JAHS Chapter 14
On 3-24, we also get the sworn testimony of the one man to ever claim he saw Oswald fire the rifle.Howard Brennan (3-24-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 3H140-161) "I told Mr. Sorrels and Captain Fritz at that time that Oswald--or the man in the lineup that I identified looking more like a closest resemblance to the man in the window than anyone in the lineup...I saw his picture twice on television before I went down to the police station for the lineup...I told them I could not make a positive identification...I believe some days later--I don't recall exactly--and I believe the Secret Service man identified hisself as being Williams, I believe, from Houston. I won't swear to that-whether his name was Williams or not...Well, he asked me he said, 'You said you couldn't make a positive identification.' He said, 'Did you do that for security reasons personally, or couldn't you?' And I told him I could with all honesty, but I did it more or less for security reasons--my family and myself...I believed at that time, and I still believe it was a Communist activity, and I felt like there hadn't been more than one eyewitness, and if it got to be a known fact that I was an eyewitness, my family or I, either one, might not be safe...After Oswald was killed, I was relieved quite a bit that as far as pressure on myself of somebody not wanting me to identify anybody, there was no longer that immediate danger... (When asked if he could have sworn that Oswald was the shooter when he saw Oswald in the line-up) I could at that time I could, with all sincerity, identify him as being the same man."
We have reason to doubt Brennan's story. First, by his own admission, he lied to the Dallas Police and Secret Service when he said he could not identify Oswald at the line-up. Second, he says he felt relief when Oswald was killed, even though Oswald's death at the hands of Ruby made a conspiracy, communist or otherwise, only more likely. Third, the whole series of events surrounding Brennan just doesn't ring true. On 11-22 Brennan had signed a statement (19H470), asserting "I believe that I could identify this man if I ever saw him again." He then refused to ID Oswald in a line-up. An 11-23-63 FBI report (CD5 p12) confirms "He advised he attended a lineup at the Dallas Police Department on November 22, 1963 on which occasion he picked Lee Harvey Oswald as the person most closely resembling the man he had observed with the rifle in the window of the Texas School Book Depository building. He stated, however, he could not positively identify Oswald as the person he saw fire the rifle." This means, if Brennan's testimony is to be believed, that he lied to the FBI as well as the Dallas Police and Secret Service.
To make things worse, Brennan didn't admit his deception until weeks after Oswald's death, after the nation had been assured of Oswald's sole guilt by the FBI's leaks to the media, and he did so then only at the urging of a "Secret Service man" named "Williams" (apparently, he meant FBI agent Kenneth B. Jackson, who was indeed from Houston) who, amazingly, has not been called before the commission to explain his actions. A 12-18-63 FBI report on a 12-17 interview by Jackson (CD205, p15) only adds to our doubts of Brennan's veracity. It relates that Brennan "now can say that Lee Harvey Oswald was the person he saw in the window at the time of the President's assassination. He pointed out that he felt a positive identification was not necessary when he observed Oswald in the police line-up at the Dallas Police Department at about 7 P.M., November 22, 1963, since it was his understanding Oswald had already been charged with the slaying of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit. He said that another factor which made him hesitate to make a positive identification of Oswald in the police line-up was that prior to appearing at the police line-up on November 22, 1963, he had observed a picture of Oswald on his television set at home when his daughter asked him to watch it. He said that he felt that since he had seen Oswald on television before picking Oswald out of the line-up at the police station that it tended to "cloud" any identification of Oswald at that time." Well, heck. The problem with this report is that it fails to mention a couple of the important elements of Brennan's subsequent testimony. For one, it fails to report that Brennan was coerced to come forward by Jackson. For two, it fails to relate that Brennan had failed to identify Oswald because he'd been in fear for his life. Instead it explains that Brennan had seen Oswald on television and that he was afraid that this had "clouded" his judgment. Pathetically, it even blames his viewing Oswald on his daughter. What it does not relate--which is key--is Brennan's response to seeing Oswald on television. Clearly, if his eventual testimony is to be believed, he would have to have had an immediate response to seeing Oswald on television. If he felt Oswald was the man from seeing him on television, then why didn't he say so later? And if he knew Oswald was the shooter from the first time he saw him on television, then why is his seeing Oswald on TV before the line-up even an issue?
That the FBI refused to put much stock in Brennan's latter day positive ID of Oswald is confirmed by a 1-10-64 report based on a 1-07-64 re-interview of Brennan (CD329 p7). It concludes: "Mr. Brennan added that after his first interview at the Sheriff's office, on November 22, 1963, he left and went home at about 2 P.M. While he was at home, and before he returned to view a lineup, which included the possible assassin of President Kennedy, he observed Lee Harvey Oswald's picture on television. Mr. Brennan said that this, of course, did not help him retain the original impression of the man in the window with the rifle; however, upon seeing Lee Harvey Oswald in the police line-up, he felt that Oswald most resembled the man whom he had seen in the window." (This wasn't saying much, as the other men only marginally resembled Brennan's earlier description of the man in the window.) Here, there is no mention of Brennan's telling an agent almost a month after the shooting that "Oh, by the way, I knew it was Oswald all the time!" and that he did so now at the FBI's urging. Here, there is still no hint that Brennan had been too frightened to identify Oswald on the 22nd. As a result, it seems likely that Brennan was unable to ID Oswald based on the images he saw on television, and was unsure whether his subsequent belief that Oswald, of the four divergent men in the line-up, "most resembled"the shooter, was based on his own recollections, or by his seeing Oswald on television. This makes his subsequent positive Identification of Oswald, at the FBI's urging, essentially worthless.
Even so, Brennan proves he has some credibility by refusing to say he heard two shots fired from the sniper’s nest before he saw Oswald fire his last shot. When taken with the statements of all the other witnesses, this suggests that one of the last two shots came from somewhere else. Brennan testifies: “after the President had passed my position, I really couldn’t say how many feet or how far, a short distance I would say, I heard this crack that I positively would say was a backfire…Well, then something, just right after this explosion, made me think it was a firecracker being thrown from the Texas book store. And I glanced up. And this man I saw previous was aiming for his last shot…it appeared to me he was standing up or leaning against the left window sill, with gun shouldered to his right shoulder, holding the gun with his left hand and taking positive aim and fired his last shot. As I calculate a couple of seconds. He drew the gun back from the window as though he was drawing it back to his side and maybe paused for another second as though to assure hisself that he hit his mark and then he disappeared. And at the same moment, I was diving off of approximately that firewall and to the right for bullet protection of this stone wall that is a little higher on the Houston side...I don't know what made me think that there was firecrackers throwed out of the book store unless I did hear the second shot, because I positively thought the first shot was a backfire, and subconsciously I must have heard a second shot but I do not recall it. I could not swear to it."
And then there's this...
This is Warren Commission Exhibit 477. This was purported to show where witness Howard Brennan was sitting on 11-22-63. It was purported to demonstrate, moreover, that Brennan could have looked up and seen Oswald in the top circled window. But there was a problem, un-acknowledged or perhaps even deliberately concealed by the Warren Commission and/or its staff, was that Brennan was actually sitting 4-5 feet to the right of where he claimed he'd been sitting. (This is shown above, with Brennan as captured in the Bell film added onto the image.)
Still, this was but a minor problem, yes?
No. It was a major problem. As shown in the photo below, the face of someone firing upon the motorcade from the supposed sniper's position would not be visible to someone sitting where Brennan had actually been sitting.
(Note: This photo was taken by photographer Flip Schulke on the day of the assassination, and published in the 11-29-63 issue of Time.)
So...what is one to think? Warren Commission Counsel David Belin, who took Brennan's testimony, admitted in this testimony that he was was with Brennan when the photo that would become CE 477 was taken. It had been taken, moreover, on his behalf, on 3-20-64. Well, Belin, on that same day, had supervised photos taken of Harold Norman, Bonnie Ray Williams, and James Jarman on the fifth floor. In such case, he would almost certainly have looked out the far left window of the building, and have realized that there was no freakin' way Brennan could have got a good look at Oswald should Oswald have been sitting on a box on the east side of the window unless....unless...Brennan had been sitting on the middle of the block wall facing Elm Street, (and not where he'd actually been sitting--at the northeast corner of the wall facing Houston).
So, we ask ourself, was CE 477's showing Brennan in the wrong location a coincidence, or conspiracy?
Still, if the commission thought Brennan's testimony a breath of fresh air, and a respite from problematic testimony indicating there was more than one shooter, they were mistaken. On 3-24, just after Brennan's testimony, two of the three men on the floor below the sniper’s nest at the time of the shooting testify as the two men in the front seat of the limousine had before them--and claim the last two shots were extremely close together. It's actually worse than that. The third man’s previous statements suggested this as well. James Jarman (3-24-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 3H198-211) “After the motorcade turned, going west on Elm, then there was a loud shot, or backfire, as I thought it was…A backfire or an officer giving a salute to the President. And then at that time I didn’t, you know, think too much about it. And then the second shot was fired, and that is when people started falling on the ground and the motorcade car jumped forward, and then the third shot was fired right behind the second one…after the third shot was fired, I think I got up and I run over to Harold Norman and Bonnie Ray Williams, and told them, I said, I told them that it wasn’t a backfire or anything, that somebody was shooting at the President…I couldn’t say that I saw him actually hit, but after the second shot I presumed that he was…I saw him lean his head.” Harold Norman (3-24-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 3H186-198) “About the time that he got past the window where I was, well, it seems as though he was, I mean you, brushing his hair. Maybe he was looking at the public…I can’t remember what the exact time was but I know I heard a shot, and then after I heard a shot, well, it seems as though the President, you know, slumped or something, and then another shot and I believe Jarman or someone told me, he said “I believe someone is shooting at the President,” and I think I made a statement “it is someone shooting at the President, and I believe it came from up above us. Well, I couldn’t see at all during the time but I know I heard a third shot fired, and I could also hear something sounded like the shell hulls hitting the floor and the ejecting of the rifle.” Bonnie Ray Williams (3-24-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 3H161-184) “After the President’s car the last thing I remember seeing him do was, you know—it seemed to me he had a habit of pushing his hair back. The last thing I saw him do was he pushed his hand up like this. I assumed he was brushing his hair back. And then the thing that happened then was a loud shot—first I thought they were saluting the President, somebody even maybe a motorcycle backfire. The first shot—there was two shots rather close together. The second and the third shot was closer together than the first shot and the second shot, as I remember…the first shot—I really did not pay much attention to it, because I did not know what was happening. The second shot it sounded like it was right in the building, the second and third shot. And it sounded—it even shook the building.”
There is an element to Williams' testimony that is even more problematic. He admits he ate a chicken sandwich on the sixth floor of the school book depository after 12 o'clock on the day of the shooting. Under questioning by Joe Ball, he states further that he "finished the chicken sandwich maybe 10 or 15 minutes after 12. I could say approximately what time it was." Ball then bites (no, not the sandwich) and asks Williams what time approximately. Williams responds "Approximately 12:20, maybe." Well, hello, Williams ate his lunch by a window but a few yards away from the sniper's nest. He has now testified that he was there until about 10 minutes before the assassination. He has said he heard nothing from that direction, and that, even worse, that that was one of the reasons why he left the sixth floor--"because it was so quiet." He did not hear the rustling of paper as the dismantled rifle was removed from the bag. Nor did he hear the sounds of someone assembling a rifle made of metal and wood with a dime. If Oswald had put the rifle together somewhere else in the building, why would the bag be found in the sniper's nest? And if he put the rifle together in the sniper's nest, why didn't Williams hear him? Did Oswald finish putting the rifle together just before Williams arrived, and just sit there quietly, hoping Williams wouldn't discover him prior to Kennedy's arrival? Or did Oswald, upon Williams' arrival on the floor, stop putting the rifle together, and decide to NOT KILL KENNEDY, only to have just enough time to put the rifle together after Williams suddenly got up and left? (This issue has, as one might expect, never been resolved.)
On 3-26-64, we see a memo from Assistant General Counsel Redlich to General Counsel Rankin. It is a"proposed outline" for the commission's final report. Chapter IV is titled "Lee H. Oswald as the Assassin." Under this heading, Redlich notes "This Section should state the facts which lead to the conclusion that Oswald pulled the trigger and should also indicate the elements in the case which have either not been proven or are based on doubtful testimony." While this suggests that Redlich wants a thoughtful discussion of the facts in the report, it also suggests that he's rejected the idea these facts could lead in any direction other than Oswald being the sole assassin.
We also see yet another interview suggesting the last two shots were fired together, bang-bang.
J.W. Foster: the Dallas police officer on top of the railroad bridge. ( (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.” Double head shot.
