JAHS Chapter 18
4-9--4-24 Day's Testimony
On 4-13-64, as part of his ongoing effort to show the country everything is peachy-keen and hunky dory, President Johnson attends the opening day game for the Washington Senators baseball team In a refreshing change of pace, the Angels shut out the Senators 4-0. More telling, though, is the company Johnson keeps at the game. Sitting with him in the stands are Speaker of the House John McCormack, the man who would oversee (and presumably quash) any efforts to impeach President Johnson (for something like--let's say--conspiring to murder his predecessor) and Congressman and Warren Commissioner Hale Boggs (one of the men currently investigating the murder of Johnson's predecessor). Here is a photo from the game...
A few days later, Nelson Delgado, a Marine who’d served with Oswald, testifies about Oswald’s proficiency with a rifle. (4-16-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 8H228-265): “he didn’t show no particular aspects of being a sharpshooter at all…He always got gigged for his rifle (meaning that he got in trouble for keeping it in poor condition)…we were on line together, the same time, but not firing at the same position, but at the same time, and I remember seeing his. It was a pretty big joke because he got a lot of “Maggie’s drawers,” you know, a lot of misses, but he didn’t give a darn…he was a couple of targets down. It was very comical to see.”
The week after that, the Connallys finally testify, confirming their earlier statements. Nellie Connally (4-21-64) testimony before the Warren Commission, 4H146-149) “I heard a noise…I turned over my right shoulder and looked back, and saw the President as he had both hands at his neck…he made no utterance, no cry. I saw no blood, no anything. It was just sort of nothing, the expression on his face, and he just sort of slumped down. Then very soon there was the second shot that hit John. As the first shot was hit, and I turned to look at the same time, I recall John saying, “Oh, no, no, no.” Then there was a second shot, and it hit John, and as he recoiled to the right, just crumpled like a wounded animal to the right, he said, “My God, ,they are going to kill us all”…I never again looked in the back seat of the car after my husband was shot…The third shot that I heard I felt, it felt like spent buckshot falling all over us, and then, of course, I too, could see that it was the matter, brain tissue, or whatever, just human matter, all over the car and both of us.” Governor John Connally (4-21-64 testimony 4H129-146) “I reclined with my head in her lap, conscious all the time, and with my eyes open, and then, of course, the third shot sounded, and I heard the shot very clearly. I heard it hit him. I heard the shot hit something…I heard it hit. It was a very loud noise, just that audible, very clear…Immediately, I could see on my clothes, my clothing, I could see on the interior of the car…brain tissue…on my trousers there was one chunk of brain tissue as big as almost my thumb.”
We also finally hear from the fourth occupant of the lead car. Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry (4-22-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 4H150-202) (When asked where the President’s car was at the time of the first shot) “I would say it was approximately halfway between Houston Street and the underpass, which would be, I would say probably 125-150 feet west of Houston Street…" (when asked how far it had gone by the time of the second shot) “perhaps 25 or 30 feet further along” (and the third shot) “A few feet further, perhaps 15-20 feet further” (when asked the duration of the shots) “perhaps 5 or 6 seconds…I heard three shots. I will never forget it.” Although he doesn’t describe the head shot, we can’t help but notice that Curry’s statement that the car traveled much further between the first and second shots than between the second and third shots and is suggestive that the last two shots were fired closer together.
Now, immediately following Curry comes Dallas Police Capt. Will Fritz. While not a witness to the shooting itself, Fritz had led the initial investigation of Kennedy's shooting, and had been an eyewitness to Ruby's shooting of Oswald. Fritz's testimony is taken by Warren Commission Counsel Joe Ball. At one point, however, Commissioner John McCloy (presumably remembering that Howard Brennan had testified on 3-24-64 that Fritz was not only in attendance at the showup during which Brennan was shown Oswald, but that Brennan had spoken to Fritz at this showup and had told Fritz he could not identify Oswald as Kennedy's assassin) does his job and asks Fritz a presumably unexpected question.
Mr. McCLOY. Were you present at the showup at which Brennan was the witness?
Mr. FRITZ. Brennan?
Mr. McCLOY. Brennan was the alleged----
Mr. FRITZ. Is that the man that the Secret Service brought over there, Mr. Sorrels brought over?
Mr. McCLOY. I don't know whether Mr. Sorrels----
Mr. FRITZ. I don't think I was present but I will tell you what, I helped Mr. Sorrels find the time that that man--we didn't show that he was shown at all on our records, but Mr. Sorrels called me and said he did show him and he wanted me to give him the time of the showup. I asked him to find out from his officers who were with Mr. Brennan the names of the people that we had there, and he gave me those two Davis sisters, and he said, when he told me that, of course, I could tell what showup it was and then I gave him the time.
Mr. McCLOY. But you were not present to the best of your recollection when Brennan was in the showup?
Mr. FRITZ. I don't believe I was there, I doubt it.
(4-22-64 testimony before the Warren Commission, 4H202-247)
Now, this is suspicious, right? Fritz expects the commission to believe that the lead detective on a murder case (the killing of Officer Tippit) doesn't remember being in attendance at a showup involving two of the closest witnesses to this murder. Hmmm... That sounds strange.
But it gets stranger. Fritz also says there's no record of Brennan being at this showup in the DPD's records, but that he helped Agent Sorrels figure out when this showup occurred by ascertaining the names of the other witnesses present.
Well, that makes sense, uh, no, wait a second... On 4-7-64, Warren Commission Counsel Samuel Stern and John Hart Ely--ambitious young bucks, 34 and 24 years of age, respectively--interviewed Fritz in the company of his Lieutenant, T.L. Baker, in Dallas, in advance of his 4-22-64 testimony in Washington. Their 4-13-64 memo on this interview had then been placed in the Warren Commission's files. Well, this memo reveals: "Captain Fritz was asked whether Brennan had attended a showup. Neither he nor Lieutenant Baker remembered, but they stated that they would attempt to find out. Fritz believes that the police department makes records of even those showups where there is no positive identification, but he is not certain as to this practice."
This raises some questions. First, the procedural questions: 1) Why didn't Counsel Ball ask the question asked by McCloy?; 2) Did Ball give this question to McCloy so he'd look like he was on the...ball; 3) Or did McCloy just stumble on it? And now the more substantive question: 1) Did Fritz really expect the Commission to believe he not only couldn't recall being at the showup at which Brennan failed to ID Oswald, but being told of such a showup?
I mean, we have to call B.S. on this one, right? How could the lead detective on a murder case (the killing of President Kennedy) not know if the only witness claiming he could identify the killer was shown his (the detective's) top suspect, and had failed to identify him???
It seems clear, then, that Fritz lied to the Commission, and tried to cover up that he'd failed to write a report on Brennan's failure to ID Oswald. (One should note the irony, moreover--that Brennan's subsequently changing his mind and ID-ing the by-then dead Oswald had had the unforeseen side-effect of ID-ing Fritz as a destroyer of unfortunate evidence, and liar.)
P.S. It turned out that there actually was a notation within Fritz's evidence book on Brennan's appearance at a showup (or line-up). Here it is:
On 4-24-64, twenty-four days after the FBI's Frazier had asserted that the scope had been removed by someone in Dallas looking for fingerprints, (and slyly suggested that this person had lost the shims needed for the scope to be effective), Lt. J.C. Day, who'd inspected the rifle in Dallas, is called to testify. Amazingly, however, he is never asked about the scope, let alone about the shims. He does state, however, that after removing the barrel from the wood stock and trying to photograph the palm print on the underside of the rifle barrel which had immediately attracted his attention, he was told to stop working on the rifle, and that he "did not process the underside of the barrel under the scopic sight, did not get to this area of the gun." (4H249-278) This undoubtedly suggests the scope was not removed. So much for Frazier's speculation. So much for his and the commission's belief the scope was of assistance on 11-22-63.
Where Was Box A on 11-23-63?
Unbeknownst to the Dallas PD, FBI agents Robert Barrett and Ivan Lee gained access to the sixth floor sniper's nest on the morning of 11-23-63. They then took some pictures of their own.
These pictures were published by the FBI as part of the 11-30-63 FBI summary report of Robert Gemberling (aka CD 5). Two of the FBI's photos are shown above. The top box of the stack of three boxes captured in a series of DPD and press photos on 11-22-63 was now missing.
Two more of the FBI's photos are shown below.
And so I ask again...
No, Seriously, Where Was Box A on 11-23-63?
The FBI's 11-23-63 photos show but TWO boxes stacked up by the sniper's nest window, when the pictures from the day before showed THREE boxes stacked up by the sniper's nest window. Box A--the only box from the stack that could ever be linked to Oswald (via a subsequently discovered fingerprint and palm print)--was missing!
Now, I know what some are thinking. They're thinking that the box was sitting on the floor somewhere out of sight. But no, the box was missing. Really.
And we know this because... Texas School Book Depository warehouse manager William Shelley told us so...
Mr. BALL. Now, you recall going up to the sixth floor after the shooting, do you?
Mr. SHELLEY. Yes.
Mr. BALL. Did you go over to the southeast corner of the building where there was a window open?
Mr. SHELLEY. Not all the way; they had it blocked off.
Mr. BALL. Did you at a later time go over there?
Mr. SHELLEY. No, sir; not for several days afterwards.
Mr. BALL. Did you several days afterward go over there?
Mr. SHELLEY. After they released us to go back to work in the corner. We kept out for several days.
Mr. BALL. When you went back there, were there two Rolling Readers on top of a larger box?
Mr. SHELLEY. No, sir; those were carried in by the local authorities. The boxes---the Rolling Readers were there.
Mr. BALL. They were?
Mr. SHELLEY. But the boxes that they were originally packed in were gone--- they had been carried up to the police station.
Shelley claimed the boxes containing the Rolling Readers--boxes A and B--had already been carried off when he first saw the sniper's nest after the shooting. This was presumably the 25th--the day the DPD re-constructed the sniper's nest for a new set of photos.
But he also said the Rolling Readers themselves, which came 10 to the box, were there in the sniper's nest when he first got a look at it after the shooting.
So...let's look again at the FBI's 11-23-63 photos. If the Rolling Readers can be found in the FBI's photos, we know Box A (and B?) were carried off on the evening of 11-22-63, and not minutes before Shelley saw the sniper's nest on 11-25.
The Disappearance of Box A
As shown above, these Rolling Readers are not apparent in the DPD Photo taken on 11-22 (across top), but are readily apparent in the FBI Photo taken on 11-23 (across bottom).
So let's not be coy. Shelley's testimony about Box A, when coupled with Photo 19 from CD 5, more than suggests Box A was missing on the 23rd, it suggests Box A was missing on the 23rd because it was removed from the building by the Dallas Police on the night of the 22nd.
This did not go unnoticed, moreover. On 11-29-63, FBI agents Robert Barrett and Ivan Lee (who'd taken the 11-23 photographs) wrote a 4-page memo on the photographic evidence (the aforementioned memo found in the Weisberg Archives). It reveals: "A comparison of photographs taken by the PD, 11/22/63, of the sixth floor as they found it, and photographs taken by the FBI, 11/23/63, definitely shows that some items have been moved or removed, during the interim."
And that was it. The FBI failed to follow-up and conduct detailed interviews regarding the removal of a key piece of the crime scene prior to their photographing the scene the next day.
Perhaps they assumed the missing box had been taken to the crime lab on the 22nd.
But that's not all the memo reveals...
Oh, Yeah... Come to Think of It...
The memo reveals as well that Barrett and Lee had forwarded Dallas Police crime scene photos to the FBI on the 27th, and that "All PD photographs of the pertinent crime scene area on the sixth floor were taken on 11/22/63, between the hours of 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM."
Well, wait a second. The most revealing of the sniper's nest photos provided the FBI by the DPD was photo 14 (in Warren Commission Document 5, aka CD 5), and this depicted the sniper's nest as re-constructed on 11-25. Had the DPD "failed" to tell the FBI this photo was a re-construction? Apparently so.
This failure was not without its ramifications, moreover. Beyond the misrepresentation of the photo taken on 11-25 as a photo taken on 11-22 in CD 5, it was also misrepresented in Warren Commission Document 1 (the 12-9-63 summary report provided President Johnson on 12-5). Now, let's be clear. This was a photograph taken of a re-constructed sniper's nest on 11-25 incorrectly presented as a photo of the sniper's nest as found on 11-22...in a report provided the President.
This deception didn't last long, however. The earliest reference to photo 14 as a re-construction, and acknowledgement that most of the sniper's nest photos were of a re-constructed sniper's nest, for that matter, came in a 12-4-63 Dallas to FBI HQ Airtel built upon a 12-2-63 interview with Dallas Chief of Police Jesse Curry. (FBI file 62-109060 sec 25, p 78-83)
Had Day simply forgot to tell Agents Barrett and Lee that he'd taken a box or two to the lab on the 22nd, and returned them on the 25th, and that some of the photos he gave them on the 26th were re-creations?
Fables of the Reconstruction
No. It's worse than that. To begin with, the stack of four large boxes directly to the right of the presumed sniper's position were removed entirely. This is demonstrated by comparing this photo taken on 11-23 by the FBI...
with the following photos taken by the Dallas Police on 11-25...
Note here that the four boxes directly behind the window boxes have gone missing.
Now note the box eclipsing part of the seat box in this second photo. It seems probable that this box was atop the second stack from the seat box in the photos taken on 11-22-63 and 11-23-63. No, scratch that. As the stack with the box turned on its side was shorter than the stack closest to the camera in the photos of a re-constructed sniper's nest, but taller than this stack in the photos taken on 11-22 and 11-23, it seems fairly certain the top box from this stack was removed, for one reason or another...
So that's five missing boxes. No explanation has ever been offered for their disappearance, mind you. Were they taken to the crime lab and exposed to chemicals? Were they just shoved aside? No one was ever asked about this, and no one ever explained.
Now these boxes could have been moved for photographic reasons...so the window boxes and the seat box could get captured in the same shot.
But there's just something fishy about the movement of these boxes. The drawing below can be found in the Dallas Police archives, and on the University of North Texas website. It is the sniper's nest window area (with the south west corner of the building in the upper left corner) on a diagram listed as "Map of Texas School Book Depository #1." The University of North Texas website claims this was created by Officers B.G. Brown and Robert Studebaker. on 11-25-63. The rectangles represent stacks of boxes, and the numbers reflect the number off boxes in these stacks.
Note that in this drawing Box D, with its missing corner, is labeled A, and that the stack to the west of Box D...has been crossed-out. Hmmm...
Now let us look at the sniper's nest window area on "Map of Texas School Book Depository #2." This is the finished product. In the lower right corner of this map it reports "Sketch made 11-25-63 10:00 A.M. by Det.s B.G. Brown + R.L. Studebaker."
Well, why make this "map," if not to deceive? Sure, it may have been accurate--as of 10 A.M. on 11-25--but the officers creating this map knew full well it was inaccurate as of 11-22-63, when there were three stacks in the wall of boxes in back of the window, and not two.
Heck, if the UNT website is correct about the handwritten drawing being created on 11-25, they knew it was inaccurate as of earlier that morning...
Why remove this stack, and then create a "map" with an inaccurate presentation of the sniper's nest?
And why... yes, it took me a long time to realize this but, yes, it's true...turn around and change the measurements?
Look back at the original drawing. The distance from the wall provided for the two stacks behind the window is 1'11." Now look at the "map" created later. Has someone changed the 1 to a 2, to try and make out that this wall of boxes was really 2'11' from the south wall? I mean, I must admit this never occurred to me--it's so clear from looking at both the original photos and the re-enactment photos that this wall of books was 1'11" from the south wall. It's hard to believe someone would lie about it.
And yet someone did. Here's Lt. Day in his 4-22-64 testimony before the Warren Commission. They are discussing the location of a box visible in the Dillard photo taken just after the shooting, and whether or not this box--not the one on the window sill but the one on the west end of the "sniper's nest"--was also on the window sill.
Mr. BELIN. Let me give you another question. On Exhibit 715 there is only one box shown in the window actually resting on the ledge, which is the box that you identified the corner out of in the eastern part of the window shown on 482. Now, what is the fact as to whether or not this other box on 482 would have been resting on the ledge, or is it a pictorial view of something that actually was in back of the window?
Mr. DAY. I think this is one of the boxes 2 feet 11 inches back from the wall. There were two stacks of them, one behind the window sill that you see here.
WOW. That's three whopping lies in two sentences. More than one per sentence. (That's math. Pretty smurt, huh?) The boxes were not 2 feet 11 inches back from the wall. Obviously. And there were three stacks of boxes. Obviously. And two of these were behind the window sill, until someone (most assuredly Mr. Day and his team of crime scene specialists) removed one of the stacks for the "reconstruction" photos taken on 11-25-63. Obviously.
One struggles to come up with a legitimate excuse for this. If the DPD wasn't trying to fool anyone with the re-constructed photos, why oh why would they have gone back and altered their original drawing--which showed a stack in the sniper's nest that had been removed for the re-construction. I mean, why cross out the stack?
And why lie about the measurements? And number of stacks? In sworn testimony before the Chief Justice of the United States, even?
And why, come to think of it, create more than one false "map" of the evidence?
The Photo 3 Mystery
No, I'm not kidding. The evidence suggests the DPD faked another "map" as well...
Let's look at the "map" created by Studebaker to record the locations and directions of the crime scene photos taken on 11-22-63.
Here is a blow-up showing Studebaker's signature in the bottom left corner of the map.
And here is a blow-up of the southeast corner of the building.
Note the location and direction of photo #3 on the map. Here it is.
Now look at the blow-up below. The Rolling Readers apparent in the 11-23-63 FBI photos are apparent in this photo as well. Now look at the box I've marked with an "x".
As shown below, this box is in a different orientation than it is in DPD Photo #!, taken on the 22nd, and FBI photo #19, taken on the 23rd.
So why was this box flipped around or switched out for Photo #3?
Well, it seems obvious, doesn't it? Photo #3 was taken after the FBI took its photos on the 23rd. As the highest box in the front row of boxes by the window is missing in Photo #3, and is also missing in the re-enactment photos, moreover, it seems probable Photo #3 was actually taken on the 25th. But why?
And why did the DPD pretend Photo #3 was taken on the 22nd, to the extent Studebaker (R.L.S.) stamped it and signed it as being taken on the 22nd?
Hmmm... Was the "map" created by Studebaker to show the locations of the photos taken on 11-22 a fake, and not an honest record of the photos taken on 11-22? Or was this "map" legit, and Photo #3 a fake--inserted into the record as a replacement for a photo showing something that wasn't supposed to be shown?
Now, I know some are thinking, "Well, wait a second! Maybe the original Photo #3 was too blurry, so Studebaker re-took it on the 25th, and then told a white lie when he dated it as being taken on the 22nd."
Well, that's quite a stretch, but possible, I suppose. But, alas, that's not the last of the problems with the re-construction...
Two Bricks Down
As it turns out, boxes A, B, and C were also misrepresented in the reconstruction. This is shown on the slide above, and is confirmed by all the photos taken of the sixth floor window in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. These show Box B in the window, with its southeast corner on the ledge about half-way across the easternmost pane of the window. The photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest, however, place Box B 6 inches or so to the west.
So, yeah, the DPD misrepresented the location of the boxes. And this wasn't the last time this happened, mind you.
Here is a frame from some newsreel footage shot on 5-9-64. It is believed to a Secret Service Agent reenacting the shooting from the sniper's nest window, while Warren Commissioners Dulles, Cooper, and McCloy look on.
And here is a photo of a similar re-enactment performed on 9-6-64, when Warren Commissioners Russell and Boggs followed suit and performed their own Grand Tour of Dallas, along with repeat customer Commissioner Cooper. (And yes, you're seeing correctly. In this re-enactment the shooter was none other than Senator Richard Russell himself.)
Note that in both instances, the corner of the window box aligns with the center of the window. Well, this is the wrong location. It is, instead, the location the box was placed in the DPD's 11-25-63 re-enactment, 6 inches or more to the west of where it was at the time of the assassination.
Now, one might argue that the commission had no way of knowing the actual location of the window box at the time of the assassination, and that they had simply deferred to the DPD's photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest.
But that should not have been the case. They knew the DPD's photos were re-constructions, and they knew there were photos showing the actual location of the box. And they had them in their files. Photographer Tom Dillard, who took a photo of the sniper's nest window mere seconds after the shooting, testified before Commission Counsel Joseph Ball in Dallas on 4-1-64.
Here's a crop from one of the exhibits entered into evidence by Ball.
Now, let's not forget that Joe Ball had a junior partner, David Belin, with whom he worked so closely that they came to be known as a single-entity, Ball-Belin. Now let's add further that it was David Belin who hosted Dulles, McCloy and Cooper on their "Grand Tour" of Dallas in May 1964, including their viewing of the sniper's nest window, as Warner re-enacted the shooting.
So, yeah, it's crystal freaking clear that Belin, at the very least, should have known that the window box was in the wrong location during the 5-9-64 re-enactment.
Well, this raises some questions. Is it just a coincidence that the DPD's failure to accurately present the stack to the west of Box D, and its simultaneous failure to accurately present the location of Boxes A, B, and C, have the identical effect of giving a sniper sitting on Box D more room to maneuver, and fire?
And, similarly, is it just a coincidence that Belin and whoever set up the sniper's nest for the commissioners on 5-9-64 and 9-6-64 did so in accordance with the DPD's inaccurate re-enactment photos, even though photos depicting the boxes in their (presumably) original locations were available?
Was the actual sniper's nest just too crowded for anyone to comfortably fire three shots at a moving target, and re-write history?
Let me show you what I mean.
The Crowded Nest
The sepia overlays on the slide above provide an idea of just how crowded the nest really was.
Was this considered "too crowded" by the DPD? Did they seek to conceal this by constructing a more comfortable sniper's nest for their "re-construction"?
Now, this might seem a "so-what." The DPD placed Box B 6 inches too far to the west in their re-construction. So what? The DPD moved five boxes out of the way so they could take better pictures of the sniper's nest on 11-25. So what? And they took Box A to the crime lab on the 22nd. So what? Much as they brought the piece of cardboard torn from Box D back to the sniper's nest for the 11-25 re-construction of the sniper's nest, they brought Box A back to the sniper's nest for the re-construction. Right?
Let me explain. For photo 40 in Drain's 12-5 memo--this is the photo designated as photo 14 in CD 5, that had already been misrepresented as a photo of the crime scene as first observed in two FBI reports--it was claimed that the photo was taken while "Standing on top of boxes looking down towards boxes that were used in shooting."
But this just wasn't true--at least one of the boxes featured in the photos of a reconstructed sniper's nest was not a box that had been "used in shooting."
You see, not only did Day not tell the FBI most of his sniper's nest photos were of a re-constructed sniper's nest when first providing them with copies, he also failed to admit--ever--that the Box A used in these photos was not the original Box A.
I kid you not.
First, let's read the 4-6-64 testimony of Robert Studebaker (in which he discusses a photo that would become Studebaker Exhibit J, a photo of his and Lt. Day's 11-25-63 re-construction of the sniper's nest)...
Mr. BALL. The picture of the boxes; this is after they were moved?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir; they were moved there. This is exactly the position they were in.
Mr. BALL. It is?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes - not - this was after they were moved, but I put them in the same exact position.
Mr. BALL. Were they that close - that was about the position?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes.
Mr. BALL. Let's take one of these pictures and mark it the next number, which will be "Exhibit J."
(Instrument marked by the reporter as "Studebaker Exhibit J," for identification)
Mr. BALL. After the boxes of Rolling Readers had been moved, you put them in the same position?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes.
Mr. BALL. And took a picture?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And this is Exhibit J, is it, is that right?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Exhibit J, yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. Now, the box that had the print on it is shown?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. Was there any other indentation on that box besides that which is shown in the circle on 3?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. No.
And now let's read the 4-22-64 testimony of Lt. Day (in which he discusses CE 733, a different print of this same photo)...
Mr. BELIN. When you came back on the 25th where did you find this box, 641?
Mr. DAY. They were still in the area of the window but had been moved from their original position.
Mr. BELIN. Does that scar appear on the box in 733?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. I see there was one box in the window which you have reconstructed as being box 653, am I correct on that?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. And then there is a box which is stacked on top of another box, the upper box of that two-box stack is 641, is that correct?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. And there is a scar on top of that. Is this the same one that you referred to at the top of 641?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Do you have any independent recollection of this being the same box that you saw in the window, if you don't remember when you initialed it?
Mr. DAY. No, sir; except that it was still there in that area and had been dusted on the 25th. We did dust it on the 22d.
Mr. BELIN. Let me ask you this: When you were dusting it were there remains of the dust on there?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. When you put your initials on on the 25th were the dust remains still there?
Mr. DAY. The dust was still there; yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. On all of these boxes, 641 and 653, and now handing you 654, was there dust on 654 also?
Mr. DAY. All boxes had dust on them when I collected them.
Mr. BELIN. Were boxes Nos. 641, 653, and 654 open or closed?
Mr. DAY. They were closed and had books in them.
Mr. BELIN. Did they have tape around them?
Mr. DAY. They were sealed with tape.
Well, the sum of Studebaker and Day's testimony is that the boxes used in the sniper's nest re-construction were the boxes found (and dusted) on 11-22-63, and that they remained unopened. (This, as we've seen, was incorrect). Now, to make matters worse, they also claimed the indentation or scar on Box A (CE 641) is apparent in photos Studebaker Exhibit J and CE 733 (which are actually two prints of the same photo.)
Were they lying?
The Tell-Tale "Scar"
As demonstrated above, the "scar" on Box A in the re-constructed photo (at M) is not the "scar" on Box A in the original crime scene photo (at L), nor the "scar" on Box A currently in the archives (at R).
Well, it follows from this that the "Box A' used in the sniper's nest re-construction was not the real Box A, and that the re-construction was essentially a sham.
I mean, think about it. That the "scar" on Box A was simulated for the re-construction seems obvious, and suggests the use of the "wrong" box in the re-construction was not only not an accident, but a deliberate deception. That Box A was missing in the FBI photos taken but two days before, moreover, further feeds the probability something smelly was afoot.
And, yes, I know. Some of you are thinking the "scar" on the box in CE 733 could be the "scar" in the other photos, only filmed from a different angle, etc.
But the "scar" is not the only problem with the box in CE 733.
Here, see for yourself. Here is Box A as photographed in the sniper's nest on 11-22-63.
And here is "Box A" as photographed during Day and Studebaker's re-construction of the sniper's nest, on 11-25-63..
There are a number of differences between these two boxes. These include:
1. The "scar" is different on the two boxes, with the "scar" on the first box having a deeper gouge..
2. There is a dark mark on the top of the box photographed on the 22nd, that is not visible on the box photographed on the 25th.
3. The rectangular stamp on the side of the box facing the camera is aligned differently with the circular shape above it on the first box, than on the second box. To be clear, the left side of this stamp lines up below the right side of the circle on the first box, and the left side of the circle on the second box.
4. The ink on the left side of this stamp is much thicker on the box photographed on the 22nd than it is on the box photographed on the 25th.
5. There is a line within this stamp that is visible on the box photographed on the 22nd (the real Box A, if you will) that is not apparent on the box photographed on the 25th.
6. There is a dark line to the right of this stamp on the second box that is only sporadically apparent on the first box.
7. The upside-down words "Second Rolling Readers" near the middle of the top of the side of the box run parallel to the top edge of the box photographed on the 22nd, but run at an angle to the top edge of the box photographed on the 25th.
And that's not all. Look at the two pieces of tape along the shadowy side of the box in the re-constructed photo above. The piece of tape on the left is slightly higher than the piece of tape on the right side. Now look at what is supposedly the same two pieces of tape in Archives photo 33-3374a, the National Archives' most recent photo of this box. (Note that the arrow in this photo is purported to point to where a print of Oswald's right index finger was found on this box, and that this was thereby the west-facing side of the box.)
The tape on the right is higher. And not only that, the printed letters above the tape on the right in the re-constructed photo are nowhere to be seen.
Now I know some of you are skeptical. So here's the other side of Box A, in Archives photo 33-3375a.
The bottom of the tape on the right is well below the bottom of the tape on the left. This stands in opposition to the box in the re-constructed photo, in which the bottoms of the right side and left side are at the same level.
It's clear then. It's not the same box!
So what was up? Why would the Dallas Police use a replacement box for the photos of a re-constructed sniper's nest, and then send the original box on to Washington?
Well, the thought occurs that the original Box A was unavailable on the 25th. As this box was subsequently found to bear Oswald's prints, of course, the additional thought occurs that it was unavailable on the 25th due to its being in the possession of some person (or organization) involved in planting these prints on the box.
Now, this could have been a huge problem for the Warren Commission. Day and Studebaker's probable complicity in the faking of the "scar" on the box A used in the 11-25 re-construction undermined its entire case against Oswald.
I mean, think about it. If Day and Studebaker would so brazenly lie about the boxes why wouldn't they also lie about the bag? Or any and all of the evidence compiled by their department against Oswald?
It should come as no surprise, then, that Warren Commission counsel Ball and Belin either failed to catch their deceptions or failed to confront them about these deceptions on the record, and the problems with Exhibits 729 (which proves Day lied about Box D) and 733 (which proves Day and Studebaker lied about Box A) slipped under everybody's radar until I noticed them decades later.
Now, to be clear, I tend to suspect the latter--that the Warren Commission's staff was aware of some or all of the DPD's deceptions, and that they either opted to do nothing about it, or actively encouraged these deceptions.
And here's why...
More of the Same
The Warren Commission's staff not only failed to expose the many problems with the sniper's nest evidence as presented by the Dallas Police, they offered up some deceptive exhibits of their own.
Here's a prime example. Commission Exhibit 1301 is a copy of one of the Dallas Police Department's photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest--with notations added to demonstrate the locations of the fingerprints and palm prints found in the sniper's nest. Now, to be clear, this photo was first provided to the commission mid-March '64 as part of Commission Document 496, an FBI-produced booklet of pictures of the school book depository, which had been created in response to a 3-4-64 written request from Warren Commission General Counsel J. Lee Rankin to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
It demonstrates a lot more than the locations of the prints, however.
Should one have been in doubt that the Warren Commission knowingly misrepresented the location of the prints on the paper bag, one only has to look at the location of the prints on Box A in this photo. Because...ding ding ding... the location of these prints was once again misrepresented. And...ding ding ding...their misrepresentation once again helped sell that Oswald left these prints while preparing to shoot the President.
I mean, think about it... a left palm print in the bottom left corner of the top of a box and a right index fingerprint on the opposite corner suggests Oswald was sitting there with his hands on the top of the box, anxiously watching the motorcade... while a left palm print towards the middle of this box destroys this illusion.
If the inaccurate depiction of the location of these prints was an innocent mistake, then, it was quite the coincidence. Another "lucky mistake?" Only this time by the FBI?
It's hard to say for sure. But it seems clear the Warren Commission's staff, at the very least, knew something was rotten.
I mean, how could they not?
Demolishing the Reconstruction
We've already revealed that Studebaker Exhibit J, from the 4-6-64 testimony of Det. Robert Studebaker in Dallas, and CE 733, from the 4-22-64 testimony of Lt. J.C. Day in Washington, are two different prints of the same photo of a reconstructed sniper's nest.
But we haven't noted the differences between these photos. As shown on the slide above, the copies of the Dallas Police crime scene photos brought by Det. Studebaker to his 4-6-64 testimony portrayed the sniper's nest boxes as filthy, and covered with fingerprint powder. This was in stark contrast to the appearance of the boxes in the photos placed into evidence during Lt. Day's 4-22-64 testimony in Washington. Those copies came from the FBI, which had received a set of the DPD's photos back in November.
So what happened? The appearance of fingerprint powder in the photos provided by Studebaker could not have come from their being copies of copies, or anything like that. Unlike the FBI, Studebaker had access to the original negatives. It follows that, if anything, the boxes in Studebaker J should have had a cleaner appearance than the boxes in CE 733.
Just ask Studebaker.
Mr. BALL. Now, this is such a good set of pictures, can we have them?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. You will have to see Chief Curry. He gave orders that no pictures were to be released without his permission. You can call him, if you want to.
