JAHS Chapter 16
4-2-64--4-3-64 the experts Fingerprints, Curtain Rods and threads
On 4-2-64, Sebastian Latona, the FBI's top fingerprint examiner, and Arthur Mandella, an outside expert brought in by the Commission from the New York City Police Department, testify before the Warren Commission in Washington. While they run through the motions, and show the Commission exhibits designed to demonstrate that Oswald's prints were found both in the sniper's nest and on the rifle used in the assassination, they inadvertently demonstrate something else as well...that the FBI's investigation of the president's assassination has been woefully negligent.
Four photos entered into evidence during Mandella's testimony are of particular interest. The black smudges on these photos are purported to represent fingerprints--four of which are considered identifiable. (That's right--one per photo.) Mandella's notes on these photos (CE 662) confirm, moreover, what has already been admitted by the FBI--that these four prints do not belong to Oswald. What is new information, however, is that these four prints are the exact same print from the exact same finger, and that, yikes, some unidentified person has left far more prints on the boxes found in the sniper's nest than Kennedy's supposed assassin...AND THAT THE FBI HAS MADE NO EFFORT TO IDENTIFY THIS PERSON! (These photos are presented below.)
After the testimony of the fingerprint examiners, Postal Inspector Harry Holmes, the last man to interview Oswald, testifies before the Commission. It turns out that he’d watched the assassination through binoculars from his office on the south side of Dealey Plaza. (4-2-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 7H289-308) “the motorcade turned north on Houston and went to Elm and turned left on Elm where it started on a downgrade to what we refer to as a triple underpass. As it turned in front of the school book depository, I heard what to me sounded like firecrackers, and it was my recollection that there were three of them. I had my binoculars on this car, on the presidential car at the time. I realized something was wrong but I thought they were dodging somebody throwing things at the car like firecrackers or something, but I did see dust fly up like a firecracker had burst up in the air." (When asked where he saw the dust) “Off of President Kennedy and I couldn’t tell you which one of the cracks of the firecracker resulted in this.” Too vague.
(Years later, in Larry Sneed’s 1998 book No More Silence, Holmes would make clear that while he couldn’t remember which of the cracks of the “firecracker” brought “dust off” the President, he couldn’t remember if it was the first shot or the second shot, and that he distinctly recalled a third shot being fired after the head shot.)
Many others are brought in to testify during March and April. For the most part, their statements are consistent with the statements they’d made in November and December. One “new” witness to testify is the motorcycle officer riding just behind the limousine on the far left. Strangely, the two escorts to the right of the limousine were never called to testify, and not even interviewed. B.J. Martin (4-3-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 6H289-293): “one of the agents got off of the car after the first shot…I looked to my right (after the first shot)…I looked at the President after I heard the (first) shot and he was leaning forward—I could see the left side of his face. At the time he had no expression on his face” (Then I heard) “Two more shots…immediately after the first shot I saw him (the President) and after that I couldn’t see him.” Double head shot. (While many will say that “two more shots” is too vague to assume the shots came together, a better way of looking at it is that “two more shots” is too vague to assume they’re not together. Law enforcement professionals like Martin knew that they were expected to describe what happened as accurately as possible. Consequently, if there was an appreciable delay between the last two shots we can expect he would have said so, and then described what he observed between the shots.)
A 4-4-64 FBI memorandum from Rosen to Belmont reveals that the strain between the Bureau and the Commission, so readily apparent in the weeks leading up to the testimony of the FBI's experts, has failed to dissipate now that some of the experts have testified. (Perhaps Rosen realizes how bad Mandella's testimony reflected on the FBI.) In this memorandum, Rosen writes that J.Lee Rankin "stated that he would appreciate the Director being advised of the very favorable impression the Bureau experts made and that Chief Justice Earl Warren had made favorable comments and had asked Mr. Rankin to make known to the Director his feelings concerning the Bureau experts' testimony...Mr. Rankin advised that the testimony of the Bureau personnel was far superior to testimony received from anyone else that has appeared before the Commission, each of the Bureau employees testified with complete confidence and their testimony was given in such a manner that any possible doubt that anyone had had been completely removed by the Bureau experts' testimony." Hoover, still fuming over the Commission's use of outside experts, however, is not impressed. In the margins of this memo, he writes: "I place no credence in any complimentary remarks made by Warren nor the Commission. They were looking for FBI 'gaps' and having found none yet they try to get 'syrupy.'"
On 4-6-64, the Commission takes the testimony of Dallas Detective Robert Studebaker. He briefly discusses the finding of the bag found in the sniper's nest. He offers no explanation for why he failed to photograph this bag where it was found. A 3-10 interview of Studebaker by the FBI is equally unclear, stating "According to Studebaker, the paper bag was removed prior to taking photographs of the southeast corner." (FBI file 105-82555 section 142 p9) This bag, we should recall, is believed to have been used by Oswald to bring the assassination rifle in to work. The only witnesses to Oswald with a bag, however, have insisted the bag carried by Oswald was far smaller than this bag. Studebaker testifies that the bag he found was "I would say, 3 1/2 to 4 feet long" and "Approximately 8 inches" wide. (7H137-149). This catches our attention. On 3-11-64, Counsel Joe Ball had been able to get one of the two witnesses to see Oswald with a bag, Buell Frazier--who'd previously said the bag he saw was 5 or 6 inches wide--to agree that the bag he saw could have been as wide as the bag found in the sniper's nest. Ball then got the second witness, Linnie Mae Randle, to testify that the width of the bag found in the sniper's nest was "about right." Of the bag found in the sniper's nest, Ball said, furthermore, that "This package is about the span of my hand, say 8 inches." This suggests the package shown both Frazier and Randle was about 8 inches wide.
There's a problem with this. An FBI memo on the creation of a replica bag states that the paper used was 24 inches wide (CD7, p292). One can only assume that this paper would have been folded in half to make the bag, with a few inches of overlap, and that the resulting bag would be about 10 inches wide. Sure enough, photographs of the bag pulled from the sniper's nest on the day of the assassination suggest it was about 10 inches wide. So why was the bag shown to Frazier and Randle during their testimony barely 8 inches wide?
The words of a 12-2-63 FBI report on the showing of this replica sack to Randle are also telling. When discussing her impression of the package she saw on 11-22, it states "Her designation on the replica sack was found to be 8 1/2 inches for the width of the original package she'd seen Oswald carrying." (CD7, p299). She couldn't have designated an 8 1/2 inch width on a package only 8 inches wide, now could she?
This leads us, then, to study the evidence photos more closely. This confirms what we concluded back in November. A piece of tape, supposedly 3 inches wide, runs up from the closed end of the bag. This piece of tape represents a little less than 1/3 the width of the closed end of the bag. This suggests, then, that the bag is really about 9 1/4 inches wide at the closed end, and 8 1/2 inches wide at the open end, and not a rectangular 8 inches wide, as suggested by Ball.
We then read the testimony of James Cadigan, the FBI's paper expert, who testified only 3 days before Studebaker. When asked if he found any marks inside the bag on 11-23 that could tie it to the rifle, he testified: "I couldn't find any such markings." When asked if one could make an inference from this he testified further that: "I don't know the condition of the rifle. If it were in fact contained in this bag, it could have been wrapped in cloth or just the metal parts wrapped in a thick layer of cloth, or if the gun was in the bag, perhaps it wasn't moved too much. I did observe some scratch marks and abrasions but was unable to associate them with this gun. The scratch marks in the paper could come from any place. They could have come from many places. There were no marks on this bag that I could say were caused by that rifle or any other rifle or any other given instrument." When asked further if, assuming the rifle had not been wrapped in cloth, it should have left marks of some sort, he replied: "The absence of markings to me wouldn't mean much. I was looking for markings I could associate. The absence of marks, the significance of them, I don't know." (4H89-101). Clearly, Cadigan and his superiors were not the curious sort. They had Oswald's rifle. Within a few more days they had a replica bag. All they had to do was put the rifle in the bag and re-enact Oswald's trip to work and see if the bag was scratched or marked by the grease on Oswald's gun. That they failed to do so, and that the Warren Commission failed to ask them to do so, reveals either their incredible incompetence or deliberate negligence.
One might suspect the latter. While Cadigan has testified that the tape found on the paper bag was 25/1000 of an inch wider than a tape sample taken from the depository on 11-22, only to say that this doesn't really matter, he has failed to provide any measurements for the bag he studied, both inside and out. Why wasn't he asked this? Why has Ball asked Studebaker to guess about the size of an object he only saw for a minute, when only days before he had Cadigan, who'd studied this object in detail, at his disposal, and had failed to ask him its actual size? And is it a coincidence that Studebaker has said the bag he found in the sniper's nest was 8 inches wide, and Ball has suggested the bag now in evidence is 8 inches wide, when the bag in the evidence photos is closer to 9 inches wide?
The testimony on the bag couldn't smell any worse if the bag had been wrapped around day-old fish.
The Curtain Rod Story
So...yikes. We've looked at the evidence Oswald: 1) handled his rifle on the day of the shooting; 2) smuggled his rifle into the building before the shooting; 3) ran down from the sixth floor after the shooting; and 4) fired the fatal shots, and found this evidence sorely lacking, and even suspect.
So where does that leave us? With Oswald as the "patsy" he claimed he was?
Or somewhere in between the stone-cold killer some claim he was, and the innocent patsy some would like him to be?
It's hard to say. What is clear, however, is that there's one last piece to the puzzle that requires our attention. And that's the curtain rod story. To refresh, Buell Frazier said Oswald told him the package he brought into the building on the 22nd contained curtain rods. Now, some just dismiss this, and claim we can't trust Buell, since he's a big fat liar. Only I can't do that. For two reasons...1) I've met Buell Wesley Frazier on several occasions and found him both consistent and credible, and 2) Frazier is an important witness in that he insisted from the very beginning that the bag Oswald carried into work on the morning of the 22nd was too small to have held his rifle, and it just feels hypocritical to find Frazier reliable on one item on which he's been consistent (the bag's being too small), while claiming he's flat-out lying about another item on which he's been consistent (Oswald's telling him the bag contained curtain rods).
So let's dive into this...
When one thinks of it, there are really two halves to the curtain rod story, and two questions to be answered.
Question 1: Did Oswald tell Frazier he was going to Mrs. Paine's to collect curtain rods?
Here are the accepted facts...
1. Frazier claimed that when Oswald asked for a ride to Irving (where Oswald's wife and children were living with Ruth Paine) from work on Thursday, 11-21-63, he told him he was going to pick up some curtain rods.
2. Frazier and his sister (Linnie Mae Randle) both claimed that, on the evening of 11-21-63, she asked him about Oswald's getting a ride back on a Thursday night, as opposed to his usual night on Friday, and that he told her Oswald was going to pick up some curtain rods.
3. On 11-24-63, in a televised interview after Oswald's death, moreover, Mrs. Paine added some inadvertent support for Oswald's story about the curtain rods. When asked about Oswald's relationship with his wife, and if she thought they were permanently separated, Mrs. Paine told her interviewer "I think they expected to get an apartment together when they could afford it, say after Christmas sometime."
Well, that was just a few weeks off. Was Oswald planning a surprise for his wife? A new apartment where the family could be reunited? With curtains?
4. In a taped interview with the Secret Service on 11-26-63, moreover, Mrs. Paine added fuel to this fire. She acknowledged: "On last Thursday night's visit, Marina told me that Lee Harvey asked her 'Can't we hurry up and get an apartment together?'" (CD87 p195)
So...wait. According to Mrs. Paine...not only was Oswald planning a reunion with his wife--for which he would need an apartment--he was desperate to re-unite as soon as possible.
Did his wife Marina confirm this?
5. Yep. On 2-3-64, Marina Oswald testified: "On that day [11/21/63], he suggested that we rent an apartment in Dallas. He said that he was tired of living alone and perhaps the reason for my being so angry was the fact that we were not living together. That if I want to he would rent an apartment in Dallas tomorrow--that he didn't want me to remain with Ruth any longer, but wanted me to live with him in Dallas. He repeated this not once but several times..." (1H65-66)
So, yes, the historical record suggests Oswald was planning to re-unite with his wife. He had the money for an apartment, may very well have had one in mind, and may very well have told Frazier something about picking up some curtain rods for this apartment.
Now, some will say this isn't true, and that Oswald had specified to Frazier that he wanted these curtain rods for the room he was then renting, and not for an apartment he had looked at
So let's go back and re-read Frazier's exact words. Did he say Oswald wanted the curtain rods for the room he'd been renting, or an apartment?
(11-22-63 signed affidavit of Buell Wesley Frazier to Dallas County Sheriff's Department, 24H209) "He told me that he was going home to get some curtain rods."
(11-23-63 report on an 11-22-63 interview of Buell Wesley Frazier by FBI agent Richard Harrison, CD5, p316-319) "He advised during the day of November 21, 1963, Oswald had approached him at work and requested that he be able to ride with Frazier to Irving as he wanted to obtain some curtain rods for his residence, in Dallas."
(12-1-63 article in the Philadelphia Bulletin, for which Frazier was interviewed) "As a matter of fact, said Frazier, Oswald had told him the day before that he would be bringing some rods to exchange them for other rods he wanted for his room at Mrs. Johnson's."
(12-2-63 report on a 12-1-63 interview of Buell Wesley Frazier by FBI agents Bardwell Odum and Gibson McNeely, CD7 294) "Oswald replied that he wanted to get some curtain rods in Irving and take them to his room in Oak Cliff."
(12-5-63 sworn statement of Buell Wesley Frazier, as transcribed by U.S. Secret Service Agent William N. Carter, and signed by Frazier, CD87 p795. Note: this means the exact wording comes from Carter, not Frazier.) "I first met Lee Harvey Oswald on his first day at work in the depository. He told me that he lived in Irving. I told him he could ride home with me since he had stated that he did not have a car. Lee stated that he would ride with me on Friday evenings and Monday mornings since he had an apartment in Oak Cliff...On Thursday morning, November 21, 1963, Lee asked me if he could ride home with me that night. Lee had never gone home in the middle of the week before, so I asked him why and he stated he was going home to get some curtain rods for his apartment."
So this confirmed what the FBI reports had claimed--that Oswald had told Frazier he wanted the curtain rods for his current residence.
Or did it? The thought occurs that Oswald had said he'd wanted curtain rods for an apartment, and that Frazier had assumed he'd meant his current residence. A 19 year-old country boy like Frazier might not have realized Oswald's room was no apartment.
Now, I know some might wish to believe Oswald would use "room" and "apartment" interchangeably, but that is not the case. To someone of his economic status, an "apartment" would be an enormous step-up from a rented "room." For Oswald to have said "apartment" when he'd meant to say "room," then, would be like a college student saying "townhome" when he meant to say "dorm room." It's inarticulate--something Oswald was not. If Frazier had actually said Oswald had said he'd wanted curtain rods for an "apartment," as opposed to "room," then, it strongly suggests Oswald told Frazier he was getting the curtain rods for an apartment he was seeking to rent, and presumably had already picked out.
If only there was a way to determine what Frazier had actually told the FBI and Secret Service...
(3-11-64 testimony of Buell Wesley Frazier before the Warren Commission, 2H210-245) "Well, I say, we were standing like I said at the four-headed table about half as large as this, not, quite half as large, but anyway I was standing there getting the orders in and he said, "Could I ride home with you this afternoon?" And I said, "Sure. You know, like I told you, you can go home with me any time you want to, like I say anytime you want to go see your wife that is all right with me." So automatically I knew it wasn't Friday, I come to think it wasn't Friday and I said, "Why are you going home today?" And he says, "I am going home to get some curtain rods." He said, "You know, put in an apartment." He wanted to hang up some curtains and I said, "Very well."
It was now "an apartment," and no longer "his apartment."
Now, I know some will take from this that Frazier changed his story to make Oswald appear innocent. But they're missing the big picture. When Frazier testified, on 3-11-64, there had been no investigation establishing whether or not Oswald's rented room had had adequate curtains, etc. In other words, at that time, it could very well have been advantageous to Oswald's innocence for Frazier to claim he'd said the curtain rods were for his rented room. But Frazier didn't. Instead, he said that Oswald had said they were for an apartment. As a consequence, then, we should take this testimony seriously...
(2-13-69 testimony of Buell Wesley Frazier in the trial of Clay Shaw) "He came up to me and asked me could he ride home with me and I told him sure. I naturally noticed it was not Friday and asked him why, and he replied he was going home to see his wife and get some curtain rods which she had bought for him and he was going to put some curtains up in his apartment."
Okay, I'll admit it; he's switched back. And not only that, he's added a new element. While the story was originally that Ruth Paine was gonna give Oswald some curtain rods it was now that Marina had bought him some curtain rods.
(7-23-86 testimony in televised mock trial, On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald) "He tells me that he was going home to get some curtain rods for his apartment from Mrs. Paine."
(6-19-02 oral history with the Sixth Floor Museum) "He said but I need to go out to Irving. He said that Marina had made him some curtains for his apartment. He stayed over in an apartment in Dallas during the week and would go home with me like on Friday. So he was going out to pick up the curtain rods where he could hang the curtains in his apartment." (A surprised Gary Mack then asked if Oswald said these curtains were ready or whether he was just gonna pick up some curtain rods) "The way he explained it, they were ready and he was gonna get the curtain rods to hang the curtains."
Well, alright. It's changed again. Marina has no longer bought Lee some curtain rods, but she has believe it or not, made him some curtains.
(6-21-02 oral history with the Sixth Floor Museum) "I saw out of the corner of my eye that something was laying on the backseat, and that’s when I asked him, I said, “What’s that on the backseat?” And he says, “Remember? That’s the curtain rods I told you that I had come out to get that I was taking back to hang the curtains in my apartment.”
(7-13-13 appearance at the Sixth Floor Museum, as shown on C-Span) "He said 'I'd like to ride out with you because I wanna get some curtain rods, to put some curtains up in my apartment.'"
(11-17-13 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, for which Frazier was interviewed and photographed) "On the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, Oswald rode with Frazier to work, as usual. He didn’t pay much attention to the package on his back seat that Oswald had brought along. When Frazier asked him about it, Oswald said he had bought curtain rods for his apartment."
(11-22-13 interview with Tom Meros) "Going back to November the 22nd, he had ridden out with me the night before, which was a Thursday, on November 21st, and I asked him, I said 'Well, why do you wanna go to Irving on Thursday, because you always go out with me on Friday?' And he says "Marina's made me some curtains, and I'm gonna go out to Irving because they have some curtain rods out there, and I'm gonna get the curtain rods and take 'em back with me on Friday, and I'll take 'em and put the curtains up in my apartment.'"
Well, alright...It appears that Frazier sometimes says Oswald said Marina had made him some curtains, and sometimes says that Oswald said that he himself had bought some curtain rods.
So Frazier's not the model of consistency we might wish him to be.
But he is consistent on two parts to his story--that Oswald had said something about some curtain rods--and that these curtain rods had something to do with an apartment
Well, this leaves open the possibility suggested by Frazier's testimony before the Warren Commission--that Oswald had returned to Irving (at least in part) to get some curtain rods...for an apartment.
But this splits both ways, doesn't it? IF Lee had planned on re-uniting with Marina, getting some curtain rods, returning to Dallas, and putting these curtain rods up in a new apartment that would surprise and impress her, he may have been disheartened by her wanting to delay their re-union until after Christmas. And this may have led him to...you know...
Above: Marina Oswald, when in Washington to testify before the Warren Commission. The man behind her was her new boyfriend, James Martin.
Here, again is Marina Oswald's testimony, along with the next bit of her testimony (1H65-66)...
MRS. OSWALD. On that day, he suggested that we rent an apartment in Dallas. He said that he was tired of living alone and perhaps the reason for my being so angry was the fact that we were not living together. That if I want to he would rent an apartment in Dallas tomorrow--that he didn't want me to remain with Ruth any longer, but wanted me to live with him in Dallas. He repeated this not once but several times, but I refused. And he said that once again I was preferring my friends to him, and that I didn't need him.
Mr. RANKIN. What did you say to that?
Mrs. OSWALD. I said it would be better if I remained with Ruth until the holidays, he would come, and we would all meet together. That this was better because while he was living alone and I stayed with Ruth, we were spending less money. And I told him to buy me a washing machine, because (with) two children it became too difficult to wash by hand.
Mr. RANKIN. What did he say to that?
Mrs. OSWALD. He said he would buy me a washing machine.
Mr. RANKIN. What did you say to that?
Mrs. OSWALD. Thank you. That it would be better if he bought something for himself--that I would manage.
While it is unfortunate that Marina and Lee, a 1977 book written by Priscilla Johnson McMillan after spending dozens if not hundreds of hours with Marina Oswald over a seven month period in 1964, is as close to a Marina auto-bio as we're likely to get, it is fortunate in some regards that the book exists, as it helps fill in some blanks.
Here's Marina and Lee on this conversation... (Marina and Lee, p561)
'Alka,' Marina said, 'I think it's better if I stay here. I'll stay till Christmas and you'll go on living alone. We'll save money that way. I can talk to Ruth and she's a help to me. I'm lonesome by myself with no one to talk to all day.' '
'Don't worry about the money,' Lee said. 'We have a little saved up. I'll take an apartment and we'll buy you a washing machine.'
'I don't want a washing machine. It'll be better if you buy a car.'
'I don't need a car,' he said. 'I can go on the bus. If you buy a used car, you have to spend money to get it fixed. It's not worth it. I don't want my girl to have to do all the laundry in the bathtub. Two babies are a lot of work.' Lee pointed to the pile of clothing. 'See what a lot of work it is. With two babies you can't just do it alone.'
'We'll see,' Marina said.'"
Now that is far from the "flat-out rejection that hurt Lee so bad he just had to go kill the President" some make it out to be. He was on the verge of re-uniting with his family--something he desperately wanted. He just had to wait a few weeks.
So... are we to believe Oswald was so disappointed (that Marina wanted to wait) that he snapped? Really? McMillan has Lee sneak into the garage for a few minutes while Marina removed the wash from the clothesline. She makes out that he dismantled and bagged up his rifle at this time. As no one actually saw him do this, of course, this was just conjecture.
And dubious conjecture at that. McMillan has Oswald bagging up the rifle before Marina gives him her final word on the temporary delay. Well, hell, what was Oswald to do if she surprised him in the garage with a "Let's go!"
As McMillan claimed the bag was 26 to 27 inches long (as opposed to the 38 inch-long bag in the archives), moreover, it's clear her strength was story-telling, as opposed to strong forensic argument.
In any event, after Lee's arrest, Marina Oswald made a discovery that might help us understand what happened. When Lee had left for work that morning, he'd left his wedding ring behind.
Now, for some that's all she wrote...Oswald left his ring behind. He knew his marriage was over. And he was ready to throw his life away in a stupid and futile gesture...
But the Oswald-did-it-because-he-was-rejected argument has some problems of its own.
You see, Oswald also left behind some money. This was the money he'd been saving up for an apartment. Well, if Marina's temporary rejection had driven him mad, wouldn't he have taken this money for his escape?
Now, one might counter this with the argument he thought he was going to die, and had no concrete plans of escape. Well, then, why keep any money? Why not give it all to Marina and the kids?
it should be noted, moreover, that when Marina visited Lee at the jail, she was not greeted with anger or abuse---only optimism that everything would work out and concern about their children.
Well, this splits history in half with two possible narratives, right? One where Oswald took some curtain rods to work the next day in hopes of surprising his wife with a new apartment, and one where he'd become unhinged by her temporary rejection of his fervent desire to re-unite, and took his rifle to work in a paper bag (which he'd created at work the day before just in case, y'know, he needed it), so he could assassinate the President.
Question 2: Did Oswald take his rifle, or curtain rods, to work on November 22?
Here are the accepted facts...
1. Randle claimed she saw Oswald on the morning of November 22 with a package in his hand as he approached her brother's car.
2. Frazier claimed that, when asked about this package, Oswald reminded him of the curtain rods he'd mentioned the day before.
3. After the assassination, and the ascension of Oswald as the primary suspect, Frazier and his sister told the police about the package, and that Oswald had said it contained curtain rods.
4. When asked about this package by the police, however, Oswald is purported to have claimed it was a lunch sack, and that he'd never told Frazier anything about any curtain rods.
Now, this is what we've been told Oswald said, because, amazingly, no tape recordings were made of Oswald's interrogation. That's right. The Secret Service recorded its interviews with Ruth Paine and Oswald's wife and mother, etc., but none of the various agencies investigating the assassination--the Dallas Police, the FBI, the Secret Service, or even the gol-darned Post Office--recorded any of their interviews with Oswald.
And yet, even so, some take from this that Oswald lied about the curtain rods, and that he must have instead been carrying his rifle in the bag observed by Frazier.
But that's really quite a leap.
The Warren Commission's conclusion Oswald smuggled his rifle to work on the morning of November 22 was actually a series of small conclusions leading up to one big conclusion.
So let's dissect this big conclusion by first looking at some of the Commission's small conclusions...starting with...that Oswald's rifle was in Mrs. Paine's garage on the evening of November 21, 1963.
(2-3-64 testimony of Marina Oswald before the Warren Commission, 1H1-29)
(They are discussing her return to Dallas, with the help of Mrs. Paine, in September, 1963.)
Mr. RANKIN. Did you move your household goods in her station wagon at that time?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you know whether or not the rifle was carried in the station wagon?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes, it was.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you have anything to do with loading it in there?
Mrs. OSWALD. No. Lee was loading everything on because I was pregnant at the time. But I know that Lee loaded the rifle on.
Mr. RANKIN. Was the rifle carried in some kind of a case when you went back with Mrs. Paine?
Mrs. OSWALD. After we arrived, I tried to put the bed, the child's crib together, the metallic parts, and I looked for a certain part, and I came upon something wrapped in a blanket. I thought that was part of the bed, but it turned out to be the rifle.
Mr. RANKIN. When you found the rifle wrapped in the blanket, upon your return to Mrs. Paine's, where was it located?
Mrs. OSWALD. In the garage, where all the rest of the things were.
Mr. RANKIN. In what part of the garage?
Mrs. OSWALD. In that part which is closer to the street, because that garage is connected to the house. One door opens on the kitchen, and the other out in the street.
Mr. RANKIN. Was the rifle lying down or was it standing up on the butt end?
Mrs. OSWALD. No, it was lying down on the floor.
Mr. RANKIN. After your husband returned from Mexico, did you examine the rifle in the garage at any time?
Mrs. OSWALD. I had never examined the rifle in the garage. It was wrapped in a blanket and was lying on the floor.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you ever check to see whether the rifle was in the blanket?
Mrs. OSWALD. I never checked to see that. There was only once that I was interested in finding out what was in that blanket, and I saw that it was a rifle.
Mr. RANKIN. When was that?
Mrs. OSWALD. About a week after I came from New Orleans.
Mr. RANKIN. And then you found that the rifle was in the blanket, did you?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes, I saw the wooden part of it, the wooden stock.
Mrs. OSWALD. I said that I saw--for the first and last time I saw the rifle about a week after I had come to Mrs. Paine. But, as I said, the rifle was wrapped in a blanket, and I was sure when the police had come that the rifle was still in the blanket, because it was all rolled together. And, therefore, when they took the blanket and the rifle was not in it, I was very much surprised.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you ever see the rifle in a paper cover?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. Could you describe for the Commission the place in the garage where the rifle was located?
Mrs. OSWALD. When you enter the garage from the street it was in the front part, the left.
Mr. RANKIN. By the left you mean left of the door?
Mrs. OSWALD. It is an overhead door and the rifle was to the left, on the floor. It was always in the same place.
Mr. RANKIN. Was there anything else close to the rifle that you recall?
Mrs. OSWALD. Next to it there were some...next to the rifle there were some suitcases and Ruth had some paper barrels in the garage where the kids used to play.
Mr. RANKIN. The way the rifle was wrapped with a blanket, could you tell whether or not the rifle had been removed and the blanket just left there at any time?
Mrs. OSWALD. It always had the appearance of having something inside of it. But I only looked at it really once, and I was always sure the rifle was in it. Therefore, it is very hard to determine when the rifle was taken. I only assumed that it was on Thursday, because Lee had arrived so unexpectedly for some reason.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you know whether your husband carried any package with him when he left the house on November 22nd?
Mrs. OSWALD. I think that he had a package with his lunch. But a small package.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you know whether he had any package like a rifle in some container?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. What did you do the rest of the morning, after you got up on November 22d?
Mrs. OSWALD. When I got up the television set was on, and I knew that Kennedy was coming. Ruth had gone to the doctor with her children and she left the television set on for me. And I watched television all morning, even without having dressed. She was running around in her pajamas and watching television with me.
Mr. RANKIN. Before the assassination, did you ever see your husband examining the route of the parade as it was published in the paper?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you ever see him looking at a map of Dallas like he did in connection with the Walker shooting?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. How did you learn of the shooting of President Kennedy?
Mrs. OSWALD. I was watching television, and Ruth by that time was already with me, and she said someone had shot at the President.
Mr. RANKIN. What did you say?
Mrs. OSWALD. It was hard for me to say anything. We both turned pale. I went to my room and cried.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you think immediately that your husband might have been involved?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. Did Mrs. Paine say anything about the possibility of your husband being involved?
Mrs. OSWALD. No, but she only said that "By the way, they fired from the building in which Lee is working." My heart dropped. I then went to the garage to see whether the rifle was there, and I saw that the blanket was still there, and I said, "Thank God." I thought, "Can there really be such a stupid man in the world that could do something like that?" But I was already rather upset at that time--I don't know why. Perhaps my intuition. I didn't know what I was doing.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you look in the blanket to see if the rifle was there?
Mrs. OSWALD. I didn't unroll the blanket. It was in its usual position, and it appeared to have something inside.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you at any time open the blanket to see if the rifle was there?
Mrs. OSWALD. No, only once.
Mr. RANKIN. You have told us about that.
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes.
Mr. RANKIN. And what about Mrs. Paine? Did she look in the blanket to see if the rifle was there?
Mrs. OSWALD. She didn't know about the rifle. Perhaps she did know. But she never told me about it. I don't know.
Mr. RANKIN. When did you learn that the rifle was not in the blanket?
Mrs. OSWALD. When the police arrived and asked whether my husband had a rifle, and I said "Yes."
Mr. RANKIN. Then what happened?
Mrs. OSWALD. They began to search the apartment. When they came to the garage and took the blanket, I thought, "Well, now, they will find it." They opened the blanket but there was no rifle there. Then, of course, I already knew that it was Lee. Because, before that, while I thought that the rifle was at home, I did not think that Lee had done that. I thought the police had simply come because he was always under suspicion.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you tell them that you had looked for the gun you thought was in the blanket?
Mrs. OSWALD. No, it seems to me I didn't say that. They didn't ask me.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you watch the police open the blanket to see if the rifle was there?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes.
Mr. RANKIN. Did Mrs. Paine also watch them?
Mrs. OSWALD. It seems to me, as far as I remember.
Well, this is pretty clear. Mrs. Oswald had seen the stock of a rifle sticking out of a blanket in Mrs. Paine's garage a week after arriving at the Paine house in September 1963, and had seen the blanket afterwards, but had failed to notice any difference in the appearance of the blanket from when she'd seen it wrapped around a rifle as compared to its laying empty on the floor on November 22. In other words, she was of no help to the commission in their quest to show the rifle was taken to work by Oswald on November 22, 1963.
Well, what about Mr. Paine. Did he see the rifle in the garage?
Above: Ruth and Michael Paine when in Washington to testify before the Warren Commission.
(3-17-64 testimony of Michael Paine before the Warren Commission, 9H434-481)
(Note that this is a deep dive into a shallow pool. If only the Commission's staff had been more thorough on more important matters.)
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, did you ever have occasion to go into the garage toward the end of September after your wife had returned for any reason?
Mr. PAINE - Yes. As I say that was, I still had a number of things there, and the tools were there.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you used the tools from time to time?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - During the time that you used the tools, did you ever see a package wrapped in a blanket lying in the garage?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; that is one of the clearest things in my mind. I had had to move that. The garage is rather crowded especially with their things in it. It had degenerated from a shop into a storage place and in order to use the tools at all I would have to move things out of the way, and one of the packages was this blanket wrapped with a string and I had had to move it several times. I knew it belonged to the Oswalds. I am polite so I don't look into a package or even I wouldn't look into a letter if it were in an envelope which was unsealed. But I picked up this package and the first time I picked it up I thought it was a camping equipment and thought to myself they don't make camping equipment of iron any more, and at another time I think I picked it up at least twice or three times, and one time I had to put it on the floor, and there was a--I was a little ashamed because I didn't know what I was putting on the floor and I was going to get it covered with sawdust but I again supposed that it was camping equipment that wouldn't be injured by it, being on the floor. I supposed it was camping equipment because it was wrapped in this greenish rustic blanket and that was the reason I thought it was a rustic thing. I had also going a little further thought what kind of camping equipment has something this way and one going off 45 degrees, a short stub like that. Then there was also a certain wideness at one end and then I thought of a folding tool I had in the Army, a folding shovel and I was trying to think how a folding shovel fit with the rest of this because that wasn't quite, the folding shovel was too symmetrical. That was as far as my thinking went on the subject but at one time or another those various thoughts would occur before I got to using the tools myself.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever think there were tent poles in the package?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I supposed they were tent poles, I first thought it was tent poles and then I thought there are not enough poles here, enough to make a tent. I didn't think very elaborately about it but just kind of in the back of my mind before I got on to the next thing I visualized a pipe or possibly two, and with something coming off, that must come off kind of abruptly a few inches at 45b0 angle. I can draw you a picture of the thing as I had it. You know I wasn't thinking of a rifle. Definitely that thought never occurred to me.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you draw us a picture for it and I hand you a yellow pad and let me get you a pen. Would you draw a picture for us of what you visualized to be in the package?
Mr. PAINE - Also this was--I visualized after I put the package down. I would lift the package up, move it, put the package down and one time I was trying to puzzle how you could make camping equipment out of something--this is only one pipe in the package. That is the only thing. Then a little shovel which I am speaking is an Army shovel which looks something like so, and it has a folding handle on it.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you have drawn on this piece of paper two different pictures, one of which you indicate as the shovel.
Mr. PAINE - I was trying to put these in the package to make something that I thought was a pipe about 30 inches long. Of course; that actual package as I visualized it--that is the outline, that is how it lay in the package.
Mr. LIEBELER - You have drawn a dotted line, outline around his first picture that you drew which you indicated you thought, you conceived of as an iron pipe of some sort.
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you mark this. I hand this to the reporter and ask him to mark this as Exhibit 1.
(The drawing was marked "Michael Paine Exhibit No. 1".)
Mr. LIEBELER - When you moved this package around, did it appear to you that there was more than one object inside of it or did it appear to be a solid piece or just what was your feeling?
Mr. PAINE - I didn't think. It remained in the package--nothing jelled. I think I thought about it more than once because my thoughts didn't hold together enough.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did it rattle at all when you moved it?
Mr. PAINE - No; it didn't rattle.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now----
Mr. PAINE - I kind of rejected the shovel idea because that was not, that was two symmetrical.
Mr. LIEBELER - What was too symmetrical?
Mr. PAINE - The shovel the shaft and the blade of the shovel are symmetrical, the shaft is on the center line of the shovel and here this wider area had to be offset somehow.
Mr. LIEBELER - You said you thought it was about 30 inches long?
Mr. PAINE - No; I am just telling you, I picked up a package which I first thought camping equipment, heavy iron pipes, and then I tried, then later, maybe when I had left. I tried to think, well, what kind of camping equipment has that little stub on it that goes off at an angle or asymmetric like that, and the flat end down there and I tried to put a shovel in there to fill out the bag, and with the camping equipment, to the shape of the thing. I never--I didn't put these in words, they were just kind of thoughts in the back part of my mind. I wasn't particularly curious about it. I just had to move this object and I think I have told you about the full extent of my thinking.
Mr. LIEBELER - How long would you estimate the package to be?
Mr. PAINE - The package was about that long. That is 40 inches long.
Mr. LIEBELER - Let's get a ruler and have you indicate. Would you indicate Mr. Paine, on the edge of the desk here approximately how long you think the package was and then I will measure what you have indicated.
Mr. PAINE - I guess about that. That is including the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - The witness has indicated a length of 37 1/2 inches.
Mr. PAINE - You had two twelves. All right.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, you say that was including the blanket, what do you mean by that?
Mr. PAINE - Well, the blanket was wrapped around the end of it.
Mr. LIEBELER - Was it wrapped tightly?
Mr. PAINE - Pretty snug.
Mr. LIEBELER - When you moved it did you have the impression that there might have been any paper inside of it?
Mr. PAINE - No; I would have said no; I didn't have that impression. Nothing crinkled, no sound.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you moved it several times?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Was there any indication by a crinkling or otherwise that there might be paper wrapped inside the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - That is right.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, you said before that you had thought that they didn't make camping equipment out of iron anymore. What do you mean by that?
Mr. PAINE - Well, I had had camping equipment, of course, camping equipment we had was a tent with iron pipes.
Mr. LIEBELER - What prompted you to think of that thought in connection with this particular package?
Mr. PAINE - I suppose it was the--I had a .22 when I was a kid.
Mr. LIEBELER - A .22 caliber rifle?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I had two of them. I kept that in better condition, I mean, this was a rustic looking blanket, it looked as though it had been kicked around. It was dusty, and it seemed to me it was wrapped with a twine or something tied up with a twine. So I thought of, it looked to me like the kind of blanket I had used for a bed roll on the ground.
I suppose that is the thought that started me thinking in the line of camping equipment. And then I suppose I must have felt, I felt a pipe, at least, and maybe some sense of there being more than one pipe but I drew that picture that I drew, I didn't sense that there being another pipe I didn't put it in because I never did place another pipe around it.
Mr. LIEBELER - You never placed another pipe----
Mr. PAINE - I had the idea there might have been more than one pipe here or I didn't know where the other pipe might be.
Mr. LIEBELER - At the time you picked it up, at any time that you picked it up, did you have the idea that there might be more than two pipes inside the package.
Mr. PAINE - Well, I would never have mentioned camping equipment, you see, without, you can't make anything without more than one pipe.
Mr. LIEBELER - Think of the configuration of the package or of the way it acted when you moved it, was there any indication in that sense that there was more than one pipe inside.
Mr. PAINE - No; I think it was a homogenous, that is to say it didn't move one part with respect to another.
Mr. LIEBELER - Was it tied tightly?
Mr. PAINE - It was tied quite firmly. It seemed to me the blanket was wrapped double or something that the blanket itself would have made two pipes trying to hold still in the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - How wide was the package?
Mr. PAINE - Well, apparently, it was lopsided because I remember not being able to fit the shovel in it, but if you are to draw that outline or something, I think that would go around the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you want to draw something additional here?
Mr. PAINE - It was smaller at this end. It was smaller at this one end and that was generally the end that I carried in my right hand.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you mark the area on the drawing that you are indicating, mark it with an "A" on the drawing. And you indicate that it was smaller at the end marked "A" than at the other end or it was not as wide?
Mr. PAINE - I can't remember how it was wrapped at this end because I could grab my hand around the paper whereas this end, I think was folded over.
Mr. LIEBELER - You say that the blanket, you think the blanket was folded over at the other end opposite from "A"?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I don't know, there were two separate different thoughts at the time.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now you have drawn a solid line completely around the first drawing that you made on No. 1?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I don't think I made this one, my solid line should be much longer. It should have gone out there. I will scratch it out.