That the commission's investigators think the investigation is over is not exactly a secret, moreover. On 3-30-64, the Associated Press reports (in an article found in the Dallas Morning News) that "The presidential commission investigating President John F. Kennedy's assassination has found no evidence the crime was anything but the emotional act of an individual--and the commission now feels most of the evidence is in." It then relates that "sources close to the high level panel" believe "The end is in sight, as far as questioning witnesses and examining other evidence is concerned...but writing the definitive report is expected to be a long job after the hearings close...The commission is well aware of the persistent rumors...Some of the stories represent it as a left-wing, some a right-wing conspiracy... The hope is that the report ultimately produced will dispel any such ideas--except among the irreducible number of romantics who always prefer to believe in conspiracies."
Above: the mug shot of the accused, Lee Harvey Oswald. It's amazing how his original mug shot (as subsequently published by the Dallas Police Archives on the University of North Texas website, at top) can look so different than this same mug shot as published by the Warren Commission (at bottom). Look in particular at the eyes. The man at top is bright-eyed and determined. He might very well be innocent. The man at bottom is bleary-eyed and haunted. He is probably guilty and quite possibly insane.
This goes to show, then, how one's perception of Oswald--and his guilt--can be affected by something as basic as the publishing of a third--or even fourth--generation photo in the place of the original photo. Just imagine, then, how the filtering of evidence and information through a team of lawyers tasked with convicting a dead man could affect the public's perception of the evidence against this dead man.
Then multiply that by a hundred...
The "So-Called" Evidence
In the preceding chapters it has been demonstrated that the Warren Commission’s conclusion Oswald fired all the shots on Kennedy was not supported by the statements of those who'd actually heard the shots. It was also demonstrated that Oswald was not the experienced and practiced sniper he would almost certainly have to have been to shoot President Kennedy twice in the time allotted for the shooting...by those who'd studied the assassination films.
But that doesn't prove Oswald's innocence. Witnesses can be mistaken. Inexperienced and/or out of practice shooters can get "lucky."
What it does prove, however, is that the Warren Commission was a whitewash. Its members and staff were dedicated to finding and exposing the truth about the assassination, all right--as long as that truth was that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
They ignored or dismissed much of the evidence suggesting a different truth entirely.
Well, this leads us nowhere. The days when we can pick up where they left off and look under the rocks where they refused to look are long passed.
But we can clean up some of the stuff they spewed--so that the historical record is such that future historians can look at multiple sides on this issue, and not repeat the mistakes of the past--where historians felt obligated to recite the Warren Commission's conclusions under the presumption they were conclusions derived by men sincerely interested in telling the public the truth.
I mean, really, if those tasked with deducing the truth about the assassination couldn't even acknowledge that the first shot hit Kennedy (when that was the immediate impression of the vast majority of witnesses), and couldn't even admit to the public that Oswald's ability to fire the shots in question was, in fact...highly questionable, well, then, why should we trust them on any of their many conclusions related to the case?
We shouldn't. And most of us don't.
In the next few chapters, then, we will review the evidence the Warren Commission used to sell Oswald's guilt. This was, for the most part, the same evidence presented to the nation while Oswald was in police custody...the evidence he mockingly referred to as "so-called evidence" when discussing his arrest with his family.
We will start by reviewing the statements and testimony used by the commission to suggest Oswald was in the sixth floor sniper's nest at the time of the shooting, and ran down the back stairs after the shots.
We will do this, moreover, without pretending there's a presumption of innocence. To the commission or its staff, that is. I hope you're not offended by the L word, because I'm gonna let it blast a few times.
Let's reflect. Oswald's murder while in the protective custody of the notoriously right-wing Dallas Police Department had raised reasonable questions on whether he had, in fact, been framed, and that someone or some group had conspired to ensure his silence. If he had been framed, of course, it would explain the most damning piece of evidence against him: that his rifle had fired the shots. To avoid conjecture that their conclusion Oswald acted alone was, well, unWarren-ted, then, the Warren Commission needed solid evidence that:
1. Oswald was on the sixth floor before the shooting, putting together his rifle and building the sniper's nest.
2. Oswald was in the sniper's nest window at the time of the shooting, with his rifle.
3. Oswald fired a rifle on 11-22-63.
Without convincing evidence these purported events took place, after all, there was room to doubt Oswald's involvement in the actual shooting. Without this evidence, all the Warren Commission had to suggest Oswald shot Kennedy was that his prints were found in the sniper's nest, his gun was found in the building, he fled the scene after the shooting, he soon thereafter shot a police officer, and was purported to have lied to the police in the unrecorded interrogations conducted before he could find an attorney. All this damning evidence, (and it is indeed damning evidence should it be accepted without reservation) could be explained, however, by the not-unreasonable proposition Oswald fled for his life once he realized he'd been set up as the president's assassin.
So let's take a look at the evidence the Warren Commission found so compelling.(Note: Before sinking one's teeth into this triple-decker information sandwich, one should familiarize oneself with the basic layout of the first floor of the Texas School Book Depository. This is shown below on Commission Exhibit 1061. The main entrance to the building, off Elm Street, is on the bottom. There is a stairway by this entrance that goes to the second floor, and an elevator that goes to the offices on floors 1-4. There is a second entrance to the building off the loading dock, at the top. There is a stairway near this entrance in the upper left corner that runs from the basement up to the 7th floor, and there are two freight elevators near this entrance that also run from the basement up to the 7th floor. There are no entrances or exits on the east side of the building. This leaves the west side, which many believed to have no entrances or exits but actually had two roll-up doors that led to a covered loading dock--which has strangely been left off the diagram.)
Solving the Puzzle of Where was Oswaldo
First, we look into the question of whether or not Oswald was on the sixth floor in the moments leading up to the shooting. There were two major hurdles to coming to the conclusion Oswald was on the sixth floor at this time. One was that Oswald was seen downstairs during the lunch period leading up to the shooting by a number of witnesses. And the other was that Oswald was not seen on the sixth floor during the lunch period by the one man claiming to have had lunch on the sixth floor.
Let's begin our discussion by reviewing Oswald's own claims. Captain Will Fritz's typed up notes on his first interrogation of Oswald reflect that, at the time of the shooting, Oswald said "he was having his lunch about that time on the first floor." (24H265)
Oswald was asked about this again the next day. This time, however, he was asked if anyone could confirm he'd spent his lunch period on the first floor. According to Fritz's typed-up notes, Oswald said he'd "ate lunch with some of the colored boys who worked with him. One of them was called 'Junior' and the other man was a little short man whose name he did not know." (24H267) The report of Secret Service Inspector Thomas Kelley, who was present at this second interrogation, confirms this account, moreover, stating "He said he ate his lunch with the colored boys who worked with him. He described one of them as 'Junior,' a colored boy, and the other was a little short negro boy." The report of FBI agent James Bookhout (WR622), who was also present for this interrogation, however, gives a slightly different account of Oswald's statements. Bookhout relates: "Oswald stated that on November 22, 1963, he had eaten lunch in the lunch room of the Texas School Book Depository, alone, but recalled possibly two negro employees walking through the room in this period. He stated possibly one of these employees was called 'Junior' and the other was a short individual whose name he could not recall, but whom he would be able to recognize." Bookhout's version in which Oswald did not eat lunch with these men, but merely saw them walk by, for that matter, receives solid support from an unexpected source: Fritz's original notes. In his hand-written notes, discovered after his death, Fritz reports that Oswald "saw two negroes come in one Jr. - & short negro" and says nothing about Oswald's claiming to have had lunch with these men.
In either case--whether Oswald claimed he'd had lunch with these men, or that he'd simply seen them walk by while he was eating--those investigating the assassination of President Kennedy were now tasked with finding out if James "Junior" Jarman or his lunch companion, Harold Norman (almost certainly the "short negro" in question), or anyone, for that matter, could confirm that Oswald had been in this first floor lunch room (aka the domino room) in the moments before the shooting, and, if not, whether anyone could place him on a higher floor during this same time period.
So let's retrace their footsteps and see what these men saw.
An 11-22-63 affidavit signed by Oswald co-worker Charles Givens reveals "I worked on the sixth floor today until about 11:30 A.M. Then I went downstairs and into the bathroom. At twelve o'clock I took my lunch period." (24H210) After signing this affidavit, Givens was interviewed by the FBI. A report on this interview further details “Givens observed Lee reading a newspaper in the domino room where the employees eat lunch about 11:50 A.M.” (CD5 p329)
William Shelley, Oswald's direct boss, was also interviewed by the FBI on 11-22-63, and also told them he saw Oswald downstairs during the lunch period. The FBI reported: "Mr. William H. Shelley...furnished the following information...On the morning of November 22, 1963, Harvey Lee Oswald, who is an employee of the Texas School Book Depository, appeared at work as usual and went about his occupation filling orders for school books. He saw Oswald on two or three occasions during the morning and last saw him sometime between 11:45 A.M. and 12 noon, when he, Shelley, went to lunch." (CD5, p371)
These FBI reports thereby confirm Oswald's story he'd spent at least part of his lunchtime in the domino room. Or at least it appears to do so...
In any event, Givens snd Shelley weren't the only ones confirming Oswald came down for lunch.
An 11-23-63 statement to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Dept. signed by depository janitor Eddie Piper confirms: “Yesterday, at 12:00 noon, this fellow Lee says to me 'I’m going up to eat' and I went on to my lunch. I went to a front window on the first floor and ate my lunch and waited to see the President's parade go by. I saw the President pass and heard some shots and looked at the clock there and saw it was 12:25PM.” (19H499)
So, okay. That's two men claiming they saw Oswald downstairs. Piper says he saw Oswald at 12:00. That still leaves Oswald a half hour to scamper back upstairs and prepare to shoot the President.
But then the timeline closed considerably...
An 11-26-63 FBI report on Mrs. Caroline Arnold adds “As she was standing in front of the building, she stated she thought she caught a fleeting glimpse of Lee Harvey Oswald standing in the doorway between the front door and the double doors leading to the warehouse, located on the first floor. She could not be sure that this was Oswald, but said she felt it was and believed the time to be a few minutes before 12:15 pm.” (CD5 p41)
Now, as we go through the historical record related to the investigation of Kennedy's assassination we will encounter a number of suspicious omissions. (For ease of digestion, I have decided to mark these as "Suspicious Omission #1," "Suspicious Omission #2, etc.")
First and foremost among these omissions is that Carolyn Arnold was never re-interviewed about her belief she saw Oswald on the first floor during the time the Warren Commission would come to claim he was upstairs. Not by the FBI. Not by the Warren Commission. While the FBI report said she could not be sure she saw Oswald, this is unduly vague, and may have reflected that she'd actually told the FBI she was 99.44% sure.
Suspicious Omission #1 March '64--September '64. The Warren Commission fails to call Carolyn Arnold to testify, even though she told FBI investigators she believed she saw Oswald on the first floor around 12:15.
Now, if you find this omission shocking--and you should--you must prepare yourself. We're just getting started.
In describing an interview with Eddie Piper, a 12-7-63 Secret Service report on Oswald's co-workers relates "At about 12:00 noon on November 22, 1963, Piper last saw Oswald on the first floor and at that time Oswald said 'I'm going up to eat lunch.' Piper stated that he ate lunch on the first floor and was still on that floor at the time of the shots, that he looked up at the clock, and it was 12:25 P.M." (CD87 p780) Now, this was a repeat of what Piper had claimed on 11-23-63. It confirmed that he saw Oswald on the first floor 25 minutes or so before the shooting. (The shooting took place at 12:30, so his clock must have been off.)
But this wasn't the only gem in the 12-7 report.
Further down the page from its discussion of Eddie Piper, the 12-7-63 Secret Service report on Oswald's co-workers describes an interview of William Shelley, Oswald’s direct boss. It relates: "Mr. Shelley last saw Oswald at about 11:50 A.M., at which time Oswald was working at his normal duties on the first floor." (CD87 p780)
The strange wording of this report requires some discussion. While some might think Shelley's claiming he saw Oswald "working at his normal duties" means he saw Oswald working and about to head up to the sixth floor, this is blown out of the water by the fact Shelley was both Oswald's boss and the leader of the sixth floor work crew, a crew that by all accounts, (except Charles Givens', which varied quite a bit), came down for lunch around 11:45, passing Oswald on the fifth floor.
So what would Oswald be doing as part of his "normal duties" after everybody else had quit for lunch? Well, here, my own personal experience is of help. I've pulled orders in warehouses, and checked orders, too. Oswald was an order puller, tasked with gathering books that have been ordered, and bringing these books to a shipping table, where the order could be checked against the pick list, wrapped, and shipped. In reporting that Shelley said Oswald was working at his normal duties on the first floor, then, the Secret Service was quite possibly reporting that Shelley saw Oswald delivering an order to the shipping table--perhaps, even, an order of books just retrieved from the fifth floor.
In any event, by 12-7-63, it would have to have been clear to those investigating the assassination that Oswald came down for lunch, if only for a few minutes.
Now, here comes some murk.