Mr. BALL. Well, I already have taken some of them.
Mr. STUDEBAKER. I'm sure he will. We have printed about 10,000 of them - it seems like that and I don't imagine that two or three more would make any difference. This is out of a master set - all of these pictures you have here.
Mr. BALL. The picture of the boxes; this is after they were moved?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir; they were moved there. This is exactly the position they were in.
Mr. BALL. It is?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes - not - this was after they were moved, but I put them in the same exact position.
Mr. BALL. Were they that close - that was about the position?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes.
Mr. BALL. Let's take one of these pictures and mark it the next number, which will be "Exhibit J."
(Instrument marked by the reporter as "Studebaker Exhibit J" for identification).
So...the prints of the photos presented by Studebaker to the commission weren't just half-assed re-prints, but were, instead, prints from the DPD's "master set" of photographs.
Well, then, maybe CE 733 is at fault. Maybe the boxes in CE 733 were brightened as a consequence of the copying.
Nope, that doesn't work either. The DPD's photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest were eventually digitized and published on the University of North Texas website.
Here is the DPD's original negative for a photo of the re-constructed sniper's nest (at L) alongside Studebaker Exhibit J (a DPD print purportedly made from this negative).
Note that in Studebaker J the front of Box B (the window box), the whole of Box D (the seat box), and the upper left hand corner of the nearest side of Box A (the rifle rest box) appear to be covered with powder. Now look at the original version of this photo at its left.
The taped side of the box above and to the left of Box D barely changed in appearance between the original image and Studebaker J, while Box D and parts of the other boxes became much much darker, with added splashes of black.
Someone monkeyed with Studebaker J to make it look like these boxes were covered with powder, correct?
If one should still have any doubts about this, moreover, one should take a closer look at Box B in the two photos. Areas of a similar contrast on the original image are presented as having a night and day contrast on Studebaker J.
The boxes were not filthy and covered with fingerprint powder, but appeared to be so in the exhibits prepared by Studebaker.
Well, it follows then that someone, quite possibly Studebaker himself, took some liberties while processing the photos put into the DPD's "master set" and then provided the commission, and tried to make it look like the boxes in these photos were covered with fingerprint powder.
Let's recall here a surprising slip by Sebastian Latona, when discussing Box D.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did you find evidence of processing prior to your receipt apart from the exhibit which is now 649?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; this particular area which has been cut out had been processed with powder.
Mr. EISENBERG. Was there powder on other areas of the box?
Mr. LATONA. I don't believe there was.
Now, to be clear, Latona told the commission he saw no signs any of the boxes had been dusted with fingerprint powder. He noted powder on the piece of cardboard ripped from Box D, the bag supposedly found in the building, and the rifle found in the northwest corner of the building, but did not recall there being any powder on the boxes. Hmmm... This seems like something he would have noticed, should these boxes have been thoroughly covered with fingerprint powder.
Well, the thought occurs that when Studebaker was photographed dusting Box B, it was but a lucky snapshot of a whale as it breached, as Studebaker had actually spent very little time dusting this box, or any other box, for that matter.
And that, as a result, the boxes in the DPD's photos showed little to no signs of having been dusted with fingerprint powder....
And that one box in particular, Box A in the re-constructed photos, showed no sign of having been dusted with fingerprint powder...because it wasn't actually present in the sniper's nest when Studebaker, however briefly, dusted the boxes.
And that this was something the DPD sought to hide...
The Small Print
As we've seen, the Warren Commission lied about the location of the left palm print purportedly found on the left side of the top of the Box A. Well, there are also problems with the right index fingerprint purportedly found on the top corner of the right side of Box A.
Let's return to the testimony of NYPD fingerprint examiner Arthur Mandella. When one looks at Commission Exhibit 662, Mandella's notes on the FBI photos sent him by the commission, one finds that Mandella studied 10 photos of prints on Box A, and that he ID'ed one fingerprint as Oswald's, and one palm print as Oswald's, and claimed there were 8 additional unidentified fingerprints and 4 additional unidentified palm prints (one of which he claimed showed insufficient characteristics) on this box. Now, this appears to match up with Commission Exhibit 3131, a letter sent the commission on 9-18-64, just days before the commission closed up shop, in which the FBI gave its final tally for the prints found on the boxes. There, they claimed that, in addition to the Oswald prints, they'd identified 8 fingerprints on Box A as being the fingerprints of Dallas Det. Robert Studebaker, 2 palm prints on Box A as being the palm print of Studebaker, and 1 palm print on Box A as being the palm print of FBI clerk Forest Lucy. Well, this leaves but one palm print, presumably the one Mandella claimed showed insufficient characteristics.
So everything's okay, right? Nope. When one looks at the photos of what is purported to be the print of Oswald's right index finger on Box A, as on the slide above, one can't help but note that the purported Oswald print was sandwiched between two much larger prints, presumably palm prints.
Well, not according to Mandella, who failed to note any palm prints on photo 25.
And it's worse than that. Mandella's notes claim the print on the right side of Oswald's fingerprint in photo 25 is identical to the identifiable print in photo 27.
Here they are, photos 25 and 27 from Commission Exhibit 656, when matched up by the size of the pre-historic post-it notes in each photo.
Well, heck. The middle print in 27 is almost certainly the print of a middle finger. And, heck, there's no way the print to the right of Oswald's print in 25 is the print of a middle finger. Not unless the print was mixed in with another print, or God forbid, Det. Studebaker (the possessor of the only non-Oswald fingerprints found on Box A) had giant fingers. Well, then maybe, just maybe, the print to the right of Oswald's print in 25 Mandella claimed was identical to the print in 27 was the print at the far right edge of the picture.
But if this is so, well, then, it means the print directly to the right of the purported Oswald print in photo 25 was not mentioned by Mandella in his notes.
Now, to their credit, the Warren Commission foresaw a time when people would come along and question the testimony of Latona and Mandella regarding which print was which on these boxes, and asked the FBI to create a "chart" showing the locations of the prints, both identified and unidentified, on these boxes. This request, moreover, was received by the FBI, and an 8-28-64 internal memo from Alex Rosen to his boss Alan Belmont reflects that, yessiree, Sebastian Latona was hard at work on such a chart in the weeks leading up to the publication of the commission's report. Here it is:
No chart of this kind is included in the commission's records. Are we to believe, then, that the FBI failed to provide the commission with such a chart? Perhaps. It should be noted that around this same time, Latona was tasked with identifying the previously unidentified prints on the boxes. Perhaps, then, he decided that the photos of the prints already entered into evidence during Mandella's testimony were sufficient. Or perhaps he realized that his "chart" would conflict with Mandella's testimony, and that it would be an embarrassment to his profession should his "chart" see the light of day.
There's also this.
The Overlapping Question
Now, it shouldn't come as a surprise that, beyond the problems with the underlying circumstances regarding Box A, there are problems with the overlapping prints on Box A.
And that is that the print attributed to Oswald appears to overlap a print believed to have been attributed to Det. Studebaker, who could only have touched the box after Oswald.
And no, I'm not kidding. Look closely at the overlapping areas below.
While the overlapping areas at the top of the image appear to show two prints on top of each other, with the print on the left (Studebaker's print) dominating, and appearing to be the fresher print, this does not hold true towards the bottom of the image, where Studebaker's print (the print on the left) appears to come to an end at Oswald's print.
Now think about that. Studebaker claimed he'd covered this box with powder, but was unable to find a print. So the Oswald print was not a particularly strong print. And yet it appears that a number of the ridge lines on the Studebaker print to the left of this print come to an end at Oswald's print.
If this is so, well, then, it should be obvious. The print was forged.
Now, hold it right there, I know some of you are thinking. The movement of a visible print from a fingerprint card onto the cardboard torn from Box D would be one thing, but the faking of the prints on Box A would be something else entirely...as it would involve placing Oswald's unseen prints onto a box before it was treated with silver nitrate, which would then make the prints visible.
But this is possible as well.
From Pat Werthheim in the Journal of Forensic Identification v.6 (1994): "The third method of forging a print involves using a genuine latent with substantial amount of oil or sebum in the latent. The forger would lift this latent, undeveloped, with a transfer medium. Regular tape can be used for transferring the print, as can clay, putty, smooth wax, cling wrap, waxed paper, or just about any smooth, non-porous material which can be pressed flat against a surface. The transfer medium picks up a portion of the fingerprint residue. When the transfer medium is then pressed against a second surface, some of the residue is left on the second surface."
So, yes, it's possible someone collected some sweaty prints of Oswald's from the police station, and transferred these to Box A. Of course, Box A was not sent to the FBI until after Oswald's death. And the Dallas crime lab and the FBI both admitted taking Oswald's fingerprints after his death. So, yikes, it seems possible one or more of these entities started off their post-mortem printing by smearing some oil on Oswald's hands and fingers, and then collecting some prints via a "transfer medium," y'know, just in case.
But even if this didn't happen, and the Oswald print does not overlap the Studebaker print, and I'm just seeing things, there's a problem with the prints on Box A that has nothing to do with my vision, and everything to do with my sense of smell.
Yes, there is yet another smelly fact about Box A. And that is that Robert Studebaker's signature runs right across the palm print determined to have been Oswald's palm print on this box. Now, it's unclear when Studebaker placed his signature on this box. At one point I would have assumed that he signed this box on 11-25-63, when he took this box from the school book depository down to the crime lab. But, this box wasn't actually in the depository on the 25th, now was it?
So where was it? I have an innocent explanation that's not so innocent. But it's the best I can come up with. When Studebaker was questioned by the HSCA in 1978 he made a surprising admission. Not only had he made numerous copies of various evidence photos and handed them out as souvenirs to a number of Dallas detectives, he'd made a complete set for himself, which he attempted to sell for 30,000 dollars (which translates to roughly 100,000 dollars in 2018), via Johnny Grizzaffi, a Dallas figure affiliated with organized crime.
So where was this box on the 25th? It seems possible that Studebaker, after dusting Box A and declaring it free of prints, took it home as a souvenir. This was the box, after all, with the scar, which many believed was created by the movement of the rifle during the shooting. It would have fetched quite a bundle on the collector's market.
If this is so, then, Studebaker returned this box after being told the FBI wanted it and that it was going to be sent to Washington.
We should recall here that, when Boxes A-D were sent to Washington, the FBI found only 2 prints (the palm print and fingerprint on Box A) that they could link to Oswald, but found another 25 prints that they believed could be identified. We should recall as well that they never got around to identifying these prints until 9 months later, after being pressured to do so by the Warren Commission. When they made this attempt, furthermore, they identified but 24 of these prints, leaving a palm print on Box B unidentified. On Box D, they found 2 prints which they attributed to FBI clerk Forest Lucy. On Box C they found 2 prints which they attributed to Studebaker, and 1 which they attributed to Lucy. On Box B they found 6 prints which they attributed to Studebaker, and 2 which they attributed to Lucy. And On Box A they found...10 prints which they attributed to Studebaker, and 1 print which they attributed to Lucy.
So Studebaker spent a lot of time with Box A.
Now, the problem with this theory--that Studebaker took Box A home but then returned it, and "dirtied" up the boxes in the photos of the reconstruction supplied the Warren Commission to hide that Box A was a different Box A that had never been dusted--is that I don't believe it's as simple as that. I just don't.
And why don't I believe it? Well, the story goes that Box D was dusted by Studebaker, and a palm print was discovered along its edge. It only makes sense then that Studebaker would sign the cardboard by the print. And the story goes that a palm print was found on the paper bag, right by Studebaker's initials. Now, Studebaker testified that he found a print on this bag--and one might be tempted to think the print by his initials was that print--except that Studebaker said he taped off that print, and Latona testified there were no taped-off prints on the bag when it reached Washington. So the story goes that Studebaker's placing his initials right by the palm print was just a coincidence, an incredible coincidence. I know that's tough to believe. But now consider that Studebaker signed Box A right across the middle of the box, and that--you guessed it because I already told you--it turned out he'd signed his name across the only palm print of Oswald's found on the box.
So that's three for three. Three palm prints attributed to Oswald are purported to have been found in the sniper's nest. And all three of them were found by Studebaker's signature or initials...even though two of these three prints were not discovered until after Studebaker signed or initialed the evidence.
Such a coincidence is a defense attorney's wet dream, folks. Present these facts. Then season the story with some facts about how easy it is to add a suspect's fingerprints onto an object once you get access to his fingerprints. And then recall Studebaker's subsequent admission he tried to sell copies of the crime scene evidence for money.
That's a recipe for acquittal.
A, B, But Not C...Or D?
Now, here's another little problem, that might signify a larger problem.
Here's a crop from a recent archives photo showing the signatures on Box A.
Note that Robert Studebaker signed the box below the current location of a white sticker pointing out the one-time location of the palm print, and that Studebaker's bosses, George Doughty and J.C. Day left their marks on the box above the current location of this sticker.
Now, here's a close-up of the signatures on Box B.
Well, there they are again--Doughty at the top, then Day, and then Studebaker's signature.
Now, look at the end of Box C, which was purportedly on top on 11-22-63.
Now this is admittedly hard to make out. So here's a close-up view of the only area in which I detect signatures or initials.
Where in the world are Doughty's and Day's marks? Studebaker marked it twice. He wrote RLS with a red pen--presumably the same pen with which he designated the direction the box was facing. And he also signed the box. Below his signature, moreover, is the upside down mark of FBI agent Vincent Drain, who supervised the collection of these boxes from the DPD. Drain's mark can be found on all the boxes, at various distances from the marks of the DPD.
But Doughty and Day signed Box A, Box B, and the cardboard ripped from Box D within an inch or so of Studebaker's marks. It's as if they didn't want him to get credit, or be put on the hot seat, whatever. But, as far as I can tell, they failed to mark Box C (CE 654)...anywhere on the box.
And yet, here's Day, claiming he sees his name.
Mr. BELIN. Turning to 654, do you see your name as a means of identification on this box?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; "J. C. Day." It also has the name "R. L. Studebaker" on it.
Mr. BELIN. I see there is an arrow pointing north here, is that correct?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. And the box appears with--it appears to have "top" written on the box as it stands on one end, is that correct?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; that is the top side as it was standing on the floor.
And here he is again, in a 6-9-64 FBI report, written in an attempt to shore up the chain of custody for the sniper's nest boxes, at the request of the Warren Commission: "Lieutenant Day stated he could identify these boxes as being the boxes he observed in the window and on the floor of the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963, inasmuch as he had placed his name on same." (CD 1258, p.16)
So where's Day's signature?
Let's reflect. Studebaker is purported to have dusted the boxes in the sniper's nest on 11-22-63 and to have found but one print--on Box D. It's purported, furthermore, that this print was then torn from the box. Well, think about it, this means that, as far as the DPD was concerned on 11-25, when they purportedly packed up Boxes A-D for shipment to the FBI, all four of these boxes were of equal stature, and equally likely to reveal Oswald's prints after being processed using silver nitrate.
So why did Day and Doughty fail to sign Box C?
And what about Box D? Good question. Box D was sitting upside down on the floor on 11-22-63. The corner torn from the box came from the bottom of the box. Since that time, the archives has released color photos of the boxes. But has, strangely, failed to release photos of the bottoms of these boxes. When I pointed this out to them, and offered to pay for color photos of the bottom of Box D (the only side of the box on which prints were found and marks were placed), moreover, I was rebuffed, and sent a Warren Commission photo of the bottom of Box D.
Here is that image:
Now here is Lt. Day's testimony about Box D.
Mr. BELIN. Can you identify by any way Commission Exhibit 648?
Mr. DAY. This has my name "J. C. Day" written on it. It also has "R. L. Studebaker" written on it. It has written in the corner in my writing, "Southwest corner box 18 inches from wall."
Mr. BELIN. I also see the name "W. H. Shelley" written on there. Do you know when this was put on?
Mr. DAY. W. H. Shelley is the assistant manager apparently of the Texas School Book Depository.
Mr. BELIN. Did he put it on at the time you found the box?
Mr. DAY. No, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Do you know when that was placed on there?
Mr. DAY. That was placed there November 26. The box was not removed, just the cardboard was removed on November 22. Excuse me, November 25 I should say that he put his name on there. I returned to the School Book Depository on November 25 and collected this box.
Now, I've studied every image of Box D in the photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest, and every photo of Box D in the commission's exhibits, and have zoomed in and changed contrast, etc. And have found some of what Day and Belin claimed to be able to read from the box.
I found Shelley's printed name by the white evidence tag on the commission's photo for Box D, and a lot of other writing nearby, including what appears to be the signature of Lt. Day.
But I could not find Studebaker's signature or Day's writing about the box on the photo sent me by the archives.
This led me to take a closer look at Box D as seen in the police photos of the reconstructed sniper's nest.
I found what could be Day's writing "Southwest corner box 18 inches from wall" in the corner of the box in the DPD's photos of Box D.
But the words didn't seem to match up exactly. He wrote "S W" and not "Southwest" and I couldn't make out "corner" at all. And I was confused as heck by his claiming he read "Southwest" in the first place. The box, at least officially, was sitting in the southeast corner of the building. Was Lt. Day really this sloppy?
As it turns out, I'm not the first to ask this question...
Mr. McCLOY. Did he say southwest on that or southeast?
Mr. BELIN. I believe he said that he has here that the southwest corner of the box is 18 inches from the wall.
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; that being the south wall.
Mr. McCLOY. This is the southwest corner of the box he is talking about?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. That is what is written on Commission Exhibit 648.
Mr. McCLOY. It depends on where that box was. It is kind of a removable direction, isn't it?
I agree with Commissioner McCloy. It does seem strange that Day would write down where a corner of a box purportedly running parallel to a wall was in relation to that wall, and think it's far more likely Day had a brain fart and thought the box was by the SW corner of the building.
In any event, I decided to compare this bit of writing against what I could make out on the commission's photos of CE 648.
Now here's a surprise. When I looked for it in the photo sent me by the archives, I found that this corner of the box had been smashed. Hmmm... In any event, Day's writing on the box in this corner was nearly impossible to make out on the photo sent me by the archives.
It then occurred to me that this corner looked familiar. I double-checked and, yessirree, this was the corner on which Sebastian Latona discovered two fingerprints...later identified as the prints of FBI clerk Forest Lucy. (Here's the WC's photo of these prints from CE 655.)
Well, this got me thinking. The corner of this box would have to have been smashed before Latona inspected this box and took his photograph of the prints left by Lucy. He did this on 11-27-63. Day testified almost five months later. Subsequent to the taking of the FBI's photos, as a direct response to the silver nitrate used to bring out the prints depicted in the photos, the cardboard making up Box D would have grown progressively darker. It seems doubtful, then, that Day could have made out his words about the SW corner on the box when he testified on 4-22-64.
But he made out as though he could anyhow... And he didn't mention Shelley's signature--Belin did! So, yikes, had Day honestly misread "W.H. Shelley" as "R.L. Studebaker"? Or was he willfully ignoring what was on the box as it existed at the time of his testimony, and, instead, reading from a list of what should have been on the box?
This led me to take another look at the first photo taken of the box.
The Missing Mark
The first photo taken of the box was taken on the afternoon of the shooting. But it wasn't taken by the Dallas Police or FBI. No, instead, it was taken by a Life Magazine photographer named Flip Schulke, who promptly stashed the photo away for decades before publishing it on a college website.
In this photo, the box is in the dark. But when I brightened the photo, I found the box retained much of its detail...but revealed no marks by Studebaker or Day, who both claimed they'd tore a corner off this box after developing a print on this corner. They claimed, moreover, that they assumed this print belonged to the assassin of the President of the United States.
AND YET...THEY DIDN'T EVEN SIGN THE BOX? To be clear, the print they claimed to develop on the torn-off corner of this box would be worthless as evidence if they couldn't show the box from which it was torn, in place, by the sniper's nest window. They were taking quite a chance when they left this box in place. But to not even sign it when they found the print?
Did Day and Doughty know the FBI wouldn't find Oswald's prints on Box C? And did Studebaker, not realizing he would need to sign Box D to have the print torn from it be of any value, have this same intuition about Box D?
And did they know this because, yikes, they were the ones adding Oswald's prints to these boxes?
I mean, why was Shelley's name on Box D, but not Studebaker's? Studebaker's prints were found on all the other boxes, but not Box D. Had Day and Studebaker returned to re-construct the sniper's nest...to find Box D had been moved? Did Day then enlist warehouse manager William Shelley in an effort to find the now-missing box? Had he then asked Shelley to sign the box, so he could verify the box had been moved but had never left the building?
Let's acknowledge here that Studebaker and Day insisted Box D was not moved between the day of the shooting and the re-construction of the sniper's nest on the 25th.
But how did Shelley testify? Shelley first testified on 4-7-64. He wasn't asked about his signature on Box D. David Belin noticed his signature during the 4-22-64 testimony of Lt. Day. Shelley testified again on 5-14-64. His testimony was taken by Joe Ball, Belin's partner. And yet, once again, he wasn't asked about his signature.
And this, even though much of his testimony was about the boxes found in the sniper's nest...
Now look at what Shelley did say about Box D.
Mr. BALL. There was also a Carton of books where they found some handprints and they cut a piece out of the top; do you remember that? Don't you?
Mr. SHELLEY. Yes.
Mr. BALL. Do you recognize that carton?
Mr. SHELLEY. That was another carton of "Think and Do" books--sixth grade.
Mr. BALL. Where were those cartons usually stacked?
Mr. SHELLEY. They were stacked in the southeast corner on the east wall.
Mr. BALL. About where that was found, was it not?
Mr. SHELLEY. Yes.
Mr. BALL. Now, the "Think and Do" books for the first-grade level, that was underneath the two Rolling Readers; was that out of place?
Mr. SHELLEY. Yes.
Mr. BALL. How far away from the place where those books were usually stacked?
Mr. SHELLEY. Where they were previously stacked was over near the west wall.
Mr. BALL. But where you had rolled them to; how far was it?
Mr. SHELLEY. Oh, about 3 feet.
Mr. BALL. About 3 feet?
Mr. SHELLEY. Yes.
Mr. BALL. And the "Think and Do" books, sixth-grade level, where the piece had been cut out to examine for his palmprint, was it in its proper place?
Mr. SHELLEY. Well, all that stock was stacked clear to the south wall on the cast side and some cartons had been moved and stacked on top of some more. There was an empty spot there and this one particular carton was sitting on it there.
Mr. BALL. By itself?
Mr. SHELLEY. Yes; by itself. By the side where the rest of them were.
Well, first, note that Ball is pushing that Box D was cut, and not torn. As discussed, this conceals that the DPD admitted tearing a piece of cardboard from the box--something that was highly unlikely should this cardboard have actually contained the palm print of a presumed assassin.
And, second, note that Box D was not actually out of place. Let's recall here that by the time of the DPD's sniper's nest re-construction on the 25th, someone had moved the four boxes of the stack to the west of Box D, and the top box of the next stack to the west. Well, this supports the possibility someone thinking Box D was unrelated to the shooting had moved it from its original location...
And that Lt. Day asked William Shelley to help track it down...and kept this off the record.
Now, I know some are thinking this is unfair to Lt. Day.
But let's get real.
Postcards From the Ledge
While working on this chapter, I came across a number of mysteries that I couldn't quite resolve. Perhaps the most perplexing of these is presented on the slide above.
In the upper left corner is CE 722, a photo entered into evidence during the testimony of Lt. Day on 4-22-64. It shows the view from the sniper's nest window down Houston Street. Across the bottom of the photo, one can only assume, is the ledge outside the window. So far, so good.
When one looks through the Dallas Police archives, however, one discovers that this was not the original photo presented by the DPD to depict the sniper's nest's view down Houston. That photo, Photo Number 17 on the DPD crime scene map, is on the upper right hand corner of the slide above. It is nearly identical to the photo presented by Day on 11-22, but shows different cars on the street.
So why the switcheroo? Well, to begin with, the ledge across the bottom of Photo 17 has been covered up--made darker--apparently on purpose, and presumably using the same technique used to make the boxes in the photos of the re-constructed sniper's nest appear to have been covered with gunpowder.
But why? And why did Day decide to present the WC with a different photo, which failed to display such alteration?
This led me to seek out the negatives of these photos on the University of North Texas website. These negatives are shown on the slide above.
Well, the negative to the photo presented the commission is whited-out across where the ledge should be shown. That this is not just the ledge when over-exposed is proved, moreover, by the negative to Photo 17, which shows an angle of shadow across the right side of the ledge. This shadow could not be whited-out through over-exposure without the substance of the photo also being whited-out.
So why was the ledge whited-out on the negative to CE 722, and why was it blacked out on Photo 17?
I have no idea. I have studied the ledge blacked out on photo 17, and covered by white on the negative to the photo published as CE 722. But I can't find anything on that ledge that is damaging to the Oswald-did-it scenario.
I did find this, however.
This is Commission Exhibit 724, the DPD's depiction of the sniper's nest view down Elm Street.
Now here is Lt. Day's testimony regarding exhibits 722 and 724.
Mr. BELIN. I hand you what has been marked as "Commission Exhibit 722 and ask you to state if you know what this is.
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. This is a view of Houston Street looking south from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building.
Mr. BELIN. Do you know when that was taken?
Mr. DAY. About 3 or 3:15, somewhere along there, on November 22, 1963.
Mr. McCLOY. You say from the sixth floor; was it from the farthest east window?
Mr. DAY. The south window on the east end of the building.
Mr. BELIN. You don't mean that. State that again. What side of the building was the window on?
Mr. DAY. It was on the south side of the building, the easternmost window.
Mr. BELIN. At the time you took Exhibit 722 had any boxes been moved at all?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Here is Exhibit 724, and I will ask you to state if you know what that is.
Mr. DAY. This is a view from the same window looking southwest down Elm Street. Actually this is the direction the shots were fired. When this picture was made----
Mr. BELIN. When you say this picture you are referring to---I think I have skipped a number here.
Mr. McCLOY. This is 722.
Mr. BELIN. All right. When 722 was made, you----
Mr. DAY. I did not know the direction the shots had been fired.
Mr. BELIN. All right. I'm going to hand you what I have already marked as 724. What about that one?
Mr. DAY. This was made, 724 was made, some 15 to 20 minutes after 722 when I received information that the shooting actually occurred on Elm rather than Houston Street. The boxes had been moved at that time.
Mr. BELIN. In 724 there are boxes in the window. Were those boxes in the window the way you saw them, or had they been replaced in the window to reconstruct it?
Mr. DAY. They had simply been moved in the processing for prints. They weren't put back in any particular order.
Mr. BELIN. So 724 does not represent, so far as the boxes are concerned, the crime scene when you first came to the sixth floor; is that correct?
Mr. DAY. That is correct.
Mr. BELIN. Let me ask you this: Had all of the boxes of the stack in 724 been replaced there or had any of the boxes been in a position they were at the time you first arrived at the building, if you know?
Mr. DAY. No, sir; they had not been placed in the proper position or approximate position at the time we arrived.
Now, what do we have here? Lt. Day has admitted that CE 722 was taken when he was under the belief the shooting took place on Houston Street. Well, this blows up his credibility. Yet again. The sniper's nest boxes--Boxes A-D--would have been a hindrance should the sniper have been firing down Houston St. Boxes A-C would have been in the way, and Box D would have been of no use.
Is it just a coincidence, then, that CE 722 (and its predecessor Photo 17) fail to show Box B in the window? This box should have been right in the middle of the photo, blocking off a section of the ledge, but it's nowhere to be seen. Was it moved out of the way? Or were 722 and 17 taken looking down over the top of the box shown in 724, from an extremely awkward position, with the photographer, presumably Day, crouched between the window and the first row of boxes, around 23 inches behind?
Such a view makes no sense should one assume the sniper was looking through the scope of a 40 inch long rifle.
722 was a deception, created to sell a trajectory Day knew to be unlikely given the layout of the sniper's nest.
Day's taking this photo while under the belief shots were fired at the limo on Houston is problematic, to say the least.
Of course, this being the Kennedy assassination, there's reason to doubt he even took this photo.
Day testified to taking CE 722 between 3 and 3:15, and taking CE 724 (at left) about 20 minutes later (i.e. 3:20-3:35). But the shadows on CE 724 reflect that it was taken an hour or more before George Smith of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram took his own images of the view down Elm (at right), along with Jack Beers, William Allen, and Dan Owens. This puts the Smith photo around 4:20-4:35. As we've seen, the combined statements of Beers and Allen put Smith's photo within a few minutes of 3:00, not 4:20 to 4:35.
So where does this lead us? Sunset in Dallas comes at 5:23 on 11-22. The shadow across the southern edge of Box B in Smith's photo proves the sun was still high in the sky. It seems probable, then, that the Smith photo was taken in the 3:00 hour, not the 4:00 hour. And this suggests that CE 722 was taken by Studebaker before Day's return around 3:00.
Still, let's double-check this. Let's compare the DPD photo at left above, with a photo taken by William Allen of the Dallas Times-Herald, within minutes of the photo taken by Smith.
And now let's match-up the tree in the background of these photos, and stack these images on top of each other.
The shadow on the ground moves just a few feet. This leads me to suspect then that my original estimate of the Smith photo's being taken an hour after CE 724 was incorrect, and that Day had, in fact, given the press a tour of the sniper's nest 10 to 15 minutes after the photo that became CE 724 was taken.
In any event, the difference in the shadows in these images makes me suspect CE 722 and 724 were taken by Studebaker, before Lt. Day returned to the building between 2:45 and 3:00. My research into this aspect of the case continues.
An Alternative Timeline
So let's try to put all these thoughts into a narrative, an alternative timeline of the DPD's investigation of the sixth floor crime scene.
Let's start with what the HSCA's investigators claimed Lt. Day had told them...
"On arrival, on the sixth floor, he went over to the Southeast corner and observed three "Hulls" on the floor. There were cardboard boxes stacked around the window. He believes that Captain Fritz was already at the scene, when he arrived. Lieut. Day took photographs of the scene and was able to lift a palm print from the top of a cardboard box stacked by the window at the S.E. corner.Lieut. Day removed (cut out) the piece of cardboard with the print on it. This palm print was later, positively identified as belonging to Oswald. He stated that he believes Captain Fritz told him that the rifle had been found. Lieut Day went back to the area of the freight elevator and observed the rifle between some boxes..."
The report then discusses Day's work on the rifle and journey to the crime lab. It then relates...
"The F.B.I, agent took Lieut. Day back to the T.S.B.D. where he took photographs and measurements until about five or six o'clock."
Well, let's stop right here. Not only does this report suggest that Lt. Day told the investigators he'd cut the cardboard from the box, it suggests that he'd done as much before he even heard about the rifle..
Now let's look at what Lt. Day told Gerald Posner about the boxes in the window and the print on Box D...
"These things were being moved around all the time, so I thought we might get the shooter's prints mixed in with the workers' in the building...But there was one print that I knew was fresh and important the moment it came up."
Now...what's this? Was Day trying to conceal that they found but one print? He continued:
"At the window the assassin fired from, there were two stacked boxes, one on the floor and the other stacked on top, and that is apparently what he aimed from. A little behind that was a carton of books. That position is where he would have sat and looked out the window. It was plenty heavy enough to support him. When we used metallic powder on that box, toward the top of the corner, was a distinct palm print--right where t looked like he had been leaning his hand as he waited for the motorcade. He might have been a little nervous, because as he leaned his hand there, the oil or moisture in his hand left a very clear, unsmudged print. Usually, you can't get a print that good from cardboard, but he had been sitting there long enough to leave a real fine one."
Well, this was gobbledy-gook. Day was trying to convince Posner the surprising quality of the print was related to Oswald's sitting there a long time. But this wasn't true. IF Oswald had been sitting there sweating for any length of time he'd have almost certainly 1) left more than one print on the box, 2) smudged up the print on the box where he'd placed his hand, and 3) shown signs of being sweaty and nervous-looking when confronted by Officer Baker on the second floor moments later. The quality of the print and the fact no other prints were found is an argument for Oswald's having only sat on the box for a moment, not for his having sat there awhile.