Mr. LIEBELER - Okay. The witness is scratching out the first line at end "B" and drawing in another line.
Mr. PAINE - This is the widest dimension here, and I was indicating, between 7 and 8 inches.
Mr. LIEBELER - Mark that "C".
Mr. PAINE - All right.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now the witness has stated that the dimension marked "C" on the drawing was approximately 7 or 8 inches. Would you mark a "B" at the end opposite from "A" on the drawing so we can keep the record straight as to what we have been talking about?
Mr. PAINE - [Marking.]
Mr. LIEBELER - We have now gotten two dimensions roughly of the package, the length and the height.
Mr. PAINE - My hand went around it pretty well, It didn't close around it but it went around it to the grabbing of the fashion where the pipe went actually through my fingers and thumb.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did your hand actually close around it?
Mr. PAINE - It did not close around it. At the other end I grabbed it when I picked it up, grabbing it, I will draw my fingers here. This is the thumb.
Mr. LIEBELER - The witness has sketched-----
Mr. PAINE - In that fashion there. That was, say, 2 inches thick with the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - Witness has drawn at the end marked "'B" his hand indicating how he picked it up and said that at that end it was about 2 inches thick, including the blanket.
When you grabbed it at that end could you tell whether the blanket was wrapped tight up around the object that was inside or whether it was just a fold of the blanket at that end?
Mr. PAINE - I thought it was, my impression was that it was all tightly wrapped and that the blanket had strings around it--I can't recall exactly but it was tied with strings, I don't remember where the strings were and I thought the fold of in the blanket came up along here somewhere. I thought it was wrapped, the blanket was folded over.
Mr. LIEBELER - In other words, your testimony is that at end "B"?
Mr. PAINE - But my memory there is so feeble, so uncertain. I remember this measurement of the pipe because I pictured that in my mind at the time so I was thinking about that. I was trying to fit the shovel in and I remember saying that is too asymmetric. My impression was I would have said that there would have been a fold over it. I have read since that Marina looked in the end of this package and saw the butt end of a rifle Now I didn't remember that it was something easy to look into like that. I though it was well wrapped up.
Mr. LIEBELER - In the testimony you have just given you have indicated that the blanket was folded over the end of the object marked "B" on our drawing.
Would you indicate approximately by a line which I will ask you to mark "D" how far the blanket came up on the object itself, after it was folded over, the "B" end, can you do that for us?
Mr. PAINE - This is totally unreliable as a memory. It was only based on an impression that I thought it was well wrapped, in other words, dirt wouldn't be sifting into the inside of the package. I put it under the saw, right below where the saw sifts the sawdust out so I was concerned not getting these things dirty. So I will draw a line here.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, in the drawing you have made for us you have indicated this object inside the package, you have drawn an object and a package, and on your drawing the object ends before the end of the package does, the steel pipe that you have drawn.
What impression did you have of what was in the rest of the package?
Mr. PAINE - I must have drawn my outline incorrectly. The line of this pipe here shown didn't--the package, I must draw another package then. The package must have sloped.
Mr. LIEBELER - Well, do you remember how it was?
Mr. PAINE - No; I don't remember the shape of the package. It was a blanket, I mean it was a--- reconstruct the blanket or something but this is not a continuous pipe because it was loose, it was stuck through the outline of the package, then I drew the package wrong then. I didn't think of it all at one time, you know, I just had these individual separate thoughts of trying to fit an object or objects that came to my mind into this package.
Mr. LIEBELER - Your testimony is then that instead of drawing a new package you think the object you have drawn inside the package should have gone right to the end of the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; that 30 inches of pipe would have come close to the edge of the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - Let me show you a----
Mr. PAINE - But here, you see there may have been another pipe alongside of it, I didn't particularly arrange it.
Mr. LIEBELER - I show you a blanket which has been previously marked as Commission Exhibit 140, and ask you if that is the blanket that you saw in the garage?
Mr. PAINE - Well, I think it looks cleaner than it was, than it struck me then. And I may have said that it had more colors in it but that is the mood of the colors there.
I think I would have--I can't absolutely identify this blanket. But green and brown, it may have also had blue spots in it or something like that.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you say that this is not the blanket that was in the garage? Take your time and examine it as closely as you want to, do anything you want to with it.
Mr. PAINE - I would guess that--it looks a little, in here it looks cleaner than I remember but otherwise it looks--the light isn't very good in there and I always moved it around in the dark, I mean in the night time. I had an impression that it was, it was somewhat more mottling of the colors in it, that is to say, I can't identify this absolutely.
It is a very good substitute for it, a good resemblance or good candidate for, my memory of the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, there were lights in the garage, were there not?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you would have them on when you were working in there?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - You said at one point you stored the blanket under your saw?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - You had lights near your saw, didn't you?
Mr. PAINE - It is very dark there. There is a light on the saw but that shines on the table.
Mr. LIEBELER - There is no light directly over the saw?
Mr. PAINE - No; there is one light in the garage out in the middle of the room.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you say that at any time that you moved the blanket around in the garage that you would have had enough light to determine the colors of the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - The green and the brown, those colors were in that blanket. I had thought there was, it was dirtier, and I would have put blue spots with it, something like that to make it fully come up to the impression I had of the blanket.
Mr. LIEBELER - And those blue spots would have been a part of the pattern of the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; sir.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you remember whether the design of this blanket, Commission Exhibit 148, is approximately the same as the design on the blanket which you saw in your garage or was it different?
Mr. PAINE - I don't remember the design of the blanket I saw in the garage. I think somewhat, I didn't, if I had been the least bit curious I could have at least felt of this blanket but I was aware of personal privacy, so I don't investigate something.
Now what comes to my hand from touching the thing unavoidably I am free to think about, but I think I was aware of not looking through his belongings, the moral dictate. I know I was aware of that, I remember. I remember that feeling.
Mr. LIEBELER - What about the texture of this blanket, does it seem like the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; that is a good----
Mr. LIEBELER - It is similar?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - This blanket we have here is sewn around the edges with brown thread, is it not?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Around some of the edges at any rate?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you recall seeing anything like that on the blanket that was in the garage?
Mr. PAINE - No; I don't know, but I didn't look at it that closely.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, a part of that exhibit is a piece of string. When I unfolded the blanket, Commission Exhibit 140, a piece of string was found to be present, and I would like to ask the reporter to mark it as the next exhibit on this deposition.
(The string referred to was marked Michael Paine Exhibit No. 2 for identification.)
Mr. LIEBELER - I ask you, Mr. Paine, whether that piece of string which has been marked as Exhibit 2 on this deposition is similar to or different from the string that was used to tie this package up when you saw it in the garage, if you remember?
Mr. PAINE - I don't remember exactly. I think this is a very good candidate again. I remember thinking it was wrapped in a twine, by which I meant it was not wrapped in a cotton, tight wound expensive cotton, string. I didn't think it was wrapped, didn't have in mind the manila type or sisal type. This is the right strength. I can't actually remember whether it was or not.
Mr. LIEBELER - It appears to be similar?
Mr. PAINE - That is about as good as could come to my memory.
Mr. LIEBELER - Was there just one string wrapped on the blanket?
Mr. PAINE - No; I think it was wrapped at both ends.
Mr. LIEBELER - With two strings?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Well now this blanket has a pin in one end. I call your attention to that, the blanket which is Commission Exhibit 140. Did you notice that pin?
Mr. PAINE - No; I don't think so.
Mr. LIEBELER - Present in the blanket at the time it was in your garage?
Mr. PAINE - No; I don't think I do.
Mr. LIEBELER - I am going to lay the blanket out here on the conference table and I am going to produce Commission Exhibit 139 which is the rifle that was found in the Texas School Book Depository Building on November 22, 1963, and I will ask you if you can construct out of these materials that we have here this rifle, and the blanket and the string something that resembles or duplicates the package that you saw in your garage?
Mr. PAINE - It seemed to me this end up here was not as bulky as the whole----
Mr. REDLICH - By "this end" what do you mean?
Mr. PAINE - "A", I have drawn as "A", was not as bulky as if I had wrapped it and pulled the blanket over.
Mr. LIEBELER - You are having difficulty in making it as small as when you remember it in the garage?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - We want you just to continue to work with it and take your time because we want you to be able to satisfy yourself to the fullest extent possible, on this question, one way or the other.
Mr. PAINE - It is getting fairly close but I don't know what he did with this end. This way of wrapping it seems to combine the functions. I also had a notion that it was somehow folded over but it seems too thick to do it that way.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, you have wrapped the rifle in the blanket. I will ask you if this appears to be, this wrapped package appears to be similar to the one you saw in your garage?
Mr. PAINE - I should say quite big enough here.
Mr. LIEBELER - When you say this end, you are referring to the end marked "B" on the drawing, which in the package is the end, the butt end of the rifle, isn't that right?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - You say that end is too thick.
Mr. PAINE - As I have it wrapped.
Mr. LIEBELER - Yes; and you say in the center of the package in which we have the rifle wrapped you say that is not thick enough. But by thick enough do you mean the width or the actual thickness of the package?
Mr. PAINE - I thought of the package pretty much as all of the same thickness, calling the width from--calling the rifle and the scope of the rifle the width.
Mr. LIEBELER - The width?
Mr. PAINE - The width across the belt, the direction of the bolt as the thickness. So I thought of it as a more or less constant thickness of the package and not quite so--I would have to wrap it in some manner to move some of this bulk up into here, but I don't want to do it so much that I can't grab that feel of pipe.
That feels, it is quite a lot like it and there could almost have been two pipes there.
Mr. LIEBELER - When you say it is quite a lot like it you grasped the "A" end rifle or the muzzle of the rifle, is that correct?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Are we saying now that its thickness is not as you remember the package in your garage or the same width?
Mr. PAINE - Well, most likely this end down here is perhaps, the butt end of the rifle.
Mr. LIEBELER - The "B" end?
Mr. PAINE - As I have it wrapped is a little bit too full.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you think that appears to be thicker----
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Than the package that was in your garage?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - And as far as the middle is concerned, you say that is what, not as thick nor not as wide?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; somehow it should be a little wider, or a little fuller.
Mr. LIEBELER - It was a package which wasn't quite so tapering?
Mr. PAINE - Quite so tapered.
Mr. LIEBELER - Is that approximately the length of the package that you remember in your garage?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I think that is good, I grabbed it in some way or another, I don't know what he did with this end.
Mr. LIEBELER - Referring to the "A"?
Mr. PAINE - There was a string, there were two strings on it.
Mr. LIEBELER - When you estimated the length of the package before, would you have estimated it with the flap of the blanket that is now on the "A" end folded over or extended a little bit as it happens to be in this particular package?
Mr. PAINE - I don't think it was--I think the package is still all right if you fold it over, and I would not, the length I was estimating was the kind of length that I would grab there.
Mr. LIEBELER - So you think that the length would be more appropriate if you folded this flap over here at "A"?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Would you measure the length of that package and tell us what it is?
Mr. PAINE - That is 41 inches.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now, after going through the process that we have gone through here, of trying to wrap this rifle in this blanket, do you think that the package that you saw in your garage could have been a package containing a rifle similar to the one we have here?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; I think so. This has the right weight and solidness.
Well, let's interject here to point out that they have placed the rifle presumed to have been held in a blanket in the Paine's garage back into this blanket, and have been unable to make this "package" look like the package Mr. Paine remembered moving around his garage.
They brought him back the next day.
(3-18-64 testimony of Michael Paine before the Warren Commission, 2H384-430)
Mr. LIEBELER - Now yesterday, we asked you about an incident or spoke to you about an incident that happened in September of 1963 when you went into your garage to use some tools, your garage in Irving, Tex. Would you tell us about that?
Mr. PAINE - I don't remember whether the date was September. I remember that was the date they came back from New Orleans and I do remember that my wife asked me to unpack some of their heavy things from their car. I only recall unpacking duffelbags but any other package, that was the heaviest thing there and they were easy also.
Mr. LIEBELER - You must have moved the duffelbags from the station wagon into the garage?
Mr. PAINE - That is right. I unpacked whatever was remaining in the station wagon to the garage.
So sometime later, I do remember moving about this package which, let's say, was a rifle, anyway it was a package wrapped in a blanket. The garage was kind of crowded and I did have my tools in there and I had to move this package several times in order to make space to work, and the final time I put it on the floor underneath the saw where the bandsaw would be casting dust on it and I was a little embarrassed to be putting his goods on the floor, but I didn't suppose, the first time I picked it up I thought it was camping equipment. I said to myself they don't make camping equipment of iron pipes any more.
Mr. LIEBELER - Why did you say that to yourself when you picked up the package?
Mr. PAINE - I had, my experience had been, my earliest camping equipment had been a tent of iron pipes. This somehow reminded me of that. I felt a pipe with my right hand and it was iron, that is to say it was not aluminum.
Mr. LIEBELER - How did you make that distinction?
Mr. PAINE - By the weight of it, and by the, I suppose the moment of inertia, you could have an aluminum tube with a total weight massed in the center somehow but that would not have had the inertia this way.
Mr. DULLES - You were just feeling this through the blanket though?
Mr. PAINE - I was also aware as I was moving his goods around, of his rights to privacy. So I did not feel--I had to move this object, I wasn't thinking very much about it but it happens that I did think a little bit about it or before I get on to the working with my tools I thought, an image came to mind.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you think there was more than one tent pole in the package or just one tent pole?
Mr. PAINE - As I say, I moved it several times, and I think I thought progressively each time. I moved it twice. It had three occasions. And the first one was an iron, thought of an iron pipe and then I have drawn, I drew yesterday, a picture of the thing I had in mind. Then in order to fill out the package I had to add another object to it and there I added again I was thinking of camping equipment, and I added a folding shovel such as I had seen in the Army, a little spade where the blade folds back over the handle. This has the trouble that this blade was too symmetrical I disposed to the handle and to fit the package the blade had to be off center, eccentric to the handle. Also, I had my vision of the pipe. It had an iron pipe about 30 inches long with a short section of pipe going off 45 degrees. No words here, it just happened that I did have this image in my mind of trying to fill up that package in the back burner of my mind.
Mr. LIEBELER - The witness yesterday did draw a picture of what he visualized as being in the blanket, and I will offer it in evidence later on in the hearing.
How long was this package in your estimation?
Mr. PAINE - Well, yesterday we measured the distance that I indicated with my hand, I think it came to 37 inches.
Mr. LIEBELER - Approximately how thick would you say it was?
Mr. PAINE - I picked it up each time and I put it in a position and then I would recover it from that position, so each time I moved it with the same position with my hands in the same position. My right hand, the thumb and forefinger could go around the pipe, and my left hand grabbed something which was an inch and a half inside the blanket or something thick.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did it occur to you at that time that there was a rifle in the package?
Mr. PAINE - That did not occur to me.
Mr. LIEBELER - You never at any time looked inside the package?
Mr. PAINE - That is correct. I could easily have felt the package but I was aware that of respecting his privacy of his possessions.
Mr. LIEBELER - Were you subsequently advised of the probability or the possibility that there had been a rifle wrapped in that package?
Mr. PAINE - When I arrived on Friday afternoon we went into the garage, I think Ruth, Marina and the policeman, and I am not sure it was the first time, but there we saw this blanket was on the floor below the bandsaw--
(At this point Representative Ford entered the hearing room.)
Mr. PAINE - And a rifle was mentioned and then it rang a bell, the rifle answered, fitted the package that I had been trying to fit these unsuccessfully. It had never resolved itself, this shovel and pipe didn't fit in there.
Mr. LIEBELER - And it seemed to you likely that there had in fact been a rifle in the package?
Mr. PAINE - That answered it.
Mr. LIEBELER - Can you tell us when the last time was that you saw that package in the garage prior to the assassination?
Mr. PAINE - No; I am afraid I can't.
Mr. DULLES - Do we have the date of the first time in the record?
Mr. LIEBELER - Yes; I think the witness testified it was either late September or early October of 1963.
So, yikes. Mrs. Oswald said she saw the wooden stock of a rifle in the garage in September, 1963, roughly 8 weeks prior to the assassination. The Commission, then, was relying upon Mr. Paine to place the rifle in the garage sometime much more recent, say a week or two prior to the assassination. But he failed to do so.
Think of it. Mr. Paine was both the only witness to admit moving the blanket in the garage, and the only one to claim it was heavy enough to have held a rifle. And yet his recollection of the appearance of the blanket he'd moved failed to match the appearance of the blanket once wrapped around the rifle. And not only that--he had no recollection of when he'd last picked up this blanket. He knew he'd first picked it up in late September or early October, but didn't know the last time he'd picked it up.
So, yikes again... The Commission's case against Oswald rested upon the presumption he took his rifle from this blanket on the morning of the 22nd--and there was no evidence, whatsoever, that his rifle was even in the blanket on that day, or the day before that, or the day before that, going back a month and a half or more, almost two months in fact, when Marina said she'd seen the wooden stock of the rifle...
We now jump to the 3-20-64 testimony of Ruth Paine. Although she claimed she'd never looked in or picked up the blanket stored in her garage, she admitted seeing it and stepping over it on numerous occasions, including the night before the assassination.
After placing the assassination rifle into the blanket in which it was believed to have been stored in Mrs. Paine's garage, Warren Commission Counsel Albert Jenner asked Mrs. Paine if this was how the blanket looked while it was stored in her garage.
He did not receive the answer he'd anticipated.
(3-20-64 testimony of Ruth Paine before the Warren Commission, 3H50-140)
Mr. JENNER - For the record, I am placing the rifle in the folded blanket as Mrs. Paine folded it. This is being done without the rifle being dismantled. May the record show, Mr. Chairman, that the rifle fits well in the package from end to end, and it does not--
Mrs. PAINE - Can you make it flatter?
Mr. JENNER - No; because the rifle is now in there.
Mrs. PAINE - I just mean that--
Mr. JENNER - Was that about the appearance of the blanket wrapped package that you saw on your garage floor?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; although I recall it as quite flat.
Mr. JENNER - Flatter than it now appears to be?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes. But it is not a clear recollection.
Mr. JENNER - You have a firm recollection that the package you saw was of the length?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes, definitely.
Mr. JENNER - That is 45 inches, approximately. You had no occasion when you stepped on the package--
Mrs. PAINE - I stepped over it.
Mr. JENNER - You always stepped over it?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; until the afternoon of the 22d.
So let's get this straight. Mrs. Paine, who'd done some work in her garage on the night before the assassination, had a clear recollection of the length of the blanket she'd been stepping over--that matches the appearance of the rifle when hidden in the blanket--but recalled the blanket as having been "quite flat."
She had thereby testified that, in her impression, the rifle was not in the blanket in the days, if not weeks, leading up to the assassination.
Well, golly gee... Although the Commission came to the small conclusion the rifle was in the garage on November 21, 1963, they were clearly working backwards from their GIANT conclusion Oswald killed Kennedy with a rifle they presumed was in the garage, because the actual evidence the rifle was in the garage that morning was non-existent.
Let us now look at a second small conclusion...that Oswald had made the bag he was purported to have carried on the morning on November 22, 1963...in the depository on November 21, 1963.
(NOTE: This conclusion was necessitated by: 1) the FBI's conclusion the paper and tape used to create this bag matched samples of the paper and tape in use by the depository on November 22, 1963; 2) the depository changed paper rolls every few days; 3) the tape matching the tape on this bag was from a machine where the gum was wetted as the tape was pulled from the machine, thereby making it impractical for outside use; and 4) Oswald had not been out to the Paine residence for more than a week.)
It should have been a simple matter, then, of finding someone to say they'd seen Oswald by this machine on November 21. Only no such luck.
(4-8-64 testimony of Troy West, 6H356-363)
Mr. BELIN - Where did you get your lunch?
Mr. WEST - Well, I always kept my lunch right there close by my machine, by my wrapping machine that I use all the time, that I always kept my lunch. I have a little place underneath and I keep it there all the time.
Mr. BELIN - Are you the only one that wraps the books for mailing, or wraps them up for mailing?
Mr. WEST - Well, no, sir; I am not the only one, but mine is that way just every day.
Mr. BELIN - You do it all the time?
Mr. WEST - Yes; I do that.
Mr. BELIN - Are you the only one who does it all the time?
Mr. WEST - I am the only one that is steady, wraps mail all the time, although I have help, you know, when it gets stacked.
Mr. BELIN - Did Lee Harvey Oswald ever help you wrap mail?
Mr. WEST - No, sir; he never did.
Mr. BELIN - Do you know whether or not he ever borrowed or used any wrapping paper for himself?
Mr. WEST - No, sir; I don't.
Mr. BELIN - You don't know?
Mr. WEST - No; I don't.
Mr. BELIN - Did you ever see him around these wrapper rolls or wrapper roll machines, or not?
Mr. WEST - No, sir; I never noticed him being around.
Mr. BELIN - Now, after you quit for lunch, you made the coffee then?
Mr. WEST - Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN - Where did you make the coffee?
Mr. WEST - I made the coffee right there close to the wrapping mail table where I wrap mail.
Mr. BELIN - Then what did you do?
Mr. WEST - Well, I sit down to eat my lunch.
Troy West was a full-time shipping clerk. He ate lunch at his shipping table, alongside the paper and tape machines. And yet he never noticed Oswald hanging around, let alone helping himself to some paper and some tape and constructing some sort of bag...
So that's two conclusions where the evidence points in the exact opposite direction...
Let us now look at another small conclusion...that Oswald had dismantled and wrapped his rifle in a hand-made paper bag he'd smuggled home from work on the 21st.
Well, for this one there's not much to look at. Buell Frazier, who drove Oswald to Mrs. Paine's on November 21, and back to work the next day, testified on 3-11-64. Subsequent to his testimony, the Commission received reports and testimony suggesting the paper bag in evidence, which they'd presumed had concealed Oswald's rifle on his ride to work, had been constructed from materials taken from the school book depository, within days of the assassination. Well, seeing as Oswald had not visited his wife in Irving for more than a week, this led to the inevitable conclusion the paper bag had been transported to Mrs. Paine's on the evening of the 21st.
So what did Frazier have to say about this? Uhh... He was never asked about this...by the Commission, or, more specifically, Commission Counsel Joseph Ball. On 3-11-64, Ball questioned Frazier about the paper bag in his car on the 22nd, but never followed-up by asking Frazier about the paper bag the Commission had concluded was in his car on the 21st.
Yes, incredibly, Frazier was never asked about the bag's being in his car on the 21st. With the testimony of the FBI's James Cadigan before the Warren Commission on 4-3-64, the Commission learned the depository changed paper rolls about 6 times a month, or once every 3 1/3 days (4H96). And with the testimony of Troy West on 4-8-64, the Commission learned that the tape on the outside of the paper bag was wetted upon removal from the tape dispenser. Well, yikes, it followed then, that, for Oswald to have put together the bag, he would have to have taped it together at the school book depository on 11-21-63, or at the very least, at Ruth Paine's house that night... In either case, he would have to have smuggled the bag out to Irving in his clothing on the 21st.
And yet, the Commission never asked Frazier if he thought this was possible...
It is with some pride then that I report that on September 25, 2014, at the AARC conference in Bethesda, Maryland, I asked Frazier the question the commission failed to ask. I explained to him that the commission, and the single-assassin theorists crawling in their footsteps, not only push that the bag he saw in Oswald's possession on 11-22-63 was large enough to hold the rifle--something Frazier, by the way, once again denied at the conference--but that they simultaneously push that Oswald transported the bag out to Irving in Frazier's car on 11-21-63. I asked him if the paper used in the depository was crinkly and stiff when folded over, as I had assumed. And he said yes. I then asked him if there was any way Oswald could have smuggled more than 7 square feet of industrial wrapping paper out to Irving, within his clothes or otherwise, on 11-21-63. And Frazier's face hardened. He thought for a moment, and looked down at the floor. I read his face as saying "Wow, it's even worse than I thought." He then looked me in the eyes and responded as firmly and clearly as anyone has ever responded to a question... He said "That did not happen."
So that's 0 for 2. Two small conclusions--1) that a rifle was in Mrs. Paine's garage on 11-21, and 2) that Oswald smuggled a paper bag out to Irving on 11-21 to conceal this rifle--for which the Commission found no evidence, but came to accept anyway.
So now let's look at a fourth small conclusion--that Oswald was in the garage on the night of the 21st.
First...let's pick-up where we left off with Marina Oswald's testimony in February 1964.
Mr. RANKIN. Did this seem to make him more upset, when you suggested that he wait about getting an apartment for you to live in?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes. He then stopped talking and sat down and watched television and then went to bed. I went to bed later. It was about 9 o'clock when he went to sleep. I went to sleep about 11:30. But it seemed to me that he was not really asleep. But I didn't talk to him. In the morning he got up, said goodbye, and left, and that I shouldn't get up--as always, I did not get up to prepare breakfast. This was quite usual. And then after I fed Rachel, I took a look to see whether Lee was here, but he had already gone. This was already after the police had come. Ruth told me that in the evening she had worked in the garage and she knows that she had put out the light but that the light was on later--that the light was on in the morning. And she guessed that Lee was in the garage. But I didn't see it.
Mr. RANKIN. Did she tell you when she thought your husband had been in the garage, what time of the day?
Mrs. OSWALD. She thought that it was during the evening, because the light remained on until morning.
Mr. RANKIN. Why did you stay awake until 11:30? Were you still angry with him?
Mrs. OSWALD. No, not for that reason, but because I had to wash dishes and be otherwise busy with the household--take a bath.
So, okay, when Lee went to bed, Marina went into the kitchen.
Mr. RANKIN. I wasn't clear about when Mrs. Paine thought that your husband might have been in the garage and had the light on. Did she indicate whether she thought it was before he went to bed at 9 o'clock?
Mrs. OSWALD. I don't know. At first it seems it wasn't nine, it was perhaps ten o'clock when Lee went to bed. And first, Ruth went to her room and then Lee went. He was there after her.
Mr. RANKIN. So he might have been in the garage sometime between 9 and 10? Was that what you thought?
Mrs. OSWALD. Yes.
Well, okay. Marina recalled Ruth going to her room, and then Lee going to bed. After which she did the dishes.
So when did Oswald go fetch his rifle? Well, not exactly fetch. The rifle, let's remember, was too large for the bag in which it was purportedly transported the next morning. At some point, then, Oswald would have to have gone out to the garage, dismantled the rifle, and carefully placed its contents into the hand-made paper bag later placed in evidence.
Well, what did Ruth Paine have to say about all this...
(3-19-64 testimony of Ruth Paine, 3H1-50)
Mr. JENNER - What time did you have dinner that evening?
Mrs. PAINE - 6 or 6:30, I would guess.
Mr. JENNER - And calling on your recollection, Mrs. Paine, following dinner do you remember any occasion that evening when Lee was out of the house and you didn't see him around the house, and you were conscious of the fact he was not in the house?
Mrs. PAINE - I was not at anytime of the opinion that he was out of the house, conscious of it.
Mr. JENNER - You have no recollection of his being out of the house anytime that evening?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. DULLES - Did he do any reading that evening--books, papers, anything?
Mrs. PAINE - Not to my recollection.
Mr. JENNER - What were you doing that evening?
Mrs. PAINE - I have tried already to describe that after dinner, and probably after some dishes were done.
Mr. JENNER - Who did the dishes?
Mrs. PAINE - Very likely Marina, it depended on who made the meal. I normally cooked the meal and then she did the dishes or we reversed occasionally. But I have tried to say I was very likely involved in the back bedroom and in the bathroom giving the children a bath, getting them in their pajamas and reading a story for as much as an hour.
Mr. JENNER - That would take as much as an hour?
Mrs. PAINE - That takes as much as an hour.
Mr. JENNER - By this time we are up to approximately 7:30 or 8 o'clock, are we?
Mrs. PAINE - Oh no; we are up to nearly 9 o'clock by now. We eat from 6:30 to after 7, do some dishes, brings it up toward 8, and then put the children to bed.
Mr. JENNER - When you had had your children put to bed and came out of their room, was Lee, had he then by that time retired?
Mrs. PAINE - That is my recollection.
Mr. DULLES - Did you have any words with Marina about the light in the garage? Was that a subject of conversation between you?
Mrs. PAINE - No; we didn't discuss it.
So, wait, Mrs. Paine was in the garage from 9 till 10, or even later... So much for Marina's thought Lee went into the garage between 9 and 10...
(3-20-64 testimony of Ruth Paine, 3H50-140)
Mr. JENNER - What did you do that evening? Did you have occasion to note what he did?
Mrs. PAINE - We had dinner as usual, and then I sort of bathed my children, putting them to bed and reading them a story, which put me in one part of the house. When that was done I realized he had already gone to bed, this being now about 9 o'clock. I went out to the garage to paint some children's blocks, and worked in the garage for half an hour or so. I noticed when I went out that the light was on.
Mr. JENNER - The light was on in the garage?
Mrs. PAINE - The light was on in the garage.
Mr. JENNER - Was this unusual?
Mrs. PAINE - Oh, it was unusual for it to be on; yes. I realized that I felt Lee, since Marina had also been busy with her children, had gone out to the garage, perhaps worked out there or gotten something. Most of their clothing was still out there, all of their winter things. They were getting things out from time to time, warmer things for the cold weather, so it was not at all remarkable that he went to the garage, but I thought it careless of him to have left the light on. I finished my work and then turned off the light and left the garage.
Mr. JENNER - Have you completed that now?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - You stated that he was in the garage, how did you know he was in the garage?
Mr. McCLOY - She didn't state that.
Mrs. PAINE - I didn't state it absolutely. I guessed it was he rather than she. She was busy with the children and the light had been on and I know I didn't leave the light on.
Mr. JENNER - Then, I would ask you directly, did you see him in the garage at anytime from the time you first saw him on the lawn until he retired for the night?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. JENNER - Until you retired for the night?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
(3-23-64 testimony of Ruth Paine, 9H396-425)
Mr. JENNER - Now, sitting as I am, in the dining room area of your kitchen dining room space--even if, as you have testified was the fact, that either you alone or you and Marina were washing the dishes and cleaning up at least after dinner, it would have been virtually impossible, wouldn't it, for anybody to have entered the garage without your noticing it, that is, entering from the kitchen-dining room area?
Mrs. PAINE - I would think so.
Mr. JENNER - And, would that not be especially true if you were in the dining room portion of the kitchen-dining room area?
Mrs. PAINE - That would be unquestionably true---if you were in the kitchen-dining area at all.
Mr. JENNER - But you were not, I gather, at all times that evening up to 9 o'clock, in the kitchen-dining room area; is that correct?
Mrs. PAINE - I was in the kitchen-dining area part of the time, occasionally, I would say.
Mr. JENNER - Were your children retired when you went into the garage, at the time you went into the garage to lacquer your boxes?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes, they were.
Mr. JENNER - Had you put them to bed that evening?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes, I had spent probably close to an hour in bed preparations.
Mr. JENNER - Now, during that period of time, Lee Oswald could have been in your garage without your knowing it?
Mrs. PAINE - I think it's likely--it would have been likely that I would know it then too.
Mr. JENNER - Well, how would you have known it if you were in that bedroom which is in the northeast corner, which is as we have measured quite a good distance from the entrance to the garage? How could you necessarily have known it--that's the point I am making.
Mrs. PAINE - I could not necessarily have seen him enter. If I was fully in the room, my going to bed activities include being in the bathroom, coming into the kitchen, and going into the, living room.
Mr. JENNER - Moving in and out?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And I think I asked you during your testimony before the Commission--were you conscious during the period up to 9 o'clock that evening that Lee Oswald had been in the garage?
Mrs. PAINE - It is my--I recall the definite feeling that he had been in the garage. I can't recall seeing him go in.
Yikes. Mrs. Paine, the only witness to provide any testimony suggesting Oswald went into the garage on 11-21, came to doubt that Oswald went into the garage when she was putting her kids to bed, and ultimately admitted her belief Oswald went into the garage was just a "feeling."
That's mighty weak sauce. Keep in mind that there were children in this house, who were known to play in the garage. And that Marina may have left the light on, or Ruth herself. I mean, how many times have you walked into a room, for just a second, and then come back a few hours later, and wondered "Well, why is this light on?" only to realize you'd left it on yourself...? Because that's happened a few times to me.
So let's put on our thinking caps. Mrs. Oswald had previously suggested she'd watched TV with Lee till he went to bed around 9:00. While she later said he may have stayed up until 10, she never wavered on her claim he went to bed before she did, and that she stayed up until 11:30.
So...when did Oswald sneak out into the garage...to dismantle and wrap his rifle? He got home around 5:00. He was surrounded by women and children until dinner. Ruth Paine then went off to spend some time with her children. But Marina stayed with Lee, watching television until around 9:00, when he went off to bed. She then went into the kitchen to do the dishes.
Here is an FBI sketch of the Paine home. (CE 430)
And here is a photo of the recently-restored Paine kitchen taken from the dining area just north of the garage. The door on the right leads into the living room.
Well, assuming Oswald did indeed sneak into the garage just before Mrs. Paine went in there around 9:00, he would have to have walked right past Marina, who was working in the kitchen. Assuming she went to the bathroom for a second, and thereby allowed him a short window to sneak out to the garage, well, one would have to assume then that he sneaked back into the house from the garage without anyone noticing.
This is truly hard to believe. This house was tiny, the size of a two bedroom apartment. And Oswald had every right to be in the garage, where so many of his possessions were stored. It only makes sense then that if Oswald wanted to wrap his rifle on the night of 11-21-63, that he'd have waited for Mrs. Paine to put her children to bed, made up a reason to be in the garage, and walked right in, right past Marina, while she was doing the dishes. None of this sneaking around stuff...
As it stands then, the only logical conclusion would be that Oswald snuck back out to the garage after Mrs. Paine had went to bed, and Marina was in the bath, or even while Marina was sleeping.
(While it remains possible Oswald packed up his rifle in the morning, his wife claimed she woke him up around 6:40, that he washed, had some coffee, and had a brief conversation with her before he left, and Frazier said he saw him around 7:20. So there probably wasn't enough time...)
So what did the Commission have to say about all this?
The Missing Rifle
Before dinner on November 21, Oswald played on the lawn of the Paines' home with his daughter June.127 After dinner Ruth Paine and Marina Oswald were busy cleaning house and preparing their children for bed.128 Between the hours of 8 and 9 p.m. they were occupied with the children in the bedrooms located at the extreme east end of the house.129 On the west end of the house is the attached garage, which can be reached from the kitchen or from the outside.130 In the garage were the personal belongings of the Oswald family including, as the evidence has shown, the rifle wrapped in the old brown and green blanket.131
At approximately 9 p.m., after the children had been put to bed, Mrs. Paine, according to her testimony before the Commission, "went out to the garage to paint some children's blocks, and worked in the garage for half an hour or so. I noticed when I went out that the light was on." 132 Mrs. Paine was certain that she had not left the light on in the garage after dinner.138 According to Mrs. Paine, Oswald had gone to bed by 9 p.m.; 134 Marina Oswald testified that it was between 9 and 10 p.m.135 Neither Marina Oswald nor Ruth Paine saw Oswald in the garage.136 The period between 8 and 9 p.m., however, provided ample opportunity for Oswald to prepare the rifle for his departure the next morning. Only if disassembled could
the rifle fit into the paper bag found near the window 137 from which the shots were fired. A firearms expert with the FBI assembled the rifle in 6 minutes using a 10-cent coin as a tool, and he could disassemble it more rapidly.138 While the rifle may have already been disassembled when Oswald arrived home on Thursday, he had ample time that evening to disassemble the rifle and insert it into the paper bag.
The footnote to the claim Oswald could have dismantled and wrapped the rifle between 8 and 9 is footnote 129. Footnote 129 cites 3H48, 3H52, 3H60, 9H397, 9H430, CE 430.
3H48 is Mrs. Paine saying she put the kids to bed around 8:00, and was with them in the bath and bedroom till around 9:00.
3H52 is a discussion of the floor plan to Mrs. Paine's house into evidence.
3H60 is Mrs. Paine saying it can take up to an hour to put her kids to bed.
9H397 is Warren Commission Counsel Albert Jenner listing the measurements to the rooms of Mrs. Paine's house.
9H418 is Mrs. Paine's testimony saying she probably would have seen Oswald should he have snuck out into the garage while she was preparing her children for bed, and that her sense he'd been in the garage prior to 9:00 was only a "feeling".
And CE 430 is the diagram of the floor plan of the Paine home.
None of this demonstrates (or even remotely suggests) Oswald was busy in the garage between 8 and 9 while the women-folk were busy with the kiddos.
Let's go back. Marina Oswald testified that Lee watched TV up until he went to bed around 9:00. Ruth Paine testified she was in the garage from around 9:00 till 10.
Well, this leaves 8-8:30 as a window in which, maybe, just maybe, Oswald slipped out to the garage for a spell. It's strange indeed that the Commission relied on Ruth Paine--who said she was on the other side of the house from 8 to 9--to make its case Oswald went into the garage at this time.
I mean, where's Marina's testimony on this?
Here's Marina and Lee on the evening before the shooting (p562 of the paperback, if you don't believe me)... "After supper, Marina stacked the dishes by the sink. Ruth bathed her children, then read to them in their bedroom for an hour. Marina nursed Rachel and Lee put Junie to bed. Then he cradled Rachel in front of the television, and got her to sleep, while Marina put away the toys. Lee went on watching television, a movie about World War II, and Marina went in to do the dishes...Marina was still at the sink when Lee turned off the television set, poked his head in the kitchen, and asked if he could help. Marina thought he looked sad. 'I'm going to bed,' he said...Ruth was aware of Lee padding back and forth between his bedroom and the bathroom getting ready for bed. It was about ten o'clock, an hour earlier than was usual for him before a workday."
So, Marina claimed Oswald was with his kids or watching TV during the time the Commission claimed he was in the garage.
The Commission's conclusion Oswald went out to the garage while the women were with the kiddos is thus exposed as...diaper dirt.
Let us now move to the BIG conclusion (that Oswald transported his rifle to work on the morning of November 22), rendered in service to the GIANT conclusion (that Oswald killed Kennedy).
Did Oswald bring his rifle to work on November 22?
Let's slip back in time to March, 1964. The Warren Commission's staff has been discussing whether or not they should pre-interview witnesses and avoid problematic questions and answers...in order to keep the record "clean." Some, including Norman Redlich, have argued the creation of a "deceptively clean" record would be a disservice to the public. But, after hearing from a few problematic witnesses on 3-10 (e.g. Arnold Rowland, James Worrell) Chief Justice Earl Warren had planted his foot, and said he wanted a "clean record" where the staff "did not pursue in very much detail the various inconsistencies," and that, accordingly, any counsel wanting to pre-interview witnesses off the record should feel free to do so.
Frazier was the next witness to testify.
Although Warren Commission Counsel Joseph Ball did his damnedest to provide Warren with the "clean record" he desired, Frazier stuck to his guns (or rather, lack of gun) and said that the bag sitting on the back seat of his car covered "roughly around 2 feet of the seat...If, if you were going to measure it that way from the end of the seat over toward the center, right. But I say like I said I just roughly estimate and that would be around two feet, give and take a few inches." Counsel Joe Ball then asked him its width. He replied: "Well, I would say the package was about that wide...Oh, say, around 5 inches, something like that. 5, 6 inches or there. I don't..." He then described its appearance: "You have seen, not a real light color but you know normally, the normal color about the same color, you have seen these kinds of heavy duty bags you know like you obtain from the grocery store, something like that, about the same color of that, paper sack you get there." Frazier later described Oswald's walk into the depository: "He got out of the car and he was wearing the jacket that has the big sleeves in them and he put the package that he had, you know, that he told me was curtain rods up under his arm, you know, and so he walked down behind the car...he had it up just like you stick it right under your arm like that...The other part with his right hand...Right, straight up and down."