On 12-20, the FBI finally gets around to interviewing Eddie Piper. This is not a shocking development. In what can only be considered a shocking development, however, the report on this interview omits or conceals that Piper spoke to Oswald around 12:00. Instead, it declares that Piper "advised he came to work at his usual time, 10 A.M., November 22, 1963, and during the course of his employment had seen Lee Harvey Oswald, a fellow employee, filling orders on the first floor. He did not recall the specific time he saw Oswald, stating it was shortly after he got to work and stated that this was the only time he saw Oswald on that particular day." (CD206 p13)
Suspicious Omission #2
12-20-63. The FBI omits from its report on an interview with Eddie Piper that Piper feels certain he saw Oswald on the first floor around 12:00.
So what's all this about? Was the FBI embarrassed by the fact they'd never interviewed Piper? Were they desperate to discount the importance of his recollections? And, to that end, were FBI agents Richard Harrison and William Johnson tasked with diluting Piper's consistent claim he saw Oswald around noon?
Or had Piper changed his recollections?
Not the latter. On 2-17-64, when interviewed by the Dallas Police, Piper repeated "At around 12:00 noon, I told Oswald that I was going to eat my sandwich. Oswald mumbled something that he was going up to eat. This was the last time I saw Oswald."
So there it is. The statements of Oswald's co-workers strongly support that he came down for lunch.
So why is this important?
The Strange Reliance on Charles Givens
Since the only man identifying Oswald as the shooter in the sixth floor window, Howard Brennan, said he couldn't identify Oswald as the shooter on 11-22-63, and only did so in December, weeks after Oswald's death, after being prodded by the FBI, the statements placing Oswald downstairs in the forty-five minutes before the shooting represented a major problem for those seeking to blame him for the shooting. There was no hard evidence suggesting Oswald was the man seen in the window minutes before the shooting. If Oswald had been downstairs, moreover, there was no evidence he went back up. Joseph Ball and David Belin, the Warren Commission attorneys tasked with building a case against Oswald, then, needed to explain how Oswald was able to build the sniper’s nest and re-construct his dismantled rifle in the short time between his last being seen downstairs and the arrival of the motorcade.
Except they didn't. As we've seen, they didn't even talk to Carolyn Arnold, whose belief she saw Oswald on the first floor around 12:15 was a big big problem for the commission's working hypothesis Oswald shot Kennedy from the sixth floor at 12:30.
But it's worse than that. Ball and Belin, who, according to author Philip Shenon, "became so close" during the commission's investigation that their superiors on the commission came to say their names"together as a single word, Ball-Belin," actually argued Oswald never came down for lunch.
I'm not kidding.
From the Warren Report, page 143:
Oswald's Presence on Sixth Floor Approximately 35 Minutes Before the Assassination
Additional testimony linking Oswald with the point from which the shots were fired was provided by the testimony of Charles Givens, who was the last known employee to see Oswald inside the building prior to the assassination. During the morning of November 22, Givens was working with the floor-laying crew in the southwest section of the sixth floor. At about. 11:45 a.m. the floor-laying crew used both elevators to come down from the sixth floor. The employees raced the elevators to the first floor. Givens saw Oswald standing at the gate on the fifth floor as the elevator went by. Givens testified that after reaching the first floor, "I discovered I left my cigarettes in my jacket pocket upstairs, and I took the elevator back upstairs to get my jacket with my cigarettes in it." He saw Oswald, a clipboard in hand, walking from the southeast corner of the sixth floor toward the elevator. (See Commission Exhibit No. 2707, p. 142.) Givens said to Oswald, "Boy are you going downstairs? * * * It's near lunch time." Oswald said, "No, sir. When you get downstairs, close the gate to the elevator." Oswald was referring to the west elevator which operates by pushbutton and only with the gate closed. Givens said, "Okay," and rode down in the east elevator. When he reached the first floor, the west elevator--the one with the gate was not there. Givens thought this was about 11:55 a.m. None of the Depository employees is known to have seen Oswald again until after the shooting. (WR p143)
Now, why would they make such an argument? Why flim-flam the public when taking a more honest route might lead to the same conclusion--that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, killed President Kennedy?
The thought occurs that they did this because it was easier--that they were just too freakin' busy pounding square pegs into round holes to think outside the box, and recognize the true shape of the evidence before them.
When one re-reads the testimony feeding into the commission's conclusion Oswald never came down for lunch, for that matter, and re-reads the internal documents of the commission from early March '64--when the commission's workload doubled or even tripled--this actually makes a lot of sense.
On 3-2-64, let's recall, Howard Willens reported that "Most of today was consumed by two staff meetings regarding the proposed schedule of testimony before the Commission and by depositions taken by the staff. The draft memorandum for the members of the Commission which I prepared was distributed to members of the staff and was discussed at the initial meeting beginning at 11:30 a.m. The discussion quickly centered on the problem whether staff members should be permitted to interview witnesses in advance of the witness giving a deposition or testifying before the Commission. This argument went on for two hours or so and for an additional two hours or so at a continuation of the meeting beginning at 4 o’clock. Mr. Shaffer was not there and therefore his eloquence could not be brought to bear on this topic. As a result of the meetings, a set of procedures is to be made up by a committee including Messrs. Liebeler, Belin and Redlich. Mr. Redlich and Mr. Eisenberg were the most forceful proponents of the proposition that staff members should not be permitted to interview witnesses without a court reporter present. Mr. Belin was strongly opposed and Mr. Liebeler urged a somewhat intermediate position."
So, okay. Belin really wants to pre-interview his witnesses.
On 3-4-64, this ongoing debate within the commission's staff led Commission General Counsel J. Lee Rankin's top assistant Norman Redlich to put his feelings down in a memo. On the issue of whether or not commission attorneys should interview witnesses before their testimony, and in effect prepare them for their testimony, Redlich complained: "I feel that an unrecorded interview with a witness creates the inevitable danger that the witness will be conditioned to give certain testimony."Redlich then added "If we compound the lack of cross examination with the pre-conditioning of a witness, we will be presenting a record which, in my view, will be deceptively clean..."
Redlich's objection was shot down, moreover, and by the Chief Justice, no less. A 3-10-64 journal entry from Rankin's other top assistant, Howard Willens, reports that he'd had a meeting with the top staff and Earl Warren, during which Warren "indicated that he wanted to get our lawyers on the road as quickly as possible to interview witnesses. In the course of stating his views on this, the Chief Justice stated that he had complete faith in all of the members of the staff and wanted them to be free to have unrecorded interviews with the witnesses. Although he did not elaborate on his views in this matter, the Chief Justice apparently had been briefed on the staff discussions on this subject by someone, possibly Mr. Rankin or Mr. Ball."
Willens then briefly discussed Warren's wishes regarding who should be questioned next. He then added: "After the above meeting various members of the staff gathered in my office to make their suggestions regarding alterations in the schedule. Present were Messrs. Redlich, Eisenberg, Ball, Belin, Stern, Liebeler and Ely. As usual there was considerable debate among the members of the staff regarding the function of the Commission and the definition of what constitutes a thorough job. Apparently during the day’s testimony the Chief Justice had indicated his readiness to receive a clean record and not pursue in very much detail the various inconsistencies. Mr. Ball agreed with the approach suggested by the Chief Justice completely and Mr. Specter thought that we would have to amend our approach to correspond with that of the Chief Justice. Mr. Redlich and Mr. Eisenberg took a strong and articulate contrary view."
Now, it seems clear from this that Howard Willens suspected Ball was behind all this. I mean, first he says he suspects Ball may have been the one to brief Warren on the ongoing debate, and then he notes that Ball was in complete agreement with Warren's ultimate decision.
So...let's get this straight. David Belin, who has been tasked with determining (and presumably demonstrating) Oswald's guilt, has been pushing Rankin and Redlich to allow him to pre-interview and thereby shape the testimony of his witnesses... while at the same time, Joseph Ball, Belin's senior partner, has been lobbying Chief Justice Warren, whom he has known for decades, about the benefits to be derived from pre-interviewing witnesses, in order to receive as "clean" a record as possible.
Of the 14 assistant counsel for the commission, Ball and Belin are the only two tasked with demonstrating Oswald's guilt, and they are also the only two itching to pre-interview their witnesses.
Well, hell's bells. If this isn't a clear indication Ball and Belin were up to something I don't know what such an indication would look like. Unstated but implicit in Redlich's memo is that pre-interviewing witnesses in the manner subsequently proposed by Warren leads to a deceptively "clean" record through two processes. The first is that the witness learns what the lawyer wants him to say, and is more likely to say it. And the second is that the lawyer learns what questions shouldn't be asked, because the answers might lead to more questions, or even a direction opposite the preferred direction. That Ball and Belin were so gung-ho about pre-interviewing their witnesses, then, is a red flag. It cries "Future historians, look at our behavior--look at the questions we didn't ask (at least on the record), and the witnesses we never called."
And yes, should you be wondering, Ball and his junior counsel Belin did indeed pre-interview and try to mold the testimony of their witnesses. In Cover-up (1976), author J. Gary Shaw detailed a 1971 interview he'd performed with ex-Dallas County Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig. Craig told Shaw that many of the details of his 1964 testimony had been changed--things like the color of a car he saw after the shooting, or the color of the jacket of the man he saw running to this car.
Now, that could just be the ranting of a man with a bad memory. More telling, then, is this. Of David Belin, Craig complained: "He started instructing me before he got a tape recorder and a stenographer there. He told her not to write anything until he instructed her to. He did not turn the recorder on and he started instructing me. He said 'Now, Mr. Craig, I'm going to ask you this question and I want you to tell me this.' And I said 'Counselor, just ask me the questions and if I know the answers, I will tell you,' and he became irritated. So then we started the question and answer series and periodically he would turn off the recorder and instruct the stenographer to stop writing. Then he would ask me pertinent questions...And then he would say 'OK' and would start the recorder, instruct the stenographer to start writing again but he wouldn't ask me those questions he asked off the record. He'd go back again to the questions he'd already asked me, about who I worked for, what I was doing that day. He did this seven or eight times during the interview."
And Craig wasn't the only witness to complain about Belin. A December 1978 Dallas Morning News article by Earl Golz revealed that on 4-1-64 David Belin argued with witness Ronald Fischer about the color of the hair of the man Fischer saw staring out the window of the sniper's nest. According to Fischer, Belin tried to "intimidate" him, because Oswald's hair was not as light as the hair of the man Fischer saw, and he "wanted me to tell him that the man was dark-headed and I wouldn't do it." None of this was on the record, of course.
And Fisher wasn't the last to complain. In his 2010 book, The Girl on the Stairs, Barry Ernest details a 2004 conversation he had with witness Vickie Adams, in which she similarly complained about the interviewing technique employed by David Belin. She said Belin told her he wanted her to answer his questions without elaboration, answering only the questions asked. He then began questioning her. She said that after going through these questions, Belin announced that this was all off the record. He then began questioning her again, on the record.
Well, it seems clear from this that Belin was actively trying to weed out problematic comments and details.
And we needn't rely upon these witnesses, either. The 4-22-64 testimony of Dallas Crime Scene investigator J.C. Day has many amazing passages, but one of the most amazing passages reflects badly on Belin, not Day. Consider:
Mr. BELIN. Is there any other testimony you have with regard to the chain of possession of this shell from the time it was first found until the time it got back to your office?
Mr. DAY. No, sir; I told you in our conversation in Dallas that I marked those at the scene. After reviewing my records, I didn't think I was on all three of those hulls that you have, indicating I did not mark them at the scene, then I remembered putting them in the envelope, and Sims taking them. It was further confirmed today when I noticed that the third hull, which I did not give you, or come to me through you, does not have my mark on it.
Mr. BELIN. Now, I did interview you approximately 2 weeks ago in Dallas, more or less?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. At that time what is the fact as to whether or not I went into extended questions and answers as contrasted with just asking you to tell me about certain areas as to what happened? I mean, I questioned you, of course, but was it more along the lines of just asking you to tell me what happened, or more along the lines of interrogation, the interrogation we are doing now?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Which one?
Mr. DAY. Wait a minute now. Say that again. I am at a loss.
Mr. BELIN. Maybe it would be easier if I just struck the question and started all over again.
Mr. DAY. I remember you asking me if I marked them.
Mr. BELIN. Yes.
Mr. DAY. I remember I told you I did.
Mr. BELIN. All right.
And that was it. Day mentioned that Belin had questioned him off the record, which led Belin to try to get Day to add that it was really no big deal, which confused the heck out of Day, which led Belin to let it drop. Belin knew people would question his behavior, and he sought to cover his rump.
And it wasn't just Belin who was tampering with the witnesses. In a 2-16-87 interview with Gus Russo first published in 1998, Buell Frazier, who claimed he saw Oswald carry a package into the building on the morning of the shooting, complained: "They had me in one room and my sister in another. They were asking us to hold our hands apart to show how long the package was. They made me do it over and over--at least ten times. Each time they measured the distance, and it was always 25 inches, give or take an inch. They did the same with my sister and she gave the same measurement...But I don't understand what the problem is--Lee could have taken the rifle in on another day and hidden it in the warehouse. Why did he have to take it in on Friday?" Frazier was questioned by Belin's partner, Ball.