Day then continued: "We knew we had a real good print, but we didn't know whether we would match it up to anyone." (Case Closed, 1993, p.270)
Now that's a good point. This print was (at least according to Day) raised around 3:00 on 11-22. While Oswald was in custody at this time, he wasn't finger-printed until 8:00 or so that evening. In the meantime, many of his co-workers, including the whole sixth floor work crew (Shelley, Lovelady, Arce, Williams, Givens, Dougherty) had been dragged down to the police station and interviewed. So why hadn't the DPD prepared for the possibility the print couldn't be matched to Oswald by taking the prints of his co-workers? This was standard procedure. Had they simply not thought of it? Or did they fail to do so because they knew, somehow, that the only print they found would be linked to their only suspect, Oswald?
Now let's look at what Lt. Day told Larry Sneed...
"One of those boxes near the window had a palm print on it. Looking out the window, it was in just the right place where you'd rest your palm if you were sitting on a box. We used a metallic powder and got a palm print which later turned out to be Oswald's.
All those boxes which had his fingerprints on them didn't mean that much to me at the time because the man worked there and handled the boxes. I didn't take all those with me. The prints that we got from the box he was sitting on meant something to me because there weren't any prints on the side of it, just on the top of the corner, indicating that he had not picked it up during the normal course of work. We just tore that off and didn't take the whole box with us." (No More Silence, 1998, p.234)
Well here, once again, Day was making out that the DPD discovered a bunch of prints, but only one that was "special."
And now, finally, let's look at what Lt. Day told Bob Porter, in an 8-15-96 Sixth Floor Museum Oral History...
"That palm print, this part of the palm, was right on the corner of that box. It popped up pretty good. I say it popped up, it appeared pretty good when we put powder on it. Whoever had put it there used a lot of pressure and got a lot of oil off his hand on the box. We didn't at that time find prints on any other boxes that I remember. Of course, powder is not the best way to check a print on a cardboard box. You need a chemical there. We did find that one using the powder, and we selected that print because it looked like it might have been left by someone sitting on the box."
And then, later, when talking to Porter...
"Prints at that time didn't mean too much to me because he worked there. But the one box which somebody had apparently been sitting on, that palm print, did mean something. The way it was on there, it didn't look like somebody had picked it up. It looked like they was just resting on it. And they really put pressure on it to put a lot of grease, oil on their hand. About three or four days later, two days something, I don't remember, but I got another directive from the chief's office...release everything you have to the FBI. I hadn't done anything with any of that other stuff. I think they did have us go back and collect those boxes, many of those boxes down there. I don't remember exactly when that was. But they were given to the FBI also. It was my understanding that they did find prints on those boxes belonging to Oswald, but they used a chemical rather than a powder. But I never got around to using chemicals."
Now, this is curious. For years Lt. Day acted as though the DPD had found a number of prints on the boxes, but only one "special" one. He then admitted they'd found but one, but still hung onto the idea they'd "selected" this oh-so-special print. Well, this sends my head-a-spinning.
So...let's take this for a spin. If (per Latona) Box D wasn't dusted with fingerprint powder, and (per Day's interview with the HSCA investigators) Day retrieved the box top before working on the rifle, and (per Day's subsequent statements to Posner, Sneed and Porter) Day "selected" the palm print on the seat box because he thought it "meant something," well, this suggests that Day/Studebaker decided to take the box top as an insurance policy, of sorts.
Now, add onto this that Day and Doughty signed Boxes A and B, but failed to sign Box C, and that Studebaker, to all appearances, failed to sign Box D. Well, this suggests that Day, Doughty and Studebaker knew Oswald's prints would not be found on Boxes C and D.
Doughty, we should add, was in charge of fingerprinting suspects. Day, of course, was in charge of finding latent prints, and matching these prints to suspects. Studebaker was in charge of the crime scene in Day's absence. The thought occurs, then, that the three of them were capable of conjuring up evidence should they wish to do so, and of making this evidence stick.
Now, if this is true... if they did in fact conjure up some of the evidence against Oswald, well you wouldn't expect them to ever admit this, right? You would, instead, expect them to tell some real whoppers.
And not just them... 1993 marked both the 30th anniversary of the assassination and the release of First Day Evidence, a book written by Gary Savage but inspired by and written with the cooperation of his uncle, Rusty Livingston, a Dallas crime lab employee in 1963, working under Lt. Day. On page 180-181, Savage reveals: "Rusty told me that he helped to process the boxes in the Crime Lab Office after they had been brought down on the Monday following the assassination...Rusty told me that he did develop some prints on the boxes using silver nitrate and determined that they were Oswald's."
Well, this was a flat-out freakin' lie. As we've seen, Day and Latona were on the same page on this issue and claimed the boxes were not tested with chemicals prior to their being sent the FBI. Well, it follows then that Livingston was lying to his nephew to inflate both his own role in the assassination investigation, and the case against Oswald put together by Day and his team.
This gives us yet another reason to doubt the integrity of the DPD's crime lab employees, and wonder if they didn't fudge some (or even most) of the evidence suggesting Oswald shot Kennedy.
And, yes, I know it would be cherry-picking to say this is how it definitely went down, or anything like that, but the point is that we really know very little about what actually happened, as too many holes were left in the official story, and too many lies told in sworn testimony. Even if these lies were mistakes, simple stupid mistakes, moreover, the nature and number of these mistakes makes it impossible to come to a firm conclusion about Oswald's guilt or innocence beyond that the government's case against Oswald was weak weak sauce that may very well have evaporated when placed under a microscope by a gifted defense attorney.
Well, this is the preponderance of doubt described at the beginning of the last chapter.
And, yeah, I know some of you are thinking I've forgotten all about the seemingly damning fact Oswald's palm print was found on the rifle used to kill the President.
Was the scene of the crime a scene of a crime?
Above: a Jim Murray photo of The Dallas Homicide and Robbery Bureau on the weekend of the assassination. The men in the foreground from L to R: Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade, Det. C.W. Brown, Capt. Will Fritz, and Dallas Chief of Police Jesse Curry.
Watching the Detectives
While it is frequently asserted that Oswald left his prints at the crime scene, and that this proves his guilt, an argument can be made that the dubious nature of these prints forms a different set of prints, so to speak, and that these suggest the guilt of others. One needn't stretch much to make this argument, for that matter. There is, in fact, plentiful evidence that at least some of the evidence used against Oswald was manufactured by the Dallas Police and/or FBI.
Now, admittedly, there are no confessions...no smoking guns proving the manufacture of this evidence, but the stench of collusion smothers most every artifact in the case, and the DPD and FBI behaved, from day one, like they had something to hide. We are fortunate, however, in that the organizations disliked each other, and that, as a result, some of the problems with the case were allowed to bubble to the surface, tainting most of the evidence, and swaying the consensus of Oswald's guilt away from the preponderance of guilt accepted and pushed by the Warren Commission, to a preponderance of doubt.
Now, how does one best demonstrate this doubt? Well, we shall employ a two-pronged attack. First, we shall examine the evidence itself, and discuss problems with the evidence. Some of these problems have been discussed for decades, but many of them are discussed here for the first time.
And, second, we shall discuss context--the circumstances under which the evidence was collected, and entered into evidence, and whether these circumstances should contribute to our doubts about the evidence. Included within this corral, moreover, is the behavior of the witnesses testifying about this evidence. While single-assassin theorists locked in Oswald-did-it mode love to recount problems with what Oswald was purported to have told his accusers, and claim his possibly lying as evidence of his guilt, they fail to acknowledge that this is a two-way street, and that there are significant problems with the statements of the Dallas Police as well.
We will be putting these problems under a microscope.
But first, a reminder. The questionable behavior of the Dallas Police did not go unnoticed by the Warren Commission's staff. They just refused to address it. While writing The Death of a President in 1964, William Manchester was provided access to the Warren Commission's staff. Here is his footnote to page 426.
"The author recalls a colloquy between three lawyers of the Warren Commission staff on June 27, 1964, when the Commission's report was being drafted. Here are notes of it: 'X: 'How critical of the Dallas police should we be?" Y: 'We can't be critical enough.' Z: (senior man): 'That's just the problem. If we write what we really think, nobody will believe anything else we say. They'll accuse us of attacking Dallas' image. The whole report will be discredited as controversial. We've just got to tone it way down.' There was a spirited discussion, after which X and Y consented."
And here, from page 513 of The Death of a President, is a related comment by Manchester: "Anyone familiar with police mentality knows that law enforcement officers interpret the law freely, and that it is an article of faith among them that a suspect is guilty until proven innocent. The case against the warehouse stock boy had been airtight within three hours of the murders..."
The Question of Competence...Dallas Edition
Still, before we get all wrapped up in what actually happened, we should remind ourselves (or establish for the first time, if you're not a CSI freak) what should have happened.
1. Excerpts from Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation, by Charles E. O'Hara (1956, 1970).
p.615 "observation should be made of points of entrance and departure, and such objects as doorknobs, window sills, door panels, windowpanes, and porch railings."
p. 616 "Latent fingerprints of value for comparison are not frequently found at the scene of a crime. This is attributable to the delicate nature of the print. To deposit a thin layer of perspiration or grease in the complicated pattern of the friction ridges optimum conditions must be present. The surface must be such that it can retain the print without absorbing and spreading it. Thus hard, glossy objects such as glass and enamel painted walls and doors represent ideal surfaces. Dirty surfaces and absorbent materials do not readily bear prints. The fingerprint, moreover, must be deposited with the right amount of pressure. The object must not be touched with an excess of pressure, since this tends to smear the print. A movement of translation of the finger will result in a smear. The fingers of the person depositing the prints must have a certain degree of moisture or should have some body grease on the ridges. When all these requirements are fulfilled a good latent fingerprint is deposited."
p. 622 "Prior to removal from the scene, the latent print should be photographed one-to-one, or actual size, and also in a way to show relationship with the surrounding area."
"Articles bearing fingerprints should be marked for identification and packed according to instructions."
"If it is inconvenient to move an object because of its excessive size or weight, it may be necessary to detach the part bearing the fingerprint. For example: ...2) Windows may be removed from frames or panes of glass taken from sashes...4) Boards may be lifted from floors or paneling from walls...j. Under ordinary circumstances, it is advisable to leave the fingerprint impression on the surface where it was found. Its subsequent introduction in court in its original location serves to enhance its evidential value."
p. 624 "many authorites on the subject of fingerprint identification state that the lifting process should be employed only when it is impossible to secure good photographs."
2. Excerpt from The Science of Fingerprints, U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, undated edition presumed to have been in use during 1963
p.187 "If a fingerprint is visible, an effort should be made to photograph it before any attempt is made to develop it. In every case a print developed with powder should be photographed before lifting. It sometimes happens that the print does not lift properly although it may be quite clear after development."
3. Excerpts from Crime Scene Search and Physical Evidence Handbook, U.S. Department of Justice, October 1973.
p 16. "one of the principle legal requirements in introducing physical evidence in court is the ability of the person who collected it to later identify it and accurately report the circumstances of its collection and custody. An adequate record of the crime scene aids considerably in this identification process. But just as important is the support the written and photographic record of the scene gives to the furtherance of the investigation and examination of the physical evidence by laboratory experts. Finally, the investigator's notes provide him with an immediate reference as to the actions taken during the search and with a ready means of doublechecking on the thoroughness of those actions before leaving the scene of the crime. The amount of detail involved in a major case is usually so large that very few investigators can successfully rely on their memories."
p.18 "Although the circumstances of the case must always govern the investigator's actions in processing the crime scene, experience has shown that the following general rules are useful in helping to systematize the search and to prevent error...
All of the major evidence items are examined, photographed, recorded and collected, as appropriate, taking them in the order that is most logical, considering the requirement to conserve movement. Making casts and lifting latent prints from objects to be moved from the scene is done as necessary. Items should not be moved until they have been examined for trace evidence. Fingerprints should be taken, or at least developed and covered with tape, before the object is moved...
p.19 After processing the more obvious evidence, the search for and collection of additional trace material is commenced, Trace evidence should be searched for and collected before any dusting for fingerprints is done.
After the trace materials have been collected, other latent prints are lifted.
When sweeping or vacuuming, surface areas should be segmented, the sweeping from each area packaged separately, and the location of their point of recovery noted.
Normally, elimination fingerprints and physical evidence standards are collected after the above actions have been completed...
Trace Material Collection...
Items that will be transported to the laboratory should also be carefully examined before moving them. (By this stage in the search, such items should have been recorded in the notes and in the sketch, and photographs taken of them during the preliminary examination.However, if an item is a new discovery, it should be recorded before it is moved.) Any friction on on a surface will destroy fingerprint traces; therefore, nonporous materials, such as glass, metal, and finished wood, should be processed for fingerprints, or at least the prints should be developed and covered with tape before transporting the item to the laboratory."
p. 51. "It is helpful to view the scene as the criminal did. Hence, such conditions such as time of day, weather, and physical layout may suggest that certain surface areas should be closely examined... Whatever the nature of the crime and the particular circumstances, its reconstruction by the investigator is intended to give practical direction ot the search."
p. 57 "No attempt should be made by the crime scene investigator to develop latent prints on absorbent surfaces with fingerprint powder. To do so, under ordinary conditions at the crime scene, usually results in failure and creates serious problems for the fingerprint specialist at the laboratory.
High humidity will destroy prints of this type by causing them to diffuse. Evidence such as pieces of paper, cardboard, etc., should be placed in containers with tweezers or handled carefully by the edges."
p 58 "Before submitting lifted latent prints recovered from the crime scene to a fingerprint technician for examination, elimination prints of all persons who may have had access to the area should be made. With elimination prints, it is possible to exclude from the prints lifted all persons who had legal acess to the crime scene."
Now, that's what should have happened...but there's also this to consider.
4. Excerpts from Invisible Evidence, by William Turner, 1968
p.115 "The suspect is printed (and photographed) immediately following arrest and a duplicate card prepared if local submissions are routinely made."
p119 "Since prints of all ten fingers are required to form a classification, the chance print or two at the crime scene cannot be searched through the central file. Thus it is necessary to find a suspect before the print is of any use."
Let this last point sink in. Prior to 1968, when the FBI compared a latent print found on the rifle used to kill Martin Luther King, Jr. to hundreds of fingerprint cards before matching it up to the print of an escaped convict, James Earl Ray, prints found at a crime scene were essentially worthless without a suspect to match them to.
Now, this puts it all in perspective, right? Crime scene investigators saw themselves as assistants to the detectives conducting the investigation, and not as a separate team of investigators, which could help clear a suspect. Latent prints were collected for offensive purposes only. If they could place a suspect at the crime scene, they were important. If they suggested someone else was at the crime scene, they were ignored. Only not quite... Latent prints found at crime scenes that could not be linked to a suspect were supposed to be eliminated from suspicion via the taking of elimination prints...that is, the taking of prints of those known to have handled a weapon or been at a crime scene, whose prints might reasonably be found on that weapon or at that crime scene.
As discussed in chapter 2, however, this was not done. Over 2 dozen prints were found on the 4 boxes removed from the sniper's nest, but only 3 of these prints were linked to Oswald by the FBI and Warren Commission. A number of these prints, moreover, were duplicates, that is, they were known to have come from the same hand from the same man (or woman).
And yet the FBI failed to do the basics--to take elimination prints and establish whose prints were all over these boxes--prior to the Warren Commission's nagging them into doing so, more than nine months after the assassination.
So, no, the FBI did not conduct a proper investigation.
Well then what about the Dallas Police Crime Scene Search Section, the agency collecting the bulk of the evidence against Oswald? Did they know how to conduct a proper investigation? And did they do so?
The Crime Scene Search Section members tasked with inspecting the sixth floor crime scene, and protecting and evaluating any evidence they could uncover, were Lt. J.C. Day and Det. Robert Studebaker. Were they competent?
Yes and maybe. A little background is in order. By 1963, Lt. Day had been working in the fingerprint section of the Dallas Police Department for 15 years. He had been the head of its Crime Scene Search Section for 7 years. He had taken courses on fingerprinting from the FBI, and was presumed to be a competent crime scene investigator. He would head the crime lab for another 13 years.
Studebaker, however, was a different story. While a nine-year veteran of the Dallas PD, and an experienced detective, he'd only been working with the Crime Scene Search Section for 7 1/2 weeks at the time of the assassination. He would, however, continue on with them for another 10 years.
So...in the eyes of the DPD, at least, both men can be presumed to have been competent.
Let us depart, then, from this plane of what should have happened...and dive into the abyss of what actually happened...
The Missing Photos
For many students of the JFK assassination, the paper bag supposedly found in the sniper's nest remains the most compelling piece of evidence linking Oswald to the shooting. I mean, here it is, wrapped up in a ribbon: a bag with the suspect's prints on it, found in the sniper's nest, after the suspect was seen carrying a large object wrapped in a bag into the building, and his rifle was found elsewhere in the building. It's just too sexy.
But on close inspection, it falls apart.
The only photo of the paper bag in the Dallas Police Archives is a photo in box 12 folder 7 file 1. It is shown above.
The description for this photo in the DPD Archives reads "Photograph of the evidence sent to the FBI. Date unknown." The bag in this photo appears to be more than 8 inches wide and could quite possibly be the bag in the FBI and Warren Commission photos. The bag appears to be discolored, for that matter, which suggests that this is a photo of the bag after its return from the FBI Crime Laboratory, where it had been discolored by silver nitrate. Sure enough, this photo can also be found in the FBI files (62-109060 Sec EBF, Serial 1866, p73). Here, however, on the page just before, the back of the photo is presented, and bears the date 11-26-63.
Should one find that unconvincing, one should know that this photo also makes an appearance in Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry's 1969 book JFK Assassination File. Here it is listed as "Evidence released to the FBI Laboratory for tests." No date is provided. Fortunately, however, Curry lists all the items in the photograph, and this tells us what we need to know. Item #5 is listed as "Textile fibers found on the left side of the butt plate of the recovered rifle." These fibers were officially undetected in Dallas, and only discovered during an examination in the FBI Crime Lab on 11-23. This proves that this photograph was taken after the return of the evidence to Dallas. More telling, Item #2 is "Oswald's right palm print found on a book carton which was part of the sniper's perch in the book depository." A close look at the piece of cardboard holding this palm print, moreover, reveals that it has the signature of Lt. J.C. Day along the bottom. Photos taken on the 25th of the sniper's nest, with this piece of cardboard re-attached to its box, reveal that Day had not yet signed the cardboard.
Well, this proves it then, several times over--the only photo of the paper bag in the Dallas Archives is a photo of evidence shipped out on the 26th.
Should one still have doubts, however, one should consider once again the Warren Commission testimony of Lt. Day. When presenting this photo as exhibit CE 738, Day readily admitted he'd taken the photo on the 26th. The Warren Commission, in turn, entitled this exhibit "Photograph of property released by the Dallas Police Department to the FBI on November 26, 1963."
So why did the Dallas crime scene investigators not only fail to photograph the paper bag when found on the scene in the school book depository, but at any time prior to Oswald's death?
Something's undoubtedly wrong here. Really really wrong.
The mind-numbing level of this "wrongness" only gets stronger, however, when one reads the captions to the photos in Curry's book. Here, after confidently presenting evidence such as "the 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, C2766, with a four power scope which was recovered from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository", and captioning the fibers in the evidence photo mentioned above as "Textile fibers found on the left side of the butt plate of the recovered rifle," Curry equivocates on the status of the bag in the photo. He writes "A paper bag probably constructed from wrapping paper and tape at the Texas School Book Depository...This is probably the same bag which was found on the sixth floor by investigators."
Yes, you read that right. He wrote "probably." Twice... If Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry had doubts about the bag, then why the heck shouldn't we?
As discussed in the previous chapters, the only witnesses claiming to have seen Oswald carrying a bag on the morning of the 22nd (Buell Frazier and his sister Linnie Mae Randle) felt the bag they saw in Oswald's possession was not long enough to have held Oswald's rifle, and was far shorter than the bag shown them by the Dallas Police and FBI. We have discussed this problem in detail in the previous chapters.
So that's two strikes against the bag as evidence.
Strike 1) the only witnesses to see a bag in Oswald's possession on the morning of the shooting refused to identify the bag taken into evidence as the bag they saw in Oswald's possession.
Strike 2) this bag was not photographed in place in the building after the shooting nor in the Dallas Police Department's Crime Lab on the night of the shooting.
And these aren't the only problems with the bag.
We shall now discuss a multitude of additional problems with the bag, and determine whether or not these problems constitute a third strike, which, to use a baseball metaphor, would mean it strikes out, and is useless as a piece of evidence against Oswald...
Or even worse, suggestive of a frame-up of Oswald conducted by the Dallas Police, FBI, and Warren Commission...
Let's start with the earliest known photos of the bag.
As shown on the slide above, the bag was photographed by a number of photographers as it was removed from the depository around 3 P.M. on 11-22-63. The time is recorded by Det. Montgomery's watch in the fourth photo from the left.
Seeing as this photo, after its initial discovery by John Hunt in the FBI files, and posting on the no-longer-with-us JFK Lancer Forum, has largely disappeared form the internet, I reproduce it in full here.
Now, here is a close-up of the watch in this photo. (And yes, it's been rotated so we can read it.)
So, yeah, no bull, these photos were taken at 3:00.
More to the point, these photographs show a large light-colored bag that tapers from an open end at the bottom of the photo, to a much-wider closed end at the top of the photo.
Well, as we've seen, the bag later photographed by the Dallas Police is both much darker...and of much different proportions. As shown above, the bag in the FBI photos presented to the Warren Commission measures about 8 1/2 inches at its open end, the width of a sheet of typing paper, or for those of a more recent vintage, printer paper.
Now, this is most surprising. The bag photographed outside the depository appears to be much wider than a sheet of typing paper.
Ye Olde Switcheroo?
That the bag photographed by the press as it was removed from the school book depository was far wider than, and bore scant resemblance to, the bag later photographed by the FBI, and put into evidence as a bag bearing Oswald's prints, is demonstrated once again on the slide above.
When one matches up the folds, the closed end of the bag is inches wider in the press photos than it is in the FBI photos.
It simply defies belief that the bag in the press photos is the same width as the bag in evidence as Commission Exhibit 142.
The Dark Side of the Bag
And yet, one reaches for an "innocent" explanation for the different widths of the bag outside the depository, and the bag now in the archives.
A close inspection of the FBI's photos of the bag proves helpful.
Five problems with the bag are identified on the slide above. Problems 2, 4, and 5 can be explained by the bag's being flattened out by the FBI, or by the low resolution of the FBI photo as published. But problem 1 (that the bag in the press photos is far wider than the bag in the FBI photos) and problem 3 (that the bag in the archives has an angled fold on its closed end that is not apparent in the press photos) are insurmountable.
But possibly connected... Researchers John Hunt and Tony Fratini have found folds and marks on other FBI photos of the bag which suggest that the bag in the FBI photo is in fact the bag in the press photos. This has led me to reconsider my earlier conclusion the bag in the FBI photos was a different bag entirely than the bag in the press photos. And to wonder if instead the bag was refolded and reconfigured into a thinner more uniform dimension subsequent to its removal from the building.
Let's see if this makes sense. The angled fold near the sealed top of the bag in the archives photo is not apparent in the press photos. Well, it follows that several inches of the bag could have been swallowed up in this fold, in order to make the irregularly shaped bag more rectangular, and more in line with the 6-inch wide bag recalled by Buell Frazier.
There are NO photos of the inside of this bag, which might show us what happened to the now-missing inches.
Or perhaps inch. (It has been argued that some of the apparent width of the closed-end of the bag in the press photos is an illusion created by the closed-end's being closer to the camera than the open end.)
O.K. Concession made.
But a problem remains with the width of the bag...
Width, Not Length
And it appears that the Dallas Police were aware of this problem...
Warren Commission Exhibit 1302 appears on the slide above. This is a photo of the southeast corner of the sniper's nest, with a dotted line added in by Det. Robert Lee Studebaker purportedly representing the location of the bag when it was "found" by Detectives L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson. Well, surprise surprise, Studebaker's outline presents the bag as far too small. The box on which Oswald supposedly took a seat was 12 x 18 = 216 square inches. The appearance of this box in CE 1302 allows us to approximate the size of Studebaker's outline. While his outline for the bag is around 18 inches long, very close to the length of the bag in the archives when doubled over (which is consistent with Studebaker's testimony), it is only about 5 inches wide. Hmmm... 5 x 18 = 90 square inches. Yikes. The bag in the archives (when folded over) would be approx. 8.875 x 19 = 168.625 square inches. So, yes, the outline drawn by Studebaker was barely half the size of the bag in the archives. It seems more than a coincidence then that Studebaker's far too small outline for the bag helped conceal that the bag, should it have been in the corner as claimed, would have been over 3/4 the size of the box so dominating the corner, and would have been readily apparent...FREAKIN' OBVIOUS--to anyone even glimpsing at the corner.
And this wasn't just a mistake, made by an over-worked policeman. That Warren Commission counsel Joseph Ball failed to double-check Studebaker's outline for accuracy, is also quite suspicious.
Could they have been hiding that the vast majority of those claiming to have viewed the sniper's nest...had NO recollection of a paper bag's covering up most of the open space in the corner?
The 11-23-63 statement of Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney follows: "I then went on back to the 6th floor and went direct to the far corner and then discovered a cubby hole which had been constructed out of cartons which protected it from sight and found where someone had been in an area of perhaps 2 feet surrounded by cardboard cartons of books. Inside this cubby hole affair was three more boxes so arranged as to provide what appeared to be a rest for a rifle. On one of these cartons was a half-eaten piece of chicken. The minute that I saw the expended shells on the floor, I hung my head out of the half opened window and signaled to Sheriff Bill Decker and Captain Will Fritz who were outside the building and advised them to send up the Crime Lab Officers at once that I had located the area from which the shots had been fired. At this time, Officers Webster, Victory, and McCurley came over to this spot and we guarded this spot until Crime Lab Officers got upstairs within a matter of a few minutes. We then turned this area over to Captain Fritz and his officers for processing."
Hmmm... Mooney failed to mention a bag's being on the floor of this 2-foot "cubby-hole.". Perhaps then this was just an over-sight that Mooney subsequently corrected.
Uhh...no. When asked by Warren Commission attorney Joseph Ball if, after discovering the boxes by the sixth floor window, and the shells beside these boxes, he noticed anything over in the corner (the supposed location of the bag, just a few feet away). Mooney testified "No, sir; I didn't see anything over in the corner." (3H281-290)
Well, then, what about Officers Webster, Victory, and McCurley? Surely they saw the bag?
Uhh...no. The 11-22-63 report of A.D. McCurley follows: "We were searching the 6th floor when Deputy Sheriff Mooney, who was also on the 6th floor, hollered that he had found the place where the assassin had fired from. I went over and saw 3 expended shells laying by the window that faced onto Elm Street, along with a half-eaten piece of chicken that was laying on a cardboard carton. It appeared as if the assassin had piled up a bunch of boxes to hide from the view of anyone who happened to come up on that floor and had arranged 3 other cartons of books next to the window as though to make a rifle rest. This area was roped off and guarded until Captain Will Fritz of Dallas Police Department Homicide Bureau arrived."
Note that there's no mention of the bag. And this even though McCurley was captured on camera by photographer William Allen standing within a foot or so of the supposed location of the bag...
Here. see for yourself. This is a crop from one of Allen's photos of the sniper's nest taken from the street below. McCurley is the face in the window
Now, I've compared the shadows in the full version of this photo to a similar photo showing Sgt. Gerry Hill yelling out the next window over, and this comparison proves this photo was taken within a few minutes of the Hill photo. This places the photo around 1:05--1:10. In any event, this photo was taken before the arrival of Day and Studebaker on the scene, and the assignment of Johnson and Montgomery to guard the sniper's nest.
Here's a closer and brighter look at the face in the window.
And here's a look at McCurley in the Alyea film taken on 11-22-63 courtesy the JFK Investigator Identification Project website.
I really think it's him.
Now, curiously, Webster and Victory failed to write reports in which they described the sniper's nest. And yet, even so, we can feel fairly certain that these reports would not have mentioned the bag. Deputy Sheriff Ralph Walters, who was "approximately 8 feet" from Mooney when he made his discovery, Sgt. Gerald Hill, who joined Mooney and Walters moments later, Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig, who arrived around the same time, and Detective V. J. Brian, who came over after hearing Hill yell out, further support that there was nothing in the corner when the sniper's nest was discovered. Deputy Sheriff Jack Faulkner and Police Sergeant Donald Flusche, when they spoke to researcher Larry Sneed decades later, support this as well. Both Faulkner and Flusche claimed they saw the shells in the sniper's nest before the arrival of Lt. Day, yet made no mention of a paper bag. Of Mooney, McCurley, Walters, Hill, Craig, Brian, Faulkner and Flusche, not one ever mentioned seeing a large paper bag on the floor by the sniper's nest, even though they'd have to have been standing within a few feet of its location to see the shells they claimed they saw, and would have been on the lookout for anything suspicious.
And it's not as if Mooney saw the boxes, saw the shells, and left...
"Mooney kept the other policeman away from the area. In time, Fritz arrived. The Crime Laboratory, a mobile unit, had been summoned from headquarters on Main Street. The deputy sheriff was excited. Having made his find, he observed everything. The pile of boxes was high enough to serve as a private screen against prying eyes from anywhere on the sixth floor. The small boxes which had been placed inside, on the floor, were just high enough, with the window one third open, to serve as an assassin's roost. A man could sit on the one nearest the heating pipes, while resting the gun on the one near the window, and looking diagonally down Elm Street toward the overpass. He would have an open, commanding view everywhere except as the motorcade passed the broad tree below. The only open space in the tree was furnished by the "V" of two main branches. Mooney was still dwelling on the subject when ranking officers and their entourages descended on him." (The Day Kennedy Was Shot by Jim Bishop, p. 253, 1968)
Well, then, what about Capt. Fritz?
The Blind Detective?
Mr. McCLOY. When you went up to the sixth floor from which Oswald apparently had fired these shots, what did it look like there, what was the--how were things arranged there? Was there anything in the nature of a gun rest there or anything that could be used as a gun rest?
Mr. FRITZ. You mean up in the corner where he shot from, from the window?
Mr. McCLOY. Yes.
Mr. FRITZ. Yes, sir; there were some boxes stacked there and I believe one box, one small box I believe was in the window, and another box was on the floor. There were some boxes stacked to his right that more or less blinded him from the rest of the floor. If anyone else had been on the floor I doubt if they could have seen where he was sitting.
Mr. McCLOY. Did you see anything other----
Mr. FRITZ. Lieutenant Day, of course, made a detailed description of all of that and he can give it to you much better than I can.
Mr. McCLOY. He is going to be here?
Mr. FRITZ. Yes, sir; and he will give it to you in detail; yes, sir.
Mr. DULLES. When was the paper bag covering that apparently he brought the rifle in, was that discovered in the sixth floor about the same time?
Mr. FRITZ. No, sir; that was recovered a little later. I wasn't down there when that was found.
Mr. DULLES. It was recovered on the sixth floor, was it not?
Mr. FRITZ. Yes, sir; I believe so. We can check here and see. I believe it was. But I wasn't there when that was recovered.
Fritz failed to see the bag.
Well, then, what about his sidekick and assistant, Det. Elmer Boyd? Boyd was like a shadow to Fritz on the sixth floor.
Mr. BALL. Did you see any brown wrapping paper near the window where the hulls were found, near the windows alongside which the hulls were found?
Mr. BOYD. I don't believe I did.
Neither Fritz nor Boyd were shown the DPD's photos of the re-constructed snipers nest to verify their accuracy. That's too bad. I would love to have seen their responses should they have been asked the inevitable "How could you have missed this?"
I mean, it's just shocking that neither Fritz nor Boyd (who were only in charge of the DPD's investigation) saw or even knew about the paper bag before leaving the school book depository around 2:00. Not only did Fritz claim that he "wasn't there" when the bag was "recovered," he said it was "recovered a little later," and that he "wasn't down there when that was found." Found. He said"found."
