and he turned his head and everything was alright, so he turned back and proceeded to come on down toward us. The car was moving very slowly. Then there was another explosion - seemed to me like it was maybe 200 feet from the corner. And it didn’t register, exactly. But the car kept coming and picking up a little speed. Then, we were right there at the car - maybe 25 feet from it. Connally appeared to be bending over - in retrospect, he’d probably been hit. Nell was looking at him. At just about that time, another explosion and, you could just see Kennedy’s head - his forehead - literally explode. Whatever hit him, I would feel, hit from the back...for his blood and brain matter went forward. His body went forward…and to his left. And he was sitting on Jackie’s right. As it went forward and to the left, there was a lot of gore and he kind of fell over onto Jackie and she jumped up. Almost got her knees or feet on the seat rather than on the floor; about that same instant the driver turned his head around and saw that Kennedy was a mess.” Analysis: since the confetti shot would seem to be the head shot, Franzen’s earliest statements would indicate he heard the head shot first, and multiple shots afterwards. It seems likely from this he actually heard the last two shots bunched together and then echoes, much as Sam Holland and Royce Skelton. Franzen’s more recent statements are even more confusing. Now he remembers the confetti shot and a head shot. He remembers Greer stopping after the confetti shot but then continuing to drive slowly because everything was “alright.” Did not hear an early shot. Last two (or more) shots bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot).
Mrs. Jack Franzen (11-25-63 FBI report based upon an 11-22-63 interview, 24H525) “She advised shortly after the President’s automobile passed by on Elm Street near where she and her family were standing, she heard a noise which sounded to her to as if someone had thrown a firecracker into the President’s automobile. She advised at approximately the same time she noticed dust or small pieces of debris flying from the President’s automobile. She advised she heard two other sounds which sounded like shots from a firearm and noticed blood appearing on the side of President Kennedy’s head…She advised the President’s automobile continued on down Elm Street at a higher rate of speed.” (12-11-63 Airtel from Dallas FBI as a response to a Bureau Airtel of 12-6--apparently they sought some clarification--FBI Headquarters File 102-82555, Sec 27, p41) "She recalled hearing the shots, thinking at the time that the first was a firecracker, and noticed blood appear on the side of the President's head...She recalled that after the President's car sped away, she observed police officers and plain-clothes men searching an area adjacent to the TSBD Building and assumed the shots came from that area." Analysis: Mrs. Franzen confirms her husband’s initial impression. As the Franzens did not comment on the explosion of Kennedy’s skull, only “blood appearing on the side” of his head, it should be clear the confetti shot was the head shot. Did not hear an early shot. Last two (or more) shots bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot).
Jeff Franzen (December 1999 BBC interview) “You could hear the noise of the crowd start to reach a little more of a crescendo, and it was obvious something was getting closer. So we all stopped and my mother and father and I came close to the street. And you could actually see one of the first cars of the parade and the motorcycle policemen come around the corner. And then the main limousine, carrying the President and the then Governor of Texas, John Connally, came also right in front of us, coming down the street from our right. As they started coming down the hill, they slowed a little bit. And you could hear a loud pop, which to me at the time sounded like firecrackers. Being a young child, I felt like it was just part of the parade and fireworks and confetti. And then it proceeded - the car came even closer to us, which was by then maybe less than ten to fifteen yards away. And there was another pop of firecrackers. And this one - there was a great deal of what I thought at the time was confetti, just exploding from the car. I subsequently learned, much later, that this was obviously President Kennedy being shot, and the confetti was actually his head - the front of his skull and the brains, in retrospect, going up into the air…After the explosion, the President's wife - she was dressed in a very bright pink dress, and she had a lot of red roses in her lap, too; which was also confusing, because it was a mixture of the President and the blood and all the mess and then her pink dress and the flowers - she immediately panicked. And at that point she jumped up and tried to climb out of the back of the vehicle, when a secret serviceman came running from the vehicle right behind. And he just barely jumped on the car as the driver was accelerating, and was able to push Jacqueline Kennedy back into the seat.” (Interview in The Day Kennedy Died, on the Smithsonian Channel, 11-17-13) "As the car approached I remember the pops started happening, which I assumed were firecrackers." (On his recollection of the moment after the head shot) "The colors were very vibrant. You see you had these red roses tumbling around. You had (unintelligible, but possibly curb paint). You had confetti--which was obviously President Kennedy's head." (Alternate take presented on the website for the program) "As the car approached I heard loud pops and what looked to me to be confetti coming out of the car. The President had been shot." (Article by Franzen published on Slate.com, 11-20-13) "As the president’s car started approaching, there was a wave of sound—I could hear louder and louder cheering from further up the route. As the car turned the far corner, people started walking and running down the hill to be where we were to see the motorcade for a second time. It was a crystal clear day and the sun was over our shoulder. Then the car came down the hill toward us and I heard the three pops. I assumed it was firecrackers—that made sense to me at a parade. I was looking at the car with the president in it and—after the pops—I saw what I thought was confetti. It was the shot that caused the president’s head to explode. My Mom cried out, “Oh, my God.” So I’m watching, I hear the bangs, see what I think was confetti, hear my mom yelling, and I realized something was very wrong. Then the car slowed down and this guy was running up to it; it was the Secret Service agent. Mrs. Kennedy was climbing out the back of the car, the guy jumped on it and was hanging on as the driver punched it and the car took off." (Interview on CNN's Piers Morgan Live, 11-20-13) "I felt like it was a parade, and firecrackers were popping, which made sense to me. It's only sound. I even talked to my mother recently, and she assumed it was firecrackers also. Unfortunately, the shot that killed the president, it looked like confetti just coming out of the car, and you just assumed that's what it was...Fortunately, because I was so young, I think I couldn't even begin to comprehend that somebody was being killed in front of me." Analysis: young Jeff was only six years old when he witnessed the President of the United States get his brains blown out. It seems possible from this fact that his parents went into a bit of denial on the issue and tried to convince themselves that what they saw that day was confetti. While he only mentions two pops of gunfire, he describes them as firecrackers, which could indicate more than one shot. Even so his recollection of only one shot before the head shot or shots argues against a shot as early as-160. Only heard two shots? First shot 190-224.
Now here's the Franzen family as captured in the Nix film, as JFK's limo passes in front of them. While you can barely make them out, it seems apparent that those just behind them--and to the right of them--were quite frightened by what they saw (Indeed, Malcolm Summers--at right--has already dived to the grass). (Image credit: Duncan MacRae)
It should be noted, moreover, that of the 13 witnesses or so in this clip, only 4 (Mr. and Mrs Jack Franzen, Malcolm Summers, and Emmett Hudson across the street) were interviewed by the Dallas Police or FBI in the days and weeks after the shooting, and that most remain unidentified.
J.M. Head is a little-known witness. He was quoted in the 11-23-63 Houston Post, and that was it. They didn't even tell us his full name or where he'd been standing. Since he says he saw blood on the right side of Kennedy's head, however, we can only assume he was standing in front of the President, on the grass. Perhaps, then, he was one of the otherwise unidentified witnesses on the center grass beside the Franzen family, or back behind Richard Bothun. (11-23-63 article in the Houston Post) "A reserve police lieutenant from Dallas, J.M. Head, said he saw the President's car at the instant of assassination. 'I heard two shots, then there was a hesitation, and I heard a third shot,' said Head, who owns a trucking firm. 'I heard a woman scream. Then I looked at the President. It seemed like the whole right side of his head had been hit with a red paint brush.'" Analysis: as Head suggests a gap between the second and third shots, his statements are suggestive of the LPM scenario. But he tells us almost nothing about which shot hit the President in the head, or where the shots came from. Possible LPM scenario.
Malcolm Summers can be seen diving to the ground in Zapruder frame 345. (11-23-63 statement to Dallas Sheriff’s Department, 19H500) “The President’s car had just come up in front of me when I heard a shot and saw the President slump down in the car and heard Mrs. Kennedy say, “Oh, no,” then a second shot and then I hit the ground as I realized these were shots. Then all of the people started running up the terrace away from the President’s car and I got up and started running also, not realizing what had happened. In just a few moments the president’s car sped off.” (July-August 1988 interview recounted in American History Illustrated, November 1988) "I was on the terrace that looks down onto Elm Street. The President's car came by right in front of me. Then I heard shots and saw him slump forward. I hit the ground. In a few seconds everybody was running toward the railroad tracks behind the knoll." (Interview shown during the TV special Who Murdered JFK?, first broadcast 11-2-88) (on the aftermath) "I ran across the Elm Street to run up there toward that knoll, yessir, and we were stopped by a man in a suit and he had an overcoat over his arm. And he, I saw a gun under that overcoat. And his comment was 'Don't y'all come up here any further, you could get shot, or killed,' one of those words...A few months later they told me they didn't have an FBI man in that area. If they didn't have anybody, it's a good question who that was." (Interview shown during the PBS program Who Shot President Kennedy?, first broadcast 11-15-88) "I do think the first shot came from the school book depository up there. And when the second one came I did not know who all was shooting. I was thinking there was more than one person shooting. The first shot sounded just like a little pop. It sounded like a firecracker from a far away distance. The others sounded real close, real close." (7-11-91 video-taped interview with Mark Oakes) (When asked if the shots were too close together to have been fired by one gunman) "My doubt was always because they were so close together...At the time I heard it it didn't seem to me like they were more than two or three seconds apart. It was just so simultaneously that it was unreal." (11-16-91 AP article on an assassination conference found in the Victoria Advocate) "Malcolm Summers said he was standing so near the presidential limousine when Kennedy was hit that he heard Mrs. Kennedy cry out "Oh, my God, no! They're going to kill us all!" Summers said the second and third shots were fired so close together that "I certainly thought more than one person was shooting." (No More Silence p.102-107, published 1998) “The first shot I heard was just after they had immediately turned the corner headed west on Elm Street. The first reaction that I saw when that first shot was fired was the Secret Service men kind of looking around and down at the people. I was of the impression that someone had thrown a firecracker…As a result my attention was diverted away from looking at Kennedy, and I didn’t see him reach for his throat. But then it was such a short time that the other shot was fired, then you knew that it wasn’t anything like that. Then the third shot came right after that also. I heard three shots altogether…Then, when Jackie reached over and grabbed John, she was saying, “Oh, no! Oh, God no!” or something to that effect…Then I knew immediately that he had been hit…I thought he might have been ducking…When I heard her say that was after the second one had already hit. Apparently, that was the head wound.…as to the spacing of the shots, there was much more time between the first one and the second two, the second and the third. They were real close.” (11-23-98 article in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram) "Dallas resident Malcolm Summers, 74, said he got down on the ground after he heard the shots ring out. 'When that cop came off that bike, I hit the ground,' he said"
(Oral History for the Sixth Floor Museum, 3-7-02) "Well, they came around and then the first thing I heard was, I thought, was a firecracker, the first shot...The FBI and the Secret Service people that was on the back of that car they looked down at the ground...I think they thought it was a firecracker, also, and I've always maintained this, and then I thought in my mind, well, what a heck of a joke, you know, to be playing like that. Well, then the car kept coming, and then the second shot rang out. And then the third was just about where I was at, rang out. And the first shot and the second shot was fairly close. And then the second and third was likewise. There wasn't much difference in any of the timing there. And course, I was standing beside the curb there. I saw Kennedy get hit. I heard Connally say, “They’re going to kill us all!” or "shoot us all." I'm not sure which one on that is. And then, I heard Jackie Kennedy scream out, “Oh, God! No, no, no!” And there was a shrill--It was very sad to hear that." (When asked the number and timing of the shots) "I heard three shots...I'm certain...I'd say the first one was like a firecracker...The second one and third one were the closest together of all...When Connally said "they're gonna shoot us all" or "kill us all," well, that's when I thought there was more than one person involved for sure. Because he said 'they.' And certainly it sounded like 'they' with that many shots." (When asked to knock out the pattern of the shots on the table) Knock......knock...knock. (He waits two seconds or more before knocking the second shot, and less than one second for the third.) (When asked if he knew from where the shots had been fired) "No. I had no idea." (When asked this again) "No, I certainly didn't." (From an 11-22-2003 WBAP radio program posted on Youtube) "I thought someone had threw a firecracker down on the ground, just to be smart. But then the procession kept coming. And then the second and the third shot rang out. Well, I knew it was being shot at...The car got to right beside me where I was at. And it actually stopped momentarily. And I heard Jackie Kennedy 'Oh God, no, no.' And I heard John Connally say 'They're going to shoot us all.'" Analysis: Summers heard an early shot and thought nothing of it, then witnessed the head shot, followed by a third shot. He seconds Royce Skelton’s statement that Jackie yelled out before the third shot was fired. (She is seen yelling out between frames 325 and 338 on the Zapruder film). As he can be seen hitting the ground in the Zapruder film around frame 345, his statement that he hit the ground just after the last shot, helps us place the time of this shot. (Apparently, it rang out while Jackie was still yelling.) By stating that the Secret Service agents were looking around after the first shot, and that the second shot was the head shot, he confirms a first shot hit. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot).
James Altgens can be seen in Zapruder frame 345 just to the east of Malcolm Summers. (11-22-63 AP bulletin, around 12:39 CST) "President Kennedy was shot just as his motorcade left downtown Dallas. Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and grabbed him. She cried "Oh, no!" The motorcade sped on. Photographer James Altgens said he saw blood on the President's head. Altgens said he heard two shots but thought someone was shooting fireworks until he saw blood on the President. Altgens said he saw no one with a gun." (11-22-63 news bulletin on WBAP, shortly after the AP report) "The Associated Press reports from Dallas that President Kennedy was shot today just as his motorcade left the downtown section. Mrs. Kennedy is said to have jumped up and grabbed her husband and cried "Oh, no!" as the motorcade sped off. Photographer J.W. Altgens of the Associated Press said that he saw blood on the President's head. The photographer said he heard two shots but thought someone was shooting fireworks until he saw the blood on the President. He said he saw no one with a gun." (11-22-63 announcement on WFAA that the President had been shot) “An Associated Press photographer, James Altgens…reports he saw blood on the President’s head. The AP man said he heard two shots but that he thought someone was shooting fireworks until he saw blood on the President.” (11-22-63 AP report preceding the announcement of Kennedy's death and found in the Frederick Maryland News) "AP Photographer James W. Altgens said he saw blood on the President's head. Altgens said he heard two shots but thought someone was shooting fireworks until he saw the blood on the President. Altgens said he saw no one with a gun." (11-22-63 eyewitness account, presented as an AP dispatch at 6:49 PM. This more detailed account was also published in the 11-25-63 issue of Stars and Stripes.) "There was a burst of noise - the second one I heard - and pieces of flesh appeared to fly from President Kennedy's car. Blood covered the whole left side of his head. Mrs. Kennedy saw what had happened to her husband. She grabbed him exclaiming, "Oh, No!" The car's driver realized what had happened and almost as if by reflex speeded up towards the Stemmons Expressway. There seemed to be utter confusion. One motorcycle officer ran his cycle into the curb, almost falling off. Police came from everywhere as the President's car disappeared from sight. At first I thought the shots came from the opposite side of the street. I ran over there to see if I could get some pictures. But it turned out to be just more confusion. Police ran in all directions in search of the assassin. I did not know until later where the shots came from. I was on the opposite side of the President's car from the gunman. He might have hit me. The motorcade was moving along in routine fashion until there was a noise like fireworks popping. I snapped a picture of the motorcade at just about that time, still unaware of what was happening. I cranked my camera for another shot. The procession still moved along slowly. Then came the second burst of noise." (5-24-64 article in the New York Herald-Tribune) "I was about 30 feet in front of the President's limousine on Mrs. Kennedy's side. I remember hearing what I thought was a firecracker at the instant I snapped the picture. I was going to make another picture, the one I was really set up for, when I realized what had happened and I froze, aghast." (6-5-64 FBI report, CD 1088 p.1-6) “at about the instant he snapped the picture, he heard a burst of noise which he thought was firecrackers… he does not know how many of these reports he heard…After taking the above photograph…he heard another report which he recognized as a gunshot. He said the bullet struck President Kennedy on the right side of his head and the impact knocked the President forward. Altgens stated pieces of flesh, blood, and bones appeared to fly from the right side of the President’s head and pass in front of Mrs. Kennedy to the left of the Presidential limousine. Altgens stated Mrs. Kennedy grabbed the President and Altgens heard her exclaim “Oh, no!” as the president slumped into her lap. Altgens said he also observed blood on the left side of the President’s head and face.”
(7-22-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H517-525) “I made one picture at the time I heard a noise that sounded like a firecracker—I did not know it was a shot, but evidently my picture, as I recall, and it was almost simultaneously with the shot—the shot was just a fraction ahead of my picture, but that much—of course—at that time I figured it was nothing more than a firecracker, because from my position down here the sound was not of such volume that it would indicate to me it was a high velocity rifle…it sounded like it was coming up from behind the car from my position—I mean the first shot, and being fireworks—who counts fireworks explosions? I wasn’t keeping track of the number of pops that took place, but I could vouch for number 1 and I can vouch for the last shot, but I can not tell you how many shots were in between. There was not another shot after the President was struck in the head. That was the last shot--that much I will say with a great degree of certainty.” (When asked how he could be certain it was the last shot) "Because, having heard these shots and then having seen the damage that was done on this shot to the President's head, I was aware at that time that shooting was taking place and there was not a shot--I looked--I looked because I knew the shot had to come from either over here, if it were close range, or had to come from a high-powered rifle." (When asked where he meant by "over here") "The left side of the car." (When asked if that meant the little street running in front of the school book depository, the Elm Street extension, presumably behind the knoll) "Somewhere in that direction, yes, sir. But if it were a pistol it would have to be fired at close range for any degree of accuracy and there was no one in that area that I could see with any firearms, so I looked back up in this area." (When asked if "this area" meant the buildings at Houston and Elm, including the depository.) "Yes. What made me almost certain that the shot came from behind was because at the time I was looking at the President, just as he was struck, it caused him to move a bit forward. He seemed as if at the time----well, he was in a position-- sort of immobile. He wasn't upright. He was at an angle but when it hit him, it seemed to have just lodged--it seemed as if he were hung up on a seat button or something like that. It knocked him just enough forward that he came right on down. There was flesh particles that flew out of the side of his head in my direction from where I was standing, so much so that it indicated to me that the shot came out of the left side of his head. Also, the fact that his head was covered with blood, the hairline included, on the left side all the way down, with no blood on his forehead or face--- suggested to me, too, that the shot came from the opposite side, meaning in the direction of this Depository Building, but at no time did I know for certain where the shot came from." (On the head shot) “up to that time I didn’t know that the President had been shot previously. I still thought up until that time that all I heard was fireworks and that they were giving some sort of celebration to the President by popping these fireworks. It stunned me so at what I saw that I failed to do my duty and make the picture I was hoping to make. The car never did stop. It was proceeding along in a slow pace and I stepped out in the curb area and made another picture as the Secret Service man stepped upon the rear step of the Presidential car and went to Mrs. Kennedy's aid and then after that I immediately crossed the street and once again I was looking to see if I could find anything in this area of Elm and Houston Streets that would suggest to me where the shot came from. Moreover, I was interested in knowing whether or not somebody else had been struck by a bullet or one of the bullets in this area. I saw that no one else had been hit.”
(Interview with CBS broadcast 6-26-67) “As I was getting ready to make some pictures why I heard this noise-- I thought it was a firecracker explosion—but I just went ahead and made the picture which shows the President right after he was struck by a bullet, struck in the neck, the first shot, and this was the picture that the Warren Report later fixed as being made two seconds after the shot was fired. And as they got in close to me, I was prepared to make the picture—I had my camera about at eye level—that’s when the President was shot in the head. And I do know that the President was still in an upright position, tilted, favoring Mrs. Kennedy. And at the time that he was struck by this blow to the head, it was so obvious that it came from behind. It had to come from behind because it caused him to bolt forward, dislodging him from this depression in the seat cushion, and already favoring Mrs. Kennedy, he automatically fell in that direction.” (Interview presented as part of radio show Thou Shalt Not Kill, on Canadian radio station CTFR broadcast 5-10-76. Transcript provided by Randy Owen on the JFK Lancer Forum, 6-29-10) "I was watching the President and was prepared to make a picture of he and Jackie Kennedy, a good, closeup, smiling picture of them. At the time, Jackie was looking at me and John Kennedy was almost staring straight ahead--no expression, no smile, hardly any emotion showing at all--and just as I raised my camera to go ahead and make the picture anyway, although he wasn't looking at me, well then, that's when he received the shot in the head and this disturbed me so much I just stood there looking at the whole operation... The caravan never did stop, but if it ever came close to stopping it was right at that point. And as I turned and made the picture of the Secret Service man going up to help Jackie back into the limousine, I heard someone on the radio say, "We've been hit. Get us to the nearest hospital quick." And that's when they threw into high gear and took off." (11-21-85 interview with Richard Trask in Dealey Plaza as quoted in Pictures of the Pain, 1994) "My first instinct was 'Well, they're shooting firecrackers up there' or some kind of celebration on behalf of the President. And then I hear it again as the cart comes on down. No one had the foggiest idea that something was taking place..." (On the fatal shot) "Fragments of his head fell right at my feet. That was some heck of an explosion when it hit his head. His skull just disintegrated and bone and flesh flying..." (On the rush of witnesses to the grassy knoll) "Well, I thought they were onto something. I was satisfied that the shot came from the rear. So I figured they had spotted the guy somewhere and they had chased him up here, and I wanted to come over and get a picture of the guy--if they had such a person in custody. And I came over here and by the time I can get up to the hill, they're turned around and are coming back. And they hadn't found anything." (July-August 1988 interview recounted in American History Illustrated, November 1988) "'I had my lens right on the presidential car,' remembers Altgens. 'The Depository was in the background. Just as I took the photograph I heard a sound that I thought was a firecracker. It sounded like it was coming from behind the car. My photograph, when it came out, showed Kennedy just as he was hit. But I didn't get the next instant. The next hit. I was refocused to fifteen feet because I wanted a close-up of the President. I had my camera about to my eye. It seemed a shot came as I was looking at him. It caused him to move a bit forward. Flesh particles flew out of the side of his head. The left side of his head. The sight so stunned me I couldn't take that second picture.'" (11-21-93 Reporters Remember conference, as shown on C-Span) (On the first shot) "I made a picture--you probably have seen it--where John Kennedy is grabbing his throat... (On the head shot) "His head when it exploded sent a signal to everybody that there was a gun being fired from some source. And when the fragments came over and some of it falling at my feet, it was very, very real...When John Kennedy was hit by this bullet that obliterated the back of his head--and it did come from the rear, there was no question about it, because the movement of the body...But here is what's important--as John Kennedy was falling down into Jackie Kennedy's lap, there was no blood on the right hand side of his face, there was no blood on the front of his face, but there was a tremendous amount of blood on the left hand side, and at the back of the head..." (On the crowd's racing towards the knoll) "I got over on the other side, thinking perhaps that they had run the assassin up into that corner. I knew it had to be coming from the rear. So I figured they had scouted him out and the guy was on the run." (No More Silence, p.41-59, published 1998) “I only recall the President hit once that I can vouch for because that first camera shot… made any definite conclusion uncertain. But this particular one where he was hit, the head shot, was obvious to everyone that it was a shooting, not fireworks. I don’t know how many shots there were. If I were guessing, I would figure that was probably the third shot. In other words, he was hit when I was taking the picture, and the fatal shot should have been somewhere around the third shot, and that should have been the last… The tissue, perhaps bone, a lot of fragments, all came my way… But the majority of the mass that was coming from his head came directly like a straight shot out my way on to the left in a straight line. When he fell over into her lap, the blood was on the left side of his face. There was no blood on the right hand side which suggested to me that the wound was more to the left than it was to the right.” Analysis: Altgens heard only two bunches of shots, one which occurred just before his photograph taken at Z-255, and the head shot, and yet he seems to recall other shots, just not when he heard them. While his words have been used to show there was no shot from the knoll, his initial impression was, apparently, that sounds had come from that direction. As far as Altgens' latter-day statements that the blood was on Kennedy's left side, it seems probable he was confused by his facing Kennedy, whereby his left hand corresponded to Kennedy's right side. Only heard two definite shots. First shot hit 190-224.
Richard O. Bothun is the photographer just east of Altgens in Zapruder frame 345. (Pictures of the Pain, p.155, Trask interview with Mrs. Jan Bothun, 11-26-84) “Mrs. Bothun recalled that her husband was very shocked at the sight of the President being hit in the head and that he had been close enough to hear Mrs. Kennedy “holler.” Analysis: too vague.
His Name is Mudd
Emmett Hudson stood on the steps on the North side of Elm with two still-unidentified men. He can be seen in the Muchmore film. References to the other men standing beside him are in italics. (11-22-63 statement to Dallas Sheriff’s Department, 19H481) “This day I was sitting on the front steps of the slopping [sic} area and about half way down the steps. There was another man sitting there with me. He was sitting on my left and we were both facing the street with our backs to the railroad yards and the brick building. At the same time the President's car was directly in front of us, I heard a shot and I saw the President fall over in the seat. I do not know who this other man was that was sitting beside me. In our conversation he talked about having a hard time finding a place to park. He also talked about working somewhere over on Industrial Blvd. This man said Lay down and we did. I definately [sic] heard 3 shots. The shots that I heard definately [sic] came from behind and above me. When I laid down on the ground I laid on my right side and my view was still toward the street where the President's car had passed. I did look around but I did not see any firearms at all. This shot sounded to me like a high powered rifle.” (11-26-63 FBI report, CD5 p.30-31) “Emmett Joseph Hudson...called attention to a photograph...by Mrs. Mary Moorman...which photograph showed the President in a slumping condition immediately following the impact of the shots. Hudson called attention to a group of three men in the photograph standing on some concrete steps north of Elm Street and north of the position of the presidential car in the photograph. He pointed to the man in the middle of this group of three individuals in the photograph and advised 'That is me in the light colored clothing and that is where I was standing when the President was shot.' He said he was looking directly at President Kennedy and saw his head slump to one side simultaneously with the loud report made by the first shot fired by the assassin. He said he then heard two more reports which sounded like shots, such reports coming in rapid succession after the first shot. He volunteered the shots were fired 'just about as fast as you could expect a man to operate a bolt action rifle' or words to that effect. Hudson said the shots sounded as if they were fired over his head and from some position to the left of where he was standing. In other words, the shots sounded as if they were fired by someone at a position which was behind him, which was above him, and which was to his left. He again called attention to the photograph referred to above, and particularly to the corner of the Texas School Book Depository building appearing in such photograph and said the shots sounded as if they were coming from that building (Texas School Book Depository Building). Hudson stated when he heard the shots, he turned around and looked in the general direction of the Texas School Book Depository Building, 411 Elm Street, Dallas, Texas; however, he did not see anyone with a rifle or firearm of any kind. He pointed out, however, it was a matter of two or three seconds after he heard the shots before he focused his vision on the Texas School Book Depository Building and perhaps in that small lapse of time the assassin had stepped back from the window. Hudson estimated he was approximately thirty feet from the Presidential car at the time he heard the shots and immediately noticed the President's head slump to one side. He advised he did not know the identity or address of either one of the other two men referred to above in the three man group in the photograph. He said the only statement he remembered either one of these two men made was that one of the men stated that he worked somewhere over on Industrial Boulevard in Dallas, Texas."