So let's take a closer look at the behavior of Messieurs Ball and Belin.
Now I must say, researching and writing what you are about to read was an agonizing experience. But it led me to an understanding of the Warren Commission and how it got it wrong that had previously eluded me...
And, I dare say, still eludes most Americans...
To sum up, when confronted with the conflicting statements about Oswald's whereabouts at the time of the shooting, and facing the possibility someone other than Oswald was Kennedy's assassin, Ball and Belin repeatedly pulled the chicken switch, and opted to stuff all the square pegs they could find into round holes.
While we don't know why they did this--in that we don't know whether Chief Justice Warren personally asked them to do this--such speculation seems reasonable given Ball's long-time relationship with Warren. And we've already demonstrated that Warren approved of Ball's stuffing these holes...
Sorry if that sounds nasty.
And sorry if it sounds mean. My mom comes from Iowa. I would like nothing more than for the two Warren Commission attorneys to have been raised in Iowa (Ball in Stuart and Council Bluffs and Belin in my mom's hometown of Sioux City) to have been the two attorneys whose reputations were unsoiled by their stint on the Commission. But this was not to be. Belin, as we shall see, took some liberties with the truth and quite possibly suborned perjury, and Ball, well, he engaged in some sneaky lawyer tricks that were designed to deceive the public.
Now, I know, I know...Ball was a legendary lawyer with a sterling reputation...among lawyers. But that's the problem. In 1999, at the age of 97, Ball wrote A Century in the Life of a Lawyer, an article telling his life story, which was then published in the California Western Law Review. Well, mixed in with his and-then-I-met-Earl-Warren-type vignettes, Ball shared a few of his sneaky lawyer tricks--such as the technique he used to help even the worst murderers avoid the death penalty, and the techniques he used to help two accused child molesters go free. (I'll give you a hint...he thought up ways to get the jury to doubt the credibility of the female victims--one couldn't tell time, and the other failed to yell out when she was being molested, so, y'know, there was reasonable doubt they were telling the truth. The horror...)
In any event, with 20/20 hindsight, or more accurately, 2017 hindsight, we can see just how Ball and Belin attempted, and largely succeeded, to "clean" up the record regarding Oswald's activities just before the shooting...
They didn't do it all at once, mind you. They did it in steps...
Step 1: The 3-24-64 Testimony of Bonnie Ray Williams...
An 11-23-63 FBI report on Bonnie Ray Williams declared: “At approximately 12 noon, Williams went back upstairs to the sixth floor with his lunch. He stayed on that floor only about three minutes, and seeing no one there, descended to the fifth floor using the stairs at the west end of the building.” (CD5 p330)
Now that was simple enough. A guy went upstairs to the sixth floor, saw nothing, and left, long before shots were fired from the far left corner of the floor.
A 12-7 Secret Service Report on an interview with Williams, however, went into more detail. It declared: "After Williams picked up his lunch on the first floor he returned to the sixth floor...Williams said he spent just a few minutes eating his lunch and that during that time he did not see anyone else or hear anything on the sixth floor. As soon as he finished his lunch, Williams went to the fifth floor of the building and he estimated the time to be prior to 12:15 P.M." (CD87 p784)
Well, this is interesting. What had been but 3 minutes could now be as much as 14 minutes... of Williams sitting alone on the sixth floor... with no Oswald in sight... This could be a problem for those wanting to sell that Oswald stayed up on the sixth floor during lunch.
It seems probable, then, that an FBI report on a 1-8-64 interview with Williams was written in an attempt to solve this problem. It declared that Williams "recalled that he ate lunch about noon on November 22, 1963 on the sixth floor of the TSBD Building and about that time he heard James Earl Jarman Jr. also known as 'Junior' and Harold 'Hank' Norman on the fifth floor and he joined them there by going down on the west elevator about 12:05 P.M." (CD329, p13)
Well, okay... This time of 12:05 is more than a little suspicious, and is quite possibly the approximation of Special agents Carter and Griffin, the writers of the report, and not Williams. Williams made it clear, after all, that he only came down to the fifth floor after hearing Jarman and Norman on the floor below. On 1-8-64, agents Carter and Griffin spoke to both Jarman and Norman. Jarman said he thought he went up to the fifth floor around 12:25 (CD329, p12) and Norman said he went up to the fifth floor "about 12:10 to 12:20" (CD329, p14).
From this one can gather that Williams was on the sixth floor as recently as 5-10 minutes before the shooting at 12:30.
Aha! Perhaps this explains why Williams' signed statement from the afternoon of the shooting suggests he was at first too scared to say he'd been on the sixth floor at all. There, Williams declared that, after he came downstairs to get his lunch, "I went back on the fifth floor with a fellow called Hank and Junior, I don't know his last name. Just after we got on the fifth floor we saw the President coming around the corner on Houston from Main Street." (24H229)
In any event, on 3-19-64, Williams, who'd originally stated he heard but two shots, made a statement drawn up by the FBI (but apparently unsigned by Williams) asserting that he'd heard three shots. He also asserted that "The last time I saw Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963 was at about 11:40 A.M. At that time Oswald was on the sixth floor on the east side of the building. I did not pay particular attention to what he was doing." (22H681)
Well, wait a second. This directly contradicted Williams' affidavit to the Dallas County Sheriff's Department signed on the afternoon of the shooting. There, he claimed "I didn't see Oswald anymore, that I remember, after I saw him at 8 A.M."
Still, it seems possible this 11:40 is a reference to the elevator race, in which Williams heard but did not see Oswald yell out from the fifth (or sixth) floor as the floor crew (Williams, Arce, Lovelady, Givens) descended to the first floor via both freight elevators. While most of those involved placed the time for this race at 11:45, there's no reason to believe Williams had committed this time to memory, and would recall it without error 4 months after the fact.
If the FBI and Warren Commission thought this signaled a new and improved Williams, one who would help them make their case that Oswald stayed on the sixth floor when everyone else came down for lunch, however, they had another think coming. When Williams testified on 3-25-64 he stated that the sixth floor crew had quit working at 5 to 12 (his statement on the afternoon of the shooting said 10 to 12) and that he had went back up to the sixth floor looking for others after grabbing his lunch. He testified further that he ate lunch by himself for “5, 10, 12 minutes…no longer than it took me to finish my chicken sandwich” before heading back down to the fifth floor. When pressed further on what time he came down to the fifth floor, he responded "I finished the chicken sandwich maybe 10 or 15 minutes after 12. I could say approximately what time it was." He then told them something no one could have been expecting: "Approximately 12:20, maybe." Later, when asked by Commissioner Dulles if he had heard anything on the sixth floor while he was eating, he responded "I felt like I was all alone. That is one of the reasons I left--because it was so quiet." (3H161-184)
As Williams sat 10 yards or so from the sniper’s nest and did not see or hear anyone else on the sixth floor, it suggests that, after spending the bulk of his lunch time downstairs, Oswald did not immediately head back up to the sixth floor, if at all.
So now let's take a closer look at Williams' testimony.
Just look at what happened after he dropped his bombshell about being on the sixth floor till 12:20.
Mr. BALL. Well, now, when you talked to the FBI on the 23d day of November, you said that you went up to the sixth floor about 12 noon with your lunch, and you stayed only about 3 minutes, and seeing no one you came down to the fifth floor, using the stairs at the west end of the building. Now, do you think you stayed longer than 3 minutes up there?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I am sure I stayed longer than 3 minutes.
Mr. BALL. Do you remember telling the FBI you only stayed 3 minutes up there?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I do not remember telling them I only stayed 3 minutes.
Mr. BALL. And then on this 14th of January 1964, when you talked to Carter and Griffin, they reported that you told them you went down to the fifth floor around 12:05 p.m., and that around 12:30 p.m. you were watching the Presidential parade. Now, do you remember telling them you went down there about 12:05 p.m.?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I remember telling the fellows that--they asked me first, they said, "How long did it take you to finish the sandwich?" I said, "Maybe 5 to 10 minutes, maybe 15 minutes." Just like I said here. I don't remember saying for a definite answer that it was 5 minutes.
Mr. BALL. Well, is it fair to say that you do not remember the exact time now?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. You do remember, though, that you ate your lunch and drank your pop, your Doctor Pepper, before you came down?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.
Ball was trying to discredit Williams... This was to no avail, as it turned out, as Ball questioned James Jarman later that day, and Jarman testified that he didn't reach the fifth floor until "12:25 or 12:28." (3H198-211) Williams, we should recall, was clear in that he left the sixth floor when he heard Jarman and Norman on the fifth floor...
Now, it's not as if Williams was a difficult witness, who refused to budge on the slightest point. As we've seen, on 11-23-63, the FBI claimed Williams told them he'd come down from the sixth floor to the fifth via the stairs. This was a problem. The east elevator was later found on the fifth floor. If Williams hadn't brought it there, well, then, who had? Jarman and Norman claimed they'd reached the fifth floor via the west elevator. Motorcycle Patrolman Marrion Baker and Oswald's boss Roy Truly claimed that after racing to the elevator shaft, they found that both elevators were locked up on the upper floors. They said they then climbed the stairs up to the fifth floor, and rode the east elevator from the fifth floor to the seventh floor. So how did it get to the fifth? On 1-8-64, Williams was re-interviewed and now said he'd taken the west elevator from the sixth to the fifth. Oops. That didn't help matters.
Now check out how Ball cleared this up.
Mr. BALL. Now, I want to call your attention to another report I have here. On the 23d of November 1963, the report of Mr. Odum and Mr. Griffin, FBI agents, is that you told them that you went from the sixth floor to the fifth floor using the stairs at the west end of the building. Did you tell them that?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I didn't tell them I was using the stairs. I came back down to the fifth floor in the same elevator I came up to the sixth floor on.
Mr. BALL. You did?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. Now, also, on January 14th, did you remember talking to a couple of agents named Carter and Griffin?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I can't remember their names, but I am sure I did.
Mr. BALL. You talked to a good many of them?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. Well, they reported here that you went down to the fifth floor, and you did so by going down on the west elevator.
Mr. WILLIAMS. The east elevator. The reason I was able to determine whether it was the east elevator is because I think when you questioned us the other day, the other fellows--I told you I didn't remember which elevator first. But the other fellows said they had the west elevator. There are only two elevators. If they are sure they had the west elevator up, that only leaves the east elevator.
Mr. BALL. When you got to the fifth floor and left the elevator, at that time were both elevators on the fifth floor?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. Both west and east?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir, as I remember.
Mr. BALL. The other day, when I talked to you in Dallas, on Friday 20 March--
Mr. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And at that time were you able did you remember which elevator it was?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Which elevator I had?
Mr. BALL. What you had come down from six to five on.
Mr. WILLIAMS. As I remember, I first said I wasn't sure. After the fellows said they brought the west elevator up, I said I must have the east elevator.
Mr. BALL. Is it fair to say now that you don't have any definite memory as to whether it was the east or west elevator?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir. I believe that would be true.
Ball reminded Williams of his prior statements, and put these on the record so the commissioners would know Williams was not to be trusted.
And that's not the last of the Williams switcheroos. In his 11-22-63 affidavit, signed but hours after the shooting, Williams swore that along with Jarman and Norman he ran to the west end of the fifth floor after hearing the shots and seeing the crowd below run towards the grassy knoll. He then declared: "We stayed there and in a little while some officers came up. They left and then we took an elevator to the fourth floor." (24H229). Well, this wouldn't do. In the scenario ultimately proffered by the FBI and WC, to be clear, there was no elevator on the fifth floor 4-5 minutes after the shooting.
So let's see what Williams said the next day. An 11-23-63 FBI memo on an interview with Williams reports: "While they were standing at the west end of the building on the fifth floor, a police officer came up on the elevator and looked all around the fifth floor and left the floor" and that furthermore "he and Hank and Junior were standing where they would have seen anyone coming down from the sixth floor via the stairs and that they did not see anyone coming down. He stated someone might have been coming down on the elevator and they would not have noticed that. He stated that after the police officer left the fifth floor, Williams went down to the fourth floor where there were a lot of women around the west end of the floor." (CD5, p330-333) Okay. No switcheroo yet.
So what did Williams say to the Secret Service a few weeks later? "While they were still on the fifth floor, Williams saw a policeman near the stairway at the back of the building, but he did not know whether the policeman was going up or down the stairway. The policeman did not speak to Williams and apparently did not see him. Williams estimated that about five minutes had passed between the time of the shots and the time he and the others started down the stairs to the first floor." (CD87, p784) Aha! There's the switch. No elevator. Not even a stop on the fourth floor.
And here's Williams again in a statement to the FBI from 3-19-64: "While we were standing at the west end of the building on the fifth floor, a police officer came up on the elevator and looked all around the fifth floor and left the floor. I did not see anyone come down from the stairs." (22H681)
Now, that's strange. The police officer (presumably Marrion Baker) has once again arrived via elevator.