Well, seeing as Fritz spent some time inspecting the sniper's nest before the crime scene search section (i.e. Lt. Day and Det. Studebaker) arrived, and was captured on film by newsman Tom Alyea standing a foot or so from the open floor where it was later claimed to have been found, Fritz's failure to recall seeing the bag pretty much rules out that it was just sitting there and that everyone had seen it but that no one had thought to pick it up before Det. L.D. Montgomery did so.
Fritz's words then should make us suspect that the bag wasn't "found" where it was later claimed to have been found at all, but was in fact "found" somewhere else, sometime after the rifle was found.
If it was "found" at all...
That the bag was not "found" in the corner as claimed is supported, moreover, by the cameraman who took the footage of Fritz in the corner, Tom Alyea. Alyea arrived on the sixth floor well before the rifle was found. He filmed Fritz and others standing around the sniper's nest, the search for the rifle, the discovery of the rifle, the dusting of the rifle, the lunch sack found two windows over from the sniper's nest, and the dusting of the Dr. Pepper bottle found beside the lunch sack, and yet neither saw the paper bag supposedly found in the sniper's nest, nor heard mention of its existence, prior to his departure from the building around 2:30.
So... that should probably be strike three.
Here are the three strikes, in a revised order.
Strike 1) The bag purportedly found in the sniper's nest was not observed where it was supposedly found by at least ten witnesses claiming to have viewed the area before the arrival of the crime scene search section.
Strike 2) The bag purportedly found in the sniper's nest was not photographed in the sniper's nest, nor in the building, nor in the crime lab, by the crime scene search section, prior to its shipment to the FBI.
Strike 3) The only witnesses claiming to have seen a bag in Oswald's possession on the morning of the shooting refused to identify this bag as the bag they saw in Oswald's possession.
Now, for some, this might still be okie-dokie, provided the Dallas Police have followed protocol and left a paper trail supporting that the bag was indeed found in the sniper's nest and considered an important piece of evidence prior to its being sent the FBI.
Only no such luck...
The Missing Reports
Buried within the Warren Commission's mountain of documents is Commission Document 1285. This is The Departmental Manual of Operating Procedures for the Dallas Police Department.
Although this document was available for decades, I suspect I may have been the first researcher to actually read it when I first read it circa 2010.
Here is a bombshell from page 201.
Daily Activity Report (Crime Scene Search Section)
Prepared by Stenographer 4
Submitted to Deputy Chief Service Division
When Submitted Daily by 9 AM
Original to Deputy Chief, Copy retained by section
Purpose: to inform the Deputy Chief of the daily activities of the Crime Scene Search Section
Explanation: EACH member of the Crime Scene Search Section completes a call sheet regarding EACH investigation made in duplicate. The original is retained to compile the Daily Activity Report and to be filed in the jacket assigned to that investigation. The duplicate is sent to the Bureau requesting the investigation.
Well, yikes, this proves that everyone in the Crime Scene Search Section, including Lt. Day and Det. Studebaker, who performed the search of the sixth floor of the depository, was supposed to complete call sheets for their investigations, and that these were then supposed to be complied into a daily report.
No such report for 11-22-63 has ever seen the light of day (or Day, for that matter). But it's worse than that.
From page 202...
Explanation: The stenographer-4 of the Crime Scene Search Section compiles the information from the Daily Activity Reports and submits the report to the Captain of Identification Bureau to be attached to the Monthly Activity Report of the Fingerprint Section. The Lieutenant of the Fingerprint Section prepares a Monthly Activity Report from the daily activities of the Section.
So it's not just the daily reports of Day and Studebaker that are missing, but the Monthly Activity Report written by the Lieutenant of the Fingerprint Section. Lt. Knight.
So...three key reports are missing...by Studebaker, Knight and Day. Knight and Day, you can't make this stuff up.
But it's worse than that...
The only report on the crime scene written by anyone working for the Crime Scene Search Section that has ever surfaced is a 2-page report written by Lt. Day.
And this was submitted to Deputy Chief Lumpkin on...wait for it...1-08-64, almost 7 weeks after the assassination. (26H833-834)
And, oh yeah, by the way, Day's report never mentions the collection of a paper bag found in the sniper's nest, or anywhere else for that matter. It mentions the collection of three hulls, a rifle, and four boxes, and boasts that around fifty photos were taken of the building, and that a scale drawing was made of the sixth floor. But it makes no reference whatsoever to what many consider to be the second-most important piece of evidence collected at the crime scene...a paper bag purportedly found in the sniper's nest, purported to bear Oswald's palm print and fingerprint.
It's as if Day had forgotten all about the bag sent the FBI, or had for some strange reason assumed it wasn't gonna be used as evidence against Oswald by the Warren Commission.
Let's recall here FBI Inspector J.L. Handley's 11-29-63 memo to FBI HQ: "Lieutenant Carl Day, Dallas, Texas, Police Department Crime Laboratory, advised that on November 22, 1963, he recovered a heavy brown sack appearing to be homemade and appearing to have been folded together at one time. This sack when laid out was about four feet long but when doubled was about two feet long. Lt. Day recalls that on the evening of 11-22-63, about 11:30 p.m., one of Capt. Fritz's officers requested that he show this thick, brown sack to a man named Frazier. Lt. Day stated that Frazier was unable to identify this sack and told him that a sack he observed in possession of Oswald early that morning was definitely a thin flimsy sack like one purchased in a dime store. Lt. Day stated that he and other officers have surmised that Oswald by dismantling the rifle could have placed it in the thick, brown sack folded over and then placed the entire package in the flimsy paper sack." (FBI assassination file 62-109060 section.14 page 123-125)
So, yeah... When faced with Frazier's insistence the bag he saw in Oswald's possession was not the bag shown him by the Dallas Police, Lt. Day relented and "surmised" that the bag shown Frazier was not previously observed by Frazier, but somehow concealed within the bag observed by Frazier.
Had Day assumed from this that the bag was no longer part of the "story"? And that it was best he leave it out of his January report?
Let's call these strikes 4 and 5.
Strike 4) a number of reports in which the bag should have been mentioned were either never written or are missing.
Strike 5) the earliest and only report on the crime scene evidence written by a member of the Crime Scene Search Section wasn't written until 1-08-64, and fails to mention the bag.
Now, to be clear, it's not as if none of those viewing the sniper's nest shortly after its discovery recalled seeing a bag or sack, it's just that there's reason to believe it was the other bag or sack. The 11-23-63 report of Deputy Sheriff Harry Weatherford notes "I came down to the 6th floor, and while searching this floor, Deputy Luke Mooney said "here are some shells." I went over to where he was and saw 3 expended rifle shells, a sack on the floor and a partially eaten piece of chicken on top of one of the cartons which was used as a sort of barricade."
Note that Weatherford did not specify that the sack on the floor was adjacent to the shells, or the box with the chicken on it. No, they were all over by "where Mooney was." Well, that leaves open the possibility that the sack he saw was a window or two over along the front of the building, where Bonnie Ray Williams claimed he'd eaten his lunch, and left his trash--which just so happened to be a lunch sack containing chicken bones and an empty bag of Fritos. This lunch sack was captured on film in this location, for that matter, by both news cameraman Tom Alyea and crime scene photographer Robert Studebaker. It seems probable, then, that this was the "sack" noted by Weatherford. I mean, Weatherford went over to Mooney and viewed the sniper's nest long before the supposedly folded-over "bag" was supposedly "discovered" by Montgomery.
And that's not even to mention that his use of the word "sack" is far more suggestive of a lunch sack than a 38 inch-long rifle case made of paper.
The Other Bag
Now, let's look at some other bag sightings.
Kent Biffle was the only newsman besides Tom Alyea to witness the search of the building. Unlike Alyea, who filmed the lunch sack and claimed no one mentioned the supposed rifle bag while he was in the building, Biffle claimed he'd viewed the rifle bag. But did he? Really?
At first glance, it would appear so. In an account purportedly written in March 1964, and subsequently published in bits and pieces numerous times, including in the Fall 1998 issue of Legacies, a History Journal For Dallas and North Texas, Biffle claimed that after the rifle shells were found by the "ambush window", "We all stood around staring at the brown wrapping paper found nearby. It was a reasonable conclusion that it held the rifle. An officer in the northwest corner of the room yelled: 'Over here!' I ran over, dodging down narrow alleys in the stacks of packing crates.'"
Well, we've already found a problem. Note that Biffle says this bag was found "nearby," and not right by the window, as later purported by Studebaker. Note also that he says "we all stood around staring"at the wrapping paper, an impossibility if the wrapping paper was sitting folded on the far side of the box purportedly used as a seat by the assassin, in the southeast corner of the building. As shown on the Blind Detective slide, this was an incredibly confined space behind stacks of boxes. The "wrapping paper," should it actually have been found in this location, would not have been visible to more than a few people at a time. Perhaps, then, Biffle saw the bag sometime after it had originally been "found."Perhaps, after its initial "discovery" by Montgomery, wherever it was "discovered," Studebaker placed the bag on the floor in a more accessible location, where it was subsequently viewed by Biffle.
But there's a problem with this scenario as well. In his account, Biffle presents his observation of the bag before he presents the discovery of the rifle. And it's worse than that. In a video-taped interview of Biffle posted by his son Patrick Biffle on YouTube in 2013, he makes clear that upon hearing "Over here" he followed Capt. Will Fritz from the sniper's nest over to the location of the rifle. Well, this suggests Fritz was one of the "We all" who'd stood around looking at the bag before the discovery of the rifle. Well, if this was so, why didn't Fritz--or Mooney, Walters, Hill, Craig, Faulkner, Boyd, or Alyea (the only other journalist in the building at the time)--remember seeing the bag?
Now this is important. Det. Marvin Johnson, whose partner L.D. Montgomery was credited with the discovery of the bag, told the Warren Commission the bag was discovered after he'd witnessed the dusting of the area around the lunch sack. And the record is clear that this didn't occur until after the discovery of the rifle.
So...was Biffle mistaken about viewing the bag before the discovery of the rifle? Or was he doubly mistaken--in that he never viewed the bag within the building? Was the sack he'd observed before the discovery of the rifle the lunch sack observed by others before the discovery of the rifle, only with 20-200 hindsight in which it morphed into the "sack" purported to have held the rifle?
It appears so. A Biffle-authored story was published in the 11-23-63 Dallas Morning News. There, he mentioned that a "gnawed piece of fried chicken" (which may have been the piece of chicken observed by Mooney by the sniper's nest) and an "empty cold drink bottle" (which was almost certainly the Dr. Pepper bottle left by Williams two windows over) were found by the sniper's nest--but made no mention of a large bag or wrapping paper.
Well, think about it. If he'd viewed the pop bottle, he almost certainly saw the lunch sack. And if he'd described the pop bottle as something found near the sniper's nest, it only follows that he'd remember the lunch sack as something he'd viewed near the sniper's nest...and that he might come to think of this sack as the sack "found" in the sniper's nest.
There's also this. Below, in an image taken from the Owens film, are a bunch of reporters invited up to the sixth floor on the afternoon of the 22nd gathering around the window where Bonnie Ray Williams ate his lunch. They appear to be looking down at something. The man with the tie, in particular, appears to be looking down at where the lunch sack was a few minutes before, before Det.s Johnson and Montgomery took the lunch sack, cigarette pack, and pop bottle to the crime lab.
Well. I'm pretty sure this man is Kent Biffle, pointing out to the other reporters where the lunch sack they'd just seen taken from the building had first been discovered.
Here's a shot of Biffle in the depository.
There's also this... Biffle's latter-day story, written months after the shooting, does not begin with his entering the school book depository. Before that, he discusses his racing over to the grassy knoll after the shots. He then relates "The other side of the fence held no gunman. There was just a maze of railroad tracks and three dazed winos. 'What happened?' one asked me." Well, this is just not credible. None of the police officers claiming to have raced back behind the fence after the shots saw these "winos." If Biffle had talked to one of them, and had not bothered to point this man out to a police officer as a possible witness, then he was not much of a citizen, let alone a reporter. The so-called "three tramps" found in a railroad car passing through town, it should be noted, were not discovered till 2:00 or so, an hour and a half after the shooting, and were not arrested until a few minutes later. It only follows then that Biffle had used "artistic license" to incorporate them into his story, and that he may have used this same "license" to add the bag into his story. One certainly can't accept his account as credible when he says "we all" stood around staring at the bag, when none of those to first observe the sniper's nest, including his fellow newsman Tom Alyea, had ANY recollection of the bag. It seems probable the bag Biffle was thinking of, then, was not the bag or sack supposedly used to carry Oswald's rifle, but the other bag or sack reportedly found in the building, the lunch sack, which most all the sniper's nest witnesses remembered, and which Biffle alluded to in his initial article in which he mentioned the gnawed chicken and empty bottle.
But if Biffle was confused about the sack or bag supposedly used to conceal the rifle, he wasn't alone.
Shining a Light on Sims
The 4-6-64 testimony of Dallas detective Richard N. Sims reflects that he too was confused.
When asked if he'd seen the paper bag found in the depository, Sims testified:
Mr. SIMS. Well, we saw some wrappings--a brown wrapping there.
Mr. BALL. Where did you see it?
Mr. SIMS. It was there by the hulls.
Mr. BALL. Was it right there near the hulls?
Mr. SIMS. As well as I remember--of course, I didn't pay too much attention at that time, but it was, I believe, by the east side of where the boxes were piled up---that would be a guess--I believe that's where it was.
Mr. BALL. On the east side of where the boxes were would that be the east?
Mr. SIMS. Yes, sir; it was right near the stack of boxes there. I know there was some loose paper there.
Mr. BALL. Was Johnson there?
Mr. SIMS. Yes, sir; when the wrapper was found Captain Fritz stationed Montgomery to observe the scene there where the hulls were found.
Mr. BALL. To stay there?
Mr. SIMS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. That was Marvin Johnson and L. D. Montgomery who stayed by the hulls?
Mr. SIMS. Yes, sir; they did. I was going back and forth, from the wrapper to the hulls.
Let's stop right here. With the high-lighted statement, Sims either mis-spoke or was misquoted. He almost certainly meant to say "when the rifle was found", and not "when the wrapper was found," and that he "was going back and forth, from the rifle to the hulls" and not "from the wrapper to the hulls."The wrapper and the hulls were, after all, but a few feet apart...at least according to Studebaker... In any event, it's silly in the extreme to assume Sims was going back and forth between the wrapper and the hulls, and that this somehow shores up that he saw a "wrapper" in the sniper's nest.
And no, I'm not kidding. Here is the pertinent section of Sims' report on his activities for 11-22-63: "At 1:20 PM. Lt. J.C. Day and Det. R. L. Studebaker arrived on the sixth floor. Capt. Fritz asked Lt. Day to take pictures of the hulls and the surrounding area. About 1;25 P.M. someone called for Capt. Fritz, and he left Det. L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson to stay with the hulls. Capt. Fritz, Sims and Boyd went over to near the stairway where one of the officers had called Capt. Fritz. Someone said the gun had been found... Sims went back to where Lt. Day was and told him the gun had been found. Lt. Day or Det. Studebaker took another picture of the hulls and said they had already taken pictures of the scene. Sims picked up the empty hulls, and Lt. Day held an envelope open while Sims dropped them in the envelope. Lt. Day then walked over to where the rifle had been found." (24H319-322).
So, yes indeed, Sims did go back and forth between the rifle and the hulls. And did not go back and forth between a wrapper and the hulls.
Still, what a mess! In his testimony, Sims acknowledged that Detectives Johnson and Montgomery were stationed by the hulls (which were found by the sniper's nest) and seemed to be aware that they"found" a bag, but never mentioned witnessing the "discovery" of this bag.. Sims also described the "bag" as "loose paper," and not as a carefully folded and taped piece of wrapping paper in the shape of a gun case. He also "guessed" the location where the bag was found.
This suggests then that Sims had but a vague recollection that some paper was found, or was supposedly found, but had no real recollection of its appearance or of its discovery, even though he had stood but a few feet from the bag's purported location when picking up the hulls from the sniper's nest. Well, this, in turn, reinforces that either no one placed much importance on the "bag" when it was first observed in the depository, and that its possible importance only became apparent later on, or that Sims was trying to support that a bag was found in the sniper's nest when he had actually never seen one.
In any event, it seems likely Sims stood in the corner before the arrival of Day and Studebaker, and even before Johnson and Montgomery were assigned to guard this location...but nevertheless had no clear recollection of a bag's being in this corner.
In further support of this conclusion, moreover, it should be noted Detective Sims' report on his activities on the day of the assassination makes no mention whatsoever of the bag or its discovery. And that's not even to mention that Sims left the depository with Capt. Fritz and Det. Boyd,, and that neither Fritz nor Boyd had any recollection of Sims (or anyone else) telling them about this bag before they left the building.
Now, should one wish to believe Sims' vague recollections of a bag or wrapper when asked about it 4 1/2 months after the assassination are authoritative, and clear evidence the bag was found in the sniper's nest as claimed by Studebaker, Montgomery, Johnson, and Day, then one should be informed that Sims also testified that he didn't know who took custody of the hulls found in the sniper's nest, even though it was, according to everyone else...HIM...and that, as a result, he was forced to return to the stand and claim he'd since been reminded that he'd carried the hulls around in his pocket all day on 11-22-63, and that he now remembered his doing so.
What a witness!
On 4-9-64, Warren Commission counsel David Belin took the testimony of Dallas Motorcycle officers Clyde Haygood and E.D. Brewer,. They claimed to have been on the sixth floor during the search of the depository, and to have seen an "approximately rifle length" and "relatively long" paper sack, respectively, in the southeast corner of the building.
Unfortunately, however, their stories just muddied the waters...
Mr. BELIN. What did you do then?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Went up to another location there.
Mr. BELIN. You saw some shells there?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Yes.
Mr. BELIN. Where did you see them?
Mr. HAYGOOD. They were there under the window.
Mr. BELIN. Which window?
Mr. HAYGOOD. On the southeast corner.
Mr. BELIN. South side or east side?
Mr. HAYGOOD. On the southeast corner facing south.
Mr. BELIN. See any paper bags or anything around there?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Yes; there was a lunch bag there. You could call it a lunch bag.
Mr. BALL. Where was that?
Mr. HAYGOOD. There at the same location where the shells were.
Mr. BELIN. Was there a coke bottle or anything with it?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Dr. Pepper bottle.
Mr. BELIN. See any long bags which would be a foot or foot and a half or more long?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Yes; just a plain brown paper bag with tape in the corner.
Mr. BELIN. What tape?
Mr. HAYGOOD. Yes; there was just brown paper tape on it. Just a brown paper bag with paper tape. It had been taped up.
Mr. BELIN. How long was that, if you can remember?
Mr. HAYGOOD. The exact length, I couldn't say. It was approximately rifle length. (6H296-302).
Hmmm... Although Haygood claimed he saw both the lunch sack and the paper bag, there are a number of problems with his account. First, he claimed he saw the lunch sack by the rifle shells. This is a blow to his credibility, as the lunch sack was actually photographed two aisles over. Belin then pressed Haygood to see if he remembered seeing a bag a foot and a half or so long--the approximate length of the bag now in the archives when folded over--and Haygood remembered the bag as being "approximately rifle length." This suggests, then, that Haygood, as Biffle--if Biffle actually did see the bag--only saw it after it had been "discovered" and moved to a new location by Montgomery...which does little to suggest it was actually on the floor of the sniper's nest as claimed.
Brewer was even less help.
Mr. BELIN. Did you go and take a look at the cartridge cases?
Mr. BREWER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. How many cartridge cases did you see?
Mr. BREWER. Three.
Mr. BELIN. Where were they?
Mr. BREWER. They were there under, by the window.
Mr. BELIN. What window?
Mr. BREWER. In the southeast corner of the building, facing south.
Mr. BELIN. See anything else there at the time by the window?
Mr. BREWER. Paper lunch sack and some chicken bones or partially eaten piece of chicken, or a piece of chicken.
Mr. BELIN. Anything else?
Mr. BREWER. A drink bottle.
Mr. BELIN. What bottle?
Mr. BREWER. A cold drink bottle, soda pop bottle.
Mr. BELIN. Anything else?
Mr. BREWER. In relation to what?
Mr. BELIN. Did you see anything else in the southeast corner?
Mr. BREWER. There was a paper, relatively long paper sack there.
Mr. BELIN. Where was that?
Mr. BREWER. It was there In the southeast corner.
Mr. BELIN. Under the window?
Mr. BREWER. No, sir. To the left of it. To the east of it.
Mr. BELIN. To the left as you faced the window?
Mr. BREWER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Did the window come right up next to the corner there, do you remember?
Mr. BREWER. No, sir; it didn't come up next to the corner. It was offset.
Mr. BELIN. Can you remember how far at all, or not?
Mr. BREWER. No, sir; I don't remember the exact distance of it.
Mr. BELIN. Was any part of the paper sack under the window, If you remember or not? That long paper sack?
Mr. BREWER. No, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Do you remember anything about what the sack looked like?
Mr. BREWER. Well, it was assumed at the time that it was the sack that the rifle was wrapped up in when it was brought into the building, and it appeared that it could have been used for that.
Mr. BELIN. Well, you mean you assumed that before you found the rifle?
Mr. BREWER. Yes, sir; I suppose. That was discussed.(6H302-308).
Notice that Brewer, as Haygood, seems to think the lunch sack was found by the shells. They were thereby similarly confused. Notice also that Brewer does not describe the paper bag or the timing of its discovery, but "supposes" that it was found before the rifle and that people immediately assumed it had been used to carry the rifle. Well, that's pretty silly. If the bag was folded over, as claimed by Studebaker, or folded twice, as claimed by Johnson, people would not immediately associate it with having been used to carry a rifle, particularly in that the rifle had supposedly not yet been discovered, and could very well have been stashed in a gun case. As we've seen, Captain Fritz testified that the bag was not "found" or discussed while he was in the southeast corner of the building. He also indicated he was not aware of it at any time before leaving the building. His testimony, moreover, was supported by Detective Boyd, who arrived and left with Fritz, and who also had no recollection of the bag. If the bag had been discovered, dusted, and discussed before the discovery of the rifle, or even before Fritz left the building shortly thereafter, certainly someone more involved in the investigation than common motorcycle officers like Haygood and Brewer would have remembered this fact, and have remembered it long before 4 1/2 months after the assassination.
There's also this: Haygood and Brewer were not included on the 3-24-64 list of witnesses to be deposed for the commission in Dallas. There is little of substance in their testimony, beyond their claiming they saw the bag in the sniper's nest. This, then, suggests the possibility they were called primarily for that reason--to support that the bag was where their fellow Dallas Police Department employees Montgomery, Johnson, Studebaker, and Day claimed it to have been, and suggest it's just a coincidence it was previously overlooked by Dallas Sheriff's Deputies Mooney, Walters, Craig, McCurley, and Faulkner. To wit, an undated list of Warren Commission deposition assignments (found on the website of Commission counsel Howard Willens) lists the reasons various witnesses are to be called, and makes note that both Haygood and Brewer saw the paper bag in the southeast corner of the sixth floor.
And this even though neither Haygood nor Brewer had written a report claiming as much...
Well, pardon me, but this suggests that Belin had put the word out that he needed witnesses to come forward and claim they'd seen the bag in the building, and that he got but two takers on his offer-- two motorcycle cops whose observations and recollections had been held in such low regard by their superiors that they hadn't even been asked to write a report on the events of the day.
Now note that both Haygood and Brewer described the sniper's nest, and placed the lunch sack in the sniper's nest, but were then prodded by Belin with an "anything else?" into saying they'd also seen a long paper bag in the sniper's nest. Yep, this was coaxed testimony, if not suborned perjury.
Now, to be clear, Belin and the Warren Commission were but the first in a long line of Oswald accusers to employ smoke and mirrors and/or lie, so they could use the bag against Oswald.
First Day Evidence, a 1993 book written by Gary Savage, the nephew of Dallas Crime Lab Detective Rusty Livingston, is a product of this tradition. On page 155, Savage relates "When the sniper's nest was first discovered by Mooney, a paper bag approximately 42" long by 8" wide lay folded in the extreme southeast corner of the sixth floor to the left of the window." Now, this is a two-fer. Not only does Savage conceal that Mooney swore he saw no such bag in the corner, he conceals that the length of the bag was not 42" (which would be long enough to conceal the rifle), but 38" (too short to conceal the rifle, which thereby necessitates that the rifle was brought into the building while disassembled).
But wait, Savage wasn't done. On page 156, Savage finishes his trick by assuring his readers that "the testimony of many officers placed the bag in the corner window when it was originally found."
No, not many, and not really.
So...why the desperation?
I mean, the bag was most assuredly initialed upon discovery, and shown to those who'd initialed it in sworn testimony, so they could authenticate it as the bag they'd discovered.
Lost And Found
We shall now take a detailed look at the circumstances surrounding the purported discovery of the paper bag/rifle case within the building, which strongly suggest it was not discovered as claimed.
Let us first consider the 4-2-64 testimony of the FBI's Sebastian Latona, who examined the bag on 11-23-63. (4H1-48)
Mr. LATONA. I received this paper bag on the morning of November 23, 1963.
Mr. EISENBERG. And when did you conduct your examination?
Mr. LATONA. I conducted my examination on that same day.
Mr. EISENBERG. When you had received it, could you tell whether any previous examination had been conducted on it?
Mr. LATONA. When I received this exhibit, 626, the brown wrapper, it had been treated with black dusting powder, black fingerprint powder. There was nothing visible in the way of any latent prints on there at that particular time.
Mr. EISENBERG. Were you informed whether any fingerprints had been developed by means of the fingerprint powder?
Mr. LATONA. No; I determined that by simply examining the wrapper at that particular time.
Mr. EISENBERG. Could you briefly describe the powder process?
Mr. LATONA. The powdering process is merely the utilizing of a fingerprint powder which is applied to any particular surface for purposes of developing any latent prints which my be on such a surface.
Now, we use powder in the FBI only on objects which have a hard, smooth, nonabsorbent finish, such as glass, tile, various types of highly polished metals and the like. In the FBI we do not use powder on paper, cardboard, unfinished wood, or various types of cloth. The reason is that the materials are absorbent. Accordingly, when any finger which has on it perspiration or sweat comes in contact with an absorbent material, the print starts to become absorbed into the surface. Accordingly, when an effort is made to develop latent prints by the use of a powder, if the surface is dry, the powder will not adhere. On the other hand, where the surface is a hard and smooth object, with a nonabsorbent material, the perspiration or sweat which may have some oil in it at that time may remain there as moisture. Accordingly, when the dry powder is brushed across it, the moisture in the print will retain the powder giving an outline of the impression itself. These powders come in various colors. We utilize a black and a gray. The black powder is used on objects which are white or light to give a resulting contrast of a black print on a white background. We use the gray powder on objects which are black or dark in order to give you a resulting contrast of a white print on a dark or black background.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, how did you proceed to conduct your examination for fingerprints on this object?
Mr. LATONA. Well, an effort was made to remove as much of the powder as possible. And then this was subjected to what is known as the iodine-fuming method, which simply means flowing iodine fumes, which are developed by what is known as an iodine-fuming gun--it is a very simple affair, in which there are a couple of tubes attached to each other, having in one of them iodine crystals. And by simply blowing through one end, you get iodine fumes. The iodine fumes are brought in as close contact to the surface as possible And if there are any prints which contain certain fatty material or protein material, the iodine fumes simply discolor it to a sort of brownish color. And of course such prints as are developed are photographed for record purposes. That was done in this case here, but no latent prints were developed. The next step then was to try an additional method, by chemicals. This was subsequently processed by a 3-percent solution of silver nitrate. The processing with silver nitrate resulted in developing two latent prints. One is what we call a latent palmprint, and the other is what we call a latent fingerprint.
And let us now consider the 4-6-64 testimony of Dallas Det. Robert Studebaker (7H137-149). He was first asked to describe the location of the bag. He was then asked to describe its appearance.
Mr. BALL. How long was it, approximately?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. I don't know - I picked it up and dusted it and they took it down there and sent it to Washington and that's the last I have seen of it, and I don't know.
Mr. BALL. Did you take a picture of it before you picked it up?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. No.
Mr. BALL. Does that sack show in any of the pictures you took?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. No; it doesn't show in any of the pictures.
Mr. BALL. Was it near the window?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. Which way from the window?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. It was east of the window.
Mr. BALL. Over in the corner?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Over in the corner - in the southeast corner of the building, in the far southeast corner, as far as you can get is where it was.
Mr. BALL. You say you dusted it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. With that magnetic powders.
Mr. BALL. Did you lift any prints?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. There wasn't but just smudges on it - is all it was. There was one little ole piece of a print and I'm sure I put a piece of tape on it to preserve it.
Mr. BALL. Well, then, there was a print that you found on it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes; just a partial print.
Mr. BALL. The print of a finger or palm or what?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. You couldn't tell, it was so small.
Mr. BALL. But you did dust it and lift some print?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes.
Mr. BALL. When you say you taped it, what did you do, cover it with some paper?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. We have - it's like a Magic Mending Tape, only we use it just strictly for fingerprinting.
Mr. BALL. Let's stick with the paper.
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Well, on the paper I put a piece of 1 inch tape over it - I'm sure I did.
Mr. BALL. After you dusted the print, you put a 1 inch tape over it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
To recap, Latona testified that he could tell the bag had been previously examined by the "black fingerprint powder" on its surface, but made no mention of the tape described by Studebaker. Latona noted further that "There was nothing visible in the way of any latent prints on there at that particular time." He then claimed that he discovered two prints via the use of silver nitrate after first, failing to find any prints upon delivery, and second, failing to find any prints after exposing the bag to iodine fumes.
Well, wait, what happened to the partial print described by Studebaker? Commission Exhibit 632 shows the palm print purportedly discovered by the FBI, with the presumed initials of detectives L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson--whom the Dallas Police claimed discovered the bag--beside Studebaker's initials. It would be a truly amazing coincidence should the initials of Studebaker, Johnson and Montgomery have been placed right next to the palm print THE FBI says was a print that they--the FBI--discovered using silver nitrate, if the detectives had never noticed such a print. It seems likely, then, that the print in CE 632 is the print discovered by Studebaker.
Let's look, once more, at Latona's testimony.
Mr. LATONA. I have here a photograph which is a slight enlargement of the latent palmprint developed on the bag. It has a red circle drawn around it showing the palmprint which was developed.
Mr. EISENBERG. Is that a true photograph made by you?
Mr. LATONA. This is. It is approximately a time-and-a-half enlargement of the palmprint which I developed on the paper bag.
Mr. EISENBERG. May I have that admitted, Mr. Chairman, as 632?
So why did Latona claim there was no such print on the bag prior to his discovery of it using silver nitrate? And why did he discuss Exhibit 632 without noting the initials in the photo he'd taken? Was he trying to take credit for the discovery of a print already discovered by the Dallas Police?
And why didn't the Warren Commission get to the bottom of this?
Could the bag or sack removed from the sniper's nest (or wherever it was found) have been smudged with someone other than Oswald's fingerprints? The Dallas PD's Case Report claims Lt. Day lifted a print from the "paper rifle was wrapped in" (24H249). In his 4-22-64 testimony, Day, as Latona, testified "no legible print was found." Well, it follows then that an "illegible" print was found. If this is so, well, then what happened to it?
Was the print on CE 632 an "illegible" print discovered by Studebaker and later lifted by Day? Did Latona come along and add silver nitrate to the bag, and then claim he'd discovered the print they'd already decided was "illegible"? Did the silver nitrate make this print "legible"? Or was the print discovered by Latona a different print entirely?
And, while we're thinking of it--was the bag on which Latona found prints (if he did in fact find prints) a different bag entirely than the bag on which Studebaker found a print? And, if so, was 632 a photo of a different bag than the one now in the archives?
One hopes for an innocent explanation. In this light, it sure seems suspicious that Studebaker was never shown the bag and asked to identify his initials.
Perhaps the Warren Commission counsel tasked with taking Studebaker's testimony had simply forgot to bring the bag to Dallas...
Shining a Light on Day
Perhaps. Studebaker's testimony was taken on 4-6-64 in Dallas. The bag had been shown to Sebastian Latona during his 4-2-64 testimony in Washington.