Under repeated questioning from Ball, Frazier gave little but not enough. He testified: "I didn't pay much attention to the package other than I knew he had it under his arm." Ball then showed him the bag purportedly found by the sniper's nest and asked him if the bag he saw in Oswald's possession was about the same length. Frazier responded "No, sir." Ball then asked him if it was about the same width. Frazier responded: "Well, I would say it appears to me it would be pretty close but it might be just a little bit too wide. I think it is, because you know yourself you would have to have a big hand with that size but like I say he had this cupped in his hand because I remember glancing at him when he was a walking up ahead of me."
Ball kept pressing, and asked Frazier what he told the FBI on 12-1. Frazier answered: "I told them that as far as the length there, I told them that was entirely too long." Ball then asked about the width. Frazier relented: "Well, I say, like I say now, now I couldn't see much of the bag from him walking in front of me. Now he could have had some of it sticking out in front of his hands because I didn't see it from the front, The only time I did see it was from the back, just a little strip running down from your arm and so therefore, like that, I say, I know that the bag wouldn't be that long. So far as being that wide like I say I couldn't be sure." Ball then pounced and asks if the bag carried by Oswald could have been as wide as the bag from the sniper's nest. Frazier admitted: "Right." Ball then tried to get Frazier to admit that he wasn't sure about the length either. Frazier cut him off: "What I was talking about, I said I didn't know where it extended. It could have or couldn't have, out this way, widthwise not lengthwise." (2H210-245).
When it came to the length of the bag, Frazier hadn't budged an inch. To his mind, the package he saw in Oswald's possession on 11-22-63 was much too short to be the bag shown him later that night, the replica bag shown him on 12-1-63, or the bag shown him during his 3-11-64 testimony.
His story was as problematic as ever.
But Ball's bag troubles (make up your own pun) were just beginning.
Frazier's sister, Linnie Mae Randle, followed him onto the hot seat. Well, her description of the bag was almost as problematic as his, seeing as it confirmed his opinion the package carried by Oswald was too small to conceal the rifle. She testified: "He was carrying a package in a sort of a heavy brown bag, heavier than a grocery bag it looked to me. It was about, if I might measure, about this long, I suppose, and he carried it in his right hand, had the top sort of folded down and had a grip like this, and the bottom, he carried it this way, you know, and it almost touched the ground as he carried it..." She was subsequently shown the replica bag: "Well, it wasn't that long, I mean it was folded down at the top as I told you. It definitely wasn't that long...The width is about right...What he had in there, it looked too long." Counsel Ball then asked "This package is about the span of my hand, say 8 inches, is that right? He would have about this much to grip?" She responded: "What I remember seeing is about this long, sir, as I told you it was folded down so it could have been this long." He then asked: "I see. You figure about 2 feet long, is that right?" She answered: "A little bit more." Ball then measures out the length on the replica sack. He asked "Is that about right? That is 28 1/2 inches." She answered: "I measured 27 last time." (2H245-251).
And sure enough she had. On 12-1-63 the FBI placed the replica sack on the back seat of Frazier's car so he could estimate the length of the package he saw in Oswald's possession, and then re-enacted Oswald's crossing the street to Randle's home with the package in his arm so she could estimate the length of the package she'd seen in Oswald's possession. And Randle and Frazier both told the FBI the package they saw in Oswald's possession was 27 inches long.
The Warren Commission thus went 0 for 2. Two witnesses saw Oswald with a bag on the morning of November 22nd, and both witnesses testified the bag was much too small to conceal his rifle. The bag photographed by the FBI and placed into evidence was 38 inches long and almost 9 inches wide (342 sq in). This was much larger than the bag described by Randle (27 x 8 = 216 sq in), and more than twice as large as the bag described by Frazier (27 x 6 = 162 sq in).
Now, this was quite the problem...such a problem, even, that Warren Commission Counsel Howard Willens tried to spin this in his journal. Here's his entry for 3-11-64:
"Testimony was taken today of Frazier and Randle. There was considerable debate and some consternation among some members of the staff regarding their testimony concerning the paper
sack which they saw Oswald carrying on the morning of November 22. They firmly testified that the sack carried was no longer than could fit between a cupped hand and the armpit, whereas the rifle, even when broken down, is some 35 inches, which is considerably longer than could fit in this position. This confirms, in rather a significant way, the intention of the Commission to pursue a neutral and complete fact-finding mission as opposed to ratifying the FBI report or in fact leaving a public record without inconsistencies."
Wow. Willens was spinning like a carnival attraction. Frazier's testimony did not "confirm" the noble intentions of the commission. No, far from it. It showed instead the futility of trying to keep the record "clean" in a case this messy.
Let's be clear... When Joe Ball took the testimony of Frazier and his sister, he was not engaged in a "neutral and complete fact-finding mission" He, in fact, did most everything he could to get Frazier to change his testimony regarding the bag and give Warren the "clean" record without inconsistencies he so fervently desired. As Frazier would later tell Gus Russo: "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..."
And that wasn't the worst of Ball's malfeasance... In his zeal to get Frazier to admit the bag in evidence was the same size as the bag (if not, THE bag) he saw in Oswald's possession on 11-22-63, Ball had committed a reversible error--the kind of error that could have led to a reversal of a decision (and his own disbarment) should it have been committed with someone's life on the line. Yes, unbelievably, Ball had kept from the record that Frazier had been shown the bag in evidence on the night of the shooting--even before it had been discolored by the tests performed by the FBI--and had passed a lie detector test while insisting it was much larger and a different kind of paper than the bag he'd seen in Oswald's possession that morning!
So now let's go back to '64... BAM... Frazier's testimony had delivered a massive blow to the Commission's efforts to pin the tale on the Oswald. They needed to recover and recover fast.
They'd hit another roadblock, however--an unexpected one: the FBI.
On 3-16-64, in an obvious response to Frazier's testimony, Warren Commission General Counsel J. Lee Rankin wrote FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover a letter asking him to conduct an investigation into whether or not Oswald's room in the rooming house needed curtain rods.
Well, that's a little late, right? This should have been investigated months before. Still, better late than never, I suppose.
Weeks passed. Then, on 3-31-64, after presumably giving up on the FBI, and five days after he submitted an outline for the commission's upcoming report noting the "fake curtain rod story," Rankin assistant Norman Redlich wrote a memo to Commission Counsel Joseph Ball and David Belin on the curtain rod story, on which he'd apparently begun to have some doubts. He wrote: "I hope that while you are in Dallas you check Oswald's room at 1026 N. Beckley to determine whether curtain rods were needed and, if they were, whether Oswald had any conversations with either Mrs. Johnson or Mrs. Roberts. I have been reading a document entitled 'Oswald, the Impossible Assassin" by a French author who apparently visited Oswald's room and makes quite a point of the need for curtain rods in that particular room."
Now, it should not shock you to find out no report was ever written on a Ball-Belin visit to 1026 Beckley. (At least none that I have found--if you know of one please send it my way!)
So how long did it take Hoover to write Rankin back?
On 4-2--sixteen days after being asked to find out if Oswald's room in the rooming house needed curtain rods--FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover responded to Rankin's request with a three page report written on 3-28 detailing a 3-20 interview with Oswald's land-lady Gladys Johnson--in which she asserted there was no need for curtain rods in Oswald's room.
Now, get this... This memo also revealed "Mrs. Johnson stated that when the Dallas, Texas, police searched this room following Oswald's arrest, they bent the rod which held the drapes and curtains. Consequently, she stated, she had the old rod taken down and replaced it with a traverse rod and aqua-colored acetate drapes."
Wait...WHAT? Frazier said Oswald told him the package he was carrying on 11-22-63 contained curtain rods for his apartment. Months later the WC asked the FBI to find out if the room Oswald had been renting needed curtain rods. And they were told the Dallas Police had damaged the curtain rod in this room, on the day of the shooting, and that Oswald's landlady had found it necessary to replace this rod with a new one.
And the Johnsons weren't kidding...at least not about the curtain rod being damaged as of the night of the shooting. Here's a recently surfaced photo (which is mislabeled--as it purports to show Arthur Jackson when it actually shows Oswald's land-lord Arthur Johnson) by Lawrence Schiller showing Oswald's rented room on the evening of the shooting.
Now note the condition of the middle blind, and the curtain rod holding up the two blinds on the left.
It's pretty bent up.
So...do we believe the FBI's account of Mrs. Johnson's account--that this curtain rod was bent by the Dallas Police on the day of the shooting?
Probably not. The next morning photographer Gene Daniels paid the Johnsons a visit and asked if he could photograph Oswald's room. Now, Mrs. Johnson said he could but that he would have to wait till she "put the curtains back up." Only, Daniels cheated and took a picture of her putting up the curtains.
Here it is:
And that's not all. As described in his book Presumed Guilty (1976), researcher Howard Roffman wrote Daniels in March 1970 and asked him the circumstances under which he took this photo. What we know, then, comes through Roffman, and not the FBI or Warren Commission. Well, Daniels wrote Roffman back in a letter received 3-19-70 and told him Mrs. Johnson had told him "that newsmen the evening before had disturbed the room and she didn't want anyone to see it messed up."
While it's not mutually exclusive that the DPD damaged the curtain rod, and that newsmen messed up the room, it seems probable Mrs. Johnson was covering for the DPD when she spoke to Daniels...
Either that, or...that she was concealing the unthinkable...that Oswald's room was in need of a new curtain rod...
So...how does one cut through this? If only we knew when Mrs. Johnson first noticed the curtain rod was damaged... Since she told the FBI it was damaged by the DPD, we can presume she noticed the damage before the arrival of the press. So...did she witness a member of the DPD damage the curtain rod, or did she notice the damage just after they left and ASSUME they were responsible?
Might not Oswald have damaged this rod himself, and then, knowing he was about to move out, and be charged for any damage he'd done to the room, seek to replace it with a rod he'd spotted in Mrs. Paine's garage?
AND WHY WAS THERE NO FOLLOW-UP ON THIS BY THE FBI WITH THE DPD...to confirm that it was they who'd damaged the rod???
AND WHY DID THE WC FAIL TO FOLLOW UP ON THIS IN ANY WAY?
That's right. Joe Ball and his sidekick David Belin took the testimony of Mrs. Johnson and her husband on 4-1-64. They got them to say there was no need for curtain rods in the room Oswald had been renting, but failed to ask even one question about the curtain rod Mrs. Johnson told the FBI she'd had to replace.
Now this may not have been their fault, or at least not entirely their fault...
Although Hoover was asked on 3-16 to find out if Oswald's rooming house needed curtain rods, he didn't respond till 4-2, the day AFTER Mr. and Mrs. Johnson testified.
Here, see for yourself:
So what was was going on? Well, a review of FBI documents reveals that on 3-11-64--the very day of Frazier's testimony--the FBI was informed of the Commission's desire to consult with outside ballistics and fingerprint experts. This did not sit well with the FBI's brass, who then questioned whether or not they should continue to provide the Commission with support of any kind.
One might presume, then, that the Federal Bureau of J. Edgar Hoover was at war with the Commission from 3-11-64 to as late as 4-2-64, the day Hoover finally got around to sending the Commission the FBI's report on its 3-20 interview of Johnson.
Or was it? While Hoover's letter was dated 4-2-64, an actual inspection of the letter proves the "2" was added in later.
Here is the number 2 as typed elsewhere in the letter.
And here it is in the date of the letter. It's offline and in much darker ink.
So... was this "2" added in to cover that the Commission knew on 4-1-64, the day of Mrs. Johnson's testimony, that she'd replaced a damaged curtain rod on 11-23? Good question. If so, however, the FBI would have to go back and change the date on this letter in the FBI's files as well.
Well, guess what? They did. Here is the letter in the FBI's Warren Commision HQ files.
And here is a close-up of the date on this letter.
Someone's typed a "2" atop a "1". And not only on this copy of the letter, but on the other copies of this letter found in the FBI JFK Assassination HQ File and Oswald HQ File...
Now, here, just for the heck of it, is the date on the letter in FBI's files in comparison to the date on the letter in the Commission's files.
This was not someone fixing a typo.
It seems clear, then, that this letter was written and delivered via Courier Service to the Commission on 4-1, but then someone went back and changed it to make it look like it was written and delivered on 4-2. There may be a legitimate reason for this. Or maybe not. In either case, whether the FBI's report on Mrs. Johnson was forwarded on 4-1 or 4-2, there's still no excuse for Ball and Belin's failing to follow-up on this report with Mrs. Johnson.
We can now move on to the last of the Commission's small conclusions leading to their BIG conclusion Oswald brought his rifle to work on November 22...and that is their simultaneous conclusion Oswald DID NOT bring curtain rods to work on November 22.
(3-17-64 testimony of Michael Paine before the Warren Commission, 9H434-481)
Mr. LIEBELER - I show you Commission Exhibit 364, which is a replica of a paper sack or package which was found in the School Book Depository, after the assassination. I point out to you that Commission 364 is merely a replica of the actual sack that was found. The actual sack that was found is Commission Exhibit 142, and it has now been discolored because it has been treated by the FBI for fingerprints.
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - But there is a part of the package that has not been treated, and I ask you if that part of 142 that has not been treated is similar to Commission Exhibit 364 as far as color and texture are concerned. I want you to examine both of these pieces of paper in any event.
Mr. PAINE - Well, it looks to me as if 364 is a more usual kind of paper, the difference is pretty slight.
Mr. LIEBELER - You do not notice a difference between the two papers, however?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; is seems to me that is unusually crisp; yes, I would say there is a difference.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you note that the difference is, 142 is more crisp than 364?
Mr. PAINE - Yes. It seems to me this is the kind of paper, it seems to me this is more common.
Mr. LIEBELER - Referring to 364?
Mr. PAINE - 364, yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - And you think that is a more commonly observed type of paper?
Mr. PAINE - Yes; that is an unusual paper. You don't find paper bags made of that.
Mr. LIEBELER - Referring to 142. Now, examine after examining both 142 and 364, did you have any paper of that type as far as you know in your garage or at your home in Irving?
Mr. PAINE - Well, most of the things that are paper have been added to the garage since I moved out, so I am not very familiar with them. We stored some rugs in, I think, in polyethylene, but I am not sure all of them were in polyethylene, and there were some curtain rods or something like that which are still there. I don't know how they came.
Mr. LIEBELER - What kind of curtain rods?
Mr. PAINE - These expanding rods that are----
Mr. LIEBELER - And you have no idea where they came from?
Mr. PAINE - Let's see, no, those came down from--I think those were in the house, I guess they weren't bought. I think Ruth took them down because the children were allergic to something, and she was taking them down, took down the curtains, and left only shades. Bought shades, I guess, she bought curtain shades to go up, new shades. That is a question, well, of course, paper could have been--I don't remember any particular, I didn't have any rolls of this kind of paper or a supply of it, wrapping paper.
Mr. LIEBELER - Let's go back to the curtain rods for just a minute. You say they were in the house at the time in Irving when you purchased the house.
Mr. PAINE - Yes, curtain rods came to my mind recently because they are junk that I try to keep propped up on the shelves or above the work bench, and I think they were in our house and there were curtains on them and she took the curtains down to get rid of the fabric that might be holding dust and put up instead some new curtains, new window shades in the bedrooms.
Mr. LIEBELER - Approximately when did she do that, do you remember?
Mr. PAINE - You will have to ask Ruth herself. She put down a new floor, also, getting rid of the old rugs for the same purpose, and I thought it was in the fall, but I can't place when it was.
Mr. LIEBELER - In the fall of 1963?
Mr. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you say the curtain rods are still in the garage?
Mr. PAINE - Yes, I think so.
Mr. LIEBELER - Approximately how long are they?
Mr. PAINE - Well, I think this is, when they expand, I guess the curtain rods themselves are 32 1/2 inches to 3 feet, but the two of them slide together to make a pair, this expanding type just of rod metal.
Mr. LIEBELER - Approximately how long are they, would you say, when they are fitted together and in their collapsed state or their----
Mr. PAINE - As I say, those came out of house or she would not have, I was trying to think of some of the paper she might have had that resembles this, but the thing she bought new would be the shades, the window shades to go in place of those curtain rods.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you remember seeing any paper in the garage that might have been a package in which those shades came?
Mr. PAINE - No, I don't recall any.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did you ever have a conversation with your wife about these curtain rods in connection with the assassination?
Mr. PAINE - No. I think we did both read that he had said he was, to Frazier, that he was carrying, maybe it was curtain rods or something to do with windows in my mind.
Mr. LIEBELER - Mr. Paine, you mentioned before these curtain rods that were in your garage. Can you tell us approximately how many curtain rods there were in the garage when you last saw them and tell us when you last saw them?
Mr. PAINE - I saw them quite recently, 2 weeks ago.
Mr. LIEBELER - How many curtain rods were there then?
Mr. PAINE - There might be as many as four.
Mr. LIEBELER - Were there ever any more than that?
Mr. PAINE - I don't believe so. These were normally up on the shelf above the bench, and for some reason, they recently, I had to take them down, or something like that.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you remember seeing them shortly before November 22 at any time?
Mr. PAINE - They never particularly impressed themselves on my recollection.
Now, this is interesting. Why did Mr. Paine recently have "to take them down, or something like that"?
We do not know, because no one bothered to ask him.
We can now move on to Mrs. Paine's testimony on the curtain rods.
But first, we need to look at her interviewer Albert Jenner's use of the word rationalization. (It's semantics, yes, but it comes into play later.)
(3-20-64 testimony of Ruth Paine, 3H50-140)
Mr. JENNER - Mrs. Paine, I don't want to speculate, but I thought you had testified in response to my questions that the two or three pieces of luggage, that is, the suitcases, plus the two duffel bags, plus the zipper bag, plus the radio, had been checked into the bus station.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; that is right.
Mr. JENNER - All of those pieces of luggage were actually checked in, and when you left the bus station none of the pieces of luggage or the radio or the duffel bags had been placed back in your car.
Mrs. PAINE - I don't recall it, but it seems to me unreasonable
Mr. JENNER - Now, please, I don't want you to rationalize. I want your best recollection.
Mrs. PAINE - I cannot recall. I mean the suitcases that came to my house.
Mr. JENNER - You don't recall having taken one of the pieces of luggage and placed that piece back in your station wagon?
Mrs. PAINE - Oh, no, no, that is definite. All that went to the bus station.
Mr. JENNER - Remained there.
Mrs. PAINE - Remained there.
Mr. JENNER - I see.
Mr. DULLES - At what stage did they go to the bus station? Did you go from their apartment to your house and then to the bus station or did you go to the bus station first?
Mrs. PAINE - Directly to the bus station.
Mr. DULLES - And then went to your house?
Mrs. PAINE - Directly to the bus station from their apartment, back to their apartment and picked up the rest of the things.
Mr. DULLES - I see.
Mrs. PAINE - The baby things and her clothing and then went to my house.
Mr. DULLES - I see.
Mr. JENNER - Mrs. Paine, apart from your rationalization, do you have the recollection that there was any luggage at all in the Oswald home when You got back?
Mrs. PAINE - No; I have no such recollection.
Mr. JENNER - So that in response to Mr. Dulles' questions when you talked about the possibility of some luggage, you were rationalizing?
Mrs. PAINE - That is right.
Mr. JENNER - You are not drawing on your recollection?
Mrs. PAINE - That is right.
Mr. JENNER - I take it your best recollection, in fact, is that there was no luggage remaining at the Oswald home when you got back?
Mrs. PAINE - There was nothing packed when we got back.
Mr. JENNER - Do you recall undertaking to pack anything when you got back in order to remove what they had there remaining to your home?
Mrs. PAINE - You mean was there a suitcase into which I could pack anything?
Mr. JENNER - That is it.
Mrs. PAINE - I don't recall.
So Jenner has made it clear that he wants Mrs. Paine to share her best recollections, and not try to figure out what should have happened or must have happened.
We can now move on to their discussion of the curtain rods.
Mr. JENNER - Now, that morning--if I may, Mr. Chairman, because of the entry of the police, that is a good cutoff point, I would like to go back to the morning for the moment, or the evening before. Mrs. Paine, did you then have what might be called some curtain rods in your garage?
Mrs. PAINE - I believe there were.
Mr. JENNER - Do you have a recollection?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; they were stored in the garage, wrapped in loose brown paper.
Mr. JENNER - Is it the brown paper of the nature and character you described yesterday that you get at the market and have in a roll?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Had you wrapped that package yourself?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Now, curtain rods can be of various types. One type of curtain rod, as I remember, is a solid brass rod. Others are hollow. Some are shaped. Would you describe these curtain rods, please?
Mrs. PAINE - They were a light weight.
Mr. JENNER - Excuse me; do you still have them?
Mrs. PAINE - I still have them.
Mr. JENNER - All right.
Mrs. PAINE - Metal rods that you slip the curtain over, not with a ring but just with the cloth itself, and they are expansion rods.
Mr. JENNER - Are they flat on one side?
Mrs. PAINE - They are flat on one side; about an inch wide and about a quarter of an inch thick.
Mr. JENNER - And assume we are holding the rod horizontally, do the edges of the rod slip over?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - Did you wrap these rods in the paper? Had you wrapped them?
Mrs. PAINE - Sometime previously I had.
Senator COOPER - How long before?
Mrs. PAINE - Oh, possibly a year.
Senator COOPER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - Possibly a year.
Senator COOPER - As far as you know, they had never been changed?
Mrs. PAINE - Moved about, but not changed.
Senator COOPER - Can you just describe the length?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - The length of the rods, at the time you wrapped them.
Mrs. PAINE - They would be 36 inches when pushed together.
Senator COOPER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - They would be about maybe 36 inches when pushed together.
Senator COOPER - You remember wrapping them. Do you remember what the size, the length of the rods were at the time you wrapped them?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - How long?
Mrs. PAINE - Didn't I answer about 36 inches?
Mr. JENNER - In other words, you pushed them together so that then, they were then their minimum length, unexpanded?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - They were not extended, and in that condition they were 36 inches long?
Mrs. PAINE - Something like that.
Mr. JENNER - Now, how many of them were there?
Mrs. PAINE - Two.
Mr. JENNER - These were lightweight metal?
Mrs. PAINE - Very. Now, there was another item that was both heavier and longer.
Mr. JENNER - In that same package?
Mrs. PAINE - No; I don't think so. In another similar package wrapped up just to keep the dust off were two venetian blinds. I guess they were not longer, more like 36 inches also, that had come from the two windows in my bedroom. I took them down to change, and put up pull blinds in their place.
Mr. JENNER - And had you wrapped them?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - How many were there?
Mrs. PAINE - Two.
Mr. JENNER - And what was their length?
Mrs. PAINE - I think around 36 inches. The width of these windows in the back bedroom.
Mr. JENNER - Let us return to the curtain rods first. Do you still have those curtain rods?
Mrs. PAINE - I believe so.
Mr. JENNER - You believe so, or you know; which?
Mrs. PAINE - I think Michael went to look after the assassination, whether these were still in the garage.
Mr. JENNER - Did you have a conversation with Michael as to whether he did or didn't look?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Why was he looking to see if the curtain rod package was there?
Mrs. PAINE - He was particularly interested in the wrapping, was the wrapping still there, the brown paper.
Mr. JENNER - When did this take place?
Mrs. PAINE - After the assassination, perhaps a week or so later, perhaps when one of the FBI people were out; I don't really recall.
Mr. JENNER - And was the package with the curtain rods found on that occasion?
Mrs. PAINE - It is my recollection it was.
Mr. JENNER - What about the venetian blind package?
Mrs. PAINE - Still there, still wrapped.
Mr. JENNER - You are fully conscious of the fact that that package is still there?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And to the best of your knowledge, information, and belief the other package, likewise, is there?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - Let me ask a question there. After the assassination, at anytime did you go into the garage and look to see if both of these packages were there?
Mrs. PAINE - A week and a half, or a week later.
Senator COOPER - At any time?
Mrs. PAINE - Did I, personally?
Senator COOPER - Have you seen these packages since the assassination?
Mrs. PAINE - It seems to me I recall seeing a package.
Senator COOPER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - I don't recall opening it up and looking in carefully. I seem to recall seeing the package.
Senator COOPER - Both of them?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - Or just one?
Mrs. PAINE - Both.
Senator COOPER - Did you feel them to see if the rods were in there?
Mrs. PAINE - No. I think Michael did, but I am not certain.
Senator COOPER - But you never did, yourself?
Mrs. PAINE - It was not my most pressing--
Senator COOPER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - It was not the most pressing thing I had to do at that time.
Senator COOPER - I know that. But you must have read after the assassination the story about Lee Oswald saying, he told Mr. Frazier, I think, that he was carrying some curtain rods in the car?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Senator COOPER - Do you remember reading that?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; I remember reading that.
Senator COOPER - Didn't that lead you-Did it lead you then to go in and see if the curtain rods were there?
Mrs. PAINE - It was all I could do at that point to answer my door, answer my telephone, and take care of my children.
Senator COOPER - I understand you had many things to do.
Mrs. PAINE - So I did not.
Senator COOPER - You never did do it?
Mrs. PAINE - I am not certain whether I specifically went in and checked on that. I recall a conversation with Michael about it and, to the best of my recollection, things looked as I expected to find them looking out there. This package with brown paper was still there.
Mr. JENNER - By any chance, does that package appear in the photograph that you have identified of the interior of your garage?
Mrs. PAINE - I think it is this that is on a shelf almost to the ceiling.
Mr. JENNER - May I get over here, Mr. Chairman?
Mrs. PAINE - Along the west edge of the garage, up here.
Mr. JENNER - In view of this, I think it is of some importance that you mark on Commission Exhibit 429 what appears to you to be the package in which the curtain rods were.
Mrs. PAINE - To the best of my recollection.
Mr. JENNER - Now the witness has by an arrow indicated a shelf very close to the ceiling in the rear of the garage, and an arrow pointing to what appears to be a long package on that shelf, underneath which she has written "Wrapping paper around venetian blinds"--
Mrs. PAINE - "And thin."
Mr. JENNER - What is the next word?
Mrs. PAINE - "Curtain rods."
Now, here is how this exhibit was published in the Warren Commission's volumes.
And here is a close up of the area in question...
So where are the arrows drawn by Mrs. Paine, pointing out the shelf where she believes she left the curtain rods, and the package in which she believed they'd find the curtain rods?
(I've changed the contrast to bring the writing out on this image, but still can't find the arrow. This is shown below...)
So, did the Commission try to hide these arrows? And, if so, why?
Mr. JENNER - There were two packages, Mrs. Paine, one with the rods and one with the venetian blinds?
Mrs. PAINE - I can't recall. The rods were so thin they hardly warranted a package of their own, but that is rationalization, as you call it.
(Note that the photograph just shown Mrs. Paine is presumed to have been taken by FBI photographer Arthur Carter, under the direction of FBI exhibits chief Leo Gauthier, on 3-10-64. (CD897) Note also that this photograph fails to show the light brown package of curtain rods Mrs. Paine recalls creating--that is, the package precisely matching Buell Frazier and Linnie Mae Randle's description of the package they saw Oswald carrying on the morning of November 22nd. Now note that Mrs. Paine has suddenly reversed course--that she no longer feels sure she wrapped these curtain rods in a separate package, and now thinks she may have wrapped them up with some Venetian blinds. And, finally, note that she admits this is a rationalization--an explanation she is offering to explain why the package she thought was there, appears to no longer be there, and why she can make out but one package in the photo. Well, this was precisely the kind of testimony Mr. Jenner had asked her to avoid.)
Mr. JENNER - You do have a recollection that those rods were a very lightweight metal?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Do you?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes. They were not round.
Mr. JENNER - They were flat and slender?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - They were not at all heavy?
Mrs. PAINE - That is right.
Mr. JENNER - They were curved? Were they curved in any respect?
Mrs. PAINE - They curved at the ends to attach to the bracket that held them up on the wall.
Mr. JENNER - May I use the chalk on the board, Mr. Chairman. Perhaps it might be better for you, Mrs. Paine, so I don't influence you. Would you draw a picture of the rods?
Mrs. PAINE - You are looking down from the top. It attaches here, well, over a loop thing on the wall. Looking from the inside, it curves over a slight bit, and then this is recessed.
Mr. JENNER - I am going to have to have you do that over on a sheet of paper. Will you remain standing for the moment. We will give it an exhibit number. But I would like to have you proceed there. What did you say this was, in the lower diagram?
Mrs. PAINE - You are looking down.
Mr. JENNER - Now, where was the break?
Mrs. PAINE - The break?
Mr. JENNER - You said they were extension.
Mrs. PAINE - That is right. When they are up on the window, it would be like that.
Mr. JENNER - You have drawn a double line to indicate what would be seen if you were looking down into the U-shape of the rod?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - The double line indicates what on either side?
Mrs. PAINE - That the lightweight metal, white, turned over, bent around, something less than a quarter of an inch on each side.
Mr. JENNER - Now, would you be good enough to make the same drawing. We will mark that sheet as Commission Exhibit No. 449 upon which the witness is now drawing the curtain rod.
(Commission Exhibit No. 449 was marked for identification.)
Mr. JENNER - While you are doing that, Mrs. Paine, would you be good enough when you return to Irving, Tex., to see if those rods are at hand, and some of our men are going to be in Irving next week. We might come out and take a look at them, and perhaps you might surrender them to us.
Mrs. PAINE - You are perfectly welcome to them.
Mr. JENNER - Would you in that connection, Mrs. Paine do not open the package until we arrive?
Mrs. PAINE - I won't even look, then.
Mr. JENNER - All right. Now, would you mark "A" in the upper elevation and "B" in the lower elevation. The elevation in the drawing you have indicated as "A" is a depiction of what?
Mrs. PAINE - The curtain rod, as you might look at it from the top when it is hanging in its position, when it is placed in position on the window.
Mr. JENNER - And "B"?
Mrs. PAINE - "B" is as it might appear if you could look at it from outside the house; the window.
Mr. JENNER - While the rod was in place?
Mrs. PAINE - While the rod was in place.
Mr. JENNER - You have written to the left-hand side "Place at which it attaches to wall fixture," indicating the butt end of the curved side of the rod?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And the two oblongs, each of which you have put at the ends of depiction "B," represent the upturned ends of the fixtures at each end?
Mrs. PAINE - Right.
Mr. JENNER - Would you put a little line as to where the break was in the rod.
I offer in evidence, Mr. Chairman, as Commission Exhibit No. 449 the drawing that the witness has just made, and about which she has testified.
Senator COOPER - It will be admitted as part of the evidence.
(Commission Exhibit No. 449 was received in evidence.)
Mr. JENNER - Had there been any conversation between you and Lee Oswald, or between you and Marina, or any conversation taking place in your presence prior to this occasion, in which the subject of curtain rods was mentioned?
Mrs. PAINE - No; there was no such conversation.
Mr. JENNER - Was the subject of curtain rods--had that ever been mentioned during all of these weekends that Lee Oswald had come to your home, commencing, I think you said, with his first return on October 4, 1963?
Mrs. PAINE - It. had not been mentioned.
Mr. JENNER - Never by anybody?
Mrs. PAINE - By anybody.
Mr. JENNER - Had the subject of curtain rods been mentioned even inadvertently, let us say, by some neighbor talking about the subject, as to whether you had some curtain rods you weren't using?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. JENNER - That might be loaned? I think you had testified that the curtain rods, when unextended, were 36 inches long, approximately?
Mrs. PAINE - That is a guess. I would say, thinking further about it, it must be shorter than that. One went over a window that I am pretty sure was 30 inches wide, and one went over a window that was 42 inches wide, so it had to extend between these. They were identical, and had served at these different windows.
Mr. JENNER - The rods were identical in length when unextended?
Mrs. PAINE - Or when fully extended; yes.
Mr. JENNER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - Or when fully extended.
Mr. JENNER - Or when fully extended; yes. They could be extended to as great as 42 inches?
Mrs. PAINE - At least that. I am just saying what windows they were used for.
Mr. JENNER - If the rods are still available, we will be able to obtain them?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And we will know exactly their length, extended and unextended. Now, as you think further about it, the rods when not extended, that is, when pushed together, might be but 30 inches long?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Because you recall that you have a 30-inch-wide window.
Mrs. PAINE - I believe it is more that width than 36.
Mr. JENNER - Would you hold up your hands to indicate what you think the width or the length of the rods is when not extended?
Mrs. PAINE - Oh, I don't recall. Maybe like this.
Mr. JENNER - Would you measure that, Mr. Liebeler, please?
Mr. LIEBELER - About 28 inches.
Mr. JENNER - I intend to leave the subject of the curtain rods, gentlemen, if you have any questions
Mr. McCLOY - May I ask a question. Did the FBI question you about the curtain rods any, or the Dallas police officials?
Mrs. PAINE - Not the Dallas police.
Mr. McCLOY - Not the Dallas police?
Mrs. PAINE - No. It is possible the FBI did. I don't recall such question.
Mr. McCLOY - They didn't take any rods from the garage that you are aware of?
Mrs. PAINE - You are aware what the police took. I never did know exactly what they took. I have never heard any mention of the rods having left.
Mr. McCLOY - You are not conscious of the Dallas police ever talking to you about curtain rods?
Mrs. PAINE - Absolutely no.
Mr. McCLOY - But possibly some member of the FBI did?
Mrs. PAINE - Possibly. I can't recall.
Mr. McCLOY - You can't recall?
Mr. JENNER - Did you ever mention to the FBI anything, or anybody else up until recently, the existence of the curtain rods about which you have now testified?
Mrs. PAINE - I have already said Michael and I discussed it.
Mr. JENNER - When?
Mrs. PAINE - A week or two after the assassination would be my guess.
Mr. JENNER - And did you discuss those particular curtain rods about which you have now testified?
Mrs. PAINE - We were particularly interested in seeing if the wrapping paper that we used to wrap these things was there, and it was. I recall that.
Representative FORD - Did Lee Oswald know where you kept this roll of wrapping paper?
Mrs. PAINE - To the best of my knowledge, he did not know where I kept it. I had never wrapped something when he was around. Neither he nor Marina had ever asked to use this paper or the string that I had.
Representative FORD - Where did you keep it? I don't recall precisely.
Mrs. PAINE - I can be very clear. There is a picture here of a large secretary desk on Commission Exhibit No. 435. It is in the bottom drawer, you see, in that desk. This is not the secretary desk upon which--
Mr. JENNER - The note was found?
Mrs. PAINE - The note was found.
Representative FORD - You kept it in the lower drawer?
Mrs. PAINE - Along with some gum tape and string.
Representative FORD - And this is the section shown on Commission Exhibit 435?
Mrs. PAINE - That is right.
Mr. JENNER - Mr. Reporter, you caught the measurement by Mr. Liebeler, 28 inches. Mrs. Paine, what is your best recollection as to how many curtain rods there were?
Mrs. PAINE - Two, I am certain.
Mr. JENNER - Just two? And you wrapped the package yourself, did you?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - When you and Michael undertook your discussion about curtain rods, did you or did he open up this package?
Mrs. PAINE - I don't recall.
Mr. JENNER - Is it your present best recollection that as far as you know, the package, as far as wrapping is concerned, is in the same condition now as when you wrapped it initially?
Mrs. PAINE - Certainly very similar.
Senator COOPER - What was the answer?
Mrs. PAINE - Certainly very similar. I don't recall making any change.
Mr. JENNER - Is there a possibility that the package was unwrapped at anytime?
Mrs. PAINE - In connection with this inquiry of Michael's; yes.
Mr. JENNER - You think he might have but you don't know.
Mrs. PAINE - Or I might have. I don't recall. I recall that it wasn't something that interested me as much as the other things I had to get done.
Mr. JENNER - But the rods about which you have testified as far as you know are on the shelf in your garage at your home?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Do you recall whether when the FBI discussed this subject with you, if you can recall that, that you advised the FBI of these particular curtain rods?
Mrs. PAINE - I am not perfectly certain that they discussed it with me.
Mr. JENNER - You just have no recollection of any interview with the FBI on this particular subject?
Mrs. PAINE - It seems to me they brought it up, but I don't recall the content nor whether they went out. I certainly think I would remember if I had gone out to the garage with an FBI representative.
Mr. JENNER - But you do not?
Mrs. PAINE - But I do not remember such an occasion.
Mr. JENNER - Unless the members of the Commission have any further questions with respect to the curtain rods, I will return to the afternoon.
Senator COOPER - I want to ask just two questions. Before the assassination, did you know where the package with the curtain rods in it was situated within the garage?
Mrs. PAINE - I gave it no attention but yes, it is my impression that I did go out to see if things were where I expected to find them. They were wrapped in brown paper, the curtain rods and venetian blinds. And found things there. I don't recall that I looked into the package.
Mr. JENNER - You did find the package?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - What was the size of the package in length and width if you can remember at the time you wrapped it?
Mrs. PAINE - I suppose about like this, not closed but just wrapping paper folded over.
Mr. JENNER - Would you hold your hands there please.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes. But by no means a neat package, just enough to keep the dust off.
Mr. LIEBELER - Thirty-two and a half inches.
Senator COOPER - What was the width of the package?
Mrs. PAINE - Like so.
Senator COOPER - That you wrapped?
Mrs. PAINE - Now I am not certain. I am really thinking now of the package with the venetian blind.- I don't recall exactly the package with the rods, whether they were included in this other or whether they warranted a package of their own.
Mr. LIEBELER - The witness indicated a width of approximately 7 1/2 inches.
Senator COOPER - I will ask one other question. The ends of the rod which are at right angles to the long surface, how long? What is their approximate size?
Mrs. PAINE - Two and a half inches to three inches.
Senator COOPER - What?
Mrs. PAINE - Two and a half to three inches.
Now, the testimony we've been reading was delivered in Washington. It's not much of a surprise, then, that three days were to pass before Warren Commission Counsel Albert Jenner and Secret Service Agent John Joe Howlett could arrange to accompany Mrs. Paine to her garage back in Irving, and obtain these curtain rods. The curtain rods were then entered into evidence as Paine Exhibits 275 and 276, and a photo of these curtain rods was subsequently published in the Warren Commission's volumes.
Here is this testimony... (Yes, unbelievably, they had a court reporter follow them around Mrs. Paine's house and garage while Jenner asked Mrs. Paine questions and Howlett measured stuff.)
(3-23-64 testimony of Ruth Paine before Warren Commission Counsel Albert Jenner, 3H396-425)
Mr. JENNER - Now, Mrs. Paine, one of the things we said we might see is a package that was in your garage containing curtain rods.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes--as you recall.
Mr. JENNER - You said you would leave that package in precisely the place wherever it was last week when you were in Washington, D.C., and have you touched it since you came home?
Mrs. PAINE - I have not touched it.
Mr. JENNER - And is it now in the place it was to the best of your recollection on November 21, 1963?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Now, would you rise and enter the garage and point out in my presence and in the presence of Mr. Howlett where that package is?
(At this point the persons heretofore mentioned entered the garage as stated by Counsel Jenner.)
Mrs. PAINE - It is on a shelf above the workbench. It extends north of the north edge of the workbench.
Mr. JENNER - Is it the thicker of the two packages wrapped in brown wrapping paper, shorter and thicker?
Mrs. PAINE - You would do well to look at them both.