And here's Williams' 3-24-64 testimony regarding this police officer:
Mr. BALL. Now, when you were questioned by the FBI agents, talking to Mr. Odum and Mr. Griffin, they reported in writing here that while you were standing at the west end of the building on the fifth floor, a police officer came up on the elevator and looked all around the fifth floor and left the floor. Did you see anything like that?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Well, at the time I was up there I saw a motorcycle policeman. He came up. And the only thing I saw of him was his white helmet.
Mr. BALL. What did he
Mr. WILLIAMS. He just came around, and around to the elevator.
Mr. BALL. Which elevator?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I believe it was the east elevator.
Mr. BALL. Did you see anybody with him?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I did not.
Mr. BALL. You were only able to see the top of his helmet?
Mr. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. You could only see the top of his helmet
Mr. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir; that is the only thing I saw about it.
Mr. BALL. They reported that you told them on the 23d of November that you and Hank, that is Hank Norman, isn't it--
Mr. WILLIAMS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And Junior--that is Junior Jarman--were standing where they would have seen anyone coming down from the sixth floor by way of the stairs. Did you tell them that?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I could not possibly have told him that, because you cannot see anything coming down from that position.
Mr. BALL. And that you did not see anyone coming down.
Mr. WILLIAMS. No, sir. An elephant could walk by there, and you could not see him.
And here's Williams' testimony regarding their descent to the first floor.
Mr. WILLIAMS. After we stood at the west window for a while, we decided to go down. Then we left.
Mr. BALL. How did you go down?
Mr. WILLIAMS. By stairs.
Mr. BALL. Where did you go?
Mr. WILLIAMS. We went to the fourth floor first. Then we paused for a minute there, where we saw these women looking out of the window. Then we decided to go down to the first floor, and we ran on down.
(3-24-64 Testimony of Bonnie Ray Williams, 3H161-184)
Williams had originally claimed they'd descended via the elevator, but now claimed they'd left by the stairs.
Well, what about Jarman and Norman? Did they support Williams' original statements? Or his subsequent testimony?
A 12-7-63 Secret Service report on Jarman relates: "He went with Williams and Norman to the west side of the building where they looked out those windows for a few minutes and then went down the back stairway to the first floor. He did not see any police officer on the stairway, but says that he did see a woman looking out a window on the west side of the fourth floor as they went down...Jarman estimated that they remained on the fifth floor for about five minutes after the shots, before they started down the stairway." (CD87 p785) And a 12-4-63 affidavit by Harold Norman confirms that after they (Jarman, Norman, and Williams) reached the west side of the building, "We discussed the shots, and where they had come from, and decided we better go down stairs. We walked down the stairs to the first floor and did not see anyone else on the stairway as we went down. From the time of the shots until we started downstairs was about five minutes." (CD7, p783)
On 3-24-64, just after Williams, Norman and Jarman would similarly testify that they ran down from the fifth floor, with Jarman even specifying that they looked for an elevator, but found none were available.
It seems clear, then, that Williams was quite flexible with his recollections. And that, even so, he stood strong about his being on the sixth floor until 12:20 or so. And was correct in doing so...
This leads us, then, to the testimony of Williams' fifth floor companions, James Jarman and Harold Norman.
Step 2: The 3-24-64 Testimony of James Jarman and Harold Norman...
The testimony of James Jarman and Harold Norman was of vital importance to the commission. Oswald had cited them as witnesses to his being downstairs in the moments before the shooting. Commission Counsel Ball and Belin, then, needed Jarman and Norman to refute Oswald's claim.
They got some help from Jarman, but not much. In his 11-22 Affidavit to Dallas County, Jarman remembered last seeing Oswald "between 11:30 A.M. and 12:00 noon when he was taking the elevator upstairs to go get boxes." Jarman then added: "At about 11:45 A.M. all of the employees who were working on the sixth floor came downstairs and we were all out on the street about 12:00 noon."(24H213)
Now, this was nothing if not vague. Jarman said he saw Oswald go upstairs between 11:30 and 12:00, and that the sixth floor crew came down around 11:45. In sum, then, he couldn't remember whether or not he saw Oswald go upstairs before or after the sixth floor crew came down for lunch. But we needn't be so confused. As the sixth floor work crew remembered seeing and hearing Oswald upstairs when they came down for lunch, it's more than likely Jarman saw Oswald go upstairs just ahead of lunchtime. It's far more reasonable, after all, to assume someone who was seen going somewhere went there before he was seen in that location by others, than to assume he went there, was seen in that location by others, then came back, and then returned.
Still, for some, this was beside the point. On 3-24-64, Jarman testified before the Warren Commission and told them what they almost certainly wanted to hear. He told them that, although he'd been in the domino room after quitting for lunch at 5 to 12, he didn't remember seeing Oswald at this time. (3H198-211)
Now, we've already demonstrated why this wasn't as damaging for Oswald as at first it might appear. Oswald's boss William Shelley, the leader of the sixth floor work crew Jarman saw come down to the first floor around 11:45, had by the time of Jarman's testimony acknowledged seeing Oswald on the first floor around 11:50. And Charles Givens had apparently told the FBI he saw Oswald in the domino room around this same time. And Eddie Piper had repeatedly claimed he saw Oswald on the first floor shortly after this, around noon. And Carolyn Arnold had purportedly claimed she thought she saw Oswald on the first floor around 12:15.
So it's hard to see how Jarman's testimony buried Oswald...
When one considers Jarman's subsequent statements, moreover, this is even harder to see. While those seeking to pin the blame for the assassination on Oswald, and Oswald alone, inevitably use Jarman's claim he didn't see Oswald in the domino room as evidence for Oswald's guilt, they never, and I mean never, acknowledge that Jarman spoke to federal investigators working for the HSCA on 9-25-77, and that, by then, his story had changed a bit. In this interview, to be clear, Jarman now recalled that he'd sent Oswald upstairs to correct a mistake around 11:25, or 11:30, and that Oswald had returned with the proper book shortly thereafter.
Now this is interesting, in several respects. For one, it seems Jarman now remembered, as a fact, seeing Oswald come down from the upper floors just before the shooting. While he could have been mistaken about this, we can't dismiss another possibility--that he'd been afraid to say this in 1963 and 1964, and had only got the gumption to say it after the passage of time. I mean, who knows? Perhaps Jarman had come to realize Shelley and Piper had also seen Oswald on the first floor. Perhaps, by 1977, he felt free to tell the truth. We really don't know, now do we?
But there is something we do know. While Jarman's story had changed a bit--from Oswald's going up to get boxes to his going up to correct a mistake and then coming back downstairs--his story was consistent on one key point--that Oswald had had a legitimate reason to go upstairs, and that this errand wasn't so arduous it would have interfered with his coming back down for lunch with the rest of the work crew.
So, in this light, Jarman's statements and testimony were more suggestive of Oswald's innocence, than his guilt.
The statements and testimony of Harold "Hank" Norman, Jarman's "short" companion, were even less suggestive of Oswald's guilt. In his 3-24-64 testimony, Norman admitted "I ate my lunch in the domino room." When asked if anyone had been in there with him, moreover, he answered in an odd manner: "I think there was someone else in there because we usually played dominoes in there but that particular day we didn't play that morning." (3H186-198)
Now, look at Joe Ball's follow-up question.
Mr. BALL. Why didn't you play that morning?
Mr. NORMAN. Well, didn't nobody show up there to play like the guys usually come in to play.
Mr. BALL. You usually play dominoes during the noon hour?
Mr. NORMAN. Noon hour and the break period.
Ball never asked Norman how his not playing dominoes made him think there was someone else in there!
Suspicious Omission #3 3-24-64. Warren Commission attorney Joseph Ball fails to follow up with witness Harold Norman and find out how his not playing dominoes at lunch made him think someone else was in the room--an inquiry that almost certainly would have led to Norman's saying he thought this someone else was Oswald.
So, let's see if we can answer for Norman. How would Norman's normally playing dominoes but not on that day make him think someone else was in the room? Well, after reading everything I could about the domino room I think I found the answer. This answer is contained in a 12-7-63 Secret Service Report on the depository employees, in which Billy Lovelady is quoted as follows: "The other employees usually play dominoes during their lunch period after they have eaten, but Oswald never showed any interest in taking part in the games." (CD87 p780)
So, yeah, Norman's statement about the dominoes is a clear indication the "someone else" Norman thought was in the domino room was someone in particular, someone who didn't play dominoes, someone named Lee Harvey Oswald.
Now, let's debunk some junk... Vincent Bugliosi, in his monster tome Reclaiming History, dismisses the possibility Oswald was in the break room with Norman by claiming "But Danny Arce told the Warren Commission that he and Jack Dougherty ate their lunch in the domino room during the period Norman described. In fact, Arce was one of those who joined Norman and Jarman when they walked outside a moment later. Obviously, Arce and Dougherty were the 'someone else' Norman had referred to."
Except not so fast, Mr. Over-zealous Prosecutor. Arce in fact testified that he went outside "With Billy Lovelady and Mr. Shelley and I was out there with Junior." Well, this indicates that he did not leave the break room with Norman and Jarman, as suggested by Bugliosi, but that he only saw Jarman outside. Even worse, Arce specified that he did not see Norman in the break room. In fact, when asked if he had seen Bonnie Ray Williams downstairs, Arce responded: "No, he stayed upstairs with Hank." Hank is Norman. If Arce thought Williams was upstairs with Hank, it follows that he did not see Hank in the domino room, and that he left the room before Hank's arrival. Bugliosi's dismissal is therefore so much moonshine, and the point he claims is "obvious" is obvious BS.
Well, then, what about Jack Dougherty? Here we enter uncharted territory. Jack Dougherty was a co-worker of Oswald's with some sort of mental disorder. It was claimed he'd been confused by the shooting, and it's clear he had a hard time during his testimony. Even so, he would ultimately testify that he ate his lunch in the domino room, but did not see Oswald. Now, for some, this debunks Oswald's claim he was sitting in the domino room at the time of the shooting. Except... it really doesn't. Dougherty also testified that he spent "just a short length of time" in the domino room after finishing his lunch. So, yeah, it's entirely reasonable to suspect that Dougherty, as Arce, ate his lunch very quickly, and left the domino room before Oswald's arrival.
Or after... An early 1970's taped interview of Dougherty by researcher Gil Toff may shed further light on this... While this interview is not widely available (meaning I have not heard it and it has not been fully transcribed), it has been asserted that in this interview Dougherty says he saw Oswald in the second floor break room when he, Dougherty, went down to eat his lunch in the Domino Room. In such case, it could be that Oswald spoke to Eddie Piper and went up to the second floor to get a Coke just before Dougherty came downstairs and Arce entered the Domino Room. (Note: it's unclear how Dougherty came downstairs. While some researchers claim he came down in the elevators with the floor-laying crew, this is unlikely, seeing as the west elevator contained Lovelady, Arce, and Williams--who failed to mention Dougherty--and the east elevator contained Charles Givens--who failed to mention Dougherty. As far as Dougherty himself, he testified to coming down on an elevator after the others. Well, this is a problem for the Oswald-did-it crowd. The east elevator brought downstairs by Givens could only be operated by someone in the elevator--it couldn't be called to a different floor. This means Dougherty came down on the west elevator. But this elevator could only be called if someone pulled the gates down and none of the three members of the sixth floor crew who rode it down--Lovelady, Arce, and Williams--said they pulled them down. Oops. This suggests that someone--not Oswald because he was already upstairs on the fifth floor--took the west elevator up after the floor crew came down. This mystery has never been solved.)
So, let's get back to Norman. After making his comment about the dominoes, Norman told the commission that he got together with Jarman after finishing his lunch and that the two of them went outside around "12 or 12:10." (3H186-197). As Norman was of small stature and was almost certainly the short man Oswald claimed he saw with Jarman, for that matter, it appears that Oswald actually did see Norman and Jarman together at this time... or that he'd made an incredibly lucky guess.
There is another alternative, however.
Let's go back for a second.
Agent Bookhout's report on Oswald's interrogation, let's recall, did not claim Oswald had said he'd eaten lunch with Jarman and Norman, as presented by Capt. Fritz. It said: "Oswald stated that on November 22, 1963, he had eaten lunch in the lunch room of the Texas School Book Depository, alone, but recalled possibly two negro employees walking through the room in this period. He stated possibly one of these employees was called 'Junior' and the other was a short individual whose name he could not recall, but whom he would be able to recognize." Perhaps, then, Oswald had seen Jarman and Norman not when most assume he claimed he'd seen them--when he first came down for lunch--but later, when they came back in the building and went back upstairs. I mean, that only makes sense. If the police ask you who can vouch that you weren't at the scene of a crime, you tell them the names of the LAST people who might remember seeing you somewhere else, and not those who saw you 30 minutes or more before the crime occurred.