And it reappeared on 4-22-64, during the testimony of Studebaker's boss, Dallas Crime Lab Chief Lt. J.C. Day, in Washington.
Mr. BELIN. Where was the sack found with relation to the pipes and that box?
Mr. DAY. Between the sack and the south wall, which would be the wall at the top of the picture as shown here.
Mr. BELIN. You mean between--you said the sack.
Mr. DAY. I mean the pipe. The sack was between the pipe and the wall at the top of the picture.
Mr. BELIN. That wall at the top of the picture would be the east wall, would it not?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; laying parallel to the south wall.
Mr. BELIN. Did the sack--was it folded over in any way or just lying flat, if you remember?
Mr. DAY. It was folded over with the fold next to the pipe, to the best of my knowledge.
Note: this suggests that Day was not present when the bag or sack was discovered.
Mr. BELIN. I will now hand you what has been marked as Commission Exhibit 626 and ask you to state if you know what this is, and also appears to be marked as Commission Exhibit 142.
Mr. DAY. This is the sack found on the sixth floor in the southeast corner of the building on November 22, 1963.
Mr. BELIN. Do you have any identification on that to so indicate?
Mr. DAY. It has my name on it, and it also has other writing that I put on there for the information of the FBI.
Mr. BELIN. Could you read what you wrote on there?
Mr. DAY. "Found next to the sixth floor window gun fired from. May have been used to carry gun. Lieutenant J. C. Day."
Mr. BELIN. When did you write that?
Mr. DAY. I wrote that at the time the sack was found before it left our possession.
Note: by writing "May have been used to carry gun", Day confirms that he did not write this when he first arrived at the crime scene, as believed by many single-assassin theorists. It would have made no sense for him to write this, after all, unless he had reason to believe the gun was not carried in and out of the building in a gun case. It follows, then, that he wrote this sometime after the discovery of the rifle, which occurred within ten minutes of his arrival at the sniper's nest.
This leads to more confusion. Both Day and his assistant Studebaker testified that they photographed the shells in the sniper's nest before photographing the gun. The bag was supposedly within a foot or so of Day and Studebaker's position when they photographed these shells. So how could they not have noticed the bag, and photographed it in place? Well, perhaps they did notice it, but were simply not competent enough to realize they shouldn't move the bag before it could be photographed. In support, on 3-10-64 Studebaker is purported to have told the FBI "the paper bag was removed prior to taking photographs of the southeast corner." (FBI file 105-82555, sec 142, p9).
Perhaps, then, Montgomery and Johnson showed Studebaker the bag while Day was photographing the shells from the other side. If so, it would help explain why the three of them signed the bag in the building and Day signed it later. It also seems possible, since the bag was reportedly folded in half, and possibly in half again, that no one thought much about the bag until after a rifle without a case was found and Day and Studebaker were pulled away to photograph this rifle. After taking these pictures, Day worked on the rifle a bit and then carried the rifle over to the crime lab. This would leave the inexperienced Studebaker alone to deal with the sniper's nest and the bag. That the bag had been considered trash prior to the discovery of the rifle, then, provides a better explanation for why it wasn't photographed in place. And this in turn helps explain why Day would later claim he signed the bag before it left "our possession" --as opposed to "my possession." In either case, the question remains as to when Day actually signed the bag, and why the Commission never showed the bag to Montgomery, Johnson, or Studebaker.
Mr. BELIN. All right, anything else that you wrote on there?
Mr. DAY. When the sack was released on November 22 to the FBI about 11:45 p.m., I put further information to the FBI reading as follows: "FBI: Has been dusted with metallic magnetic powder on outside only. Inside has not been processed. Lieut J. C. Day."
Well, once again, why is there no mention of the other men's initials on this bag/sack?
And why did Day write "Has been dusted with metallic powder" as opposed to "I dusted this with metallic powder"? Was this because it was Studebaker who'd actually dusted the bag?
Apparently so. When asked, during an 8-15-96 oral history with the Sixth Floor Museum, if he processed the bag, Day responded sharply "No, I didn't do anything to that. I turned it over to the FBI."
So it seems that Montgomery found the bag, and Studebaker dusted the bag. And Day handed it over to the FBI.
Now consider the next bit of Day's testimony...
Mr. BELIN. Did you find anything, any print of any kind, in connection with the processing of this?
Mr. DAY. No legible prints were found with the powder, no.
Mr. BELIN. Do you know whether any legible prints were found by any other means or any other place?
Mr. DAY. There is a legible print on it now. They were on there when it was returned to me from the FBI on November 24.
Mr. BELIN. Do you know by what means they found these?
Mr. DAY. It is apparently silver nitrate. It could be another compound they have used. The sack had an orange color indicating it was silver nitrate.
Mr. BELIN. You mean the sack when it came back from the FBI had a----
Mr. DAY. Orange color. It is another method of processing paper for fingerprints.
Mr. BELIN. Was there anything inside the bag, if you know, when you found it?
Mr. DAY. I did not open the bag. I did not look inside of the bag at all.
Mr. BELIN. What did you do with the bag after you found it and you put this writing on after you dusted it?
Mr. DAY. I released it to the FBI agent.
Well, wait a second. Belin is putting words in Day's mouth. Belin is partners with Joseph Ball. The two of them took the testimony of Detectives Studebaker, Johnson and Montgomery in Dallas on 4-6-64, but 16 days before Belin took Day's testimony in Washington. Studebaker, Johnson, and Montgomery all claimed to be present when the bag was discovered. Studebaker told them he dusted the bag. None of these men mentioned Lt. Day being present when the bag was discovered or dusted. So why is Belin making out that Day both discovered and dusted the bag? And why is he unable to realize that Day, in saying that he gave the bag to an FBI agent (presumably Vincent Drain) after dusting it and signing it, is as much as admitting he signed it in the crime lab on the evening of the shooting, and not on the sixth floor? The bag, after all, remained in DPD custody until late that evening.
Mr. BELIN. Did you take it down to the station with you?
Mr. DAY. I didn't take it with me. I left it with the men when I left. I left Detectives Hicks and Studebaker to bring this in with them when they brought other equipment in.
Mr. BELIN. By this you are referring to the bag itself?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Now, this is getting ridiculous. Let's refresh. According to the reports of the Dallas Police (24H260) and the officers involved (24H314, 24H307) the paper bag by the sniper's nest was both discovered and brought in to the Dallas Police Crime Lab by Detectives L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson. So why does Day, who has already IDed his initials on the bag, and failed to mention that they initialed it before him, fail to mention that they brought the bag into the crime lab, and instead mention Hicks and Studebaker? Is he really that forgetful? Or is he (under the presumed direction of Ball and Belin) trying to hide something?
In his 3:45 PM April 6 testimony, in which he discussed picking up and dusting the bag, Detective Studebaker failed to mention Lt. Day in connection with the bag. (7H137-149) This echoes a 3-11-64 FBI report on a 3-10 interview with Studebaker, in which he similarly took full credit for the "discovery" of the bag. (FBI file 105-82555, sec 142, p9) In his 4:00 PM April 6 testimony, just after Studebaker, moreover, Detective Johnson mentioned Montgomery's finding the bag and the bag's being dusted for fingerprints at the scene, but failed to mention who dusted the bag/sack. (7H100-105)
It's as messy as messy can get. In his undated report on the assassination, presumably written within days of the assassination, Det. Montgomery, the supposed discoverer of the bag/sack, claimed "I found a long brown paper sack looking item that looked homemade. It was beneath and to the left of the window where the shooting took place. I believed this to be the container that the rifle Oswald used was in." (24H314)
Now watch how this story dissolves. On 3-24-64, just prior to his testifying regarding Oswald's actions on 11-24-63, Montgomery was interviewed by Warren Commission attorney Burt Griffin. Griffin's internal memo on this interview reflects "Montgomery states that he saw rifle hulls in the area of the window. He states that a Dr. Pepper bottle was on the floor and that a brown paper bag was folded in half and sitting on a box, Montgomery states that when this bag was unfolded it was large enough to carry a rifle."
Now, this is curious. The Dr. Pepper bottle was photographed several aisles over from the sniper's nest window, near a bag containing some chicken bones. Presumably, Montgomery never mentioned this bag--the one that was captured in the evidence photos--to Griffin. Should we assume, then, that he was confusing the bag/sack he'd actually seen near the sniper's nest--the bag containing the chicken bones--with a sack he was falsely claiming to have found in the sniper's nest? Probably not. The original version of Griffin's memo reflects that Montgomery said "a brown paper bag was folded in half and sitting on THE box," as opposed to "A box." In this context, then, it would mean that Montgomery thought the bag was found on the box believed to have been used as a seat, which becomes a bit curious when one considers that Oswald's palm print was purportedly found on top of this box.
It's really hard to say what Montgomery saw or did not see. But one can say with some certainty that Montgomery was a terrible witness. In his 4:50 PM April 6 testimony, right up after his partner, Johnson, Detective Montgomery mentioned his finding the bag and the bag's being dusted by Studebaker. Incredibly, however, he was less sure than the others that the bag was laying on the floor in the corner. He testified: "Let's see--the paper sack--I don't recall for sure if it was on the floor or on the box, but I know it was just there----one of those pictures might show exactly where it was...I can't recall for sure if it was on one of the boxes or on the floor there."
Montgomery's testimony was vague on other points as well. When asked if he picked the bag up off the ground upon discovery, as claimed by Johnson, he at first said "Yes" but then changed his answer to "Wait just a minute no; I didn't pick it up. I believe Mr. Studebaker did." (7H96-100)
And it's not as if the years were kind to Montgomery's memory, and allowed him to sort out what happened, and say anything that might convince us he really found the paper bag by the sniper's nest. When interviewed by Larry Sneed in the 1990's, he recalled "I don't remember exactly where I found the brown paper that Oswald had wrapped the rifle in...I recall that it was stuffed between the boxes, not lying out open on the floor as were the shell casings." And it gets worse. On 11-5-02, at the not-completely-ancient age of 69, Montgomery was interviewed by Gary Mack for the Sixth Floor Museum's Oral History project. When asked about the bag, he replied: "while I was looking around, I found a piece of big, brown paper there. And then, that’s the paper that he had the rifle wrapped in...It was, oh, just a little bit away from that wall over there. Around some boxes. I found it over there not far from where he was sitting, over there in-between some boxes." When then reminded that the bag was nowhere to be seen in the photographs taken of the sniper's nest, he added: "like I say, it wasn’t right there by the window. It was a little ways away from the window over there...Not far from where he was sitting." When then asked by Mack where it was in relation to him as he looked out the window onto Elm Street, Montgomery claimed: "It was behind me...Behind me over there. It was... you remember, there was a lot of stacks of boxes up there...And it was in-between some stacks of boxes right back behind us."
Well, this is not what Montgomery wrote in his police report, told Burt Griffin, or testified to before the Warren Commission. Mack clearly realized this, moreover, and gave Montgomery a chance to preserve the official story, by asking him if the bag could have been in the corner. Amazingly, however, Montgomery refused, and insisted: "No, it wasn't in the corner. It was right there...just right behind where he was sitting. Evidently, he just went over there to sit down and just, you know, took it off and just threw it behind him. Because that's where I found it--back behind him."
It's by no means a stretch to assume that Montgomery's purported finding of the paper bag was the high point of his career in law enforcement. Is it beyond the pale, then, to assume he would remember where he found this bag, should he actually have found it?
Well, then what about Detective Hicks, in whose care Lt. Day seemed to think he'd left the bag? Did he indicate Lt. Day found the bag? Or detectives Montgomery and Johnson?
Incredibly, neither. In his April 7 testimony, Detective Hicks not only expressed that he had no recollection of seeing the bag in the building, but seemed to know nothing of it at all, as if its existence had been kept a secret. (7H286-289).
So why did Day think he left him holding the bag?
In any event, the sum of all this testimony is that nobody mentioned Lt. Day's discovering, dusting, or signing the bag in the depository, and that Montgomery and Studebaker specifically recall that Studebaker was the one who did the dusting.
This, then, suggests that Day was not present when the bag was discovered, which in turn suggests that the bag was "found" only after Day was called away to look at the rifle.
And no, this isn't wishful thinking on my part. The 4-6-64 testimony of Det. Marvin Johnson, Montgomery's partner, stands in stark contrast to the FBI's 3-11-64 report on Studebaker. While Studebaker was reported to have told the FBI "the paper bag was removed prior to taking photographs of the southeast corner." (FBI file 105-82555, sec 142, p9), Johnson testified to his guarding the lunch sack and Dr. Pepper bottle prior to the arrival of Day and Studebaker, and to his standing by the sniper's nest and witnessing Montgomery pick up the paper bag "because the crime lab was already finished where I was, and I had already walked off to where he was." (7H104)
Well, no one, and I mean no one, ever reported or claimed that Day and Studebaker photographed the lunch sack and Dr. Pepper bottle prior to their photographing the sniper's nest. They always claimed instead that Day and Studenaker went straight to the sniper's nest, and were working there, before being called away to work on the rifle. And Day always said he then took the rifle to the crime lab.
Well, this leads in but one direction--that the bag was "discovered" after Day (and Fritz, for that matter) had moved their focus to the northwest corner of the building (where the rifle was discovered), and perhaps even after they'd left the building.
And, by gosh by golly, this shouldn't even be in dispute. The report of Fritz's sidekicks Boyd and Sims notes that Montgomery and Johnson weren't even assigned to guard the sniper's nest until 12:25, when Fritz was called away to look at the rifle just discovered on the other side of the building. It then notes that Day and Studebaker soon followed Fritz over. (24H319-322).
Well, then, perhaps that's it. Montgomery and Johnson were ordered to watch the sniper's nest AFTER Day and Studebaker were finished taking photos of the bullet shells, and not before. If so, then, they may have thought the bag had been photographed in situ by Day and Studebaker prior to their (Johnson and Montgomery's) arrival on the scene...and then picked it up while Day and Studebaker were off taking pictures of the rifle...on the other side of the building.
Day's post-1964 statements on the bag, in fact, confirm he was not actually present when the bag was "discovered."
A summary of Day's 10-18-77 interview with HSCA investigators Harold Rose and Al Maxwell (HSCA record 180-10107-10176) relates: "Lt. Day stated that he remembers the brown wrapping paper in the S.E. corner and stated that he believes his office processed it and it went with the other evidence to the F.B.I."
He "believes"? Really?
In 1992, when asked by researcher Denis Morissette if he knew who found the bag, Day similarly responded: "I don't know. It was on the floor next to and north of the box Oswald was sitting on when I arrived at the 6th floor. My men and I collected the bag at this place. As far as I know it had not been moved by any officers." Note that he never describes his initial spotting and inspection of the bag, or his dusting and signing the bag. He says only that there was a bag, that it was collected by his men, and that it was found by... someone... north of the sniper's seat. (His testimony had been that it was south of the sniper's seat, directly in the corner.)
In 1996, in an oral history recorded for The Sixth Floor Museum, moreover, Day had the chance to set the record straight and once again offered smoke. When asked why the bag hadn't been photographed, he responded "There should be a picture of it somewhere." When then asked by interviewer Bob Porter where the bag had been found, he replied "To the best of my knowledge, it was to the right on the floor of where he was sitting, on the box that I showed you a minute ago. It may have been the right, it may have been the left, but there was a bag there." When Porter pointed out that "left" would mean the corner (where Day had testified the bag was discovered), moreover, Day surprised him, and once again asserted that the bag had been found north of the sniper's seat. He responded "Yes, in the corner out back towards the north side of the building, where you headed up to it." He then admitted "I didn’t know anything about a bag at that time. There was a bag laying there...Later examination indicated that it was a bag had been made out of wrapping paper. It appeared to be shipping paper...Of course at that time, we didn’t know anything about Oswald, didn’t know anything about what happened. There was a bag there and it was collected."
Now, this, of course, supports that Day hadn't actually seen the bag where he claims it was found, and that others were, in fact, responsible for its collection in the depository.
This likelihood is further supported by Day's recollection to Larry Sneed, published in 1998, moreover. Day is reported to have told Sneed that "Also found on the sixth floor, as I recall, near the shell area, was a paper bag. It should have been photographed, but for some reason, apparently wasn't."
In fact, in what was to become his final word on the subject, in a 7-11-06 interview with The Sixth Floor Museum, Day came as close to admitting perjury as one can come. In opposition to his Warren Commission testimony that he'd signed the paper bag or sack "at the time the sack was found," Day ultimately admitted that when he and Studebaker left the sniper's nest to go photograph the rifle on the other side of the building "They had posted guards or something around it and they didn't have the sense to leave things alone. And they'd got in there and picked up a sack that was in this corner. And we didn't get a picture of it. But there was a sack right in that corner...the brown paper bag. It was the one he was supposed to have brought curtain rods in. Well, they picked it up while I was gone, and I didn't get a picture of it while it was sitting there."
Hmmm...as Studebaker returned to the sniper's nest after photographing the gun, but Day did not, and as Montgomery, Johnson, and Studebaker were all present or nearby when the bag was "discovered," and made no mention of Day, it seems clear that the bag was "discovered" while Day was busy dusting the rifle or transporting the rifle over to the crime lab, and that he'd therefore never signed the paper bag or sack "at the time the sack was found," and hadn't in fact "left" the bag with others when he transported the rifle to the crime lab.
If Day lied, however, he wasn't alone... It seems equally clear that the Warren Commission told a big fat untruth of its own when it claimed, on page 135 of its report: "At the time the bag was found, Lieutenant Day of the Dallas police wrote on it, "Found next to the sixth floor window gun fired from. May have been used to carry gun. Lt. J. C. Day."
There were just too many problems with Day's testimony regarding the bag for Ball, Belin, and the Commission not to have known something was worng, er, wrong.
And yet it seems that Belin was determined to push that Day discovered the bag, and dusted it and signed it on the sixth floor...no matter what was suggested by the evidence. Here's Belin at the beginning of Chapter 30 in his 1973 book "November 22, 1963--You are the Jury: "Members of the jury, you may remember that Lt. J. C. Day found a brown paper bag on the floor near the southeast corner window of the sixth floor of the TSBD Building. You heard Lt. Day testify that he had treated the bag with black fingerprint dusting powder and had found no latent prints..."
It just smells.
It's enough to make one wonder if the bag now in the archives was even found within the building...or was instead...created...from samples taken from the building...
Sizing Up the Sample
Consider the next section of Lt. Day's testimony:
Mr. BELIN. Did you ever get the kind of sample used at the School Book Depository?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, I had the bag listed as----
Mr. BELIN. Commission Exhibit 626 or 142.
Mr. DAY. On the first floor of the Texas School Book Depository, and I noticed from their wrapping bench there was paper and tape of a similar--the tape was of the same width as this. I took the bag over and tried it, and I noticed that the tape was the same width as on the bag.
Mr. BELIN. Did it appear to have the same color?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. All right. Then what did you do?
Mr. DAY. Sir?
Mr. BELIN. Then what did you do?
Mr. DAY. I directed one of the officers standing by me, I don't know which, to get a piece of the tape and a piece of the paper from the wrapping bench.
Mr. BELIN. Handing you what has been marked as Commission Exhibit 677, I will ask you to state if you know what this is.
Mr. DAY. This is the tape and paper collected from the first floor in the shipping department of the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963.
Mr. BELIN. Does this have any identification marks on it?
Mr. DAY. It has my name, "J. C. Day, Dallas Police Department," and also in my writing, "Shipping Department."
Mr. BELIN. Any other writing on there that you recognize?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; Detective Studebaker, who was with me, and in his writing it says, "Paper sample from first floor, Texas School Book Depository, Studebaker, 11-22-63." The tape also has Studebaker's writing on it, "Tape sample from first floor." (4H 249-278)
There is no mention of the size of this sample. As it was not considered evidence, furthermore, it was not even photographed by the Dallas Police. An 11-26-63 report by the FBI's Vincent Drain on his flights from and to Dallas with the primary evidence, moreover, notes that, although he returned the paper and tape samples to Dallas on 11-24 and delivered these samples to Chief of Police Jesse Curry at 3:40 P.M. the "sample of brown paper used by Texas School Book Depository and brown tape used by Texas School Book Depository were not returned since Chief Curry stated these were not evidence and had only been sent to the FBI Laboratory for comparison purposes." (CD5 p161).
Well, this raises a whole heap of questions. First of all, if the samples were not returned to the DPD, what happened to them? There is no record of them being sent back to Washington, that has been discovered, anyhow. And, second of all, what was Curry thinking?
The historical record suggests that this decision was made before the FBI gained jurisdiction over the case. I mean, why, if the case was now the FBI's, would Curry accept the other evidence, including the paper bag, but not the samples taken on 11-22 purportedly establishing the origin of the paper bag?
Think about it. Curry's refusing to accept the samples suggests that the Dallas Police were not particularly concerned about the samples at this time. Perhaps they'd felt that with Oswald dead there would never be a trial of any kind, and that they could have the FBI testify that the paper and tape samples matched the bag placed into evidence without having the samples placed into evidence as well. Or perhaps they thought the samples worthless because at this point in time the story was that the samples did not actually match. (More on this later.)
There are reasons, as one might guess, to suspect something nefarious was afoot.
When one looks at the early morning 11-23-63 FBI memo describing the evidence sent to Washington, and compares it to the FBI crime lab report on this evidence written later that day, one notices some subtle changes that may reflect a darker truth.
On the memo (found in FBI file 62-109060, Sec 1, p54) the bag is described as follows: "Brown paper which was found at what was believed to be the point of the firing of the fatal bullets used in the assassination. This paper possibly may have been used to carry above rifle to the scene of the building from which it was fired." Note that it is not described as a bag. Now look at how it's described later that day in the crime lab report (found in file 62-109060, Sec 21, p188): "Wrapping paper in shape of a large bag." Hmmm... Was it originally described as "brown paper" because it was not yet a "bag?" I don't know. That's a bit of a stretch. The "bag" in the press photos appears to be just that, a bag. Assuming that is, that the bag in the press photos is the "brown paper" listed in the FBI's 11-23 memo...
But there's also this to consider... On this memo, item 6 is listed as "Sample of brown paper used by Texas School Book Depository and sample of paper tape used by Texas School Book Depository." Although listed as one item, it seems clear this is really two items: a sample of paper and a sample of tape. Now look at how they're listed in the crime lab report: "K2--Paper and tape sample from shipping department, Texas Public School Book Depository." Sample. Singular. Had someone used the bulk of these samples to create a new and improved bag--one more in line with the bag described by Buell Wesley Frazier?
The Warren Commission, perhaps unaware of its significance, published a photo of this paper and tape sample. As seen on the slide above, this photo shows a fairly small piece of paper, not even 11 inches x 22 inches, with a piece of paper tape across the top. Since the FBI's earlier reports revealed that the paper rolls at the depository were 24 inches wide, this indicates that someone had done some cutting. Did Lt. Day and/or the FBI make the paper bag placed into evidence--which appears to be far too narrow to be the bag removed from the depository--from the paper and tape samples he took on 11-22-63?
Was the paper and tape sample shown in Commission Exhibit 677 but a scrap left over from the newly-created "bag?"
Possibly. It certainly seems a bit of a coincidence that a paper bag in the shape of a gun case that was not photographed upon discovery, and whose exact measurements were not given in testimony: 1) was never shown to the three detectives who initialed it upon its discovery; 2) was not smeared with the fingerprints of one of these detectives, who'd left 18 finger and palm prints on the four boxes purportedly next to the bag; and 3) appears far different in the photographs taken by the press than in the subsequent photos taken by the FBI. Something is just funky about Day's brown bag. And I'm not talking 'bout Morris Day or James Brown.
Only adding to the funkiness... Lt. Day talked about the paper sample one last time when he was interviewed by Larry Sneed for his 1998 book No More Silence. He said: "In the shipping room on the first floor, there were one or two rolls of that paper. We took the end pieces off those rolls for possible comparison with the bag that was found." He said "rolls"...as in more than one. Even worse, he also told Sneed that, beyond the palm print lift he'd failed to send the FBI on 11-22, "We had a few other items around such as some of his clothes and paper off the roll at the Book Depository that we didn't do anything else with." Well, I'll be. What happened to this "paper off the roll" never submitted to the FBI? And why was Day now admitting they'd taken multiple samples? Was his memory in error?
Or had he simply forgotten the "official story"? The 11-29 FBI report on the paper bag and paper sample declares that Oswald's boss Roy Truly furnished Day "similar brown paper from the roll that was used in packing books by the Texas School Book Depository." (CD5 p129). A 4-1-64 FBI Airtel from Dallas to Washington, however, reveals that Day was interviewed the day before, and claimed that he "obtained samples wrapping paper...from four opened rolls mounted in Shipping Room." (FBI file 105-82555 sec 125 p62). When testifying before the Warren Commission on 4-22-64, moreover, Day was shown Exhibit 730 and asked if the roll of paper in the photo looked like the one from which he removed Exhibit 677. He replied: "Yes, sir. To the best of my knowledge that is the roll we tore the paper off of." The number of samples removed by Day had thus morphed from one on 11-29-63 to four on 3-31-64, back to one on 4-22-64, and then to two in his later years. If the "official" story is confusing and hard to believe it's due in part to men like Day, who just couldn't keep their stories straight.
In an effort to keep our story straight, however, it should be noted that the FBI caught Day's 4-1-64 reference to four samples and sprang into action. The next day, Washington wired Dallas and requested that since the paper sample in their possession was "only one piece of paper and one piece of tape advise if samples actually obtained from all four opened rolls...If additional paper and tape samples secured on November Twenty Two last...are available forward them to Bureau immediately." (FBI file 105-82555 sec 125 p64). This, in turn, led to an interview with Dallas Detective Robert Studebaker, whose statements appeared to answer the FBI's questions. The report in this interview notes that Studebaker "recalls obtaining a paper sample and a gummed tape sample at the instruction of Lt. Day from the wrapping table located on the main floor of the Depository Building... Studebaker noted that he recalled observing four rolls of the paper, one at each corner, and that he obtained the sample from the northeast corner as it was the most convenient. Studebaker advised he turned over these samples to the custody of Lt. Day. Studebaker advised he recalled he obtained only one sample of paper and one sample of tape at this time, and to the best of his recollection, these are the only samples obtained by his Department." (FBI file 105-82555 sec 142 p19).
Well, what's the matter with this, you might ask? Day has a vague recollection there were four samples, but Studebaker has a stronger recollection there was but one. Case closed, you might say. Well, there is a little problem. On the day Day told the FBI there had been four samples, the FBI also had a talk with Roy Truly, who'd purportedly provided Day with the samples. The report of this interview reflects that Truly "recalls Day obtained samples of wrapping paper from the rolls of Kraft wrapping paper mounted on racks in the shipping room." (FBI file 105-82555 sec 142 p15) Samples. Rolls. Racks. Plural. It's intriguing that Day and Truly separately recall there being more than one sample, and that the FBI then contacts Studebaker, Day's underling, who tells them there was but one, and that Day then testifies there was but one. It's as if someone was comparing notes.
And recognizing problems. Let's think about this some more. The FBI's report on its 3-31-64 interview with Truly notes that the FBI contacted Truly on 12-1-64 to receive paper to make a replica bag, and that Truly was "quite sure" this came from the same rolls in use on the 22nd from which he had provided samples to Lt. Day. There was a problem, however. The paper obtained on 12-1-64 failed to match the samples provided the FBI on 11-22. This led to a follow-up interview on 4-2-64, wherein Truly now acknowledged that the northeast paper roll (singular) from which he'd provided a sample on 11-22-63 may have been expended and replaced in the 4 business days following the assassination.
Now let's go back. There were four paper rolls by the wrapping table, one on each corner. If Day and Studebaker were taking samples to see if one of them matched up to the paper bag, they would have taken samples from all four of them, and not just the one "in the northeast corner, as it was the most convenient," as Studebaker purportedly told the FBI on 4-2.
If they were taking samples to create the bag to begin with, however, this makes a lot more sense. I mean, let's presume they were on the up and up. In such case, it would be a coincidence that Studebaker grabbed a sample from but one roll and this just so happened to be the roll from which the bag had been made. A 1-in-4 coincidence. Now, that's not good. But that's still better than Day and Studebaker admitting they'd taken multiple samples, and then admitting they'd sent only one of these on to Washington, and that WOW it was just dumb luck this one matched up with the bag they'd discovered. WOW!
It seems more than possible then that Day and Studebaker really did collect these samples to make a bag. Let's reconsider the 3-31-64 FBI report on Truly. It reflects that Truly "advised that on November 22, 1963 he personally supervised and aided Lt. j. Carl Day...in obtaining Kraft wrapping paper samples and 3" paper tape samples from the shipping room...Truly advised he recalls Day obtained samples of wrapping paper from the rolls of Kraft wrapping paper mounted on racks in the shipping room, as well as samples from rolled, gummed, 3" paper tape mounted on the wrapping table adjacent to the rolls of paper." Now note that there's no mention of Day having the bag in his possession at this time. (Of course, there's also no mention of his having the rifle in his possession at this time.)
And it's not as if Studebaker comes across as an innocent in all this. An 11-23-63 FBI memo by agent Nat Pinkston on the goings-on at Dallas Police headquarters on 11-22 notes that Studebaker "stated that he had found what appeared to be brown wrapping paper and tape in which a rifle had been wrapped for concealment..." (FBI file 105-82555 sec 21 p137). This is most unusual. Wouldn't someone who'd discovered a bag made of wrapping paper say he'd found a bag made of wrapping paper? Why did Pinkston and (presumably Studebaker himself) specify that he'd found "brown wrapping paper and tape"? I mean, why itemize tape when it was part of the bag? It seems apparent then that Studebaker was referring to the bag purportedly found (but possibly created) in the building and the paper and tape samples he'd taken from the building...as if they were the same thing. Most curious.
Which brings us back to the FBI's interview of Studebaker regarding the paper rolls. The report reads:"He advised to the best of his recollection this paper sample was obtained from a roll of Kraft wrapping paper, 24" in width, located at the northeast corner of the wrapping table." So here we have confirmation from a Dallas Detective of the FBI's previous claim that the paper in the depository was 24" wide. The bag placed into evidence, as we've seen, is about 17'' wide when split open. But did this bag have 7 inches of overlap on one of its sides? Perhaps.
If not, there is a problem. If Oswald created this bag in the garage of the home where he'd spent the night before the shooting, as widely presumed, where oh where were the "scraps"? (Evidently, this same question occurred to Warren Commission counsel Wesley Liebeler, for he asked Michael Paine, in whose garage the rifle had been stored "Did anyone notice any scraps of paper or tape similar to the ones of which these sacks were constructed that we previously identified, particularly Commission 142?"...only to receive the unhelpful response "Not that I remember.")
There is more. At 10:01 on 11-23-63, but a few hours after the bag arrived at FBI headquarters, J. Edgar Hoover called President Johnson and gave him an update on the evidence against Oswald. Transcripts provided by the LBJ Library reflect that Hoover detailed:
"On the morning that this incident ---yesterday—the man who drove him to the building where they work, the building from where the shots came, said that he had a package wrapped up in paper —not a blanket. The blanket we found in the garage at home. But the paper in which the gun was wrapped that has also been sent up to us and accommodation will be made of that. He did carry some kind of package down there, which could have been the gun yesterday morning in the car. None of us can swear to that."
Now, what do you think he meant by "accommodation will be made of that"? Might he not have meant "We're gonna find some way to link this bag to Oswald"? I don't know. That might be stretching it. But it sure is curious. So curious, apparently, that Max Holland, an ardent defender of the Warren Commission and the Oswald-did-it scenario, substituted the word "accommodation" with the words "(an inspection)" in the transcript to this phone call published in his book, The Kennedy Assassination Tapes. Now, perhaps Hoover really said, or meant to say, "an inspection," or perhaps even "an examination," which sounds more like "accommodation" than "an inspection." But Holland had no reason to think so, as he had admittedly never heard the tape.