Mr. JENNER - Well, what I am going to do first--I'm going to hand you a pointer, and would you point to the package-that you have in mind?
Mrs. PAINE - This, to the best of my recollection, contains venetian blinds.
Mr. JENNER - The witness is now referring to a package which Mr. Howlett, and I will ask you to measure it in a moment, but which appears to me to be at most about 28 inches long, maybe 30, and about 6 1/2 inches high and about 6 1/2 inches through. While it is still wrapped in place, Mr. Howlett, would you measure the package and it is a little bit irregular.
Agent HOWLETT - That is 2 feet 11 inches.
Mr. JENNER - The package is 2 feet 11 inches long and it is resting on a shelf which is apparently a foot down from the ceiling, and the north edge of the package is 5 inches from the outer wall of the storeroom I have described, and Mr. Howlett has--now measured the distance from the shelf on which the package is resting, to the floor, and that is what distance?
Agent HOWLETT - Seven feet and three inches.
Mr. JENNER - Now, measure the height of the package.
Mrs. PAINE - While you are up there, measure the one behind you.
Mr. JENNER - Yes; we will.
Agent HOWLETT - The height of the package is about seven inches.
Mr. JENNER - And it is how thick through from east to west?
Agent HOWLETT - Seven inches.
Mr. JENNER - All right. Now, I'll ask Mr. Howlett to take the package down, since he is already up there on top of the bench, and we will open it in the presence of Mrs. Paine and see what it contains.
The package has now been taken down from the shelf in our presence and Mrs. Paine is opening it. Mrs. Paine, and in your presence, Mr. Howlett, what does the package contain?
Mrs. PAINE - It contains two venetian blinds, both of them are 2 feet 6 inches.
Mr. JENNER - And they are of the metal variety, are they not?
Mrs. PAINE - They are.
Mr. JENNER - And those blinds are 2 feet 6 inches wide?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Now, they are wrapped in brown or light-tan wrapping paper?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Did you have a supply of this particular wrapping paper around your home at that time?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. JENNER - From where did you obtain this wrapping paper?
Mrs. PAINE - This must have come around a package or something I had bought. I have never had a supply of this variety.
Mr. JENNER - Now, John Joe, will you favor Mrs. Paine by putting her package back the way it was?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes--for the record.
Mr. JENNER - For the record, when we sought to rewrap the package, it has a paster on the outside of Sears, Roebuck & Co., Dallas, No. 4017, and "Will call--M.R. Paine."
Mrs. Paine has torn from the package some sticky tape.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - It is wider than the variety we have heretofore identified--is it your recollection that this sticky tape came on this particular package when it was delivered to your home?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And is this paper the paper in which the blinds came in the first instance?
Mrs. PAINE - These blinds did not come to me from Sears, Roebuck, but that--I used to replace them did. Now, whether the shades I bought came in this package, I have no idea whatever.
Mr. JENNER - Well, is it your recollection that this paper in which the blinds are now wrapped came from another package that was delivered to you and not a part of a general supply of paper which you had in your home?
Mrs. PAINE - It was certainly not part of a general supply of paper.
Mr. JENNER - Is it your recollection that the sticky tape that appears on this wrapping was affixed to the package which this is?
Mrs. PAINE - As you said, yes.
Mr. JENNER - This paper--when delivered to your home, having nothing to do with the curtain rods or the rifle or anything else hereon, is that right?
Mrs. PAINE - That's right.
Mr. JENNER - Now, we see in back of this package that we have just described a much longer package also wrapped on--in light-tan wrapping paper--at this time a little bit darker, I think, than the package we have just been describing, and Mr. Howlett has now mounted again the work bench and is measuring that package. That package, Mr. Howlett, is also on the shelf.
Agent HOWLETT - The same shelf in behind where the other package was.
Mr. JENNER - And it is how long?
Agent HOWLETT - Three feet nine inches long, as it is folded now.
Mr. JENNER - And in general is it a rectangular package?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes, sir.
Mr. JENNER - But its shape is not as well defined as the shorter package we have already described?
Agent HOWLETT - No, sir; it seems to be a little bit bigger at the north end.
Mr. JENNER - Mrs. Paine, before we open it, what is in that package?
Mrs. PAINE - My best guess would be that it contains two pull blinds which I did have in the southeast bedroom.
Mr. JENNER - When you say "pull blinds" you mean venetian blinds?
Mrs. PAINE - No; I do not. I mean roll-type.
Mr. JENNER - Mr. Howlett, would you be good enough to take that package down and we will open it in Mrs Paine's presence here.
(At this point Agent Howlett complied with the request of Counsel Jenner.)
Mr. JENNER - It contains, does it not, what you call the pull blinds, and which I, in my vernacular call spring window shades.
Mrs. PAINE - All, right, that's correct, and these are cut to fit the windows in the southeast bedroom.
Mr. JENNER - Mr. Howlett, there are two of them, one of which is how wide?
Agent HOWLETT - Two feet six inches.
Mr. JENNER - And the other one is?
Agent HOWLETT - Three feet six inches.
Mr. JENNER - And Mr. Howlett and Mrs. Paine, these two spring window-shades are the customary type we see on windows, these, however, are white or cream colored, and are plastic?
Mrs. PAINE - That's right.
Mr. JENNER - And they are opaque?
Mrs. PAINE - That's right.
Mr. JENNER - Neither is metal?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. JENNER - The spring to which the shade itself the plastic shade is attached, is wood, inside of which there is the usual window shade spring.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - The paper in which these are wrapped likewise contains as did the other one an address sticker of Sears, Roebuck & Co., No. 4017, addressed to Michael R. Paine.
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - And so, the wrapping paper in which those two shades are wrapped came from Sears, Roebuck & Co. and not from any roll of paper that you keep in your home?
Mrs. PAINE - That's correct.
Mr. JENNER - Now, are there any other paper-wrapped packages on that shelf?
Mrs. PAINE - No.
Mr. JENNER - It was your impression as you testified last week that you had some curtain rods on the shelf wrapped in a paper wrapping?
Mrs. PAINE - Well, I testified that.
Mr. JENNER - That was your impression, was it not?
Mrs. PAINE - And as part of the testimony I said they were very light and might not deserve their own wrapping.
Mr. JENNER - You, of course you did state it was possible they might not be separately wrapped?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes.
Mr. JENNER - Is there another shelf below the shelf on which you found the first two packages?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; there is.
Mr. JENNER - And, Mr. Howlett, that shelf is about how far below the upper one on which we found the two packages?
Agent HOWLETT - About 10 1/2 inches.
Mr. JENNER - Now, we all see, do we not, peeking up what appears to be a butt end of what we might call a curtain rod, is that correct?
Mrs. PAINE - That's correct.
Mr. JENNER - Is that correct, Mr. Howlett?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes, sir; that's correct.
Mr. JENNER - Painted or enameled white?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes, sir.
Mr. JENNER - Would you reach back there and take out what appears to be a curtain rod, Mr. Howlett-- how many do you have there?
Agent HOWLETT - There are two curtain rods, one a white and the other a kind of buff color or cream colored.
Well, first of all, note the moving goalpost. Mrs. Paine testified that she'd wrapped the curtain rods, but then retreated to the position she may not have wrapped them in a separate package, and has only now come face to face with the possibility she may not have wrapped them at all.
If Jenner were to have been consistent, then, shouldn't he have pointed out that her "best recollection" was that she'd wrapped them, and that her apparent acceptance she had not is a "rationalization"?
Now, second... We've seen CE 429... Uhh... What shelves were they talking about? It's odd, to say the least, that Jenner had Mrs. Paine mark a photograph showing where she thought she'd find curtain rods, but failed to have her mark one where they actually were found.
It is fortunate, then, that far superior versions of the photo that became CE 429 were contained within the Commission's records. Here is one, from CD 497, a photo essay of Mrs. Paine's house and garage.
Well, that sheds some light on the situation, yes?
So where were the curtain rods recovered by Howlett?
When one re-reads the testimony regarding the Venetian blinds, one finds the following clues:
The package containing the Venetian blinds was on "a shelf above the workbench" and extended "north of the north edge of the workbench."
The package was "2 feet 11 inches long" and was resting on a shelf which was "apparently a foot down from the ceiling, and the north edge of the package" was "5 inches from the outer wall of the storeroom."
The package was also "about seven inches" in height, and "seven inches" thick.
The shelf holding this package was seven feet three inches off the floor.
The shelf holding the curtain rods was 10 1/2 inches below this shelf.
So where was the workbench? And where was these shelves?
The workbench in the photo that became CE 429 is pointed out by a yellow arrow in the image below. The shelf where the blinds were purportedly found is pointed out by a blue arrow. The shelf on which the curtain rods were purportedly found would thereby be the shelf pointed out by a red arrow...
Now, no curtain rods are readily noticeable on that shelf. The shelf, in fact, appears to be filled with a large bundle that is not curtain rods--perhaps even the pull blinds purported to have been found on the same shelf as the Venetian blinds.
I mean, really, the Paine garage was tiny.
Here 's a recent photo of the garage showing just how tiny.
As revealed by the FBI's scale drawing in CD 497, moreover, the it was only 10 feet wide. (I've copied the scale on the left side of the drawing and placed copies at the foot and at the side of the garage so one see can just what I mean.)
Well, then, the shelf upon which the Venetian blinds were found was at best a foot or so wide. Since the package with the blinds was measured at 7 inches, moreover, that leaves but five inches for the package containing the pull blinds.
So, yeah, no curtain rods are readily noticeable on the shelf.
Now, ask yourself. Is it a coincidence this area was so dark on CE 429?
(Keep in mind that by this date--3-23-64--Chief Justice Warren had made it clear he wanted a "clean" record. And, yeah, a picture of Mrs. Paine's garage showing no curtain rods where they later found curtain rods would undoubtedly "dirty" the record up a bit.)
So, here again is CE 429 (which was released to the public in 1964) in comparison to this same photo in CD 497 (which only became available in the years to follow).
The shelves where the Venetian blinds and curtain rods are presumed to have been found are totally blacked out in the exhibit designed to show their location (CE 429) but are easily made out in a photo just showing the garage, which was subsequently published in CD 497. This smells a bit, si?
Mr. JENNER - Now, would you please search the rest of that shelf and see if you can find any other curtain rods or anything similar to the curtain rods, and look on the bottom shelves, Mr. Howlett, will you please? While he is doing that, Mrs. Paine, I notice there is on your garage floor what looks like a file casing you have for documents similar, at least it seems substantially identical to those that we had in Washington last week.
Mrs. PAINE - This is a filing case similar, yes, slightly different in color to one that you had in Washington. It contains madrigal music. It was on November 22 at the apartment where my husband was living.
Agent HOWLETT - I have just finished searching both shelves and I don't find any other curtain rods.
Mr. JENNER - Mrs. Paine, are the curtain rods that Mr. Howlett has taken down from the lower of the two shelves, the two curtain rods to which you made reference in your testimony before the
Commission last week?
Mrs. PAINE - Yes; they are.
Mr. JENNER - And you know of no other curtain rods, do you, in your garage during the fall of 1963?
Mrs. PAINE - No; I do not.
Mr. JENNER - And in particular, no other curtain rods in your garage at any time on the 21st or 22d of November 1963?
Mrs. PAINE - None whatsoever.
(Note that Jenner has failed to ask Mrs. Paine how she knows these are the same curtain rods and is instead accepting her assumption they are the same curtain rods as a positive I.D.)
Mr. JENNER - May we take these curtain rods and mark them as exhibits and we will return them after they have been placed of record?
Mrs. PAINE - All right.
Mr. JENNER - Miss Reporter, the cream colored curtain rod, we will mark Ruth Paine Exhibit 275 and the white one as Ruth Paine Exhibit No. 276.
(The curtain rods referred to were at this time marked by the reporter as Ruth Paine Exhibit Nos. 275 and 276, for identification.)
Mr. JENNER - Since we will have the exact physical exhibits we don't have to measure them, but perhaps for somebody who is reading the record, Mr. Howlett, your suggestion that we measure them is not a bad one. Let me describe the configuration of these rods. They are very light weight--what would you say that metal is, Mr. Howlett, tin--heavy tin?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes, sir.
Mr. JENNER - They are the sliding or extension type, one fitting into the other when closed entirely, measuring from upended tip to upended tip they are----
Agent HOWLETT - The white one is 2 feet 3 1/2 inches.
Mr. JENNER - And the cream colored one measured in the like fashion?
Agent HOWLETT - It is 2 feet 3 1/2 inches.
(Let's recall that Buell Frazier and his sister Linnie Mae Randle, after being shown a bag created by the FBI that matched the size and shape of the bag supposedly discovered in the sniper's nest, both claimed that bag was too large, and that the bag/package they saw was actually 27 inches long... Well, what are the odds of that--that they said they saw a light-brown 27-inch long bag, and that's exactly what was missing from Mrs. Paine's garage?)
Mr. JENNER - These curtain rods--the ends of each of them are turned. Those ends extending are turned up how many inches?
Agent HOWLETT - About 2 inches measuring from the inside of the curtain rod.
Mr. JENNER - On the cream colored one, and what about the white one?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes; on the cream colored one and the white one measures about 2 1/2 inches.
Mr. JENNER - Now, these curtain rods with the ends turned up form a "U," do they not, a long "U"?
Agent HOWLETT - Yes, sir.
Now, wait a second. Jenner and Howlett measured the height of the top shelf as 7 feet 3 inches. They did not find any curtain rods on that shelf. They then looked on the second shelf, 10 1/2 inches below that shelf, or 6 feet 2 1/2 inches off the ground. And they found two curtain rods. Jenner let it slip, moreover, that they searched this shelf after noticing the "butt end" of one of the curtain rods. And now we learn that the butt end of these curtain rods was 2 1/2 inches tall.
So let's go back and see if we can find this curtain rod butt, which would be a light rectangular shape of a roughly 3 to 1 ratio on the second shelf that was around 1/5 as wide as the shelf.
By George we may have found it. The bottom arrow below shows the width of the shelf, and the top arrow is placed below a light rectangle of a roughly 3 to 1 ratio that is around 1/5 as wide as the shelf.
Or is that even a rectangle? The quality of the photo currently available is insufficient to say for sure. But what we can say is that IF a curtain rod is visible in that photo, that light shape would have to be it.
In any event, here is the photo of these curtain rods subsequently published by the Warren Commission...
Well, huh. These curtain rods look a lot like the ones used in Oswald's room. Here is a photo of Oswald's room taken for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram on the day of the shooting.
And here is a blow-up from this photo.
So yikes! Mrs. Paine had the exact same type of curtain rods stored in her garage as Oswald had in his room. IF he'd damaged the curtain rods in his room--presumably not the ones shown above, but the ones back by his bed, which Mrs. Johnson swapped out the next day--he might very well have brought the rods from Mrs. Paine's to his rooming house, and swap them out before the damage could be brought to Mrs. Johnson's attention.
A report on two curtain rods identified as 275 and 276, in which Dallas Police Lt. J.C. Day claimed he'd found one legible print (which did not belong to Oswald) on these rods, was subsequently published in the Commission's 26 volumes, as Exhibit 1952.
Here it is...
Now, one might assume from this that these were the rods found in the garage. But there's no report or testimony explaining how and why those rods were presented to the DPD Crime Lab, as opposed to the FBI Crime Lab. Nor is there a report or testimony explaining how and when the curtain rods identified as Paine Exhibits 275 and 276 were initially photographed, and how this photograph ended up published by the Commission.
To accept that all is above board then one has to accept that Agent Howlett (whose name is on the form) took the rods found in the garage over to the DPD Crime Lab, and that someone--presumably Lt. Day--to whom the rods were submitted, wrote the submission date down as 3-15-64 even though it was 3-23-64. While this makes little sense on the surface--I mean why Howlett, and not Jenner, and why the wrong date---it makes a little more sense when one remembers that the Warren Commission and FBI were having a spat on 3-23-64--and that this spat was over this very issue--the Commission's use of outside forensics experts.
So it seems possible Jenner wanted to submit these rods to a crime lab--if just to see if Oswald had ever touched these rods--and that Howlett, knowing the FBI was at war with the Commission--offered to help by submitting these rods to the local police, with whom he was more familiar.
And that Day wrote down the wrong date.
Now this is all a bit of a stretch, right? But it's a stretch one needs to make to explain CE 1952.
So let's play along for a minute. Jenner found the rods in Mrs. Paine's garage. He placed them into evidence. He had them tested for fingerprints. A print was found, but it was not Oswald's.
Well, this made Oswald a liar. And a liar about a package which presumably concealed the assassination rifle. That's fairly damning...and suggestive of Oswald's guilt.
That's the way the Warren Commission wanted it, anyway.
But then, on 8-31-64, Commission General Counsel J. Lee Rankin wrote a letter to FBI Director Hoover, asking him to have the FBI interview Roy Truly, Oswald's boss at the Texas School Book Depository, to see if anyone came across a package of curtain rods in the building.
Yes, strangely enough, months after the Warren Commission's staff had written a report claiming Oswald had lied when he told Buell Frazier the package he brought to work on 11-22-63 contained curtain rods, and months after the commissioners had signed off on this finding, it had finally occurred to someone that, hey, maybe, the package Oswald brought into the building DID contain curtain rods--and that, geez, before we conclude Oswald had lied about this, we should at least ask Roy Truly if he recalled anyone ever finding a package of curtain rods in the building.
The FBI interviewed Truly on 9-1-64, and forwarded a memo on this interview to the commission on 9-4-64. The brief memo on this interview claims Truly said he felt certain no curtain rods were discovered in the building.
But there's a problem with this. No sworn affidavit, or sworn testimony, was provided. And this was by design. The 9-1-64 airtel from Hoover to Dallas Special Agent in Charge J. Gordon Shanklin in which Hoover ordered Truly be interviewed specified that the results of this interview should be communicated in a memo, and that "it will not be necessary to incorporate Truly's interview in a subsequent report."
So what was going on here? Was Hoover just trying to save his men some time? Or was he afraid an interview with Truly might lead to more questions, and that a report on such an interview might lead to even more questions?
I mean, something is just off. The FBI's files claim Truly was interviewed by Agent Ray Hall. So why was Hall's name not mentioned in the memo sent the commission? And why was the memo advising the results of the FBI'S interview with Truly sent the commission without a signature line, as one would normally find on a report?
Was this memo created in this manner so that no one could be held accountable? And why were earlier problematic memos--such as the memo on the FBI's interview with Mrs. Johnson--treated in a similar manner?
It remains possible, then, that the memo did not reflect what Truly actually told his supposed interviewer, Ray Hall, and that Ray Hall wasn't even consulted in the creation of this memo...and, yikes, that Ray Hall never actually spoke to Truly.
I mean, the memo claimed simply that Truly said something to somebody, without noting who this somebody was, or even who was claiming Truly said something to somebody.
This was most unusual, and suspicious.
Here, see for yourself:
Now, this deliberately-orphaned memo was published by the Warren Commission as Commission Exhibit 2640.
Still, okay, this could all be innocent. No rods were missing from Mrs. Paine's garage. Lt. Day wrote down the wrong date on the submission form. And Hoover was just being lazy when he sent the commission an unsigned memo claiming Truly said no rods were found in the depository (as opposed to a report from someone who could actually be held accountable should the report be in error).
But that's not the end of the suspicious behavior revolving around the curtain rods.
On 9-6-64, Commission Counsel J. Wesley Liebeler wrote a critique of the current draft of the Warren Report. On the "Curtain Rod Story", he observed "The last paragraph of this section is misleading when it attempts to show the falsity of tho curtain rod story by stating that Oswald's room at 1026 North Beckley had curtains, and does not take account of the fact that Frazier specifically testified that Oswald said he wanted the curtain rods to put in an apartment. This takes on added significance when we remember that Oswald was talking about renting an apartment so that his family could live in Dallas with him. That aspect of the problem should be specifically treated if we are going to mention the fact that his rooming house had curtains."
Now, this was simple enough--Liebeler had pointed out that any discussion of the curtain rods would be deceptive if it asserted as fact that Oswald had said he'd wanted the curtain rods for the room he was renting--a room he was planning on leaving within weeks. Frazier had testified, after all, that Oswald had said he wanted these rods for "an apartment," not "his apartment."
But, apparently, this was too much for his superiors, Redlich and Rankin. When the report was published on 9-24-64, it included the following passage: "It would appear, however, that obtaining curtain rods was not the purpose of Oswald's trip to Irving on Thursday, November 21. Mrs. A.C. Johnson, his landlady, testified that Oswald's room at 1926 North Beckley Avenue had curtains and curtain rods, and that Oswald had never discussed the subject with her. In the Paine's garage, along with many other objects of a household character, there were two flat lightweight curtain rods belonging to Ruth Paine but they were still there on Friday afternoon after Oswald's arrest."
Well, wait... Where did they get that the curtain rods were in the garage on Friday afternoon? As we've seen, neither Michael Paine nor Ruth Paine said as much.
Well, for that last passage the footnote 123 was provided. Footnote 123 reads "3H72-73 (R. Paine); 9H424 (R. Paine); R. Paine DE 275, 276; CE 449."
So, let's break this down, working backwards.
1. CE 449 is a drawing of the curtain rods as Mrs. Paine remembered them on 3-20-64. This doesn't prove they were in her garage on the afternoon of 11-22-63.
2. DE 275 and 276 are the curtain rods themselves. They didn't have a chip or anything in them that recorded their whereabouts on 11-22-63, so, no, they don't prove their location on 11-22-63.
3. 9H424 is the 3-23-64 testimony of Mrs. Paine while Warren Commission Counsel Jenner and SS Agent Howlett sifted through her garage. As they discovered two unwrapped curtain rods on a shelf other than where she thought she'd left them, there is nothing in her testimony to suggest these curtain rods were where they'd been on Friday 11-22-63... And, for what's worse, there is no mention whatsoever of anyone's observing them on that date.
4. 3H72-73 is Mrs. Paine's 3-20-64 testimony that she thought her husband had looked in the garage "a week and a half, or a week," after the assassination to verify that the "package with curtain rods"was still there, and that it was her "recollection" it was. Well, one, this was her recollection of her husband's activities--why didn't the Commission just ask him? And, two, when Warren Commission counsel Albert Jenner went to Mrs. Paine's garage on 3-23-63 he discovered that there was no "package with curtain rods" in the garage, and that the "brown paper" package Mrs. Paine had presumed her husband had noticed was instead a package of Venetian blinds. In other words, this citation demonstrates the exact opposite of what it is purported to demonstrate. It suggested that no one looked for the curtain rods until a week or a week and a half after the assassination, and that no one took note of the actual curtain rods prior to 3-23-64.
(While Michael Paine did testify to seeing some curtain rods in the garage a few weeks prior to his 3-17-64 testimony, his testimony was not cited in the footnote claiming these rods were observed on 11-22-63. And for good reason--his testimony failed to establish the whereabouts of the curtain rods on 11-22-63.)
So, yes, Footnote 123 was a big fat freakin' lie. In the weeks and months after the assassination, no one had taken the time to verify that the curtain rods in Mrs. Paine's garage--the curtain rods she thought she'd wrapped in a package the exact size and appearance of the package observed by Buell Frazier and his sister on the morning of the assassination--were still in her garage.
And when they finally looked--they found there was no such package!
Now, it is true Mrs. Paine identified the two curtain rods discovered in her garage on 3-23-64 as the two curtain rods she'd remembered being in her garage before 11-22-63, but there is nothing in the record, whatsoever, to counter that someone had placed these two rods in her garage after Frazier started telling the curtain rod story.
So, yeah, Mrs. Paine's 3-23 testimony was quite a blow to the Oswald-did-it scenario pushed by the Warren Commission and its staff...
First, on 3-11, Frazier and his sister both refused to ID the bag found in the building as the bag they saw Oswald carrying. They both described this bag, moreover, as a bag in which there could have been curtain rods.
And then, on 3-20, Mrs. Paine described a paper package of curtain rods she believed was in her garage...that matched the description of the package described by Frazier and his sister.
And finally, on 3-23, Mrs. Paine failed to find the package of curtain rods she believed was in her garage, and found instead some loose curtain rods.
So how did the Commission's staff handle this? By admitting that--eegads--Oswald may have been telling the truth about the curtain rods?
Are you freakin' kidding?
They flat-out lied, is what they did. I mean, really. It's hard to see the report's assertion the rods were noticed in the garage on 11-22 as anything but a flat-out lie.
And this lie was allowed to stand...for decades...
And the belief Oswald had lied about the rods--or Frazier had lied about Oswald--was allowed to stand...for decades...
But then, in the mid-1990's, the Dallas Police opened their files to Ray and Mary La Fontaine, and they found some previously unreleased photos of some prints pulled off some curtain rods.
Here they are...
And from there things got messy.
Here's Vincent Bugliosi, on the discovery of these images, in his 2007 "magnum opus" Reclaiming History:
"In 1996, conspiracy authors Ray and Mary La Fontaine, in their book Oswald Talked, congratulated themselves on their “discovery” of photographs of curtain rods found in 1993 among the newly released files of the Dallas police. “No evidence could be found that the photos were ever turned over to the Warren Commission,” they wrote of the curtain rods that appeared to have been dusted for fingerprints (La Fontaine and La Fontaine, Oswald Talked, p.371). The La Fontaines located former Dallas police crime-lab lieutenant J. C. “Carl” Day in 1993 and quizzed him about the photos, but Day “couldn’t remember where the curtain rods had been found” (La Fontaine and La Fontaine, Oswald Talked, pp.371–372). The impression the authors leave the reader with is that they may have been found in the Book Depository Building, which would support Oswald’s claim to Wesley Frazier that he brought them to work on November 22. According to the La Fontaines, they asked Day to compare the clearest print (on one of the rods) visible in the photo—a right thumbprint—with a photo of Oswald’s right thumbprint, and although the print did not appear to belong to Oswald, Day could not conclusively rule out Oswald as a possible source of the print. The authors then reportedly had three other fingerprint experts from other cities examine the print, with equally inconclusive results. In summation, the authors noted that a researcher later found “a report signed by Carl Day stating that the prints are not Oswald’s.” (La Fontaine and La Fontaine, Oswald Talked, p.372)
If the La Fontaines had turned to the testimony of Ruth Paine on page 424 in volume 9 of the Warren Commission Hearings and Exhibits, they would have learned that their allegation was without merit. Paine was questioned at her home by the Commission’s assistant counsel Albert Jenner in the presence of Secret Service agent John J. Howlett on the night of March 23, 1964. At that time, Mrs. Paine took Jenner and Howlett into her garage, where she pointed out two curtain rods that she had in storage and which she had testified about the previous week. The curtain rods were marked as Paine Exhibit Nos. 275 and 276 on the spot and turned over to Agent Howlett. As it turns out, the La Fontaines never mentioned the fact that the “report signed by Carl Day” was a follow-up to this meeting with Mrs. Paine. The resulting 1964 “report,” actually a Dallas Police Identification Bureau form, shows that “2 curtain rods—white enamel (4 pcs) marked 275 & 276” were submitted by Howlett to the ID bureau to “check for prints.” Lieutenant Carl Day received the specimens, did the analysis, and noted “1 legible print—does not belong to Oswald.” The form shows that the curtain rods were returned to Howlett on the morning of March 26, 1964. Although the submission form appears to show the specimens arriving on the morning of March 15, 1964—an impossibility under the circumstances—the remainder of the information relates precisely to the events surrounding the curtain rods recovered from Mrs. Paine’s garage on the night of March 23. (CE 1952, 23 H 756, Dallas Police Identification Bureau form; photo of Paine’s two curtain rods: Paine [Ruth] Exhibit Nos. 275 and 276, 21 H 4; 9 H 396, WCI Ruth Hyde Paine)
Two distinct viewpoints had thereby been presented. The LaFontaines had used the photos found in the Dallas Archives to insinuate the rods in the photos were rods left by Oswald in the depository, and Bugliosi, while admitting the date for submission on the DPD's report (3-15-63) was in error (I mean, his scenario holds that the DPD received these rods after their discovery in Mrs. Paine's garage on 3-23-63, so the 3-15-63 date for their submission has gotta be wrong, right?) had defended the status quo, and had insisted nothing was the least bit suspicious.
But he was blowing smoke. In April 2019, Alan Ford began writing about this issue on the JFK Assassination Forum, and unveiled something over-looked (or at least unmentioned) by Bugliosi.
Here, in a GIF put together by Ford, is the essence of his discovery:
The image with red writing is a color photograph of the original form. It is the form as it appears in the Dallas Police Archives, and as found on the University of North Texas website. Note that it is quite different than the black and white image, that is, the version of this form published by the Warren Commission as CE 1952.
Now, for those distracted by the flashing back and forth, here is a clearer version of this form.
Now, let's note the differences between the original full-color form published on the the UNT website, and the black and white copy of this form published as CE 1952 in the Warren Commission's volumes. To create CE 1952, someone had to:
Remove the signature "John Joe Howlett" from the "specimen released to" line.
Change the date of the specimen's release from "3-24-64" to "3-26-64."
Re-write Lt. Day's signature on the "specimen released by" line.
Inadvertently change the relationship of the "d" in "Oswald" and the "a" in "Day" in the writing at the bottom of the page.
Now, this last bit is quite confusing. The thought occurs, however, that the person dummying-up CE 1952 may have taped sections from a photo-copy of the original document onto a new form, then filled out the rest of this form, then made a photo-copy of this new phony document that was then sent to the Commission. Or something like that...
So what can be made of this?
1. Bugliosi's insistence that the submission date of "3-15-64" on CE 1952 was a simple mistake no longer passes muster. Not only were the curtain rods in Mrs. Paine's garage not retrieved until 3-23-64, 8 days after 3-15-64, but the original form for CE 1952 has a release date of "3-24-64," a day before Lt. Day created the lift card from the curtain rod shown above (in DPD image 91-001/256).
2. This suggests, then, that there were 2 sets of curtain rods. One set submitted to the DPD by Howlett on 3-15-64 ("two white curtain rods"), and then released back to him on 3-24-64, and another set retrieved from Mrs. Paine on 3-23-64 (one cream-colored curtain rod and one white curtain rod), tested on 3-25-64, and released on 3-26-64.
3. It could be, then, that the curtain rods turned over on 3-15-64 were made to go bye-bye, and that the on-the-record seizure of Mrs. Paine's curtain rods on 3-23-64 was designed in part to conceal that curtain rods had been recovered and submitted to the DPD's crime lab from somewhere other than Mrs. Paine's garage.
4. If this is so, then, Secret Service Agent John Joe Howlett was right in the middle of it. One can not avoid that Howlett's signature was on the submission line of CE 1952...on 3-15...8 days before he'd supposedly even seen the curtain rods he recovered in Mrs. Paine's garage. In all other instances where physical evidence was collected for the WC's investigation, it was collected through the FBI. So why was Howlett, an SS Agent, even involved in this--the collection of physical evidence for the Warren Commission's investigation? While Howlett's involvement in this on 3-23-64 (when the Commission and FBI were at odds) might make sense, his submission of these curtain rods to the DPD on 3-15-63 (before Jenner had even arrived in Dallas) makes far less sense...unless...unless...he'd obtained these rods during the Secret Service's investigation of the assassination back in December. So when could he have found them? Or received them? Well, the thought occurs that Howlett starred in a Secret Service re-enactment film produced on 12-5-63...that was filmed on location in Oswald's place of work, the school book depository. It seems possible, then, that Howlett found or was given two white curtain rods at that time, and had decided to hold off telling anyone about them until he could do so without raising too much ruckus. One might presume then that he spoke to Jenner about this later, and that the two conspired to go behind Hoover's back and have the curtain rods tested by Lt. Day...and that it was then decided to make them disappear, and use the curtain rods found in Mrs. Paine's garage to conceal their very existence.
5. If this is so, then, it follows that Howlett or Day created the numbers for these curtain rods (275 and 276) and that Jenner chose to re-use these numbers on 3-23-64. (It has long been a mystery as to why Jenner gave the exhibits entered into evidence on 3-23-64 numbers in the 270's. I mean, why not start at Ruth Paine Exhibit 1, and proceed from there...as was done with most every other witness? Perhaps now we have an answer.)
6. It seems probable, for that matter, that the replacement of "3-24-64" on the original DPD form, with the "3-26-64" on the form as published by the Warren Commission, was done to conceal that this was a different set of rods than those tested by Lt. Day on 3-25-64.
7. In such case, it follows that whoever was behind this switcheroo (presumably Day, seeing as he'd provided two different signatures on the release line for the two different versions of the form), had failed to notice that the submission date on this form was 8 days before Howlett (and Jenner) had acquired the curtain rods from Mrs. Paine.
Now, I've thought about this a bit, and have tried to come up with a less horrifying explanation for the changing of the dates on the DPD crime lab form, but have come up with nothing but ?????
When one looks at the big picture, furthermore, the dubious nature of these rods becomes obvious.
1. The Crime Lab form that became CE 1952 contains Lt. Day's conclusion the one identifiable print found on the curtain rods was not Oswald's. This is unique within the DPD's exhibits. The palm print torn from Box D was supposedly determined to have been Oswald's on the evening of 11-22. So where is the Crime Lab form in which this conclusion was noted? And why wasn't it submitted to the Warren Commission?
2. While one answer to that question could be that the DPD deferred to the conclusions of the FBI's Crime Lab, and refused to submit their own conclusions to the Commission, this raises another question. Why didn't they do that in this case?
3. FIVE photographs were taken of lifts pulled from the curtain rods. Well...what happened to the original lifts? There is no record of these lifts in the Dallas Police files. Nor in the FBI's files. Were they destroyed? If it was standard to photograph lifts, moreover, why were no DPD photographs taken of the lift Lt. Day claimed he'd pulled from the underside of the barrel on 11-22-63?
4. ALL other fingerprint identifications regarding Oswald were double-checked by the FBI and the outside consultant brought in by the Warren Commission, Arthur Mandella. They testified 4-2-64. If Lt. Day had studied the curtain rod print on 3-25-64, and had concluded it was not Oswald's, why weren't the Warren Commission's designated fingerprint experts asked to verify this when they testified?
5. Although Lt. Day testified on 4-22-64, he was never asked about his testing the curtain rods prints on 3-25-64. Was this a simple oversight? And, if so, how is it that CE 1952 ended up being published by the Commission? Did someone call up Lt. Day in August or September 1964 and say, "Hey, bud, could you please send us a copy of that report you wrote on the curtain rods?" Or did Howlett retain a copy for himself, and hand it over to Jenner, who then realized the dates were a problem, and then went back to Day to get him to make a copy, change the date, and add a new signature?
6. There is no record (that I have found) detailing how the photo of the curtain rods ended up in the commission's volumes. While one might assume the Paine exhibits confiscated by Jenner and Howlett on 3-23-64 were immediately sent over to the FBI Crime Lab upon their release from the DPD Crime Lab on 3-26-64, there is no evidence that this happened. To wit, a 7-9-64 FBI memo from crime lab big chief Roy Jevons to crime lab even bigger chief Ivan Conrad notes that a commission secretary phoned the lab on 7-8-64 and asked that they make copies of a number of exhibit photos, including photos of Ruth Paine exhibits 275 and 276. This is, as far as I can tell, the earliest mention of these exhibits in the FBI's files.
So when did they get these exhibits? Who knows?
(One hopes to someday establish how the Paine exhibits and DPD report reached Washington...)
Now, while we're at it, we should probably double-check the identifiable print Day said was not Oswald's. As it stands we have no idea if this print was found on the curtain rods submitted on 3-15, or the curtain rods subsequently "discovered" in Mrs. Paine's garage. It could be, then, that this print was a print left by Oswald when he first took a look at these curtain rods, in Mrs. Paine's garage, and then re-wrapped them for their journey to the depository. It could be, then, that Lt. Day later lifted this print, and connected this print to Oswald, but held off saying a word, upon advice from Howlett. It could be, then, that, upon receiving the replacement rods from the Paine residence, he tossed the lifts associated with the rods submitted on 3-15, but forgot to toss the photos of these lifts.
Well, it could be then that photos 253, 254, and 327, which mention the number of the curtain rod from which each print was lifted, are photos of prints lifted from the rods submitted on 3-15, while photos 255 and 256, which fail to name the curtain rod from which each lift was taken, but specify 3-25 as the day the lift was taken, are photos of prints lifted from the rods found in Mrs. Paine's garage.
Of course, it could also be that the photos discovered in the DPD archives fail to show a single identifiable print. Should that be the case, well, it would prove these photos were of a different set of curtain rods than those discussed in Day's report...
And that would prove very interesting, very, very interesting...
So, yes, I took a quick amateur glance at the lift photos...and this led me to conclude there was but one identifiable print apparent on these photos--on 91-001/327.
Here it is...
We might presume then that this was the identifiable print Day said was not Oswald's.
This presumption, then, led me to take a closer look at this print. While the LaFontaines, in Oswald Talked, described this print as a probable right thumb print, I couldn't match this up with a thumb print. Well, this, in turn, led me to wonder if--egads--this wasn't' yet another Oswald right palm print. I then matched up this print with Oswald's right palm print. This is shown below.
Now, is this in fact a match? I suspect not. While the ridges are pretty close, I spotted some unique characteristics on the Oswald print (at L) that I could not find on the curtain rod print (at R in the pink rectangle overlay onto the Oswald print.)
But it's close enough to make one wonder what an unbiased expert would say...
It appears, moreover, that this print is long gone. (Here are the most recent photos of the curtain rods.)
And here are two close-ups of CE 276, the white curtain rod, when matched up with the Warren Commission's photo of this rod. The purported location of the identifiable print discovered in the Dallas DPD Archives was 5 1/2 inches from the end of the white curtain rod's outside edge. That is actually two locations. Both are shown below, pointed out by red arrows. And yet...nothing remains to show us the former location of this print. No marks. No stickers. Nothing.
So what happened to the print?
Did someone wipe the rods clean before sending them to Washington? And, if so, who?
And, come to think of it, if the FBI eventually received Paine Exhibits 275 and 276, along with the other Paine exhibits, as one might assume from the 8-6 Jevons-Conrad memo, well, then, where's their report on the curtain rods? The FBI performed fingerprint examinations on most every piece of evidence to come their way. The Warren Commission's volumes are filled with FBI reports on fingerprint examinations performed on pieces of paper, that belonged to Oswald, that prove absolutely nothing beyond that Oswald touched something that belonged to him...which was disputed by absolutely nobody.
So where the heck is the FBI's fingerprint report on the curtain rods? Are we to believe they refused to perform one because the DPD had already performed their own examination?
Well, that never stopped them before....
Oh, wait, maybe the reason no such report ever surfaced is because no prints were ever found on these rods...since these were NOT the rods tested by Day!
So, yeah, the lack of noticeable marks or stickers on the available photos of 275 and 276 is yet another reason to doubt these were the rods submitted to Lt. Day on 3-15-64.
In short, then, the problems with the "curtain rod story" and crime lab form raise serious doubts about the long-held assumption no curtain rods were found inside the building, which is to say, serious doubts about Oswald's guilt... When one thinks of it, moreover, "the curtain rod" story told by the Commission is even more damaging and suggestive of malfeasance than "the curtain rod story" Oswald was accused of telling. One can think of "innocent" reasons why Oswald might lie about bringing curtain rods to work--maybe he brought them to a female co-worker and didn't want his wife to know, etc, or maybe he felt embarrassed about stealing from Ruth Paine--but one is much more hard-pressed to come up with legitimate excuses for the altered and missing documents related to the curtain rods.