With this in mind, then, it seems a bit of a coincidence that, according to Jarman's testimony, there were "too many people standing on the stairway" in front of the building when he and Norman decided to go back inside and view the motorcade from an upstairs window, and that he and Norman had thereupon re-entered the building by its north entrance. In doing so, by golly, they would have passed directly in front of the open door to the domino room, where Oswald claimed he was sitting at the time of the shooting.
Here, see for yourself. The diagram below has been cropped from Warren Commission Exhibit 1061, the Warren Commission's diagram for the first floor of the school book depository. The domino room is on the right, in the northwest corner of the building. A toilet is to its left. The north entrance from the loading dock is the door to the left of this toilet. From the street, one can reach this entrance in two ways. There are steps from the sidewalk on the east side of the building that lead up onto the dock and then an overhead door just a few feet from the entrance by the toilet. And there are steps from where the trucks park that lead to a door cut at an angle to the loading dock, that is also quite close to the entrance by the toilet.
Should that not suffice, moreover, there's an FBI photo taken for the specific purpose of depicting the relationship between the north entrance and domino room. (I've searched in vain for a memo indicating who, specifically, ordered this picture, and can only assume it was Warren Commission counsel Joseph Ball and David Belin, the men tasked with establishing Oswald's guilt. Now, if this is so, well, then, it more than suggests they knew full well that Jarman and Norman passed right in front of the open door to the domino room.)
In any event, this photo is presented below. (It can be found in the commission's records in CD496, p 19). The rear entrance from the loading dock is the door on the left and the door to the domino room is the door on the right.
Let's now note that Jarman, in his 3-24-64 testimony, claimed that he and Norman re-entered the building via its north or rear entrance "about 12:20...between 12:20 and 12:25"...
Well, then, who's to say that Oswald wasn't sitting in the domino room when Jarman and Norman came in the back door? And that he wasn't still sitting there five to ten minutes later, as shots were being fired upstairs?
Certainly not the Warren Commission... They were supposed to get at the facts. And reveal them to the public. And yet right here is a total major fact that (if we are to give them the benefit of the doubt) eluded them, and went unreported...
Let this soak in...
Jarman and Norman were the only two depository employees to admit coming in the north entrance when Oswald claimed he was sitting right by this entrance, and they were the only two depository employees Oswald recalled seeing while he was sitting there.
What are the odds?
I'll tell you the odds. The odds are that Oswald was indeed where he sad he was, when he said he was.
So what did Ball and Belin do when they stumbled upon this fact? Did they write the commissioners a letter saying "Hey, maybe our working thesis--that Oswald put together his rifle in the sniper's nest, just before shooting Kennedy--is in error"?
Nope. That Jarman and Norman admitted walking past the domino room when Oswald said he was in the domino room was never discussed, as far as one can tell from studying the records of the commissioners and their staff.
Suspicious Omission #4 3-24-64--September 1964. Warren Commission attorney Joseph Ball fails to point out during testimony or subsequently acknowledge that Jarman and Norman's claim they re-entered the building via the back door supported Oswald's claim he'd been sitting in a room with a view of the back door area, and had observed Jarman and Norman at this time.
Now, strangely enough, this wasn't the last time the testimony of one of Oswald's co-workers regarding Oswald and the domino room would be ignored.
But, before we move on to that. Let's add another little piece into our timeline.
On 4-7-64, depository foreman William Shelley testified and made it clear that when he last saw Oswald, it was after Shelley and those under his command had quit for lunch. When asked if he'd seen Oswald at work on 11-22-63, Shelley volunteered: “I do remember seeing him when I came down to eat lunch about 10 to 12.” (6H327-334) (Note: Shelley would be asked about this a second time on 5-14-64, and would stand by his recollection. When asked the last time he saw Oswald before the shooting he replied "It was 10 or 15 minutes before 12." When asked where he saw him, he replied "On the first floor over near the telephone.") (7H390-393)
We shall now embark on an amazing journey into the mostly unknown, and undoubtedly little-understood...the events of 11-22-63 leading up to the arrival of Lt. Day and Det. Studebaker at the crime scene.
The 11-23-63 report of Deputy Sheriff Allen Sweatt:
"At approximately 12:30 PM, Friday, November 22, 1963, I was standing with a group of Deputy Sheriff's about 30 feat east of the corner of Houston and Main Street on Main Street.
The president's caravan had just passed and about a minute or 2 I heard a shot and about 7 seconds later another shot and approximately 2 or 3 seconds later a third shot which sounded to me like a rifle and coming from the vicinity of Elm and Houston street. Several officers and myself from the Sheriff's department ran around the corner and towards Elm Street and Houston and were told that someone had shot at the President. A man by the name of "Hester" told Deputy John Wiseman that the shots had come from the old Sexton building. As we approached the building we were told the shots had come from the fence. Deputy Wiseman and a City Officer went to the front door of the building and I continued towards the railroad yards with Deputy Harry Weatherford and I stopped where I could see two sides of the building which was the west and south sides. Deputy Harry Weatherford went into the building through an open window on the 1st floor and Deputy Wiseman and the DPD officer went in the front door. On the far side of the building opposite me were some DPD Officers. At that time I was told the President had been shot and that Governor Connally also had been shot.
Officers started coming to the scene and approximately 15 deputy sheriff's and a number of DPD officers were at location. At this time, Inspector Sawyer of the DPD came to the front of the building and started taking names of witnesses and I suggested to inspector Sawyer that I get two deputies and send the witnesses to the Sheriff's Office for statements instead of letting the witnesses leave the scene. Inspector Sawyer agreed with this plan and as witnesses were brought together they were taken directly across the street to the Sheriff's Office to wait until statements could be taken.
While I was still at the front of the Building, Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney stuck his head out of the 5th floor window and the Northeast corner of the building and stated he had found some spent cartridge cases and he was told to let them remain untouched until the DPD Crime Lab arrived on the scene."
Well, okay, this sounds pretty hectic, so hectic, in fact, that Sweatt thought the cartridge cases were found in the northeast corner, not southeast corner. And yet, Sweatt's account is pretty clear. Within seconds of the shooting, Sheriff's Deputies and Dallas Police scrambled to the train yards and then into the school book depository. But what about the exact timing? How long was it before Mooney discovered the cartridge cases?
Here is Mooney's 11-23 statement:
"I was standing in front of the Sheriff's office at 505 Main Street, Dallas, When President Kennedy and the motorcade passed by. Within a few seconds after he had passed me and the motorcade had turned the corner I heard a shot and I immediately started running towards the front of the motorcade and within seconds heard a second and a third shot. I started running across Houston Street and down across the lawn to the triple underpass and up the terrace to the railroad yards. I searched along with many other officers, this area, when Sheriff Bill Decker came up and told me and the Officers Sam Webster and Billy Joe Victory to surround the Texas School Book Depository building. As we approached the two big steel wire gates to the building dockat the back of the building on Elm Street side, we saw saw that the loading dock had locks on it and I then pulled the steel gates closed and requested of a citizen standing there to see that no-one came out or went in until I could get a uniformed officer there, which he did. Officers Webster, Victory, and myself took to the building. Officers Webster and Victory took the stairs and I told them I would take the freight elevator. At the time I got on the elevator two women who work in the building got on the elevator, saying they wanted to go to their offive. As the elevator started up, we went up one floor and the power to the elevator was cut off. I got out on the floor with theese women and looked around in their office and I then took to the stairs and went to the 6th floor, and Officers Webster and Victory went up to the 7th floor. I was the only person on the 6th floor when I searched it and was reasonably sure that there was no one else on this floor as I searched it and then criss-crossed it, seeing only stacks of cartons of books. I was at that time also checking for open windows and fire escapes. I found where someone had been using a skill saw in laying some flooring in one corner of this floor and I then went to the 7th floor and was assisting in searching it out and crawled into the attic opening and decided it was too dark and came down to order flash lights. I then went on back to the 6th floor and went direct to the far corner and then discovered a cubby hole which had been constructed out of cartons which protected it from sight and found where someone had been in an area of perhaps 2 feet surrounded by cardboard cartons of books. Inside this cubby hole affair was three more boxes so arranged as to provide what appeared to be a rest for a rifle. On one of these cartons was a half-eaten piece of chicken. The minute that I saw the expended shells on the floor, I hung my head out of the half opened window and signaled to Sheriff Bill Decker and Captain Will Fritz who were outside the building and advised them to send up the Crime Lab Officers at once that I had located the area from which the shots had been fired. At this time, Officers Webstr, Victory, and McCurley came over to this spot and we guarded this spot until Crime Lab Officers got upstairs within a matter of a few minutes. We then turned this area over to Captain Fritz and his officers for processing."
Okay, that doesn't tell us. So let's ask again. When did Mooney find the cartridge cases?
Mr. BALL - About what time of day was this?
Mr. MOONEY - Well, it was approaching 1 o'clock. It could have been 1 o'clock.
Mr. BALL - Did you look at your watch?
Mr. MOONEY - No, sir; I didn't. I should have, but I didn't look at my watch at the time to see what time it was.
Mr. BALL - Were you the only officer in that corner?
Mr. MOONEY - At that very moment I was.
One o'clock? A number of witnesses pointed out the sniper's nest window within minutes of the shooting. And yet, it took another 25 minutes before someone made it over to this window and discovered that, by golly, there were three shells on the floor by this window?
Nope. It's way way worse than that.
An excerpt from the report of Det.s Sims and Boyd (top assistants to Capt. Fritz) follows:
"About this time someone yelled that some empty hulls had been found on the sixth floor. Capt. Fritz, Sims, and Boyd went to the southeast window on the sixth floor and saw three empty hulls on the floor near the window. The empty hulls were found about 1:15 PM. Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney said he found them and let them lay as they were. We stayed there with the empty hulls to preserve the scene and a methodical search was started by other officers going from east to west. About 1:20 PM, Lt. J.C. Day and R.L. Studebaker arrived on the sixth floor. Capt. Fritz asked Lt. Day to take pictures of the hulls and the surrounding area. About 1:25 PM someone called for Capt. Fritz, and he left Det. L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson to stay with the hulls. Capt. Fritz, Sims and Boyd went over to near the stairway where one of the officers had called Capt. Fritz...Sims went back to where Lt. Day was and told him the gun had been found. Lt. Day or Det. Studebaker took another picture of the hulls and said they had already taken pictures of the scene. Sims picked up the empty hulls, and Lt. Day held an envelope open while Sims dropped them in the envelope. Lt. Day then walked over to where the rifle had been found. Det. Studebaker and Lt. Day took pictures of the rifle." (24H519-521)
1:15??? The Dallas Police were told of the sniper's nest location within minutes, and yet no one from the DPD went up and checked it out, or even told someone else to check it out? And this even though a dozen or more Deputy Sheriffs and DPD officers were running all over the building? Even if one buys into the belief 1:15 was incorrect, and that the time of Mooney's discovery was more like 1:06, it still seems too much time--no, way too much time--passed between the moment the Dallas police and deputies heard shots and the moment the shells from this shooting were discovered behind an open window.
If Oswald had had a trial, his defense team could have feasted upon this, and raised the possibility one or more of the men running around the building had made a brief detour to plant evidence against Oswald by the window. Heck, they might ask, what was Mooney doing up there all by himself? Mooney, as we've seen, admitted he was on the sixth floor for some time before going up to the seventh, and then returning. Had he planted the evidence by the window, and then gone up to the seventh, in hopes someone else would discover the evidence on the sixth? Had he then got tired of waiting, and then, and only then, come back down to the sixth, to "find" the evidence? By his own admission, he went straight to the corner when he came back down. Why?
Now, to be clear, I personally don't consider Mooney a suspect. But the Warren Commission, should it truly have been acting as both prosecutor and defense attorney, should have gotten into this, and, at the very least, criticized the Dallas Police for their incompetent behavior at the crime scene. Let this soak in. The Dallas Police had multiple sources telling them the location of the shooter, and multiple officers inside the building, but, apparently, failed to tell any of these officers from where the shots had been fired, just so, y'know, they could go and take a look, or even maybe find the shooter...prior to their going over to Mooney...45 minutes after the shooting.
The story on this is incredible, as in incredibly hard to believe.
Now I know what some are thinking. They believe the delay in finding the sniper's nest was caused by witnesses saying the window was on the fifth floor, and not sixth, or by a reluctance on the part of the police to go off by themselves out of fear they'd encounter the sniper. But that's just hoo-ha. There's no record of any of the deputies or police running up to the fifth floor, or any such thing. And there's no record of anyone sticking his head out the fifth floor window and asking if this was the right window, or any such thing. And that's because no one was told to go up and find the location from where the shots were fired. They were told to go in and inspect the building, which to them meant find the sniper. So they ran up to the seventh floor and waited around for someone, anyone, to bring them flashlights. and this, while, just below them, someone, anyone, was free to tamper with the crime scene.