You see, when this tape was to be duplicated for the National Archives in 1999, just prior to its being made more widely available to researchers, including Holland, Cutting Corporation, which was to have done the duplication, found it to have been, in the words of a memo made available to researcher Rex Bradford, and posted on his History Matters website, "most likely...intentionally erased." So...did the FBI make the bag currently in the archives out of materials supplied by the DPD? I don't know, but there is certainly reason to suspect as much.
There is one last point which I would be remiss not to mention... Now, at first this might seem irrelevant, so bear with me... The bag was roughly 38 inches in length. The rifle was, according to the testimony of the FBI's Robert Frazier, 40.2 inches in length. If the rifle was disassembled, so that its longest piece was the 34.8 inch rifle stock, however, it could be made to fit the bag. This led the FBI to push that Oswald brought the rifle into the building disassembled, and that he put it together with a dime before the shooting...
But there's a problem with this. Any shooter worth his salt knows it takes a few shots for a rifle to settle in after being re-assembled. Dismantling the rifle might very well have ruined Oswald's one chance at "success."
This should make us suspect, then, that the bag was supposed to conceal the rifle when fully assembled, and that it's being too small was an accident. This then leads to the possibility the bag was made without the rifle's being present. Perhaps Oswald made the bag at work, and nobody noticed, and then smuggled it home in his clothing, and nobody noticed. If this, in fact, occurred, the bag's being too small to conceal the fully-assembled rifle can be explained in two-ways: 1) Oswald didn't have the rifle in front of him when he made the bag, and had to rely on his memory; and 2) the rifle ordered by Oswald was 36" in length, but he was shipped the 40" model.
Let's think about this last point. If Oswald had simply brought home an insufficient amount of paper and tape, or a completed bag too small to conceal the rifle, as many theorize, one would think he would improvise and tape another piece of paper over the end, or some such thing. Anything to avoid dis-assembling the rifle... But if someone other than Oswald, after being told Klein's had found an order for a 36" rifle on the night of the shooting, had used the available paper and tape samples to make a bag to fit that rifle, not realizing the rifle in evidence was 40", well, he might not have had the opportunity to improvise. By the time he realized his mistake, the bag might already have been in the hands of someone not privy to his plan, or on its way to Washington.
And yes, I've looked into this. And yes, it appears that the FBI knew by 10 o'clock on the 22nd that the rifle found in the depository had been purchased by Klein's Sporting Goods of Chicago from a New York importer named Crescent Firearms, as part of a shipment of 36 inch rifles. Klein's confirmed the receipt of this rifle, moreover, around midnight, shortly before the evidence held by Lt. Day, apparently including the paper sample, was transferred to the FBI. While Klein's was reportedly unable to confirm Oswald's purchase of a 36 inch rifle--through his already discovered alias, Hidell--until approximately 4 o'clock in the morning, the 38 inch bag bearing Oswald's palm and fingerprint may already have been created, under the assumption such confirmation was forthcoming.
Shining a Light On Drain
Adding to this admittedly disturbing possibility the bag was created after the shooting is that, on June 9, 1964, as a response to a May 20th Warren Commission request, the FBI took the paper bag back to Dallas, and inadequately traced back its chain of custody. While the chain of custody on the other items brought back to Dallas--the various bullets, cartridges, and bullet fragments related to the assassination, and even the blanket used by Oswald to store his rifle in the Paine family's garage--were traced back to the first ones to discover them, the brown paper bag was never shown to Montgomery, Johnson, or Studebaker, the three men who first saw the bag in the depository, and who reportedly initialed it on the premises. Instead, it was shown to just one man: Lt. J.C. Day.
The words to this report are as follows:
"On June 9, 1964, Lieutenant J.C. Day of the Crime Laboratory of the Dallas Police Department, Dallas, Texas, was exhibited the wrapping-paper bag, C10, by Special Agent Vincent E. Drain, Federal Bureau of Investigation. After examining this bag, Lieutenant Day advised he could positively identify this bag as the one he and Detective R.L. Studebaker found on the Sixth Floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building immediately after the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Lieutenant Day stated this paper bag was marked on November 22, 1963 by him. This bag was subsequently delivered on November 22, 1963 to Special Agent Vincent E. Drain for transmittal to the Laboratory of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington D.C., for examination." (24H418).
Notice that there's no mention of Montgomery and Johnson, the detectives who, according to the Dallas Police Department's own records, found the bag and took it over to the crime lab. (24H260). Notice also that Day says only that he marked the bag on the 22nd, not that he marked it on the scene. Consider also that the agent tracing the chain of evidence, Vincent Drain, was the one who first took the bag to Washington. Day's claim that he found the bag, and Drain's failure to track down Montgomery and Johnson, and even Studebaker--who'd previously testified that they'd found the bag--is undoubtedly suspicious to those even slightly prone to suspicion.
But, wait, it gets even more suspicious. Drain had discussed the bag with Day at an earlier time as well. An 11-30-63 report by Drain on an 11-29-63 interview of Day reveals:
"Lt. Carl Day, Dallas Police Department, stated he found the brown paper bag shaped like a gun case near the scene of the shooting on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building. He stated the manager, Mr. Truly, saw this bag at the time it was taken into possession by Lt. Day. Truly, according to Day, had not seen this bag before. No one else viewed it. Truly furnished similar brown paper from the roll that was used in packing books by the Texas School Book Depository. This paper was examined by the FBI Laboratory and found to have the same observable characteristics as the brown paper bag shaped like a gun case which was found near the scene of the shooting of the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building. The Dallas Police have not exhibited this to anyone else. It was immediately locked up by Day, kept in his possession until it was turned over to FBI agent Drain for transmittal to the Laboratory. It was examined by the Laboratory, returned to the Dallas Police Department November 24, 1963, locked up in the Crime Laboratory. This bag was returned to Agent Drain on November 26, 1963, and taken back to the FBI Laboratory.
Lt. Day stated no one has identified this bag to the Dallas Police Department." (CD5, p129).
Let's be blunt. This report is filled with errors, and/or flat-out freakin' lies.
First, let's look at the "error" regarding Truly. There is no other report or interview or even a smidgen of testimony suggesting Truly saw the bag in the building. But two days after Drain spoke to Day, FBI agents Odum and McNeely contacted Truly and asked him to supply them with the paper and tape needed to make a replica bag. This replica bag was then shown to Buell Frazier, Linnie Mae Randle, Ruth Paine, and Danny Arce, to see if any of them could recognize the bag as something they'd seen in Oswald's possession. None of them would ID the bag. (CD7 p292-300) It is troubling, then, that Truly--who'd purportedly viewed the original bag--was not asked to verify, and apparently, did not verify, that the replica bag did indeed look like the original bag as found in the building, that is, before it was stained with silver nitrate by the FBI. He was the only person involved in the creation of the replica bag who'd (supposedly) seen the original bag in its original condition. And yet he was not asked to comment on the similarity of the replica bag's appearance to the original bag.
It can be taken from Day's subsequent statements, for that matter, that Truly never saw the bag in the building. To wit, on 8-15-96, Day performed an oral history for the Sixth Floor Museum, and told interviewer Bob Porter that when he "came back from City Hall, after I'd placed the gun up there, I came back on the second floor, and I run into Mr. Truly", and that Truly then told him about Marrion Baker's rushing up the stairs after the shooting, and their encountering Oswald in the lunchroom. Day said nothing about Truly's talking to him earlier in the day on the first floor. Day also said nothing about Truly's following him up to the sixth floor, and his witnessing the discovery of the bag used to conceal the rifle, or any such thing. Let's recall that the bag removed from the building on the 22nd had almost certainly been removed by the time Day returned from City Hall. As a result, one can only conclude that this bit in Drain's memo about Truly witnessing the collection of the bag is nonsense. The collection of paper samples from the shipping tables, perhaps, but the collection of the bag on the sixth floor, nope, not falling for it.
Now, let's look at some of the other "errors" in this report. The report makes out that Day himself found the bag. There's no mention at all of Montgomery, Johnson, and Studebaker, nor of Studebaker's claim in an 11-22 FBI report by agent Nat Pinkston that he was the one to find the bag. (CD5, p128) The report also errs in that it says the bag was "immediately locked up by Day" when it was, in fact, submitted to the crime lab by Montgomery and Johnson when Day was absent from the crime lab. And it also errs in claiming that the bag was not exhibited to anyone else.
This last "mistake" is actually quite suspicious. It conceals that on this same day, 11-29-63, Drain interviewed Dallas Detective R.D. Lewis, and that Lewis acknowledged giving Buell Wesley Frazier a polygraph on 11-22-63 during which Frazier was shown the bag and refused to identify it as the bag he saw in Oswald's possession. (CD7, p291).
An 11-29 FBI memo never shown the Warren Commission, and found only in the FBI's HQ files, moreover, reinforces this point, and confirms that FBI headquarters was told all about Frazier's refusal to identify the bag. It states:
"Lieutenant Carl Day, Dallas, Texas, Police Department Crime Laboratory, advised that on November 22, 1963, he recovered a heavy brown sack appearing to be homemade and appearing to have been folded together at one time. This sack when laid out was about four feet long but when doubled was about two feet long. Lt. Day recalls that on the evening of 11-22-63, about 11:30 p.m., one of Capt. Fritz's officers requested that he show this thick, brown sack to a man named Frazier. Lt. Day stated that Frazier was unable to identify this sack and told him that a sack he observed in possession of Oswald early that morning was definitely a thin flimsy sack like one purchased in a dime store."
But it's even worse than that. The memo, from Inspector J.L. Handley in Dallas to Assistant Director Alex Rosen in Washington, reporting on an interview of Day conducted by SA James Anderton, continues: "Lt. Day stated that he and other officers have surmised that Oswald by dismantling the rifle could have placed it in the thick, brown sack folded over and then placed the entire package in the flimsy paper sack." The memo then notes the impossibility of this, and continues "however, the entire package would have been longer than two feet since the stock of the rifle alone was over two feet."
(FBI file 62-109060 sec.14 p123-125)
Well, yikes, this proves that Rosen, the assistant director tasked with establishing the basic facts of the crime, knew Drain's report on Day was incomplete, in that it failed to relate that Frazier had been shown the bag, and had stated it was not the bag he saw in Oswald's possession. And not only incomplete, but totally false. Drain's report, after all, not only failed to mention Frazier's being shown the bag, but insisted instead that the bag had been shown to no one outside Roy Truly.
And that's not the worst of it. Think about it. Lt. Day, the man credited with finding the bag, has told the FBI that "he and other officers" are willing to accept Frazier's claim the bag recovered by the DPD was not the bag he'd observed in Oswald's possession. Well, this greatly damages the value of the bag as evidence. If it's simply a bag bearing Oswald's prints, that has no obvious link to the rifle, while the bag seen by Frazier is missing, it raises more questions than it answers.
Is it just a coincidence then that Anderton's reports on Frazier and Day, in which he discussed Frazier's failure to ID the bag, and Handley's memo on Day, which repeated this information, were either never sent to Washington, or never provided the Warren Commission? And, similarly, is it just a coincidence that Drain's report on Day, containing false information, and concealing important information, was written up on 11-30, and included in the FBI report of 11-30, and that Drain's report on Lewis (in which this previously concealed information was revealed), which was based on an interview conducted the same day as the day Drain interviewed Day, wasn't written up till 12-1 and forwarded to Washington till 12-10, after the completion of the FBI's 12-9 summary report given to President Johnson and the Warren Commission, and leaked to the press? Maybe. Maybe not.
If not, however, then we have sufficient reason to believe Drain's deception was orchestrated from above. On 12-06, FBI HQ sent an airtel to Drain's direct superior, Gordon Shanklin, asking him to correct an "inaccurate statement" in a report. (FBI file 62-109060, sec 17, p213) On 12-18, Shanklin, in turn, sent a message back to the Bureau's headquarters telling them that, as a response to the Bureau's 12-06 airtel, he was sending headquarters and New Orleans "10 copies and 1 copy respectively of FD-302 reflecting interview by Vincent Drain with Lt. Carl Day, Dallas Police Department, on 11/29/63. It is requested that the Bureau and New Orleans insert the enclosed pages to replace page 129 of reference report. Appropriate changes are being made in the Dallas files." (FBI file 105-82555, sec 39, p7). The reference report is the Gemberling Report of 11/30. Page 129 is Drain's report on Day. Well, what was all this about, you might ask? Had someone caught the obvious error in Drain's report...that the bag was not shown to anyone?
Nope. An uncorrected version of this report was later discovered in the archives by researcher Gary Shaw. It revealed that the original version of Drain's report said the paper bag found in the depository was "found not to be identical" to the paper sample taken from the depository. Now this is mighty strange. Drain, who escorted the paper bag and sample from Dallas to the FBI's crime lab in Washington on 11-23, and then returned with the bag on 11-24, wrote a report saying the paper bag did not match the sample? And his report was then re-written to hide this "mistake"? While, at the same time, the equally obvious "mistake" (that being that the DPD failed to show the bag to anyone) was allowed to stand uncorrected?
This is indeed perplexing. One might take from this, however, that Drain's report on his 11-29 discussion with Day, which bore little resemblance to Anderton's 11-29 report and Handley's 11-29 memo based upon Anderton's discussion with Day, wasn't written by Drain, but by someone less familiar with the facts, who was anxious to cover up the more problematic aspects of Anderton's interview with Day (namely, that Frazier had refused to ID the bag, and that this had led the DPD to no longer consider the bag an important piece of evidence).
(Note: the changing of this document is discussed in much greater detail, here.)
Still, one might also search for a more innocent explanation. Should one wish to do so, however, one would be remiss to ignore that, no matter the reason, the FBI's 12-9-63 report to President Johnson and the Warren Commission avoided like the plague that Frazier had been shown the paper bag on repeated occasions and had passed a polygraph while insisting it was not the bag he saw in Oswald's possession.
This is what it barfed up instead: "Mr. Frazier, after viewing the long brown paper bag found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building, could not definitely state whether the bag was the one observed by him in Oswald's possession on the morning of November 22, 1963." (CD 1, Section B, page 6)
Well, this is as good as a lie...in an official report...written for the President of the United States... and a commission convened to establish the truth about the assassination of his predecessor...
The inclusion of the words "could not definitely state whether the bag was the one observed by him" is a gross misrepresentation of Frazier's actual position, in which he definitively stated the bag was not the one he'd observed in Oswald's possession.
The FBI knew this, but kept this from its official report to the President. Why?
Shining a Light on the Warren Report
And why did the Warren Commission follow suit and lie about the bag in its own official report to the President?
We have already discussed an almost certainly false claim on page 135 of the commission's report. Yes, when considering all the evidence and testimony received by the commission, it's truly hard to believe they ever could have believed "At the time the bag was found, Lieutenant Day of the Dallas police wrote on it, "Found next to the sixth floor window gun fired from. May have been used to carry gun. Lt. J. C. Day."
But Lt. Day did suggest as much in his testimony. Maybe they believed him...
There is a flat-out lie about the bag in the report, however. Unlike the lie about Lt. Day, moreover, this lie is in direct contradiction to every bit of testimony received by the commission.
Here, see for yourself (from page 135 of the Warren Report):
Footnote 187 refers back to the 4-2-64 testimony of the FBI's Sebastian Latona, where we began our journey through Lt. Day's Adventureland some time ago.
Here's Latona's testimony:
Mr. EISENBERG. Having reference to the paper bag, Exhibit 626, Mr. Latona, could you show us where on that bag this portion of the palm, the ulnar portion of the palm, of Lee Harvey Oswald was found?
Mr. LATONA. This little red arrow which I have placed on the paper bag shows the palmprint as it was developed on the wrapper.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it visible to the naked eye?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; it is. I think you can see it with the use of this hand magnifier.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you mark that arrow "A"--the arrow you have Just referred to on Exhibit 626, pointing to the portion of the palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald?
And then later...
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, could you show us that chart and discuss with us some of the similar characteristics which you found in the inked and latent print which led you to the conclusion that they were identical?
Mr. LATONA. Yes. I have here what are referred to as two charted enlargements. One of the enlargements, which is marked "Inked Left Index Fingerprint. Lee Harvey Oswald" is approximately a 10-time enlargement of the fingerprint which appears on Exhibit 633A. The other enlargement, which is marked "Latent Fingerprint on Brown Homemade Paper Container," is approximately a 10-time enlargement of the latent fingerprint which was developed on the brown wrapping paper indicated by the red arrow, "B."
Mr. EISENBERG. And that also corresponds to the photograph you gave us, which is now Exhibit 633?
Mr. LATONA. That's correct.
Representative FORD. And the arrow, "B," is on Exhibit 626?
Mr. LATONA. That's correct.
And then later...
Mr. LATONA. Exhibit 632 is approximately a time and a half enlargement of the latent palmprint which was developed on the brown wrapper.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is Exhibit 142.
Mr. LATONA. Exhibit 142--which is indicated by the red arrow A.
And still later
Mr. LATONA. The opinion here, without any question at all, is that this latent print, which was developed on the brown bag marked "A"--142 was made by the right palm of Lee Harvey Oswald.
And then finally...
Mr. LATONA. "B" is the finger, and "A" is the palm.
Mr. MURRAY. Yes; that's correct. And the palm "A"--there I definitely saw what appeared. to be a palmprint, and more faintly I saw a fingerprint in the portion marked "B."
Mr. DULLES. And these are exhibits----
Mr. EISENBERG. This is Exhibit 142.
(At this point Representative Boggs entered the hearing room.)
Mr. DULLES. Both the palmprint and the fingerprint are on Exhibit 142.
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes--marked "A" and "B" respectively.
Yes, this couldn't be more clear. A is the palmprint. B is the fingerprint.
Well, here is the Archives' photo for the paper bag.
And here is a close up shot of the marker and arrow on the side of the bag.
And here is the Archives' photo for the other side of the bag.
And here is a close up shot of the marker and arrow on the bottom of the bag.
The palmprint (A) was near the middle of the bag. The fingerprint (B) was near the bottom of the bag. The Warren Commission lied. There was nothing about these prints to indicate something heavy had been carried in the bag. It was actually just the opposite.
Here is a Warren Commission exhibit in which the bag has been opened up, to show both sides of the bag. I have added Oswald's hand prints on top of this, to show how they matched up on the bag.
The open end of the bag is on the right. The palmprint is upside down in relation to the open end of the bag. The print, therefore, was almost certainly NOT left on the bag when Oswald was carrying a heavy item, let alone a rifle that's been broken down into multiple parts. The print, if anything, suggests Oswald touched the bag while it held nothing.
Shining a Light on B.S.
And it wasn't just the official reports that lied about the bag. Many defenders of the Warren Commission have similarly lied about the bag.
One of the first Oswald-did-it books to discuss the evidence beyond regurgitating the Warren Report was Investigation of a Homicide by Judy Bonner (1969). Bonner was a Dallas science writer. Her book was written with assistance from the Dallas Police Department.
And yet...Bonner's description of the bag's discovery is B.S. In her narrative, she has Lt. Day and Det. Studebaker talk to Capt. Fritz as they inspect the rifle in the northwest corner of the building. Day tells Fritz: "Johnson (Detective Marvin Johnson) found a sack over by those boxes next to the window where the shots were fired. I think our suspect may have brought the gun up here in that. Let's go get it." Bonner then relates: "The three men walked back to the southeast corner where Johnson handed Day a rumpled brown paper bag held together with wide strips of brown wrapping tape. Day dusted it for prints and wrote on the side of the bag with a black grease pencil: 'Found next to the sixth floor window gun fired from. May have been used to carry gun--Lt. J. C. Day.' Then to protect the prints, he placed the bag over a long stick and gave it to a detective to carry from the building."
Well, this is more than curious, it's curious as heck.
1. It has Marvin Johnson discover the bag, instead of L.D. Montgomery.
2. It has Johnson discover the bag before the rifle was discovered, when Johnson testified that the bag was discovered after Studebaker was finished dusting the sack lunch and Dr. Pepper bottle, which were not dusted until after Studebaker was finished photographing the rifle.
3. It has Day know about the discovery of this bag before he inspected the rifle, which Day's subsequent statements suggest is not true.
4. It has Day, Studebaker, and Fritz walk back to the sniper's nest to check out the bag, when Fritz insisted he did not see or even know about the bag prior to his leaving the building.
5. It says the bag was "rumpled", when it was actually neatly folded.
6. It has Day dust and sign the bag right there in the sniper's nest, when no one witnessed such a thing, and Day's own statements are incredibly vague on this point.
7. It has Day not only discover prints on the bag, but place the bag over a long stick before its removal from the building to protect these prints. (While this has no basis in the historical record, it nevertheless feels true! I mean, where did Bonner get this if no one involved in the bag's removal from the building told her such a thing?)
8. It has the bag removed from the building by an anonymous detective, instead of by L.D. Montgomery, the man who, according to the Dallas Police, actually discovered the bag.
While Bonner's B.S. was exceptional, moreover, it was not the exception to the rule. No, the rule is fairly constant. You show me a book claiming Oswald killed Kennedy, and I'll show you a book that flat-out lies about the paper bag.
Here's another example. Warren Commission attorney David Belin released two Oswald-did-it books, You are the Jury and Final Disclosure. He lied about the bag in each of them.
We've already shown how he lied in You are the Jury (1973).
But here he is again in Final Disclosure (1988): p.10 "By the window near the place where the cartridge cases were discovered was a large brown homemade paper sack. After Day photographed the scene, he wrote on the sack, 'Found next to the sixth floor window gun fired from. May have been used to carry gun.'" (Uhh, no, once again. Neither Day nor anyone else ever claimed Day signed the sack before the rifle was discovered.)
And here, just for kicks, is HSCA ballistics consultant Larry Sturdivan in his 2005 epic The JFK Myths: A Scientific Investigation of the Kennedy Assassination: "Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney found a stack of cartons and and three cartridge cases on the floor in front of the corner window at approximately 1:12. Fritz had Mooney guard the area to see that nothing was moved before Lt. J.C. Day of the Identification Bureau arrived to take pictures and retrieve any fingerprints. In the corner of the alcove formed by the stacked boxes, they found a homemade sack measuring 38 inches in length."
If I'm reading this correctly, Sturdivan has Fritz and Mooney--the two most important witnesses claiming they didn't see a paper bag in the corner--discovering the bag! And that's not all. Even if I'm reading this incorrectly, and Sturdivan mistakenly wrote Mooney when he meant to write Montgomery, Sturdivan was still grossly mistaken. The bag was not "discovered" before the discovery of the rifle, and was not "discovered" while Day was in the corner. Period.
What a mess! Even if one should make it through this paper bag minefield and come out convinced that all was on the up and up with the evidence presented to the commission, moreover, one must also consider that neither the FBI on its own or at the Warren Commission's request inspected the inside of a similar paper bag after it had carried the rifle around, if just, y'know, to see if there should have been marks inside the bag. The suggestion by the FBI's expert Cadigan that the rifle may have been wrapped in cloth inside the bag shouldn't have cut off such an inquiry, seeing as no cloth was found with the bag or in the sniper's nest.
The bag just isn't a convincing piece of evidence. It isn't. If anything, it's more damaging to the proposition Oswald killed Kennedy than helpful.
After all, this is a significant and quite noticeable piece of evidence that
1) was not noticed by any of the initial witnesses to view the crime scene, including the lead investigator on the case, who stood within two feet of its purported location.
2) was not photographed in place by those charged with documenting the crime scene.
3) was not photographed at the crime lab by the Dallas Police prior to its transfer to the FBI.
4) was not identified as the item seen in Oswald's possession by the only witnesses claiming to have seen such an item in Oswald's possession.
5) was misrepresented in an FBI report, in which it was claimed this piece of evidence was not shown to anyone by the Dallas Police.
6) was misrepresented in the FBI's Summary report to the President, which concealed that when this piece of evidence was shown to the man who drove Oswald to work on the morning of the 22nd, he said he'd never seen this item before.
7) was never even mentioned in the only report written by a member of the Dallas Police Crime Scene Search Section, the chief crime scene investigator who, strangely, was repeatedly credited by the FBI as the person who "recovered" this piece of evidence.
8) was never shown to the three Dallas detectives who originally signed this piece of evidence, so they could confirm their initials and authenticate this piece of evidence.
9) was only shown to and authenticated by the chief crime scene investigator, who falsely suggested in his testimony that he'd personally recovered this piece of evidence.
10) was misrepresented in the Warren Report, which falsely presented the prints supposedly found on this piece of evidence as support this piece of evidence was handled in the manner suggested by the man who drove Oswald to work (but who'd actually insisted he'd never seen this item before).
The paper bag reeked of bullshit from the moment it was taken from the building, to the moment it was offered up as evidence in the Warren Report. Whether or not it was created by Oswald, or ever held a rifle, remains unknown. But what we do know is quite damaging to the reputations of the Dallas Police, FBI, and Warren Commission. The Dallas Police and FBI lied and lied repeatedly about this bag, and the Warren Commission looked the other way and flat-out lied in order to present this bag as evidence against Oswald.
So what was it all about?
Here's a thought...
Let's return to Lt. Day.
As discussed, Lieutenant Day, in his official report on his activities on the day of the assassination, written up on 1-08-64, completely fails to mention his "discovery" of the bag. Instead, he says he was pulled from the sniper's nest, where he'd been photographing the hulls, at 1:25 PM, to photograph and inspect the rifle found on the other side of the building. He then left the building at 2:00 PM in order to transport the rifle to the crime lab. According to this report he did not return to the building until 2:45 PM. (26H833-834) Well, this would be bad enough. The reports of detectives L.D. Montgomery and Marvin Johnson reflect that they transported the bag over to the crime lab about 2:30. (24H314, 24H307). From reading these reports, then, it seems possible Day did not see the bag in the depository building, but upon its arrival at the crime lab.
But it's much more confusing than that. As we've seen, there is a photograph of Johnson and Montgomery leaving the building, in which Montgomery's watch can be read. It reads 3:00. As Day testified to returning at 3:00, the possibility then becomes that Day first "saw" the bag at the crime lab later that night.
Only adding to this second possibility is that the 4-1-64 FBI report on Roy Truly's recollections of the bag reflects only that Truly remembered giving paper samples to Lt. Day "on the afternoon of November 22, 1963," but makes no mention of his being shown the paper bag found in the sniper's nest, as purported in Drain's 11-29 report. (FBI file 105-82555, sec 142, p15).
Let's dig a little deeper. Truly was interviewed for an 11-27-63 article by Dom Bonafede in the New York Herald-Tribune. According to this article, Truly told Bonafede that Oswald "was seen carrying a large object wrapped in newspapers (presumably the murder weapon) into the warehouse the morning of the assassination." Wait. Newspapers? Huh? If Day had shown the paper bag found in the building to Truly on the day of the assassination, and had asked him to supply paper and tape samples from the building for comparison, wouldn't Truly have remembered such a thing but 4 days later?
Well, this supports that Truly wasn't actually shown the "bag" in the building, and that he'd supplied the paper and tape for reasons other than comparison.
And this, in turn, supports the possibility paper and tape were obtained by Day as he left the building with the rifle, and that he left the paper and tape in the care of Studebaker, and that Montgomery and Johnson were then tasked with taking the freshly-created bag over to the crime lab.
And that they did so just before or after Day returned...
Let's stop right here. I know that someone somewhere is thinking that Day could have returned to the sixth floor at 2:45, and been standing nearby as the bag was "discovered" just prior to Montgomery and Johnson's leaving with the bag around 3:00.
But this makes little sense, once one takes into account the statements of the photographers who'd been standing outside the building.
Just look at the photo below.
This image is a crop from a photograph taken by Dallas Times-Herald photographer William Allen on 11-22-63. It shows someone processing the boxes in the sniper's nest. An 11-29-63 memo by agents Barrett and Lee on the photographic evidence (found in the Weisberg Archives) reflects that Barrett's supervisor Richard Rogge had inquired about the identity of the photographer of this photo, and that Barrett had ascertained it to have been Allen, and that this photograph was taken "about 1:30 PM." Well, this was just after the discovery of the rifle, and long before Day's return from City Hall.
And that's not the only way to approximate the time this photo was taken. The shadows along the front of the building in this photo are not as far along as they are in Allen's photographs of the so-called three tramps, which have been closely studied and proved to have been taken shortly after 2:19.
Well, that proves it. The photo was taken between 1:30 and 2:30 or so--a period of time when Lt. Day was busy with the rifle.
Now, look at the image below--it's a still taken from the Alyea film showing Det. Studebaker (L) and Lt. Day (R) on the sixth floor of the depository. Note that Studebaker is wearing a hat and a long tie.
Well, it's clear from this that Studebaker dusted the boxes in the window, and not Day, and that he did so somewhere between 1:30 and 2:30, when Day was busy with the rifle.
Now, the next bit of the timeline is a little more confusing...
FBI agent Richard Rogge inquired about the identity of the photographer of another photo as well. This photo showed the view from the window from the sniper's nest. Well, Robert Barrett ascertained that this "photographer" was also Allen, and further claimed this photo was taken "about 2:30 PM." Now, this suggests Barrett spoke to Allen, and that Allen confirmed both that the sniper's nest was processed before Day returned from City Hall, and that Lt. Day allowed photographers into the sniper's nest upon his return from City Hall, which was around 2:30, not 2:45 or 3:00, as he would come to claim.
Still, we have reason to believe Allen's estimates were not particularly precise...
Here is the 4-14-64 testimony of Jack Beers, a Dallas Morning News photographer invited into the building with Allen. (13H102-112)
Mr. BEERS. ...Prior to admitting us to the building, I made pictures of a sack, very long narrow sack type of affair that was brought down from there, and a pop bottle and some pieces of chicken, and I also made a picture of the rifle which I believe it was Lieutenant Carl Day from the Dallas police crime lab brought that.
The sack, let's remember, was removed from the building around 3. So it seems probable Allen was mistaken, and that the press was allowed up into the sniper's nest shortly after 3, and not before.
In either case, William Allen photographed Det. Studebaker dusting the box in the window--not to mention the pipes by the window--well before Day returned to the building.
Oh, did I fail to mention that Allen also caught Studebaker dusting the pipes by the window?
It seems apparent, then, that Day did little or none of the "processing" of the sniper's nest, and that he sought to conceal this from the Warren Commission.
(On 7-11-06, in an oral history performed for the Sixth Floor Museum, an elderly Day would ultimately admit that he had, in fact, done little or no processing of the sniper's nest boxes. He was, in fact, dismissive of their value, claiming that since Oswald worked in the building, having his prints on the boxes meant very little. When asked if he'd dusted the boxes by the window, Day replied "No, I didn't. He was an employee there. He worked there. We made no attempt to tear those boxes open" (and try to fingerprint them using silver nitrate)...It was an almost impossible job." Day failed to realize, of course, that the stack of boxes by the window were first dusted by Studebaker before Oswald was considered the only suspect. And he also ignored that prints other than Oswald's could have been found--and were in fact found--on these very boxes,)
Still, if Day was concealing that the sniper's nest was processed by Studebaker, this wasn't the only thing he was concealing. No, far from it.
Bad Hair Day
Here's the continuation of Beers' 4-14-64 testimony. (13H102-112)
Mr. BEERS. ...And upon going in the building, I photographed the area where the rifle was found. I photographed the area around the window from which the assassin was supposedly seated, and I moved into that area and made a picture from the window, supposedly the window from which the bullets were fired, that showed a little corner of the boxes which possibly the rifle rested on. It shows the street down below where the automobile was traveling when the President was killed.
Well, that's interesting. Let's hear some more about that.
Okay, here goes. In the Spring of 1964, an editor for the Dallas Morning News asked the members of his staff who'd been working on 11-22-63 to record their memories of that day for posterity. These notes were then filed away. But not forever. In 2013, they were finally published, in the book, JFK Assassination: The Reporters' Notes. In any event, here's Beers on his strange strange trip to the sniper's nest: "Late in the afternoon Dallas Detective Lieutenant Carl Day came out of the building with the gun. It had become obvious that the person who had fired it was gone. He hesitated long enough for most everybody to take a couple pictures then locked it in his crime lab station wagon and returned to the building. We were then told we could come in the building. Lieutenant Day then escorted us to the sixth floor where he pointed out where the gun was found then across the building we went to be shown the nest the assassin had built out of boxed schoolbooks to conceal himself while he lay in wait for the time to do the fatal shooting. I made pictures of this then asked permission to get into the gunman position so as to make a picture out the window he had used. Permission was granted."