So, yeah, the small conclusion Oswald did not bring curtain rods to work on the 22nd was yet another of the Commission's small conclusions to fall apart under close examination.
To recap, then...
Troy West, the only witness to testify regarding the possibility Oswald made a paper bag at work, claimed he always ate his lunch by the paper and tape machines, and had never witnessed Oswald using the paper and tape machines. And yet the Commission concluded Oswald made a paper bag at work on 11-21-63...
Buell Frazier, the only witness who could have testified on the matter of Oswald's bringing a paper bag out to Irving on 11-21-63, insists Oswald did not bring a paper bag to Irving on 11-21-63. And yet the Commission concluded Oswald brought a paper bag to Irving on 11-21-63..
The cumulative witness testimony or Marina Oswald, Michael Paine, and Ruth Paine suggested Oswald's rifle was not in Mrs. Paine's garage on 11-21-63. And yet the Commission concluded Oswald's rifle was in Mrs. Paine's garage on 11-21-63.
The cumulative witness testimony of Marina Oswald and Ruth Paine suggested Oswald did not sneak into Mrs. Paine's garage on the evening of 11-21-63. And yet the Commission concluded he sneaked into Mrs. Paine's garage on the evening of 11-21-63.
The cumulative witness testimony of Buell Frazier and Linnie Mae Randle indicated that the bag Oswald brought to work on 11-22 was far too small to have held his rifle. And yet the Commission concluded it did in fact hold his rifle.
The cumulative witness testimony of Buell Frazier, Linnie Mae Randle and Ruth Paine suggested the bag brought to work by Oswald on 11-22 looked more like the bag of curtain rods Mrs. Paine thought she'd left in her garage than a bag holding Oswald's rifle. And yet the Commission stuck to its gun and concluded the bag held Oswald's rifle.
They concluded a rifle no one had seen for months had been concealed...within a bag no one had seen in Oswald's possession... that had been constructed without anyone noticing... and then transported to the Paine's garage without anyone noticing... and that, furthermore, Oswald had dismantled and concealed this rifle in this bag without anyone noticing.
It was like a ghost within a ghost within a ghost...
The case constructed against Oswald was a house of cards...waiting for a mighty wind to blow, and expose all kinds of mischief...
Was it just a coincidence, then, that it never came to trial?
What REALLT happened?
Threads of Evidence
Let's look at how the commission answered the question of whether Oswald had been in the sniper's nest window with the assassination rifle, or had even recently handled the assassination rifle.
At 12:44, 14 minutes after the shooting, Dallas Police Inspector J. Herbert Sawyer called in a description of the presumed assassin. He announced: "The wanted person in this is a slender white male about 30, 5 feet 10, 165, carrying what looks to be a 30-30 or some type of Winchester." He was then asked to confirm that this was a rifle. He responded: "A rifle, yes." He was then asked "Any clothing description?" He responded "Current witness can't remember that."
This description fueled a manhunt. A minute later, the Dallas Police Channel One dispatcher broadcast a description of the shooter based upon the information provided by Sawyer. He declared: "Attention all squads. Attention all squads. The suspect in the shooting at Elm and Houston is reported to be an unknown white male, approximately thirty, slender build, height five feet ten inches, weight one hundred sixty-five pounds, reported to be armed with what is thought to be a 30 caliber rifle. Attention all squads. The suspect from Elm and Houston is reported to be an unknown white male about thirty, slender build, five feet ten inches tall, one hundred sixty-five pounds, armed with what is thought to be a 30-30 rifle. No further description at this time, or information."
Now, here is how this suspect was described in that day's eyewitness statements and interviews...
Howard Brennan (11-22-63 statement to the Sheriff’s Department, 19H470): “He was a white man in his early 30’s, slender, nice looking, slender and would weigh about 165 to 175 pounds. He had on light colored clothing but definitely not a suit...There was nothing unusual about him at all in appearance. I believe that I could identify this man if I ever saw him again.”
Howard Brennan (11-22-63 FBI interview, as reflected in an 11-23-63 FBI report, CD5 p12-14)"Brennan described the man with the rifle as a white male, who appeared to be in his early 30's. about 5'10" tall, and about 165 pounds in weight. He said this individual was not wearing a hat and was dressed in 'light color clothes in the khaki line.' He added this individual may have been wearing a light-weight jacket or sweater; however, he could not be positive about the jacket or sweater."
Well, let's stop right here. Brennan is the supposed source for Sawyer's description. And yet he never said anything about a 30-30 or Winchester. And he could describe the clothes.
That's not all that's odd. Here is how (in his 1987 book Eyewitness to History) Brennan subsequently described his discussion with Sawyer: "Shortly after we got to the front steps of the building a plain clothes policeman came out of the door. He asked me what I had seen and I told him. I gave him a description of the man I had seen on the sixth floor with the rifle. 'He was a young man about 25 to 35 years old. He seemed to be of average height, not over six feet and he had dark hair that was beginning to recede.' He went to a police car that was parked nearby and broadcast the description I had given him. I learned later that this was the first description broadcast to all units of the Dallas Police Department and may have led Officer J. D. Tippit to stop Lee Harvey Oswald."
Hmmm... Brennan claims he described the suspect's hair (Oops! This was something he'd told the Warren Commission he hadn't noticed!) but fails to mention that he provided an approximate weight for the suspect. And, oh yeah, he never mentions the rifle's being a 30-30 or Winchester.
So where did Sawyer get his information about the 30-30 and Winchester?
While some have mused that the witness providing the info to Sawyer was not Howard Brennan, but some unnamed conspirator trying to frame Oswald, others have mused that Sawyer combined the description provided by Brennan with the statements of one or more other witnesses.
So let's take a look at the rest of the statements in which the sniper's nest shooter was described.
Amos Euins (11-22-63 statement to the Sheriff’s Department, 19H474): “I saw a man in a window with a gun and I saw him shoot twice. He then stepped back behind some boxes. I could tell the gun was a rifle and it sounded like an automatic rifle, the way he was shooting...This was a white man, he did not have on a hat. I just saw this man for a few seconds.”
Well, perhaps that's it. Euins was briefly interviewed by Sgt. D.V. Harkness and placed in Inspector Sawyer's car around the same time Brennan was telling his story to Dallas Police Officer Welcome Barnett, and then Sawyer. Sawyer may have taken Euins' claim the rifle sounded like an "automatic rifle" and extrapolated from this that the rifle was a 30-30 or some other type of Winchester. The vast majority of 30-30 rifles and Winchester rifles are lever action rifles...which is to say, repeater rifles. Although not technically automatic rifles (where each pull of the trigger fires a bullet without the shooter having to perform any additional action), lever action rifles can be fired much faster than standard bolt action rifles, such as the one subsequently found in the depository. (Recall, if you can, Chuck Connors at the beginning of the 50's TV show, The Rifleman.) And no, I'm not just guessing at this. Articles on lever action rifles claim they can be fired twice a second, which is roughly five times as fast as one can fire a bolt-action rifle.
So, what about the statements of the other witnesses claiming to have seen a man on the sixth floor?
Robert Edwards (11-22-63 statement to the Sheriff’s Department, 19H473): “I noticed that he had on a sport shirt, it was light colored, it was yellow or white, something to that effect, and his hair was rather short. I thought he might be something around twenty-six, as near as I could tell.”
Ronald Fischer (11-22-63 statement to the Sheriff’s Department, 19H475): “all I could see was his head. I noticed that he was light-headed and that he had on an open-necked shirt, and that was before the motorcade rounded the corner. I noticed his complexion seemed to be clear, and that he was in his twenty’s, appeared to be in his twenty’s.”
Arnold Rowland (11-22-63 statement to the Sheriff’s Department, 24H224): “This man appeared to be a white man and appeared to have a light colored shirt on, open at the neck. He appeared to be of slender build and appeared to have dark hair.” (11-22-63 interview with the FBI, 26H166) "He advised this person was a white male of slender build and appeared to have dark hair. He appeared to have on a light colored shirt, open at the neck." (11-23-63 phone call with the FBI, 26H167) "he was looking around at the buildings and observed an unknown male wearing a light colored shirt...Rowland stated that he was not close enough to identify the person he saw and can not say if it was or was not Lee Harvey Oswald." (11-24-63 statement to the FBI, 16H954) "He appeared to be slender in proportion to his height, was wearing a white or light colored shirt, either collarless or open at the neck. He appeared to have dark hair.....I would not be able to identify the person I saw due to the distance involved."
So far they all seem to be talking about the same man. Fischer says the man was light-headed and Rowland says he had dark hair, but they're almost unanimous that the man was slender and wore a light-colored shirt.
A problem was brewing. Motorcycle Officer Marrion Baker, who’d encountered Oswald on the second floor within a minute and a half of the shooting, described Oswald's clothing as different than the man seen in the window (11-22-63 Affidavit, 24H199): “The man I saw was a white man approximately 30 years old, 5’9”, 165 pounds, dark hair and wearing a light brown jacket.” Had Oswald put on a jacket as he ran downstairs?
An 11-22 FBI interview with Mrs. Earlene Roberts, the housekeeper at Oswald’s rooming house, suggests he did not. It reports “While she was watching the TV, Lee came in, went to his room, got a coat, and left again...he proceeded to a bus stop which is near the house.” (CD5 p353). Hmmm... Perhaps, then, Oswald had been wearing a light brown shirt, and not a jacket.
This possibility is supported, moreover, by the 11-22 statement of Linnie Mae Randle, who'd observed Oswald as he left for work. She swore "Lee was bareheaded, wearing a light brown or tan shirt. I don't remember what kind of trousers he had on." (CD87 p277)
So, in sum, one might reasonably assume Oswald was the slender man observed on the sixth floor by Brennan, Euins, Edwards, Fischer, and Rowland, and that he'd been wearing a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt at the time.
But then there's this. Mrs. Robert A. Reid, who saw Oswald just after his encounter with Baker, signed a statement on 11-22, claiming: "When I saw him he was dressed in a white T-shirt and I don't recall what his trousers were like." (24H223) Hmmm...if the man observed on the sixth floor had been wearing a white t-shirt, and was bare-armed, wouldn't one of the witnesses claiming to have observed this man have noticed this and said so in the immediate aftermath of the shooting?
(Let's return to Baker. Here, within 15 minutes of the shooting, a description provided by an unidentified witness is sent out for an unidentified shooter. This description holds that the shooter appeared to be about 5' 10" and 165 lb.s. Then, an hour or so later, Brennan gives a statement in which he describes the shooter as being about 165-175 lb.s. And then Baker gives a statement saying the man he ran across in the building--who Oswald's boss claimed was Oswald--appeared to weigh about 165 lb.s. Oswald was thin. He weighed somewhere between 132 and 150 lb.s. So what's the mystery? Brennan and Baker both over-estimated Oswald's weight, right? Well, that would be one possibility. Those more inclined to smell a rat, however, will note that the CIA's records on Oswald's trip to Mexico, created less than two months prior to the shooting, inaccurately report that Oswald was 5' 10", 165 lb.s...the exact description sent out by the Dallas Police before Oswald was known to be a suspect! They then note that these CIA reports refer to Oswald as Lee Henry Oswald, and that it seems possible Oswald's middle name and weight were misreported in these records on purpose, so the CIA would know--should this misinformation be repeated--that it came from someone within the agency, who'd had access to their top secret files on Mexico. Well, do the math. IF the original description for the shooter's matching a deliberately incorrect description for Oswald wasn't a coincidence, then it follows from this that someone with access to the CIA's files wanted the police to be on the lookout for Oswald---before his boss even realized he'd left the building!)
In any event (that is, putting all spy vs. spy stuff aside), Oswald was arrested that afternoon while wearing a dark brown, long-sleeved shirt. No coat or jacket.
A light gray jacket was found near the Tippit killing, however.
At 3:15, moreover, Oswald was interrogated by Captain Will Fritz, the Dallas Police Department's Chief of Detectives. Fritz’s notes on this interview reflect that Oswald told him he went “home by bus changed britches.” There is, tellingly, no mention of Oswald's taking a cab part of the way home nor of Oswald's changing his shirt in these notes.
But that's not to say Oswald didn't mention changing his shirt in this interview. FBI agent James Bookhout was present during this interview. His report on this interview reveals: "Oswald stated he then went home by bus and changed his clothes and went to a movie." (CD5 p91) Well, think about it. Clothes... While one might say one changed one's clothes when one had simply changed one's shirt, this would be most unexpected, as most men, myself included, change their shirts more often than they change their "britches," and almost never change their "britches" without also changing their shirt.
Within a short time of Oswald's being asked about his clothes, moreover, his clothes were collected by the police. An itemized list with an 11-22-63 date in the Dallas Police Archives (Box 5, folder 5, document 88) reflects that among the items confiscated by officers Moore, Potts, Turner, and Senkel from Oswald’s rooming house on this date are “1 brown shirt with button-down collar” and “1 pair gray trousers and other miscellaneous men’s clothing.”
Several times that day, Oswald was dragged before the cameras. The available footage shows he was still wearing the dark brown shirt he was wearing when arrested.
Sometime after 8:00 PM, however, Oswald was shown to Howard Brennan in a line-up. This was done, apparently, at the request of the Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels.
Here, according to the FBI's 11-23 report on Brennan, are the results of that line-up: "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 a rifle in the window of the Texas School Book Depository Building. He sated, however, he could not positively identify Oswald as the person he saw fire the rifle." (CD5, p12-14)
And here is how Brennan described this line-up in his 3-24-64 testimony before the Warren Commission:
Mr. BELIN. Now, taking you down to the Dallas Police Station, I believe you said you talked to Captain Fritz. And then what happened?
Mr. BRENNAN. Well, I was just more or less introduced to him in Mr. Sorrels' room, and they told me they were going to conduct a lineup and wanted me to view it, which I did.
Mr. BELIN. Do you remember how many people were in the lineup?
Mr. BRENNAN. No; I don't. A possibility seven more or less one.
Mr. BELIN. All right. Did you see anyone in the lineup you recognized?
Mr. BRENNAN. Yes.
Mr. BELIN. And what did you say?
Mr. BRENNAN. 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.
Mr. BELIN. Were the other people in the lineup, do you remember--were they all white, or were there some Negroes in there, or what?
Mr. BRENNAN. I do not remember.
Mr. BELIN. As I understand your testimony, then, you said that you told him that this particular person looked the most like the man you saw on the sixth floor of the building there.
Mr. BRENNAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. In the meantime, had you seen any pictures of Lee Harvey Oswald on television or in the newspapers?
Mr. BRENNAN. Yes, on television.
Mr. BELIN. About when was that, do you believe?
Mr. BRENNAN. I believe I reached home quarter to three or something of that, 15 minutes either way, and I saw his picture twice on television before I went down to the police station for the lineup.
Mr. BELIN. Now, is there anything else you told the officers at the time of the lineup?
Mr. BRENNAN. Well, I told them I could not make a positive identification. (3H140-161)
And here is how Sorrels described this line-up in his 5-7-64 testimony before the Warren Commission:"I also got information to Captain Fritz that I had this witness, Brennan, that I had talked to, and that I would like very much for him to get a chance to see Oswald in a lineup. And Captain Fritz said that would be fine...So I instructed Special Agent Patterson (to find Brennan)...when they came down there with him, I got ahold of Captain Fritz and told him that the witness was there, Mr. Brennan. He said, "I wish he would have been here a little sooner, we just got through with a lineup. But we will get another fixed up." So I took Mr. Brennan, and we went to the assembly room, which is also where they have the lineup, and Mr. Brennan, upon arrival at the police station, said, "I don't know if I can do you any good or not, because I have seen the man that they have under arrest on television," and he said. "I just don't know whether I can identify him positively or not" because he said that the man on television was a bit disheveled and his shirt was open or something like that, and he said "The man I saw was not in that condition." So when we got to the assembly room, Mr. Brennan said he would like to get quite a ways back, because he would like to get as close to the distance away from where he saw this man at the time that the shooting took place as he could. And I said, "Well, we will get you clear on to the back and then we can move up forward." They did bring Oswald in in a lineup. He looked very carefully, and then we rooted him up closer and so forth, and he said, "I cannot positively say." I said, "Well, is there anyone there that looks like him?" He said, "Well, that second man from the left," who was Oswald--"he looks like him." Then he repeated that the man he saw was not disheveled. Now, mind you, Oswald had a slight wound over here, and he had a black eye, a bruised eye." (7H332-360)
Now, let's check back in with Brennan's memoirs (Eyewitness to History, 1987), to see how he subsequently described this line-up.
"I was led into a darkened room with lights at one end. When we arrived, a group of several men, perhaps as many as seven, were led in and made to stand in line with numbers over them. As soon as I saw him, I think he was number two, I knew without any doubt whatsoever that they had captured the man whom I saw fire the shot that killed President Kennedy. I felt a surge of emotion, a sense of outrage at this young man who had literally thrown the whole world into chaos. As I was looking at each of the men in the lineup I saw a face that I recognized. It was a Dallas Detective that I knew. He was perhaps the most well-known of all the Dallas Police and his picture had been in the papers many times. If he was there, that meant only one thing. My privacy had been broached. I felt sick and a little betrayed. I’d come to City Hall with the understanding that I would be dealing only with the F.B.I. and/or the Secret Service, not the Dallas Police.
The officer walked over to me sticking out his hand to shake. He greeted me by name and I knew if he knew who I was and what my connection with the case was, then others must know. He asked me, “Does the second man from the left look most like the man you saw?” He was talking about Oswald and I knew what he wanted me to say.
I felt even more angry and betrayed. I hadn’t agreed to make an identification to the local authorities. I knew that there were ways my identity could become known though the leaks in the police department and I didn’t want any part of it. I knew that they had Oswald on enough charges that he wasn’t going anyplace. He had been charged with resisting arrest and carrying a firearm without a permit. There was overwhelming evidence that he had killed Officer Tippit and so my identification in that moment wasn’t absolutely necessary. If they needed me later, I knew I could identify him.
I said brusquely, “He looks like the man, but I can’t say for sure!” I needed some time to think. I turned to Mr. Lish, who had detected my resentment and said, “Let’s go back to the office. We have some talking to do.” As we went, I commented that the man in the lineup wasn’t dressed the same way the man in the window had been.
“We forgot to tell you that he changed his clothes immediately after leaving the Depository, Lish said."
Hmmm... Parts of Brennan's latter-day story fail to hold up. There was no detective in the 7:55 line-up observed by Brennan. Don Ables, a jail clerk, was one of the three men in the line-up with Oswald. But nope, there were no detectives.
Still, that doesn't mean Brennan was completely out to lunch. Capt. Will Fritz was the most famous detective in Dallas in 1963. In his 3-24-64 Warren Commission testimony, Brennan recalled Fritz being at the line-up; he even said he'd talked to him. Although Fritz, when asked about the line-up during his 4-22-64 testimony, testified "I don't believe I was there, I doubt it", this is truly hard to believe, seeing as: 1) Fritz was at the time of the line-up and for the next few days the chief detective in charge of the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy; 2) Brennan was the only witness to the assassination to come forward and say he could identify the assassin, and 3) Fritz had helped put the line-up together. It seems probable then that Fritz talked to Brennan at the line-up, and Brennan confused this with Fritz's being one of the men in the line-up. Fritz was, of course, many years older than Oswald, or Brennan, for that matter, and could not have been mistaken for a man in his 30's. So his actually being in the line-up observed by Brennan is not something we should consider.
But here's what needs to be considered... Regardless of what one thinks of Howard Brennan, that is, whether or not one believes he was correct in his subsequent identification of Oswald as the man he saw in the window, it should not be overlooked that he also claimed a prominent Dallas detective tried to coerce his identification of Oswald as the shooter by singling out Oswald at the line-up and asking him if Oswald looked most like the man he saw, and that FBI agent Robert Lish (I believe he meant Secret Service agent Sorrels) pulled a similar stunt in responding to Brennan's claim the man he saw looked like Oswald, but was dressed differently, by telling Brennan they'd ascertained that Oswald had changed his clothes after the shooting.
There's also this... Sorrels said Brennan was the first to mention the second man at the line-up, when Brennan said it was a famous Dallas detective (who we can assume to be Fritz). Okay, two different men, two different recollections. But Sorrels also said Brennan's stated problem with IDing Oswald was that Oswald had changed appearance from earlier in the day, and now looked disheveled, when Brennan claimed, as early as his 1964 testimony, that it was that Oswald wasn't wearing the same shirt as the man he saw in the window.
Was Fritz lying when he said he didn't recall being at the line-up?
Did Sorrels then cover-up for Fritz?
If so, why did they lie?
Was it that Fritz's behavior at the line-up had been improper? Or was there more to it?
Could it have something to do with Brennan's insisting that the shirt worn by Oswald to the 8 PM line-up...was not the shirt worn by the man who shot Kennedy?
Later that night, the dark brown shirt Oswald was wearing when arrested, along with the purported assassination weapon and much of the other first day evidence, was flown to Washington for testing by the FBI's crime lab (CD5 p159).
This evidence was tested throughout the next day. At 5:30 PM, Assistant Director Alan Belmont furnished Dallas Special-Agent-in-Charge Gordon Shanklin the results of these tests. A memo by Shanklin found in the Dallas FBI files reveals that, in regards to the shirt. Belmont told him: "Several black cotton, orange yellow cotton, and gray black cotton fibers which matched similar fibers composing Oswald's shirt removed from butt plate of submitted rifle."
The next morning, 11-24, the FBI Laboratory provided the Dallas police with the following information:“A small tuft of textile fibers was found adhering to a jagged area on the left side of the metal butt plate on the K1 gun. Included in this tuft of fibers were gray-black, dark blue and orange-yellow cotton fibers which match in microscopic characteristics the gray-black, dark blue and orange-yellow cotton fibers composing the Q11 shirt of the suspect. These fibers could have originated from this shirt. (CD5, p164)”
Well, let's notice first that the black cotton fibers discussed by Belmont were now dark blue fibers. This is indeed intriguing. Belmont would not have provided Shanklin information off the top of his head, or even from notes. He was almost certainly reading from lab reports. So how and why did "black cotton"fibers become "dark blue" fibers? Did the examiner simply change his mind, and decide what he at first thought was black was really dark blue? Or did he simply change his description of the fiber found on the rifle so that it would match the fibers found in the shirt?
In any event, as the black (or dark blue), gray-black, and orange-yellow fibers of the brown shirt could now be linked, if not conclusively, with the rifle found on the sixth floor linked to the bullets, it now behooved the FBI and Dallas police to establish that Oswald was wearing this shirt at the time of the shooting.
But cracks in the facade were already starting to appear. At the end of the lab report on the shirt and fibers sent the Dallas FBI, an Addendum reads "You should attempt to obtain the remaining items of clothing suspect is believed to have worn during the shooting for comparisons with the other fibers found on the K1 gun." (FBI file 62-109060 Sec 21, p193). As we will see, although the FBI will eventually obtain the rest of Oswald's clothing, there is no record of further tests of Oswald's clothing against these "other" fibers. Just as telling, there is no record of comparison tests between the clothing of Dallas crime lab chief J.C. Day, who'd handled the rifle almost exclusively after the shooting, and these fibers. In short, there was either no effort to find out where these "other" fibers came from, or the efforts were unsuccessful, and made to disappear from the record. Either of these scenarios suggest that, once a few of the fibers found on the rifle were found to be similar to the fibers of Oswald's rust brown shirt, someone made the decision to use these fibers to suggest Oswald's guilt, and to conceal the simultaneous fact that someone who'd been wearing clothing with fibers similar to the "other" fibers found on the rifle...could still be at large.
But, in this charade they’d get no cooperation from Oswald. The 11-23-63 notes of Dallas Police Captain Will Fritz, who was leading the interrogation of Oswald, reflect that Oswald “Says 11-22-63 rode bus/got trans same out of pocket…Changed shirts + tr. Put in dirty clothes—long sleeve red sh + gray tr.” Fritz’s typed-up report on this interrogation states more clearly that “During this conversation he told me he reached his home by cab and changed both his shirt and trousers before going to the show”(24H267). This account is confirmed by a report on this interrogation by Secret Service Inspector Thomas Kelley (CD87 p375). Kelley writes “He said he went home, changed his trousers and shirt, put his shirt in a drawer. This was a red shirt, and he put it in his dirty clothes. He described the shirt as having a button down collar and of reddish color. The trousers were grey colored.” The FBI report on this interrogation confirms this as well, with Agent Bookhout relating that Oswald "stated that after arriving at his apartment he changed his shirt and trousers, because they were dirty. He described his dirty clothes as being a reddish colored, long sleeved shirt with a button-down collar and gray colored trousers" (CD5 p100). It certainly seems possible from this that the “reddish” shirt with the button down collar described by Oswald was one-in-the-same as the “brown” shirt with a button down collar confiscated by the Dallas police the night before, and that Oswald’s perception of red was slightly different than the policeman inventorying his clothes. In any event, there is no record whatsoever reflecting that they showed him this shirt or any of his other shirts to see which one he’d been wearing.
The FBI had bigger fish to fry. Having discovered fibers on the rifle that matched fibers from the shirt Oswald had been wearing when arrested, they sought to prove he was lying about having changed his shirt. An 11-24 FBI report (CD5 p340-341) reflects that on 11-23 they spoke to Mary Bledsoe, Oswald’s former landlady, who’d claimed in an 11-22 affidavit to have seen Oswald on a bus after the shooting.While she didn't describe Oswald's clothes in her signed affidavit, the FBI report reflects that she believed Oswald was “wearing dirty clothes” when she saw him on the bus and that “as best as she recalled, Oswald was dressed as follows: wearing ragged gray work pants, wearing a brown shirt with holes in the elbows.”
Let's pause here for a second to note that someone with a pen changed these last two words--"the elbows"-- to read "one elbow" in the available copies of the report. Here. see for yourself...
Note as well that this was the only manual change on the typed-up report. Presumably, this was done to bring Bledsoe's description of the shirt in line with her subsequent descriptions of the shirt.
Who did this, when, and why?
Now note that the description of the shirt contained in this report is not presented in direct quotes from Bledsoe. And then realize further that she only "advised as best she recalled" the FBI of this description. Well, this leaves open the possibility the FBI provided her with the color of the shirt, e.g. "Was Oswald wearing the brown shirt he was wearing upon arrest when you saw him?" And that she then answered "as best as I recall," or some such thing. In any event, the FBI had found itself a witness.
William Whaley, a cab driver, recognized Oswald from his picture in the paper, and came in to make a statement regarding his driving Oswald from a point near the assassination site to a point near Oswald's rooming house, shortly after the assassination. In his 11-23 sworn affidavit, (CD87, p275) Whaley describes Oswald as having on a "dark shirt with white spots of something on it." An 11-23 FBI report on Whaley (CD5 p349-350), however, reflects that he “recalled that the young man he drove in his cab that day was wearing a heavy identification bracelet on his left wrist, he appeared to need a haircut and was dressed in gray khaki pants which looked as if they had been slept in. He had on a dark color shirt with some light color in it. The shirt had long sleeves and the top two or three buttons were unbuttoned. The color of the shirt nearly matched the pants, but was somewhat darker. The man wore no hat. He appeared to be about 25 years of age, 5’7” to 8” tall, about 135 pounds, with brown hair thick on top. He had a long thin face and a high forehead.” Now, is it a coincidence that Whaley's own description of the shirt precludes the shirt being the dark brown shirt Oswald was wearing when arrested, while Whaley's description of the shirt as reported by the FBI does not? One can only wonder...
In any event, with the FBI's reports on Bledsoe and Whaley it appeared the FBI was gonna make its case that Oswald was wearing the dark brown shirt at work before the assassination, and that, accordingly, the fibers on the rifle most logically came from his shirt. But had Bledsoe and Whaley really remembered Oswald wearing a dark unbuttoned shirt, or were they merely describing the shirt they’d seen Oswald wearing on TV the day before? As Oswald had scuffled with a number of police upon arrest, it certainly seems possible, if not likely, that his shirt buttons were torn off during this scuffle.Officer Baker, after all, had failed to notice any missing buttons or tears in Oswald’s clothing when he encountered him in the lunchroom. Furthermore, while the news footage of Oswald from 11-22, when he was wearing his shirt, was black and white footage, it' seems likely that at least one of the newsmen present at Oswald's press conference had described the color of Oswald's shirt to his viewers or readers. As a result, it's hard to give Mrs. Bledsoe's statement that Oswald was wearing a brown shirt much weight. Not unless stronger witnesses, such as eyewitnesses to the shooting or co-workers, can be found to corroborate her impression.
And then along comes the statement of James Worrell. (11-23-63 affidavit to Dallas County, 16H959) “I was standing on the sidewalk against a building on the corner of Elm and Houston Streets watching the motorcade of the President. I heard a loud noise like a fire cracker or gun shots. I looked around to see where the noise came from. I looked up and saw the barrel of a rifle sticking out of a window…While I was looking at the gun it was fired again. I looked back at Mr. Kennedy and he was slumping over. I got scared and ran from that location. While I was running I heard the gun fire two more times. I ran from Elm Street to Pacific Street on Houston. When I was about 100 yards from the building I stopped to get my breath and looked back at the building. I saw a w/m, 5’8” to 5’10”, dark hair, average weight for height, dark shirt or jacket open down front, no hat, didn’t have anything in his hands, come out of the building and run in the opposite direction.”
Worrell’s running man is a match for the shooter described by others with the singular exception that the man he saw was wearing a dark shirt or jacket. Oswald had been wearing a dark shirt when seen on TV. Did Worrell suspect his running man was Oswald, and subconsciously dress him in accordance with Oswald’s appearance? Or had the shooter added layers as he ran down the stairs?
A Lighter Shade of Brown?
Oswald was killed the next day. The shirt he was wearing at the time of his death had been pulled from the Dallas Police Department’s collection of clothes removed from his rooming house. Archive photos of this shirt (CE 164) suggest that it could have been a light brown shirt. A document in the Dallas Police Archives (found in Box 9, folder 4, document 9) itemizing the clothes removed from Oswald's body describes it as merely a "shirt." Another list in the Archives from 2-2-64, when the clothes were loaned out to the FBI, however, describes it as a "gray flannel shirt." (This list can be found in Box 9, folder 4, document 10). As this previously unmentioned gray flannel shirt was presumably one of the items of "miscellaneous clothing" brought over from Oswald's rooming house on 11-22, it resurrects the question of whether or not a red shirt had been confiscated at this time.
Intriguingly, the reports and testimony of those watching Oswald dress before he was shot discuss in detail Oswald’s putting on a black sweater, but say almost nothing of the shirt. Most of their statements, in fact, make it sound like Oswald took the shirt off in order to put on the sweater, and that he therefore was responsible for delaying his departure, a delay which gave Jack Ruby the time to get into the basement and kill him. Beyond the obvious purpose of these statements--blaming Oswald's death on his own vanity--this distracts from the central question of what other clothing had been confiscated from Oswald's rooming house.
On the odd chance you're interested here are the reports about the clothing change...
From Captain Fritz’s typed-up notes on the interrogation of Oswald (24H270): “Oswald said he would like to have a shirt from his clothing that had been brought to the office to wear over the T-shirt that he was wearing at the time. We selected the best-looking shirt from his things, but he said he would prefer wearing a black Ivy-League Type shirt, indicating that it might be a little warmer. We made this change…”
From the 3-24-64 testimony of L.C. Graves (13H5): “when we got these clothes off the rack and started to give him a light-colored jacket or shirt, (he) said, “if it is all the same to you”…“I’d rather wear that black sweater.”
From the 3-24-64 testimony of L.D. Montgomery (13H27): “Well, he put on a black sweater. I think he changed shirts, changed shirts, and put on a black sweater.”
From the 5-7-64 testimony of Forrest Sorrels (7H357): “he requested that he be permitted to get a shirt out of his—the clothes that had been brought in, that belonged to him…And so Captain Fritz sent and got his clothes and, as I recall it, he selected a dark colored kind of sweater type shirt, as I recall it.”
After Oswald's death the FBI attempted to solidify its case that he'd been wearing the dark brown shirt while at work on the 22nd.
An 11-25-63 FBI report (CD5 p142) reflects that Dallas Detective R.M. Sims “stated he had personally searched Oswald at the City Hall after his arrest and, while searching the person of Oswald just prior to the “show-up,” Detective Sims stated he found a Dallas Transit Company transfer in the left shirt pocket of Oswald.” Well, heck, this suggests the FBI was trying to use the transfer to show Oswald hadn’t changed shirts.
They were wrong to do so. Captain Fritz's notes on an 11-23 interview of Oswald reflect that Oswald had actually told him he had changed shirts at his rooming house, and that, in doing so, he had swapped the transfer out of the shirt he'd been wearing at work. Hadn't Fritz told this to the FBI?
Apparently not. Fritz's typed-up notes about Oswald and the bus transfer report simply that “He admitted this was given to him by the bus driver when he rode the bus after leaving the building." (WR604).
Was Something Up Their Sleeve?
Over the next few days, some other strange occurrences take place. An invoice in the Dallas Police Archives (Box 9, folder 5, document 21) reflects that on 11-26-63, some clothes removed from Oswald’s rooming house, including a “red and gray short sleeve" sport shirt were released to Secret Service Agent John Joe Howlett by Captain George Doughty. Another notation by DB? on 9-22-66 says simply “gone.” What did the Secret Service do with these items? An 11-27-63 Secret Service report (CD87 p252-253) lists the clothes and states "There is forwarded herewith a quantity of clean clothes taken from the apartment of Lee Harvey Oswald after the arrest. They are being forwarded as requested by the Chief, presumably for examination by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Lab. The remaining clothes taken from Oswald are in custody of FBI." Included in this list, in place of the "red and gray short sleeve" sport shirt is a "maroon and grey cotton long sleeve sport shirt."
Well, this is mighty curious, isn't it? Oswald claims to have been wearing a reddish long sleeve shirt on 11-22, and here is a reddish long sleeve shirt. And yet no one seems interested in finding out if this is the shirt he'd been wearing. Instead, we have the Dallas PD identifying it simply as a "shirt" on the inventory, and then typing over "shirt" with "short" and adding "sleeve." Is this a coincidence? Or is the Dallas PD trying to hide that they had a shirt that matched Oswald's description of the shirt he'd been wearing? If this is more than a coincidence then is it also more than a coincidence that Fritz left out of his type-written notes--the only ones the FBI would ever see--that Oswald claimed to have taken the transfer out of the pocket of his reddish shirt and put it in the pocket of the rust brown shirt he was wearing when arrested?
And what about the Secret Service's statement that the clothes were being forwarded "presumably for examination by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Lab?" What kind of examination was this? Well, while researching another aspect of the case, I suspect I stumbled upon the answer. At the September 1966 First International Conference on Forensic Activation Analysis, three scientists from the Laboratory of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division of the Internal Revenue Service (the forerunners to today's department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) discussed their use of neutron activation analysis on clothing, in order to determine whether an individual had fired a weapon. They reported: "Test firings were made with foreign rifles, and paraffin lifts of hair and shoulders were examined for the presence of antimony and barium. The data presented in Table V show that it is possible to detect the presence of these elements on the areas examined. This work indicates there is a distinct possibility that the method can be applied to the detection of rifle firings."
That this test was performed using "foreign rifles" makes me suspect they used one foreign rifle in particular--the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle purportedly used by Oswald. And since they found this method could be used to detect whether an individual had fired a rifle, and yet never testified about this before the Warren Commission, it seems possible that similar tests revealed no presence of antimony or barium on Oswald's clothes, including his red shirt.
Of course, the results of these tests were never revealed, so this is just speculation. Another indication that tests were performed on Oswald's clothes, however, can be found in the 2-6-64 testimony of Marina Oswald. While inspecting her husband's clothes, and confirming that they belonged to him, she came to Exhibit 155, a shirt not knowingly related to the assassination or its aftermath, and asked "Why is it all torn?" Intriguingly, her questioner, J. Lee Rankin, responded "We are advised it was when he was hurt, they cut into some of these." This didn't exactly satisfy her, however. Moments later, when she came to two pairs of pants, exhibits 157 and 158, she asked "Why were both of those cut? I don't understand." She was right not to understand. The shirt worn by Oswald when he was "hurt" was CE 164. Exhibit 157 was a pair of gray slacks matching the description of the pants Oswald wore on the 22nd. Exhibit 158 was indeed the pants worn by Oswald when "hurt." In any event, Rankin answered her question by admitting: "I have not been informed, but I will try to find out for you." While Marina told Rankin that this wouldn't be necessary, it certainly sounds possible that the shirt and pants had been cut so that some undisclosed tests could be performed.
And that's not all. A 12-30-63 FBI lab report reveals that "no significant residues" were found on Oswald's watch and ring. Well, why would they look for residues on the watch and ring, but not the clothes Oswald was believed to have been wearing during the shooting? Sure, some are skeptical that the FBI even had tests which could detect gunshot residue on clothing.
But they're wrong. Articles in publications as far back at the 1938 issue of Medical Times discuss techniques through which gunpowder residue on clothing can be identified. The aforementioned article notes that diphenylamine--the very chemical used to illustrate the nitrates on the paraffin casts applied to Oswald's hands and cheek--can be used to identify nitrates on clothing as well.
And yes, the FBI performed such tests in 1963. The 12-31-63 FBI lab report on the blue jacket presumed to have been worn by Oswald on the morning of the assassination reveals that the jacket "was microscopically examined and chemically processed to determine if any gunpowder resides were present and no nitrates or nitrites such as would be present in gunpowder residues were found." Well, why would they test the jacket Oswald wore to work before the shooting for gunpowder residue, but not the clothes they'd presumed he was wearing during the shooting?
They wouldn't. And they almost certainly didn't. The 4-3-64 Warren Commission testimony of Paul Stombaugh, the FBI's expert on trace evidence, reveals that he attempted to link CE 150, the dark brown shirt Oswald was wearing when arrested, to the brown paper bag supposedly found in the book depository, via wax found on the shirt and in the bag. He testified further that this test proved negative, as the wax particle found in the bag was candle wax, and the wax found on the shirt was paraffin. (4H56-89)
While the Dallas Police famously brushed paraffin on Oswald's hands and cheek, moreover, to conduct its own test for gunshot residue, it's hard to see how "a large quantity of wax" could have gotten on his right pocket and sleeve. And yes, I wrote "a large quantity of wax" on his pocket and sleeve. An internal FBI memo on Stombaugh's testimony (FBI JFK Assassination File, Section 58, p57) reveals that "a large quantity of wax" was found "adhering to the front of Oswald's shirt." And a drawing of Oswald's shirt shows just where this wax was found. (FBI JFK Assassination File, Section 21, p197)
It's reasonable to assume, then, that Oswald's clothes were tested for gunshot residue, that no nitrates were found, and that the results of these tests were then concealed from the public.
The Cat's Pajamas?