And that's not the only thing that's fishy about the shells... (insert seafood pun here.) As shown above, the shell closest to the camera in the DPD photo of the floor by the window was altered for the FBI's report on the school book depository.
What was that about? Was the shell in the original photo not really a shell? Did the FBI then try to cover this up?
Eclipsing Mr. Mooney
Well, whatever the FBI's purpose in drawing in that shell on photo 32, it paid off.
Here is a big chunk of Mooney's 3-25-64 testimony.
Mr. MOONEY - ...I never did look at my watch to see how many seconds it took us to run so many hundred yards there, and into the railroad yard. We were there only a few seconds until we had orders to cover the Texas Depository Building.
Mr. BALL - How did you get those orders?
Mr. MOONEY - They were referred to us by the sheriff, Mr. Bill Decker.
Mr. BALL - Where was he when he gave you those orders?
Mr. MOONEY - They were relayed on to us. I assume Mr. Decker was up near the intersection of Elm and Houston.
Mr. BALL - Did you hear it over a loudspeaker?
Mr. MOONEY - No, sir. It come by word, by another officer.
Mr. BALL - And you were with Walters at that time?
Mr. MOONEY - Right, And where Officer. Walters went at that time, I don't know. We split up. I didn't see him any more until later on, which I will refer to later.
Mr. BALL - Where did you go?
Mr. MOONEY - Mr. Webster and Mr. Vickery were there with me at the time that we received these orders from another deputy.
Mr. BALL - They are deputy sheriffs?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir; they were plainclothes officers like myself, work in the same department, and we run right over to the building then, which we were only 150, 200 feet back--I assume it is that distance I haven't measured it. It didn't take us but a few seconds to get there. When we hit the rear part, these big iron gates, they have cyclone fencing on them--this used to be an old grocery store warehouse--Sachs & Co., I believe is correct. And I says let's get these doors closed to block off this rear entrance.
Mr. BALL - Were the doors open?
Mr. MOONEY - They were wide open, the big gates. So I grabbed one, and we swung them to, and there was a citizen there, and I put him on orders to keep them shut, because I don't recall whether there was a lock on them or not. Didn't want to lock them because you never know what might happen. So he stood guard, I assume, until a uniformed officer took over. We shut the back door-- there was a back door on a little dock. And then we went in through the docks, through the rear entrance. Officer Vickery and Webster said, "We will take the staircase there in the corner. I said, "I will go up the freight elevator." I noticed there was a big elevator there. So I jumped on it. And about that time two women come running and said, "we want to go to the second floor." I said, "All right, get on, we are going."
Mr. BALL - Which elevator did you get on?
Mr. MOONEY - It was the one nearest to the staircase, on the northwest corner of the building.
Mr. BALL - There are two elevators there?
Mr. MOONEY - I found that out later. I didn't know it at that time.
Mr. BALL - You took the west one, or the east one?
Mr. MOONEY - I would say it was the west elevator, the one nearest to the staircase.
Mr. BALL - Did it work with a push button?
Mr. MOONEY - It was a push button affair the best I can remember. got hold of the controls and it worked. We started up and got to the second. I was going to let them off and go on up. And when we got there, the power undoubtedly cut off, because we had no more power on the elevator. So I looked around their office there, just a short second or two, and then I went up the staircase myself. And I met some other officers coming down, plainclothes, and I believe they were deputy sheriffs. They were coming down the staircase. But I kept going up. And how come I get off the sixth floor, I don't know yet. But, anyway, I stopped on six, and didn't even know what floor I was on.
Mr. BALL - You were alone?
Mr. MOONEY - I was alone at that time.
Mr. BALL - Was there any reason for you to go to the sixth floor?
Mr. MOONEY - No, sir. That is what I say. I don't know why. I just stopped on that particular floor. I thought I was pretty close to the top.
Mr. BALL - Were there any other officers on the floor?
Mr. MOONEY - I didn't see any at that time. I assume there had been other officers up there. But I didn't see them. And I begin criss-crossing it, round and round, through boxes, looking at open windows---some of them were open over on the south side. And I believe they had started laying some flooring up there. I was checking the fire escapes. And criss-crossing back and forth. And then I decided--I saw there was another floor. And I said I would go up. So I went on up to the seventh floor. I approached Officers Webster and Vickery. They were up there in this little old stairway there that leads up into the attic. So we climbed up in there and looked around right quick. We didn't climb all the way into the attic, almost into it. We said this is too dark, we have got to have floodlights, because we can't see. And so somebody made a statement that they believed floodlights was on the way. And I later found out that probably Officers Boone and Walters had gone after lights. I heard that. And so we looked around up there for a short time. And then I says I am going back down on six. At that time, some news reporter, or press, I don't know who he was--he was coming up with a camera. Of course he wasn't taking any pictures. He was just looking, too, I assume. So I went back down ahead of Officers Vickery and Webster. They come in behind me down to the sixth floor. I went straight across to the southeast corner of the building, and I saw all these high boxes. Of course they were stacked all the way around over there. And I squeezed between two. And the minute I squeezed between these two stacks of boxes, I had to turn myself sideways to get in there that is when I saw the expended shells and the boxes that were stacked up looked to be a rest for the weapon. And, also, there was a slight crease in the top box. Whether the recoil made the crease or it was placed there before the shots were fired, I don't know. But, anyway, there was a very slight crease in the box, where the rifle could have lain--at the same angle that the shots were fired from. So, at that time, I didn't lay my hands on anything, because I wanted to save every evidence we could for fingerprints. So I leaned out the window, the same window from which the shots were fired, looked down, and I saw Sheriff Bill Decker and Captain Will Fritz standing right on the ground. Well, so I hollered, or signaled I hollered, I more or less hollered. I whistled a time or two before I got anybody to see me. And yet they was all looking that way, too except the sheriff, they wasn't looking up. And I told him to get the crime lab officers en route, that I had the location spotted. So I stood guard to see that no one disturbed anything until Captain Will Fritz approached with his group of officers, city officers. At that time, of course, when I hollered, of course Officers Vickery and Webster, they came across and later on several other deputies--I believe Officers McCurley, A. D. McCurley, I believe he came over. Where he came from--they was all en route up there, I assume.
Mr. BALL - I show you three pictures. Officer; for your convenience I will give you the pictures. I have a picture here which has been marked as Commission Exhibit 508.
(The document referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 508 for identification.)
Mr. BALL - Does that look anything like the southeast corner of the building as you saw it that afternoon?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - About what time of day was this?
Mr. MOONEY - Well, it was approaching 1 o'clock. It could have been 1 o'clock.
Mr. BALL - Did you look at your watch?
Mr. MOONEY - No, sir; I didn't. I should have, but I didn't look at my watch at the time to see what time it was.
Mr. BALL - Were you the only officer in that corner?
Mr. MOONEY - At that very moment I was.
Mr. BALL - You say you squeezed behind certain boxes. Can you point out for me what boxes you squeezed through?
Mr. MOONEY - IF I remember correctly, I went in there from this angle right here right through here. There could be a space. There is a space there I squeezed in between here, and that is when I got into the opening, because the minute I squeezed through there there lay the shells.
Mr. BALL - All right. Let's make a mark here. Is this the space?
Mr. MOONEY - I believe that is going to be the space; yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - If I make an arrow on that, would that indicate it?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir. There is another picture I have seen later that shows an opening in through here, but I didn't see that opening at that time.
Mr. BALL - That is the opening through which you squeezed? And it is an arrow shown on Exhibit 508.
Now, I will show you 509.
(The document referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 509 for identification.)
Is that the way the boxes looked?
Mr. MOONEY - That is the three boxes, but one of them was tilted off just a little, laying down on the edge, I believe, to my knowledge.
Mr. BALL - Now, does that look like
Mr. MOONEY - That is the three boxes that were there; yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Are they arranged as they were when you saw them?
Mr. MOONEY - I am not positive. As I remember right, there was one box tilted off.
Mr. BALL - What were the boxes---did they have a label on them, two of the boxes?
Mr. MOONEY - These do. I didn't notice the label at that time.
Mr. BALL - That is a picture of the window?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes.
Mr. BALL - Do I understand that you say that it appeared to you that the top box was tilted?
Mr. MOONEY - The end of it was laying this way.
Mr. BALL - You say there was a crease in a box. Where was that crease?
Mr. MOONEY - This crease was right in this area of this box.
Mr. BALL - You mean over on the edge?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir; on this far ledge here, where I am laying my finger.
Mr. BALL - Did it go into the box?
Mr. MOONEY - Very slight crease, very slight.
Mr. BALL - Can you take this and point out about where the crease was on 509? Now, was there anything you saw over in the corner?
Mr. MOONEY - No, sir; I didn't see anything over in the corner. I did see this one partially eaten piece of fried chicken laying over to the right. It looked like he was facing--
Mr. BALL - Tell us where you found it?
Mr. MOONEY - It would be laying over on the top of these other boxes. This here is kind of blurred.
Mr. BALL - We will get to that in a moment. Now, I show you 510.
(The document referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 510 for identification.)
Mr. BALL - Is that the empty shells you found?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Are they shown there?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Now, will you take this and encircle the shells?
Mr. MOONEY - All right.
Mr. BALL - Put a fairly good sized circle around each shell. That is the way they were when you saw them, is that right?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir. I assume that this possibly could have been the first shot.
Mr. BALL - You cannot speculate about that?
Mr. MOONEY - You cannot speculate about that.
Mr. BALL - Those were empty shells?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - They were turned over to Captain Fritz?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir; he was the first officer that picked them up, as far as I know, because I stood there and watched him go over and pick them up and look at them. As far as I could tell, I couldn't even tell what caliber they were, because I didn't get down that close to them. They were brass cartridges, brass shells.
Mr. BALL - Is this the position of the cartridges as shown on 510, as you saw them?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir. That is just about the way they were laying, to the best of my knowledge. I do know there was--one was further away, and these other two were relatively close together--on this particular area. But these cartridges--this one and this one looks like they are further apart than they actually was.
Mr. BALL - Which ones?
Mr. MOONEY - This one and this one.
Mr. BALL - Now, two cartridges were close together, is that right?
Mr. MOONEY - The one cartridge here, by the wall facing, is right. And this one and this one, they were further away from this one.
Mr. BALL - Well--
Mr. MOONEY - But as to being positive of the exact distance
Mr. BALL - You think that the cartridges are in the same position as when you saw them in this picture 510?
Mr. MOONEY - As far as my knowledge, they are; pretty close to right.
Mr. BALL - Well, we will label these cartridges, the empty shells as "A", "B", and "C."
Now, I didn't quite understand---did you say it was your memory that "A" and "B" were not that close together?
Mr. MOONEY - Just from my memory, it seems that this cartridge ought to have been over this way a little further.
Mr. BALL - You mean the "B" cartridge should be closer to the "C?"
Mr. MOONEY - Closer to the "C"; yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Now, I have another picture here which I should like to have marked as 511.
(The document referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 511 for identification.)
Mr. BALL - Does this appear to be--- first of all, does that appear-----
Mr. MOONEY - There are two cartridges. Where is the third one?
Mr. BALL - The third one is not in this picture. This is taken from another angle.
Mr. MOONEY - This looks more like it than this angle here.
Mr. BALL - You can see it is a different angle.
Mr. MOONEY - That is right.
Mr. BALL - Now, in this same picture 511, you see a box in the window. Does that seem to be about the angle---
Mr. MOONEY - Yes; that box was tilted.
Mr. BALL - That was tilted in that way?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Now, when you made a crease on 509, the box shown in 509--
Mr. MOONEY - The box should have been actually tilted.
Mr. BALL - In other words, it was your testimony, was it, that the box as shown in 509 was not as you first saw it?
Mr. MOONEY - If I recall it right, this box was tilted. It had fallen off--looked like he might have knocked it off.
Mr. BALL - Well, you cannot speculate to that, but you can just tell us what you saw. What about the box in the window shown in 511?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Is that the box that had the crease on it?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir; I believe that is correct.
Mr. BALL - Now, the crease was started from the edge, and came across?
Mr. MOONEY - yes, sir; just a slight crease.
Mr. BALL - I have another picture. This is 512.
(The document referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 512 for identification.)
Mr. BALL - Here is a picture taken, also, from another angle. Does that show the cartridges?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Now, compare that with 510..
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Is that about the way it looked?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir; that is right. It sure is.
Mr. BALL - Now, were the boxes, as you saw them, on the extreme left side of the window, the middle of the window, or the right side.
Mr. MOONEY - Well, they were further over to the left of the window than over to the right. More or less as they are in there in that picture.
Mr. BALL - In 509?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Now, the boxes are in about the right position with reference to--
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir; because I had room enough to stand right here, and lean out this window, without disturbing the boxes.
Mr. BALL - You could stand on the right of the boxes?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - And put your head out the window?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir. If I recall, I put my hand on the outside of this ledge.