(7-22-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H558-565) “Well there was a young fellow, oh, I would judge his age about in his late twenties. He said he had been looking for a place to park and he walked up there and he said he finally just taken a place over there in one of them parking lots, and he come on down there and said he worked over there on Industrial and me and him both just sat there first on those steps. When the motorcade turned off of Houston onto Elm, we got up and stood up, me and him both. He was on the left side and I was on the right and so the first shot rung out and, of course, I didn’t realize it was a shot, what was taking place right at that present time, and when the second one rung out, the motorcade had got further on down Elm and you see, I was trying to get a good look at President Kennedy. I happened to be looking right at him when that bullet hit him, the second shot…it looked like it hit him somewhere along a little bit behind the ear and a little bit above the ear. (When asked where the car was when he heard the first shot) “I remember it was right along about this light post here” (indicating the first light post). (When asked if he heard three shots) “Yes, sir.” (When asked if he was sure the second shot hit Kennedy in the head) “Yes, I do believe it was—I know it was.” (When asked what happened during the third shot) “the young fellow that was sitting there with me—standing there with me at the present time, he says 'Lay down, Mister, somebody is shooting at the President.' He says, 'Lay down, lay down.' and he kept repeating, 'Lay down.' so he was already laying down one way on the sidewalk, so I just laid down over on the ground and resting my arm on the ground and when that third shot rung out and when I was close to the ground - you could tell the shot was coming from above and kind of behind.” (When asked if he’d “heard it come from sort of behind the motorcade and then above?”) “Yes.” (When asked if he felt Kennedy was hit by the first shot) “No, sir, I don’t think so.” (When asked what happened after the second shot “he slumped over and Mrs. Kennedy, she climbs over in the seat with him and pulls him over.”(When asked to clarify if he saw Kennedy hit in the neck by the third shot or was just guessing) “I just saw him hit once.” (When asked if he thought shots could have been fired from depository) "Well, it sounded like it was high, you know, from above and kind of behind like - in other words, to the left." (When asked the pattern of the shots) "Well they was pretty fast and not fast either. It seemed like he had plenty of time to operate his gun plenty well - when the shots were all fired." (When asked the length in time of the shooting) "Oh, probably 2 minutes..It might not have been that long." When asked again the pattern of the shots) "They seemed pretty well evenly spaced." (8-2-68 interview with Barry Ernest recounted in The Girl on the Stairs, published 2011) "He stopped exactly where the Moorman photograph showed him standing. He told me of the excitement of seeing the president, then the horror of watching as Kennedy's skull exploded a mere 60 feet in front of him. When I inquired about the shots, he repeated what he had said to the Commission: they sounded as if they came from above, behind, and to the left. 'Above, behind, and to the left of what?' I asked. 'Above and behind the motorcade, and to the left of me' he replied. (When asked the number of the shots) 'Well, there were definitely three that I heard,' he explained, 'But one of them was a bit unusual.' (When asked what he meant by unusual) 'Well, it sounded different from the others. It was louder, sharper, cleaner than the others. And two of them was close together, like bang.......bang, bang.' (When asked if he'd told this to the Commission) 'I stand by what I just said.'" (When asked if the shots could have come from the picket fence) 'I don't know,' Hudson said, after a pause. 'I really don't. There was so much excitement and it all happened so fast, I'm just not sure.'" (HSCA outside contact report, 2-3-79, as quoted and summarized in the HSCA report) "Everything I told the Warren Commission was correct"... Hudson, now 71, had heard for years about the controversy about a shot from the knoll; he does not think that one was fired from behind the stockade fence." Analysis: Hudson heard a shot when the limousine was back by the first streetlight (where it was at frame 190) but didn’t notice Kennedy was hit. He then witnessed the head shot, and heard another shot shortly thereafter. He confused the Warren Commission by guessing that the President suffered his neck wound with the last shot. Presumably, he confused the FBI when he spoke to them as well, as they have him saying the head shot was the first shot, and that two shots followed. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot).
F. Lee Mudd is a bit of a mystery man in that most researchers prior to myself had incorrectly assumed him to have been standing on the east side of the grassy knoll at the time of the shooting. His words, however, suggest he was on the west side. While many have argued that the young man described by Emmett Hudson, who sat down with him on the ground by the steps after the shooting, was the man to his left in the films, this man appears to have been an African-American (something Hudson would most probably have mentioned) and to have fled during the shooting. It follows then that the man in red a few steps below Hudson, who sat down with Hudson after the shooting, was in fact the "young" man described by Hudson, and most logically Mudd. (11-23-63 article in The Shreveport Journal entitled Local Man Near Kennedy's Car at Time of Shooting) "H. Lee Mudd, who lives on Spring Ridge Road, was standing about 25 feet in front of the car in which President Kennedy was shot Friday in Dallas. 'I heard two reports that sounded like fire crackers,' Mudd said. 'Then I looked and the President had slumped down in his seat.' Mudd, who was in Dallas on a business trip, had taken time off to watch the parade. 'It happened so fast no one could tell exactly what had happened,' he said. 'But we could tell he had been shot and everybody could tell something terrible was going on.'" (1-28-64 FBI report on an interview with Mudd, 24H538. Words subsequently removed by Josiah Thompson are in bold.) “On November 22, 1963, he was in Dallas, Texas, on a business trip to purchase clothing for his store. He operates the Southside Ranch, 9066 Mansfield Road, Shreveport, Louisiana, a western store. While in Dallas he decided to watch the parade for President Kennedy. At about noon, he was watching the parade from a position on the north side of Elm Street and some 75 to 100 feet west of a building, which he later learned was the Texas School Book Depository. He saw the president’s car approaching from the east on Elm Street in the parade, and he recognized President Kennedy and saw him waving to the crowd. When the President’s car was some 50 or more feet away from him, he heard what sounded to him like two gunshots, and he saw the President slump. Immediately thereafter, he observed the President’s car pull out of the line of the parade and continue west on Elm Street toward the underpass. When the President’s car came abreast of Mudd, he could see the President slumped down toward his wife, who was leaning over him. He recalled seeing another man in the car, whom he did not recognize at the time but whom he later learned was Governor Connally and this man appeared to be holding one arm to his side. However he did not notice this man much because his attention was focused on the President. Mr. Mudd stated he definitely recalls hearing two shots probably less than a second apart. He said there may have been a third shot fired, but he could not be sure of this. He stated that immediately after the shots were fired, some of the spectators along the side of the street dropped to the ground, and he did so himself, inasmuch as the shots alarmed him and he did not know what had happened or where the shots had come from. He looked around him, and he recalled that in looking toward the building nearby, he noticed several broken windows on about the fourth floor, and the thought occurred to him that possibly the shots had been fired through these broken windows. However, he did not observe any smoke, nor did he see anyone at the windows, nor did he notice any motion within the building. He said the building appeared to be abandoned. Subsequent to the shooting, he did not notice anyone enter or leave the building. Mr. Mudd stated that when the shots were fired, they sounded as if they came from the direction of the building. Mr. Mudd stated that he remained in the vicinity for possibly three or four minutes, after which he walked back toward the main part of town, where he had parked his car. He did not remain to talk to police or Secret Service men because he did not feel he had seen anything that would be of assistance to them. Mr. Mudd said that he was not with anyone else at the time this occurred. He said he later made another trip to Dallas, accompanied by his wife, and he showed her the place where the assassination occurred, and he observed the Texas School Book Depository building and he is confident this is the same building he was standing near at the time of the assassination. Mr. Mudd said he could furnish no further information regarding this matter." (Mudd's FBI statement as quoted in Josiah Thompson's book Six Seconds in Dallas, 1967. The words added-in by Thompson are in bold.) "He looked around him (the FBI report relates), and he recalled that in looking toward the building nearby, he noticed several broken windows on the fourth floor of the Dal-Tex Building, and the thought occurred to him that possibly the shots had been fired through these broken windows. However, he did not observe any smoke, nor did he see anyone at the windows, nor did he notice any motion within the building. He said the building appeared to be abandoned. Subsequent to the shooting, he did not notice anyone enter or leave the building. Mr. Mudd stated that when the shots were fired, they sounded as if they came from the direction of the building." (Note also that by cutting off the report at this point, Thompson kept from his readers that Mudd returned to Dallas and identified the building in question as the Texas School Book Depository.)
Analysis: since the FBI report on Mudd indicates he was on the north side of Elm Street, 75 to 100 feet west of the depository building, and that 1) the last burst of gunfire occurred when the limo was still 50 feet in front of him, and 2) he saw the President pass by just after these shots, it follows that Josiah Thompson was both wrong to depict Mudd as a witness on the east side of the knoll in Six Seconds in Dallas, and doubly wrong for inserting his own musings about the Dal-Tex Building into the words of the FBI's report. (Thompson, btw, acknowledged this mistake after I pointed it out to him.) Yes, far from being a witness for a Dal-Tex shooter, as claimed by Thompson in 1967, and repeated over the years, it appears the mysterious Mr. Mudd is in fact one of the two supposedly unidentified figures standing next to Emmett Hudson on the grassy knoll steps in the Muchmore film. As Mudd was in Dallas buying western wear, moreover, we can assume he is the little guy in front of Hudson in the film, wearing what appears to be a red western shirt, blue jeans, and brown boots. We should also note that Mudd, much as the "young fellow" described by Hudson, sat down on the ground after the shots. That Mudd is indeed this man is further suggested by the fact that Mudd told the FBI he'd had to walk some distance back to his car, and that Hudson, who'd stood next to the man in red, testified that the "young fellow" he encountered had mentioned walking in from a distant parking lot. While it's slightly problematic that Mudd was in Dallas on business, and Hudson said the "young fellow" worked on Industrial Blvd., this can be explained by the simple fact the two had only engaged in small talk, and the possibility that one or more of the clothing outlets Mudd had visited was over on Industrial Blvd. While it's a more significant problem that Hudson said this man was a "young fellow" and that the Mudd running the Southside Ranch in 1963 was, according to the Geneology Dept. of the Shreveport Library, Francis Lee Mudd, 60 years old, it seems possible the Mudd in Dallas was this man's son. To wit, the 1950 Shreveport LA City Directory lists a Lee Mudd, Jr., a student. This makes him the right age to be the young man described by Hudson. There's reason to doubt he was the man in red, however, as some researchers suspect that "Lee Mudd, Jr." was not F. Lee Mudd, Jr., but Lee Sterling Mudd, identified in a September 5, 1937 Chicago Tribune article as the son of a Francis Lee Mudd. Lee Sterling Mudd died in 2012. Was he the man in red? Or was it his father? Or was it someone else entirely? And why did the original article on Mudd refer to him as H. Lee Mudd? Stay tuned... Did not hear the first shot. Only heard two shots. Last two shots bunched together.
So we've read the words. Now, here's a photo of Francis Lee Mudd uncovered by Linda Zambanini.
And here's the Muchmore film showing the response of Hudson and the man I've identified as Mudd on the steps. I really think it's him. (The identity of the third man remains unknown.) Note also that Gayle and Bill Newman can be made out on the north side of the street at the beginning of the clip, and that Charles Brehm, the Babushka lady, Jean Hill (in red), and Mary Moorman (in blue) can be made out on the south side of the street as Muchmore panned to her left.
Wilfred Baetz is a little-known witness, and is possibly not worth mentioning, outside the intriguing possibility he was the other man on the steps with Hudson and Mudd. (12-5-66 FBI memorandum from Francis Burns, Jr. to SAC, New York, NARA Record 124-10240-10222, released 11-14-17) "Subject: Wilfred Bates, 846 Palmer Road, Bronxville, New York, Tel. No. Deerfield 7-0065. Mr. Wilfred Bates telephonically contacted the NYO on instant date and was connected to the office of ADIC Malone. Bates advised that he wanted to offer information concerning the assassination of President KENNEDY. In the absence of ADIC MALONE, this call was transferred to the writer. BATES stated that he had been in Dallas, Texas on the day of President Kennedy's assassination. He said that in was in Dallas in connection with a golf association group. He alleged that he was standing along the curb to the right-front of the President's vehicle. He said that he heard the shot from his right-rear and saw the President as he was shot. He then turned and ran up the grassy knoll in the direction of a picket fence. He was stopped by two policemen who ordered him to stop and leave the area. BATES stated that he had not given the above information prior to this date due to fact that he had been charged and convicted of arson in Boston, Massachusetts during the period of 1944-1949 and was afraid if he mentioned the above facts, his record would be revealed." (12-7-66 letter from Dallas Police Chief Charles Batchelor to Dallas FBI agent-in-charge J. Gordon Shanklin) "I received a long distance phone call at 1:40 p.m. December 5. 1966, from New York City, from a person who identified himself as Wilfled Daetz, 846 Palmer Road, New York, New York. He stated that this is about fourteen miles out of New York City. He gave me a telephone number--Area Code 914--DE7--0065 New York. The subject stated that on November 22, 1963, at the time of the assassination of President Kennedy, he was standing on the grass on the north side of Elm Street--on the slope approaching the triple underpass. He recalls only one shot and that immediately after the shot he ran up the slope toward the railroad tracks and was stopped by an unknown police officer who pointed a pistol at him and shouted "Where are you going?" He then returned down the slope. The subject stated that he could hear very little out of his left ear and that he heard the shot with his right ear and in his opinion the shot came from his right which was in the direction of the railroad tracks. He also stated he saw a puff of smoke come from behind the fence near the railroad tracks. He stated that he was so excited he doesn't recall any additional shots. He further stated that at the time of the incident, he did not reveal himself and had talked to no one regarding this until the recent publicity. He states that then he revealed himself and made a statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York City." (12-8-66 FBI memorandum from Clyde E. Whitson to SAC, New York, NARA Record 124-10240-10222, released 11-14-17) (This memo lists prior phone calls by Baetz to the FBI, or to the Soviet Government, including his offer to report phone calls made to Latin America to the FBI, and a call he made to the Soviet Mission to the UN to harass them about their support for North Vietnam.) (The significance of this memo lies herein) "Wilfred Baetz AKA Wilfred Bates, 846 Palmer Road, Bronxville NY 914 DE 7-0065" (This proves the New York Office of the FBI knew full well the "Wilfred Bates" who called them on 12-5 was the "Wilfled Daetz" who called Chief Batchelor later that day.) (12-29-66 report on the New York Office of the FBI's investigation into Baetz's 12-5 phone call to Batchelor, NARA record 179-20002--10036, released 9-24-96) (The report summarizes Chief Batchelor's 12-7 letter.) (It then claims) "According to Chief Batchelor's letter, Baetz further stated that at the time of the assassination he did not reveal himself and had talked to no one regarding this until the recent publicity. He stated he then revealed himself and made a statement to the FBI in New York City." (The report then lists Baetz's four arrests for arson between 1944 and 1951, the first two which led to his incarceration in prison and the second two which led to his being sent to psychiatric facilities.) (It then claims) "The records of the New York Office of the FBI fail to show that Baetz, at any time, contacted the New York Office relative to the assassination of President Kennedy." (The report then proceeds to detail a 12-21-66 interview of Baetz in which he is purported to claim he never called Dallas and that it was all just some practical joke.) (It begins) "Baetz advised that...he was born in Darby, England on February 13, 1911. He stated he has lived in the United States since he was a small child and is an American citizen by virtue of service in the United States Army in World War II. He advised that he served in the United States Army in 1941 and 1942, and received a medical discharge." (It further reveals) "Baetz advised that on November 22, 1963, the date of President Kennedy's assassination, he and his wife and his sister-in-law were at his residence and watched the details of the assassination on television. He stated that he was practically 'glued' to his television set for the next three days. He advised that he was in Dallas, Texas, on only one occasion and that was in mid-December 1963 when he stopped at the Holiday inn in Dallas while on a motor trip to Pebble Beach, California. He advised that he became ill in Dallas and had to cancel his trip to Pebble Beach and return by air to New York City." Analysis: interesting, very interesting. While writers such as Vincent Bugliosi have dismissed Baetz's statements as the ramblings of a career criminal and/or nut job, a closer look at the record (in particular the 12-5 FBI report unknown to writers such as Bugliosi) reveals a different story. Baetz was a WWII veteran, quite possibly the receiver of a Purple Heart, who may very well have damaged his hearing in the war... He is reported to have written and published a number of patriotic songs upon release, including "Stand By America” and “You Buy ‘Em We’ll Fly ‘Em.” In any event, he became mentally ill shortly afterward, and apparently became a firebug. Although he eventually recovered, (he'd had a clean record for 15 years prior to his coming forward in 1966) he nevertheless continued to live his life in shame (he told the FBI this fear of exposure had led him to keep quiet for years after the assassination). By late 1966, with Life Magazine and the New York Times essentially re-opening the investigation of the assassination, however, he decided it was time to come out of the shadows. He then came forward to the FBI...who ignored him. He then called Chief Batchelor, who called the FBI on him. The FBI then confronted him. Perhaps unnerved by the passage of time from when he first called the FBI, or perhaps unnerved by Batchelor's calling the FBI and the FBI's claiming he hadn't called them first, Baetz (apparently) tried to pass the whole thing off as a misunderstanding of some sort. But it's not as simple as that, is it? For one, the 12-29-66 FBI report flat-out lies in saying Baetz had never contacted them. For two, the 12-29-66 FBI report says Baetz called his telephone business office during his interview and confirmed that someone had called the Dallas Police and had billed this to his phone, but makes no mention of the FBI's pressing him on his telling Batchelor he'd already talked to the FBI, or his inquiring with his telephone business office to see if someone had called the FBI using his phone. This suggests that perhaps, just perhaps, the FBI was trying to hide that Baetz had called them on 12-5-63, and had done nothing. For three, while Baetz told the FBI he was with his wife and sister-in-law watching TV on 11-22-63, this doesn't exactly ring true, seeing as 11-22-63 was a working Friday and his wife was a long-time employee of Time-Life. It seems possible, then, that this was late on the evening of 11-22-63, and not during the afternoon. For four, while Baetz initially told the FBI he'd been in Dallas as part of a golf trip, he later told the FBI he was in Dallas on his way to Pebble Beach, California (aka golf paradise), but that he got sick in Dallas and returned home. Hmmm... Really? Sick in Dallas? Like maybe sick to his stomach after seeing the President's head blown off? So sick he flew home to spend the night with his wife? Baetz's statements could be nothing or they could be something. It's probably too late to find out, however. Too vague. Saw smoke on knoll (if he was actually there).
Note: if you're looking for sections on Jim Hicks and/or Gordon Arnold, I'm sorry to disappoint. While I consider Baetz a highly questionable witness, I don't entirely rule him out and find the lies in the FBI's files worth mentioning. In contrast, I find Hicks' late 1960's claims and Arnold's late 1970's claims to be almost certainly nonsense, and an annoying waste of everyone's time.
Lee Bowers was working in a railroad tower in the train yard north of the grassy knoll. (11-22-63 Affidavit to the County of Dallas, box 2 folder 1 file 15 of the Dallas JFK Archives) “I heard at least three shots very close together.” (11-22-63 report of the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, 19H510) "He said he heard what sounded like three shots from a rifle." (4-2-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H 284-289) (When asked if he saw any men between his own location and Elm Street) "Directly in line, towards the mouth of the underpass, there were two men. One man, middle-aged, or slightly older, fairly heavy-set, in a white shirt, fairly dark trousers. Another younger man, about mid-twenties, in either a plaid shirt or plaid coat or jacket...They were standing within 10 or 15 feet of each other, and gave no appearance of being together, as far as I knew...They were facing and looking up towards Main and Houston, and following the caravan as it came down." (When asked if he could see the corner of Houston and Elm from his location) “after they passed the corner of Elm and Houston the car came in sight again…I heard three shots. One, then a slight pause, then two very close together. Also reverberation from the shots…The sounds came either from up against the School Depository Building or near the mouth of the triple underpass...At the moment I heard the sound, I was looking directly towards the area---at the moment of the first shot, as close as my recollection serves, the car was out of sight behind this decorative masonry wall in the area…. It came in sight immediately following the last shot...At the time of the shooting there seemed to be some commotion…I just am unable to describe it rather than it was something out of the ordinary, a sort of milling around, but something occurred in this particular spot which was out of the ordinary, which attracted my eye for some reason, which I could not identify.” (6-28-66 UPI article, found in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner) "He observed two men in the area between the fence and the colonnade before the shooting but did not notice them later. Had an automobile been wedged in that area, he could not have missed it. Bowers says he saw a 'flash' or 'some kind of disturbance' under the trees atop the knoll at the time of the shooting. He saw no individual firing or anyone rushing from the scene but he thinks there is 'at least a 50-50 chance that something happened there' and it could have been a second gunman."
(Interview with Mark Lane in Rush to Judgment, 1966) “At the time of the shooting, in the vicinity of where the two men I described were, there was a flash of light or—there was something which occurred that caught my eye. What this was I couldn’t say at the time and at this time I couldn’t identify it, other than that there was some unusual occurrence, a flash of light or smoke or something, which caused me to feel that something out of the ordinary had occurred there…There were three shots.These were spaced with one shot, then a pause, and then two shots in very close order, such as perhaps (He raps on table with his hand “rap…raprap"). Almost on top of each other, while there was some pause between the first and second shots.” (When asked if he told this to the FBI) “When I stated that I felt like the second and third shots could not have been fired from the same rifle, they reminded me that I wasn’t an expert, and I had to agree.” (Unreleased segments of Bowers' 1966 interview with Mark Lane, from a transcript of the interview found in the papers of Rush to Judgment director Emilo de Antonio at the Wisconsin Historical Archives, and published online by Dale Myers, 2004)) (When asked if there were any pedestrians between his location and Elm Street) "Directly in line - uh - there - of course is - uh - there leading toward the Triple Underpass there is a curved decorative wall - I guess you'd call it - it's not a solid wall but it is part of the - uh - park....And to the west of that there were - uh - at the time of the shooting in my vision only two men. Uh - these two men were - uh - standing back from the street somewhat at the top of the incline and were very near - er - two trees which were in the area...And one of them, from time to time as he walked back and forth, uh - disappeared behind a wooden fence which is also slightly to the west of that. Uh - these two men to the best of my knowledge were standing there - uh - at the time - of the shooting...Ah - one of them, as I recall, was a middle-aged man, fairly heavy-set with - what looked like a white shirt. Uh - he remained in sight practically all of the time. The other individual was uh - slighter build and had either a plaid jacket or a plaid shirt on and he - uh -is walking back and forth was in and out of sight, so that I could not state for sure whether he was standing there at the time of the shots or not..." (When asked if he saw anyone suspicious in the area) "Other than these two and the people who were over on the top of the Underpass who - that were, for the most part, were railroad employees or were employees of a Fort Worth welding firm who were working on the railroad, uh - there were no strangers out in this area." (When returning to the question of whether or not anyone was shooting from behind the fence) "Now I could see back or the South side [Note: here MYERS adds "BOWERS is actually speaking of the north side of the fence] of the wooden fence in the area, so that obviously that there was no one there who could have - uh - had anything to do with either - as accomplice or anything else because there was no one there - um - at the moment that the shots were fired." Analysis: as we’ve seen time and time again, the bunching of the last two shots means the first shot hit. The bunching of these shots, moreover, makes Bowers a good witness for conspiracy. It should be pointed out, however, that Bowers is, despite widespread belief to the contrary, a terrible witness for the grassy knoll gunmen so many embrace as the cornerstone of this conspiracy. In opposition to what so many assume, Bowers never said he heard a shot come from the area around the picket fence, just that something there caught his eye. The unedited transcript of Bowers' interview with Mark Lane, moreover, is even more damaging to the case for a grassy knoll gunmen. It suggests both that the two men many think Bowers saw behind the fence were in fact in front of the fence, (quite possibly even Emmett Hudson--who wore a white shirt---and the man we presume is F. Lee Mudd--who wore what appears to be a red plaid shirt), and that Lane has been deceptive on this matter. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots bunched together.
Now, back to Elm Street... The image below is a blow-up from a photo taken by Phil Willis around frame 202 of the Zapruder film, which Willis claimed was just after the first shot was fired. It shows, across the bottom, from L to R, the backs of the heads of Jacqueline Kennedy, Roy Kellerman, John Connally, Bobby Hargis, John F. Kennedy, Clint Hill and Tim McIntyre. A bit higher, facing the camera, it shows a still-unidentified man sometimes called Dark-complected Man, the Umbrella Man (later self-identified as Louie Witt), Ricky, John and Faye Chism, two teenaged boys (possibly Alan Smith and David Kendrick), and a woman believed to be Sharon Simmons. Across the top...in the far left corner behind the white wall is an unidentified person sometimes called Black Dog Man. Which leads us to our final duo, on the right hand side, on the pedestal, Mr. Abraham Zapruder and his secretary Marilyn Sitzman.
Abraham Zapruder stood on a pedestal in the arcade on the North side of Elm. (11-22-63 notes of Dallas Times Herald reporter Darwin Payne, from his reporter's notebook on display in Dallas' Old Red Museum, as quoted by Jim Schutze in The Dallas Observer, 4-28-11. Note: these notes were purportedly written shortly after the shooting, after Payne arrived in the Plaza, was told Zapruder had filmed the shooting, and tracked Zapruder down at his office in the Dal-Tex Building.) (He quotes Zapruder) "I got film. I saw it hit him in head. They were going so fast. (Illegible) 1st shot he (illegible) over and grabbed. 2nd two shots hit him in head. It opened up. Couldn't be alive. She was beside him. After last shot she crawled over back of car." (11-22-63 notes of an unknown reporter. Note that these notes, as opposed to those above, were notes found in the files of the Dallas Times Herald, and quoted in Pictures of the Pain by Richard Trask, p. 149, published 1998. We can only presume then that these were notes taken by someone at the paper of what Payne reported over the phone after talking to Zapruder. ) “Abraham Zapruder…heard 3 shots///after first one Pres slumped over grabed stomac…hit in stomac…two more shots///looked like head opened up and everything came out…blood spattered everywhere…side of his face…looked like blobs out of his temple… forehead… Jackie first reached over to the Pres. And after second shot…she crawled over to back of car…after that she was lying…” (11-22-63 notes of Dallas Times Herald reporter Darwin Payne, from his reporter's notebook, as presented by Payne in Where Were You, published 2013. Note that this is Payne's own interpretation of the notes previously quoted by Schutze.) "'I got film,' he said. 'I saw it hit him in the head. They were going so fast. He slumped over with the first shot. With the first shot, he bent over and grabbed his neck as he sort of did. The second burst hit him in the head. It opened up. Couldn't be alive. Jackie was beside him. After the last shot she crawled over the back of the car."
Now let's stop right here and note that someone--either Payne himself, or perhaps Payne in league with the editor of Where Were You?, Gus Russo--misquoted Payne's notes in 2013 to reflect that Zapruder said JFK had grabbed his neck (as opposed to his stomach), and had heard one burst afterwards (as opposed to two shots). For shame!