The eventual whereabouts of the red shirt are even more curious. In January, the FBI provides the Warren Commission with a complete list of the physical evidence. At this point, a "red and gray sport shirt" re-emerges as C-144 (CD345, p3). On March 10, it provides another list. Here, the "red and gray sport shirt" again disappears. The report lists it as part of an assortment of Oswald's clean clothes. And leaves it off the list. It details: "C139-147: OSWALD'S clean clothes--belt, tie, tan sweater, olive sweater, blue-gray shirt, blue sport shirt, white shirt (Q179-187 respectively)." It thereby lists seven items for nine numbers (CD735, p74). Curious. Even more curious, the "red and gray sport shirt" was one of the two items missing, along with C-145, a blue shirt. On October 14, the FBI sends an updated list of exhibits over to the Warren Commission to be used in the twenty-six volumes of supporting evidence. By this point a re-emerged "red and gray sport shirt" has been re-dubbed CE 152 (CD1554, p10). The next month, when the Warren Commission's twenty-six volumes are published, a photo of this "red and gray sport shirt" is published on page 516 of Volume 16. Its caption reads simply"Commission Exhibit 152." At the beginning of the volume, on page viii, however, is a description of this exhibit. It reads simply "Top Portion of Man's Pajamas." This is almost in keeping with Marina Oswald's testimony of February 6, when she verified Counsel Rankin's suggestion that CE 152 was "a pair of pajamas" by stating "Yes. Lee's pajamas." The black and white photo may very well show a striped pajama top, quite possibly even a red and gray striped pajama top, but there is no bottom half to this pajama top. So why did Rankin describe it as "a pair of pajamas?" And why, if it was only a pajama top, did Marina say it was "Lee's pajamas" and not "Lee's pajama top"? I've heard of men keeping the bottoms of their pajamas when they've lost the tops, but never the reverse. This feeds the possibility that Rankin and Marina were indeed describing a pair of pajamas. As a result, one can't help but wonder how this pair of pajamas could have been mistakenly and repeatedly identified as a red sport shirt. Is it really just a coincidence that the pajama top was originally described as a pair of pajamas, and that substituting a red shirt for a pair of pajamas would have raised a, gulp, red flag that Oswald had indeed had a red shirt that he could have worn to work on 11-22, precisely as he'd told his inquisitors? And is it a coincidence that this shirt/pajama top was the only article of clothing whose Warren Commission description was less specific than its FBI description, whereby its color was removed from its description?
Apparently so. On May 24, 2016, I noticed something I probably should have noticed before. Page 163 of Commission Document 205 is a 12-9-63 FBI lab report on Oswald's clean clothes. The description of one of these articles of clothing reads as follows: "Specimen Q184 is a well-worn, red, gray, and black shirt or pajama top." Well, heck, this supports that the Warren Commission's subsequent ID of this shirt as a pajama top was no coincidence--as it had always been a pajama top--and that the numerous descriptions of this shirt as a sport shirt were in error.
It wasn't but a few months after this, moreover, that I was able to acquire the first-ever color photos of CE 152--the sport shirt/pajama top. One of these is shown below. It is undoubtedly a pajama top.
This raises a question. If the "brown" shirt worn by Oswald when arrested was not the "reddish" shirt he wore to work on the morning of the 22nd, and the "gray" shirt he was wearing when shot was not the "reddish" shirt he wore to work on the morning of the 22nd, and the only red shirt found in his clothing was not the "reddish" shirt he wore to work on the morning of the 22nd, what the heck became of the "reddish" shirt he claimed to wear to work that morning?
I've solved this mystery. In 2016, nearly a decade after first looking into the FBI and Warren Commission's fiber problem, I came to realize that I'd been focusing on the wrong part of Oswald's description of the shirt he wore to work. Instead of focusing on his description of the shirt as "reddish", I realized that I should have been focusing on his claim the shirt was dirty, long-sleeved, and had a button-down collar. I then decided to look for such a shirt.
Well, surprise surprise, just as I decided to look for such a shirt one appeared before my eyes--on the "Lighter Shade of Brown" slide above. You see, Warren Commission Exhibit 151, a "light-brown cotton long-sleeved sport shirt", which had been designated A 16 (a "brown cotton sport shirt with long sleeves") before that and Q 369 (with the same description) before that, was originally described as a "brown shirt with button-down collar" (in an 11-22-63 inventory) and then "tan sportshirt" (in an 11-26-63 inventory) by the Dallas Police, who had found the shirt in a drawer in Oswald's bedroom, precisely where Oswald said he'd left the shirt he'd been wearing at work on the 22nd. On 11-26 this shirt was handed over to the Dallas FBI. And guess what? This shirt was dirty, long-sleeved, and had a button-down collar! This is shown on the image below.
And yes, I know. Researcher Sean Murphy began pushing this very point--that CE 151 was the reddish shirt described by Oswald--back in 2013...on a forum on which I was serving as a moderator. But I have to admit it didn't register with me at the time. I had had similar thoughts years prior to that (and had included CE 151 on The Lighter Shade of Brown slide for nearly a decade) but I couldn't get over that Oswald said the shirt was "reddish" and that a "red and gray sport shirt" later disappeared from the records. This felt significant to me. It didn't bother me much that the "reddish" shirt described by Oswald was, according to Agent Bookhout's report on the 11-23 interrogation in which Oswald first mentioned the shirt, "long-sleeved", when the "red and gray sport shirt" taken from Oswald's rooming house was, in the DPD's 11-26 inventory of Oswald's clothing, a "red and gray short-sleeve" shirt. The next day's Secret Service inventory of the clothing, after all, described this same shirt as long-sleeved.
Well, duh. Perhaps both points are significant. Perhaps CE 151 was the de facto "reddish" shirt, but the FBI thought the Mark Lanes of the world would focus on the clean red shirt, and "disappeared" it to prevent them from doing so...
And, yes, I know. I should get a look at a color photo of this shirt to see if it was even the slightest-bit reddish before saying for sure this was the shirt Oswald claimed he'd been wearing on the 22nd.
Well, guess what, I did. In July 2016, after months of haggling, I was able to obtain color photos of CE 151 from the National Archives, and was able to establish that this shirt, previously described as being tan or brown, had a red tint to it, and was undoubtedly the "reddish" shirt Oswald claimed to have worn to work on November 22, 1963.
Now let's get back to our timeline...
On 11-27 Mrs. Bledsoe receives another visit from the FBI. In the report on this visit, she is reported to have described Oswald’s appearance when he got on the bus as “ragged and dirty…he was wearing a shirt which had a hole in one elbow and she remembers something “ragged” around his belt line. As she recalls he was wearing a brown shirt and gray pants and no jacket.” (CD5 p342).
Okay. Okay. I know this is getting boring. But I'm trying to show how this case was built. Here, the FBI has found fibers on the rifle that match the fibers found in Oswald's shirt, and the only witness stating she saw Oswald wearing a shirt resembling this shirt before he went home and changed clothes has been interviewed twice. Where are all the corroborating witnesses? Why haven't they routinely asked Oswald's co-workers what shirt he wore on the 22nd? They certainly can't be planning to use the fiber evidence against Oswald on the say-so of one witness? Can they?
On 11-28, another witness comes forward, Mrs. Ruby Henderson. She calls the Dallas FBI and tells them she believes she saw two men standing in the sniper’s nest about fifteen minutes before the shooting, one wearing a white shirt and one wearing a dark shirt. She thinks, moreover, that the man in the dark shirt was dark-skinned, a negro or a Mexican, In any event neither of these men matches a description one might give for Oswald, should he have been wearing his dark brown shirt. (The FBI would call on Mrs. Henderson the next week, and a report on this interview can be found in 24H524.)
On 11-29, the FBI's crime lab identifies a palm print purportedly lifted from the rifle on 11-22 as belonging to Oswald. When the FBI inspected the rifle on the morning on 11-23, they found no trace of this palm print. A Dallas Police officer, Lt. J.C. Day, however, insists he lifted this print before lending the rifle to the FBI. As Day would later admit this was an old dry print, it only serves to demonstrate that Oswald had handled the rifle in the past, and not that he'd handled it or fired it on November 22nd.
On 12-1, there's another brief red-shirt sighting. While writing a report on Buell Wesley Frazier and the brown paper bag he saw in Oswald's possession, agents Odum and McNeeley re-tell Frazier's story. When discussing his giving Oswald a ride to Irving, Texas on the 21st, so that Oswald could visit his wife and kids, they casually mention: "As Frazier recalls, Oswald was wearing a reddish shirt and a gray jacket, waist length." (CD7, p294) As no "reddish" shirt, as far as we can tell, was found at the Paine residence, where Oswald's wife Marina was staying, this suggests the possibility that Oswald wore this shirt back to work the next day.
No matter. Even though there's almost no evidence to support that Oswald wore the dark brown shirt to work on the 22nd, the FBI is determined to use the fibers found on the rifle, which may have come from that shirt, to hang him in the public eye. A 12-1 article in the Washington Star by Jerry O'Leary, a writer more than friendly with the FBI's Deke DeLoach, and someone upon whom the FBI regularly relies to get their stories before the public, declares: "PIECE OF OSWALD'S SHIRT FOUND SNAGGED IN RIFLE." It then goes on to claim "A fragment of Lee Harvey Oswald's shirt was snagged in the rifle that killed President John F. Kennedy, the FBI report of the assassination states. Disclosure of this evidence against the 24 year-old Oswald, himself slain two days after Mr. Kennedy's death, is regarded as one of the most solid pieces of evidence of his guilt. Officials said wisps of brown shirt material were caught in metal parts of the 6.5 mm Italian-made carbine found on the fifth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building a few minutes after the fatal shots were fired on November 22. When Oswald was arrested two hours later, he was wearing a brown shirt of the same material. Oswald claimed he had changed his shirt in his rooming house after leaving the assassination area, but this proved to be untrue. FBI Crime Lab technicians determined by microscopic and other scientific means that the fragment of shirt material came from the shirt the ex-Marine was wearing."
Wow, talk of your circular reasoning. Not only does O'Leary grossly overstate the specificity of fiber analysis, but he, apparently at the FBI's bidding, has told the public that we know Oswald handled the rifle because the fibers on the rifle matched the fibers of the shirt he was wearing two hours later, and that we know he was wearing this shirt two hours earlier because its fibers matched the fibers found on the rifle. Mind-boggling. This is like lashing two boats together in a harbor and wondering why they still drift out to sea. It completely ignores the fact that, if no one saw Oswald wearing the brown shirt while at work, the matching of the fibers found on the rifle and the fibers of his shirt is more indicative of a frame-up than of Oswald having worn the shirt to work. Let's make an analogy. If the police find incriminating bloodstains in the house of a suspect, and we have reason to doubt the suspect even visited his house after the crime had been committed, we don't just assume that, huh, he must have sneaked in the house when no one was looking, now do we? We assume the detectives are up to something. Oswald deserves that same benefit.
On 12-2, the FBI Laboratory released the results of some more of its tests. “The K42 gray jacket is a size medium light gray cotton jacket…Dark blue, gray-black and orange-yellow cotton fibers, which match in microscopic characteristics the dark-blue, gray-black and orange-yellow cotton fibers composing the Q11 shirt, were found in the debris removed from the inside areas of the sleeves of the K42 jacket. These fibers could have originated from the Q11 shirt.” (CD7, p352). As the K42 gray jacket was the jacket discarded by the presumed killer of Officer Tippit, the fibers now linked Oswald's shirt to both the murder of Kennedy and the murder of Tippit.
On 12-4 another witness comes forward. She claims to have seen a man on the fourth or fifth floors with a rifle before the shooting. The FBI report (24H522) of an interview with Mrs. Carolyn Walther reflects that "a man in the crowd across the street to the west of where she was standing apparently had an epileptic seizure, and an ambulance came by and took the man away. Shortly after the ambulance left, she looked back toward the TSBD Building and saw a man standing on either the fourth or fifth floor in the southeast corner window...In his hands this man was holding a rifle with the barrel pointed downward." The man she saw “was wearing a white shirt and had blond or light brown hair.” She also offered that “the rifle was different from any she had ever seen. This man was standing in about the middle of the window. In the same window, to the left of this man, she could see a portion of another man standing by the side of this man with a rifle. This other man was standing erect, and his head was above the opened portion of the window. As the window was very dirty, she could not see the head of this second man. She is positive this window was not as high as the sixth floor. This second man was apparently wearing a brown suit coat, and the only thing she could see was the right side of the man, from about the waist to the shoulders.”
Mrs. Walther thereby becomes the 7th witness claiming to have seen a man either in the sixth floor sniper’s nest, or on an upper floor of the depository with a rifle, within minutes of the shooting. None of them have described a man dressed like Oswald was when arrested. On the other hand, the man Mrs. Walther claims to have seen standing to the left of the shooter is dressed like the man James Worrell saw run from the building.
(BTW, this is it for Mrs. Walther. The FBI failed to perform any follow-up interviews with her and she was never called to testify before the commission.)
Threads of Conspiracy?
On 12-4, the FBI decides to show the brown shirt worn by Oswald to Mary Bledsoe, to see if she could positively identify it as the shirt he’d been wearing on his bus ride home from work. After describing the shirt as “a dark rust colored shirt,” the FBI’s report on this interview tells us that: “Mrs. Bledsoe at first said, 'No, no. That is not the shirt.' She then inquired as to whether the shirt had a ragged elbow. Upon further examination of the shirt, she observed a hole in the right elbow of the shirt, at which time she quickly stated, 'Yes, yes. This is the shirt.' Mrs. Bledsoe qualified her answer that this was not the shirt by stating that she seemed to recall the shirt she observed Oswald wearing on November 22, 1963 was more dirty in appearance. She said when she observed the ragged elbow on the shirt, she was positive this was the shirt Oswald was wearing when she saw him on the bus. She stated she is positive he was wearing a long sleeve shirt of the same dark appearance as the shirt she observed at her residence on December 4, 1963. She stated Oswald was not wearing a jacket or coat when she saw him on the bus on November 22, 1963. She stated the shirt she saw him wearing was of a brown or dark brown color…She stated her first impression was that the left sleeve on Oswald’s shirt was the sleeve that had the ragged elbow; however, she was not positive…Mrs. Bledsoe said she did note Oswald had his shirttail tucked into his pants and that his pants were ragged around the top.” (CD7, p302-303).
Now, this is quite interesting. Bledsoe initially refused to ID the dark brown shirt Oswald was wearing when arrested as the shirt he'd been wearing on the bus because it wasn't dirty enough. She then IDed the dark brown shirt based on the torn elbow.
This raises two questions: 1) did CE 151--the shirt Oswald claimed he'd been wearing on his way home from work--have a torn elbow as well, and 2) was the elbow on CE 150--the shirt Oswald was wearing when arrested--torn when photographed on the night of the shooting, or was this shirt torn afterwards, in order to "help" Mrs. Bledsoe in her identification of this shirt as the one Oswald had been wearing on his way home from work.
Here, judge for yourself. Here are two photos of the left and right elbows of CE 151, respectively.
I see a number of folds and creases, but nothing I feel certain is a hole.
And here is a photo of Oswald taken at the police station on the 22nd. (The full picture is in the upper left corner with a blue rectangle revealing what is shown in the main image.) This photo is credited to Daryl Heikes of the Dallas Times-Herald.
And here is a nearly identical photograph of Oswald in the police station. This one is credited to Bill Winfrey of the Dallas Morning News.
Here's the full photo:
And here is a close-up of his sleeve in this photo.
No hole is apparent on the right elbow of this shirt, either.
As a result, the answers appear to be "no" (the elbows for CE 151 are not torn), and "no" (the elbows for CE 150--the shirt Oswald was wearing when arrested--are not torn in the photographs taken of Oswald on the night of the shooting), and "yes", the right elbow was torn by the FBI afterwards to make the shirt match the description provided by Bledsoe on 11-27.
But let's double-check this last point, just to be sure.
The slide above presents a comparison of Oswald's right arm in the Winfrey and Heikes photos with the National Archives' photo of the shirt, in which the hole in the elbow is now readily apparent. The relative size of the sleeves was matched up by the pattern of the fabric. And yet the hole in the elbow in the archives photo is nowhere to be seen in the two photos taken on 11-22-63.
Hmmm... It seems clear the hole would have been apparent in the 11-22-63 photos, should the hole have existed at the time of the photos. But it is nowhere to be seen.
But let's triple-check this, just to be sure.
Well, I'm sold. The Warren Commission and FBI, in order to silence skeptics claiming the shirt Oswald was wearing on the evening of 11-22-63 was not the shirt whose fibers matched the fibers found on the rifle, decided to re-create some of the press photos of Oswald on that evening, to demonstrate the shirts were one and the same. They then had FBI photo analyst Lyndal Shaneyfelt testify that the shirts matched. He did so on 9-1-64.
The problem, as one can tell by comparing the Dallas-Times Herald photo at right above with Shaneyfelt's recreation of this photo (at middle above), is that the recreated photo shows a hole in the elbow where no hole was apparent on the 22nd.
That Shaneyfelt was aware of this problem is suggested, moreover, by the extremely dark nature of the original photo as presented in Shaneyfelt's exhibit (at left above). It's as if he was trying to hide something... Hmmm...
In any event, I've concluded that someone (almost certainly the FBI itself) put a hole in the elbow of the shirt, in order to effect an ID of the shirt by Bledsoe.
Now back to our timeline. With Mrs. Bledsoe's raggedy identification of Oswald's shirt as the shirt he wore from work, the FBI's drive to use this shirt as evidence against Oswald had neared its destination.
On 12-4 FBI agent Vincent Drain tries to shore up the chain of evidence of Oswald’s shirt. He gets Patrolman Ray Hawkins, Captain W.R. Westbrook, Lieutenant Paul Bentley, Officer Bob Carroll, Captain Will Fritz, and Detective James Leavelle of the Dallas Police to verify that the “brown shirt” in FBI custody was in fact the shirt Oswald was wearing upon arrest. (CD7, p312-317).
The Memo on Turner
Another 12-4 report raises more questions. A report written by Agent Warren De Brueys states “Detective Fay M. Turner, Dallas Police Department, was shown a faded brown long-sleeve shirt which was included among material received from the Dallas Police Department, November 26, 1963, as having been seized by search warrant from the room of Lee Harvey Oswald, 1026 North Beckley Street, Dallas, on November 22 1963. Detective Turner identified this shirt as being the shirt he personally seized by search warrant from Lee Harvey Oswald’s room, 1026 North Beckley Street, Dallas, on November 22 1963, in the presence of Detective Walter E. Potts and District Attorney Bill Alexander." (CD7, p318). Hmmm, had the FBI actually begun to suspect this "faded brown" shirt (almost certainly CE 151) was the shirt Oswald had been wearing on 11-22?
It would seem so. I mean, why else would they fly this shirt back from Washington? In 2016, while browsing through the Weisberg Archives, I came across a 12-4-64 FBI memo which was not available in the FBI files on the Mary Ferrell website. Presumably, this was a memo obtained by Weisberg from the Dallas FBI office as a result of one of his many Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. Apparently, it had never been sent to Washington. In any event, this document, written by FBI agent Robert Gemberling, explains why on 12-4 the DPD visited Bledsoe, Turner, and the many men who'd observed Oswald on 11-22.
It begins by noting: "In connection with resolving if the shirt obtained from the Dallas PD and which has been examined by the Laboratory is the shirt which subject was wearing at the time of the assassination and when observed by witnesses immediately thereafter, the following pertinent data is set forth." It then lists the witnesses to the shooting, and Oswald after the shooting, and their recollections of the shooter's and Oswald's clothing. As demonstrated above, these witnesses, when taken as a whole, suggest that neither the shooter nor Oswald while at work on the day of the shooting was wearing the brown shirt he was wearing when arrested...the brown shirt whose fibers match the fibers found on the rifle. Gemberling then notes that "on 11/23/63 Oswald stated he changed his shirt and trousers because they were dirty when he reached his room. He described his dirty clothes as being reddish-colored long-sleeved shirt with a buttoned-down collar and gray colored trousers. He indicated he put these clothes in the lower dresser drawer."
Gemberling then writes something that is fairly strange, in that it fails to acknowledge what DeBrueys has acknowledged in his own report--that the Dallas FBI has CE 151 in its possession, and has shown it to Turner. But it's worse than that... This Gemberling memo, much as the DeBrueys memo, fails to acknowledge that the shirt shown Turner is reddish, exactly like the shirt Oswald claimed he'd been wearing on 11-22-63. Instead it claims: "SA ODUM has checked today with Detective Fay M. Turner, Homicide Bureau, who has stated that during a search of the dresser drawers at 10:26 North Beckley at 5:15 P.M. on 11/22/63 he took a rusty brown shirt with a buttoned-down collar from a dresser drawer and that Assistant District Attorney Bill Alexander and Detective W.E. Potts were present."
Well, that's just special. I mean, really, there's nothing about showing the shirt to the witnesses, or anything like that.
Instead, Gemberling notes that SA Charles Brown is gonna show the shirt sent the FBI to Mary Bledsoe to see if she can identify it as the shirt Oswald was wearing when she saw him on the bus. He then closes: "SA Drain is determining if the shirt the Laboratory has examined was actually taken from Oswald at the time of the arrest or if it is the shirt found during the search of the residence at 1026 North Beckley. He is also ascertaining if there is any other shirt available which was picked up by the Dallas Police or was contained in evidence turned over to the FBI by the Dallas Police Department." There is a notation on this memo, moreover, that says "Resolved."
Well, that says it all. Resolved. My ass, it's resolved. The Dallas FBI has reason to believe Oswald was telling the truth when he said he'd changed his shirt at his rooming house. He said he'd been wearing a reddish shirt, and goodness gracious, here in their possession is a shirt found in his dirty clothes, that is simply reddish, no matter how others have chosen to describe it. And the FBI knows as well that CE 150, the shirt first sent them--whose fibers matched those found on the rifle--was the shirt Oswald claimed he'd changed into, and not the shirt he claimed he'd been wearing at work.
So, yeah, the Dallas FBI should have been all over this, first showing the shirt to witnesses, and then, assuming they got some "yeah, maybe"s, testing it for gunpowder residue, if just, y'know, to see...
But it's unclear if they ever did such a thing. The shirt in question is signed by four sets of initials, presumably experts from the FBI's crime lab. These initials are RF (Robert Frazier), CK (Charles Killion), J-1 (who I've been told was Cortlandt Cunningham), and what appears to be PMS, (who I assume to have been Paul Stombaugh). Stombaugh was the fiber expert. The other three were ballistics experts. It seems probable then that the fibers from this shirt were tested against the fibers found on the rifle--and found not to match. But it's not at all clear what tests, if any, were performed on the shirt by the others.
This brings us, then, to the million dollar question. Why didn't the FBI show THIS shirt to those observing Oswald on the 22nd, along with the shirt he was wearing when arrested, to see which one looked the most familiar to them? Were they afraid of what they'd say?
If people recognized this shirt as the shirt Oswald had been wearing on the 22nd, after all, it would have fallen upon the FBI to investigate how the fibers from the dark brown shirt--a shirt Oswald wasn't wearing at the time of the shooting--ended up on the rifle.
In any event, this was an avenue the FBI managed to avoid.
After showing the shirt to Turner and establishing that the shirt found in the drawer was not the shirt sent to the laboratory on the 22nd, the FBI declares that the matter has been resolved.
But that's only half the story. After their success with Bledsoe, the FBI decides to spend 12-5 finding out if anyone will confirm that Oswald had been wearing the dark brown shirt around the time of the shooting.
And no, I'm not joking. The FBI shows but one shirt to the witnesses viewing Oswald on the 22nd--the shirt Oswald was wearing when arrested--and fails to show them the shirt he claimed he'd been wearing at the time of the shooting, which THEY HAVE IN THEIR POSSESSION AND HAVE ALREADY SHOWN DETECTIVE TURNER.
Their results were less than spectacular.
Let's start with those who'd viewed Oswald before the shooting.
Linnie Mae Randle, Frazier’s sister, who’d seen Oswald walk up to her brother’s car on 11-22: “to the best of her recollection Oswald was wearing a tan shirt and grey jacket…Mrs. Randle was shown a rust brown sport shirt…Mrs. Randle stated that the above-described shirt does not look familiar to her, that Oswald could have been wearing this shirt, but she believes that the shirt Oswald was wearing on the morning of November 22, 1963, was a solid color and light.” (CD7, p308) (Hmmm...that sure sounds like CE 151, the shirt recovered by Turner.)
Buell Wesley Frazier, who gave Oswald a ride to work on 11-22: “Frazier advised that he did not pay any attention as to what type of clothing Oswald was wearing; however, he felt certain that Oswald was wearing a jacket on this date…Frazier was shown a rust brown sport shirt…Frazier was unable to identify this shirt as having been worn by Oswald on November 22, 1963.” (CD7, p304) A signed statement by Frazier to the Secret Service in this period confirms “All I recall about Oswald’s clothing on the morning of the assassination was a gray wool jacket. I don’t remember what kind of shirt or pants he was wearing.” (CD87 p796).
Charles Givens, a co-worker: “to the best of his recollection Oswald was wearing a long sleeve sport shirt, brown in color. He stated that on occasions, he had seen Oswald wearing a tee-shirt. Givens was shown a rust brown sport shirt…Givens stated that the above described sport shirt appeared to be similar to the one Oswald was wearing on November 22, 1963, but that he could not state definitely that this was the shirt.” (CD7, p306). The Secret Service report from this period confirms: "It is Givens' recollection that Oswald was wearing a brown shirt, when he last saw him." (CD87 p780). (Brown? That could be either CE 150 or CE 151.)
James Jarman, a co-worker: “Jarman advised that he could not recall what type of clothing Oswald was wearing on November 22, 1963, but that Oswald usually worked in a white tee-shirt. He stated that there was a “dressing room” on the first floor of the TSBD where the employees could change their clothing or leave their shirts when they commenced work or during work hours. He said that when Oswald worked in a tee-shirt, Oswald usually had a regular shirt in the dressing room. Jarman was shown a rust brown sport shirt…Jarman stated that the above-described shirt was vaguely familiar, but he could not recall if this shirt was worn by Oswald on November 22, 1963.” (CD7, p307)
Bonnie Ray Williams, a co-worker: “to the best of his recollection, Lee Harvey Oswald was wearing a grey corduroy pair of pants and a grayish looking sport shirt with long sleeves on November 22, 1963. Williams was shown a rust brown sport shirt…Williams was unable to identify this shirt and could not recall ever seeing Oswald either wearing this shirt or a shirt similar in appearance.” (CD7, p310) (Hmmm...grayish looking. Perhaps Williams was thinking of the shirt Oswald was wearing when shot.)
Now, the aforementioned Secret Service report, based on interviews conducted between 12/2 and 12/6, also tells us that William Shelley, Oswald’s direct boss, had “last saw Oswald at about 11:50 A.M…It is Mr. Shelley’s recollection that Oswald was wearing khaki trousers and a T-shirt.” (CD87, p780)
And now on to those viewing Oswald after the shooting...
Roy S. Truly, Oswald’s boss, who saw Oswald on the second floor after the shooting: “to the best of his recollection, on November 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was wearing either a white tee-shirt or a light colored shirt and light trousers. He stated that most of the employees usually worked in their tee shirts, and there was a small room on the first floor of the TSBD where the employees could smoke, play dominoes and hang up their shirts and coats. Mr. Truly was shown a rust brown sport shirt with a hole in the right sleeve at the elbow, which, according to the arresting officers, was being worn by Oswald when he was arrested on November 22, 1963. Truly stated that the shirt looked familiar to him but as previously stated he believes that Oswald was wearing light clothing and had on a white tee-shirt or a light colored sport shirt.” (CD7, p305).
Now, Truly's recollection Oswald was wearing something other than the dark brown shirt the DPD and FBI now need him to have been wearing wasn't exactly a new development. But it was close. To wit, a 12-4 sworn statement signed by Truly for the Secret Service relates: "To the best of my recollection, when the police officer and I encountered Oswald in the lunch room on the second floor right after the shooting, Oswald was wearing light colored clothing and probably a tee shirt." (CD 87 p793). And the 12-7 summary report on this and other interviews conducted by the Secret Service repeats: “It is Mr. Truly’s recollection that, at the time, he and the patrolman met Oswald at the lunch room door, shortly after the shooting, Oswald was dressed in light colored clothing and probably a T-shirt.”(CD87, p778).
Well, there it is again. Light.
And this leads up to Mrs. Robert Reid...
Mrs. Robert A. Reid, who saw Oswald just before he left the building: “to the best of her recollection, Oswald was wearing a white tee-shirt and a pair of pants, color unknown. She stated that she had never seen Oswald wear a regular shirt…Mrs. Reid was shown a rust brown sport shirt…She said that she could not recall ever seeing this shirt before and was certain that Oswald did not have this shirt on at the time she saw him on November 22, 1963.” (CD7, p309). The Secret Service report from this period confirms that “to the best of (Mrs. Reid's) memory, Oswald was wearing a white T-shirt at that time and was carrying a coke bottle in his hand.” (CD87 p786). She also signed a statement for the Secret Service on 12-4-63 stating “At the time Oswald came through the office he had a coke in his hand. All I recall about Oswald’s appearance is that he had a white T-shirt on.” (CD87 p798).
Well, yikes. Oswald was seen by but two of his co-workers after the shooting. Mrs. Robert Reid and Roy Truly. And both of them said he was wearing light-colored clothing or a tee-shirt, and NOT the dark brown shirt the Dallas Police and FBI need him to have been wearing...
This was a big big problem. If Oswald had worn a dark brown shirt with a hole in its elbow to work on the 22nd, as suggested by the statements of Mrs. Bledsoe, how come no one from his work remembered it? And why was the FBI so determined to shore up that Oswald was wearing this shirt, when NO ONE claiming to have seen the shooter recalled him wearing such a shirt? Why don't they just make the reverse claim, that Oswald had been wearing a T-shirt when he'd fired the shots?
I think we know. They have a report saying that fibers from the dark brown shirt were found on the rifle. Well, couldn't these fibers have landed on the rifle at an earlier point, like the night before the assassination, when Oswald was purportedly in the garage with the rifle? Sure, but this scenario entails that Oswald walked back up the hall to the domino room to get his shirt before leaving the building after the shooting, and that doesn't quite jibe with the picture of Oswald fleeing the building in fear for his life. There's also this. If Oswald returned to the domino room to get his shirt, why did he leave behind his jacket? And why, for that matter, have all four witnesses claiming the shooter was wearing a light shirt failed to provide the slightest hint it could have been a T-shirt? (This list was destined to grow, moreover. Jim Towner, an assassination witness never interviewed by the FBI or Secret Service, told the Sixth Floor Museum in 1996 that the man he saw in the sniper's nest had been wearing a "white coat.")
On 12-5, the effort to connect Oswald’s shirt to the killings suffered another setback. Mrs. Earlene Roberts, the housekeeper at Oswald’s rooming house who saw Oswald when he came home, signed an affidavit stating “Oswald did not have a jacket when he came in the house and I don’t recall what type of clothing he was wearing. Oswald went to his room and was only there a few minutes before coming out. I noticed he had a jacket he was putting on. I recall the jacket was a dark color and it was the type that zips up the front. He was zipping the jacket up as he left.” (7H439) The jacket found near the Tippit killing, with Oswald's shirt fibers inside, was, of course, a light jacket.
Still, you can't stop the march of time. And Newsweek. And all the other institutions anxious to wrap up the case in a big red bow.
Despite the myriad problems affiliated with the fiber evidence, the FBI Summary Report of 12-9 (CD1, p17), presents its fiber analysis of the gun and shirt as evidence of Oswald’s guilt. This is precisely as predicted by Jerry O'Leary in his 12-1 article. The report further hides the dubious nature of the fiber comparison by describing the shirt as multi-colored, failing to note that the shirt was primarily brown and that no brown fibers had been found on the rifle. It also uses Mrs. Bledsoe to support that Oswald had in fact been wearing this shirt at work that day. It fails to note that none of the eyewitnesses to the man in the sniper’s nest saw him wearing a dark brown shirt, and that a number of Oswald's co-workers refused to ID the shirt as a shirt Oswald had ever worn to work. The report declares:
“When apprehended, Oswald was wearing a long-sleeved, multi-colored sport shirt. A small tuft of textile fibers was found adhering to a jagged area on the left side of the metal butt plate of the rifle owned by Oswald. Included in this tuft were gray-black, dark blue, and orange-yellow fibers which the FBI laboratory determined matched in microscopic characteristics the fibers in the shirt worn by Lee Harvey Oswald.
According Mrs. Bledsoe, Oswald’s former landlady, Oswald was wearing this sport shirt on the bus shortly after the assassination.”
The report, of course was rapidly leaked to the media. That the leaker of the report (the FBI itself) was not entirely convinced by this thread of evidence is revealed, however, through a comparison of what was leaked against what was actually shown by the evidence. Articles mentioning the threads found on the rifle--such as the 12-1 article in the Washington Star and a 12-11 AP article (found in, among many others, the San Francisco Chronicle)--invariably claimed the threads found on the rifle were brown, when, as admitted in the report, NONE of them were brown. This, then, would appear to be a lie orchestrated by either the FBI or the press to convince the public these threads came from the dark brown shirt Oswald wore on television. The AP article, syndicated nationwide and read by millions o readers, includes another lie as well. It held that the threads "identified as from Oswald's shirt, were found snagged in the mechanism of the Italian-made bolt-action rifle which also bore his palm print."This, of course, was nonsense. Oswald's palm print was reportedly found on the barrel of the rifle, and was believed to have been an old print. The threads--which were NOT identified as having come from Oswald's shirt, but were found to be consistent with having come from his shirt--were found wrapped around the butt plate. While both pieces of evidence suggested Oswald had handled the rifle at one time or another, neither of these pieces of evidence proved Oswald had fired the shots. By claiming the threads were snagged in a "mechanism," however, an image was created of Oswald firing the rifle. Pretty sneaky.
A Darker Shade of Brown
The Warren Commission would have even more problems with the shirt evidence.
On 12-23, they received a 12-18 FBI report on cab driver William Whaley. The FBI's Bardwell Odum had shown him the brown shirt in an attempt to find a second positive identification. No such luck. Odum relates: "William Wayne Whaley...examined a brown long-sleeved man's sport shirt and stated that he cannot definitely say whether this is or is not the shirt worn by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963...He stated that this may well be the shirt since, as he recalls, Oswald was wearing grey work pants and a grey work jacket and had on a darker shirt which had a gold streak in it. He also recalled that this shirt was opened down the front to about the fourth button, and he does not recall Oswald's wearing an undershirt. He also recalled that the shirt, as well as the rest of Oswald's attire, was unpressed and wrinkled, as though it had not been ironed after washing or as though he had slept in the clothes." (CD205, p150) Oswald, of course, had been wearing a white undershirt, and had left his jacket at work. It's also problematic that Whaley remembered his passenger having a "gold streak" in his shirt. The shirt in which Oswald was arrested had no "gold streak."
On 1-22-64 they received a number of upsetting reports. A 1-8-64 FBI interview with Mrs. Lillian Mooneyham (CD329 p17-18) reflects that she watched the shooting from the courthouse at Houston and Main and that "about 4 1/2 to 5 minutes following the shots fired by the assassin, that she looked up towards the sixth floor of the TSBD and observed the figure of a man standing in a sixth floor window behind some cardboard boxes. This man appeared to Mrs. Mooneyham to be looking out the window, however, the man was not close up to the window but was standing slightly back from it, so that Mrs. Mooneyham could not make out his features. She stated that she could give no description of this individual except to say that she is sure it was a man she observed, because the figure had on trousers. She could not recall the color of the trousers." This report is troublesome for a number of reasons. For one, Oswald had been observed downstairs and had already left the building by 4 1/2 to 5 minutes after the shooting; the figure seen by Mooneyham, therefore, could not have been him. For two, by strange circumstance, Officer Baker, the first policeman in the building, had taken an elevator from the fifth to the seventh floor, before proceeding on up to the roof. As a result, there was no police presence on the sixth floor 4 1/2 to 5 minutes after the shooting and someone could have indeed been in the sixth floor window as claimed. For three, she said there were boxes in the window, which cuts into the possibility she was looking at the wrong floor. For four, she said this man was wearing trousers, suggesting he was not one of the police officers rushing into the building. So who was this man? Mrs. Mooneyham was never called before the Warren Commission.
Yet another report gave the commission yet another reason to believe the sniper's nest shooter wore light-colored clothing. The FBI report of a 1-9-64 interview with James Crawford (CD329, p22) explains "By the time the sound of the third shot had passed, Mr. Crawford looked around and in looking up at the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, he observed a movement which he described as a movement such as something being withdrawn quickly...Mr. Crawford stated he could describe the movement he observed as light colored, possibly white, and it might have been the reflection of sunlight upon a light colored object...Mr. Crawford stated that he believes that the motion he observed in the window was a person, but he could not determine if it was the figure of a man or a woman because of the short glimpse he got. He stated he could therefore, not give a description of what he had observed except that it was a quick white movement made by a figure which he had immediately concluded to be a person."
Things got a little smoother from there. For awhile.
On 2-6-64, when asked what shirt Oswald had worn on the morning of the 22nd, Marina Oswald testified “I don’t remember” When shown a number of shirts, including Exhibit 150, the rust brown shirt, and 151, a “light brown, cotton, long sleeved sport shirt”, and asked if they were Lee’s shirts, she replied “Yes.” When asked if Lee wore Exhibit 150, the rust brown shirt, on the morning of the 22nd, she said “It was a dark shirt.” When asked again if she thought exhibit 150, the rust brown shirt, was the one, she picked up the hint and replied “Yes.” Her awareness of his clothing on that morning is perhaps better demonstrated by her response to other questions, however. At one point she volunteered “The thing is that I saw Lee in the room, and I didn’t see him getting dressed in the room.That is why it is difficult for me to say.” As if to prove this point, when asked what shirt Lee had worn to her place on Thursday night, she stated “I think he wore this shirt.” Well, “this shirt” as pointed out by General Counsel Rankin, was Exhibit 150, the rust brown shirt she had just said he’d worn to work on Friday morning. Would Lee really wear the same shirt to work two days in a row? (As he was in the habit of spending his weekends with Marina, a change of clothes was certainly available.) Marina then volunteered “It seems he had that jacket, also.” Rankin then clarifies “Exhibit 162?” and she says “Yes.” The problem with this, of course, is that Exhibit 162 was the gray zippered jacket found near the Tippit killing, and Oswald was believed to have been jacket-less on his way home from work, and to have picked up this jacket at his rooming house.
After Marina's self-discrediting statement regarding CE 162, Rankin moved on to other topics. In his haste, he neglected to ask Marina the highly pertinent question of whether or not she remembered seeing a torn sleeve on Oswald's rust brown shirt prior to his going to work on the 22nd. If she knew it had not been torn, of course, it would indicate that the shirt had been torn during Oswald's scuffle with the police and that Mary Bledsoe, who'd said the shirt Oswald was wearing on the bus had had a hole in its elbow, or elbows, was simply thinking of the shirt with missing buttons she'd previously seen on television. (1H93-126)
As fate would have it, moreover, Marina would get a second chance to weigh-in on the quality of her husband's clothing. In 1969, she would testify in the trial of Clay Shaw that Oswald wore "fresh" shirts whenever he went downtown, and that she had no recollection of his ever wearing "sloppy" or "dirty" clothes. And that wasn't the last time she undermined Bledsoe's testimony. In 1977, Priscilla Johnson McMillan would publish her book on the Oswalds, Marina and Lee, based upon numerous interviews with Marina. McMillan reported that, when Lee came to visit Marina on Thursday evening after work, Marina pointed to a "clean shirt and socks and pants" and told him to wash up. Well, heck, this supports that Oswald wore a shirt without a hole in its elbow to work on Friday, November 22.
But I digress... Back to the timeline...