Well, heck, this suggests that Day returned to the school book depository (after the departure of Montgomery and Johnson, after 3:00) and that, when he did so, he took upstairs with him members of the local press, including Beers, and was personally responsible for providing them access to the sniper's nest.
While this might sound crazy, it has plenty of support. In Pictures of the Pain (1994), Richard Trask cites a 1987 interview with Ft. Worth Star-Telegram photographer George Smith on the photographic tour of the building provided the press. (Smith places this tour as beginning sometime between 3:00 and 4:00.) Here's Smith: "We didn't have a bit of trouble getting on up to the building and then right on in. There were Dallas reporters and police, and we just tagged right along with them. Everywhere they went, we went. Nobody seemed to object to anything. We went inside to the sixth floor, took pictures and no one tried to stop us...(I took) all sorts of pictures of where the boxes were stacked...just everything. Even took some pictures out the window towards the motorcade route...I knew where the little stack of boxes was, and the window was open...There were a dozen people up there at that time...I think they finally found out we weren't supposed to be up there, and invited us back out."
Still, Smith doesn't say Day himself was behind this unprecedented access.
He doesn't have to. As shown on the "Bad Hair Day" slide above, Lt. Day posed, yes posed, for the press in a number of photographs taken on the afternoon of the shooting.
And it's worse that that. Incredibly, numerous photos were taken from the sniper's nest window, for which the press photographers taking these photos would have to have come in close contact with a number of boxes not yet tested for prints. (In one of these photos--that of Life Magazine photographer Flip Schulke--moreover, it's clear that a box has been moved from its location in the other photos.)
Now, some might wish to believe that Allen and Beers were simply wrong about the time of their grand tour, and that Day returned to the sixth floor shortly before or after 3, worked on the boxes, and gave the press a tour a bit later, say 4-ish, at the tail end of the time period provided by Smith. When asked by the Warren Commission, after all, Beers said he thought he took his sixth floor photos around 4, or even later. I used to believe this. But then I came across the following claim in the 11-23-63 Dallas Morning News.
Now this was Beers' paper. IF the bulk of the police had already left the building, and the police department had already announced that their search of the building was finished, it seems more than likely the press on the scene, not to mention their editors back at the office, would be clamoring for access to the sixth floor.
That the press was invited up to the sniper's nest long before 4 was supported, for that matter, by Dallas Times-Herald reporter Darwin Payne in an 11-21-13 article in the L.A. Times. There, he claimed "They showed us the spot where he had thrown the rifle when he went out. We peered out the window one at a time. That's when we heard that a police officer had been shot in Oak Cliff." The shooting of Officer Tippit in Oak Cliff, of course, took place around 1:15. And Oswald was arrested around 2:00. It defies belief that Payne would first hear of this incident some two hours later.
And that wasn't the last time Payne spoke of his "guided tour" of the crime scene. When performing a May 23, 2016 oral history with the Sixth Floor Museum. Payne said that, beyond Day, there were only "two or three lawmen" present at the time he was shown the sniper's nest, and that this was around "three or so." He identified, for that matter, Joe Sherman and Kent Biffle as two of the newsman with whom he'd inspected the sniper's nest. (Sherman is the tall reporter in the Beers photo on the slide above. Payne is the man to his left, and Biffle is not shown.)
Now, it's not as if the Dallas Police tried to deny they invited the press up to the sixth floor. In fact, Deputy Chiefs Lumpkin, Batchelor, and Stevenson, in their report on their activities for 11-22-63, not only didn't deny it, they admitted it. After describing the searches performed in the depository, they reported "At about 2:45 P.M. these searches were completed, however, the Crime Scene Search Section, Lieutenant Carl Day, Detective R. L. Studebaker, and Detective J.H. Hicks, had several hours more of work in the building. At this time, Lumpkin had the news and press men assembled in one group on the outside of the building. They were accompanied by two police officers to the sixth floor, kept outside of a line where the Crime Scene Search Section was dusting for fingerprints, and allowed to take pictures. Lumpkin then had the police escort the newsmen back to the first floor where they interviewed Mr. Truly briefly, and escorted outside the building..." (21H582)
Well...heck again, or double heck. This sure smells like they're lying to protect Lt. Day, correct? I mean, first they claim it was Lumpkin's idea to bring the press up to the crime scene, and then they claim the crime scene was roped off for dusting when the press photos were taken--which totally ignores that the photos prove the crime scene was not not roped off and that the press was in fact allowed to walk all over the crime scene.
And...triple heck... This suggests Day was obfuscating, or that FBI Agents Drain and Bookhout were obfuscating for him, in an 8-31-64 interview, in which he was asked about the sanctity of the crime scene, and how an identified print, apparently unrelated to anyone working for the school book depository, could end up on one of the sniper's nest boxes. Drain and Bookhout's report (26H805) offers: "Day stated there were many people there on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, who he assumed were newsmen, whose identity he did not know." (Yes, you got it. No acknowledgement whatsoever that Day himself invited these men up to the sniper's nest.) The report further alibis:"Lieutenant Day stated that on Saturday November 23, 1963, many persons unknown to him had apparently been on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building and had taken a lot of photographs, in view of the fact he noticed many empty film pack cartons near where the boxes were located, and the boxes had been rearranged, apparently for the purpose of taking photographs." (Now this is smoke. This suggests that the sniper's nest photos published in the papers and magazines were taken on the 23rd, when Day was not present, and conceals that Day gave a tour to men he "assumed were newsmen" on the 22nd, and even posed for their photos. And that's not all. The only sniper's nest photos taken on the 23rd--that have ever surfaced, anyhow--were taken by FBI agent Robert Barrett. It seems likely, for that matter, that Drain and Bookhout were aware of this.)
And quadruple heck (yes, quadruple heck). All these statements strongly suggest that Day lied when he testified "After I returned to the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository after delivering the gun to my office, we processed the boxes in that area, in the area of the window where the shooting apparently occurred, with powder."
Yep, Day's Warren Commission testimony (and subsequent story) is shot full of holes...
And ought to be left for dead... In his subsequent reports, testimony, and statements, Day never acknowledged seeing Montgomery and Johnson with the bag when he returned to the school book depository. In fact, as we've seen, in his sworn testimony before the Warren Commission he acted as though Montgomery and Johnson had never even touched the bag, and insinuated instead that he'd found and signed the bag in the sniper's nest and that he'd left the bag with Detectives Hicks (who didn't arrive at the building till after 3:00--after the departure of Montgomery and Johnson) and Studebaker, to bring in after he'd left the depository for the night.
This is utter crappola. I mean, no one, but no one, believes Day was telling the truth about this.
Let's recall now that Day, while discussing the paper sample, told the Commission: "I had the bag...On the first floor of the Texas School Book Depository, and I noticed from their wrapping bench there was paper and tape of a similar--the tape was of the same width as this. I took the bag over and tried it, and I noticed that the tape was the same width as on the bag."
He was thereby claiming the bag was in his possession in the building...
Well, this could very well be more nonsense. I mean, in light of all the other evidence, this is truly hard to believe.
It's just incredibly hard to grasp how Day could have run around with the bag prior to his leaving the building with the rifle.
To be clear, we have strong reasons to doubt the story recounted by Drain in his 11-30-63 report, repeated by Day in his testimony, and pushed by Warren Commission Counsel David Belin in his book November 22, 1963: You Are The Jury. There just wasn't enough time. It seems highly unlikely that Day would photograph, dust and study the rifle as purported, return to the sniper's nest, discover the bag, show the bag to Roy Truly, transport the bag downstairs, and get paper and tape samples from the shipping table--all in less than 35 minutes, mind you--and then decide to take the rifle over to the crime lab and leave the bag behind. No, it seems much more likely that he worked on the rifle exclusively before taking it to the crime lab, and that the story of his finding the bag and comparing the paper of the bag to the paper at the shipping table is an orchestrated lie.
Let's nail this down. When asked during his testimony what he did "next" after photographing and inspecting the rifle on the sixth floor, Day said "I took the gun...to the office and locked it up in a box..." Now, this means that his journey to the first floor with the bag--if it actually took place--must have preceded the discovery of the rifle, right? Well, Day pretty much rules this out as well, as he testified that he arrived at the depository at "1:12," was directed to the sniper's nest upon reaching the sixth floor, photographed the sniper's nest, collected the three shells at "1:23," and was then "summonsed" to the northwest corner of the building to work on the newly discovered rifle. There simply was no time for him to be carrying the bag around. And the idea that both he and Studebaker--the only crime scene investigators on the premises--would wander away from the largely un-examined sixth floor crime scene down to the first floor in search of paper samples to match up to a bag that, according to Day, had no readily apparent prints upon its surface, and which might have nothing to do with the shooting--when the president's assassin was for all they knew still on the loose--is beyond belief. Pure moonshine.
Let's recall that Day, in his testimony regarding the paper sample, claimed: "I directed one of the officers standing by me, I don't know which, to get a piece of the tape and a piece of the paper from the wrapping bench" and that he was then asked if there was any other writing on the sample, and that he then, and only then, acknowledged that Detective Studebaker was with him at the time, and that he'd also signed the sample. Hmmm... Was Day attempting to conceal that the person actually retrieving these samples was his assistant Studebaker--who later claimed to be present when the bag was found by Montgomery?
Not to be redundant but... What a mess! It's hard to believe Day's failure to mention Studebaker was a coincidence, particularly in that Day acknowledged this person to be Studebaker when interviewed by the FBI on 4-2, less than three weeks before his 4-22 testimony. (The report on this interview can be found in FBI file 105-82555 sec 142, p18. Studebaker's acknowledgment on 4-2 that he retrieved the samples at Day's direction can be found in a related FBI report. FBI file 105-82555 sec 142 p19.)
Perhaps, then, Day's story about having the bag with him when he obtained the sample was created to hide that Day took the paper from the roll before the bag had been "discovered," or even existed.
Perhaps the bag was created to cover the rifle for Day's walk back to his office, and that he decided to leave without it, whereby it was "re-purposed."
There's more to this than idle speculation, moreover... Warren Commission attorney David Belin, who questioned Day both off and on the record, claimed in his book You Are the Jury (1973) that "As Lt. Day was leaving the building and was walking across the first floor" he noticed the wrapping bench and retrieved the paper sample, and that Day then "delivered the rifle to his office and then returned" to the school book depository.
Well, this puts the gathering of this sample around 2:00, well ahead of the departure of the bag from the building at 3:00.
In any event, researcher Tony Fratini has come to conclude Lt. Day and Det. Studebaker retrieved some wrapping paper from the depository before 2:00 with the original intent of wrapping the rifle, but that Day went ahead and left the building without it. Fratini has come to believe, furthermore, that Studebaker then took the bag upstairs, and used it to protect the wooden strip from the window sill removed on the 22nd. (While there is an acknowledgement in the Warren Commission's files that this strip was removed and tested for fingerprints, the Dallas Police Department has never released any records relating to its delivery to the crime lab.)
And Fratini's not just blowing smoke... Textbooks on crime scene investigation note that its best to transport items for fingerprinting in clean paper sacks. Evidence for the Law Enforcement Officer (1979), for example, notes that when transporting items for fingerprinting "It is best to transport such an object by placing it in a box in such a manner that it does not roll around or get broken, or by putting it in a clean paper sack..." Criminal Investigation: Basic Perspectives (1970) similarly notes "thoroughly clean and dry containers, wrapping paper, corrugated paper, boxes, and sealing tape are the basic safeguards of physical evidence in transport."
Of course, there's also Day himself. When interviewed by Larry Sneed, Day explained his abandonment of the crime scene with the rifle as follows: "I didn't have anything to wrap it up with at the time, so I carried it out making sure that I didn't touch anything other than the strap. Besides, you had to be careful in wrapping stuff because if there were any prints, you're liable to smear them just from the wrapping."
Day had thereby acknowledged it was routine to wrap an item such as the rifle.
It seems possible then that Day took Studebaker down to the first floor to have Studebaker make a bag for the rifle, but then changed his mind. And that the bag was then used to transport something else while Day was absent... And that the Dallas Police then decided to pretend this bag was found in the sniper's nest...
This conjecture is consistent, moreover, with a 2019 discovery by Patrick Jackson, who'd been studying the Dallas Police crime scene photos...
The Bag on the Box
As shown below, there is something atop a box in one of these photos (negative 91-001/062). (Red rectangle added by John Mytton.)
No, I'm not kidding. There is something atop one of these boxes. Here, take a closer look.
Do you see it? It's atop Box #2. (To be clear, these numbers have been added by moi.)
In any event, here is a close-up of this shape, courtesy Jackson.
Well, I'll be. Look inside the red circle. That sure looks like the folded-over open end of a bag. Now follow this bag to the right. It appears to stretch over a mostly obscured box (let's call this Box #3), and down onto Box #2, where it is folded over on top of itself.
Now, here's the thing. This photo is believed to have been taken between 2 and 3 P.M. on 11-22-63. So, yes, this shape could very well be the paper bag taken from the building around 3.
But here's the problem. A screen grab from the Alyea film, shown below, taken around 1:20 P.M. (that is, before the arrival of Day and Studebaker on the sixth floor) shows Boxes 2 and 3--upon which the presumed bag sits sometime between 2 and 3--with NO bag upon them.
So, NO, the bag was not discovered in this location.
The Beers photo showing Lt. Day's dome makes this more than clear, moreover. The significance of this photo--taken sometime between 3 and 4 P.M.-- lies not within itself, but within its relationship to the other photos. As shown above, it proves (or, at the very least, strongly, strongly, suggests) Box 2 in the Alyea film is Box 2 in the Beers photo, which, in turn, matches Box 2 in negative 91-001/062.
So, hmmm, someone draped a bag across some boxes (numbers 2 and 3 in the photos above), after the discovery of the sniper's nest, and the departure of the vast majority of deputies and detectives, and Studebaker left it there while he was photographing the sniper's nest from afar.
Well, this suggests the scenario pushed by Fratini, correct? That the bag was used to carry the window sill to the crime lab, and later re-purposed.
Maybe. Or maybe it's not as bad as all that. Maybe, by golly, Biffle was right, about seeing the bag, but was wrong about when it was seen in that he saw it after, not before, the discovery of the rifle.
Or Maybe, huh, Montgomery and Johnson brought the bag up to the sixth floor and put it down near the sniper's nest on purpose so it could be observed by Biffle, the lone remaining member of the news media after the 2:00 to 2:30 departure of Alyea.
So maybe it's a whole lot worse. Maybe, just maybe, the bag was not made for an innocent reason, and then re-purposed. Maybe it was made...designed from the onset...to help sell Oswald's guilt.
The Problematic Falsification of the Timeline
In 2014, I discovered yet another problem with the bag story. This problem was at first a problem for my suspicion the bag removed from the building was made by the DPD, but then became a problem for the official story it was not. Let me explain: the Dallas Police first found out Oswald had been carrying a bag on the morning of the 22nd when Linnie Mae Randle came over to Ruth Paine's house that afternoon and told the policemen there she saw Oswald with a bag that morning. So what time did this occur? If it occurred after the bag was discovered, well, that's a problem for my suspicion the bag was created by the Dallas Police to help nail Oswald. So what time, then?
Well, the report of Dallas police detectives Adamcik, Rose, and Stovall reflects that shortly after Oswald's arrest, they drove out to the Paine house where Oswald's wife was living. According to this report, they then waited 40 minutes for some deputies from the Dallas sheriff's office to arrive so they could conduct a legal search of the premises. They claimed they approached the door around 3:30 (21H599). This suggests then that the Dallas police found the bag (which the report of Dallas detective L.D. Montgomery says occurred before 2:30) before they even knew Oswald had been carrying a bag that morning (which the report of Dallas detectives Adamcik, Rose, and Stovall suggests occurred shortly after 3:30). Now, I, and I expect most researchers, accepted this for many years.
But then, in 2014, I read a report written by Buddy Walthers, one of the deputy sheriffs the Dallas detectives had been waiting for. Walthers claimed he'd witnessed Oswald's arrest at the Texas Theater, drove back to the sheriff's office, and was then told to drive out to Irving, along with deputies Weatherford and Oxford. He said they drove straight there. Now, this was a hmmm moment for me. I've been to Dallas, and realized that a trip from the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff to downtown Dallas and then back out to Irving would take about 40 minutes. Oswald was arrested around 1:50. Walthers should have arrived at the Paine's residence around 2:30, not 3:30.
Now, hmmm, did the deputies take a lunch break, and make three Dallas detectives trying to interview the wife of the suspected murderer of the President--not to mention a Dallas cop--wait for them while they chomped on a burger, or ate donuts?
No, of course not. An 11-28-63 article in the Dallas Morning news, built around interviews with Walthers, Weatherford and Oxford, relates that they drove to the Paine residence with two Dallas detectives, and not that the detectives were waiting for them when they got there.
And there's also this. When asked by Warren Commission counsel Albert Jenner if the police arrived at 3:30, as claimed, Ruth Paine replied "Oh, I think it was earlier, but I wouldn't be certain."
Hmmm... We have reason to doubt the story handed down by the Dallas detectives--that they waited till 3:30 for the sheriffs--do we not?
Let's see, then, if we can pin down the actual time the Dallas detectives started talking to people at the Paine residence. In Marina and Lee--a 1977 book built upon numerous interviews with Oswald's wife, Marina--it is claimed that the detectives came to the door an hour after Kennedy's death was announced. Well, heck, there it is again. Kennedy's death was announced around 1:30. This put the arrival of the detectives at...2:30. Now, ain't that a coinkydink?
We have another way to confirm this 2:30 approximation, moreover. Marina Oswald and Ruth Paine both claimed they'd been watching TV coverage of the shooting but had no idea Oswald had been arrested when the detectives came to their door. They said as much numerous times.
Here are some recent examples:
In 2002, Thomas Mallon published Mrs. Paine's Garage, a book built upon numerous interviews of Ruth Paine. Here is how Mallon described the arrival of the police at Mrs. Paine's door on 11-22-63: "There was a knock at the door. Ruth answered it and discovered a whole group of law enforcement officers, including men from the the Dallas County sheriff's department. She surmised that they were there to serve papers in connection with the divorce, until one of them announced that Oswald was in custody for shooting a policeman."
And we needn't rely upon Mallon's words, either. In Where Were You? (2013), Ruth Paine described hearing about the shooting on TV, and then watching the coverage all the way up to the announcement of Kennedy's death. She then related: "It was really not too long after that there was a knock at the door, and several police officers said they had Lee Oswald in custody for shooting an officer."
And she wasn't done. The 2013 book November 22, 1963 similarly includes a chapter written by the famous Ruth Paine. There, she related: "I first heard about Oswald's being in custody when police arrived at my door and told me so."
So, let's think--when was Oswald's arrest announced on TV? An email chain from Gary Mack to David Von Pein, posted online, reflects their conclusions Oswald's name was first mentioned on WFAA TV around 2:40 and WBAP TV at 2:43. Hmmm... The timing of these reports makes it really difficult to believe that Marina and Ruth wouldn't have known of Oswald's arrest by the time the detectives arrived, should they have actually arrived at 3:30, as claimed.
And, no, we're not done. The Warren Commission testimony of Michael Paine further erodes the credibility of the detectives' story. Paine told the commission he arrived at the house around 3:00 or 3:30, after hearing of Oswald's arrest on TV, and driving over from his work. As Paine was reported to have been working at Bell Helicopter, in Arlington, this placed his arrival around 3:00. Paine claimed, moreover, that the police were already searching the house upon his arrival. This last point was confirmed, moreover, by the report of Deputy Sheriff Weatherford, in which he claimed Paine arrived at the house about 15 minutes after he'd arrived. Well, this places the arrival of the police and deputies at the door around 2:45, not 3:30.
There are still other reasons to doubt the 3:30 time of arrival proposed by detectives Rose, Adamcik, and Stovall in their report. While watching a video of Buell Wesley Frazier's 3-27-13 appearance at the Irving Central Library, one of the questions from the audience rang out like a bell. What, a man asked, led the police to come out to Irving so quickly? This man's wife was friends with Frazier's niece, Diana, and she remembered seeing the police talking to Frazier's family (presumably Frazier's sister Linnie Mae Randle) when she walked home from school at...gulp...2:30. Well, there it is again.
I then realized there was yet another way to check this out. The report of Deputy Sheriff Walthers offers that upon his arrival in Irving Ruth Paine gave him the phone number of Oswald's rooming house, and that he called this in to the Sheriff's office so they could look it up in a reverse directory. Walthers said he gave the number to Sheriff Bill Decker. Decker said he gave the number to his assistant, Alan Sweatt. As Dallas homicide chief Capt. Will Fritz said he couldn't remember who gave him Oswald's address, but acknowledged receiving the address from someone and then sending three detectives out to the Oak Cliff location, it seems almost certain Sweatt was his source, and that Sweatt called Fritz to give him the address and tell him the address was in his jurisdiction. So...at what time did the Dallas detectives Fritz sent out to Oak Cliff arrive in Oak Cliff?
3:00... In his initial report (24H317) Dallas Police detective Walter Potts said he arrived at Oswald's rooming house at 3:00. He later testified it was "about 3." He was accompanied by detective R.L. Senkel and Lt. E. L. Cunningham. Neither Cunningham nor Senkel testified before the commission, but Senkel did write a separate report that is in the commission's records. In this report, Senkel confirmed that they went to the door "at 3:00 PM" (24H245). They had went to the door at 3:00 PM, let's reflect, in response to information that their fellow detectives would come to claim they didn't receive until after 3:30.
It seems clear as day then that Dallas detectives Rose, Adamcik, and Stovall went up to the Paine residence around 2:30. NOT 3:30, as claimed in their report.
So why would they lie about this? Let's go back. We know Montgomery claimed he took the bag out of the building at 2:30, when photos show it was really about 3:00. And we now have reason to suspect Adamcik, Rose, and Stovall claimed they'd first approached the Paine house around 3:30, when they almost certainly came to the door around 2:30. Well, think about it. If they found the bag shortly before 2:30, but didn't know Oswald had been carrying a bag until after 3:30, when Linnie Mae Randle came over to tell them about it, the bag unseen by nearly everyone to view the sniper's nest prior to 2:30 would appear to be legit. But if they removed a bag from the building at 3:00, after being told of a bag's existence around 2:30, well, then, that's a problem. A big problem.
It could be that the bag was made for another purpose but then re-purposed once the DPD heard Oswald had been carrying a bag. It could be that Montgomery, Johnson, and Studebaker made the bag to show Linnie Randle--that is, to see if a bag made from materials contained within the building resembled the bag she saw in Oswald's possession--and that it was only later determined that this bag should be used as evidence against Oswald. And, heck, it could even be that the bag was made to fool Randle and her brother into identifying the bag as the bag they saw in Oswald's possession.
Something happened there and we don't know what it was, now do we?
The Myth of Fingerprints
Now let's take a step back. Oswald's prints were (purportedly) found on the bag.
Does it mean he's guilty of, at the very least, using that bag to smuggle something into the building?
(When discussing CE 634, a chart matching a photo of Oswald's left index finger with the fingerprint found on the bag)
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, without going into detail, there are some apparent dissimilarities on the two sides of that chart. Can you explain why there should be apparent dissimilarities?
Mr. LATONA. The dissimilarities as such are caused by the type of material on which the print was left, because of the pressure, because of the amount of material which is on the finger when it left the print. They would not always be exactly the same. Here again there appears a material difference in the sense there is a difference in coloration. This is because of the fact that the contrast in the latent print is not as sharp as it is in the inked impression, which is a definite black on white, whereas here we have more or less a brown on a lighter brown.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, when you find an apparent dissimilarity between an inked and a latent print, how do you know that it is caused by absorption of the surface upon which the latent print is placed, or by failure of the finger to exude material, rather than by the fact that you have a different fingerprint?
Mr. LATONA. That is simply by sheer experience.
Mr. EISENBERG. Would you say, therefore, that the identification of a fingerprint is a task which calls for an expert interpretation, as opposed to a simple point-by-point laying-out which a layman could do?
Mr. LATONA. Very definitely so; yes.
Mr. EISENBERG. How much training does it take before you can make an identification?
Mr. LATONA. Well, I cannot tell you exactly how much in terms of time, insofar as what constitutes an expert. I can simply tell you what we require of our people before they would be considered experts.
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes, could you do that?
Mr. LATONA. We require our people before they would be----
Mr. DULLES. This is the FBI?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; this is the FBI. It would be 10 years of practical work in connection with the classifying and searching and verifying of regular fingerprint cards which bear all 10 prints. Those prints would be searched through our main fingerprint files. That means that that person would have to serve at least 10 years doing that. Of course, he would have to progress from the mere searching operation to the operation of being what we call unit supervisor, which would check--which would be actually the checking of the work of subordinates who do that work. He would be responsible for seeing that the fingerprints are properly searched, properly classified.
Mr. EISENBERG. And how long will he work in the latent fingerprint section?
Mr. LATONA. He would have to take an adaptability test, which would take 3 or 4 days, to determine, first of all, do we feel he has the qualifications for the job. Then if he passed the adaptability test, he would receive a minimum of 1 year's personal training in the latent fingerprint section--which means that he would have to serve at least 11 years in fingerprint work constantly, day in and day out, 8 hours a day in fingerprint work, before we would consider him as a fingerprint expert for purposes of testifying in a court of law.
Mr. EISENBERG. So that when you show us this chart, this is actually, or I should say, is this actually a demonstration, rather than a chart from which we could make an identification?
Mr. LATONA. That's right. The purpose is simply a hope on my part that by my explanation you may have some idea as to how a comparison is made, rather than for me to prove it to you through these chars, because unquestionably there are certain points that you will not see which to me are apparent.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, I see that you have marked nine characteristics on your chart. Are these all the characteristics which you were able to find----
Mr. LATONA. On this particular chart; yes. They were the only ones that bore actually, there is still one more characteristic--there could have been 10.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, is there any minimum number of points that has to be found in order to make an identification, in your opinion?
Mr. LATONA. No; in my opinion, there are no number of points which are a requirement. Now, there is a general belief among lots of fingerprint people that a certain number of points are required. It is my opinion that this is an erroneous assumption that they have taken, because of the fact that here in the United States a person that qualifies in court as an expert has the right merely to voice an opinion as to whether two prints were made by the same finger or not made. There are no requirements, there is no standard by which a person can say that a certain number of points are required--primarily because of the fact that there is such a wide variance in the experience of men who qualify as fingerprint experts.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, you said that not all experts are in agreement on this subject. Is there any substantial body of expert opinion that holds to a minimum number of points, let's say, 12?
Mr. LATONA. In the United States, to my knowledge, I know of no group or body that subscribe to a particular number. Now, quite frequently some of these departments will maintain a standard for themselves, by virtue of the fact that they will say, "Before we will make an identification, we must find a minimum of 12 points of similarity." I am quite certain that the reason for that is simply to avoid the possibility of making an erroneous identification. Now, why they have picked 12--I believe that that 12-point business originated because of a certain article which was written by a French fingerprint examiner by the name of Edmond Locard back in 1917, I think--there was a publication to the effect that in his opinion where there were 12 points of similarity, there was no chance of making an erroneous identification. If there were less than 12, he voiced the conclusion that the chances would increase as to finding duplicate prints. Now, today we in the FBI do not subscribe to that theory at all. We simply say this: We have confidence in our experts to the extent that regardless of the number of points, if the expert who has been assigned to the case for purposes
of making the examination gives an opinion, we will not question the number of points. We have testified--I personally have testified in court to as few as seven points of similarity.
Mr. DULLES. But you would not on two, would you?
Mr. LATONA. No, sir; because I know that two points, even though they would not be duplicate points, could be arranged in such a fashion that it might possibly give me the impression that here are two points which appear to be the same even though they are are not.
Mr. DULLES. But it is somewhere between two and seven--somewhere in that range?
Mr. LATONA. That is right. Where that is, I do not know. And I would not say whether I would testify to six, would I testify to five, would I refuse to testify to four.
Mr. DULLES. You say you would--or would you?
Mr. LATONA. I don't know. That's a question I could not answer. I would have to see each case individually before I could render a conclusion. Now, going outside of the United States, we have been approached--I mean the FBI--have been approached by other foreign experts in an attempt to set a worldwide standard of 16 characteristics, a minimum of 16, as opposed to 12, which is generally referred to by people in this country here. Now of course we would not subscribe to that at all. And I think----
Mr. DULLES. That would be 16 on the fingerprint of the same finger?
Mr. LATONA. That's right.
Mr. DULLES. Obviously, if you have two fingers that would alter the number--if you had three on one and two on the other, would you consider that five?
Mr. LATONA. We would.
Now, whether the foreign experts would not, I don't know. In other words, if we were to go along with this European theory of 16 points, we would not testify to this being an identification. That is really what it would amount to. Yet to me, in my mind, there is no question that these prints here----
Mr. EISENBERG. Which is what exhibit?
Mr. LATONA. The enlargements in Exhibit 634 are simply reproductions of the left index fingerprint of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Representative FORD. There is no doubt in your mind about that?
Mr. LATONA. Absolutely none at all. The fact that there are only the nine points charted--and I feel this way, it is purely a matter of experience. They simply do not have the experience that we have in the FBI.
So...let's think about this. Latona has acknowledged that his ID of the fingerprint on the bag is based on 9 points of similarity with Oswald's left index finger, even though most American fingerprint experts require 12 points of similarity, and most European experts require 16 points of similarity. (He has gone further than this even to say he might ID a print based on 4 points of similarity.) And he has simultaneously acknowledged that there are noticeable differences between the bag print and Oswald's print...that he has chosen to ignore...
And he he says he can do this because...he works for the FBI...and the FBI doesn't need rules to tell it when two prints are a match. They just know. They have the experience. (To be clear, Latona's exhibits reflect that there were 9 points of similarity between Oswald's left index finger and the bag fingerprint, 15 points of similarity between Oswald's right palm print and the bag palm print, 11 points of similarity between Oswald's right palm print and the palm print on Box D, 13 points of similarity between Oswald's left palm print and the palm print on Box A, 10 points of similarity between Oswald's right index finger and the fingerprint on Box A, and 11 points of similarity between Oswald's right palm print and the lift from the rifle. And yes, you are correct. Only two of these would have been accepted by most American examiners, and none--not one--would have been accepted by a European examiner.)
At least not in '63... Over the decades that followed, the FBI convinced experts around the world that they needn't count points, and that an expert can just "know" when two prints are a match based upon an individualized and instinctual algorithm built upon the number of similar points, and the rarity of these points (aka "hunch").
This was, of course, a recipe for disaster. It was only a matter of time, after all, before an "expert" or group of "experts" came to the wrong conclusion in a high profile case. The first crack in the dam came in 1997 when four Scottish experts found 16 points of similarity between a latent print found at a crime scene and the print of one of the detectives on the scene, even though the detective claimed she hadn't been in that room. This led to her termination, and a 1999 lawsuit in which she proved the "experts" had made a mistake and that the print was not her own. Now, this was a mistake in which 16 points were identified. By 4 experts. It seemed clear, then, that the FBI, with its looser standards, was capable of making a similar mistake.
It took five years for such a mistake to surface. In 2004, the FBI identified the left index fingerprint of Brandon Mayfield, an American Muslim, as the print of a terrorist behind an explosion in Spain. Even though the FBI could find no evidence Mayfield had visited Spain, or had even left the U.S., ever, he was imprisoned. The Spanish authorities, to their credit, rejected this identification, and kept searching. But the U.S. Government, feeling certain the FBI was correct in their identification, refused to release Mayfield. Weeks passed. Eventually, the Spanish authorities matched the print the FBI claimed was Mayfield's to a known terrorist, and the U.S. government agreed to Mayfield's release. He sued the government and was awarded 2 million dollars. Oops.