(March-May 1964 memo written for the Dallas Morning News by newsman Harry McCormick, in which McCormick's recollections of 11-22-63 were recorded for posterity, as published in JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes, 2013) "One of the first persons I ran into was Abraham Zapruder. He was obviously highly agitated, almost weeping. 'I saw it all through my camera,' he half-sobbed to himself. I stopped him and without identifying myself I asked him a question. 'I got it all on film,' he said. 'There were three shots. Two hit the president and the other Gov. Connally. I know the president is dead for his head seemed to fly to pieces when he was hit the second time.'" (11-22-63 interview on WFAA, at approximately 2:10 PM) “as I was shooting, as the President was coming down from Houston Street making his turn, it was about a half-way down there, I heard a shot, and he slumped to the side, like this. Then I heard another shot or two, I couldn't say it was one or two, and I saw his head practically open up, all blood and everything, and I kept on shooting.” (Volunteering, moments later) "As I explained before, it was a sickening scene. At first I thought perhaps it was a...it sounded like somebody making a joke, y'know, a shot and somebody grabbing their stomach." (9:55 PM11-22-63, memo of SS Agent Max Phillips accompanying a copy of the Zapruder film) “According to Mr. Zapruder, the position of the assassin was behind Mr. Zapruder.” (12-4-63 FBI report, CD7 p.12) “He stated he had started taking pictures prior to the first shot being fired…Zapruder advised he could not recall but having heard only two shots.” (7-22-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H569-576) “Well, as the car came almost in line. I was standing up here and I was shooting through a telephoto lens, which is a zoom lens and as it reached about--I imagine it was around here--I heard the first shot and I saw the President lean over and grab himself like this (holding his left chest area)…In other words, he was sitting like this and waving and then after the shot he just went like that…Leaning—leaning toward the side of Jacqueline. For a moment I thought it was—you know, like you say, “Oh, he got me,” when you hear a shot…but before I had a chance to organize my mind, I heard a second shot and then I saw his head opened up and the blood and everything came out and I started—I can hardly talk about it. (the witness crying)." (When asked how many shots he heard) “I thought I heard two, it could be three, because to my estimation I thought he was hit on the second—I really don’t know…I heard the second—after the first shot—I saw him leaning over and after the second shot—it’s possible after what I saw, you know, then I started yelling, “They killed him, they killed him.” (When asked where the shots came from) “I also thought it came from back of me...I assumed that they came from there, because as the police started running back of me, it looked like it came from back of me.”
(9-21-64 interview with William Manchester, as represented in The Death of a President, 1967) (On the aftermath of the first shot) "As the Lincoln emerged from behind the freeway sign, it reappeared in Abe Zapruder's line of vision. Abe saw the stifled look on the Presidents face and was stunned. Continuing to train his camera on the car, he wondered whether Kennedy could be pretending. It was as though he were saying, "Oh, they got me." Abe thought 'The President is to joke?'" (Manchester's narration of the aftermath of the head shot) "Abe Zapruder screeches over and over, 'They killed him! They killed him! They killed him! They killed him!'"(11-15-64 AP article, found in the Abilene Reporter-News ) "I heard the shot and saw the President grab his heart and lean over towards Jacqueline. I thought he was making believe, saying 'Oh, he got me' but then I thought, 'No, a president wouldn't be joking.' Then another shot broke his head open. I started yelling 'They killed him. They killed him.' But I kept on taking pictures until the limousine disappeared, still aiming through the viewfinder." (Unidentified 1966 interview cited by Zapruder's granddaughter in a 10-20-13 article in the Delaware State News) "I was shooting as they were coming along, and Jacqueline and the President were waving, and as [the car] came in line with my camera, I heard a shot. I saw the President lean over to Jacqueline - I didn't realize what had happened, actually - then the second shot came. I saw his head open up, and I started yelling, 'They killed him, they killed him!' and I continued shooting until they went under the underpass." (11-29-66 taped observation made by Josiah Thompson, after interviewing witnesses from Zapruder's company, transcript found online) "I must say that in the background of all the people that one talks to at the Zapruder factory, one gets the impression that they would be very unhappy to have anything turn up at this point that would lead to the re-opening of the case and further questions. They're tired of all the questioning and frankly wish it would all end. This applies especially to Mr. Abraham Zapruder."
(Interview with CBS broadcast 6-26-67) (On whether the shots could have come from the picket fence to his right) "I'm not a ballistics expert, but I believe that if there were shots that come from my right ear, there would be a different sound. I heard shots coming from--I wouldn't know which direction to say--but they was driven from the Texas Book Depository and they all sounded alike. There was no difference in sound at all." (2-13-69 testimony in the trial of Clay Shaw) “I saw the approaching motorcade…coming down towards the underpass. As they were approaching where I was standing I heard a shot and noticed where the President leaned towards Jackie. Then I heard another shot which hit him right in the head, over here, and his head practically opened up and a lot of blood and many more things came out.” (When asked about the first shot) “As I said, he grabbed himself with his hand towards his chest or throat and leaned towards Jackie.” (And the second) “He leaned about the same way in falling towards Jacqueline, forward, down towards the bottom of the car.” (10-30-19 article on reporter Darwin Payne found in the Oak Cliff Advocate) (On Payne's conversation with Zapruder after he'd tracked Zapruder down at his office) “We were watching TV and we heard Walter Cronkite say, ‘The president has been shot, perhaps fatally.’ Zapruder said, ‘No, he’s dead. I was watching through my viewfinder. I saw his head explode like a firecracker.’” Analysis:Zapruder thought he heard a shot after the head shot, but then talked himself out of it. He initially said he heard three shots and described the last two as coming together. He then went on TV and realized he couldn’t say for sure if it was one or two. When asked by the Warren Commission he started to explain that he thought there was a shot after the head shot but then backed off. Since he felt sure the shots hadn't come from his right, he told CBS he was convinced that the shots came from the sniper's nest. He overlooked or avoided that a shot from the sniper's nest would have come from his left, and that his earliest recollections were that the shots came from neither the picket fence nor the sniper's nest, but from directly behind his location. Zapruder's placement of the first shot is also of interest. As pointed out by Harold Weisberg in his book Whitewash, Zapruder testified, while looking at frames from his film, "as it reached about--I imagine it was around here--I heard the first shot" but the counsel taking his testimony, Wesley Liebeler, failed to note where "here" was. This suggests that Zapruder identified a point after Kennedy had stopped waving but before Kennedy disappeared behind the sign as the moment of the first shot, and that, since the timing of this shot didn't support the scenario already chosen by the Commission, they saw no reason to record his observation. Only heard two clear shots. First shot hit 190-224. Last two shots possibly bunched together (with the last shot possibly after the head shot).
Marilyn Sitzman stood beside her boss Abraham Zapruder. (11-22-63 notes on an interview of Sitzman by a Dallas Times-Herald reporter, presumably Darwin Payne, as presented in The Zapruder Film by David Wrone, 2003) "Shot hit pres. Right in the temple." (11-23-63 report of Deputy Wiseman, 19H535) “I saw a man laying on the grass. This man laying on the grass said the shots came from the building and he was pointing at the old Sexton building. I talked to a Marilyn Sitzman…who said her boss, Abraham Zapruder...had movies of the shooting She said the shots came from that way and she pointed also to the old Sexton Building.” (11-29-66 interview with Josiah Thompson, as found in an online transcript and recounted in Six Seconds in Dallas, 1967) (On Zapruder's selection of a filming location) “I don't know if he had decided before or had picked a spot, but he went on top of the...what do you call it?" (Thompson calls it a "concrete square") "Yes. Well, he stood up there, and he asked me to come up and stand behind him, 'cause when he takes the pictures looking through the telescopic lens, he might get dizzy, and he wanted me to stand behind him, so in case he got dizzy I could hold onto him, so I got up behind him, and we saw the motorcade turn the corner at Main onto Houston. He hadn't started taking the pictures there then, and we watched them as they came down Houston; and just as the motorcycles that were leading the parade came...started...came around the corner and started down the hill, he started taking the pictures then. And there's nothing unusual about it ..." (interrupted by a knock -- tape recorder turned off)(After Thompson resumes recording) "Try it again. There was nothing unusual until the first sound, which I thought was a firecracker, mainly because of the reaction of President Kennedy. He put his hands up to guard his face and leaned to the left, and the motorcade, you know, proceeded down the hill. And the next thing that I remembered correct ... clearly was the shot that hit him directly in front of us, or almost directly in front of us, that hit him on the side of his fa ... [sic] (Thompson then asks: 'Where on the side of the head did that shot appear to hit?') "I would say it'd be above the ear and to the front." (Thompson then specifies: 'In other words, if one drew a line vertically upward from the tip of the ear, it would be forward of that line?') "Yeah." (Thompson then tries to be even more specific. He asks: 'It would then mean the left ... back of the temple, but on the side of the head, back of the temple?') "Between the eye and the ear...And we could see his brains come out, you know, his head opening. It must have been a terrible shot because it exploded his head, more or less. (When asked Kennedy's response to the shot) "I saw his, you know, the shot hit his head and what happened to his head, and I don't care what anybody says, I was looking at his head. I wasn't paying any attention which way he was moving or anything else, because it's something that I've never seen before, you know, and kind of ugh." (When asked if she noticed the direction in which the head moved) "No, I don't recall if I did or not. I just, you know, this is what I saw, this is what I remember...And as far as the sound of the shots go, the first one, as I said, sounded like a firecracker, and the second one that I heard sounded the same, because I recall no difference whatsoever in them. And I'm sure that if the second shot would have come from a different place -- and the supposed theory is they would have been much closer to me and on the right side -- I would have heard the sounding of the gun much closer, and I probably (would have) had a ringing in my head because the fence was quite close to where we were standing, very close. Ah, it just sounded the same way." (When asked if these were loud sounds) "Uh, uh ... not ... the loudest thing I heard that afternoon was the siren, and that was ..." (When asked what happened after the limo raced off) "I got off the concrete slab we were standing on, and I ran down the hill, and I met some men from across the street, and I took it for granted that they were Secret Service or CIA or something like that; and they asked me what happened, and I said, "they killed him." And I walked back up the hill, and I talked to an FBI man up there that did identify himself to me, but I don't recall his name, and then I walked back behind the marble thing there, not behind it, but back inside...And I looked out the back. Everybody was running back that way. Everybody ran up the hill and back and looked out that way. (When asked where these people were running) "Some ran ... I mean ... I finally got back up to the alcove. There was bunches of people just swarming back there, and I think almost everybody on that hill ran back up that way. And another thing that I remember this day: there was a colored couple. I figure they were between 18 and 21, a boy and a girl, sitting on a bench, just almost, oh, parallel with me, on my right side, close to the fence." (When asked to specify the location of this couple) "There's a tree, and there's another part of the marble or concrete, whatever they call it, slab, fence, whatever they call it, between that and the wooden fence...It was facing towards the street...And they were eating their lunch, 'cause they had little lunch sacks, and they were drinking coke. The main reason I remember 'em is, after the last shot I recall hearing and the car went down under the triple underpass there, I heard a crash of glass, and I looked over there, and the kids had thrown down their coke bottles, just threw them down and just started running towards the back and I ... Of course, I don't see anything unusual in that because everybody else was running that way, 'cause when I look over on my left side, the people on the hill were all running back the same way too." (When told Zapruder turned to his right after the shots and asked if she turned to her right after the shots as well) "In a way, I have a feeling this: He might have heard the kids throw down the coke bottles and heard that crash or else maybe it was just what he saw could have caused a reaction where he'd jump, but I don't think it was the sound of bullets, because I didn't jump...Because the pop bottle crashing was much louder than the shots were." (When reminded that they'd discussed the jiggle analysis showing Zapruder react to a loud sound after witnessing the fatal head shot) "Well, seeing what we saw when the bullet hit Kennedy's head and it opening up like this, you don't stand there very calmly and do nothing. I'm sure ... it ... to me, it would be a normal reaction to kind of jump or something...If you're the type of person that would react that way. Some would just immediately freeze. Some people would ... Some women would've probably passed out, some ... rather bloody .... (When asked if she saw anyone when she turned to the right after witnessing the fatal head shot) "No, just the two colored people running back." (When asked if they ran between the fence and the pergola) "Either in the gap there or back in the alcove. I don't recall which way they went. I saw...I heard the bottles crash, and of course I looked that way, to my right, right away, and they were getting up and running towards the back. And I turned back to see if there was anything in the front street, because then they didn't affect me one way or another." (When asked if she'd seen this couple before following Zapruder up onto the pedestal) "Oh yeah, yes. Everybody is ... oh, ten or fifteen minutes before, everybody was milling around down there, trying to find a place to stand and everything, and I know when we went over to get up on the marble thing, they were already sitting there." (When asked if she saw either of them go up to the point of the wall) "No. They may have. I don't know...(When told she may have missed them doing this because she was busy watching the motorcade ) "Yeah. I always have the feeling that they were still sitting on the bench, because when I looked over there, they were getting up from the bench."
(Interview in Life Magazine, November 1983) "They had just come down the hill. I heard shots, and I thought, firecrackers. All I could see was his hands going up. Then he was right in front of us...The last shot got him in the head. Everybody was on the ground, and Mr. Z was gone. There had been gunshots, and I was standing there all by myself." (11-20-83 article in the Dallas Times-Herald) "At first I thought it was firecrackers because I saw their hands go up in the air" Ms. Sitzman recalls. "Then the last shot hit just about in front of Mr. Z and I, and I could see the brains coming out of (the President's) head and I knew that it wasn't a firecracker." (Appearance on the TV program The Men Who Killed Kennedy, first broadcast 1988)“Finally, they come around the corner, and start coming down, and they’re you know waving at everybody, and then we heard what to me sounded like two firecrackers. You know it was starting to get a little confusing because you could see things happening in the car. And you couldn’t quite get what was happening until they got right here in front of us and the third shot hit Mr. Kennedy right in his head. We knew what happened." (a 10-25-92 interview with Hal Verb, as recounted by Verb in the 9-30-94 JFK Resource Group Newsletter) "...I recalled an interview I had with Marilyn Sitzman, an eyewitness to the JFK assassination who was standing with Abraham Zapruder (in fact, holding him so that he wouldn't fall as he was filming the motorcade). She and I were standing right near the pedestal which both she and Zapruder stood upon. It was the last day of the Dallas "ASK" conference. Sitzman told me she knew a lot about guns and weapons having grown up with them. She told me the shot that killed the President came from behind and that the gunman must've used a silencer (her emphasis). She said that if it were not a silencer the shot would have knocked down both of them because of where they were so precariously standing. She then told me of the great "reverberation" that was felt. I showed her a map of the Dealey Plaza area (she signed it) and she pointed to the area when she thought the shot was fired from. Curiously enough, it was not from the alleged and traditionally targeted picket fence area but from a location in the direction of the north pergola. This would be to the left of and behind where Charles Hester was standing." (November 1992 interview presented in JFK: The Final Day, a 1993 documentary put out by the JFK Assassination Information Center) "As the car came down the last shot hit him almost directly in front of us...I saw President Kennedy's head open up and the gray matter come out." (Oral history for the Sixth Floor Museum, recorded 6-29-93) “(We) went over to where that concrete pergola was, and we decided that would be the best place... [Mr. Zapruder] said, "You'll have to stand behind me and hold onto me." So, we both got up there, and I...held on to him. I only remember when they started... turning into the street, he said, "OK, here we go." That's when I remember he started actually doing the filming. Yeah...They turned the corner, and they started coming down. And the first thing I remember hearing was what I thought was firecrackers because Kennedy threw his hands up, and I heard “bang, bang.” Now, there could have been a third “bang,” I can’t swear to that one. But I know there were two “bangs” very close together, and I thought they were firecrackers because his arms were going into the air, and it was way off to my left and above. So, you know, I’m just kind of like… what a stupid thing to throw firecrackers, and as they came down… the last shot that we heard was right in front of us and it was like the same sound—far off and to the left—but I saw his head open up and I saw the brains coming out. (As she says this she grabs at her right temple). So, by this time, of course, I knew it wasn’t firecrackers. But those were the only sounds I heard." (When asked from where the sounds came) "Towards our left and above." (When asked if the sounds came from the general area of the sixth floor window) "Yes." (When asked if they turned to look at the window) "No, neither one of us…neither Mr. Zapruder or I turned, ever. We kept our attention on what was happening exactly in front of us, and if you look at his film, there’s very little jumping. It’s very steady considering what was going on, and that’s why I’m saying the sound we heard… the third sound still sounded a distance because if it had been as close as everybody’s trying to tell us, you know, twenty feet behind us…we would have jumped sky-high." (When asked if she heard any sounds afterward) "OK, after, you know, he filmed through going under the Triple Underpass, and we’re both still standing there and then I heard this crash. And that’s when both Mr. Zapruder and I kind of like did a second of what-do-you-call-it…(interviewer Wes Wise then interjects "double-take") "Double...there’s a park bench on the other side of the cement thing, and they were sitting in a park bench and they dropped their pop bottle on that cement there and cracked it. That’s what kind of woke us up, and that’s when we got down off of the concrete. But that sound was, like, five… eight feet from us. That, yeah, we did hear, but that’s the only other sound other than that far away sound that we heard." (When asked if that sound could have been mistaken for a shot) "No, it was… it was glass hitting concrete...I knew exactly what it was when it hit." (Interview presented on the 1998 DVD "Image of an Assassination") "When they started to make their first turn, turning into the street, then he says "Okay, here we go" or something to that effect." Analysis: Ms. Sitzman only heard two separate bursts of gunfire but sometimes “corrected” her memory and turned the early firecracker sound into two separate shots. To no avail. Her description of any two shots as “Bang! Bang!” automatically rules out that there was a single assassin using Oswald’s rifle. Only heard two shots. First shot hit 190-224.
Now here is a crop from a photo taken by Charles Bronson (no, not that Charles Bronson) at approximately Z-225 of the Zapruder film. It should be of help in understanding the locations of the closest witnesses, and how they were standing in relation to each other.
Abraham Zapruder and Marilyn Sitzman can be seen in the upper left-hand corner of the photo. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hester can be seen standing back by the white arcade in the middle of the photo. On the north side of the street in the photo, from left to right: Bill and Gayle Newman and their children, Bill Jr. and Clayton; two women, one who is presumed to be Doris Mumford, and the other who might just be Cheryl McKinnon; the so-called umbrella man, Louie Witt; an unidentified man sometimes called "Dark-Complected Man" or DCM; two teenage boys, one who may be Alan Smith and one who may be David Kendrick, John and Faye Chism and their son, Ricky; Sharon Simmons, Gloria Holt, and Stella Jacob; a woman presumed to be June Dishong and her companion, presumed to be Peggy Burney; Jean Newman; Ernest Brandt and his companion John Templin. On the south side of the street is a less cumbersome crowd. The seven witnesses closest to the camera remain unidentified. From left to right along the street are Mary Moorman and Jean Hill. The woman running towards them has been identified as Francine Burrows, but is actually Toni Foster (Burrows may be one of the unidentified witnesses in the photo.) To Foster's right and near the street is Charles Brehm and his son, Joe. And to his right is the so-called "Babushka Lady," who may or may not be Beverly Oliver.
Newmans Mark the Spots
William Newman was standing on the north side of Elm Street with his wife and two kids and can be seen in the Muchmore film just behind Kennedy as the fatal shot is fired. (11-22-63interview on WFAA, prior to the announcement of the President's death, at approximately 12:45) “We were, we just come from Love Field after seeing the President and First Lady, and we were just in front of the triple underpass on Elm Street at the edge of the curb, getting ready to wave at the President. (After being asked to clarify his position) We were halfway in between the triple underpass. We were at the curb when this incident happened. But the President’s car was some fifty feet in front of us still yet in front of us coming toward us when we heard the first shot and the President. I don't know who was hit first but the President jumped up in his seat, and I thought it scared him, I thought it was a firecracker, cause he looked, you know, fear. And then as the car got directly in front of us well a gunshot apparently from behind us hit the President in the side of the temple.” (As he says this last line he points to his left temple) (When asked if he thought the first shot came form the same location) "I think it came from the same location apparently back up on the mall, whatchacallit." (When asked if he thought the shot came from the viaduct) "Yes, sir, no, no, not on the viaduct itself but up on top of the hill, on the mound, of ground, in the garden." (When asked from how far away the shots were fired) "I have no idea. I didn't see where the gunshots come from. I believe we was looking directly at the President when he was hit. He was more or less directly in front of us. We didn't realize what happened until we seen the side of his head, when the bullet hit him. (When asked if he saw blood) "Yes sir, we seen it. I seen it." (11-22-63 second interview on WFAA, prior to the announcement of Kennedy's death, at approximately 1:00 PM) (When asked if he felt the shots came from different directions) "No sir, actually I feel that they both come from directly behind where we were standing. The President, it looked like he was looking in that direction. I don't know whether he was hit first. Apparently he wasn't. It looked like he jumped up in his seat, and when he jumped up he was shot directly in his head. I don't know whatchacallit--the mall behind us--but apparently (interviewer Jay Watson finishing his thought) "that's where he was." (11-22-63 third interview on WFAA, at approximately 1:10 PM) “My wife and my two sons were standing at the curb, looking at the President approaching us, when we heard a blast. And the President looked like that he right jumped up in his seat, and by that time he was directly in front of us. And then he......we seen him get shot in the side of the head. And he fell back in his seat and Governor Connally was holding his stomach." (When asked if the shots were almost simultaneous) "Yes sir, they were probably 10 seconds apart." (When asked if he heard a third shot) "I didn't hear a third...I don't recall a third shot. There may have been. We hit...my family hit the ground. I don't recall a third shot. I just couldn't...I'm not certain of that. I do know I heard two shots." (11-22-63 statement to Dallas Sheriff’s Department, 24H219) “We were standing at the edge of the curb looking at the car as it was coming toward us and all of a sudden there was a noise, apparently gunshot. The President jumped up in his seat, and it looked like what I thought was firecracker had went off and I thought he had realized it. It was just like an explosion and he was standing up. By this time he was directly in front of us and I was looking directly at him when he was hit in the side of the head.” (11-24-63 FBI report, 22H842) “when the President’s car was approximately 50 feet from him proceeding in a westerly direction on Elm Street, he heard the first shots fired...the shots were fired in rapid succession which he thought at the time was a firecracker. The car was proceeding toward him and it seemed that the President’s arms went up and that he raised up in his seat and started to look around. The car proceeded to a point about even with him and he could see Governor John Connally was holding his stomach. About that time another shot was fired which he estimated was ten seconds after the first shot was fired. At that time he heard the bullet strike the president and saw flesh fly from the President’s head… Newman first thought the President and Governor were playing some kind of a game.”
(11-29-66 taped interview with Josiah Thompson, as recounted in Six Seconds in Dallas, 1967) "We were looking back up the street to see if the motorcade was coming and the first two shots were fired, and of course the first shot, boom, the President threw his arms up like that, spun around sort of...and then it looked like he was looking in the crowd, you know, like he was looking for something, just kind of a wild expression..." (When asked the spacing of the first two shots) "about a second apart." (When asked about a drawing in which he depicted the fatal bullet's striking Kennedy by his ear) "That's what I saw. The way he was hit, it looked like he had just been hit with a baseball pitch, just like a block of wood fell over his... (When it was pointed out to him that he was moving his head backwards and to the left, and his drawing had depicted a wound by the ear) "In my opinion the ear went." (When asked if he thought shots came from in back of him) "That's right. Well, of course, the President's being shot in the side of the head by the third shot--I thought the shot was fired from directly behind where we were standing. And that's what scared us, because I thought we were right in the direct path of gunfire." (When asked again if his impression was that the bullet entered the side of the head) "Right. Right. My thoughts were that the shot entered there and apparently the thoughts of the Warren Commission were that the shot came out that side.” (When asked again if his impression was that the shots came from behind where he was standing) "Right. Well I think everybody thought the shots were from where I'm saying--behind us--because everybody went in that direction. Must have." (When asked if "behind us" would include the direction of the depository building) "Well, this is going to sound peculiar, but I was thinking more just the opposite of the building...actually the thought never entered my mind that the shots were coming from the building...But, of course, I've talked to people and they say, at that height, it echoes... (When asked if it was his impression then that the shots came from the right front of the President) "The thought never entered my mind that it was coming from the rear." (At another point in the book) "I thought the shots were coming from right off the tops of our heads...When we turned around, I think...well, several people hit the ground." (2-17-69testimony in the trial of Clay Shaw) (When asked how many shots he heard) "I heard at least three. I often thought of four, but I can't clearly say there were four shots; I can clearly say there were three." (When asked if he developed an impression from where the shots had been fired) "Yes, sir. From the sound of the shots, the report of the rifle or whatever it was, it sounded like they were coming directly behind from where I was standing." (When asked to point out the location on an aerial photograph of the plaza) "In my opinion, the sounds of the shots sounded as if they had come from directly behind me (indicating). I was standing near this light standard here, and I thought the shots were coming from back here, and apparently everybody else did because they all ran in that direction." (When asked to point it out on a mock up of the plaza) "(Indicating) From back in this direction here directly behind me. At the time -- you want me to mention the third shot?" (When asked to describe the shooting in more detail) “My wife and myself were watching the parade come toward us. We had to more or less step off the curb to look up the street, and as the car was approaching I heard two shots -- BOOM, BOOM -- and when the first shot was fired the President throwed his hands up like this (demonstrating), and at the time what we thought had happened, somebody throwed firecrackers or something under the automobile and he was protecting his face. At the time of the first shot Governor Connally turned in his seat in this manner (demonstrating), to look back at the President I suppose, and then the second shot was fired, and then as the car approached us to where we were standing, I could see Governor Connally leaning back in his seat holding his hands down like this (demonstrating), and at that time I could see blood on his shirt, and that is when I actually realized that it appeared, you know, he had been shot. The President all the time was staying in an upright position in his seat and it looked like he was looking into the crowd of people as if he was trying to see someone. I caught a glimpse of his eyes, just looked like a cold stare, he just looked through me, and then when the car was directly in front of me, well, that is when the third shot was fired and it hit him in the side of the head right above the ear and his ear come off… I observed his ear flying off, and he turned just real white and then blood red, and the President, when the third shot hit him he just went stiff like a board and fell over to his left in his wife's lap, and I told my wife, "That is it, hit the ground," and that is when we hit the ground because I thought the shots were coming over our heads. And then I looked back and I saw Mrs. Kennedy jumping up on the back end of the car and the Secret Service man or whoever it was into the car, and then they shot on off, took off." (When asked how far he'd been from Kennedy at the time of the fatal shot) ”I was the width of one lane, approximately 10 or 15 feet. I was standing on the curb's edge, edge of the curb. They were in the second lane." (When asked Kennedy's reaction to the shot) "The only reaction that I can recall -- I don't recall whether his head went back or forward, but I do recall when the impact hit him that he just stiffened and he went to the left, real hard to the left and into her lap, and... He went away from me." (snippet from a 1969-1971 interview with Gil Toff, as presented on a 2013 YouTube video in which Toff asks for money in exchange for his releasing his interview tapes) (On Connally, presumably) "Yeah, he had blood on his shirt when he got up to us. You could see it."