On 3-4, Rankin wrote J. Edgar Hoover and asked that some items of evidence be brought to the commission for use in upcoming testimony. Among the items listed is "the so-called rust colored sport shirt with a hole in the right sleeve." He then asked "In addition, we would like to have the shirt and trousers worn by Oswald at the time of his arrest." Apparently, Rankin was so overwhelmed that he failed to realize that the "rust colored sport shirt" WAS the shirt worn by Oswald at the time of his arrest. If this is so, however, we can only wonder where he thought it came from. Did he think the FBI picked it out of Oswald's clothes, and showed it to Mrs. Bledsoe, to see if it had been the shirt he'd been wearing on the bus? Did he really not realize that she saw Oswald wearing this shirt on TV before she ever agreed with the FBI this was the shirt Oswald had been wearing on the bus?
On 3-10, the road to nailing Oswald got a wee bit muddier. Arnold Rowland, one of the earliest witnesses to say he saw a man on the sixth floor with a rifle, dropped a big rock in an unforeseen puddle. He testified “This was 12:15…at that time I noticed on the sixth floor of the building that there was a man back from the window, not hanging out the window. He was standing and holding a rifle. This appeared to me to be a fairly high powered rifle…this was on the west corner of the building, the sixth floor…this was the only pair of windows where both windows were completely open and no one was hanging out the windows, or next to the window…He was rather slender in proportion to his size. I couldn’t tell for sure whether he was tall and maybe, you know heavy, say 200 pounds, but tall whether he would be and slender or whether he was medium and slender, but in proportion to his size his build was slender…I can’t state what height he would be. He was just slender in build in proportion to his width…he appeared to be fair complexioned, not fair, but light complexioned but dark hair…I would say either a light Latin or Caucasian...(about his hair) it was dark, probably black…It didn’t appear as if he had a receding hairline but I know he didn’t have it hanging on his shoulders. Probably a close cut from—you know it appeared to me it was either well-combed or close cut…(when asked about his clothes) He had on a light shirt, a very light colored shirt, white or a light blue, or a color such as that. This was open at the collar. I think it was unbuttoned about halfway, and then he had a regular T-shirt, a polo shirt under this, at least this is what it appeared to be. He had on dark slacks or blue jeans. I couldn’t tell from that. I couldn’t see but a small portion…I think I remember telling my wife that he appeared in his early thirties…I would say about 140 to 150 pounds”
Rowland then explained that he’d told his wife about this man but that their attention was distracted when another parade-watcher had an epileptic seizure. He said this discussion took place around 12:22. He then dropped the bomb: “Something I would like to note is that the window that I have been told the shots were actually fired from, I did not see that, there was someone hanging out that window at that time…At the time I saw the man in the other window, I saw this man hanging out the window first. It was a colored man, I think…this was the one on the east end of the building, the one that they said that the shots were fired from…(when asked where he saw the man with the rifle) The west, southwest corner. (when asked where he saw a man hanging out the window) The east, southeast corner…On the same floor…This was before I noticed the other man with the rifle…My wife and I were both looking and making remarks that the people were hanging out the windows. I think the majority of them were colored people…then she started watching the colored boy, and I continued to look, and then I saw the man with the rifle…(when discussing the colored man) he was there before I noticed the man with the rifle and approximately at 12:30 or when the motorcade was at Main and Ervay he was gone when I looked back and I had looked up there about 30 seconds before or a minute before.”(Later, when asked to describe the man he saw in the sniper’s nest window) “He was very thin, an elderly gentleman, bald or practically bald, very thin hair if he wasn’t bald. Had on a plaid shirt. I think it was red and green, very bright color, that is why I remember it.” (when asked the man’s age) “Fifty; possibly 55 or 60.” (Height?) “5’8”. 5’10”, in that neighborhood. He was very slender, very thin. (skin color?) “Very dark or fairly dark, not real dark compared to some negroes, but fairly dark. Seems like his face was either—I can’t recall detail but it was either very wrinkled or marked in some way.”(2H165-190)
After Rowland, James Worrell testified. Worrell repeated his claim of seeing a man run from the back of the school book depository after the shots. Through a series of questions he described the man as “5’7” to 5’10”…155 to 165 (pounds)…in his late twenties or middle—I mean early thirties. Because he was fast moving on.” He said the man was “White" but with “black” hair, and that he’d “just saw the back of his head and it was full in the back.” And that he was dressed in a dark sports jacket…”I don’t know whether it was blue, black, or brown, but it was dark, and he had light pants. And that is all I can say on his clothes, except his coat was open and kind of flapping back in the breeze when he was running.” This man was definitely not Oswald.
Later that day, another witness to the shooting, Amos Euins, testified. He had little to say about the appearance of the man in the window. “All I got to see was the man with a spot in his head, because he had his head something like this” (indicating his face down)…I could see the spot on his head…I wouldn’t know how to describe him, because all I could see was the spot and his head." (When asked if he could tell the man’s race) "I couldn’t tell because these boxes were throwing a reflection, shaded."(When asked "But you could tell he had a bald--") "Spot on his head. Yes, sir; I could see the bald spot on his head.” (2H201-210). While Oswald had a receding hairline, he had no bald spot on his head. Why didn't the commission have Euins work with a sketch artist to depict what he was trying to describe?
Buell Wesley Frazier testified on 3-11-64. When asked if he recognized Exhibit 163, the gray blue jacket which the Commission believed Oswald had worn to work on 11-22-63: “No sir, I don’t.” When asked if he’d seen Oswald wear Exhibit 162, the gray zippered jacket found near the Tippit killing: “No sir, I haven’t.” When shown exhibit 150, the rust brown shirt worn by Oswald at the time of his arrest: “No sir, I don’t believe I have because most time I noticed when Lee had it, I say he put off his shirt and just wear a T-shirt the biggest part of the time so really what shirt he wore that day I really didn’t see it or didn’t pay attention to it whether he did have a shirt on.” When asked if he remembered anything about Lee’s clothing in the morning: “It was a gray, more or less flannel, wool-looking type of jacket that I had seen him wear and that is the type of jacket he had on that morning.” After he told them he wouldn’t remember what type of pants Oswald wore, and was asked if he remembered Oswald wearing gray pants: “yes, to be frank with you, I had seen something more or less of that order, that type of material, but so far as that, being sure that, was his pants or some kind of his clothes, I couldn’t be sure.” (2H210-245)
They then asked Frazier’s sister, Linnie Mae Randle, if she could recall what Oswald was wearing on the morning of 11-22: “He had on a white T-shirt. I just saw him from the waist up. I didn’t pay any attention to his pants or anything…But he had on a white T-shirt and I remember some sort of brown or tan shirt and he had a gray jacket, I believe.” (When shown Exhibit 163, the gray blue jacket later found at Oswald’s work) “Similar to that. I didn’t pay an awful lot of attention to it.” (Later, after being shown the gray jacket found near the Tippit killing (162) and the blue-gray one found at Oswald’s work (163)) “I would choose the darker one.” (Exhibit 163) “I remember his T-shirt and the shirt more so than I do the jacket.” (When shown Exhibit 150, the rust brown shirt) “Well now, I don’t remember it being that shade of brown. It could have been but I was looking through the screen and out the window but I don’t remember it being exactly that. I thought it was a solid color.”
The next day, 3-12, William Whaley, the cab driver who gave Oswald the lift home, testified. He described Oswald’s clothing in a unique manner: "I didn’t pay much attention to it right then. But it all came back when I really found out who I had. He was dressed in just ordinary work clothes. It wasn’t khaki pants but they were khaki material, blue faded blue color, like a blue uniform made in khaki. Then he had on a brown shirt with a little silverlike stripe on it and he had on some kind of jacket, I didn’t notice very close but I think it was a work jacket that almost matched the pants. He, his shirt was open three buttons down here. He had on a T-shirt. You know, the shirt was open three buttons down.” (When shown Exhibit 150, the rust brown shirt) “That is the shirt, it has my initials on it…Yes, sir; that is the same one the FBI man had me identify." (When asked if this is the shirt that Oswald was wearing) “as near as I can recollect as I told him. I said that is the shirt he had on because it had a kind of little stripe in it, light colored stripe. I noticed that." (After being shown the pants) “I am not sure about the pants. I wouldn’t be sure of the shirt if it hadn’t had that light stripe in it.” “That jacket now it might have been clean, but the jacket he had on looked more the color, you know like a uniform set, but he had this coat here on over that other jacket, I am sure, sir.” (When asked if he meant the “blue-gray jacket”, probably Exhibit 163) “Yes, sir.” (2H253-262). Well, heck. As Whaley, when first shown the rust brown shirt back in December, had in fact not identified the shirt as the one Oswald had been wearing on 11-22, and as he had previously claimed no recollection of Oswald's wearing a t-shirt on 11-22, and as the jacket he was now "sure" he saw Oswald wearing on 11-22 had been found in the school book depository more than a week after the shooting, Whaley's credibility re Oswald's clothing is next to non-existent.
On 3-24, the commission brought in their star witness, Howard Brennan. Brennan had told the Dallas Sheriff's Dept. on 11-22 that he'd seen a sniper in the sixth floor window and believed he could identify him if he ever saw him again. He was then shown Oswald in a line-up. Although he was improperly pressured to ID Oswald, Brennan stood his ground and refused to ID Oswald at this time, saying only that Oswald looked the most like the shooter of the men he was shown in the line-up. Then, weeks later, after Oswald's murder, and after the media had started pushing that Oswald had acted alone, the FBI had another talk with Brennan and convinced him to say Oswald was in fact the man he saw in the window. Brennan repeated this in his testimony. He told the Commission that he could have identified Oswald all along, and had been less than straightforward with the DPD, Secret Service, and FBI when he'd indicated that Oswald only "most resembled" the man he saw in the window. When asked to clarify his position, once and for all, and explain why he'd been holding back his positive ID of Oswald, Brennan testified "Well, as I previously have said, I had saw the man in the window and I had saw him on television. He looked much younger on television than he did from my picture of him in the window--not much younger, but a few years younger--say 5 years younger. And then I felt that my family could be in danger, and I, myself, might be in danger. And since they already had the man for murder, that he wasn't going to be set free to escape and get out of the country immediately, and I could very easily sooner than the FBI or the Secret Service wanted me, my testimony in, I could very easily get in touch with them, if they didn't get in touch with me, and to see that the man didn't get loose."
Wow. Note that Brennan admitted, in the very testimony the Warren Commission would use to push it was Oswald in the window, that the man in the window looked five years older than Oswald. This is not a convincing ID. I mean, it's not as if Oswald had a hair cut and a facial after the shooting in preparation for his appearance on TV. If anything, the events of Oswald's day--his scuffle with the police, his being charged with murder--would have aged Oswald's appearance by five years.
But if Brennan's ID of Oswald was problematic for the commission, his description of the shirt worn by the shooter was a disaster. When asked to describe the color of the shirt worn by the shooter. “No, other than light, and a khaki color—maybe in khaki. I mean other than light color—not a real white shirt, in other words. If it was a white shirt, it was on the dingy side.” (When shown Exhibit 150) “I would have expected it to be a little lighter—a shade or so lighter.” (When asked about the shooter's trousers) “I remember them at that time as being similar to the same color of the shirt or a little lighter. And that was another thing that I called their attention to at the lineup…That he was not dressed in the same clothes that I saw on the man in the window…he just didn’t have the same clothes on.” (3H140-161)
As Brennan is purported to have seen Oswald in a line-up early Friday evening, before Oswald’s rust brown shirt was sent to Washington, and as Oswald is known to have complained about being made to stand in Saturday’s line-up in just a T-shirt, it follows that Oswald was wearing the rust brown shirt in the lineup, and that Brennan was thereby testifying that the shirt Oswald was wearing when arrested was not worn by the shooter in the sniper’s nest. This draws into question the value of the fiber evidence, and demonstrates the Commission's bias. They found Brennan credible only when he told them what they were dying to hear. He'd ID'ed the shooter as Oswald, even though the shooter looked five years older and was wearing a different shirt. Far from being the decisive witness for the prosecution many have claimed him to be, he may very well have been a star witness for Oswald's defense...should Oswald have been allowed one.
(Not that one would know this from reading Vincent Bugliosi's Reclaiming History, mind you... In Reclaiming History, Bugliosi cites Brennan's testimony and subsequent memoirs extensively, a dozen times at least. But he fails to note Brennan's claim the man he saw in the sniper's nest was wearing a different shirt than Oswald wore in the line-up. And that's not the worst of it. Bugliosi actually goes to great extremes to cover this up. Here is what Bugliosi claims Brennan said at the line-up, after watching two witnesses to the Tippit killing positively ID Oswald as the man they saw run from the scene, and being asked by Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels if he could similarly ID any of the men in the line-up as the man he saw in the sniper's nest: "'I cannot positively say," Brennan finally says. "Is there anyone there that looks like him?" Sorrels asks .The second man from the left," Brennan answers cautiously, referring to Oswald. "He looks like him. But the man I saw wasn't disheveled like this fella ."815 (Of course, Oswald hadn't yet been roughed up by the police during his arrest at that point.)" Well, hell's bells. Bugliosi was thereby making out that Brennan's problem with IDing Oswald in the line-up was that Oswald looked "disheveled" and not that Brennan felt certain Oswald was wearing different clothes than the man he saw in the window. So where does he get this from? Not from Brennan, who specified both in his testimony and his memoirs that his problem was with the clothing. No, Bugliosi gets his footnote 815 from two sources...the Warren Commission testimony of Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels and the Warren Commission testimony of Secret Service agent Winston Lawson. And guess what? This was also a ruse. While Sorrells did indeed recall Brennan expressing that Oswald was now disheveled, and that this was a factor in his difficulty in providing a positive ID, Lawson did no such thing, and said instead that Brennan had admitted to seeing Oswald on TV between the time of the shooting and the line-up, and that, as a result, "he didn't know of how much value he would be." So, b-bye, Bugliosi. You tried to hide that Brennan felt sure the shooter wasn't wearing the dark brown shirt Oswald was wearing when arrested. And got caught. Rest in peace.)
James Jarman, Oswald's co-worker, also testified on 3-24. Counsel Ball asked him how Oswald was dressed on the 22nd: “I don’t exactly recall how he was dressed. I think he had on some dress pants. But I didn’t notice the color." (When asked what kind of shirt) “Ivy leagues, I believe." (When asked again) “he never hardly worked in a shirt. He worked in a T-shirt…Yes, he had on a T-shirt that morning.”
Later that day, the commission took the testimony of yet another important witness, Oswald's boss, Roy Truly. Although Truly said he saw Oswald in the building moments after the shooting, Commission Counsel David Belin never asked Truly how Oswald was dressed. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact Truly had previously told the Secret Service and FBI he believed Oswald had been wearing a light-colored shirt or a t-shirt. Just sayin'.
The next day, officer Marrion Baker testified. When asked to describe Oswald’s appearance when confronted in the second floor break room, Baker replied: “At that particular time I was looking at his face, and it seemed to me like he had a light brown jacket on and maybe some kind of white-looking shirt. Anyway, as I noticed him walking away from me, it was kind of dim in there that particular day, and it was hanging out his side.” (When shown Exhibit 150, the rust brown shirt) “Yes, sir; I believe that is the shirt that he had on when he came—I wouldn’t be sure of that. It seemed to me like that other shirt was a little bit darker than that whenever I saw him in the homicide office there. (When asked by Belin “What about when you saw him in the School Book Depository?") “I couldn’t say whether that was—it seemed to me it was a light-colored brown but I couldn’t say it was that or not...all I can remember it was in my recollection of it was a light brown jacket.” (When asked to clarify if what he thought was a jacket was the same color as Oswald's shirt, Exhibit 150) “Well, it would be similar in color to it—I assume it was a jacket, it was hanging out.” (When asked how Oswald was dressed at the police station) “He did have a brown-type shirt on that was out.” (When asked if it looked similar to the jacket) “I could have mistaken it for a jacket, but to my recollection it was a little colored jacket, that is all I can say.” (When later asked specifically if he thought Oswald had changed clothes between the time he saw him in the break room and the time he saw him at the police station) "He looked like he did not have the same on." (3H241-270).
Brennan and Baker’s testimony that Oswald was not wearing the shirt linked to the rifle when they saw him is a significant problem for the Commission. After Baker testified, they brought Mrs. Robert Reid, who'd talked to Oswald just before he left the building, to the stand. (When asked how he was dressed) “he had on a white T-shirt and some kind of wash trousers. What color I couldn’t tell you.”(After repeating that she couldn’t identify the trousers, and being asked about a jacket.) “He did not.He did not have any jacket on.” (When asked by Belin “Have you ever seen anyone working at the book depository wearing any kind of a shirt or jacket similar to Commission Exhibit 150, or do you know?” (THIS IS QUITE INTERESTING--IF SHE HAD SEEN SOMEONE WEARING A SHIRT, WOULD THAT PERSON HAVE BECOME A SUSPECT BASED UPON THE FIBER EVIDENCE?) "No, I do not. I have never, so far as I know ever seen that shirt. I have been asked about that shirt before, I have seen it once before, but not since all this happened.” (I believe she means “when all this happened”) (3H270-281)
On 4-1-64, the Commission called in two more witnesses who may have seen the shooter. First they talked to James Crawford. Crawford told them: "If I were asked to describe it, I would say that it was a profile, somewhat from the waist up, but it was a very quick movement and rather indistinct and it was very light colored. It was either light colored or it was reflection from the sun" (6H 171-174). Later, they talked to Ronald Fischer. He described the shooter as follows: “he had on an open-neck shirt, but it—uh—could have been a sport shirt or a T-shirt. It was light in color; probably white. I couldn’t tell whether it had long sleeves or whether it was a short-sleeved shirt, but it was open-neck and light in color. Uh—he had a slender face and neck—uh—and he had a light complexion—he was a white man. And he looked to be 22 or 24 years old…His hair seemed to be—uh—neither light nor dark; possibly a light—well, possibly—a, well, it was a brown was what it was, but as to whether it was light or dark, I can’t say.” (When asked about his hair) “He couldn’t have had very long hair, because his hair didn’t seem to take up much space—of what I could see of his head. His hair must have been short and not long…I believe I could see the tip of his right cheek as he looked to my left…like he was looking straight at the triple underpass.” (6H191-200) (Note: Fischer would later discuss his testimony with the Dallas Morning News. A 12-19-78 article reflects that Fischer claimed that Warren Commission counsel David Belin and he had "had a fight almost in the interview room over the color of the man's hair...He wanted me to tell him that the man was dark-haired and I wouldn't do it." The article goes on to quote Fischer's 15-years-on description of the man he saw in the window. It was nearly identical to his earlier statements. He said that the man he saw was wearing "some kind of a light-colored shirt, like maybe a T-shirt.")
And Then Along Comes Mary...
Now desperate to provide some corroboration that Oswald was wearing the shirt linked to the rifle, on 4-2 the Commission finally dragged in good ole Mary Bledsoe, who’d seen Oswald on the bus for all of a few seconds. Now relishing her role as the Oswald buster, she described his appearance on the bus in a dramatic fashion: “He looks like a maniac. His sleeve was out here (indicating). His shirt was undone…Was a hole in it, hole, and he was very dirty, and I didn’t look at him. I didn’t want (him) to know I even seen him, and I just looked off…” (When asked if she looked at him as he passed by) “I don’t know. I didn’t look at him. That is—I was just—he looked so bad in his face, and his face was so distorted. (When asked if he had a hat on) “No.” (When asked about his shirt) “He had a brown shirt…Hole in his sleeve right here (indicating). (When asked if this hole was on the right elbow or left elbow)“Right.” (When asked if his shirt were opened) “Yes, all the buttons torn off.” (When asked if he had anything on underneath the torn shirt) “I don’t know.” (When a surprised Ball clarifies “Do you know the color of any undershirt he had on?") “No.” (When asked about his pants) “they were gray, and they were all ragged in here (indicating)…At the seam…At the waist, uh huh…(When asked if his shirt was tucked in) “it was tucked in.” Later when asked if she thought she got enough of a glimpse of Oswald to recognize him, she responded “Oh, yes.” Ball then asked her if she’d looked very carefully at Oswald, she replied “No, I just glanced at him, and then looked the other way and I hoped he didn’t see me.” (When finally shown Exhibit 150, the rust brown shirt) “That is it.” (When asked to clarify what she means) “Because they brought it out to the house and showed it…because I can recognize it…I recognize—first thing I notice the elbow is out and then I saw—when the man brought it out and let me see it?” (When Ball asks her again what she means by “That is it.”) “That is the one he had out there that day?” (When asked who) “Some Secret Service man.” (When asked if she’d seen it before the Secret Service showed it to her) “No, he had it on, though…Oswald…Oswald had it on.” (When asked what about the shirt makes her think Oswald had it on) “See all this (indicating)? I remember that…I saw the—no: not so much of that. It was done after—that is the part I recognize more than anything.”
Well hold it right there! It sure sounds like she was about to point to something about the shirt, perhaps the buttons she'd already said were "torn off", and say that that was what led her to recognize the shirt. Only she stopped herself, saying “That was done after.” Had someone “preparing” her testimony informed her that Oswald’s shirt had received most of its damage in his struggle with the police, after she’d seen him?
Now back to Bledsoe...(When asked if she was pointing to the hole in the elbow) “Yes.” (When asked about the color) “Well, I—What do you mean?...When he had it on?...Before he was shot? Yes, I remember it being brown…Yes, it was that color…"
Okay, now what's she mean by "Before he was shot?" Does she think he was wearing the rust brown shirt when he was shot? Does she think its dark color comes from his blood?
More Bledsoe... (When an unconvinced Ball challenges her to convince him that she really thinks the shirt was worn by Oswald on the bus) “Well, I would say it was. That hole…(When asked again about the color) “Yes, I remember the color…(When asked if the color was similar) “No; same color.” (When asked if she thinks it is the shirt) “Yes, it is the shirt.” She was then shown two pairs of Oswald’s pants, and says Exhibit 156 may have been the pants he was wearing. (6H400-427).
Fabrics, Fibers, Fibs and Fabrications
The next day the FBI’s fiber expert, Paul Stombaugh, testified before the commission. Much of his testimony was taken up with discussion of the blanket found in the Paines’ garage, and whether it could be linked to Oswald or the rifle. This led to a discussion of Oswald’s pubic hairs. This enabled Stombaugh to connect the blanket to Oswald but not the rifle. This led to a discussion of Oswald’s shirt and the fibers found on the rifle butt.
There are several minor revelations in his testimony. On page 74 he discusses his inspection of the rust brown shirt and states “I noted in my notes the two buttons from the top were forcibly removed, the right elbow was worn through, the bottom front inside the shirt was ripped forcibly…” Stombaugh was thereby suggesting that most of the damage to the shirt had occurred during Oswald's struggle with the police, and not before. Had someone discussed these notes with Mary Bledsoe? Is that why she stopped herself when identifying the characteristics of the shirt, stating "No, that was done after."
(FWIW, Vincent Bugliosi, in his 2500 page plus defense of the Warren Commission, Reclaiming History, shares a similar distrust of Bledsoe. On page 549 of his end notes, he relates "I am not including Bledsoe’s observations as evidence of Oswald’s guilt. Apart from her probable bias against him, her observations of Oswald’s physical condition were such that if they were accurate, at least one of them would have been noticeable to Roy Truly or Dallas police officer Marrion Baker. But they apparently saw no such thing, and I can’t reasonably envision anything that Oswald would have done between the time he saw Truly and Baker and was in Bledsoe’s presence that would have caused him to get in such a bedraggled condition.")
Back to Stombaugh's discussion of the rust brown shirt. After prompting by WC counsel Melvin Eisenberg, he then added "down the face of the shirt I did find some wax adhering to it." Now this is interesting, as it suggests he took a good look at the shirt. Which makes what he doesn't say remarkable. He doesn't mention finding any grease on the shirt, or anything indicating it had been used to wipe down the rifle. (The proposition that Oswald wore his t-shirt during the shooting, and used the brown shirt to wipe down the rifle, is hereby reduced to the level of unsupported speculation, at odds with the available evidence.)
Stombaugh then discussed his inspection of the rifle: “Latent fingerprint powder was all over the gun: it was pretty well dusted off, and at the time I noted to myself that I doubted very much if there would be any fibers adhering to the outside of the gun—I possibly might find some in a crevice some place— because when the latent fingerprint man dusted this gun, apparently in Dallas, they use a little brush to dust with, they would have dusted any fibers off the gun at the same time; so this I noted before I ever started to really examine the gun.” He explained further: “ordinarily a fiber would adhere pretty well, unless you take a brush and brush it off on the floor and it is lost.” He then described his inspection of the rifle on the morning of the 23rd: "I noted it had been dusted for latent prints. So I proceeded to pick off what fibers were left from the small crevices and small grease deposits which were left on the gun. At the point of the butt plate, the end of the stock…I found a tiny tuft of fibers which had caught on that jagged edge, and then when the individual who dusted this dusted them, he just folded them down very neatly into the little crevice there, and they stayed.”
This duster would be Lt. J.C. Day, the same Dallas Crime Lab Detective who “found” Oswald's palm print on the rifle after giving it to the FBI and having them find no identifiable prints on the rifle. Day explained later that he'd lifted this palm print off the rifle on the night of the assassination before sending it to the FBI crime lab in Washington. He said he was surprised they'd found no trace of this print upon inspection. He admitted further that he had not protected this print, or marked its location, in any way. Nor had he sent a note along with with the rifle explaining the work he had performed, and that he'd lifted a palm print from the underside of the barrel on a part of the barrel only accessible when the rifle is disassembled. He'd also failed to photograph the print while it was on the rifle (which is pretty much standard procedure). From such mistakes reasonable doubts arise.
Stombaugh, continued: “These I removed and put on a glass microscope slide…because this little group of fibers—little tuft of fibers, appeared to be fresh. The fibers on the rest of the gun were either adhering to a greasy, oily deposit or jammed into a crevice and were very dirty and apparently very old…the other fibers I cleaned up, removed the grease and examined them but they were of no value. They were pretty well fragmented…They all appeared old…in excess of a month or two months.” Returning to the “tuft,” Stombaugh explained: “this was just a small tuft. They were adhering to the gun on a small jagged edge. In other words the gun had caught on a piece of fabric and pulled the fibers loose. They were clean, they had good color to them, there was no grease on them and they were not fragmented. They looked as if they had just been picked up. They were folded very neatly down in the crevice…they were adhering to the edge rather tightly…it had the jagged edge sticking up and the fibers were folded around it and resting in the crevice…I believe when the fingerprint man dusted it he probably ran his brush along the metal portion here…Of the butt plate, and at the time the brush folded these down into the crevice...Because of the presence of fingerprint powder being down in and through the crevice here. It looked as if it had been dusted with a brush. You could make out the bristlemarks of the brush itself.” Stombaugh had thereby testified that the fibers found in the butt plate crevice did not end up there on their own, and were apparently folded down in there only AFTER Day had dusted the butt plate.
When asked what it would take for someone to loosen the threads from the jagged edge, he responded “Well, I would imagine if one took a brush and started brushing pretty hard these would have worked loose and come out…They were adhering to the jagged edge...they were adhering pretty tightly to the gun. I believe through ordinary handling of the gun eventually they would have worked loose and fallen off...I had to take a pair of tweezers and work them out…And after I had the fibers lifted up which could have been the original position they were in, then I had to pull them off. They were wrapped around rather snugly to the sharp edge.” Later, when asked if the rifle should have had fibers from the blanket, he replied “No, because the gun was dusted for fingerprints and any fibers that were loosely adhering to it could have been dusted off. The only reason, I feel, that these fibers remained on the butt plate is because they were pulled from the fabric by the jagged edge and adhered to the gun and then the fingerprint examiner with his brush, I feel, when brushing and dusting this plate, stroked them down into that crevice where they couldn’t be knocked off. In time these fibers would undoubtedly have become dislodged and fallen off the gun” (4H56-88).
If Oswald had been allowed an attorney, he (or she) would have just loved Stombaugh. Stombaugh pretty much admitted it's possible the fiber evidence was planted. He also gave an indication who did it, or at least knew about it. When asked if he was "unhappy" about being handed a rifle that had already been dusted for fingerprints, and asked to inspect it for trace evidence, Stombaugh replied: "I was; however, it is not uncommon for fingerprint processing to be given priority consideration. They wanted to know whether or not the gun contained any fibers to show that it had been stored in this blanket."He then explained who this "they" was: "Well, this is our Dallas office. They sent the gun in wanting to know this fact."
So let's get this straight. The Dallas office wanted to know if there were any fibers on the rifle that could link it to the blanket found in the Paine's garage and Surprise! Surprise! Stombaugh found fibers from Oswald's shirt on the rifle instead. This is most interesting. Fiber evidence is most commonly found on clothing, linking a suspect to a victim, or a victim to a suspect, or, if found at a crime scene, linking a suspect to a crime scene. Sometimes it can be used to suggest a victim had been at the suspect's house, or in the suspect's car. And yet there is no record of either the Dallas Police or the FBI examining the sniper's nest for fiber evidence. None. The Dallas Police searched for fingerprint evidence only. They picked the paper bag up almost as an afterthought. They failed to photograph it in place. They carried it an upright position with the opening at the bottom, allowing fibers to fall freely from the bag. They didn't even inspect the inside of the bag before handing it over the FBI. And yet, we are to believe that, despite all the carelessness and lack of concern for the fiber evidence in Dallas, the Dallas FBI asked the FBI Crime Lab in Washington to inspect the rifle for fibers and lo and behold! it strikes the mother load and finds fibers from Oswald's shirt on a weapon that had already been dusted for fingerprints? Simply incredible! When one reads books and articles on firearms evidence and fiber evidence, one can find references to fibers from the clothing of a victim who had been shot at close range being found on the outside or even on the inside of the barrel of a revolver connected to a suspect, but I have not found a reference to one case, outside this one, where fibers from a suspect's shirt were found on an abandoned weapon, let alone a weapon that had already been dusted.
If Oswald had lived, and had found himself a smart attorney, this attorney would have hired someone to wear a shirt like Oswald's, and handle a rifle like Oswald's, and may even have had him fire a few shots. He'd then have the rifle dusted for fingerprints and inspected for fibers, in that order. If they found fingerprints, he'd ask why no legible fingerprints from Oswald were found on the assassination rifle. If they found no fibers, he'd ask how Oswald's shirt fibers came to be on the assassination rifle. If they claimed that Oswald had used the shirt to wipe down the rifle, he'd ask why no grease from the rifle was found on the shirt. The lawyer would then ask if it was possible the fibers came from the shirt of J.C. Day, who'd dusted the rifle for fingerprints, or Vincent Drain, who'd delivered the shirt to Washington. He'd also ask if Day and Drain had kept Oswald's shirt separate from the rifle at all times. He'd then show the jury an FBI photograph discovered in the archives by John Hunt and published by Ian Griggs in No Case to Answer (2005). This photograph is shown below.
Well, this photo shows the brown paper bag purportedly used by Oswald to carry the rifle into the building astride the blanket purported to have held the rifle when it was in the Paine family's garage. Our wanna-be Perry Mason would then ask if it's at least a wee bit possible the single fiber found within the bag and matching the fibers from the blanket had been transferred to the bag during the posing of this evidence photo.
And then, after softening up the jury to consider that the fiber evidence against Oswald was not evidence for his guilt, but for someone else's, Oswald's s attorney would hit them with a zinger...He'd show them the press photos of Oswald's midnight press conference, and of his subsequent fingerprinting...
What's Up With That?
He'd then wonder aloud how it came to be that Oswald was still wearing his "brown" shirt at the time of his late night fingerprinting--about 12:45 in the morning of 11-23--when, according to the reports and testimony of both the Dallas PD's Crime Lab Chief, Lt. Day, and the FBI agent tasked with shipping "all" the first day evidence to FBI headquarters, Vincent Drain, it had been boxed up along with all the other key evidence for an hour.
This, one can only guess, would have blasted a hole in the official story, and have fed speculation that the evidence, far from being boxed up at 11:45 P.M. was actually fiddled with and added to well past midnight.
I mean, something is just strange here.
Here is Drain's account of his late night flight out of Dallas. (This comes from an 11-29-63 Drain to Shanklin memo found in the Weisberg Archives.) "On the night of 11/22/63 I took possession of the evidence found at the scene of the shooting, as well as a shirt which had been removed from Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of his apprehension." (Well, this is curious already. Why was Drain making out that the shirt had been removed long before his arrival?) Drain continued: "On instructions of Mr. Shanklin, I made arrangements with the U.S. Air Force for transportation to Washington, D.C., with the evidence. Prior to departing for Washington, Mr. Shanklin advised me that the U.S. Secret Service would like to send a representative along with the evidence to Washington. Shortly before midnight, 11/22/63, Mr. Winston Lawson contacted me at the FBI office, Dallas, and stated he was the U.S. Secret Service representative who would accompany me to Washington, D. C. Shortly after midnight on 11/23/63, SA Lawson accompanied me to Fort Worth, Texas, where we boarded a U.S. Air force plane for Washington, D.C."
Now here's Secret Service Agent Lawson's account of this trip, as found in his 12-1-63 report on the assassination (17H633): "At approximately 11:00 P.M., Inspector Kelley, Chief's Office, arrived, and approximately 1:00 A.M., November 23, 1963, he requested me to return to Washington, D,C, on a special plane which was returning evidence from the Dallas Police in the killing of Police Office Tippit and President Kennedy. I went to the FBI Dallas office, met FBI Agent Drain again, and proceeded with him and the packaged evidence to Carswell AFB. I departed Carswell AFB aboard USAF Plane #276 at 3:10 A.M. CST, November 23, 1963, and arrived at Andrews AFB 6:30 A.M., E.S.T."
The departure and arrival times provided by Lawson were confirmed, moreover, by an 11-26-63 report written by Drain. (CD5 p159-160)
Well, heck. In Drain's account, he hears from Lawson before midnight and leaves for the airport shortly after midnight, while in Lawson's account he doesn't even know about the flight till around 1 in the morning, and then and only then heads over to meet Drain at the FBI's office. Assuming Lawson was correct, then, there's an hour or more missing from Drain's timeline. Well, this brings us back to the shirt, and Drain and Day's insistence they'd packed up the shirt by 11:30 or so when Oswald was still wearing the shirt more than an hour later.
From this, it's clear that not only was there ample opportunity for the Dallas Police to switch or tamper with the evidence before it was handed off to the FBI, but ample opportunity for Drain and the Dallas FBI to switch or tamper with the evidence afterward, before the arrival of Lawson. As Drain's report makes no note of his stopping by the office for an hour or more while waiting to head to the airport, and as he was never questioned by the Warren Commission and asked to account for this time, for that matter, the loss of this hour remains a bit of a mystery.
And no, I'm not alone in my conclusion Drain took control of the evidence around 1:00 A.M., and not an hour earlier. There was a witness, reporter John G. McCullough. In the 11-23-63 Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, from Dallas, McCullough reported: "Shortly before 1 A.M, two FBI agents took the rifle and the pistol from police headquarters and drove to the Love Airfield here. An Air Force jet was waiting to take the agents and the evidence to the FBI laboratories in Washington for further tests there." (While McCullough was wrong about the airfield it stands to reason that this is what he'd been told by Drain.)
From this, it's clear that not only was there ample opportunity for the Dallas Police to switch or tamper with the evidence before it was handed off to the FBI, but ample opportunity for Drain and the Dallas FBI to switch or tamper with the evidence afterward, before the arrival of Lawson.
This is a bit of a problem... While one might hope this was the kind of problem Vincent Bugliosi would tackle, and explain, in his massive book on the assassination, Reclaiming History, it is instead the kind of problem he either failed to recognize, or chose to ignore. On pages 183-184 of his ginormous book, at 11:45 on his timeline, Bugliosi describes the transfer of evidence from Lt. Day to Agent Drain. He then notes: "The agent says nothing as he takes possession of the rifle. The rest of the items are loaded into a box and FBI agents Drain and Brown hustle them down the elevator to the basement and out to their waiting car for the short trip to Carswell."
Well, wait a second. A short trip to Carswell? On this point, if you can believe it, Bugliosi was not wrong. Carswell AFB was a roughly 45 minute drive from DPD headquarters. But did Bugliosi really believe--or at the very least--expect us to believe--that Drain took the largely-unstudied primary evidence in the murder of President Kennedy over to an airport...and just sat around for 2 1/2 hours?
I mean, why, when for all the DPD or FBI knew the killers of Kennedy were still on the loose, would they pack up the evidence found in the sniper's nest--most of it not yet photographed or studied by the primary investigating agency, the DPD--and then have it sit around for hours before shipping it to Washington?
Was it simply human error?
Perhaps. When speaking to Larry Sneed, many years later, Drain offered an explanation, of sorts, for the delay of the flight back to Washington. According to Sneed, Drain claimed he was ordered to pick up the evidence around 8:00, but didn't get around to doing so until after 11:30. He claimed it was then and only then that he realized there were no commercial flights to Washington. He claimed it was then and only then that he arranged for the flight out of Carswell. Assuming this is true, then, we have an explanation for why Drain had Lawson meet him at the Dallas FBI office, and why the flight out of Carswell was delayed. (I mean, the Air Force would have to find Drain a plane and a pilot, etc...)
But this still doesn't explain why both Day and Drain insisted the evidence was boxed-up by 11:45, and why Oswald was still wearing his supposedly boxed-up shirt an hour after it was supposedly boxed-up, and why there's no report admitting that after being boxed-up the evidence was transported to the Dallas FBI office, etc.
Of course, Oswald never had the chance to hire such an attorney, and the President of the United States and the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court made sure no such attorney was allowed to work on Oswald's behalf, and get to the bottom of this mess.
Which brings us back to the 4-3-64 testimony of the FBI's fiber expert, Stombaugh...
He eventually discussed the fibers: “I tried to match these fibers with the fibers to the blanket, and found that they had not originated from the blanket, because the cotton fibers were of entirely different colors. So I happened to think of the shirt and I made a known sample of the shirt fibers…I removed fibers from the shirt to determine the composition of it and also the colors. I found that the shirt was composed of dark-blue, grayish black, and orangish-yellow cotton fibers, and that these were the same shades of fibers I had found on the butt of the gun… "
He then presented some photographs to prove his point: “Color photographs are very difficult to make microscopically because the color isn’t always identical to what you see in the microscope. So these colors are slightly off.” “These are the orangish fibers. The color is not exactly the same as what one would see under the microscope. However, you can see that the fibers on both sides, namely the fiber from the rifle, here…And the fibers from the shirt, which are on the left hand side of Exhibit 674, do match. The colors are the same and also, we find the same twist in the fiber.” He then moved on to the grayish-black fibers: “These are the gray-black cotton fibers and the color didn’t come out well on these in this instance because of time and color process limitations…The same would apply to Exhibit 675 as to 674, with the exception of the color. The color on these is much darker and we tried up to last night to duplicate the exact color and this is the best I could come up with under the time and color process limitations. It took us about four hours to make a photograph such as this.”
Well, this is a bit of a surprise. Stombaugh was unable to get his photographs to match and expected the commission to take his word for it that the fibers really did match, when seen under his super spiffy microscope. Of course, they did just that. Not surprisingly, a detailed report by Stombaugh, explaining how and why he came to his conclusions, when his photographs didn't even match, never surfaced. A defense attorney could get fat on this stuff.