Mr. BALL - And put your head out the window?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Senator COOPER - Was the window open when you got there?
Mr. MOONEY - Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - If you stood to the left of the boxes, could you have looked out the window?
Mr. MOONEY - I don't believe I could, without, disturbing them. Possibly I might have, could have, but I just didn't try.
Mr. BALL - How long did you stay up on the sixth floor? After you found the location of the three cartridges?
Mr. MOONEY - Well, I stayed up there not over 15 or 20 minutes longer--after Captain Will Fritz and his officers came over there, Captain Fritz picked up the cartridges, began to examine them, of course I left that particular area. By that time there was a number of officers up there. The floor was covered with officers. And we were searching, trying to find the weapon at that time.
So, what was all that about? 508 is a photo of the sniper's nest taken from ten yards or so behind. It doesn't show the boxes and shells by the window. 509 is a photo of the sniper's nest boxes after they had been moved. These photos probably shouldn't have been shown to Mooney. Photo 510, however, is a photo taken of the sniper's nest shells looking west. It is shown on the slide above. Although 510 was purported to show the sniper's nest shells as first observed by Day and Studebaker, Mooney recalled the shells as having been in a slightly different arrangement. And he even explained why this might be. He said he saw Capt. Fritz pick up the shells. Mooney was then shown 511, a photo taken of the sniper's nest shells looking east. One of the shells has been cropped off this photo. He was then shown photo 512--a cropped version of 510 on which a shell has been added on top of the shell closest to the camera--and was told this was yet another photo taken from a different angle.
Now, note that when Ball did this, Mooney, instead of pointing out the obvious--that this was the same photo he was just shown, but with a shell added on top of the shell closest to the camera--immediately jumped to "Yes, sir; that is right. It sure is."
So...was Mooney tricked into supporting the accuracy of the photos taken by Studebaker and Day? Or intimidated into going along?
We can assume the latter. Mooney was interviewed by Gary Mack for the Sixth Floor Museum on 12-4-02. The transcript to this interview reveals that, when asked about the layout of the shells in the sniper's nest, Mooney replied: "down here, besides where the rifle was when he ejected the shells, there were three spent shells. (indicating with finger on tabletop their position—off camera) One like... about like there and one here and one over here. They might have been a foot apart because I didn’t have no camera to take pictures of them, but I’m sure they did because I had to identify them all in Washington, D.C. And all--either good pictures or fake pictures (smiling), they had all kinds. And if you didn’t know what you saw, you better not talk (chuckling and Gary briefly chuckles in background) because they had the answer."
In any event, we can conclude that Mooney believed the crime scene photos taken by Studebaker and Day did not accurately reflect the location of the casings as he first saw them, and that he thought Capt. Fritz was responsible.
Here is Mooney as quoted by Larry Sneed in No More Silence (1998): "The first thing that I saw were the spent shells...As I recall, the shell casings were laying in the area of where he had rested the rifle on the carton. They were not right against the baseboard under the window sill; one was about a foot from the other and the third was further away. It appeared as though they had been ejected from the rifle and had possibly bounced off the cartons of books to the rear. After I located the spent shells and I knew that that was the location of the assassin, I hooked my elbows over the window sill so that I wouldn't leave any fingerprints or disturb any evidence and called down to Sheriff Decker and Captain Fritz, who surprisingly happened to be down on the street, to send up the Crime Lab. Fritz arrived a few moments later taking the same route through the stacks of boxes that I had. He was the first man to reach down and pick up one of the shell casings to see what caliber it was. I had secured the area before he had arrived, thus nothing had been disturbed until that time. After that, I don't know what happened to the casings."
Let's get to the bottom of this.
Fritz the Cat?
Here, again, is a still from the Tom Alyea film in which Capt. Fritz is shown standing over in the far corner, right by where two of the shells are presented in Exhibits 510 and 512. Note that the motorcycle cop and the man with a dark hat are looking down at the floor in the foreground. This is the location of the third shell in 510 and 512.
Now absorb that Tom Alyea not only corroborated Mooney's claim Capt. Fritz picked up the shells, he claimed he filmed Fritz doing it.
Of course, many, if not most, of those looking into this matter, assume Alyea's footage of Fritz picking up the shells has been destroyed. But I don't believe this is true. In 2010, while watching the History Channel, I saw a segment from Alyea's film which I had seen previously in an altered form. This previously-seen footage had inexplicably clipped off the bottom of the footage. A still from this slightly less-butchered image is presented below.
Well, this shows Fritz bent over by where the third shell was located, with something in his hand. He has turned to his right to discuss this something, moreover, with an assistant, presumably Det. Sims or Boyd.
And here is a close-up view of this something...which is visible by the left jaw of Fritz's assistant.
And here is a link to this footage...
So what's the problem? Alyea recalled seeing Fritz pick up all three shells. That is a bit problematic. But this footage shows him pick up but one, which is less problematic.
Now, to be clear, on 12-4-02 Gary Mack asked Luke Mooney about Fritz's picking up a shell, and if this was filmed by Alyea, and received the following response: "there wasn’t no photographer there at that time the best I remember when Fritz... because me and Fritz was the only two men standing there in the... around this area because you had to wind around to get over in that area. And so, we was the only two men standing there at the time he reached over there and picked it up and laid it back down."
So it seems possible Fritz picked the shells up more than once.
And yet, even so... Fritz's picking up one or even all three of the shell casings once or twice or even dozens of times is not nearly the problem some make it out to be...
Fritz was on the hunt for a killer. He needed to know what kind of weapon had been used. If he needed to pick up a shell and look at it in order to determine the weapon used in the assassination, what was the harm?
Especially since fingerprints are rarely--and I mean almost never--found on spent cartridge cases.
And no, I'm not kidding.
In 1992, when interviewed by Gerald Posner for Posner's book Case Closed, Lt. Day declared that it's "routine" that one not find prints on shells discovered at a crime scene, and that "You can handle them and still not leave a mark." And no, Day wasn't lying.
The Minneapolis Police studied this in 2006, and found 0 prints on 2727 unfired cartridges recovered at crime scenes, and only 1 print (which they assumed was created after the shooting) on 259 spent cartridges recovered at crime scenes.
And the Denver Police Dept. followed up on this from 2008-2010, and found but 2 prints on 817 unfired cartridges recovered at crime scenes, and 0 prints on 200 spent cartridges recovered at crime scenes.
And these studies led forensic scientist Betzaido Maldonado, in the Journal of Forensic Science (vol. 62 2012), to conclude that “Fingerprints placed on curved surfaces can be challenging," and that the “limited surface area" and heat inflicted on cartridge cases make the development of prints on these cartridges even more challenging, and that, as a result, when it comes to cartridges, there is an “extremely low probability of developing fingerprints with conventional methods”
So it's really not so bad if Fritz picked up the shells...
provided he didn't lie about it...
Mr. FRITZ. We started at the bottom; yes, sir. And, of course, and I think we went up probably to the top. Different people would call me when they would find something that looked like something I should know about and I ran back and forth from floor to floor as we were searching, and it wasn't very long until someone called me and told me they wanted me to come to the front window, the corner window, they had found some empty cartridges.
Mr. BALL. That was on the sixth floor?
Mr. FRITZ. That is right; the sixth floor, corner window.
Mr. BALL. What did you do?
Mr. FRITZ. I told them not to move the cartridges, not to touch anything until we could get the crime lab to take pictures of them just as they were lying there and I left an officer assigned there to see that that was done, and the crime lab came almost immediately, and took pictures, and dusted the shells for prints.
Mr. BALL. Which officers, which officer did you leave there?
Mr. FRITZ. Carl Day was the man I talked to about taking pictures.
Mr. BALL. Day?
Mr. FRITZ. Lieutenant Day; yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. Do you know whether he took the pictures or not?
Mr. FRITZ. I feel like he did but I don't know because I didn't stay to see whether he could.
There are two points, then, on which Fritz's words seem to contradict Mooney's.
The first apparent contradiction is that Fritz appears to claim he didn't pick up the shells. But look again. He didn't actually deny picking up the shells. When asked what he did, he said he told others not to touch the shells, not that he'd never touched them. Nice sashay.
And the second seeming contradiction is that he says he was on the sixth floor when he heard about the shells. Mooney said he yelled down from the sixth floor to tell Fritz about the shells. Fritz said he had just left the sixth floor and walked up to the seventh, but was then called back to the sixth because someone had found some shells.
Well, surprise, surprise, Fritz skates on this one as well.
Here is another segment of Sims' and Boyd's report. Keep in mind that they were Fritz's assistants and followed him around like a crutch.
"We arrived there at approximately 12:58 PM and saw that the building was surrounded by Police officers, so we rushed on inside. We got on the elevator with several other officers. Lt. Jack Revill and Det. R. W. Westphal are the only ones that we can remember who rode the elevator with us. We stopped on the second floor, opened the elevator door, and saw officers there. We went on up to the third floor and got off the elevator. Westphal said he had a key to 305. We stayed there about 30 seconds and saw several other officers there, so we got back on the elevator and went to the fourth floor and got off. There were several officers on this floor so we caught the freight elevator and went to the fifth floor. We made a hurried search along the front and west side windows and then went on up to the sixth floor. Some officers stayed on the sixth floor, and we went on up to the seventh floor and started to search along the front windows. About this time someone yelled that some empty hulls had been found on the sixth floor. Capt. Fritz, Sims, and Boyd went to the southeast window on the sixth floor and saw three empty rifle hulls on the floor near the window. The empty hulls were found about 1:15 m. Deputy Sheriff Luke E. Mooney said he found them and left them lay as they were." (24H519-521)
Hmmm... Fritz's testimony was foreshadowed by Sims' and Boyd's report. Hmmm... This is the same report in which Sims and Boyd claimed the "hulls" were discovered around 1:15. So let's think about this. Mooney thought he found the "hulls" around 1:00. He saw Fritz arrive, apparently around 12:58, and yelled down for Fritz to come up. Fritz, Boyd and Sims then entered the building. Mooney thought they were on their way up. But they took their sweet time coming up to the sixth floor. They then went up to the seventh floor, only to be told Mooney had found shells on the sixth floor.
Well, it follows, then, that they not only failed to hear Mooney when they were outside the building, but failed to realize when they came over to him that he'd been standing around for 15 minutes or so waiting for them to arrive. They thought he'd found the shells at 1:15, but he'd actually found them much earlier.
Now, let me give some credit where credit is due. The Day Kennedy Was Shot (1968) by Jim Bishop is a pretty horrid book, with many false claims and depictions, some of which we've already discussed, and some of which we'll get to later. But Bishop did talk to a number of Dallas deputies and sheriffs, including, one can only assume, Luke Mooney.
Well, look how Bishop describes the aftermath of Mooney's discovery of the sniper's nest. On page 253, Bishop writes:
"Mooney kept the other policeman away from the area. In time, Fritz arrived. The Crime Laboratory, a mobile unit, had been summoned from headquarters on Main Street. The deputy sheriff was excited. Having made his find, he observed everything. The pile of boxes was high enough to serve as a private screen against prying eyes from anywhere on the sixth floor. The small boxes which had been placed inside, on the floor, were just high enough, with the window one third open, to serve as an assassin's roost. A man could sit on the one nearest the heating pipes, while resting the gun on the one near the window., and looking diagonally down Elm Street toward the overpass. He would have an open, commanding view everywhere except as the motorcade passed the broad tree below. The only open space in the tree was furnished by the "V" of two main branches. Mooney was still dwelling on the subject when ranking officers and their entourages descended on him."
And, should that not be enough, here's an HSCA contact report on an 11-15-77 interview of Mooney: "He leaned out a window and yelled down to Sheriff Decker (Bill) and Capt. Fritz (Will) to send up the Crime Lab. A little later Capt. Fritz arrived and he turned the scene over to him for further investigation and processing."
So, no, the belated discovery of the sniper's nest was not as belated as at first it might appear, and not nearly as mysterious. Mooney discovered it around 1:00, and sat up there daydreaming about the crime of the century until Fritz came over to him around 1:15.
It was just good ole' American incompetence. As common as dirt, and as American as apple pie.
Speaking of which...
Two of the most famous mysteries related to the crime scene are probably equally innocent. While much has been made of the fact the DPD only sent two of the hulls/shells/cartridge cases to the FBI on the night of the shooting, and that this two subsequently became a three, the official excuse--that is, the explanation uncovered by the Warren Commission--actually makes some sense. Fritz held onto one of the shells, as was his prerogative. End of story. Everyone to view the shells claimed there were three shells. From the beginning. It's just silly to think there were actually but two, and that this two became three after the fact. This would not only mean that all the reports were changed, but that all the witnesses were convinced to lie. And that's not even to mention that the three photos of the sniper's nest taken before the boxes were moved all showed three shells, and that one of these photos shows a firetruck outside that proves the photos were taken in the early afternoon of 11-22-63.