(The Kennedy Assassination Tapes, 1979) Civilian L “When the President’s car came around the corner, I had a good view from about 150 feet. About that time I heard two loud sounds about three seconds apart. I didn’t associate them with gunshots… They seemed more like firecrackers. However, I did notice a change in President Kennedy, his arm went up and he seemed to stiffen. Just after the two sounds…the limousine stopped for an instant, a large man in the right front seat picked up what looked to be a telephone, and then the car shot forward again. Some of the agents on the following car got off…From a distance of 12-to 15 feet…we saw the bullet hit the President from the right rear and literally tear away the side of his scalp and right ear…Thinking about it afterwards, I had the impression that they had been fired from behind us. I noticed Mr. Zapruder with his camera and thought it was a gun. My impression was only “behind us,” not from the stockade fence. I am certain no shot was fired from there.” (7-23-86 testimony in televised mock trial, On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald) "As the President's car come towards us, probably 200 feet or so from us, we heard a Boom (one second pause) Boom, like that. The President sorta throwed his arms up, and we thought at that time maybe someone had throwed firecrackers or something beside the President's car. As the President's car came closer to us, we could see that something was wrong. Governor Connally, I could see the blood on his shirt, and Governor Connally's eyes protruding. And the President was looking into the crowd of people. He was moving his head about and looking into the crowd of the people. And just as the President's car got directly in front of me, the President was probably fifteen feet away, Boom, and the side of his ear flew off, and justa, bits and pieces flew off. I can remember seeing just a white flash, and then the red, and the President fell across the car, as if you'd hit him with a bat. He fell across the car, and back, into Mrs. Kennedy's lap. I remember her saying 'Oh my God! They've shot Jack!'...Mrs. Kennedy...At that time I turned to Gayle and I said 'That's it! Hit the ground! We hit the ground because we thought we were in direct line of fire. (When asked where he thought the shots were coming from) Sir, I thought the shots were coming from directly behind. (When asked to mark on the map where he thought the shots came from) It would be somewhere back in this general area. (He then makes a large mark across the southern side of the Elm Street extension back behind the eastern half of the arcade, to the West of the School Book Depository). (When asked by Bugliosi if he thought the shot that hit Kennedy in the head was the last shot) "Yes sir, I do." (11-13-86 article on the Newman family in the Dallas Times-Herald) "The motorcade was about 150 feet away when the first two shots rang out, Newman says. 'It was a Boom! Boom! just like that. At the time I thought someone had thrown some firecrackers beside the car. As the car got closer to us. we could see something was wrong. We could see Gov. Connally with the President, looking into the crowd with a bewildered look on his face. Just a few seconds passed--I can't tell you the exact time frame--and the car came toward us and the President was directly in front of me. We were there on the curb. He was the width of one lane from us. That was when the third shot was fired. I turned to Gayle and said 'That's it. Hit the ground!' They huddled the children under them as they lay on the grass. They were too close to the car not to have seen the grisly scene. Gayle remembers Billy saying 'Look at all that blood! Why would they do that?'" (Interview in The Men Who Killed Kennedy, broadcast 1988) “I can remember seeing the side of the President’s ear and head come off. I remember a flash of white and red and just bits and pieces of flesh exploding from the President’s head. At that time, I turned to Gayle and said “That’s it, hit the ground.” And we turned and hit the ground and covered our children. When the third shot was fired I thought it came from directly behind, towards the grassy knoll behind me. I base that primarily on the third shot, from what I saw, the sight of the President’s head coming off, and from the sound of the rifle, the report of the rifle” (Interview in 1988 TV documentary JFK: The Day The Nation Cried) "We thought someone had thrown firecrackers or something against the President's car. It just looked like a bad joke. Of course, as the motorcade came closer to us we could see that it was not a joke. I remember the President throwing his hands up as if--I thought--to shield his face from the debris or something from the firecrackers, when in reality it was reaction to the gun shot that had hit him."
Now, to break up all this text, let me insert a photo. This photo, taken by Life Magazine photographer Art Rickerby from the comfort of camera car #2, shows, from L to R, 1) motorcycle officer Clyde Haygood gliding past the knoll, 2) NBC cameraman Dave Wiegman spinning back to the knoll for one last shot before racing back to camera car #1, 3) AP Photographer James Altgens stepping onto the sidewalk, 4) the Newman family still laying down on the grass, 5) CBS cameraman Thomas Craven filming the Newmans, 6) White House filmographer Thomas Atkins filming the Newmans, 7) a woman presumed to be Doris Mumford still hunkering down on the grass, 8) an unidentified man sometimes called Dark Complected Man or DCM sitting down on the edge of the grass and staring out into space, 9) a man known as the Umbrella Man and later self-identified as Louie Witt sitting next to DCM and sharing the somber moment, 10) photographer Frank Cancellare approaching the Newmans, and 11) nearby witness Marvin Faye Chism having a sudden panic attack and racing across the knoll with her 3 year-old son Ricky in her arms.
(Interview with Jim Marrs published in Crossfire, 1989) "As he was coming straight toward us there was a boom, boom, real close together. I thought someone was throwing firecrackers. He got this bewildered look on his face and was sort of slowing moving back and forth. The he got nearer to us, and, bam, a shot took the right side of his head off. His ear flew off. I heard Mrs. Kennedy say 'Oh, my God, no, they shot Jack!' He was knocked violently back against the seat, almost as if he had been hit by a baseball bat. At that time, I was looking right at the President and I thought the shots were coming from directly behind us. I said, "That's it! Get on the ground!" (7-10-91 video-taped interview with Mark Oakes, portions of which can be found online) "When the President was probably a hundred and fifty feet or so in front of us the first two shots rang out. I remember a Boom (claps hands) Boom (claps hands) about like that. At that time I remember seeing the President's hands come up--it looked like he was trying to protect his face...When those first two shots rang out, I thought someone had thrown a couple of firecrackers near the President's car...But as the car got closer I could tell that something was definitely wrong...I remember seeing Governor Connally, his eyes were protruding, and he was kinda laid back holding hisself, and I could see blood on his shirt...The first two shots were fired very close together." (When asked if this was within two or three seconds) "I thought so...As the car got directly in front of us, the President was not much further than I am to you--probably ten to twelve feet, he was directly in front of me--the third shot rang out and I remember seeing the side of his head come off. I could see the white and then all of a sudden the red...At that moment my fear was the shot had come from directly behind us from a higher elevation and that we were in the direct line of fire...I was looking straight at him and I remember seeing him go across the car and into Mrs. Kennedy's lap." (When asked if it hit him in the temple) "It appeared yes right in this area here (as he motions to his right temple) on the side of his head" (As quoted in Breaking the Silence, by Bill Sloan, 1993) "It was 'boom, boom,' like that...For a second I thought it was firecrackers, but then I saw Kennedy raise his arms toward his face, and I knew it was shots. Then just as the car came abreast of us, a third shot hit and the blood went everywhere. It seemed to me that the shooting was coming from directly behind me and I thought we must be right in the line of fire." (Sloan then writes: "Bill makes it clear--as he has all along--that when he says 'directly behind me' he means a point on the grassy knoll near the concrete pergola, which along with the wooden picket fence, forms the northern boundary of Dealey Plaza.")(On the possibility the limo stopped) "I believe Kennedy's car came to a full stop after the final shot." (11-19-93 article in USA Today) "Bill Newman, 52, was also at the scene. He and his wife, Gayle, were captured on film covering their two young children with their bodies as gunfire rings out. He's not sure if there was a conspiracy, but he is certain the matter should be investigated further." (11-20-97 interview published in No Case To Answer, 2005) "the President's car was out the distance of one lane from the curb line and some one hundred and fifty feet from us, some short distance, when the first two shots rang out. And it was a boom-boom. They were very close together and I could remember thinking "Boy, that's a poor thing to do." I thought someone had thrown a couple of firecrackers at the side of the President's car. At that moment, I didn't realize that it was gunfire and the President had been shot. I can remember his arms go up...he just kinda came forward and made a motion and apparently he was hit by one of the first two shots. As the car got closer to us I could see that something was wrong. I could see Governor Connally and I could see his eyes protruding and I could see him holding himself and I could see blood on his shirt. I can remember that the President looked to me like he was sorta looking into the crowd with a bewildered look on his face. As the car got directly in front of us--and we were on the curb's edge--and the President was probably not much further than I am from you (about ten feet) the third shot rang out and I can remember seeing the side of President Kennedy's head blow off. There was black matter and then grayish and he fell across Mrs. Kennedy, into her lap, and she jumped up and hollered "Oh my God no. They've shot Jack." And I turned to Gayle and I said: "That's it--hit the ground." And we turned and pushed our kids down on the ground behind us." (When describing his impression of the direction from which the shots were fired) "From my view it was just "behind" and it was a visual impact it had on me of seeing the head wound and seeing President Kennedy go across the seat. That gave me the impression of the shot being fired from behind..."
(No More Silence p. 94-101, published 1998) “As the President’s car started down Elm, the first two shots were fired. It was BOOM!…BOOM! like that. The first two were much closer together in my opinion. It's hard for me to tell the time frame because my concentration was on the President's car. I'm sure the Zapruder film can tell exactly the time frame. But the first two shots were much closer than the third shot. At that time I thought someone had thrown a couple of firecrackers or something beside the President's car. I didn't even realize at that time it was gunfire. The President’s car was probably 150 feet or so from us at the time. As the car came closer to us, it was obvious something was wrong. I could see Governor Connally; I could see his protruding eyes, and I could see him more or less frozen in the seat holding himself. You could see the blood on Governor Connally and President Kennedy. When the first two shots were fired, he threw his arms up. I believe I said at the time that he raised up in his seat, which I think, in reality, all he did was throw his arms up. I can remember him turning, looking into the crowd, and just as the car passed in front of us at a distance of ten to fifteen feet, the third shot rang out, and it hit the President. It appeared to me that it hit him on the side of the head, as the side of his head came off. I can remember seeing a white mass, and then just a mass of red. The President fell across the car away from me over into Mrs. Kennedy's lap. It was as if someone had given him a hard shove. It wasn't like slow motion. He went across the seat pretty quick. Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and said, "Oh my God, no, they've shot Jack!" Then I recall her on the back of the car when the Secret Service agent ran toward the car and pushed her back in. When the third shot rang out, I turned to Gayle and said, "That's it! Hit the ground!" because at that time I thought the shot came from directly behind us in the grassy knoll area. The only basis I had for that was what I visually saw: the President going across the car and seeing the side of his head come off. The sound played little factor. I believe it was a visual thing at that time. We turned and hit the ground and threw our children down and covered them." (Interview published in the November 1998 Texas Monthly) “When his car was probably a hundred fifty feet or so from us, the first two shots rang out and it was boom!(smacks his hand) boom! (smacks his hand again) like that.” (Article on the Newman family published in the 8-12-99 Dallas Morning News) "Guided by the route published the previous day, they headed for Dealey Plaza to get ahead of the motorcade. They got there with minutes to spare, walking down Elm to where the crowd tapered off. The cheers let them know the president was coming. JFK's car came into view. It was in the center lane of three. "Boom!" Mr. Newman recalled the sound. "Boom!" He and his wife thought it was firecrackers. They saw the president's arms fly upward. In the instant before the third shot, Mrs. Newman thought the president was kidding. The firecrackers were in poor taste, but it occurred to her that JFK showed "a pretty good sense of humor" reacting like that. Mr. Newman noticed Texas Gov. John Connally, seated in front of the president, with his arms extended forward and blood on his shirt. The president was directly in front of them, they said, for the fatal shot and gruesome aftermath. That's when "Bill looked at me and said, ‘That's it. Hit the ground,' " Mrs. Newman said. They lay there for perhaps two or three minutes, thinking they had been directly in the line of fire."
Now, here, in an image taken from the film of White House filmographer Thomas Atkins (who was captured filming the Newmans by Art Rickerby in the image presented above), we see the scene captured by Rickerby moments later. In the foreground, the Newmans continue to lay on the ground and protect their children after almost everyone around them has fled, while, in the background, 1) Dave Wiegman races for camera car #1, and 2) motorcycle officer Clyde Haygood glides his bike towards the curb.
(Oral History interview for the Sixth Floor Museum, 7-10-03) "When he was probably a hundred feet or so from us, the first two shots rang out, and I can remember hearing a boom (slaps hands) boom (slaps hands) about like that. I thought somebody had thrown a couple of firecrackers or something beside the President's car. I did not recognize it even to be gunfire. And I can remember I thought now that's a pretty poor joke--somebody doing something like that. And the President's hands came up. I actually testified that day that the President came up out of his seat, which in reality he didn't stand up, but he just throwed his arms up, kinda raised up in his seat. As the car got closer to us I could see Governor Connally and I could see his protruding eyes, and I could see the blood on his shirt. He was outstretched in the car. And just as the President got straight in front of us, which is the width of that one lane. We were right on the curb, and just as he got straight out from the curb from us, the third shot rang out. And I can remember seeing the side of President Kennedy's head come off, and I thought his ear came off. And I testified to that effect but years later I saw a picture that showed otherwise. But I can remember seeing a flash of white and the red blood. He went across the car seat over into Mrs. Kennedy's lap. And I can remember her hollering out 'Oh my God, no, they've shot Jack.'" And I turned to Gayle and said 'Gayle, that's it. Hit the ground' because at that time I thought the shots had come from straight over the top of our heads from behind." (When discussing a report received at WFAA saying the President was still alive) "I was kinda dumbfounded to hear these people saying that, when just minutes earlier I'd seen the side of his head come off." (When asked if he knew the President was dead when first interviewed on WFAA) "When you see something the size of a grapefruit or orange or something blow out into the air, and then you hear the statement that he was in the emergency and was shot in the back whatever, it dumbfounded me momentarily.." (When later asked about his impression the shots came from behind) "It was the visual impact that it had on me more so than the noise--seeing the side of the President's head blow off, seeing the President go across the car seat into Mrs. Kennedy's lap, in her direction. It gave me the impression that the shots were coming from directly behind where I was standing." (When stressing just how much his impressions of the shot location were based on what he saw as opposed to what he heard) "It might be difficult for me to testify that I heard a noise." (November 2006 interview with Jefferson Morley, as quoted in an 11-22-13 post by Morley on his blog, JFK Facts) "We were, of course, looking at the car coming towards us and it was a hundred feet, or more maybe, from us, and the first two shots rang out, kind of like a boom … boom, like that. At the time I thought somebody throwed a couple of firecrackers beside the car, and I thought, you know, that’s a pretty poor trick to be pulling on the president. But as the car got closer to us you could see the blood on Governor Connally, you could see the president, he had a … he was sort of turning his head in toward the crowd, and you could tell something was most definitively wrong and just as the car got straight in front of us, in the back seat of the car where he was sitting, ten or twelve feet from us … the third shot rang out. Of course, I knew most definitely that was a gunshot and the side of his head blew off, you could see the white matter and the red and he fell across the seat over into Mrs. Kennedy’s lap and she hollered out ‘Oh my God no, they’ve shot Jack,’ and turned to Gail, I said ‘No, that’s it’ and I hit the ground because at that moment, what was going through my mind was that shot was coming right over the top of our heads.” (As to why he thought that) “It was a visual impression that I had from seeing him go across the car seat." (History Channel program "Our Generation", broadcast 2007) "The President's car came toward us, probably some hundred feet or so from us, when the first shots rang out...I seen a bewildered look on President Kennedy's face...And when his limousine was straight out in front of us the third shot rang out...She (Jackie) hollered out "Oh my God no they've shot Jack" and I turned to Gayle and I said "That's it! Hit the ground!" (Pierce Allman, "Our Generation", broadcast 2007) "A cop he got off his motorcycle and he said "everybody get down" and I bounced right back up and ran across the street and picked up Bill and Gayle Newman--I didn't know their names of the couple at the time--they had two little kids--and I said "Are you okay?" And he said "Yeah, but they got the President. They blew the side of his head in."
(Televised interview broadcast on KRLD, 11-17-08) "As it got a hundred feet or so from us, the first two shots rang out. It was a boom, (slaps hands, waits about a second) boom (slaps hands), about like that." (Later) "As the car got in front of us, right here--like I say we was against the curb--the third shot rang out. I can recall seeing the side of President Kennedy's head fly off, seeing President Kennedy go across into Mrs. Kennedy's lap. And she hollered out 'Oh, my God, no, they've shot Jack." (The newsman then shows his viewers where the Newmans thought the shots had come from--not the picket fence, but the back of the arcade, near the west side of the book depository.) (11-19-08 AP article by Dylan Lovan) "As the president's black convertible came into sight, Bill Newman said, he heard what he thought were fireworks. 'I didn't recognize it as a gunshot,' he said, clapping his hands twice with a pause to simulate the sounds. But as the limousine drew closer, Newman said he could see blood on Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally, who was in the car with the president. 'Ten, 12 feet in front of us, the third shot rang out, and that's when the side of his head flew off and I could remember seeing' the blood, Bill Newman said. 'I turned to Gayle and I said, that's it, hit the ground.' (When asked if he felt there was second gunman on the grassy knoll) 'I do tend to want to lean in the direction that it was a conspiracy, meaning more than one person was involved. But so far, no one's ever come forward with concrete evidence." (11-22-08 article by David Flick in the Dallas Morning News) "With 45 years of practice, Bill Newman repeats what he saw on Nov. 22, 1963, dispassionately and in quick order. After witnessing President John F. Kennedy’s arrival at Dallas Love Field, he pressed the speed limit along Cedar Springs Road to get to his family to the parade route along Dealey Plaza. They arrived about five minutes ahead of the motorcade. As the presidential limousine approached, he heard a sound that he assumed was a firecracker, and then another. The president briefly raised his arms and then gazed out at the crowd with a bewildered look. A third shot. The president slumped into his wife’s lap." (9-24-10 interview with Larry Sabato, as quoted in The Kennedy Half-Century, 2013) "Seeing the side of the President's head blow off, seeing the president go across the car seat into Mrs. Kennedy's lap, in her direction, it gave me the sensation that the shots were coming from directly behind me where I was standing. So I said 'behind.' and I leave it at that." (Tru TV program Conspiracy Theory, first broadcast 11-19-10) "As the President's car turned onto Elm Street, probably some one hundred feet or less from us, the first two shots rang out, and it was BOOM (hits palm) BOOM (hits palm about a second later). Like that. Just as the car got right in front of us, the third shot rang out, and the side of President Kennedy's head blew off (as he says this he reaches for his temple). We seen the brain matter and the blood fly off. Mrs. Kennedy, she screamed out "Oh my God, they shot Jack." I turned to Gayle and said 'That's it, hit the ground.' We threw our children down and covered them on the ground. I thought the shot had come from directly behind (as he says this he points to the arcade at the top of the knoll). (At this point interviewer Jesse Ventura interjects "Directly behind?" Newman then confirms) "Directly behind." (A quick shot of the picket fence--which is 30 feet or more to the west of where Newman was pointing--is then shown.)
(Interview on Australia's 60 Minutes, posted on youtube 9-15-13) "We were looking at the car, and the first two shots ring out. It was a bang (waits two seconds) bang, like that." (Fox News Reporting: 50 years of Questions, first broadcast 11-9-13) (On Kennedy's behavior after the first shot or shots) "As he got closer, I could see something was wrong. I could see Governor Connally stretched out in the car. President Kennedy was looking into the crowd with a puzzled look on his face." (On his own reaction to the head shot) "I turned to Gayle and said 'That's it, get on the ground.'" (Living History presentation at The Sixth Floor Museum, 11-9-13) "As he was coming towards us, probably 75 or a hundred feet from us, the first two shots rang out. And it was a bang (claps hands, waits 1 second) bang (claps hands), something like that. Actually I thought someone had throwed a couple firecracker besides the President's car. And I recall him coming up in the seat, his arms coming up like that (he lifts arms into the position of Kennedy's arms as he came out from behind the sign in the Zapruder film). At the time I testified that day that he actually stood up in the seat which in reality he just brought his arms up. As the car got closer to us, you could tell that something was wrong. I could see the President kinda turned in, his head into the crowd, and you could see Governor Connally with his protruding eyes, and the blood on his shirt. And just as the car passed in front of us and he was maybe straight out as far as from here to the second row of seats, and the third shot rang out. And (claps hands, holds right hand to his right temple) the side of his head--and at the time I thought his ear blew off--the side of his head blew off and the white matter blew up and the red. I turned to Gale and said That's it, let's hit the ground.'" (Later) "The first two shots I didn't recognize as gunfire. But the third shot I recognized as gunfire most certainly and I thought the shot was coming from behind." (When asked if he thought more than Oswald was involved) "The idea of a conspiracy will probably never in my lifetime be totally removed from my mind." (Smithsonian Channel program The Day Kennedy Died, first broadcast 11-17-13) (On the third shot) "When it was straight out in front of us probably ten or twelve feet, the third shot rang out." (History Channel program The JFK Assassination: the Definitive Guide, first broadcast 11-22-13) (Describing the first shots) "I thought someone had thrown some firecrackers beside President Kennedy's car. I thought 'Boy, that's a poor joke to be pulling.' And then there was another Bang...(As he places his hand above his right ear) "I saw the side of President Kennedy's head blow off...The reason that we hit the ground. I thought that shot had come from over the top of our heads straight behind us up on the grassy knoll." (National Geographic Channel program JFK Seven Days That Made a President, broadcast 11-22-13) (On the limo) "It was coming straight at us, and probably a hundred feet or so from us, when a shot rang out. Bang. (At this, he pounds his right hand into his left palm. There is an edit here, so it seems probable they edited out a second bang.) (Later) "Just as the car passed in front of us, a third shot rang out. And he went over into Mrs. Kennedy's lap." (11-22-14, conversation with Pat Speer at the 2014 JFK Lancer Conference) (While I failed to take notes on this brief conversation, Newman confirmed to me that although he'd originally said there were two shots, that he now believed there were three. He also confirmed that, while he had a strong impression the fatal shot came from behind him, this was a visual impression based upon the President's movements after the shot, and that he never believed this shot came from his right, from the stockade fence.)
(11-18-16 interview with Stephen Fagin at the JFK Lancer Conference in Dallas) "When the car got within--I'm gonna say a hundred feet--it could have been even less than that because in reality it's such a small area. But we'll say within a hundred feet of us, the first two shots rang out. And I can recall it was kinda like a boom...(waits a second and a half) boom, about like that. And I thought somebody had thrown a couple firecrackers against the President's car... (Later, when disputing his original statement in which he claimed he'd heard two shots) "I heard at least three shots, but I did not even recognize the first two shots as gunfire. But as the car got closer to us, and straight out in front of us...the third shot rang out, and the side of President Kennedy's blew off, and the white matter, and you could see the blood...At that moment I had the sensation that the whole side of his head blew off and you could probably set a y'know baseball in it. I turned to Gayle. I said 'That's it. Hit the ground.' (A bit later) "In looking back whether this is the truth or not I swear to God I believe it, the car momentarily stopped. Now when I say 'momentarily stopped', I mean I saw the tail lights and kinda how a car rocks when you hit the brakes a little sudden...As the Secret Service man got aboard the car and pushed Mrs. Kennedy back the driver must have floor-boarded the car, and it just shot out and went under the triple underpass...If you quote me that I say the car stopped, I don't mean that it stopped for no 15 seconds, it was just a very momentary action, and then it shot off. (Later) "i thought the shot, the head shot, was coming right over the top of us and struck the President...I thought the shots came from behind because of the way the President reacted in the car, falling back towards Mrs. Kennedy...I still believe it's very possible the shot did come from behind...I was thinking somewhere between the school book depository and the structure that's there, towards those bushes. (When asked what he believed regarding a conspiracy) "I can very easily defend either position...I have to think there was somebody else involved even if Lee Harvey Oswald was the only person that day in the school book depository and he was the only one involved in the shooting." (5-22-18 article by Jef Meek in the Hot Springs Village Voice) “'We just walked down the north side of Elm Street toward the triple underpass and about halfway we stopped along the curb. We had been there less than five minutes and you could hear the parade coming down Main Street, hear the people cheering and I recall seeing the President’s car turn right onto Houston Street,' Bill said. Gayle’s uncle, Steve Ellis, was a motorcycle Dallas Police Department officer and in the motorcade ahead of the presidential limo. As he passed by they acknowledged each other. 'As he came towards us, about 100 plus feet away from us the first shot rang out, like a boom, boom, about like that. I thought to myself that’s a pretty poor joke, somebody throwing firecrackers beside the car. I remember seeing his arms go up like he was trying to protect his face. As the car got closer to us you could tell something was wrong. You could even see the protruding eyes of Governor Connally and the blood on his shirt,' Bill told me. 'And just as the car passed in front of us the third shot rang out and I remember seeing the side of President Kennedy’s head blow off. At the time I thought his ear blew off. It was just a ball of white going up and you could see the red and he fell over into Mrs. Kennedy’s arms more or less.' I asked Bill if he heard anything said from inside the car. 'I heard Mrs. Kennedy say ‘Oh my God, no, they’ve shot Jack.’ That’s what I believe I heard at the time.'Bill turned to Gayle and said hit the ground, which they did as can be seen in the photos. “The reason I responded like that was because the ground behind us was a higher elevation and I had the sensation that the third shot came from over the top of our heads, which would have meant we were in the line of gunfire.'“ (10-29-18 guest appearance at Sixth Floor Museum. Note: this was during a debate between Howard Willens and Robert Blakey) "I heard two shots--Bang (waits 2 seconds) Bang--that I thought were firecrackers...But as the car got closer, and I could see President Kennedy and Governor Connally...the third shot rang out, and I thought it hit President Kennedy in the side of the head. Now, what I actually saw was the head explode, and the white matter, and blood. What I saw was the reaction in the car, that made me think the shot came from behind. I don't know that I heard a third shot--it was such a reaction that I had to seeing the side of his head explode." (11-21-18 appearance on the Travel Channel program Mysteries at the Museum) (He is standing where he stood on 11-22-63.) "As it got within about a hundred feet or so, the first two shots rang out. I thought somebody had thrown a couple of firecrackers or something at the President's car. As the car got closer to us you could tell something was wrong...just as President Kennedy gets in front of us, a third shot rings out. The side of his head blew off. You could see the red. I turned to Gayle. I said "That's it. Hit the ground!" (On the direction of the shots) "Based on what I saw, I thought the shots came from behind. (He points to the white pergola behind him.)"
Analysis: Newman’s statements demonstrate the necessity of grabbing eyewitness statements when fresh. While his statements have been consistent in many ways, in other, very important ways, they have changed. While he initially said the bullet impacted at the temple, within a few years it was blowing off Kennedy’s ear. Similarly, while he initially heard one early sound, which he believed to be a firecracker, this sound eventually became two separate, well-defined BOOMS, and two firecrackers. Perhaps, as he became aware that most everyone, including his wife, had heard three shots fired, he re-interpreted the sound he initially thought was a firecracker, and convinced himself it was two shots. That he yelled to his wife and dived down to the ground after the head shot might account for his not hearing the final shot heard by so many others. Newman’s purported statements to Bowles for the Kennedy Assassination Tapes are also interesting. Here, for the first and only time in his purported statements, there is a three second gap between the first two shots, plenty of time for Oswald to re-fire. Here, Newman’s initial suspicion the shots came from behind him is based not on his aural and visual impressions, as stated in The Men Who Killed Kennedy, or his visual impressions alone as he would later insist, but on his suspicion Zapruder had a gun. As with the statements of the other unidentified witnesses in Bowles’ book, liberties appear to have been taken. If this is so, however, Bowles was not the first nor the last to misrepresent Newman's statements. Conspiracy theorists, including the creators of 2010's Tru TV program Conspiracy Theory, have long pretended Newman's impression the last shot came from behind supports that the last shot or shots came from the picket fence. The picket fence was, at frame 313, when Newman developed his impression of the direction from which the shots were fired, directly to his right, and not directly to his rear. Only heard two shots. First shot hit 190-224.
Now, here is an inexplicably rare photo of the Newman family taken by Frank Cancellare. (Perhaps it was never published because the figure in the background--AP photographer James Altgens--only has half a head.) In any event, this is another photo rescued from obscurity by researcher Lee Forman. So mucho thanks, Lee.