Stombaugh then moved on to the dark blue cotton fibers: “the color match of the dark blue cotton fibers shows rather well in this photograph, Exhibit 676…" (When asked about a violet fiber in the picture) “I asked the photographer about this when he developed this and I said “Why did we get this; this is not in the slide at all,” and he said that is one of the orange fibers. They use different techniques in bringing out the blue and yellow-orange in a photomicrograph…this shade in the photograph is different from what that fiber actually is. It is in the development process. I am not too familiar with color photography. There is an art to it. However, I do know that there are times and technical limitations on the accuracy of color reproductions…I believe (I recovered) a total of six or seven fibers from the butt plate, and three of them are blue fibers and all matched…Two shades.”
When asked his conclusions, Stombaugh declared: “it was my opinion that these fibers could easily have come from the shirt…Mainly because the fibers or the shirt is composed of point one, cotton, and point two, three basic colors. I found all three colors on the gun. Now if the shirt had been composed of 10 or 15 different colors and types of fibers and I only had found 3 of them, then I would feel that I had not found enough, but I found fibers on the gun which I could match with the fibers composing the shirt, so I feel the fibers could easily have come from the shirt.”
Could Stombaugh really have stated that a rust brown shirt was made up entirely of dark blue, grayish-black, and orange-ish yellow fibers? I must admit I'm skeptical. Since when is there no brown in brown? His assurance that the fibers found on the rifle "could easily" have come from Oswald's shirt is also questionable, and notable for its lack of precision.
But this is not the most problematic element of Stombaugh's testimony. Stombaugh testified that the elbow in CE 150 was "worn through." This supported that the hole in the elbow preceded 11-22-63, and this in turn supported Mrs. Bledsoe's identification of CE 150 as the shirt Oswald had been wearing on the bus.
But Stombaugh's testimony along this line is suspect. Here is the hole in the elbow of CE 152, Oswald's pajama top. This is the expected appearance of a hole created by wear.
And here is the hole in the elbow of CE 150, the shirt Oswald was wearing when arrested.
The two holes bear little resemblance. The elbow in CE 152 was obviously worn through. There is not enough material along the edges to account for the defect, and conceal the defect if folded back into place. This is not true of the hole in CE 150. There is a lot of material along its edges, either enough or nearly enough to cover up the hole. This hole, therefore, is not a hole created over time. While it may not be possible to ascertain if it was created before 11-22-63, in Oswald's 11-22-63 scuffle with the police, or afterwards, it seems clear the elbow was not "worn through" a la Stombaugh's testimony, and that Stombaugh's support for Bledsoe's ID of the shirt was thereby both unwarranted, and suspect.
Subsequent to his Warren Commission testimony, Stombaugh's credibility as an expert witness would be widely questioned. And not just by the "research" community... As detailed in the 1998 book Tainting Evidence, Stombaugh was the prosecution's chief forensic expert in the 1979 trial of Jeffrey MacDonald. Here, once again, Stombaugh found fibers that had eluded others. Subsequent to CID lab technician Dillard Browning's inventorying a vial of fibers, Stombaugh inspected the vial, and found that two of the fibers were, astonishingly, a hair from one of the victims, Colette MacDonald, magically wrapped around a fiber from her father (and suspected killer) Jeffrey MacDonald's pajama top. Now this suggested a struggle, and MacDonald's guilt. And was quite convenient, wouldn't you say? The authors of Tainting Evidence, not to mention MacDonald's defense team, found this highly suspicious, anyhow. Perhaps even more suspicious, and damaging to MacDonald, for that matter, was Stombaugh's testimony that MacDonald's blood-stained pajama top indicated some of the blood stains were made before the top was cut and torn in MacDonald's supposed struggle with his wife's killers. This more than suggested that MacDonald had murdered his wife, and then staged the attack on himself. According to the CourtTV Crime Library, "When Segal (MacDonald's defense attorney) asked for the photographic evidence to support this dangerous new theory, Stombaugh was not able to prove it in court, but maintained that it was so. Thus, the jury heard very damaging new testimony, even though there was no way to refute it or disprove it during the trial. Years later, when the defense team finally got its hands on the Army's lab notes through the Freedom of Information Act, they found that the Army's "CID lab tech Janice Glisson years earlier had explored the same bloodstain theory and had come to a different conclusion. She had determined that the stain edges on either side of the rips did not intersect, that the pajama top was therefore, stained [after] it was ripped, not before."
After reading Stombaugh's testimony in the MacDonald trial, and noting his comments on his Warren Commission experience, it is hard not to share the suspicions of the authors of Tainting Evidence and the CourtTV Crime Library. When asked "In what subject did you testify or about what matter did you testify for the Warren Commission?" he replied "In that case I testified to hairs, fibers, and if I recall correctly, there was a blanket involved in that one which was used to cover the gun."
As we've just seen, Stombaugh's testimony did not positively link the blanket to the gun, but was much more conclusive in linking the gun to the shirt purportedly worn by Oswald. Can Stombaugh's "failure" to mention the true significance of his testimony, and that he had previously found fibers overlooked by others in a prominent murder investigation, have been entirely innocent? Sure. But there's certainly cause for suspicion.
Bowling for Rowland
On 4-7-64, in an effort to undo the damage done by Arnold Rowland the month before, the commission called his wife, Barbara Rowland, to testify. To their almost certain dismay, Mrs. Rowland partially verified her husband's story and confirmed that he had told her about seeing a man with a rifle in the far west window of the building 15 minutes before the shooting. This shouldn't have come as a surprise, moreover, seeing as she had signed a statement on the day of the shooting declaring that "Arnold told me to look up at the building which was the Texas Book Depository, at two adjoining open windows, that there was a man up there holding a rifle and he must be a secret service man. I looked up and Arnold told me he had moved back, but I didn't see anything because I am very nearsighted and I didn't have my glasses on." (24H224)
Mrs. Rowland contradicted her husband on another point, however. She said that she didn't recall her husband mentioning that he saw a colored man in the sniper's nest window, and that the colored men she saw hanging out windows were not at the sixth floor sniper’s nest window, but “On a lower floor, about the fourth floor, I think, and nearer the center window. The windows nearer the center.” When taken as a whole then it seems possible the dark-skinned men noticed by the Rowlands were James Jarman, Bonnie Ray Williams, and Harold Norman, who'd actually been on the fifth floor. (6H177-191).
But this is far from conclusive. When Rowland testified he was asked to mark a copy of a Dallas Police photo of the front of the Texas School Book Depository taken but a few hours after the shooting. This was admitted into evidence as CE 356. It is shown below.
First, note that this photo was taken from the east side of Houston street, just yards from where Rowland was standing at the time of the shooting.
Now note Rowland's testimony...
Mr. SPECTER - You testified before that there were other windows where you had seen people hanging out, is that correct?
Mr. ROWLAND - Yes.
Mr. SPECTER - Would you tell us and indicate on the picture, Exhibit 356, to the best of your ability to recollect just which those windows were?
Mr. ROWLAND - There was either two or three people in this window.
Mr. SPECTER - Mark that with a "B" if you would, please.
Mr. SPECTER - Is there anything else you can tell us about the people you saw in window "B"?
Mr. ROWLAND - I think to the best of my recollection there was either two or three people in window "B," and as I stated before, either "B" or "G" had a white man in the window. I do not remember which. I do remember it was one of the windows on the corner.
Mr. SPECTER - Do you recollect if the other people in window "B" were white or Negro?
Mr. ROWLAND - They were Negro.
So Rowland remembered seeing one or more "Negroes" on the fifth floor, in the window directly beneath the sniper's nest. This is where Bonnie Ray Williams and Harold Norman were photographed seconds after the shooting. Well, it still seems possible he incorrectly recalled their companion James Jarman, who was sitting in the next window over, as having been up on the sixth floor. But wait. Rowland said he saw a dark-skinned man in the sniper's nest window around the same time he saw a man with a rifle in the southwest window, which he believed to have been around 12:15. Well, this was before Bonnie Ray Williams came down from the sixth floor. So, yikes, it seems possible he saw Williams (who never admitted looking out the sniper's nest window, BTW) looking out the sniper's nest window around 12:15.
Now, this might even make sense. Williams, we should recall, claimed he was finishing his lunch up on the sixth floor when he heard Jarman and Norman on the floor below him, and that he then took the east elevator down to the fifth floor to watch the motorcade with them. Well, think about it. Jarman and Norman were in the easternmost windows of the fifth floor. Did Williams take a quick gander out the sniper's nest window to verify that the noises he heard on the fifth floor were coming from Jarman and Norman? He certainly never said as much.
In any event, Arnold Rowland's testimony wasn't all bad for the Commission. Rowland claimed he saw someone who could be Oswald with a rifle in the southwest corner window of the sixth floor ten to fifteen minutes before the shooting. Perhaps this was Oswald, hiding from Williams. Perhaps Oswald, upon hearing Williams take the elevator downstairs, returned to the southeast corner, which had better angles for a sniper.
Or perhaps not. In either case--mistaken about seeing a dark-skinned person on the sixth floor or not--Rowland's claim he saw someone in the southwest corner can not be readily dismissed, correct?
To refresh, Rowland gave a statement to the Dallas County Sheriff's Dept. on 11-22-63, the day of the shooting. It claimed: "At approximately 12:10 PM today, my wife Barbra and I arrived in downtown Dallas and took position to see the President's motorcade...It must have been 5 or 10 minutes later when we were just looking at the surrounding buildings, when I looked up at the Texas Book Depository Building and noticed that the second floor from the top had two adjoining windows which were wide open, and upon looking I saw what I thought was a man standing back about 15 feet from the windows and was holding in his arms what appeared to be a hi powered rifle because it looked as though it had a scope on it." (24H224)
While at the Sheriff's Office, moreover, Rowland was interviewed by the FBI. The report on this interview repeats: "At Approximately 12:10 PM, November 22, 1963, he and his wife Barbra took a position on Houston Street at the west entrance to the Sheriff's Office to observe the Kennedy motorcade...About 5 or 10 minutes after they had arrived at this position on Houston Street, he looked up at the Texas School Book Depository Building and noticed two adjoining windows on the second floor from the top were open and in the windows he observed a man standing back about 10 or 15 feet and he was holding in his hands what appeared to be a rifle with a scope." (26H166)
And the FBI wasn't through with him. The next day, 11-23-63, they gave Rowland a phone call. A report on this call reveals: "at approximately 12:15 PM he and his wife were standing on the East side of Houston Street, adjacent to the Dallas County Courthouse...he was looking around at the buildings and observed an unknown male wearing a light colored shirt and holding what appeared to be a .306 rifle with telescopic sight on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. He stated this man was standing inside the window on the southwest corner of the sixth floor of the building, which window is nearest the overpass." (26H167)
And then the next day, 11-24-63, the FBI asked Rowland to give them a statement. This statement claimed: "My wife Barbra and I arrived at a point on Houston Street in Dallas between Main and Elm Streets at about 12:10 PM, November 22, 1963... Between 12:10 and 12:15 PM, I looked toward the Texas School Book Depository which faces the South and is located on the corner of Elm and Houston. I observed the two rectangular windows at the extreme west end of the Texas School Book Depository next to the top floor were open. I saw what I believed to be a man standing about 12 to 15 feet back from the window on the right. He appeared to be slender in proportion to his height, was wearing a white or light colored shirt, either collarless or open at the neck. He appeared to have dark hair. He also appeared to holding a rifle with scope attached...I would not be able to identify the person I saw due to the distance involved." (16H954)
And then, to be thorough, the FBI re-interviewed Rowland at his work on 12-10-63. A report on this interview confirms: "At 12:15 P.M., he saw a man with a rifle on the sixth floor of the Texas State Book Depository Building at the southwest corner of the building. He is certain this was the southwestcorner and was the corner nearest the triple underpass...A photograph of the Texas State Book Depository Building was exhibited to Rowland and he pointed out a window on the sixth floor at the southwest corner of this building as being the place where he had seen this person." (CD205, p14)
So it really shouldn't have come as a shock to the Commission when, on 3-10-64, Rowland told the commission that he saw a man with a rifle around 12:15, and that the window behind which he saw a man with a rifle "was on the west corner of the building, the sixth floor…this was the only pair of windows where both windows were completely open and no one was hanging out the windows."
I mean, look back at CE 356. The only "two adjoining windows which were wide open" on the front side of the depository building were the windows on the southwest corner of the sixth floor, which Rowland marked with an arrow, and the windows on the southeast corner of the fifth floor, which he marked with a barely discernible B, and where he saw two or three people hanging out the windows. These latter windows, moreover, were arched at the top, and not rectangular. Well, it's clear then that the only windows in the entire building matching Rowland's description of the windows where he saw a man with a rifle are the windows he designated with an arrow.
And that, almost certainly, he was telling the truth about seeing someone with a rifle behind these windows...
This conclusion, moreover, was ultimately shared by the Commission. Rowland's problematic testimony is discussed on pages 250-252 of the Commission's report. This section declares: "Because of inconsistencies in Rowland’s testimony and the importance of his testimony to the question of a possible accomplice, the Commission requested the FBI to conduct an inquiry into the truth of a broad range of statements made by Rowland to the Commission. The investigation showed that numerous statements by Rowland concerning matters about which he would not normally be expected to be mistaken—such as subjects he studied in school, grades he received, whether or not he had graduated from high school, and whether or not he had been admitted to college—were false." The Commission then concludes: "Rowland’s failure to report his story despite several interviews until his appearance before the Commission, the lack of probative corroboration, and the serious doubts about his credibility, have led the Commission to reject the testimony that Rowland saw an elderly balding Negro man in the southeast corner window on the sixth floor of the Depository Building several minutes before the assassination."
Note that they offered no reason for doubting Rowland's original claim he saw a man with a rifle in the southwest window...
And no, I'm not trying to pull a fast one. Here's Commission Counsel David Belin, who took the 4-7-64 testimony of Mrs. Rowland designed to discredit her husband, in his 1973 book November 22, 1963: You are the Jury... "On the basis of the overall record, our conclusion was that he (Rowland) probably saw a man with a rifle appear briefly at the southwest corner of the sixth floor of the TSBD Building around 15 minutes before the assassination but that he did not see an elderly balding Negro man in the southeast corner of the sixth floor of the TSBD Building..." Belin then explained: "I am sure that you would agree that when Arnold Rowland does not tell his wife that he saw an elderly balding Negro hanging out of the southeast corner window of the sixth floor approximately five minutes before the assassination and then makes this statement nearly four months later while testifying before us in Washington, we cannot give much weight to this late report-because there is no corroboration, because Rowland had signed an affidavit that mentions nothing about this, and because Rowland had deliberately misstated certain other matters in his testimony. On the other hand, we have to give some reliance to Rowland's statement that approximately 15 minutes before the assassination he saw a man on the sixth floor with a rifle, because he told it to his wife and to investigative officers immediately after the event, and also because this is included in his signed affidavit."
Now note the incredible irony/hypocrisy. Belin is the Commission lawyer, let's recall, who either suborned perjury or improperly propped up the latter-day testimony of Charles Givens in which Givens suddenly claimed he saw Oswald on the sixth floor near the sniper's nest after everyone else had gone down for lunch. Well, how in heck was Givens, whose testimony was wildly at odds with his previous statements and interviews, even marginally as credible as Rowland, who was consistent on most points but who may have added a piece to his story?
And no, it can't be because the FBI caught Rowland in some white lies or because Rowland's wife and a few of his teachers said he sometimes exaggerated his own accomplishments. The Dallas Police, let's remember, warned the Commission that Charles Givens would lie for money.
A Bugliosi-Styled Rant Against Bugliosi
Now note how Rowland's 3-10-64 testimony is buried by Vincent Bugliosi, in his Warren Commission defense phone book Reclaiming History. On page 834, he writes: "Rowland now added, for the first time that has been recorded in any statement of his, that on the same floor the man with a rifle was on, he saw, around five minutes before the shooting, an elderly "colored man . . . hanging out the window . . . that they said the shots were fired from," the "southeast corner" of the building, and that on the floor directly below the colored man, he saw "two Negro women" (obviously, the two black men, Harold Norman and Bonnie Ray Williams) looking out adjacent windows."
But this was a flat-out lie--y'know, the kind the Commission and Bugliosi would like us to have believed Rowland had been telling. Rowland testified to seeing two negro women in the second floor window marked O, and not the floor below the sixth floor window in which he saw the "colored" man.
Here. see for yourself. This is Rowland's testimony after he he has finished circling the 6th, 5th, and 3rd floor windows of the southeast corner of the building. He is now pointing out two more windows where he thinks he saw people to Commission Counsel Arlen Specter.
Mr. ROWLAND - Those pair of windows. I think this was all on that floor. Here on this floor.
Mr. SPECTER - Indicating the second floor?
Mr. ROWLAND - Yes.
Mr. SPECTER - Circle the windows and mark it with a "0" if you will.
Mr. ROWLAND - I think it was this pair immediately over the door, and this pair.
Mr. SPECTER - Mark one "0" and one "D," if you will.
Mr. ROWLAND - Here I know there were two Negro women, I think.
Mr. SPECTER - Indicating window "0." You say two Negro women?
Mr. ROWLAND - Yes.
Mr. SPECTER - And were those women each in one window, both in one window or what?
Mr. ROWLAND - They were one in each window.
So yeah, the bully Bugliosi bully-shitted his readers when seeking to undermine Rowland's credibility about seeing a dark-skinned man in the sniper's nest. Well, this isn't much of a surprise, seeing as the Warren Commission itself set the FBI on the poor kid (although married, Rowland was but 18 years of age) and asked them to catch him in a fib or two, so they could dismiss his claim he saw a dark-skinned man in the sniper's nest.
But what Bugliosi did next was quite the surprise. After acknowledging Rowland may have in fact seen Oswald in the southwest window 15 minutes or so before the shooting, he writes "Another possibility is that Rowland was simply mistaken as to what he thought he saw... But if I were to guess, I'd say that Rowland made the story up for his wife, and then later ran with it, exaggerating and embroidering his yarn along the way..."
Uhh, Bugliosi must have been joking, right? Rowland tells his wife he has just seen a man with a rifle in the southwest corner of the sixth floor of a building, and 15 minutes later shots ring out from the sixth floor of that building. He--Rowland--then does his civic duty, and reports this to the police. And yet, Bugliosi's best guess is that Rowland hadn't actually seen anyone in the southwest window, and was just making it up? That it was just dumb luck that someone fired a rifle from the floor where Rowland had just told his wife he'd observed a man with a rifle?
Criminy. When it comes to Rowland, Bugliosi is just rabid. I mean, even the Warren Commission could see that the 18 year-old Rowland was probably telling the truth about the southwest window. As detailed by Belin in You are the Jury, Rowland grew so upset when he was asked why he hadn't immediately alerted the police after seeing a man with a rifle in that window that he burst into tears and had to be consoled by Chief Justice Warren. But no, to Bugliosi, Rowland is just a liar, through and through.
Well, if anyone ever asks you why this case has never been solved to a satisfactory conclusion, this could be your Exhibit 1A. Many of those choosing to believe Oswald did it all by his lonesome, such as Bugliosi, are so determined to believe that he did so that they will willy-nilly dismiss the sworn testimony of the only man to say he saw a man with a rifle on the sixth floor...BEFORE the shots were fired...just because his story placed the shooter at a window from which they believe no shots were fired. And this, even though this man's wife confirmed that, yes indeed, fifteen minutes or so before the shooting, her husband had in fact tried to point out a man with a gun in that window.
Well, my God, these single-assassin "theorists" could simply adjust their theory an inch to the left and accept that Oswald was thinking of shooting from the southwest window, but then changed his mind. That they can't budge that inch, then, says something, no, scratch that, EVERYTHING, you need to know about Bugliosi and his ilk. They are irrational zealots. They simply can't be trusted.
Buying Into Bledsoe
On 4-8-64, Frankie Kaiser testified that he found Oswald’s blue-gray jacket, Exhibit 163, in the domino room of the school book depository sometime after the shooting. Kaiser is not asked and does not say when he discovered this jacket, beyond that it was after he'd discovered the clipboard Oswald had been using on 11-22-63 (which he'd discovered on 12-2-63). (6H344-345) There are, however, FBI reports which reveal that this jacket was "recovered from the Texas School Book Depository" on 12-16-63. (as but one example, FBI JFK Assassination file, sec 237, p65). This makes it all the more astonishing that the Warren Report would later claim the jacket was discovered "late in November" and cite Kaiser's testimony as support. (WR163)
Charles Givens testified after Kaiser. Strangely, Givens now claimed he'd seen Oswald on the sixth floor shortly before the shooting. He also claimed Oswald was wearing “a greenish looking shirt and pants was about the same color as his shirt, practically the same thing he wore all the time he worked there.He never changed clothes the whole time he worked there, and he would wear a grey looking jacket.”As he'd previously stated Oswald had been wearing a brown shirt on the day of the shooting, Givens' testimony is remarkable in that, since he'd first talked with the FBI in the days after the shooting, ALMOST EVERY SINGLE DETAIL IN HIS STORY HAD CHANGED!!! (6H345-356)
Mrs. Earlene Roberts, the housekeeper at Oswald's rooming house, was next in line. When asked what Oswald did when he got home on the 22nd, she testified “He went to his room and he was in his shirt sleeves but I couldn’t tell you whether it was a long-sleeved shirt or what color it was or nothing, and he got a jacket and he put it on—it was kind of a zipper jacket.” (When asked if she’d seen the jacket before) “I can’t say I did—if I did, I don’t remember it.” (When asked about the shirt he’d been wearing) “He was in his shirt sleeves.” (When asked the color of the shirt) “I don’t remember.” (When shown Exhibit 162, the jacket found near the Tippit killing, and asked if she’s seen it before) “Well, maybe I have, but I don’t remember it. It seems like the one he put on was darker than that. Now I won’t be sure, because I really don’t know, but is that a zipper jacket?” (When told it was, and asked if he was wearing a zipper jacket) “Yes, it was a zipper jacket. How come me to remember it, he was zipping it up as he went out the door.” (When shown Exhibit 150, the rust brown shirt, and asked if she’d seen it) “Well, maybe I have. Now that looks kind of like the dark shirt that he had on.” (When asked if it looks like the shirt Oswald was wearing when he came in) “It was a dark shirt he had on—I think it was a dark one, but whether it was long sleeve or short sleeve or what—I don’t know.” (When asked again if the color of Exhibit 150 looks anything like the shirt Oswald wore when he came in) “I’m sorry, I just don’t know.” (6H434-444)
On 4-9, Robert Edwards, one of the first witnesses to say he saw the shooter, was finally called to testify. When asked to describe the culprit, he replied: “White man” (When asked if he was tall or short) “I couldn’t say.” (When asked what the shooter was wearing) “Light colored shirt, short sleeve and open neck.” (When asked how much of him he could see) “From the waist on.” (When asked the man’s build) “Oh, about average. Possibly thin.” (When asked if he could tell if he was light skinned or medium) “No.” (When asked the man’s hair color) “Light brown.” (When asked about his earlier affidavit saying the shooter was on the fifth floor) “That is incorrect. That has been straightened out since.”
On 4-22, the Commission finally called Lt. J.C. Day of the Dallas crime lab as a witness. Despite the fact that Agent Stombaugh of the FBI had testified less than 3 weeks earlier that a fingerprint man, presumably Day, had brushed the fibers purportedly matching Oswald's shirt into the small crevice by the butt plate, Day was never asked about dusting the butt plate. In fact, Day never mentioned dusting any area of the rifle butt. Instead, he described his handling of the rifle as follows: "Captain Fritz was present. After we got the photographs I asked him if he was ready for me to pick it up, and he said, yes. I picked the gun up by the wooden stock. I noted that the stock was too rough apparently to take fingerprints, so I picked it up, and Captain Fritz opened the bolt as I held the gun. A live round fell to the floor." He then described taking the rifle to the station and locking it up, and then returning later to dust it for prints. He claimed he found an old palm print on the bottom of the barrel, and lifted it without photographing it or creating a memo telling the FBI of its existence. By midnight, he'd handed the rifle over to Agent Vincent Drain of the FBI.
In Larry Sneed's book, No More Silence, Day goes into far more detail on his handling of the rifle. He explains that, when he began his inspection, he "applied powder to it; there was nothing on the stock. Around the trigger guard there was a trace of a print which showed. It wasn't very legible, just traces there...Then, when I was adjusting the thing, down under the bottom of the barrel, there was a print." After dismantling the rifle and lifting this print, Day continues that he "got word from one of my captains, which came directly from the chief's office, not to do anything else...So I slipped the barrel back on the stock and put it back in the lock box...Somewhere in the course of time, Captain Fritz came in...He said that he had Marina down in his office and wanted her to look at the gun and see if she could identify it...So I just picked up the gun by the strap again and went on the elevator with him down to the third floor. When we opened the door there was a mob out there!...If I had known how many people were there, I would have done something besides show that gun. It was definitely a poor way to handle evidence!" Day says that after showing the gun to Marina, he once again went to work trying to photograph the print on the bottom of the barrel--which he claimed was still there even after he'd performed his lift--but that he was once again ordered to stop and turn the rifle over to the FBI. He never mentions dusting the butt plate.
At left is a photo taken by one of the members of the mob encountered by Day on the evening of 11-22-63, apparently around 6:15. Now, that's a problem right there, as Day testified to returning to the station "about 6", and then working on the rifle until about 8:30, when he was asked to walk a gauntlet of press photographers before showing the rifle to Marina Oswald.
Well, so what, you might ask? It goes to credibility. In his testimony, Day made out that he worked on the rifle till 8:30 or so, then worked on it a bit more after showing it to Mrs. Oswald, that he was then asked to stop working on it, and that he handed off all the key evidence to the FBI around 11:30. Well, we've already shown that this isn't true, as Oswald was wearing the shirt supposedly boxed up by 11:30 an hour and fifteen minutes later. And now this...
It follows then that Day under-reported the amount of time he'd spent with the rifle (after its being sort of ID'ed by Oswald's wife) by more than half. What he presented as a three-hour span (8:30-11:30) stretching from when this photo was taken until he handed off the evidence to the FBI (a three-hour period in which he had the evidence largely to himself, by the way), had actually been a 6 1/2 hour span (6:15-12:45). This is undoubtedly suspicious.
That Day would later tell two HSCA investigators he left the Depository around "5 or 6", as opposed to the "about 6:00" to which he testified in 1964, only adds to this suspicion. (Notes on a 10-18-77 interview with Lt. J.C. Day, HSCA record 180-10107-10176). I mean, just think of it. Assuming it took Day 15 minutes to get from the depository to the crime lab, it follows that Day had the evidence to himself from 5:15 to 12:45, 7 1/2 hours, as opposed to having it from 6:15 to 11:30, 5 1/4 hours.
But there's a more basic problem with this photo of Day holding the rifle. It shows that Day handled the rifle by its butt when he held it for the press. Well, this raises a question... When they inspected the rifle the next morning in Washington, why didn't the FBI find Day's palm print (or any kind of print, even a smudged print) on the butt plate? I mean, if the metal was too coarse to pick up a print, well, then why would Day (or whomever) have frantically brushed the butt plate in search of prints?
The bottom line is this: something smells about the butt plate story.
When one considers that books on fingerprinting and/or homicide investigation (including, but not limited to, 1964's Crime Lab, 1968's Invisible Witness, 1995's Crime Scene, and 1996's Practical Homicide Investigation) stress that the carbon powder used by Day needs to be brushed "lightly" for fear of damaging whatever fingerprints may be revealed, and that Stombaugh had testified that the fibers on the rifle had been "wrapped around rather snugly to the sharp edge" it seems doubtful that Day actually dusted the butt plate in the aggressive manner described by Stombaugh, and that his brushing led to the fibers appearing on the butt plate. It seems more likely, sadly, that someone planted the fibers from Oswald's shirt on the rifle and made it appear they'd been folded into the crevice by Day during his dusting. Perhaps Day did this himself. Perhaps the FBI, on the other hand, planted the fibers, and tried to make it look like the fibers pre-dated their inspection. Something sure smells but we can't be certain who's to blame.
But I know how we might find out. Lt. Day testified he used black fingerprint powder on the rifle. Sebastian Latona, who dusted the rifle for fingerprints at FBI headquarters the next day, testified on April 3rd, 1964, that he "completely covered the rifle" with gray fingerprint powder, and that the palm print received from Lt. Day had indeed been brought out with black powder. One can presume the fibers have been well-preserved. If they are tested and show traces of black powder the official story that Stombaugh inspected the rifle for fibers before the FBI dusted it for prints is supported, and it remains unclear who planted the fibers, and even if they were planted. If they show traces of gray powder, on the other hand, it suggests that Latona inspected the rifle BEFORE Stombaugh, and, that, after he failed to find any fingerprints on the rifle, someone decided to plant some fibers from Oswald's shirt on the rifle, and have Stombaugh "find" them. While this might sound outrageous, a desperate act of this nature only makes sense when one considers that, at this point of its investigation, the FBI was not yet aware of the palm print recovered by Day in Dallas, and had no way of linking Oswald physically to the rifle that killed the President. They were also unaware that Oswald hadn't worn his shirt to work.
The Warren Report was published on 9-24-64. The sections on the shirt and fiber evidence are copied below. The most outrageous section has been highlighted. It's hard to believe they believed this stuff.
The Assassin (WR136-137)
Fibers on Rifle
In a crevice between the butt plate of the rifle and the wooden stock was a tuft of several cotton fibers of dark blue, gray-black, and orange-yellow shades. On November 23, 1963, these fibers were examined by Paul M. Stombaugh, a special agent assigned to the Hair and Fiber Unit of the FBI Laboratory. He compared them with the fibers found in the shirt which Oswald was wearing when arrested in the Texas Theatre. This shirt was also composed of dark blue, gray- black and orange-yellow cotton fibers. Stombaugh testified that the colors, shades, and twist of the fibers found in the tuft on the rifle matched those in Oswald's shirt. (See app. X, p. 592.) Stombaugh explained in his testimony that in fiber analysis, as distinct from fingerprint or firearms identification, it is not. possible to state with scientific certainty that a particular small group of fibers come from a certain piece of clothing to the exclusion of all others because there are not enough microscopic characteristics present in fibers. Judgments as to probability will depend on the number and types of matches. He concluded, "There is no doubt in my mind that these fibers could have come from this shirt. There is no way, however, to eliminate the possibility of the fibers having come from another identical shirt." Having considered the probabilities as explained in Stombaugh's testimony, the Commission has concluded that the fibers in the tuft on the rifle most probably came from the shirt worn by Oswald when he was arrested, and that this was the same shirt which Oswald wore on the morning of the assassination. Marina Oswald testified that she thought her husband wore this shirt to work on that day. The testimony of those who saw him after the assassination was inconclusive about the color of Oswald's shirt, but Mary Bledsoe, a former landlady of Oswald, saw him on a bus approximately 10 minutes after the assassination and identified the shirt as being the one worn by Oswald primarily because of a distinctive hole in the shirt's right elbow. Moreover, the bus transfer which he obtained as he left the bus was still in the pocket when he was arrested. Although Oswald returned to his rooming house after the assassination and when questioned by the police, claimed to have changed his shirt, the evidence indicates that he continued wearing the same shirt which he was wearing all morning and which he was still wearing when arrested. In light of these findings the Commission evaluated the additional testimony of Stombaugh that the fibers were caught in the crevice of the rifle's butt plate "in the recent past." Although Stombaugh was unable to estimate the period of time the fibers were on the rifle he said that the fibers "were clean, they had good color to them, there was no grease on them and they were not fragmented. They looked as if they had just been picked up." The relative freshness of the fibers is strong evidence that they were caught on the rifle on the morning of the assassination or during the preceding evening. For 10 days prior to the eve of the assassination Oswald had not been present at Ruth Paine's house in Irving, Tex., where the rifle was kept. Moreover, the Commission found no reliable evidence that Oswald used the rifle at any time between September 23, when it was transported from New Orleans, and November 22, the day of the assassination. The fact that on the morning of the assassination Oswald was wearing the shirt from which these relatively fresh fibers most probably originated, provides some evidence that they were placed on the rifle that day since there was limited, if any, opportunity for Oswald to handle the weapon during the 2 months prior to November 22. On the other hand Stombaugh pointed out that fibers might retain their freshness if the rifle had been "put aside" after catching the fibers. The rifle used in the assassination probably had been wrapped in a blanket for about 8 weeks prior to November 22. Because the relative freshness of these fibers might be explained by the continuous storage of the rifle in the blanket, the Commission was unable to reach any firm conclusion as to when the fibers were caught in the rifle. The Commission was able to conclude, however, that the fibers most probably came from Oswald's shirt. This adds to the conviction of the Commission that Oswald owned and handled the weapon used in the assassination.
Appendix X: Expert testimony (WR591-592)
The shirt. Stombaugh received the shirt, Commission Exhibit No. 150, at 7:30 a. m. on November 23, 1963. Examination showed that it was composed of gray-black, dark blue, and orange-yellow cotton fibers. The orange- yellow and gray-black cotton fibers were of a uniform shade, and the dark-blue fibers were of three different shades. All the fibers were mercerized and of substantially uniform degree of twist.
The C2766 rifle. The rifle, Commission Exhibit No. 139, was received in the FBI Laboratory on the morning of November 1963, and examined for foreign material at that time. Stombaugh noticed immediately that the rifle had been dusted for fingerprints, "and at the time I noted to myself that I doubted very much if there would be any fibers adhering to the outside of this gun, I possibly might find some in a crevice some place because when the latent fingerprint man dusted this gun, apparently in Dallas, they use a little brush to dust with they would have dusted any fibers off the gun at the same time..." In fact, most of the fibers Stombaugh found were either adhering to greasy, oily deposits or were jammed down into crevices, and were so dirty, old, and fragmented that he could not even determine what type of fibers they were. However, Stombaugh found that a tiny tuft of fibers had caught on a jagged edge on the rifle's metal butt plate where it met the end of the wooden stock, and had adhered to this edge, so that when the rifle had been dusted for fingerprints the brush had folded the tuft into a crevice between the butt plate and the stock, where it remained.
Stombaugh described these fibers as "fresh," by which he meant that "they were clean, they had good color to them, there was no grease on them and they were not fragmented." However, it was not possible to determine how long the fibers had been on the rifle, in the absence of information as to how frequently the rifle had been used. Examination showed that the tuft was composed of six or seven orange-yellow, gray-black, and dark-blue cotton fibers. These fibers were compared with fibers from the shirt, Commission Exhibit No. 150, which was also composed of orange-yellow, gray- black, and dark-blue cotton fibers. The orange-yellow and gray-black tuft fibers matched the comparable shirt fibers in all observable characteristics, i. e., shade and twist. The three dark-blue fibers matched two of the three shades of the dark-blue shirt fibers, and also matched the dark-blue shirt fibers in degree of twist. Based on these facts, Stombaugh concluded that the tuft of fibers found on the rifle "could easily" have come from the shirt, and that "there is no doubt in my mind that these fibers could have come from this shirt. There is no way, however, to eliminate the possibility of the fibers having come from another identical shirt."
The commission's conclusion Oswald wore his brown shirt to work is remarkably ill-founded. Their use of the bus transfer to support this claim is particularly disingenuous. They willfully ignored that Earlene Roberts said Oswald originally went to the bus stop after leaving the rooming house, and that it would only make sense for Oswald to have moved the transfer from one shirt to another in anticipation of such a ride. They also gave Mary Bledsoe's testimony far more credence than it deserved. In her original statement, after all, she failed to describe Oswald's shirt. Then, the next day, after seeing Oswald on TV wearing a torn shirt, she said the shirt she'd seen had had holes in both elbows. Then, four days later, she was once again interviewed, and only then did she say it had a hole in ONE elbow. Then, a week later, she was shown the actual shirt, and claimed it was NOT the shirt, only to change her mind after being shown the hole in the right elbow. Then, in her testimony, she identified the shirt as the shirt she'd been shown by the FBI, and only under repeat questioning did she relate that it was the shirt she saw Oswald wearing on the bus. She is simply not credible. There is no reason to believe she had an independent recollection of the shirt's appearance prior to seeing Oswald on TV and every reason to believe her testimony was deliberately or accidentally coached by Warren Commission counsel Joseph Ball, from asking her the same questions over and over, asking her if she didn't recognize the hole in the elbow, etc, until she got it "right."
By relying on the easily-discredited Givens to make the conclusion Oswald never came down for lunch, and the ridiculous Bledsoe to support their conclusion Oswald never changed his shirt, the commission revealed their single-mindedness, and lack of objectivity. There is simply NO WAY they'd have found these witnesses remotely credible if they'd have said anything suggesting Oswald's innocence.
I mean, seriously, think about this. Howard Brennan ONLY ID'ed Oswald as the shooter because he was told Oswald had changed his "clothes" after the shooting (note: Brennan only saw the top half of the shooter so "clothes" means "shirt"). In any event, the Warren Commission accepted Brennan's testimony, and used his testimony to support Oswald's guilt. They then went ahead and concluded Oswald did not change his shirt, and used this conclusion to shore up that fibers from Oswald's shirt had somehow become wrapped around the butt plate of the rifle found on the sixth floor.
That ain't kosher. Not in my book anyhow.
And not just in my book. The HSCA tried to call Brennan as a witness, but he refused, citing health reasons. They then failed to cite him as evidence against Oswald.
And this wasn't a coincidence. On 10-29-18, Warren Commission Counsel Howard Willens and HSCA Chief Counsel Robert Blakey debated the pros and cons of their investigations before an audience at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. The first half was amiable. When discussing the evidence regarding the mafia which helped lead the HSCA to conclude Oswald acted as part of a conspiracy (and thereby undermine the conclusions of the Warren Commission), however, things got a little heated. Willens went on the attack. He pointed at Blakey and said "Unlike the staff he organized, we had people of credentials, experience, integrity, and independent judgment, who could disagree with the (men heading the investigation) when they wanted to." He then went on to criticize the HSCA's reliance upon a dictabelt recording (which helped lead it to conclude more than three shots were fired), and Blakey personally. He listed the commission's evidence for three shots. He then looked at the audience, and asked, incredulously, "They are gonna be outweighed by acoustic evidence that was a fraud from the very beginning because of his mistake in estimating that that recording was on a vehicle in the motorcade, when it clearly wasn't?" Well, this put Blakey on the defensive. He defended his use of dictabelt evidence, claiming, of Willens "He's not professionally qualified to make these statements." And he eventually hit back. While summing up his thoughts about the assassination mystery, he said "Don't get in the weeds...The problem with the Kennedy case is that there's too much evidence." He explained then that you can't rely on this person or that person, but must rely instead on the forensics. He then drew blood, by pointing out a problem with the Warren Commission investigation that, to his mind, far out-weighed the problems with the HSCA's investigation pointed out by Willens. He said "If there's any unbelievable witness in the Warren Commission spectrum, it was Howard Brennan. He said he looked up at the sixth floor, and could identify Oswald. I've looked up at the sixth floor, and I couldn't identify Oswald up there. But because it was convenient to the Warren Commission to find Oswald up there, they decided to believe Howard Brennan." And, to this, Willens had no response.
Perhaps he knew that it was worse than Blakey thought, and that the commission not only chose to believe Brennan identified Oswald as the shooter, but that they did so while disregarding Brennan's assertion that he only did so under the condition Oswald had changed his shirt.
Still, even though the commission pretended to believe Howard Brennan's identification of Oswald as the shooter, and accepted the words of an almost certain liar to conclude Oswald was on the sixth floor before the shots, and the words of an easily-manipulated fool to conclude his shirt fibers were found on the rifle, their conclusion of Oswald's guilt was well-founded, as the Dallas Police and FBI had compelling evidence he'd been in the sniper's nest and had recently fired a rifle. Right?