Frances Gayle Newman was Bill Newman's wife and is the woman looking into the camera in the photo above. (11-22-63 first interview on WFAA, prior to the announcement of Kennedy's death, at approximately 12:45) (When asked if she saw the blood) "Yes sir, it was awful." (When asked what her first thought was after the shots were fired) "I thought it was a firecracker and I saw the blood and I.....I had the baby and I .....I just ran and we....I got on top of him and laid on the grass. I....I was....it scared me. It was terrible." (When asked what else she saw) "Governor Connally was kinda turned to the side and he grabbed his stomach." (11-22-63 second interview on WFAA, at approximately 1:17 PM) “We were standing next to the curb so the children could see the President. And the car was just up apiece from us and this shot fired out, and I thought it was a firecracker, and the President kind of raised up in his seat. And I thought, you know, he was kind of going along with a gag or something. And then all of a sudden the next one popped, and Governor Connally grabbed his stomach and kind of laid over to the side. And then another one—it was just awful fast. And President Kennedy reached up (with both hands she reaches for her right temple) and grabbed--it looked like he grabbed--his ear and blood just started gushing out. (She lowers her hands) And my husband said “Quick, get down” and I grabbed the baby and we ran and laid down on the grass and I got on top of him. It was just right by us when it all happened, just right in front of us." (When asked if she saw anybody) "It happened so fast that you didn't have the chance to see anything. It was just too fast.” (11-22-63 statement to Dallas Sheriff’s Department, 24H218) “When President Kennedy’s car was about ten feet from us, I heard a noise that sounded like a firecracker going off. President Kennedy kind of jumped like he was startled and then covered his head with his hands and then raised up. After I heard the first shot, another shot sounded and Governor Connally kind of grabbed his chest and lay back on the seat of the car. When I first saw and heard all this, I thought it was all of a joke. Just about the time President Kennedy was in front of us, I heard another shot ring out and the President put his hands up to his head, I saw blood all over the side of his head. About this time, Mrs. Kennedy grabbed the President and he kind of lay over to the side kind of in her arms. Then my husband, Billy, said it is a shot. We grabbed our two children and my husband lay on one child and I lay on the other one on the grass. We started to get up and then all of a sudden we lay back down. I don’t know what it was but another shot may have been fired that caused us to lay back down.” (11-24-63 FBI report, 22H842) “She estimated that when the limousine bearing the President was about 50 feet from them she heard 2 reports and the President seemed to rise up in his seat. A few seconds later she heard another shot and saw that the President had been hit in the head because she saw blood flowing from his body. She believed there were first two shots in succession, a pause, then another shot was fired which struck the President… After the shots were fired, she and her husband each grabbed a child and lay down on the grass fearing they might be hit by gunfire.”
(2-15-69 testimony in the trial of Clay Shaw) “The President's car was maybe 100 or 150 feet from us when I first heard the noise and the first two noises were close together, just seconds apart…at the time of the first noise he threw his hands up…He threw his hands up like this and sort of turned his head… I saw Governor Connally with the first shot seemed to turn a little bit like this. (Indicating)… at the time of the second shot Governor Connally grabbed his stomach…his eyes just got real big and he sort of slumped down in the seat…we heard a third report, it was a short time, not maybe 10 or 12 seconds after the first two shots…that shot when it happened, the President's car was directly in front of us and it was about a lane's width between us, it wasn't in the lane next to the curb it was in the middle lane, and at that time he was shot in the head right at his ear or right above his ear…The President, his head just seemed to explode, just bits of his skull flew in the air and he fell to the side.” (Interview in The Men Who Killed Kennedy, broadcast 1988) “The first two shots I didn’t realize what they were but the third shot, after it was fired, I heard Mrs. Kennedy scream “Oh no! They shot Jack!” And it just sorta put a chill over you. It was just terrible.” (7-10-91 video-taped interview with Mark Oakes) "I was pointing to the children that the President was coming when we heard two quick noises that sounded like firecrackers. It went through my mind that it was in very bad taste for someone to throw firecrackers, y'know close to the President's car. He seemed to be reacting, y'know, shielding his face, and I thought well he's got a real good sense of humor. They approached closer. When they got directly in front of us the third shot was fired and it hit him in the side of the head and bits of flesh and stuff flew up in the air. And Bill turned to me and he said 'That's it!' And we turned around and put the children on the ground and shielded them with our bodies." (When asked about the head shot) "When he was shot, bits of stuff flew up (motions to right temple) and blood started coming out of his head. And he fell over into Mrs. Kennedy's lap...He was directly in front of us when the third shot was fired." (Interview with Texas Monthly, November 1998) “as the car turned the corner and came towards us, we heard a noise. I thought it was a firecracker. And the people in the car reacted, especially President Kennedy. He threw his hands up, I thought he was going, you know, going along with a bad joke…Then, as they got closer to us, directly in front of us, when the other shot that (was) shot, you know, the side of his head, you could see the white matter coming out of his head, then red, and we heard her (Jackie) holler, “Oh my God, no, they shot Jack!” And Bill turned to us and he said, “That’s it. Put the children on the ground.” We put the children on the ground and shielded them with our bodies because we thought we were in, you know, direct crossfire.” (Article on the Newman family published in the 8-12-99 Dallas Morning News) "Guided by the route published the previous day, they headed for Dealey Plaza to get ahead of the motorcade. They got there with minutes to spare, walking down Elm to where the crowd tapered off. The cheers let them know the president was coming. JFK's car came into view. It was in the center lane of three. "Boom!" Mr. Newman recalled the sound. "Boom!" He and his wife thought it was firecrackers. They saw the president's arms fly upward. In the instant before the third shot, Mrs. Newman thought the president was kidding. The firecrackers were in poor taste, but it occurred to her that JFK showed "a pretty good sense of humor" reacting like that. Mr. Newman noticed Texas Gov. John Connally, seated in front of the president, with his arms extended forward and blood on his shirt. The president was directly in front of them, they said, for the fatal shot and gruesome aftermath. That's when "Bill looked at me and said, ‘That's it. Hit the ground,' Mrs. Newman said. They lay there for perhaps two or three minutes, thinking they had been directly in the line of fire." (Oral History for the Sixth Floor Museum, 7-10-03) "The first two shots sounded like firecrackers to me. I'd never been around gunfire so I had nothing to compare it with but the way he reacted I thought that man's got a sense of humor--y'know, someone doing something like that in such bad taste. And then as the car approached and got directly in front of us that third shot rang out, and just the visual--you could see bits of flesh flying in the air, a white mass and then red coming out of his head (during this last sentence, she placed her hand by her right ear). I heard Jackie Kennedy scream out also and we turned and put the children on the grass behind us and shielded them with our bodies." (When asked if she thought the President was dead) "I wouldn't think that anybody could live with the side of their head (at this point she fluttered her fingers over her right ear)...I mean, if you'd have seen it there would be no doubt in your mind that he was dead." (When later asked if she shared her husband's impression the shots came from behind) "Yes, mine is just visual. Y'know, the impact at the side of his head, and the way he fell over. Just visua
(Televised interview broadcast on KRLD, 11-17-08) "I thought it was firecrackers. I'd never been around gunshots or gunfire at all in my life." (Later) "I was scared that something might happen to my children. Y'know I didn't know if we were gonna be in a crossfire, what was gonna happen." (On the third shot) "When that happened Bill turned to me and he said "That's it! Hit the ground.' And so we turned and put the children on the ground and shielded them with our bodies." (2-7-11 Living History interview with the Sixth Floor Museum) "The motorcade approached and I heard a noise and it sounded like firecrackers. There was two noises fairly close together, and the president sort of threw his hands up like that. And I thought 'Boy, he's got a good sense of humor. That was very rude for someone to throw firecrackers y'know that close to the car.' And then as the car approached and got directly in front of us, just one car lane away from us, the third shot rang out and you could see bits of flesh fly up and you saw white matter which I assumed was his brain and blood...From the noise that we heard we thought the shots were coming directly behind us and we were afraid that we were fixing to be shot." (Later) "I don't know where the shots came from. My reaction is visual. I saw the President fall over into Mrs. Kennedy's lap and that's the reason that I thought the shots were coming from directly behind us." (Her personal opinion as to conspiracy) "I just feel like someone else had to be helping." (When asked how long it took her to figure out what happened) "It was almost instantaneous. You heard the noise and then just that flesh flying up...It was instant. I knew what had happened." (When asked about the number of shots) "I didn't hear four shots. I think that's just y'know conspiracy theory or people that have done research and everything. I definitely--y'know I heard three shots." (Interview on BBC Radio program commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination, first aired 9-1-13) "I had never been around gunfire at all, and my reaction was that I thought someone had thrown firecrackers. President Kennedy sort of threw his hands up, and I thought 'Well, he's got a good sense of humor.' We were standing at the very edge of the curb when that third shot rang out and we could see bits of flesh flying in the air." (Interview on Australia's 60 Minutes, posted on youtube 9-15-13) "I thought it was firecrackers. I'd never been around gunfire, and didn't know what it would sound like, but then when the car got directly in front of us that third shot rang out. And you could just see bits or flesh flying up in the air, and sort of white matter coming out of his head. And it was just so shocking." (Living History presentation at The Sixth Floor Museum, 11-9-13) "We were watching the President come towards us and we heard two loud noises. And I thought it was firecrackers, as Bill did, and the President sort of threw his hands up and I thought 'Boy, he has a good sense of humor because that's very bad taste to do something like that.' I'd never been around gunfire before so I didn't know what it was. And, as they approached and got directly in front of us, that third shot rang out and you could just see bits of flesh flying up (with her right hand she simulates flesh flying up from her right ear) and white matter and it was just terrifying to see. Bill told us, he said 'That's it, hit the ground' and we put the children on the ground and shielded them with our bodies. Because from what we saw--the way he fell over into Mrs. Kennedy's lap--we thought that the shots were coming directly over our head. We didn't--I can't tell you that I even heard that first shot. I just saw." (Fox News Reporting: 50 Years of Questions, 11-9-13) "We thought the shots had come from over our heads behind the grassy knoll, towards the concrete embankment." (Interview in The Day Kennedy Died, on the Smithsonian Channel, 11-17-13) "There was a noise that I thought was a firecracker...and President Kennedy sort of threw his hands up and I thought to myself 'Well, he's got a real good sense of humor." (On the third shot) "As the car got directly in front of us, there was a third noise...We saw the side of his head sort of explode (as she says this she motions to her right temple and forehead) and bits of flesh and stuff flying up in the air." (National Geographic Channel program JFK: Seven Days That Made a President, broadcast 11-22-13) "The first two sounds that I heard I thought were firecrackers." (On the third shot) "I think I realized that President Kennedy had definitely died the minute that I saw that shot, uh, hit him in the head." (Later) "We didn't know where the shots were coming from."
(11-18-16 interview with Stephen Fagin at the JFK Lancer Conference in Dallas) "We were standing right at the edge of the curb...The first two shots, as Bill said, I thought were firecrackers also...Our attention was on the limousine as it came and it was directly in front of us when that third shot rang out. And you could just see bits of flesh just flying up in the air and this white matter come out and he fell over into Mrs. Kennedy's lap. At that time Bill said 'That's it. Hit the ground'...I didn't see the limousine drive off. I was sort of looking around in a daze. And I do remember Bill slamming his fist on the ground...and he said 'Some son of a bitch just shot the President." (When asked where she thought the shots came from) "I assumed that the shots had come from behind us because the way he fell." Analysis: Gayle Newman clearly saw the President wounded by the first shot. She then heard two more shots, associating one with the wounding of Connally, and one with the head wound on Kennedy. As the Newmans are about the only witnesses to note Connally's wounds before the head shot, their recollections are strong arguments against the rare but resilient theory that Connally was hit by a shot fired after the head shot. As Mrs. Newman was both one of the first people to comment on the shots, and one of the closest witnesses, her fresh recollection that the shot after the shot striking Connally came "awful fast" is also a strong argument against the LPM scenario, in which these shots are five tension-filled seconds apart. Still, as her latter statements reflect she thought the head shot was further from the shot striking Connally than the Connally shot was from the first shot, it's hard to avoid concluding her recollections are fairly unique, in that she seemed to think the the first two shots were bunched. First shot hit 190-224. First two shots bunched together. Possibly originally believed the last two shots were bunched together.
William Newman, Jr. and Clayton Newman, the children of William and Gayle Newman, have spoken about their recollections of 11-22-63 on several occasions, most prominently in an 8-12-99 Dallas Morning News article and a 11-9-13 Living History presentation. Aside from William Jr.'s confirmation that the President was shot right in front of the family (something some theorists choose to ignore while claiming the Zapruder film is fake and that Kennedy was actually shot some distance down the road), neither remembers much of significance. (5-22-18 article by Jef Meek in the Hot Springs Village Voice) "Remember that with Bill and Gayle were their two little boys. I asked if either has any recollection of the event. Bill said Clayton doesn’t, but Billy later asked Gayle why someone shot that man and 'did you see all that blood.' 'So he actually saw the head shot,' Bill said."
Up Close and Even More Personal
There are still more prime witnesses, people whose lives were forever changed by their experience. One or more of these persons, however, may not be who they say they are.
Francine Burrows was purported by Gerald Posner in 1993 to be the woman in a tan jacket running north towards Kennedy in the Zapruder film in the frames leading up to the head shot. (3-6-92 interview with Gerald Posner, reported in Case Closed, 1993) “She (Burrows) ran across the grass to get closer to the President. In the Zapruder film, she is seen in a beige raincoat, running toward the limousine neat the point of the fatal head shot, and has never been identified until now. Burrows was within twenty-five feet of JFK when he was shot and was also looking directly at the grassy knoll. She saw nothing there. Instead, she remembers three shots, and says, “I was very close to him when he got shot. And I looked up at that window immediately…I knew instinctively that’s where the shots came from.” Analysis: if this is the woman in the film she is nowhere near twenty-five feet from Kennedy at the moment of the head shot, as Posner claims, but forty to fifty feet away at the closest. As we are not allowed to read all that she had to say, an accurate evaluation is difficult, however. While Posner boasts she heard three shots, as a way of cutting off speculation that more than three shots were fired, he doesn’t let us read how the shots sounded, or when she heard them in relation to where she was in the film. It is highly doubtful that the woman in the film, who, in Posner’s theory had continued to run towards the President for five seconds after hearing the second shot, knew shots were being fired prior to the head shot, and yet Posner wants us to believe that at the moment of the head shot, she immediately knew that all the shots had come from the school book depository. It seems quite possible she heard one or more shots just before or after the head shot, and that Posner trimmed her words to hide this fact. Too vague.
Toni Foster is a woman claiming to be the same woman that Posner claims is Francine Burrows. Unlike Posner, when researcher Debra Conway publicly identified Foster as the “Running Woman,” she had the good sense to publish pictures of her. There is, indeed, a resemblance to the woman seen in the Zapruder film. (2000 article in the Kennedy Assassination Chronicles) “I heard two firecracker-like sounds and I looked up because it sounded like it was coming from up in the air. At the time, I thought, “Those sound like firecrackers.” To me it was click-click; they were just that fast. As I thought that and I looked towards the president I didn’t know he was already shot. Because when I did look at him that’s when the third shot hit and his head went down like that (puts her head to her chest). I looked at him, I noticed he took his hands and did like this (brings her hands up and crossed at her chest), his head came down. I thought, “I wonder what he’s doing? Why did he do that?” As I’m thinking that—that fast—the 4th shot, the last shot, hit and his head exploded. So to me it was four shots. I do recall after that, the shell, I could hear that clink. And I remember everything stopped for me. I remember (his head) looked like confetti, it was just blown off. It hit him back here (puts her hand on the right rear of her head) and it was just like confetti. The spray went behind him. I do believe from what I heard and what I saw the shots came from the back. Now this whole thing was a shock but that’s how I feel, what I heard and what I saw—they were coming from the back...For some reason the car stopped. It did stop for seconds. I don't even know why it stopped and all of a sudden it sped up and they went under the underpass. I could never figure out why the car stopped." Analysis: Foster has more credibility than Burrows, if only because Ms. Conway allows her to have more credibility. Although Foster says she heard four shots, she says she believed they all came from behind. She also says the spray went to the back, which is inaccurate, but would have been how the spray appeared since the limousine was in motion. Where she is almost certainly wrong is in her recollection of three shots before the head shot, and two missed shots at the beginning, something no one else, save another controversial witness, Beverly Oliver, seems to remember. Heard four shots. Three early shots.
Above: Mary Moorman, in a photo taken by her friend Jean Hill upon their arrival at Dealey Plaza, 11-22-63.
Mary Moorman was on the south side of Elm across from the Newmans, and to the east of Toni Foster. She can be seen in the Zapruder film, Nix film, and Muchmore film, as well as stills such as the Bond photo. She took a picture of Kennedy a split second after the impact of the head shot. (11-22-63 article in the Dallas-Times Herald) "“A Dallas woman snapped a candid picture of President Kennedy—then heard the scream, ‘My God, he’s been shot.’ The Polaroid snapshot taken by Mary Moorman, 2832 Ripplewood, shows the President of the United States slumped over the seat of his limousine. His young wife was leaning toward him" (11-22-63 article in the Dallas Times-Herald) "Mrs. Moorman, who snapped a picture just at the time the President was shot, and said: 'I took the picture exactly at the moment the shot rang out. My Polaroid shows Kennedy slumped over in the car and it shows Jackie leaning towards him. I heard Mrs. Kennedy say 'My God, he's been shot.' I heard another shot or two and I turned to my friend and we got on the ground.'"
Above: a Frank Cancellare photo showing the surge of witnesses towards the grassy knoll a few minutes after the shooting. Only a few of these were witnesses to the actual shooting, and only two of the closest witnesses to the actual shooting can be identified in the photo. One of these two is Mary Moorman.
Below: here's Moorman in the photo. She is being questioned by Dallas Times-Herald reporter Jim Featherston, and is presumably showing him the Polaroid photograph she'd taken just as the fatal bullet struck. Moorman's companion on that day, Jean Hill, would later make out that Featherston had pretty much accosted them, and forced them to come over to his newsroom to be interviewed, but this photo suggests a different story.
(11-22-63 statement to Dallas Sheriff’s Department, 19H487, 24H217) “As President Kennedy was opposite me, I took a picture of him. As I snapped the picture of President Kennedy, I heard a shot ring out. President Kennedy kind of slumped over. Then I heard another shot ring out and Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and said “My God, he has been shot!” When I heard these shots ring out, I fell to the ground to keep from being hit myself. I heard three or four shots in all.” (3:16 PM 11-22-63 WBAP TV interview, available on Youtube) (When asked why she took the photo at that moment) “That was the only chance I had. Mine is a Polaroid and I can only take one every ten seconds, and that was at that time, whenever I took it. (When asked if she'd realized he'd been shot when she took the picture) "No I didn't. I must have snapped it immediately when he slumped, cause in the picture that’s the way she’s there and he’s slumped over.” (When asked if she'd seen the shooter) "No, I had taken the picture. And then the shots. And I decided it was time to fall on the ground." (3:30 PM 11-22-63 KRLD radio interview, as transcribed by David Lifton and posted on the Education Forum, 6-30-11, with a few changes) (When asked if she took her Polaroid picture before or after the first shot) “Evidently, just immediately, as the… Cause he was, he was looking, you know, whenever I got the camera focused and then I snapped it in my picture, he slumped over.” (When asked how far away she was from Kennedy at this time) “10 or 15 foot. I know 'cause that's where I had my camera set.” (When asked where she was standing) “Just a few feet from the underpass" (When asked if she was by the grassy bank) "Yes, that's where we were and I stepped out in the street. We were right at the car.” (When asked if she saw any suspicious persons) "Yeah, of course, I have, I was just uh you know (unclear word) my camera, and when I took that the shots had rang out, and I wasn’t looking around. I hit the ground." (When asked how many shots she heard) “Oh, oh, I don’t know. I think three or four is what I, uh, that I heard…that I’m sure of. Now, I don’t know, there might have been more. It just took seconds for me to realize what was happening. (When asked her first thought) “That those are shots--and that he has been hit. And that they're liable to hit me 'cause I'm right at the car. So I decided that the place for me was to just get on the ground. (When asked Kennedy's response) He grabbed his chest, and, of course, Mrs. Kennedy jumped up immediately and fell over him, and she said “My God, he’s been shot.” (When asked the reactions of others) “Uh, they hesitated just for a moment ‘cause I think they were like I was, you know—'Was that a shot or was it just a backfire, or just what?' And then, of course, he clutched his chest and they immediately sped up, real fast, you know, like to get out of there. And, uh the police, there were several motorcycles around him, and uh, they stopped, and uh—one or two must have went with him. And one ran up the hill, and a friend that was with me ran up the hill across the street, from where the shots came from.” (When asked if the shots sounded loud) "Yes, they did. Just like a firecracker going off right at the car." (When asked if they seemed close by) "Yes, uh huh." (When asked where the shots came from) “Oh, just right there at you.” (When asked if this meant the shots were fired toward her) “Yes, sir... The sound popped, well it just sounded like, well, you know, there might have been a firecracker right there in that car.” (When asked again if her picture was taken before the shot) “Evidently, at the minute that is, that it hit him because, uh, he was, he was looking, at me, or I mean, he was looking, you know, at the people when my picture came out. They just, just slumped over, so I must have got it. (words, unintelligible).” (When asked if this is shown in her picture) “Yes, uh huh. You could tell he’s clutched. He’s bent over, and she’s…and she hadn’t even gotten up in my picture, and she did get up, stood up, in the car.” (11-22-63 WFAA TV interview, during the evening, many hours after the shooting, as quoted in Pictures of the Pain) “My picture when I took it was at the same instant that the President was hit, and that does show in my picture…it shows the President, uh, he slumped, Jackie Kennedy was leaning towards him to see, I guess. It all happened so suddenly, I don’t think anyone realized, you know, what had happened.” (About the shots) “There was three or four real close together, and it must have been the first one that shot him, ‘cause that was the time I took the picture, and during that time after I took the picture, and the shots were still being fired, I decided I better get on the ground...I was no more than 15 foot from the car, and in the line of fire, evidently.” (When asked if Mrs. Kennedy screamed after the first shot) "I don't know about the first shot, but she did scream. She says 'My God, he's been hit' or 'He's been shot!'" (When asked if he fell in her arms) "No, I think he just slumped into the seat. She jumped up over him." (11-23-63 FBI, report based upon an 11-22-63 interview, 22H838) “She took a second photograph of the President as his automobile passed her, and just as she snapped the picture, she heard what she first thought was a firecracker and very shortly thereafter heard another similar sound which she later determined to have been gunfire. She knows that she heard two shots and possibly a third shot. She recalls seeing the President sort of “jump” and start to slump sideways in the seat, and seems to recall President Kennedy’s wife scream “My God, he’s been shot!...She recalls that the President’s car was moving at the time she took the second picture, and when she heard the shots, and has the impression that the car either stopped momentarily or hesitated and then drove off in a hurry.”
Above: Mary Moorman, at the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, shortly after the shooting.
(Interview with CBS, aired 9-27-64) “I stepped out into the street. So, I took the camera and aimed it, uh, focused it. And I stood there and looked through it for quite a few seconds, since I wanted to be sure that they were looking at me. And uh, I followed it, for, oh, so many seconds, and then I did take the picture." (Later, on Kennedy's reaction to being hit) "His arm flew up, and you know, his hair kind of jumped." (A more complete version of the same interview, as transcribed by former CBS employee Roger Feinman, and reported in his online article The Closest Living Witness, 1999) "And as they neared where we were standing, I stepped in the street in order to get a closer picture of him, and I...turned the camera I was focusing it was, oh, guess, three or four seconds that I moved with the car in order to be sure that I was getting a real clear picture for my son. And the moment that I snapped the picture was the moment of the first shot -- that’s when he was hit. He slumped at that very instant. And I stepped back up on the curb in time enough to see him shot again. He – his arm flew up and you know, his hair kind of jumped. And my first thought was, there’s a firecracker in the car and the way he jumped and moved, well, he’s trying to get away from the firecracker. And there was another shot, and I told my friend, I said, Jean, they shooting something. Get down. And I whirled around and fell and by then of course the shots were all over, and just pandemonium. Everybody was running in all directions. And I looked and Jean was gone. She had took off across the street, and I ran across to catch her and was nearly ran over by a policeman, who was trying to get off his motorcycle.” (2-15-69 testimony in the trial of Clay Shaw) “as the Presidential limousine approached me I stepped forward to observe closer in order to take a picture, that is what I planned to do and just what I did....I heard three noises and they sounded like firecrackers.”
(1997 interview on KRLD, as posted online by Debra Conway) "Uh, just immediately before the presidential car came into view, we were, you know, there was just tremendous excitement. And my friend who was with me ( Jean Hill ) we were right ready to take the picture. And she's not timid. She, as the car approached us, she did holler for the president. 'Mr. President, look this way!' And I stepped out off the curb into the street to take the picture and snapped it immediately. And that evidently was the first shot. You know I could hear the sound. and…" (When asked if she recognized it as a rifle shot) "Oh no. A firecracker, maybe. There was another one just immediately following which I still thought was a firecracker. And then I stepped back up on to the grassy area. I guess just, people were falling around us, you know. Knowing something was wrong. I certainly didn't know what was wrong”. (Appearance in Discovery Channel program Unsolved History: Death in Dealey Plaza, first aired 2-26-2003. Transcript provided by James Fetzer) (Moorman is standing on the grass where she is seen in the Zapruder film) "I just stepped to the, uh, to the edge here, and Jean is hollering, "Look Mr. President, look our way!" and then I snapped the picture, which was at the same instant, evidently, as the bullet hit him, not realizing that's what had happened. But I did hear a noise, and then I could see people around me falling to the ground, or running, and doing--and that led me to know that something was happening." (April, 2007 interview on KRLD) (When asked how many shots she heard) "I heard three." (When asked what they sounded like) "I stepped up to snap a picture and at the instant that I snapped a picture there was a shot. And I know I stepped back a few steps and another shot. And then there was another one shortly in a matter of seconds...The first two were closer together than the last one." (News interview found on youtube, in which Moorman discusses deciding to sell her photograph, 2008) "My thought was those are firecrackers, not shots." (When discussing her photograph) "It just so happened it was the same instant that he was hit. And that was the first shot." (On the possibility there was a shooter in front of Kennedy, on the knoll) "Whether there was or not, we may not ever know."
(5-24-11 interview conducted live on iantique.com) (When asked if she'd stepped out into the street to take a photograph of motorcycle officer McBride, before Kennedy's arrival) "Yes." (When asked if she'd stepped out into the street to take a picture of a second motorcycle officer, George Lumpkin) "Yes, I did, because he was in the middle of the street." (When describing the shooting) "I had been in the street to take the picture of Lumpkin. When the limousine turned the corner, it was coming towards me and I focused--I don't know if I focused--but I looked in the camera to watch the car as it approached, and uh looking up the area, waiting for him to get close enough and Jean hollered 'Mr. President look this way, we want to take a picture!' As I thought he was where I wanted it to be, I snapped the picture. And at the same time I snapped the picture I heard a sound. And I just uh, I had my picture taken, I was not holding the camera in front of my face. And I heard two more sounds, which I thought were firecrackers." (When asked if she'd stepped into the street to take the photo of Kennedy) "I'm pretty sure that I had stepped back just onto the very edge of the curb, to get off the street, onto the grass." (When asked again about the first shot) "I heard that while the camera was still up in my face. I heard a noise. I heard a sound." (When asked about this shot in comparison to her taking her picture.) "At the same time... Seconds or...awfully quick." (When asked if she heard a second shot.) "I did. Immediately. It was like Pow...Pow Pow. Y'know it was that quick. And, this second shot, I was looking at this man, and my thought was 'I saw his hair jump.' Well, it was his head, y'know, the hair." (When asked if she thought he'd been hit by the first shot) "Yes." (And the second shot.) "Not sure about the second shot other than that I did see something happen to him." (When asked about a third shot.) "I heard three shots." (When asked to confirm that she didn't hear the two shots prior to the head shot described by most writers) "That's right. I guess not. And if there was a first shot, I don't think I would stand there and then take a picture, knowing that I'd heard something." (When asked if she could have been mistaken about the sounds.) "Well, yes, I thought they were firecrackers. I did not know there was a gunshot, no." (When asked if the motorcycles had been backfiring) "No." (When asked if the limo slowed down.) "It slowed down almost if not to a stop, and I saw Jackie. She hollered 'Oh, my God, he's been shot!' I heard that. And I saw her start to climb out over that car." (When asked when the limo slowed down) "After all the shots. There was no more shots." (When asked if she had a sense where the shots had come from.) "I did not." (When asked if she'd seen any shots hit the windshield.) "No, I did not. (Or the pavement.) "No, I did not." (When asked if she had a sense that some of what she'd heard were echoes.) "No, I didn't. I'm not accustomed to hearing shots." (When asked about Jean Hill's claim in her book that a SS agent stole Mary's photos from her--Jean Hill's--pocket.) "It didn't happen." (When asked whether Jean Hill had ever mentioned to her that she'd seen smoke or a man with a rifle on the grassy knoll--as she was later to claim.) "No, she did not." (When asked if she'd noticed anything on 11-22-63 that she now considers suspicious.) "I have no idea." (When asked why she didn't testify before the Warren Commission) "I just told them that I'd turned my ankle and couldn't go, and I never heard from them ever again." (On whether she thinks the Zapruder film coincides with her recollections) "Not really. I appreciate it...It does show that I was there." (If she has an opinion on whether there was more than one shooter.) "No. But I believe there's a whole lot more to the story than what's been told. I don't know about how many shooters or don't really care other than to know for sure what's happened." (3-5-13 interview by Larry Sabato as presented in The Kennedy Half-Century, 2013) "Moorman told me that she does not recall seeing anything out of the ordinary behind the fence, and she is not at all convinced her famous photograph reveals a second shooter." (Interview of Moorman shown in The Kennedy Half-Century, first broadcast on PBS, 11-4-13) "I'd stepped out into the street twice to take pictures of the motorcycle policemen...The car got closer to us and Jean yelled 'Mr. President, look this way' and about that time, I snapped the picture." (The camera then shows the Moorman photo) "That was the first shot that I heard. I heard Jackie--you know we were so close--and then she said 'Oh, my God, he's been shot.' Well, on the second shot that I heard, I thought how'd some of that man's hair jump? And I'll never forget that as long as I live. It was not his hair jumping, it was his head." (11-18-13 article on Moorman in the Richmond Times-Dispatch) "To this day, she is certain that it was the first shot that hit Kennedy’s head. 'It’s real vivid in my mind, exactly what I saw of what I felt like was taking place. I have not forgotten any of the details,' she said. When the Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman, Moorman wasn’t convinced. 'I really don’t know what exactly happened, but I do know there is bound to be a lot more to the story that hasn’t been told,' she said. 'I was hoping it would come out in my lifetime, but who knows. So much has been hidden by the government; anything can take place and it can be hidden. Oswald probably wasn’t a lone person, he probably had backers. I really do think it was a conspiracy,' she said." (Video accompanying the article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, presumably posted on its website on 11-18-13, and then posted on youtube via the JFK Assassination Forum, 11-20-13) "As it got closer to us, Jean hollered 'Look this way, Mr. President, we want to take your picture.' And then as it got closer to us, I put the camera up to my face, to focus, to be able to snap the picture when I thought it was time. And when I snapped the picture, I heard what I thought was a firecracker. And, then people, I could feel that people were falling on the ground and I really didn't know what was happening. But I guess in the second or third shot (I said) 'Get down, Jean, something is happening." And it was over with. We did hear Jackie holler "Oh my God, he's been shot!" And she started to climb out over the back of the car. We were right there, saw it, so close." (11-22-13 article in The New York Post) "She promised her son a picture of President Kennedy, but the world got to see it first. Dallas housewife Mary Ann Moorman’s son, Ricky, then 11, wanted to go with her to watch the motorcade, “but he had school,” she said. So Moorman — now Mary Ann Krahmer — and her friend Jean Hill picked a spot on the plaza where they thought they could get a good view of Kennedy and his glamorous wife Jackie, because “we wanted to really see what she looked like up close.” “The crowd up the way began to get louder, so we knew that the president was coming in our direction,” she recalled. “As the car turned the corner and came down past us, Jean hollered, ‘Mr. President, look this way, we want to take your picture.’ And I put the camera up and snapped the picture when I thought he was looking at me.” As it turned out, Krahmer snapped the shutter on her Polaroid instant camera a split second after Kennedy was hit by the first of two bullets. “I thought I saw his hair jump. Well, that was not his hair — it was the back of his head being blown off,” she said. Moments later, “this guy came up behind me and said, ‘Someone said you just took a picture,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I did, it’s still in the camera.’ I pulled the picture out and he looked at it and said, ‘Could you go with me to the reporters’ office over in the county building?’ He was a reporter for the Times Herald,” she recalled. Once there, her picture vanished, only to be returned later by the sheriff — after it had gone out on the news wires, later to be dubbed the “Moorman photo.” Last week, Krahmer, 81, put the famed picture up for auction, but it was taken off the block after bidders failed to meet her reserve price." (4-28-17 interview with David Von Pein, quoted on his website) (When asked about the timing of her photo in comparison to the fatal shot) "The shot was as I snapped the photo. On the second and third sounds, I did see what I thought at first, his hair "jump" and like "smoke" or "mist" at the same time. It wasn't his hair, it was his head! I certainly wasn't into taking pictures and hearing the noise which I thought was firecrackers, I sensed people crouching on the ground I realized something terrible was happening. I did tell Jean to get down and we both crouched down for a few seconds before the limo sped away." (Appearance at the JFK Lancer Conference, 11-18-17) "I heard the first noise with the camera in my face as I was taking the picture...I heard two more shots." (On the distance between the second and third shots) (The third shot followed) "Immediately...pow-pow" (On the claim the limo stopped) "I don't recall that it ever came to--it was slow. It was barely moving, but it never came to a complete stop." (She was also asked about standing in the street when she took her pictures and repeated that she was standing in the street when she took a picture of the motorcade approaching but stepped back up onto the curb as it neared and was standing on the grass as the limo passed and she took her famous picture.) Analysis: as Mrs. Moorman took her famous Polaroid at frame 315, the first shot she heard would have to have been the head shot. She then describes a shot after this, but before she heard Jackie yell out. In this she is probably mistaken, as Skelton and Summers and her friend Jean Hill remember Jackie yelling out just before this shot. While she has been inconsistent on the number of shots she heard, she has been consistent in that the first shot she heard was the shot captured in her photo (at frame 315) and that she heard another shot (or two) just after this shot. Did not hear the first shot. Last two shots (or more) bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot).
Here's a gif put together by Robin Unger from the Zapruder film, which shows just how close Mary Moorman (in blue) and Jean Hill (in red) were to JFK at Z-313. That's Toni Foster in the background.
And here's a repeat of the Muchmore film, sized to match the clip above, to help one see how all these pieces fit together.
Note that at the time of the fatal head shot, Kennedy was just past Moorman and Hill in the Zapruder film, but just in front of Moorman and Hill in the Muchmore film. This proves that Muchmore was not directly opposite Zapruder, but well off to his left as he faced Moorman and Hill.
Now here's Jean Hill in a photo taken by her friend Mary Moorman upon their arrival at Dealey Plaza, 11-22-63.
Jean Hill, the woman in red in the Zapruder film, stood just east of her friend, Mary Moorman, who wore blue. (Note: a number of the quotes to follow come from Peter Whitmey's excellent article on Hill, The Lady in Red.) (11-22-63 article in the Dallas Times-Herald) "Mrs. Jean Hill...said the motorcade stopped suddenly then swiftly sped on with the sirens blowing. 'I thought I saw someone in the motorcade in street dress shoot back at a person running up the hill. The motorcade kept on going at the usual rate of speed for a second and then sped up. Some of the motorcycle policemen sped up and some stopped. I didn't see anyone get in the car with the President. I didn't see anyone else in the car. I kept looking at the President. I couldn't see any blood.'" (11-22-63 article in the Dallas Times-Herald--as quoted in Hill's subsequent book, JFK: The Last Dissenting Witness. Note: this was presumably an Evening Edition) "Standing in the street at the triangle west of the Houston and Main Street intersection, Jean Hill, of 9402 Bluff Creek, and her companion were eyewitnesses to the shooting of President Kennedy in Dallas Friday. Both heard a sequence of shots, saw the President slump over to his wife, heard the piercing scream of Mrs. Kennedy. They glanced up to see a man run up the hill across the street from them and another (near the motorcade) pepper bullets at the running figure..." (On what happened after the first shot) "Then the President looked up and just about that time he grabbed himself across the chest and looked like he was in pain. He fell toward Jackie across the seat. She said 'My God, they've shot him,' and she fell across him. I would say about six shots rang out and everybody started screaming and falling down..." (elsewhere in the article) "‘The President and his wife were looking at a little dog on the seat between them." (11-22-63 WBAP radio interview with Hill while she was waiting at the Dallas Sheriff's Department.) Gary Mack placed this as taking place around 1:02. It was re-broadcast 10 minutes later. This interview was also broadcast on WBAP TV and NBC nationwide, presumably around 1:21.) “the shots came directly across the street from us, and just as the President’s car became directly even with us…he and Jackie were looking at a dog that was in the middle of the seat, and about that time two shots rang out just as he looked up—just as the President looked up and these two shots rang out and he grabbed his chest, looked like he was in pain, and he fell over in his seat. And Jackie fell over on him and said “My God, he’s been shot!” After that more shots rang out and the car sped away...the shots came from the hill…it was just east of the underpass...(when asked if she saw anyone) I thought I saw this man running but I looked at the President and, y'know, for awhile, and I looked up there and I thought I saw a man running and so right after that--I guess I didn't have any better sense--I started running up there, too.” (Hill's 1:21 radio interview as summarized by NBC in its 1966 book There was a President) "I heard two shots ring out. The President fell over, and then Mrs. Kennedy fell over him and shouted 'My God, he's been shot.' The car speeded away, and I saw a man running back up the hill." (Note that this summary concealed that Hill said she'd heard four or more shots and that she'd thought the shots came from the hill.)
(11-22-63 statement to Dallas Sheriff’s Department, 19H479, 24H212) “The President’s car came around the corner and it was over on our side of the street. Just as Mary Moorman started to take a picture we were looking at the President and Jackie in the back seat… looking at a little dog between them. Just as the President looked up toward us two shots rang out and I saw the President grab his chest and fall forward across Jackie’s lap and she fell across his back and said “My God, he has been shot”. There was an instant pause between the first two shots and the motorcade seemingly halted for a second and three or four more shots rang out and the motorcade sped away.” (3:16 PM 11-22-63 WBAP TV interview, available on Youtube) “Just as Mary started to take the picture and the President came right even with us, two shots-- we looked at him and he was looking at a dog in the middle of the seat—two shots rang out. And he grabbed his chest, and a look of pain on his face, and he fell across towards Jackie, and she fell over on him and said "My God, he's shot!" And there was an interval and then three or four more shots rang out. By that time the motorcade had sped away.” (When asked if she saw the shooter) "No, I didn't see any person fire the weapon...I only heard it. And I looked up and I saw a man running up the hill." (When asked if she knew what had happened) "No, I had no idea. I had nothing to go by. I don't think it dawned on me for an instant that the President had been shot. I mean I knew and yet it just didn't register." (Moorman and Hill's 3:16 WBAP TV interview as summarized by NBC in its 1966 book There was a President) "Murphy interviews eyewitnesses Mary Norman and Jean Hill, who photographed the President and Mrs. Kennedy slumped over in the car. (The Polaroid snap shot appears on camera.) They describe hearing the shots ring out and Mrs. Kennedy crying 'My God, he's been shot.'" (Note that this summary concealed that Hill said she'd heard five or six shots and that she'd previously said she thought the shots came from the hill.)
(3:30 PM 11-22-63 KRLD radio interview, as transcribed by David Lifton, and posted on the Education Forum, 6-30-11) (When asked if she was 10-15 feet from the limousine, as described by Mary Moorman moments before) “Not anymore than that at all…we were looking right at the President. We were looking at his face. As Mary took the picture, I was looking at him. And he grabbed his hands cross his ch--when two shots rang out. He grabbed his hands across his chest. I have never seen anyone killed, or in pain before like that but there was this odd look came across his face, and he pitched forward onto Jackie’s lap. And, uh, she immediately, we were close enough to even hear her, and everything, and she fell across him and says, “My God, he’s been shot”… (When asked if she'd noticed the people around her) "There was no one around us on our side of the street. We had planned it that way; we wanted to be to be down [there] by ourselves. That’s the reason we had gotten almost to the Underpass, so we’d be completely in the clear." (When asked the response in the motorcade) "The motorcade was stunned after the first two shots, and it came to a momentary halt, and about that time 4 more uh, 3 to 4 more shots again rang out, and I guess it just didn’t register with me. Mary was, huh, had gotten down on the ground and was pulling at my leg, saying “Get, get down, they’re shooting, get down, they’re shooting, and I didn’t even realize it. And I just kept sitting there looking. And just about that time, well, of course, some of the motorcycles pulled away. And some of them pulled over to the side and started running up the bank. There’s a hill on the other side… And the shots came from there... After they were momentarily stopped—after the first two shots... then they sped away real quickly.” (11-22-63 WFAA TV interview, during the evening, several hours after the shooting, as found on youtube as"JFK Assassination rarely seen 22nd November 1963 Jean Hill interview") “The President and Mrs. Kennedy were in the back seat. They had a little dog between them. Looking at it. And just as the car came right in line with us, the President looked up and just as he looked up two shots rang out and he grabbed his chest and this real odd look came over his face and he pitched forward onto her lap. And she jumped up over him and screamed and said "My God, he's been shot!" And there was just an instantaneous, sort of an instant pause in the motorcade. It momentarily halted. And three or four more shots rang out and they sped away real quickly.” (Later) "When I saw the look come across his face, I knew that he'd been hit." (11-23-63 FBI report based upon an 11-22-63 interview, CD5 p35) "she heard something like a rifle shot and observed President Kennedy crumple in his seat in the automobile. She was standing nearby, as the vehicle was passing the spot where she stood at the time."
Above: Jean Hill (L) and Mary Moorman at the Sheriff's Office after the shooting.
(Interview in Rush to Judgment, filmed 2-18-64) “the consensus of opinion…down there at the quarters was that there had been only three shots…they kept sayin’ 'Are you sure it wasn’t echoes?'” (March 1964 account of Dallas Morning News reporter Kent Biffle, reporting on the witnesses he saw and heard in Dealey Plaza just after the shooting on 11-22-63) "A woman was screaming in my ear. 'President Kennedy just slumped down. Jackie jumped on the back seat'" (3-17-64 FBI report on a 3-13-64 interview, CD 897, p43-44) “Mrs. Moorman was taking photographs of the motorcade as it came into view and when the car occupied by President Kennedy was passing Mrs. Hill she recalls shouting 'Hey!' She stated that President Kennedy was looking down when she shouted and when he turned to look at her a shot rang out and he slumped towards Mrs. Kennedy. Mrs Hill heard more shots ring out and saw the hair on the back of President Kennedy’s head fly up. She stated she thought Mrs. Kennedy cried out 'Oh, my God, he's been shot!' As the President fell forward in his seat Mrs. Hill knew he he had been hit by a bullet. Mrs. Hill stated she heard from four to six shots in all and believes they came from a spot just west of the Texas School Book Depository. She thought there was slight interval between the first three shots and the remaining shots.” (3-24-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H205-223) “We were standing on the curb and I jumped to the edge of the street and yelled “Hey, we want to take your picture” to him and he was looking down in the seat—he and Mrs. Kennedy and their heads were turned toward the middle of the car looking down at something in the seat, which later turned out to be roses…as I yelled “Hey” to him, he started to bring his head up to look at me and just as he did the shots rang out. Mary took the picture and fell on the ground and of course there were more shots…I have always said there were some four to six shots. There were three shots, one right after the other, and a distinct pause, or just a moment’s pause, and then I heard more.” (11-20-65 telephone conversation with David Lifton as recounted in Best Evidence, 1980) "She was not specific, but she hinted, melodramatically, that something was being hidden. She stuck by her story that shots came from across the street from where she was standing, and characterized the Warren Report as a fraud and a hoax." (8-8-68 report of Tom Bethel and Al Oser, investigators working on behalf New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison) "Mrs. Jean Hill gave us more trouble than all of the other witnesses put together...she essentially played games with us...in general, it's difficult to form a very reliable opinion about Mrs. Hill and what kind of a person she is and what her game is...she doesn't really want to talk to anybody and told us that she didn't have to talk to us and so on. One of the few things that Mrs. Hill did concede was that she had heard from four to six shots and we showed her a part of the testimony about the direction of the shots in which she told Spector that the shots sounded like they had come from the knoll, and she read that and said that that was correct...Going over what she said about the shots again she said that there were definitely no less than four shots and may have been as many as six." (Interview presented as part of radio show Thou Shalt Not Kill, on Canadian radio station CTFR, broadcast 5-10-76, as posted on youtube by Denis Morissette) (On the number of shots) "Four to six. I know that I heard four or more...There was a time lapse. I know two seemingly came together. I know I heard one, and then I heard two more, and I feel pretty sure I heard two other disconnected shots. But they didn't sound as though they were coming from the same gun, from the same location, or the same kind of gun."
Now, up to this point, Mrs. Hill's story has been relatively consistent. She thought she'd heard four to six shots, with at least some of them coming from the grassy knoll across from where she'd been standing.
Now watch as she gets more specific, and ultimately claims she saw a muzzle flash, smoke and a gunman standing behind the picket fence.
(1978 interview with Anthony Summers, as recounted in Conspiracy, 1980) "'I heard four to six shots, and I'm pretty used to guns. They weren't echoes or anything like that. They were different guns that were being fired...The President was killed and then, of course, pandemonium reigned..and I looked up, and at the time I looked up across the street I saw smoke like from a gun coming from the parapet, that built-up part on the knoll.'" (Spring, 1987 conversation with Cyril Wecht, as recounted in Wecht's book Cause of Death, 1993) "'I was staring directly at the grassy knoll area when the shots went off,' Jean told me...'As soon as I heard the shots, I focused completely over that way because that's where I thought the shots came from,' Jean said. 'I saw two men holding guns. One was behind the picket fence. As soon as the shots were fired, the men began fleeing, and instinctively, I started following them.'" (July-August 1988 interview recounted in American History Illustrated, November 1988) "I called out, 'Hey, Mr. President, look this way! We want to take a picture!' I think he heard me. He started to turn around toward me. At that moment a shot rang out. And then more shots. Mary was taking a picture just in the midst of it. Of all the people in Dealey Plaza, I guess I was just about the nearest to the President. Part of his head blew off. There was a flash of light from that grassy knoll. I thought it was the good guys and the bad guys. Shots from the back. Then, shooting from the front. I believe I heard four to six shots in all. Mary tried to pull me to the ground. I stood there. I wanted to find out what was happening. People seemed frozen at first. Then I noticed one man, though, moving from the front of the Depository building, hurrying towards that parking lot behind the grassy knoll. He had on a hat and an overcoat. I went back there looking for him. Then a guy in plain clothes came up to me and flashed some I.D. on me. He said he was with the Secret Service. He said, 'You need to come with me' - and took me over to the Sheriff's office to question me." (Interview in TV special Who Murdered JFK?, first broadcast 11-2-88) "I saw a man moving. He was the only thing in the whole area that was moving. And he was moving away--toward the tracks--from in front of the school book depository, rather quickly. And something said to me 'Go get him.'" (11-22-88 televised interview with Geraldo Rivera) (When asked why she raced up the knoll) "As the series of shots rang out, I thought I saw someone firing from the grassy knoll, from the fence behind there." (After being reminded that the Warren Commission had concluded no shots were fired from the knoll) "I heard the shots ringing out. I looked -of course -I was looking around. My friend Mary got down on the ground and said 'Get down, they're shooting.' But I was too caught up in the moment and all this is taking place so quickly. And there was a rifle blast from behind the fence on the grassy knoll." (Interview with Jim Marrs recounted in Crossfire, published 1989) "I knew he'd never look our way because all the other people were on the other side of the street, so I jumped out in the street and yelled, 'Hey, Mr. President, look this way. We want to take your picture.' As he began turning toward us, he was hit. Then a bullet hit his head and took the top off. Mary fell to the ground and shouted, 'Get down, they're shooting!' But being young and dumb, I kept standing for a minute trying to see where the shots came from. It was eerie. Everything seemed frozen. I saw a man fire from behind the wooden fence. I saw a puff of smoke and some sort of movement on the grassy knoll where he was."
(11-16-91 AP article on the 1991 ASK assassination conference found in the Victoria Advocate) "Jean Hill, a schoolteacher playing "hooky" that November day, said she yelled "Hey. Mr. President, I want to take your picture." Then shots rang out. "I thought there was more than one shooter," she said." (11-17-91 Dallas Morning News article by Todd Copilevitz on Hill's appearance at the ASK conference) "Ms. Hill, a third-grade teacher from H.S. Thompson Learning Center, told of persuading a police officer to let her and a friend stand in the median so they could get a better look at the president. 'Well, actually there were a couple cute motorcycle officers that we were interested in, and they couldn't see us if we were in a crowd,' she said. The two women were looking at the book depository and the grassy knoll on Elm Street west of the depository - where conspiracy theorists believe the fatal shot came from -when the shots started to ring out. Ms. Hill insists that she saw two gunmen, including one who was firing from behind a picket fence on the knoll. She decided to chase one of the men as he ran, but two men in trench coats grabbed her by the shoulder and instead took her to the Dallas County Records Building. There, she said they disputed her account of hearing four to six shots, and then issued a stern warning: 'You would be very wise to keep your mouth shut,' she recalled one of the men telling her. 'I never have been that wise, I guess.'" (11-21-91 Dallas Morning News article on a showing of Oliver Stone's JFK) "Also at Prestonwood, assassination eyewitness Jean Hill answered questions from moviegoers and signed autographs. Ms. Hill stood on Elm Street across from the Texas School Book Depository when the shooting occurred. She was one of numerous witnesses who said they saw shots from a grassy knoll west of the depository building. "I'm the one who named it "the grassy knoll,' too,' she said." (December, 1991 appearance on the Maury Povich Show) "We got caught up in it and I dashed out to the edge of the street, and I started to touch the car, and you just don't do things like that. And I yelled "Hey, Mr. President...And just as he started to turn and look at me, and his hand came up, I thought, to wave, then all of a sudden the shots rang out and he grabbed his throat. And it was just horrible. There was a series of shots, and I saw the flash of light and a puff of smoke from the knoll in front of us" (When reminded by Povich that the Warren Commission said no shots came from there) "Oh, I saw it...Oh, I did...I know someone was shooting from there." (When asked how far she was from the car) "Oh, at one time I could have touched the car." (When asked how far she was when the shots were fired) "I had jumped back up on the curb, just a little further than I am from you." (Which would be about 3 feet) (When asked if she'd seen a man) "I just saw the smoke and the light from the knoll where I knew someone had shot. And at that instant, his head was blown off. And the blood and the brains and all that, this made a red cloud around Mr. Kennedy's head. And the blood and everything splattered my boyfriend's motorcycle. And it was just horrible. It was something you never forget. I just saw this look in his eyes that, and his head was gone." (When asked about seeing a man) "And I looked up and I saw this man right in front of me at the top of the hill, and he was walking very fast back to where I had seen the gun--(correcting herself) had seen someone shooting, and I thought 'He's getting away." And there were so many--and the shots were ringing out. I said at least four to six...I'd heard that many, but I thought it was just the good guys and the bad guys shooting back, and I thought "You must be a bad guy because you're running away, and we're not. And I thought 'I've gotta catch him. Somebody's gotta catch him.' I ran across the motorcade, and ran up on the hill back into the parking lot, looking for him. And when I got up there, a man grabbed me from behind on my shoulder--he had an extremely painful grip--and said 'You're coming with me.' And I said 'I can't. I've gotta catch this man. Help me.' And he had shown me some ID. Secret Service...I jerked away from him twice. But about the time I jerked away the second time, another man came and grabbed this side and they had me held--it was so painful...And he just said 'I want your pictures'...I told him I didn't have any...And he just ran his hand in the correct pocket and came up with my pictures...They told me to walk and act as though we're your boyfriends...and they took me into this place in the Records Building, Courts Building, up on about the fourth floor. And they just opened a door and shoved me in there, and there were these men sitting there at a table at a window overlooking--it was like a theater seat--and you could see the whole thing, the whole assassination site." (December, 1991 appearance on the Today Show, as recounted by Peter Whitmey in his 1994 article The Lady in Red) (When asked what she saw) "someone shooting from the knoll, from back behind the fence..a flash of light and a puff of smoke."
Above: Jean Hill in 1992, pointing out the location of a shooter she in fact had never seen.
(1-22-92 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey show) (A scene is played from the movie JFK, in which the woman playing Hill claims: "And then shots rang out. Mary fell to the ground right away. She yelled they're shooting, they're shooting get down. I just stood there watching. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of light in the bushes and that last shot just ripped his head off. I looked up and I saw smoke coming from over there on the knoll." Hill is then asked to describe the shooting.) "Well it's exactly like he portrays it in the movie. The motorcade comes around. I did see the flash of light, the puff of smoke, at the moment the President's head was ripped off." (Oprah then asks "Over on the...") "The grassy knoll, which I, by the way, named it." (Interview with James Earl Jones in the television production The JFK Conspiracy, Spring, 1992) "Just as my friend started to take a Polaroid picture of the President, as his car was coming abreast, the shots rang out. I mean, I'd jumped out into the street to yell at him to look this way, and shots rang out. He grabbed his throat, and that was the horrible head shot." (When asked how many shots she'd heard) "4 to 6." (When asked if she'd seen a gunman) "I saw smoke, a puff of smoke, and a flash of light from the knoll, where someone was shooting from behind the fence." (JFK: The Last Dissenting Witness, 1992, co-written with Bill Sloan ) "Hey, Mr. President," Jean shouted impulsively when the car was almost abreast of her. 'Look Over here. We want to take your picture.' In her desperation and excitement. she stepped off the curb into the street as she spoke, almost touching the front fender of the limousine before she instinctively drew back...What a great picture this is going to be, Jean thought, as Mary raised her camera. She sighted through the viewfinder, and... CRACK!...almost simultaneously, Jean heard a shot. Mary hesitated as an expression of pain and confusion crossed the president's face. His hands jerked convulsively toward his throat. CRACK! Jean saw the president driven backward and sideways as a second shot struck him with tremendous force. The whole back of his head appeared to explode and a cloud of blood-red mist filled the air and spattered on the windshield of J.B.'s motorcycle. Approximately an eighth of a second later (as investigators would later determine), as the President was falling toward his wife, Mary clicked the shutter of the Polaroid. Then Jean heard Jackie Kennedy's anguished cry: 'My God, they've shot my husband!' ...'Jean, get down!' Mary screamed, as she and the other panicked bystanders nearby threw themselves to the ground...Jean stood there, immobilized by the shock of what she had seen, while her friend tugged desperately at her legs. On the other side of the street, at the top of the little green mound universally known today as the 'grassy knoll,' Jean had seen an incredible sight...A muzzle flash, a puff of smoke, and the shadowy figure of a man holding a rifle, barely visible above the wooden fence at the top of the knoll, still in the very act of murdering the president of the United States." (6-28-92 article in the Baton Rouge Advocate on a promotional appearance by Hill at a bookstore) "Hill still recalls those historic moments of horror when she was standing just a few feet from the limousine carrying President John Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally. She has replayed the scene in her mind's eye countless times: calling out to Kennedy to get him to turn his head so her friend, Mary, could snap his picture; Mary snapping the camera just as a bullet struck the President's head, spraying blood and brain tissue in a fine mist over the occupants of the car and the windshields of the motorcycle patrolmen following closely behind the limo. Hill pointed to her image in the Orville Nix photo of the moment Kennedy was shot. She was to the left of the car, which was moving to the left. To her right, directly behind the car, was the school book depository. She said she clearly saw a man across the street, in the direction toward which the car was moving, firing a rifle at the President--from the front. Everybody else was diving for the protection of the ground; Hill set off to see who was shooting at the President. "I don't know why I did that," she said...When she reached the fence on the other side of the grassy knoll, she saw a policeman holding a rifle. She thought that was odd, since no other police officers had rifles, but she assumed people in uniforms were good guys--and this man with the rifle was therefore a good guy." (Interview in documentary Beyond JFK, 1992) "I jumped out in the street, and, y'know, started yelling at him 'Hey, Mr. President, look this way. We want to take your picture.' And about that time, the shots rang out." (Later) "And I jumped back up on the curb, and his head was blown off right in front of me." (Later, while pointing to a location on the west side of the white pergola on the north side of Elm Street. This location is to the northeast of the tree behind the picket fence, and approximately 40 feet northeast of the corner of the fence, where many theorists assume the assassin was located.) "It was right up there. The man was shooting from right, just this side of that tree, that large tree. And that's where I saw the shots come from." (Later) "The Warren Commission says that it happened from the school book depository, right up there in that corner window. But I don't know about that. I don't know anything about those shots up there. All I know is what I saw on the knoll. And I definitely saw the man shooting from the knoll." (Interview broadcast in CBS program Who Killed JFK: the Final Chapter?, 11-19-93) "The shots started ringing out. I looked up across the street behind the picket fence up there by the tree. Right there in the bushes this man was shooting with a rifle and I saw a puff of smoke and a flash of light at the very instant that Kennedy's head exploded." (11-19-93 article in USA Today) "Adds Jean Hill, a 62-year-old Dallas schoolteacher who says she was the closest spectator to Kennedy when he suffered the fatal head shot: 'At the very instant that Kennedy's head exploded, I saw a rifle flash and a puff of smoke on the grassy knoll behind the picket fence.' She says she saw 'the outline' of the shooter, although no one reported spotting a second gunman at the time of the killing."
(Interview on Black Op Radio, 6-15-00) (When asked where she thought the shots came from) "I saw a shooter behind the fence on the grassy knoll, and the debris and so forth, the blood and the brains, hit my boyfriend's helmet and he was riding (a pause, to which Len Osanic adds 'to the rear left,' to which she adds) "right." (When it was repeated that she thought the shots came from the front) "Yes, I saw the man." (When asked if she saw a puff of smoke) "a puff of smoke, a flash of light from the rifle. I caught a glimpse of someone up there." (When discussing the possibility she would have been hit) "We were within ten feet of the car." (When discussing the shots from the sniper's nest) "I feel like those shots were just to get attention and get people looking in the wrong direction. And I think they succeeded." (When asked what the shots sounded like) "It sounded like gunfire, yes...I knew immediately it was gunshots. I never thought it was firecrackers... (When asked how many shots she heard) "4 to 6. I know that I heard 4 and as many as 6." (When asked what she was looking at) "I was actually watching Kennedy...I was following his head, and just as his head blew off is when I saw the flash of light from in front of him...So I knew it was a shot that came from the front." (When asked if she saw the limousine stop during the shooting) "I know it was hardly moving, if not stopped at one point."(When discussing the possibility limousine driver William Greer shot Kennedy) "I have no idea what happened in the car." (When asked if she was in the street or on the grass at the time of the head shot) "I was right at the curb. I had been out in the street but was back on the curb at the time of the shots." (When asked where the limo was in relation to her at the time of the shots) "Just before me but the head shot was right in line with me." (When asked if she noticed anything in the Z-film that was at variance with her recollections) "I think it goes along with what I said." (Undated interview broadcast in Inside JFK's Assassination, 2013) "I jumped toward the car and yelled 'Hey, we want to take your picture.' And just at the instant he started to raise his head, the shot rang out and he slumped forward."
Analysis: Jean Hill’s early statements described 2 quick shots, one as Mary Moorman took her picture and one after Jackie cried out, and then 2 or more shots after a pause. As virtually no one else claimed to hear shots after a pause after the head shot, it seems possible Ms. Hill was hearing the echoes of the two loud shots she'd just heard. The possibility of her having super-human hearing is refuted by the fact that she failed to hear even one shot before the head shot. By the late 80's, however, she tried to correct this problem by changing her story. She now described a first shot a moment before the head shot and the taking of Moorman's famous photograph. However, as the car at the moment of Kennedy's first being wounded was nowhere near being abreast of Hill, as claimed in her book, and as she could not possibly have "almost touched" the fender of a car some twenty yards in front of her, it's clear these later additions to her story are nonsense. Her sudden recollection that she saw a shooter on the knoll is even more curious. Did not hear the first shot. Last two shots (or more) bunched together (with the last shot after the head shot).
While the identities of the two women on the south side of the street in this crop from the Bronson photo (Mary Moorman and Jean Hill) have been known since 11-22-63, and have been widely publicized, the identities of the women across from them on the north side of the street (to the right of the Newman family) remain a rarely-explored mystery. (The other witnesses in this photo include Charles Brehm, his son Joe, and the Babushka Lady along Elm on the right, and Toni Foster and three unidentified witnesses in the foreground.)
Cheryl McKinnon was long presumed to have been the woman sitting on the grass in the Wiegman film and Bond photos taken just after the shooting. She was identified as such by Gary Mack in 1983. This woman can also be seen standing second to the left of the Newmans in the Bronson photo, above. (That is, the woman facing the camera near the middle of the photo.) In 2013, however, a woman named Karen Moore came forward claiming this woman was her mother, Doris Mumford. She had photos, moreover, of Mumford which greatly resembled the woman in question. This casts considerable doubt over Mack's ID of McKinnon. It seems possible then that McKinnon was the other woman (From an 11-22-83 article in the San Diego Star News) “On Nov. 22, 1963, I stood, along with hundreds of others, on the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza waiting for just one thing--a chance to see, even for just a moment, that magical person, the president, John F. Kennedy...As we stood watching the motorcade turn onto Elm Street, I tried to grasp every detail…Suddenly three shots in rapid succession rang out. Myself and dozens of others standing nearby turned in horror toward the back of the Grassy Knoll where it seemed the sounds had originated. Puffs of white smoke still hung in the air in patches. But no one was visible. Turning back to the street, now suddenly frightened, I suddenly realized the President was no longer sitting up in the seat waving to the crowd. He was slumped over to his wife whose facial expression left no doubt as to what had occurred…the only thing I am absolutely sure of today is that at least two of the shots fired that day in Dealey Plaza came from behind where I stood on the knoll, not from the book depository.” Analysis: her description of the shots is a little too vague to come to any conclusions. Intriguingly, McKinnon, as Beverly Oliver, took many years before coming forward. One should wonder then if their recollections of smoke on the knoll are accurate or are something they picked up along the way. Too vague. Saw smoke on the knoll.
Here's McKinnon 20 years after the shooting.
Here's the woman in the Wiegman film Gary Mack claimed was McKinnon.
And here are two of the photos posted online by Karen Moore, the daughter of Doris Mumford, to prove the woman in the Wiegman film was, in fact, her mother.
Doris Mumford is believed to be the actual identity of the woman long presumed to have been Cheryl McKinnon. (11-23-63 article in the New York Herald-Tribune. This account was written by Douglas Kiker, who'd been riding in the first press bus. The negro man in his story is presumed to be John Chism. The fainting woman in his story is presumed to be Mumford.) "A negro man who had been standing in front of the building where the shots were fired picked up his small child and ran. Police chased him. Two white women standing beside the negro fell to the ground, and one said later she fainted." (8-22-13 post by Karen Moore on the JFK Assassination Forum) "I am new to this forum and want to clarify who I believe to be the "Woman in the Sunglasses" to the right of the Newmans in the Wiegman video. I do not believe I can post photos, it appears. I have no doubt in my mind that it is my Mother. Some have identified the woman as Cheryl McKinnon. Today I read a post back in 2011 that stated Ms. McKinnon was located elsewhere which confirms my belief even further. At this point, since there seems to be those that have identified the woman in the past as Ms. McKinnon, I feel it is time to clear this as I would not want another name associated with my Mother in an historical situation." (8-22-13 post by Karen Moore on the JFK Assassination Forum) "My Mother had lived and worked in downtown Dallas for a number of years. What has been shared with me is as follows: Mother was taking off of work to travel to Ft. Worth. She wanted to stop and see the President and Mrs. Kennedy as they drove through the city. Why she picked this particular area to view the Kennedys I do not know. What I do know is that she said "I heard three shots and saw the life leave the President's face." She said the shots came from behind her. Mother indicated later that she had nightmares of which she did not share. She would not speak of the event after that. I personally did see the Executive Action movie when it came out and when she appeared full screen (the photo of the Wiegman video) I jumped and screamed "That's my Mother!" That was the first moment I saw the photo facing ahead; it had always been the rear view (and later, the side profiles). Mother indicated at one time that SMU wanted to talk to her and I do not know what took place; I am not sure at this time if she cooperated."
Analysis: Moore's ID of her mother seems credible but for one point; her mother supposedly told her she'd seen the life leave Kennedy's face. The woman in question could not have seen Kennedy's face at the time of the fatal shot, and would presumably have been looking at the back of his head. Perhaps, then, she was describing the look on Kennedy's face in response to the first shot. Too vague.
Now back to the south side.
Here's Charles Brehm in the Zapruder film, still clapping although the President has already been hit. Brehm's son Joe is by his side. The woman behind him--sometimes called the Babushka Lady--appears to be filming--in fact, her camera may be flashing in this very frame. The women at far right are, of course, the woman in red, Jean Hill, and the woman in blue. Mary Moorman. (Image courtesy Jerry Organ.)
Charles Brehm and his small son Joe were several yards to the right of Mary Moorman and Jean Hill and can be seen in the Zapruder, Nix and Muchmore films, as well as the Bronson and Bond photos. (11-22-63 notes on an interview of Brehm by Dallas Times-Herald reporter Darwin Payne immediately after the shooting, as presented in The Zapruder Film by David Wrone, 2003) "The shots came from in front of or beside of the President." (11-22-63 article in the Dallas Times Herald) "A sobbing carpet salesman told police minutes after the shooting the president appeared to have been hit twice. 'The first time he slumped and the second one really blasted him.' These were the words of Charles Drehm... 'After the first shot, the President's wife rose slightly to hold the President and they both went down in the second shot. He was definitely hit badly,' Mr. Drehm said. Mr. Drehm said the President was half-standing, waving to the crowd, when he heard the first of two shots. He said after the President was knocked down, apparently by the second shot, the President's car roared underneath the triple underpass." (Later in the article) "The witness Drehm was shaking uncontrollably as he further described the shooting. 'The first shot must not have been too solid, because he just slumped. Then on the second shot he seemed to fall back.' Drehm seemed to think the shots came from in front of or beside the President. He explained the President did not slump forward as he would have after being shot from the rear. The book depository building stands in the rear of the President's location at the time of the shooting...Drehm said he was within 10 feet of the President at the time of the shooting. 'It was definitely a rifle,' he said." (11-22-63 UPI article by Merriman Smith found in the Pittsburgh Press) "Charles Brehm, 38, was standing in the crowd at curbside about fifteen feet away as the President's car approached. 'He was waving and the first shot hit him, and then that awful look crossed his face,' Brehm said.” (11-22-63 KRLD news report, around 2:00 PM CST) "A man named Charles Brehm was standing in the big crowd at curbside about fifteen feet away as the President's car approached. Brehm said 'He was waving and the first shot hit him, and that awful look crossed his face." (11-22-63 phoned-in interview first broadcast around 2:15 on NBC affiliate WBAP TV. The film of this interview is broadcast a bit later, around 3:16 PM) “Unfortunately I was probably 15-20 feet away from the President when it happened… He was coming down the Street and my five-year old boy and myself were by ourselves on the grass there on Commerce Street. And I asked Joe to wave to him and Joe waved and I waved (breaks up)…as he was waving back, the shot rang out and he slumped down in his seat and his wife reached up toward him as he was slumping down and the second shot went off and it just knocked him down in the seat." (When the interviewer interjects 'Two shots?') "Two shots." (When asked if he saw the shooter) "No, sir, I did not see the man who did it. All I did was look in the man's face when he was shot there and saw that expression on his face and he grabbed himself and slide, and the second one whenever it went--I’m positive that it hit him--I hope it didn't--but I'm positive it hit him and he went all the way down in the car. Then they speeded up and I didn't know what was going on so I just grabbed the boy and fell on him in hopes that there wasn't a maniac around.” (Brehm's 2:15 radio interview as summarized by NBC in its 1966 book There was a President. Note: in this book, Brehm is repeatedly presented as Brend) "I was 15-20 feet away from the President. I was holding my five year-old son, and I told him to wave at the President as he passed by. The President waved back (Brend's voice breaks) and the next thing I knew a shot rang out and the President slumped down. I didn't see the man who did it. I will never forget it. I fell on the ground, and then I fell on my son to protect him for fear the lunatic would shoot anyone around." (Note that by 1966 the belief was that the first shot missed and the third shot knocked Kennedy down in the car and that NBC's paraphrasing of Brehm's words conceals that Brehm saw Kennedy get knocked down by the second shot.)
(11-22-63 (KLIF) radio interview found on the internet. The exact time for this interview has not yet been determined.) “I happened to be about fifteen feet away from the President when the first shot hit him. There is some discussion now as to whether there was one or two shots that hit him, but the first shot rang out and I was positive when I saw the look on his face and saw him grab his chest and saw the reaction of his wife that he had been shot and just at that time, which was probably a few seconds later the second shot rang out and he just absolutely went down into the seat of the car. There was a third shot that went and by that time I had grabbed my little five year old boy who was with me and ran away from the scene of the thing. But the only thing that I did witness and something I'm sorry I did witness very honestly was the look on his face when that shot hit, and the look again on him and his wife's face when the shots started to ring out. And it was very obviously that he was hit. The first two shots that were heard. The first one hit the president—there was no doubt whatsoever--because his face winced and he grabbed himself and he slumped down. I do believe without any doubt that the second one hit him because he had an immediate reaction with that second shot. I do know there was a third shot but as I said by that time I had grabbed my boy and started to go. I did not witness Governor Connally’s being hit.”
Now, aside from Mary Moorman, the only other known eyewitness still standing around in the Cancellare photo shown above was Brehm and his son, Joe. Here they are in the photo.
(11-23-63 article in the Houston Post, under the byline Charles Brehm as told to Charles Schneider. As Brehm uses the word "today" in this story, one can only presume it was written on the 22nd.) "The President was about 20 feet from us. I pointed at the President and told Joe again, 'There's the President.' And Joe waved. Suddenly, Mr. Kennedy turned and looked squarely at me and Joe and waved to us. He was looking squarely at Joe and me when the first shot rang out. He was smiling and gracious. When the first shot rang out, I knew what had happened. I've been in war and been shot myself. He jolted and a look of pain and anguish spread across his face. He folded his arms and clutched them and slumped downward. He sort of grasped at himself. It was plain that he knew what had happened. By the time the second shot was fired, Mrs. Kennedy had realized what was in progress. When the second shot struck him, he jolted violently and slumped deeper. Mrs. Kennedy was bending over him, cradling his head in her arms. I grabbed the boy and started running. I didn't know if it was an organized gang or a bunch of maniacs or what. Though stories differ as to whether the President was struck once or twice, I know from my own that there were two violent reactions as the shots rang clear. When the first shot hit him, I knew what had happened. But I didn't want to believe it. I'm not glad I went today. It's pretty damn sickening that this sort of thing happens in a so-called civilized world." (11-24-63 interview with the FBI, 22H837-838) ‘‘He and his son stood right at the curb on the grass and saw the President’s car take a wide swing as it turned left into Elm Street. When the President’s automobile was very close to him and he could see the President’s face very well, the President was seated, but was leaning forward when he stiffened perceptibly, at the same instant what appeared to be a rifle shot sounded. According to Brehm, the President seemed to stiffen and come to a pause when another shot sounded and the President appeared to be badly hit in the head. Brehm said when the President was hit by the second shot, he could notice the President’s hair fly up and then roll over to his side, as Mrs. Kennedy was apparently pulling him in that direction. Brehm said that a third shot followed and that all three shots were relatively close together. Brehm stated that he was in military service and has had experience with bolt-action rifles and he expressed his opinion that the three shots were fired just about as quickly as an individual can maneuver a bolt-action rifle, take aim, and fire three shots. Brehm stated he definitely knew that the President had been shot and he recalled having seen blood on the President's face. He also stated that it seemed quite apparent to him that the shots came from one of two buildings back at the corner of Elm and Houston Streets. Immediately after the third shot rang out, Brehm pushed his son down on the grass and for the moment was more concerned with the safety of his son who might be hit by any wild gunfire which might follow. Brehm expressed the opinion that between the first and third shots, the president’s car only traveled some 10 to 12 feet. It seemed to him that the automobile almost came to a halt after the first shot, but of this he is not certain. After the third shot, the car in which the president was riding increased its speed and went under the freeway underpass.”
Now here's a William Allen photo of Brehm being interviewed in Dealey Plaza. This is still just a few minutes after the shooting. The school book depository is in the background. It is presumed that Brehm has lifted his right hand while demonstrating the explosion of Kennedy's skull. The man facing the camera at far right is assassination witness James Tague.
(12-1-63 article in the Philadelphia Bulletin) "As the President passed him about 20 feet away, Brehm said, he heard the first shot. It was 12:32 PM. 'He (the President) stiffened,' said Brehm. 'He had been sitting forward on the seat, not sitting deep back. He seemed to straighten out--as if digging his heels into the floor of the car.' The President's hand came up slowly to his neck, said Brehm. 'He gave a cringe of pain,' he said. This was not the bullet which caused the massive head wound, said Brehm. 'I saw what the next bullet to hit him did to his head,' he said. So this first bullet was the one which entered the President's body at the neckline, and, perhaps splintering, left a wound in his neck just below his Adam's apple near his necktie, and coursed down into his chest. Both Brehm and Truly, who was standing in front of the depository, thought that at this moment the limousine swerved--or 'jerked' as Brehm put it--to the left as if about to speed away. Then, however, Brehm said, it seemed to lose momentum--'almost as if the driver had taken his foot off the gas.' Maybe I was just imagining it,' said Brehm. 'Maybe I thought it was swerving because I just wanted that thing (the limousine) to leap out of there--get out fast.' And then, for a long few seconds, there seemed to be silence. There seemed to be no immediate awareness of what happened. Brehm said the President's smile was 'sagging.' He had a pain-stricken look on his face,' he said. The President was still sitting straight, said Brehm. It wasn't until the President was hit again that he slumped against his wife, and she took his head in her arms. 'He seemed to be conscious that something terrible had happened to him,' said Brehm. 'It didn't look like it knocked him out.' Two facts of hideous portent emerge from the stories told by Brehm and others. The President's head was still visible above the leather upholstered seat of the limousine to the eye on the other side of the telescopic sight. Also, the car was still moving at 15 to 18 miles an hour. The rifleman, however, shifted his aim to Texas Gov. John B. Connally. Brehm said he heard a second shot, but didn't know where it went. 'I was watching the President,' he said. This shot hit Connally in the back just under the right shoulder blade. It splintered the fifth rib, coursed down through the body, and emerged from his side to break his right wrist lying in his lap and lodge in his left thigh. Brehm said he knew by the sound of the shots that they had crossed his line of vision rather than coming from over his shoulder or from the other side of the road. And still--after the second shot--the President's head was still visible above the seat; still there was no sudden burst of speed. The effect of the third bullet was murderous. It hit the back of the President's head with an ax-like or chopping effect. Another fraction of an inch--and the bullet might just have creased the President's head. Still another fraction of an inch and it might have missed him altogether. As it was, it hit at a shallow angle, ripping off a piece of skull 'perhaps the diameter of a teacup,' said Dr. William Kemp Clark, a neurosurgeon." (March 1964 account of Dallas Morning News reporter Kent Biffle, reporting on the witnesses he saw and heard in Dealey Plaza just after the shooting on 11-22-63) "The people who'd been flat were getting to their feet. A man and a small boy stood on the curb. It was grotesque. The man was crying. The boy was not. 'He was hit twice,' sobbed the weeping man."
(3-28-66 interview with Mark Lane as shown in the Mark Lane movies Rush to Judgment, 1967, and Two Men in Dallas, 1976) “he was possibly 30 feet away when the first bullet struck, moved a little closer and was possibly 20 to 25 feet away when the second bullet hit…When the second bullet hit, there was (he motions to his right ear)—the hair seemed to go flying. It was very definite then that he was struck in the head with the second bullet and, uh, yes, I very definitely saw effects of the second bullet…I saw a piece fly over in the area of the curb where I was standing…it seemed to have come left and back…whatever it was that I saw did fall both in that direction and over into the curb there.” (3-28-66 interview with Mark Lane, transcript found at the Wisconsin Historical Society and posted online by John McAdams) "heard the shot. The first shot, when it went the President stiffened and reached both hands up to his neck. And this is an aside to you here but I had thought it was a backfire. I really did. I was scared to death that he was shot. I didn't know whether he was clowning, whether he did stiffen, and I had hoped I do believe, hope against hope, that it was a backfire. But then the second shot went. At that time the car just absolutely seemed to slow down. It didn't stop. I don't think the man put his foot on the brakes. It was just that he relaxed his foot from the accelerator and the car seemed to stop..." (The transcript continues with the portion of the interview presented in the film. It then presents some additional material) "Odd as it may seem, I had thought that the shots had come from the County jail house there...But it did not seem likely so I had assumed they came from the Book Depository...The first two hit and the third did not hit anything." (3-28-66 interview with Mark Lane as quoted in Rush To Judgment, 1966) "I very definitely saw the effect of the second bullet that struck the President... That which appeared to be a portion of the President's skull went flying slightly to the rear of the President's car and directly to its left. It did fly over toward the curb and to the left and to the rear." (Note: Lane quotes Brehm as saying "the second bullet that struck the President" in his book when Brehm merely says "the second bullet" in the filmed interview. While this may have been a simple error, or have reflected merely that Lane was trying to clarify Brehm's statements, Brehm was quite clear elsewhere that he felt the head shot was the second shot, and not the third. It seems possible then that Lane thought this damaged Brehm's credibility and was trying to hide this from his readers.)
(Mark Lane's comments regarding Brehm at the Associated Press Managing Editors Convention in San Diego, California, 11-17-66, as published in an AP story found in the 11-27-66 Eugene Register-Guard.) "On Nov. 22nd the press found Charles Brehm. He was standing right there. He was very likely the closest witness, closest spectator--to the assassination. He was on radio and television. He was interviewed by newspapers and his name appeared in almost every newspaper in America on Nov. 23. It's unfortunate that the Warren Commission never found Mr. Brehm and never questioned Mr. Brehm. It's unfortunate our distinguished colleagues, lawyers for the Commission, never questioned Mr. Brehm. Because Mr. Brehm said--and it is not, unfortunately, on record anywhere, except in a filmed interview which we conducted--Mr. Brehm said: 'I saw the effect of the bullet upon the President's head. As the bullet struck his head, a portion of the President's skull was driven backward and to the left over the rear and left of the car indicating that the fatal shot came from a right front area, not from the rear, not from behind the limousine.' The press found Mr. Brehm on that day. Unfortunately, the Commission never could, or never tried...'" (The quote Lane provided for Brehm was, unfortunately, not accurate, and included Lane's interpretation of Brehm's words, and not the words themselves.) (11-22-66 AP article found in the Alton Illinois Evening Telegraph. The substance of this article, which was undoubtedly written as a response to Lane's statements a few days before, was that Brehm trusts the Warren Report, and believes no shots came from in front of Kennedy.) "When the first shot went off I really didn't think it was gunfire. He (the president) had a sense of humor, and when his hands went up to the sides of his neck I thought he was making a gesture. I thought it was a backfire. Then the second shot hit. He went down. He Just went down. I knew the sound that bullets make, and it was at this time that I thought it was shooting. It was too weird to think he was really shot. When I realized he had been I was trying to push that car to go, go, go. I fell with the boy on the ground. The third shot really upset me. I knew he was hit the first two times but the third one didn't make any sense at all." Brehm said the Presidential car almost stopped after the first shot, but speeded up and took evasive action after the second... Brehm said, "I contend that the third shot went wild." (11-23-66 article by Peter Kihss in the Washington Post) 'In Dallas, Charles F. Brehm, who stood less than 20 feet from the President's limousine but was never called before the commission, said yesterday he was 'more than satisfied' with the findings. A World War II Ranger Staff Sergeant wounded in Normandy, Mr. Brehm said he had seen the President hit by two bullets and considered a third shot went wild. But he added 'I did not see the man who shot him,' and 'I did not see the shots fired.'"
Now here's a recently-discovered photo by Jay Skaggs taken within a minute or two of the Allen photo above. Brehm, a veteran of the Armed Services, felt it was his duty to stick around after the shooting and report what he saw. And that's just what he did.
(Late 1966 interview with Lawrence Schiller recounted in The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Report, published 1967) "When the first shot went off, I thought it was a backfire from a motorcycle. But when his hands went up, then I realized 'My God, he has been shot.' On the first shot I was possibly thirty feet maximum from him. On the second shot he was not more than fifteen feet away. I couldn't imagine that it was a shot. But when I seen the president stiffen and his hands go up, I knew then that he had been shot. From where I was on the second shot, the damage was visible to the President's head. It was clearly visible that he had been hit in the head. I could see that the damage was severe. There was definitely blood. It was not a great flow of it but you could see the area crimson. I did not see blood on the first shot. Then I grabbed the boy and threw him on the ground and fell on top of him, a natural infantry instinct that came to me. There were only three shots. It was a third wasted shot that from the sound of it, and I'm taking into account that I've heard these things go past me before and I've stopped a couple of them, that third shot came nowhere near the parade. I felt that was the hurried shot." (When asked if he saw something fly from the president's head) "I did see something fly to the left of the car and down into the street. I saw something but I couldn't positively identify it and I don't want to go on record as identifying it....My belief, and if I had to die on the spot from my belief, is those two shots came from the same place. I couldn't pinpoint it, but they came from what was established as a window. There was no shots from anywhere else...the shots came from up at the School Book Depository. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the way that it was." (Late 1966 Schiller interview as presented on the Capitol Records release The Controversy, 1967) "When that first shot went off, I thought it was a backfire from a motorcycle. But when his hands went up to the side, then I realized 'My God, he has been shot.' And I grabbed the boy and threw him on the ground and fell on top of him, a natural infantry instinct that came to me. But there only were three shots. It was not a gang shooting. It was a third wasted shot that from the sound of it, and I'm taking into account that I've heard these things go past me before and I'm taking into account that I've stopped a couple of them, that third shot came nowhere near the parade. I felt that that was the hurried shot. I would say on the first shot I was possibly thirty feet maximum from him. Now the car was approaching so on the second shot it was not more than fifteen foot away when it happened. And that is on an almost direct line, and one traffic lane away, because he had stayed fairly well in the center lane. It was clearly visible that he had been hit in the head. Even in my position in life, I could see that the damage was severe to his head. As though the area of crimson, it was not a great flow of it but you could see the area of crimson around. I did not see blood on the first shot." (1967 interview with CBS) (When disputing Mark Lane's claim he said the shots were fired from the picket fence on the grassy knoll) "No shot came from up there at any time during the whole fiasco that afternoon." (3-30-68 interview with Barry Ernest as recounted in The Girl On The Stairs, 2011) "He said when the first shot was fired, the presidential limousine was slightly to his right, coming towards him on Elm. The car had slowed, nearly coming to a halt. Immediately after it passed where he and his son were standing, a second shot rang out, he said. This was the one that struck the president in the head and caused 'a piece of Kennedy's skull to fly back toward me.' At this point, Brehm was 'only 10 feet from the vehicle.' 'The car then sped up and the third shot missed completely.' The timing of the shots, according to Brehm, was the same as what others recalled: a pause of about three seconds between the first and second shot, and the third shot 'close to the second'... Brehm led me to the exact spot where he had been standing on November 22. He then directed my attention to the sixth floor of the depository, and to the close proximity of cars that continued to whiz by on Elm. He focused my attention to where the presidential car had been when he saw Kennedy's head explode. Much of his anger, he explained, was due to Mark Lane. 'He took my statements out of context and added a different meaning to them. Lane used my statement that a piece of the president's skull 'flew to the left' and that it 'came toward me' to imply that that shot had been fired from the knoll. I did not say that a shot came from there.'"
(Interview presented as part of the radio show Thou Shalt Not Kill, on Canadian radio station CTFR, broadcast 5-10-76, as posted on youtube by Denis Morissette.) "I would guess that the whole thing took seven seconds or something like that. Six seconds. Seven seconds probably from the first shot. When the first one went off I thought it was a firecracker went off. And y'know I thought he's clowning. And just like that I thought Christ, no, he's hit. And I was thinking to myself 'Go, go, go.' And finally the car--it was ready to leap--it was right in front of me that the bullet hit him in the back of the head." (7-23-86 testimony in televised mock trial, On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald) (When asked to tell the jury what happened, while standing in front of a map of Dealey Plaza) "As the car turned, and when I say the car I mean the Presidential car, turned and straightened out and started coming down (he is now pointing to the limo's location at approximately frame 175 of the Zapruder film) the first noise that I heard hit the President, uh. And it struck him and he raised his hand up to his neck (he now grabs the back of his neck with right hand). The car proceeded there it seemed very very slow, proceeded down just beyond me in this area (he is now pointing to a location passed the steps seen in the Muchmore film, on the North side of Elm--this is approximately 50 feet passed the location of the limousine at the time of the head shot) when the second shot went off which absolutely destroyed the President's head. The car then took off in a zig-zag motion down into this area (he points to the stretch of Elm running parallel to the stockade fence) when the third shot--which seemed to me to be a wasted shot--went off, which frightened me more than any of the others because then I thought it was somebody shooting up the place. I then fell on my son." (When asked the time interval between the shots) "First and third shot. Somewhere around seven seconds." (When asked the location from which he thought the shots had been fired) "I told the officers that they came from one of the two buildings, one of which was the school book depository, the other was over on that corner (he points to the Dal-Tex Building). One of the two." (When asked if he felt confident about this) "Yes, I do". (When asked if he felt the shots came from behind the President) "Absolutely." (When shown the Zapruder film and asked if it looks like Kennedy was hit by a baseball bat from the front.) "I can't say." (When later asked if he questioned the authenticity of the Zapruder film) "No, I question your analysis of the film." (NOTE: the next two questions and answers were apparently not televised on the program in the U.S. but are included in Vincent Bugliosi's book, Reclaiming History.) (When asked if he thought the shots were spaced out far enough to have been fired by a bolt-action rifle) "Very easily." (When asked if all the shots came from the same location) "All three shots were from the same origin."
Above: A Jim Murray photo showing assassination witness Charles Brehm waiting to make a statement to the Dallas County Sheriff's Dept on the afternoon of 11-22-63. Brehm's son Joe is at his side. The two young men making their statements in the background are presumed to be Robert Edwards and Ronald Fischer.
(1988 interview recounted in No More Silence, published 1998, p.60-69) “After the car passed the building coming toward us, I heard a noise, and I say noise. If I wanted to recreate what happened, there was no shot that I could say, “God, there was a shot!” or something like that. There was a surprising noise, and he reached with both hands up to the side of his throat and kind of stiffened out, and you could see as he approached us that he had been hit. Of course, it became obvious immediately after the surprise noise that it was a shot and that he was hurt. And when he got down in the area just past me, the second shot hit which damaged, considerably damaged, the top of his head. Realizing that he was hit in the head, and from what I could see of the damage, it just didn’t seem like there was any chance in the world that he could have lived through it. That car took off in an evasive motion, back and forth, and was just beyond me when a third shot went off. The third shot really frightened me! It had a completely different sound to it because it had really passed me, as anybody knows who has been down under targets in the Army or been shot at like I had been many times. You know when a bullet passes over you, the cracking sound it makes, and that bullet had an absolute crack to it. I do believe that that shot was wild. It didn’t hit anybody. I don’t think it could have hit anybody. But it was a frightening thing to me because here was one shot that hit him, obviously; here was another that destroyed his head, and what was the reason for the third shot? That third shot frightened me more than the other two, and I grabbed the boy and threw him on the ground because I didn’t know if we were going to have a “shoot’em-up” in this area. After I hit the ground and smothered the boy, it was all over. The people were running helter-skelter here and there. They were running up to the top of that hill it seemed to me in an almost sheep-like fashion following somebody running up those steps. There was a policeman who ran up those steps also. Apparently people thought he was chasing something, which he certainly wasn’t. There were no shots from that area, but some of the people followed him anyway....At this time, I might say that I did not stand there, basically, and count shots. There were events that were accompanied by shots, and the events are lodged in my mind more so than the shots because of the President’s motion when he was hit, with the shot in the head and the wild shot that was going away from the place; everything that stands out in my mind was a consequence of the shots. I never thought of them as “There was a shot! What did it do?” It was always, “What happened?” and it was because of the shot fired from up there.” (5-12-92 video-taped interview with researcher Mark Oakes) (On the first shot) "I told them that I hoped it was a firecracker...I didn't know what it was right to begin with, but then when there was two more similar reports and so forth and then when I could see what was happening. I could see the front of his throat and the second one took a part of his head off...(Oakes then asks Brehm if he'd actually seen a wound on the throat and he says no, but that he'd inferred as much based on Kennedy's movements) "By 8 o'clock that night I told them that I thought the first bullet must have gone through him then and hit Connally because there's no other sequence that it could have been...I never changed my mind. I'm sure that that's what happened." (10-22-92 conversation with Richard Trask, as related in Pictures of the Pain, 1994) "In a conversation with this author many years later, Mr. Brehm was still clear and unchanging as to what he witnessed. He vividly described hearing the sound of the bullets whiz through the air, a sound he recalled from his military days, and the fear he experienced realizing his son was in harm's way." (Interview in the Discovery Program The End of Camelot, broadcast 1993) "As they made the turn at the school book depository, it had only come down a few feet, the first shot went off...And I realized it was no joke--that he was shot--and the strain on his face. And the car kept coming down and just as it passed me--a few feet passed me, the second shot hit...By that time the caravan started to speed up, to get out of there, and that's when the third shot rang out." (1996 interview of Brehm by Walt Brown as recounted in Brown's JFK Chronology) "The editor of this Chronology met Mr. Brehm in his final year of life (he died August 11, 1996). His memory was still sharp, and he still wondered why the FBI report would say what it did." (Note, Brown is referring to the line "He also stated that it seemed quite apparent to him that the shots came from one of two buildings back at the corner of Elm and Houston Streets" which Brehm had apparently told Brown was inaccurate.) Analysis: aside from the 12-1-63 article in the Philadelphia paper, where it seems likely Brehm's words were sculpted to fit the writers' own theory that the second shot hit Connally, Brehm consistently claimed the President was hit by the first and second shots. While he failed to mention a third shot, which he felt came after the head shot, in his earliest interviews, by the evening of the shooting he was mentioning this detail as well. It seems possible, then, that in his earliest interviews he was focused on describing the shots he saw hit the President. The piece of skull Brehm saw crash into the curb is also intriguing in that it could be the item seen by Stavis Ellis and Royce Skelton. It is also interesting to note that Brehm's testimony to Bugliosi in 86 that all the shots sounded the same is in conflict with his statement to the AP in 1966. The use of Brehm in the Discovery Channel's 1993 program is also intriguing. There, after Brehm said "the second shot hit," the program cut to Governor John Connally clapping his hands and describing himself being hit. This was deceptive. Brehm had always claimed this second shot was the head shot to Kennedy. Apparently, the program's creators didn't realize this or just didn't give a damn. By having Connally claim the second shot hit him, after having Brehm claim the first shot hit Kennedy, the program was already at odds with the "official" story, so why even pretend Brehm's and Connally's stories were consistent? First shot hit 190-224. Last shot after the head shot.
Well, what about this "Babushka Lady"--the woman standing behind Brehm in the Zapruder film? What did she have to say?
Beverly, is that You?
Beverly Oliver (now Beverly Massegee) claims to be the Babushka Lady. Some of her statements unrelated to the shooting itself are presented so one can better judge her credibility. (3-21-77 memorandum from HSCA investigators Howard Gilbert and John Moriarty to HSCA assistant chief counsel Robert Tanenbaum, as found in the John Armstrong collection on the Baylor University website) "She knew Ruby...One day several weeks prior to the assassination she went over to the Carousel Club and went up to Ruby who was sitting at a table with Jada (a stripper), Andrew Armstrong (Ruby's bartender) and a man who Ruby introduced as 'Lee Oswald of the CIA.' Beverly had a drink with them and spent about twenty minutes at the table and got a good look at Oswald's face... On the day of the assassination, Beverly was wearing a scarf and taking motion pictures of the parade in Dealey Plaza. One or two days later she returned to the Colony Club and was met by two men who identified themselves as being with the FBI or CIA. She turned over the film to them and never saw them again. She took Gary Shaw and Penn Jones to Dealey Plaza and showed them where she took the photos from and Shaw confirms that her position is in accord with the Babushka lady. Beverly was unable to identify herself as the Babushka lady because of the lack of a good face photo, but she said she was similarly dressed and the photo could have been her. Beverly never came forth with the information set forth above and was discovered by accident by Gary Shaw while in a Baptist Church. He heard she had been in Dealey Plaza and while questioning her the information was elicited. Beverly impressed us as being very straight forward and will make a good witness. She has no apparent reason to fabricate and apparently feels very strongly about religion at this time... Andrew Armstrong, a Ruby flunky who thinks of Ruby as a hero will never corroborate Beverly. Jada, the stripper, was interviewed by the FBI and denied knowing LHO, but it may have been another stripper that was at the table. In any event we will follow up and try to make contact with Jada." (The Men Who Killed Kennedy, broadcast 1988) “When I first heard a noise I was not aware that that was a shot being fired. And maybe perhaps that’s why I continued to film because I thought it was a backfire or a firecracker. I mean I wasn’t used to being around guns. I did not realize that those were shots until I saw in the frame of my camera President Kennedy’s head come off, the back of his head. Then I realized that that was a shot. I don’t know how many I heard. I know where I thought the shots came from. It was the picket fence area, around that large tree, somewhere on the other side of those steps but in the picket fence area. There was a figure there and there was smoke there. I will always believe that the man who shot President Kennedy was standing somewhere in the picket fence area and no one will convince me any differently.” (second interview) “I’m convinced and no one will ever convince me any differently that the shots came from behind the area of the picket fence on the grassy knoll. No one will ever convince me. I saw it. I believe it’s where it came from. And the only way that I’m gonna believe any different is when I stand before the judge on the judgment day and he tells me. But I know what I saw and that’s what I saw.” (5-14-92 video-taped interview with Mark Oakes) "I'm not really certain when I heard the first shot. I know there were sounds prior to me realizing that there had been a shot fired that had killed the president. In my mind I had thought about it being those little things that they used to make when I was a child. You are probably too young to remember, but they used to make a little thing about the size of a piece of round bubblegum, and you threw it on the sidewalk and it exploded and it made a pop. And that's, you know I thought, I remember thinking gosh it's really weird to let somebody bring those down here in this crowd, and that's all I thought--I mean, I can't remember thinking anything that it was a shot. The only time I realized a shot had been fired was when I was looking through the viewfinder of my camera at the time the President was fatally wounded. He went violently back against the seat and the back of his head blew off...I certainly saw that and it put me in a state of shock. I was frozen." (When asked what she did afterwards) "I walked across the street to the direction in which I felt the shots had come from." (November 1992 interview presented in JFK: The Final Day, a 1993 documentary put out by the JFK Assassination Information Center) "It was a loud noise like a gunshot and about that time the President goes back against the seat like this and the whole back of his head flies out on the back of the limousine. Just like someone took a bucket of blood and threw it out the back of his head." (Interview with Robert Groden in his video, The Case for Conspiracy, 1993) "Just as he gets past me, there's a sound that goes ba-boom, and he goes back against his seat and the whole back of his head comes off and it looks like somebody threw a bucket of blood out the back of the car" (When asked what part of Kennedy's head was damaged) I couldn't pinpoint an exact part but it looked like the whole back of his head, like in this area right here (grabs the crown of her head) just went (motions backward) flying out the back of the car." (When asked from where she thought the shots derived) (she points to the picket fence west of the knoll steps) "Just to the right of that green-trunked tree and about thirty feet from the corner, west of the corner of the fence." (9-30-93 article in the Charlotte Observer) "Ruby, she says, introduced her to Oswald a scant two to three weeks before Kennedy's Nov. 22, 1963, assassination. `Jack Ruby introduced me to him as a CIA agent, or as Lee Oswald of the CIA."...Later, she says, she joined the rest of the crowd at Dealey Plaza, hoping to get a glimpse of the president as his motorcade rolled through.`I was a 17-year-old girl who just went to see the president,'' she said. But Massegee says she became more than a face in the crowd. She also was the woman wearing a head scarf and holding a camera who can be seen in the famous Abraham Zapruder assassination film. Finding `the babushka lady' became an obsession for investigators and researchers until 1977, she says, when government investigators identified her." (Interview broadcast in CBS program Who Killed JFK: the Final Chapter?, 11-19-93) "The shot that killed President Kennedy didn't come from the book depository. It came from behind that picket fence." (11-19-93 article in USA Today) "Beverly Oliver was a 17-year-old singer at the Colony Club, competitor of Jack Ruby's Carousel Club, when Kennedy was killed. She said she knew Ruby well, and that - contrary to Warren Commission findings - he knew Oswald. 'I was introduced to Oswald, about two or three weeks prior to the assassination, by Jack Ruby,' she says of the man who shot Oswald two days after Kennedy's death. 'He said, 'This is my friend, Lee Oswald. He's with the CIA.'"
Above: the moment of the fatal headshot as presented in the Muchmore film. We looked at this before to note the movements of the men on the far steps, and the proximity of Mary Moorman and Jean Hill to the president at this decisive moment. Well, this time we're looking at it to determine the location of the Babushka Lady in relation to the President. It sure as heck looks like motorcycle officers B.J. Martin and Bobby Hargis were blocking the view of the Babushka Lady (the woman below the arrow who was self-identified as Beverly Oliver in 1977) at this time. If so, this pretty much destroys Beverly Oliver's story about filming the assassination with a movie camera, and the subsequent theft of her film.
(11-23-93 article in the Dallas Morning News) "Ms. Oliver-Massegee gained fame when she became among the first to claim that shots were fired from behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll. Over the years, however, the veracity of her claims has come into question. Some, including Gerald Posner, author of the recent best-seller Case Closed, even say that Ms. Oliver-Massegee is not the same woman caught on film as the presidential motorcade passed. On Monday, Ms. Oliver-Massegee, 47, was only one voice in a chorus of Posner-bashing. "I'm going to sue Gerald Posner, and I'm going to sue CBS," she said." (From her book Nightmare in Dallas, published October 1994) “Beverly heard a pop, pop sound coming from the direction she faced….How rude that some parents would let their kids throw sidewalk poppers near the President, she thought. Then she heard another pop. Hold steady. The car was moving about twelve miles an hour as it passed directly in front of her. It then seemed to come to a stop. She continued filming wishing President Kennedy would turn around, then a loud, boom-boom sounded, and the President’s head was violently thrown backward as a spray of crimson blood spouted from the back of his head…” “Oh, my God…he’s been shot.” She saw Jackie pull her husband down toward the seat as if she were trying to protect him and then crawl out onto the trunk of the car to pick up something which seemed to come from the President’s head… People were screaming and falling to the ground. A motorcycle policeman crash-parked his cycle and raced up the grassy slope from where Beverly heard the gunfire... Beverly smelled something acid in the air. It didn’t smell right. A cloud of smoke drifted up from behind the fence and dissipated as it blew across the lawn.” (11-18-94 testimony before the ARRB) "I am not a researcher. I was a 17-year-old girl that was at Dealey Plaza that day taking pictures of the President when he was assassinated. I never wanted to become a public figure over this. I never intended to. Until my name was accidentally leaked to the press in 1972, I was not a public figure. It has caused me great grief. It has caused me a lot of concern in my life. I have been called a liar as recently as today. I have been called a hoax. I am neither a liar nor am I a hoax. I am who I say I am. I was down there that day standing between 20 and 30 feet from the President when he was shot. I was taking a movie film which on the 25th of November was confiscated by a man who identified himself as an FBI agent." (When asked if she had any proof she gave him the film) "No, because I was only 17 years old and I wasn't smart enough to ask for a receipt. This is a man representing my government. If he had asked me for my soul, I would have tried to give it to him. Also, there are ulterior motives, and I would go ahead and tell you that before someone else does. Laying next to the camera in my makeup kit was a Prince Albert can of marijuana, and I would have done anything to keep him from looking in my makeup kit. But also let me share this with you, I no longer use marijuana or anything else. I am a born again Christian and I am married to a preacher and have been for 23 years." (Oral History interview performed for the Sixth Floor Museum, 1-12-07) "Shortly after he turned onto Elm Street, there was a noise. I didn't recognize it as gunfire. I thought that somebody had let there kids bring...those little poppers that you throw on the ground and they pop. And I remember distinctly thinking why would somebody let their kids bring those down here on a day like this. Anyway, bang bang...bang. And I'm still not realizing that anything is wrong because people are still cheering. And I'm still filming. And just as he gets passed me there was this big noise that went BA-BOOM. And it was like the whole back of his head just exploded, like a bucket of blood went over the back of the limousine." (11-11-09 interview broadcast on Nightfright radio) "I don't know if the first sounds I heard were shots. I could not get on the witness stand and swear that they were shots. Excuse the term. I thought that someone had allowed some little kids to bring what we called back then poppers. They were little bitty things about the size of your fingernail and you threw them against the sidewalk and they popped...The first sounds that I heard went bangbang...bang. But I could not say that they were shots...Just as he got past me to my left...as I turned to follow the motorcade, I heard a big KABOOM! And when that happened it looked like the whole back of his head just come out back over the trunk. At the time I thought it was brains but I now know it was skull..."
Above: a crop from a photo taken by Wilma Bond--35 seconds or so after the Muchmore frame above. While taken well after the last shot was fired, this image nevertheless demonstrates the chaos that had so recently transpired. The three men on the steps across the street have either run away or laid down in the shadows. Motorcycle officer Bobby Hargis, riding next to JFK's limo only moments before, has parked his bike and raced over to the grassy knoll to see if he could see an assassin, and is now returning to his bike. Fellow officer Jimmy Wayne Courson is racing past Hargis. Meanwhile, on the grass, the four adult witnesses have all changed places from their positions before they witnessed the explosion of the President's skull. Jean Hill, in red, who was to the right of Mary Moorman while they were standing, now crouches down on the grass to the left of Moorman. Charles Brehm and his son, Joe, who were to the east of Moorman and Hill, now appear to be to the west of Moorman and Hill. And the Babushka Lady, who was behind Brehm just seconds before now appears to be standing in front of him. The only thing that hasn't changed, in fact, is that the Babushka Lady (who has been self-identified as Beverly Oliver) has remained standing, and is still staring across the street.
(3-19-12 phone interview with researcher Josh Cron, as reported on the Education Forum, 3-20-12) "I couldn’t really say how long I was waiting for the President to arrive, but it wasn’t very long. The whole plaza was just filled with static electricity. You could feel it in the air, and it made the hairs on the back of your neck just stand right up. There’s just no way to properly explain it… I took my camera out and took footage of the nearby buildings and people to make sure it was working. You could tell the President was approaching from the roaring of the crowd as it got near. I began filming again just before the President’s car turned, and as it made the turn from Houston onto Elm I heard “bang-bang.. bang” a little to the right of where I was standing. I don’t know if they still have them, but I thought it was one of those little poppers that people throw and they explode. Like the size of a gumball. And I actually thought to myself, “Who in their right mind would throw one of those down here today?” Then as the limousine got a little past me I heard “ba-boom”, just deafeningly loud. And I saw the whole back of the President’s head just explode. It looked like someone threw a bucket of blood out the back of the car. And then I saw Jackie on the back of the car reaching out for what I thought at the time was a piece of the President’s skull. Then the car disappeared beneath the overpass… I did see Roscoe White on the grassy knoll. He was just to the right of the steps. I couldn’t tell where he was coming from. I assumed he was just over there to talk to people. I certainly recognized him, and we made eye contact and I’m sure he recognized me as well. He was used to seeing me in different hair colors, so I’m sure he didn’t have any trouble recognizing me… I couldn’t say whether the second set of sounds I heard was one shot and an echo, or two shots fired almost simultaneously. The sound seemed to originate just to my left, but I couldn’t say for certain where any of the shots came from… I heard what I thought were the poppers just after the president had made the turn onto Elm. The car behind him was still on Houston." (When asked if she noticed anything as the car turned onto Elm) "Everything seemed normal right up until I heard the “bang-bang.. bang.” (When asked if she noticed where Mary Moorman was standing at the time of the shots) “She was right on the curb. Right next to Jean Hill. I didn’t ever see her in the street.” (When asked if she saw the limo stop) "They were going pretty slow as it was. I’ve been asked this before, and I really can’t tell you if the car slowed down or stopped. I was just so shocked at everything I had just seen. I just couldn’t say for sure.” (When asked if the explosion of skull apparent in the Zapruder film is consistent with her recollections) “I certainly believe I saw the back of his head come off, and I believe the film does show what I saw – the back of his head exploding… I suppose there is a chance it wasn’t the back of his head, but I do not believe so. How else would a piece of his skull end up on the trunk of the car?" (Cron then reported: "When I asked if there was anything in the film that led her to believe it had been doctored, she responded with a no.") (11-20-16 appearance at the Judyth Baker conference in Dallas) "Not long after he turned left onto Elm Street there was a noise...Bang bang...bang...It sounded like those little popper things...And then just as they got to the side of us, it went BUH BOOM. And when that happened it looked like the whole back of his head came off. It looked like a bucket of blood out the back of his head onto the trunk... (On whether the limo stopped) "I can't tell you whether it did or not." Analysis: while Oliver shares a characteristic with William Newman and Toni Foster—all three heard early sounds they originally thought was a firecracker--the rest of her story is in line with Mary Moorman and Jean Hill, who heard no early shots at all. While she originally stated she didn’t know how many shots she heard she later indicated there were five. The acid-scented smoke drifting over from the knoll is almost certainly poetic license, however. And the other parts of her story, such as Jack Ruby's introducing her to Lee Harvey Oswald, or her seeing Roscoe White on the knoll, smell to high heaven. Her lack of credibility, however, may have nothing to do with whether or not she is in fact the woman in the film (many doubt it's even her), but have more to do with the long delay in her telling her story, and her ongoing contact with conspiracy theorists, many of whom believe both that Oswald and Ruby knew each other, and that shots were fired from the knoll. Heard five shots? Two early shots. Last two shots bunched together. Saw smoke on knoll.
Meanwhile, on the north side of the street…
Charles and Beatrice Hester, employees of Abraham Zapruder, crouch on the sidewalk atop the grassy knoll, while their employer lurks at left. (Note that this photo was taken by AP Photographer James Altgens within 30 seconds of the last shot.)
Charles Hester was sitting on the knoll with his wife as the President passed by. His panicked response to the shots led some in the press cars and press busses to think they had something to do with the shooting. In the Wiegman film, they can be seen crouching down back by the white arcade. This is also shown in the Altgens photo above. (11-22-63 statement to the Dallas Sheriff’s Department, 19H478) “My wife Beatrice and I were sitting on the grass on the slope on Elm Street where the park is located. When the President Kennedy’s car got almost to the underpass, I heard two shots ring out. They sounded like they came from immediately behind us and over our heads. We did see the shooting. I immediately turned and look at the Texas Book Depository building and did not see anyone. The shots sounded like they definitely came from in or around the building. I grabbed my wife because I didn’t know where the next shot was coming from and dragged her up next to the concrete embankment and got on the ground with her. Then there was utter confusion. The police rushed toward the railroad tracks and I finally found an officer to go to the Texas Book Depository Building. The officer I contacted was officer Wiseman of the Dallas Sheriff's Department.” (11-25-63 FBI report based upon an 11-24-63 interview, 22H841) “Hester and his wife, Beatrice, were standing along the street at the point immediately preceding the underpass on Elm Street where President John F Kennedy was shot. Hester stated he saw the President slump in the seat of the car and that he heard two shots fired from what appeared to be a building located on the corner of Elm and Houston Street. He stated he and his wife were almost in a direct line of fire and that he immediately grabbed his wife and shoved her to the ground. He stated he thereafter immediately escorted his wife across to the North side of the street on an embankment in an attempt to gain shelter.” Analysis: as Hester “immediately” threw his wife to the ground, he is almost certainly referring to the head shot and a succeeding shot. His grouping of the shots together in his first statement implies as much. Did not hear the first shot. Only heard two shots. Last two shots bunched together.
Above: the Hesters in the Wiegman film.
Mrs. Charles Hester (Beatrice) (11-25-63 FBI report based upon an 11-24-63 interview, 24H523) “Mrs. Hester advised she heard two loud noises which sounded like gunshots, and she saw President Kennedy slump in the car he was riding in. Her husband then grabbed her and shoved her to the ground. Shortly thereafter they then went across to the north side of the street on an embankment in an attempt to gain shelter. She stated that she believes she and her husband actually had been in the direct line of fire. She did not see anyone with a gun when the shots were fired and stated she could not furnish any information as to exactly where the shots came from. After the President's car had pulled away from the scene. she and her husband proceeded to their car and left the scene as she was very upset. ” Analysis: a little too vague, but she is probably referring to the same two shots heard by her husband. Did not hear the first shot. Only heard two shots. Last two shots probably bunched together.