No, actually it was more than oops. The FBI''s embarrassing mistake led to its re-appraisal of the sanctity of fingerprint evidence, and to its softening its stance regarding the possibility of a misidentification. In doing so, for that matter, the FBI was finally acknowledging what the scientific community had been whispering for decades. The identification of a suspect's fingerprint at a crime scene isn't the sure-fire proof of guilt it was long claimed to be. It just isn't.
The Myth of Fingerprints (1937-2004)
1. No two fingerprints are alike.
2. Fingerprint examination is a precise science, and fingerprint examiners do not make mistakes.
3. Having one’s prints found at a crime scene is a sure sign of guilt.
The Reality of Fingerprints (2004- )
1. Some fingerprints are so similar that an expert can be fooled.
2. Misidentifications are commonplace.
In 1995 Collaborative Testing Services tested 156 U.S. fingerprint examiners in collaboration with the International Association for Identification. This was the first such examination performed for the association.
The results were said to have shocked many members of the forensic science community.
The fingerprint cards to 4 suspects were provided, 40 prints in all. The examiners were then given 7 latent prints, and asked to match these latent prints to the proper suspect card and finger.
The results, as reported in a variety of sources, are as follows:
Only 44% of the examiners identified all 7 latent prints correctly.
34 (22%) made one or more misidentifications.
4% failed to properly identify any of the 7 latent prints.
Although 82% of the latent prints were identified,
48 (6%) of these identifications were misidentifications.
In sum, then, but 78% of the latent prints were properly identified.
This study led to more studies. In 1996, only 3% of the examiners made one or more misidentifications. But this marked improvement was only temporary. By 1997, the percentage of those tested making a misidentification had ballooned back up to 8%, and by 1998 it had ballooned back up to over 15%. After that, they stopped publicizing their results.
3. Fingerprint examiners are subject to confirmation bias.
“We took fingerprints that have previously been examined and assessed by latent print experts to make positive identification of suspects. Then we presented these same fingerprints again, to the same experts, but gave a context that suggested that they were a no-match, and hence the suspects could not be identified. Within this new context, most of the fingerprint experts made different judgements, thus contradicting their own previous identification decisions.”
“Participants were asked by one of their colleagues to examine a set of fingerprints, composed of a latent print (from the crime scene) and a print exemplar (a print obtained from a suspect). They were told that the pair of prints was the one that was erroneously matched by the FBI as the Madrid bomber, thus creating an extraneous context that the prints were a non-match.”
“Only one participant (20%) judged the prints to be a match, thus making a consistent identification regardless of the extraneous context. The other four participants (80%) changed their identification decision from the original decision they themselves had made five years earlier. Three of these four participants directly contradicted their previous decision and now judged the fingerprints as definite non-matches, whereas, the fourth participant now judged that there was insufficient information to make a definite decision (either a match or a non-match).”
(Study by Itiel Dror published in Forensic Science International, 2006)
4. The identification of fingerprints is, in practice, highly subjective.
“In the United States, the threshold for making a source identification is deliberately kept subjective, so that the examiner can take into account both the quantity and quality of comparative details. As a result, the outcome of a friction ridge analysis is not necessarily repeatable from examiner to examiner. In fact, recent research by Dror has shown that experienced examiners do not necessarily agree with even their own past conclusions when the examination is presented in a different context some time later.”
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States,
(A 2009 report written by the National Research Council, and published by the National Academy of Science)
With the reality of fingerprints in mind, then, let us now discuss some problems with the JFK assassination fingerprint evidence.
Oh No, Not Again
Much as the paper bag supposedly found in the sniper's nest, NO photographs were taken by the Dallas Police of Box D with (or even without) the palm print on 11-22-63. Now, this would be surprising under normal circumstances. I mean, think about it, they supposedly noticed a box that may have been used as a seat by a person shooting at the president. They then dusted this box for prints, and watched as a palm print on the edge of this box became visible. But it never occurred to them to photograph this box in situ, with the palm print still on the box? Really? This was a professional organization with trained crime scene analysts. They took dozens of photographs of the crime scene and building on 11-22-63. They took multiple photographs of the shells found by the window and the rifle found on the other side of the building. They took photographs of the lunch bag and Dr. Pepper bottle found three aisles over from the sniper's nest. But they failed to take even one photograph of the only box on which they found an identifiable print within the building?
Here's another reason to doubt. Here is Warren Commission Exhibit 652 from the 4-2-64 testimony of the FBI's fingerprint expert Sebastian Latona:
This exhibit was supposed to show that the palm print on the torn-off section of a box is a match with Oswald's right palm. But there's a problem. The chart for the box print is a big black blob. It's clear from their other exhibit photos and the exhibit photos published in text books that the FBI and Commission could have presented a clear image of this chart if they'd wanted to, but it appears they didn't want to. And it's not just this print. The charts for the other prints supposedly proving Oswald's guilt are nearly all as murky.
There could be something to this, moreover ... Within the numerous FBI files found on the Mary Ferrell Foundation website are files for which Latona's exhibits were photocopied. Well, ironically, these photocopies are easier to read than Latona's exhibits as published by the Warren Commission. Here, see for yourself.
Now, ask yourself, does this honestly look like a match? I, as you no doubt have guessed, have my doubts. It makes no sense to me that the central crease apparent on the Oswald print would be barely noticeable on the box print. I mean, the box print is presumed to have been created when Oswald put pressure on his right palm as he sat down on or got up off the box. Such an action would presumably amplify the width of this central crease, not give it the shrinks, right?
And then there's this...
Mr. EISENBERG. Again, without going into detail, Mr. Latona, could you show us some of the more salient points which led you to your conclusion that the print on 649 was the palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald?
Mr. LATONA. The easiest points visible here, right offhand, point No. 11 which is a black line that goes upward and its relationship to point No. 10. This is known as the short ending ridge as is seen here. Its relation to point No. 8. Point No. 11 is a black line going upward. Point No. 8 is a black line going downward and there are one, two, three, ridges which are between the two. Over here in the latent print you find No. 11 which is a black line going upward. It is a short line to the other end of the point No. 10, and three ridges intervene between that and point No. 8, which is going downward. One ridge to the right and going in an upward direction is point No. 7--7, 8, 9, 10, 11.
Mr. DULLES. And you identified 11 points of similarity?
Mr. LATONA. That is right.
Mr. DULLES. Between the inked palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald and this palmprint taken from this cardboard carton?
Mr. LATONA. That is right.
Mr. DULLES. What is this white line that goes up through each?
Mr. LATONA. This is a crease in the center of the palm, a flexure crease of that area.
Mr. DULLES. The palm did not touch the carton at that point?
Mr. LATONA. That is right.
Mr. DULLES. And those two creases are in approximately the same location in the photograph and in the latent palmprint?
Mr. LATONA. Very definitely.
What the? I mean, I don't entirely understand Latona's explanation as to why these prints are a match, but it sounds like it might be true. And then Dulles inserts something that seems totally disingenuous.
Dulles notes that the crease is in the same location on the two prints, but fails to point out the elephant in the room--that the crease on the Oswald print is much wider than the crease on the box print?
Well, this observation led me to spend way too much time trying to match the box print on Latona's exhibit with FBI photo 26 from CD 1, the clearest of the FBI's photo of the box print. Now, I must admit that more than once I've convinced myself they don't match, but my current thinking is yep, they do. (The box print in photo 26 is on the left. The box print in Exhibit 652 is on the right.)
But the matching of these photos has little bearing on the central issue--does the print on photo 26 match Oswald's right palm print? (The box print in photo 26 is on the left. Oswald's right palm print is on the right.)
I'm on the fence. The central crease seems much too wide on Oswald's print and the ridges to the right of the crease are not at all convincing. Heck, the ridges in the upper right corner of the box print on the image above (that is, the ridges above the far right side of the sepia overlay of Oswald's print) don't even head the same direction as the ridges on Oswald's print. Now, is there a logical explanation for this? I don't know.
But there is certainly reason to doubt these prints were a match, right?
The Missing Heel
Observe CE 650, an image created by Latona to demonstrate the palm print torn from Box D. And now compare this to CE 651, an image created by Latona to demonstrate where this print matched up on Oswald's right palm.
Well, there's a problem, isn't there? The print on Box D fails to display the bifurcation (or split) of the central crease at the heel of Oswald's palm. As the print was presumed to have been left on the box when Oswald pushed down on the edge of the box with his sweaty right palm, this makes little to no sense. One would use the heel of one's palm to push down on a box, not the middle of one's palm, correct? And how could one push down on a box with the middle of one's palm, without the heel touching the box as well?
It's apparent, moreover, that Latona knew CE 651 was deceptive.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did you take a photograph of the known palmprint and make a red circle around it, as you had in previous cases?
Mr. LATONA. Yes.
Mr. EISENBERG. To show what portion of the palm of Oswald that was?
Mr. LATONA. Showing a portion of the right palm.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Chairman, may I have that admitted?
Mr. DULLES. It will be admitted as 651.
So, there it is. Latona knew his circle on 651 failed to match his circle on 650. So why use it then? Why didn't he circle the part of the palm circled in 650?
Was he trying to pass a highly questionable match off as an everyday normal match between a palm print and a print found on a box?
It sure looks that way.
A little context becomes relevant at this time. The 1966 Army Fingerprint Manual relates: "A discrepancy that is most frequently encountered in the taking of palm prints is the failure to exert sufficient pressure on the back of the hand to insure the printing of the hollow of the palm and the nodes at the base of the fingers. If pressure is not successful in obtaining prints of these portions of the palm, a satisfactory print can sometimes be obtained by wrapping paper around a bottle and having the subject grasp the bottle in the manner best suitable to produce a complete print. Or, the palm print can be rolled onto the paper by starting with the finger tips and having the subject roll the bottle along a table top, although some distortion might be introduced into a print so obtained."
So, hmm. It's actually quite difficult to place a print of the area of the palm depicted on CE 650 onto a flat surface. The quality of this print is thereby unexpected, one might even say suspicious. And doubly so because the area of the palm one would expect to find on a flat surface--the heel of the palm--is missing from CE 650.
The Fingerprints of Myth
I mean, think about it... Assuming the print supposedly found on Box D is in fact Oswald's...who's to say the DPD didn't tear the cardboard from the box, and only later that night, after failing to find any prints on the rifle, add the palm print to the cardboard?
Now it shouldn't come as a surprise that I've looked into this, and have found such a scenario to be plausible. I have read dozens of articles on fingerprinting, and fingerprint fabrication. These revealed that virtually every documented or suspected case of fingerprint fabrication has been performed by an over-zealous policeman or crime scene investigator. One such policemen was so brazen even as to submit photocopies of fingerprints taken from fingerprint cards and claim they were prints he'd discovered at crime scenes. Other policeman were a bit smarter than that, and had suspects put their hands on the hoods or roofs of their police cars while conducting a search. They then lifted the prints off their cars, and then claimed they were lifted from a crime scene.
Here's a quick quote from Pat Wertheim, the author of a number of articles on fingerprint fabrication and an expert witness who's testified at a number of high-profile trials involving fingerprint fabrication:
“Many hundreds or even thousands of cases of fabrication of fingerprint evidence have come to light in the century since fingerprints were first used by police as a means of identification. One can only guess how many fabrications have been committed in which defendants have been convicted or pled guilty. These cases of fabrication of latent fingerprint evidence will never be discovered.”
And here's an excerpt from of one of the many articles I've read on fingerprint fabrication...
"One of the cases that was primarily responsible for the widespread concern about integrity of the identification expert was the DePalma case, publicized in the Readers' Digest, where a police department identification officer identified a latent print which had purportedly come from the counter of a bank that was robbed as having been made by DePalma. The defendand was convicted despite a strong alibi defense. It was later extablished that the "latent" was not a latent print at all, but a xerox print of an inked impression of the defendant's print, and that the faking was done to frame the defendant. Because several FBi experts had been unable, initially, to detect the fabrication, the chairman of the professional association's Science and Practice Committee, Mr. Brunelle, was led to state 'In certain cases it may be very difficult to distinguish between authentic and fabricated prints and...laboratory techniques such as a scanning electron microscope may be necessary to verify and authentic print.' See Brunelle, Science and Practice Committee Report (1976) II Fingerprint Fabrication, Identification News, Aug. 1976, p.7"
Source: Scientific Evidence in Criminal Cases, 1986, The Foundation Press, Inc, p. 461.
And here's an excerpt from a Wertheim article I found on the internet:
"There are three common methods used by dishonest police employee to fabricate latent print evidence: 1) a lift from an inked print. 2) a mislabeled lift, 3) a staged photograph. One thing these fabricated latents frequently have in common is that they are "perfect" prints. In other words, a fabricator usually prepares a print so clear nobody could fail to see the identification. In addition to that, each of the three methods leaves tell-tale clues, to a greater or lesser degree.
Consider the lift from an inked print. Clues to this fabrication are numerous. Ink is a different shade of black than fingerprint powder. Lifted inked prints are usually the fully rolled prints, a phenomenon virtually impossible in real latent print work. Lifts from inked prints usually include fibers and microscopic fiber marks.
Next, consider mislabeled lifts. these are often the hardest of the fabrications to detect. The most reliable methods of detection is by a close inspection of background noise. Each type of surface leaves a trademark background noise, and frequently, fabricators fail to take this into account. A mislabeled latent may also reflect an orientation inconsistent with normal handling. However, a clever fabricator may be able to make a mislabeled latent match expectations of genuineness to such a high degree that it would be virtually undetectable.
The staged photograph is the third type of fabrication. These photographs are usually taken slightly out of focus in an attempt to hide details which would disclose the fabrication. Or, such a photograph may be over or under-exposed. Strange lines or shadows may be present. The photographs may also contain stray images not expected on the surface from which the latent purportedly came, or background noise may not be consistent with the surface claimed."
Source: Latent Fingerprint Fabrication by Pat Wertheim, as found on the Iowa Division of the International Association of Identification website
And here is a summary of the most famous scandal involving fabricated evidence...
The New York State Trooper Scandal
This scandal came to light when David Harding admitted his deeds to the CIA during a job interview. He thought they’d be impressed. He was wrong.
David L. Harding was sentenced on December 16, 1992, to 4 to 12 years in prison for fabricating evidence in four documented cases.
Robert M. Lishansky was sentenced June 10, 1993 to 6 to 18 years in prison for fabricating evidence in 21 cases.
Craig D. Harvey was a lieutenant who headed the identification unit. He pleaded guilty on July 29, 1993 to fabricating evidence in three cases, and agreed to serve 2½ to 7 years in prison.
Two other officers, David M. Beers and Patrick O’Hara, were also implicated but never convicted of fabricating evidence.
A detailed look at one of these cases...“In April 1993, Craig D. Harvey, a New York State Police trooper was charged with fabricating evidence. Harvey admitted he and another trooper lifted fingerprints from items the suspect, John Spencer, touched while in Troop C headquarters during booking. He attached the fingerprints to evidence cards and later claimed that he had pulled the fingerprints from the scene of the murder. The forged evidence was presented during John Spencer's trial and his subsequent conviction resulted in a term, of 50 years to life in prison, at his sentencing.” (Source: the summary of the case on Wikipedia...)
More on the scandal: “’Some members of the Identification Unit were so careless with their fabrications they left...’practice’ fabrications behind in the actual case files...’ It is also shocking that the forgeries so easily escaped detection. They ranged from sophisticated, such as lifting a print from an inked fingerprint card and doctoring it to look like a latent print, to extremely crude, such as simply photocopying an inked print and calling it a latent print. According to the outside fingerprint examiners employed by the special prosecutor, the fraudulence of many of the fingerprints offered in these cases should have been blatantly obvious to anyone trained in fingerprint identification...Yet in more than forty criminal cases, some involving homicide, over eight years, the evidence was not once challenged by the defense.” (Source: Suspect Identities, by Simon Cole, 2001.)
Now, these articles on fingerprint fabrication were eye-opening. But I wasn't sure how this might apply to the palm print on the cardboard...until I read Scene of the Crime (1992) by former crime scene investigator Anne Wingate. From page 111:
Wingate then describes her personal reaction when she first heard of this... From page 112:
Notice that Wingate's recollection of the method used to frame DePalma was slightly different than the method mentioned in Scientific Evidence in Criminal Cases. She recalls that a print was lifted from the xerox copy of a known print, and not that the xerox copy itself was submitted.
Well, this is quite intriguing. It could explain how Oswald's print got on CE 649 (should the print on CE 649 actually have been Oswald's print, that is).
So, sad to say, there is a stadium-sized-room for suspicion regarding the print on Box D. There are reasons to doubt it was actually a match, and even more reasons to suspect that, if it was a match, it was a match which should have aroused the suspicions of the FBI.
And that's not even to mention that at least one of the fingerprint experts who ID'ed this print as Oswald's appears to have lied about his identification of this print...
And that he did so in sworn testimony, no less...before the Warren Commission.
Look at the bottom photo on the slide above. It's worthless, right? Now, read NYPD fingerprint expert Arthur Mandella's 4-2-64 testimony before the Warren Commission.
Mr. EISENBERG. Any other identifications?
Mr. MANDELLA. Yes; there is one more on box D, photo No. 13.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is Exhibit 655, which contains two photographs, and I will extract the photograph labeled "13."
Mr. MANDELLA. Commission Exhibit 655, photo No. 13, the right palmprint of Lee Harvey Oswald. The section here is at the heel of the palm in the center.
Mr. EISENBERG. In the center of the palm?
Mr. MANDELLA. Yes, sir.
Mr. EISENBERG. You were just pointing to the lower portion of the palm, which you refer to as the heel?
Mr. MANDELLA. Yes; this is the portion of Oswald's palm.
Mr. EISENBERG. Is there handwriting or printing on the back of that photograph?
Mr. MANDELLA. Yes; there is. "Right palm-Oswald-heel of hand."
Mr. EISENBERG. And that is your handwriting, is it, Mr. Mandella?
Mr. MANDELLA. Yes; it is.
Mr. EISENBERG. So you made a total of six identifications?
Mr. MANDELLA. Yes; I did.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now when you made these identifications-or, I should say, when you received the photographs and when you made the identifications, did you have any knowledge of any kind as to how many, if any, prints of Oswald's were found among the many impressions which were given to you?
Mr. MANDELLA. I had no idea, sir.
Mr. EISENBERG. Were you aware in any way of the conclusions of any other body concerning these impressions?
Mr. MANDELLA. I knew nothing about any examination by anyone.
Mr. EISENBERG. At an unofficial level, had you seen anything in the newspapers which would indicate any information on these?
Mr. MANDELLA. In the newspaper several months ago there was reference to a - I don't even recall whether it was fingerprints or paimprints or both but there was some reference in the newspaper I had seen, and that is all.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is all you recall about it?
Mr. MANDELLA. That is all I recall.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did you pay any attention to that in making. your identifications?
Mr. MANDELLA. No; it didn't affect me at all, nothing to do with the identifications.
Mr. EISENBERG. What is your general attitude toward items you see like this in the newspapers, by the way?
Mr. MANDELLA. In the newspapers? It doesn't mean a thing. Attitude relative to fingerprints?
Mr. EISENBERG. I am trying to determine how far this might influence you in your evaluation, and I wonder as a police officer what your opinion is when you read accounts in newspapers of evidence in crimes.
Mr. MANDELLA. No; it doesn't affect me other than for general information purposes.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did I transmit to you any information whatsoever concerning these prints?
Mr. MANDELLA. You did not, other than giving me the photographs.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did I tell you that any of these prints might be Lee Harvey Oswald's?
Mr. MANDELLA. You made no indication as to that it could have been his.
Mr. EISENBERG. Do you know now, apart from your own identification, have you acquired any information at this point, subsequent to your identification but prior to your appearance here, as to these prints, other than your own identifications?
Mr. MANDELLA. I have no knowledge as to what has been done with these prints at all by anyone.
Mr. EISENBERG. Are you absolutely sure as to each of these identifications, Mr. Mandella?
Mr. MANDELLA. I am positive.
Eisenberg and Mandella then went through the exhibits and photos one by one.
Mr. EISENBERG. 655?
Mr. MANDELLA. 655.
Mr. EISENBERG. Box D.
Mr. MANDELLA. Photo No. 13, the right palmprint of Oswald, and there is eight points of identity on that one.
Now, glance back at the slide above. If the General Printing Office tasked with publishing the government's reports was able to publish a clear image of photo 26 from the FBI's 12-9-63 report to the President (CD 1), why does the bottom image on the slide of the photo supposedly used by Mandella to effect an identification of Oswald's right palm print on CE 649 (the piece of cardboard torn from Box D) look like a glop of burnt chocolate? It makes no sense, right? Based on this image alone, then, it seems likely Mandella was lying when he said he ID'ed the "print" on the torn off piece of Box D as Oswald's.
I mean, here is the clearest image I can get of the palm print in Exhibit 655. (It is inverted compared to the image on the slide above.)
Look at it. Ask yourself..."Why the heck is the print in this image so gol-darned dark? This print was discovered, at least officially, via black powder. And it was then taped off. It was not sprayed with silver nitrate, or any other chemical that would change its appearance. So why does the print in this image, the photo of the palm print on Box D in CE 655, look so different than this same print in Photo 26, as published by the FBI?
Well, maybe that's just it. Photo 26 was part of CD1, an FBI report prepared for President Johnson. The photo in CE 655, on the other hand, was a photo prepared by the FBI for the Warren Commission, so the Commission could consult with outside experts. The thought occurs, then, that the FBI deliberately provided Mandella with crappy images, and that Mandella nevertheless claimed the latent prints in these crappy images matched Oswald's prints.
In such case, he was lying when he ID'ed the black blob in the photo above as Oswald's right palm print, and quite possibly lying about the other prints as well...
What's Up, Mandella?
The six prints ID'ed by Mandella as Oswald's prints are hidden in the black blobs on the slide above. These exhibits come from the Mary Ferrell Foundation website, but are nearly identical to these exhibits as presented in the Warren Commission's volumes on the website of the National Archives.
Aside from the slight possibility the images viewed by Mandella were crystal clear images, and that someone at the Warren Commission or General Printing Office mucked up the images placed into evidence with his testimony, it seems highly unlikely Mandella could have ID'ed Oswald's prints on these images.
Now, to be clear, it seems probable Melvin Eisenberg caught how all this looked, and tried to make Mandella's testimony less troublesome. You see, at the very last minute, on 9-17-64, just as the commission's report was going to print, Eisenberg arranged for Mandella to return to Washington and be shown the actual exhibits on which Oswald's prints were supposedly found, i.e., the bag, the cardboard torn from Box D, Box A, and the lift supposedly lifted from Oswald's rifle. That way the commission could say, hey, Mandella ID'ed Oswald's prints after studying the actual prints, and not just the black and blurry photos presented in his testimony.
Mandella did this, of course.
But even here there's a problem. Note the last line. Mandella says he's matched the FBI's photos of the prints he'd previously ID'ed as Oswald's prints to the items on which these prints were found.
So what's the problem? Four of the six prints--two each on the paper bag and Box A--were found on paper products--wrapping paper and cardboard--through the application of silver nitrate.
Here's Latona on silver nitrate.
Mr. LATONA. Silver nitrate solution in itself is colorless, and it reacts with the sodium chloride, which is ordinary salt which is found in the perspiration or sweat which is exuded by the sweat pores.
This material covers the fingers. When it touches a surface such as an absorbent material, like paper, it leaves an outline on the paper. When this salt material, which is left by the fingers on the paper, is immersed in the silver nitrate solution, there is a combining, an immediate combining of--the elements themselves will break down, and they recombine into silver chloride and sodium nitrate. We know that silver is sensitive to light. So that material, after it has been treated with the silver nitrate solution, is placed under a strong light. We utilize a carbon arc lamp, which has considerable ultraviolet light in it. And it will immediately start to discolor the specimen. Wherever there is any salt material, it will discolor it, much more so than the rest of the object, and show exactly where the latent prints have been developed. It is simply a reaction of the silver nitrate with the sodium chloride. That is all it is.
Mr. EISENBERG. Do you frequently find that the silver nitrate develops a print in a paper object which the iodine fuming cannot develop?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; I would say that is true, considerably so. We have more success with silver nitrate than we do with the iodine fumes. The reason we use both is because of the fact that this material which is exuded by the fingers may fall into one of two main types--protein material and salt material. The iodine fumes will develop protein material. Silver nitrate will develop the salt material. The reason we use both is because we do not know what was in the subject's fingers or hands or feet. Accordingly, to insure complete coverage, we use both methods. And we use them in that sequence. The iodine first, then the silver nitrate. The iodine is used first because the iodine simply causes a temporary physical change. It will discolor, and then the fumes, upon being left in the open air, will disappear, and then the color will dissolve. Silver nitrate, on the other hand, causes a chemical change and it will permanently affect the change. So if we were to use the silver nitrate process first, then we could not use the iodine fumes. On occasion we have developed fingerprints and palmprints with iodine fumes which failed to develop with the silver nitrate and vice versa.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, looking at that bag I see that almost all of it is an extremely dark brown color, except that there are patches of a lighter brown, a manila-paper brown. Could you explain why there are these two colors on the bag?
Mr. LATONA. Yes. The dark portions of the paper bag are where the silver nitrate has taken effect. And the light portions of the bag are where we did not process the bag at that time, because additional examinations were to be made, and we did not wish the object to lose its identity as to what it may have been used for. Certain chemical tests were to be made after we finished with it. And we felt that the small section that was left in itself would not interfere with the general overall examination of the bag itself.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is, the small section of light brown corresponds to the color which the bag had when you received it?
Mr. LATONA. That is the natural color of the wrapper at the time we received it.
Mr. EISENBERG. And the remaining color is caused by the silver nitrate process?
Mr. LATONA. That is correct.
Mr. EISENBERG. Does paper normally turn this dark brown color when treated by silver nitrate?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; it does. It will get darker, too, as time goes on and it is affected by light.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, does the silver nitrate process permanently fix the print into the paper?
Mr. LATONA. Permanent in the sense that the print by itself will not disappear. Now, it can be removed, or the stains could be removed chemically, by the placing of the object into a 2 percent solution of mercuric nitrate, which will remove the stains and in addition will remove the prints. But the prints by themselves, if nothing is done to it, will simply continue to grow darker and eventually the whole specimen will lose its complete identity.
And no, Latona wasn't exaggerating the rapid loss of contrast for prints exposed to silver nitrate. The Science of Fingerprints, the FBI's own handbook, notes that for prints developed through the application of silver nitrate "Prompt photographing is recommended, as, in exceptional instances, silver nitrate prints have become illegible in a matter of hours."
Now, Latona testified in early April, 4 1/2 months after the application of silver nitrate, and the bag (and boxes) had already turned a dark brown. So, honestly, what are the odds the prints on the bag and Box A (4 of the 6 prints linking Oswald to the sniper's nest) were legible 5 1/2 months later? Next to nothing, right? Well, it seems clear then that Mandella did not, in fact, identify these prints on the bag and box, but, instead, merely acknowledged that dark splotches were apparent on the bag and box where Latona claimed (and perhaps the photos indicated) the prints had been found.
Well, then, what does this prove? Well, seeing as Mandella initially ID'ed Oswald's prints based upon what appear to have been illegible FBI photos provided him by the Warren Commission, and then confirmed his identification of these prints after being shown the actual items upon which these prints were found...even though 4 of these 6 prints had almost certainly since blurred into black blobs...it proves nothing but provides a strong reason to doubt Mandella's identification of Oswald's prints.
I don't believe Mandella's testimony and statements provided the Warren Commission, and you shouldn't either.
Of course, this doesn't mean Latona's ID of the prints was a fraud.
In fact, it could be he was telling the truth--that the palm print on the cardboard was Oswald's.
Well, this leads to four questions.
1. Was this palm print actually found on Box D?
2. When was it found?
3. By whom?
4. Why wasn't it photographed on the box?
Thus we circle back to Lt. Day....
White Lies or a Dark Truth?
Yes, it's sad but true. Lt. Day's credibility regarding the sniper's nest evidence--and, yes, I mean all of the sniper's nest evidence-- is seriously lacking.
Here is the 4-6-64 sworn testimony of Day's assistant Robert Studebaker regarding the palm print purportedly discovered on a book carton purportedly found in the sniper's nest, and purportedly used by Oswald as a seat while he fired his shots.
Mr. BALL. You lifted a print off of a box?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes.
Mr. BALL. Where was the box?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. The box was due north of the paper that was found, and it was, I believe, we have it that it was - I can read the measurements off of one of these things - how far it was.
Mr. BALL. Fine, do that.
Mr. STUDEBAKER. It was 16 1/2 inches from the - from this wall over here (Indicating).
Mr. BALL. Which wall are you talking about?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. It was from the south wall of the building.
Mr. BALL. Did you take a picture of that box in place before it was moved?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes.
Mr. BALL. The box from which you lifted the prints?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. This box never was moved.
Mr. BALL. That box never was moved?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. That box never was moved.
Mr. BALL. And you took a picture of it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And that was the location of it when you lifted the print off it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And may I have that, please, and we will mark it Exhibit G.
Mr. STUDEBAKER. I was with them in the corner all the time - they were with me rather, I guess Captain Fritz told them to stay with us and help us in case they were needed.
Mr. BALL. Johnson and Montgomery?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Johnson and Montgomery - they were with me all the time over in that one corner.
Mr. BALL. Now, we have here a picture which we will mark "G."
(Instrument marked by the reporter as "Studebaker Exhibit G" for identification.)
Mr. BALL. This is your No. 26, and that shows the box, does it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And that was its location with reference to the corner?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir; that's the exact location.
Mr. BALL. Can you draw in there showing us where the paper sack was found?
(Witness Studebaker drew on instrument as requested by Counsel Ball.)
Mr. BALL. That would be directly south?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. That would be directly south of where the box was.
Mr. BALL. You have drawn an outline in ink on the map in the southeast corner. Now, that box is how many inches, as shown in this picture?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. It is 16 inches from the south wall.
Mr. BALL. You say you lifted a print there off of this box?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And now, is that shown in the picture?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. What shows in the picture, can you tell me what shows in the picture? Describe what you see there.
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Well, there is a box with a partial print on the - it would be the northwest corner of the box.
Mr. BALL. Was that a palm print or a fingerprint?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. A palm.
Mr. BALL. It was a palm print?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And does it show the direction of the palm?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes.
Mr. BALL. Which way?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. West.
Mr. BALL. It would be made with the hand -
Mr. STUDEBAKER. With the right hand sitting on the box.
Mr. BALL. And the fingers pointed west, is that it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. Now, you outlined that before you took the picture, did you?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. And that is the outline shown in this picture?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, sir.
(When subsequently asked about the stack of boxes, A-C)
Mr. STUDEBAKER. ...I dusted these first, because I figured he might have stacked them up.
Mr. BALL. Did you find any prints?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. No prints, and then I was standing right there and I told Johnson and Montgomery that there should be a print, and I turned around and figured he might have been standing right in there, and I dusted all these poles here and there wasn't no prints on any of it and started dusting this big box, No. 1 here, and lifted the print off of that box.
Mr. BALL. Did you later examine that print that you lifted off of that box in your crime lab?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. I was up in that building until 1 o'clock that morning and got there at 1 and left at 1 and they had seized all of our evidence and I haven't seen it since. Lieutenant Day compared the print before it was released to Oswald's print.
Mr. BALL. He did?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. He compared it as Oswald's right palm print.
Mr. BALL. Did you put some masking tape over that bit of cardboard before you moved it?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. As soon as the print was lifted, you see, I taped it and then they took the print down there. They just took the top corner of this box down there.
Mr. BALL. They just took the top part of the box down there?
Mr. STUDEBAKER. Yes, and when we took this picture, we took it back - that stuff has been up there and back until I was so confused I don't know what was going on.
Well, okay. Studebaker says he discovered the print on Box D after he'd dusted the stack by the window--which was dusted at 1:30 PM at the earliest. Well, think about it. Lt. Day was either working on the rifle, or taking the rifle over to the crime lab, at this time. Huh... It follows, then, that Lt. Day was not present when Studebaker made his discovery.
Now note that Studebaker says "they"--an apparent reference to Johnson and Montgomery--took the print down to the crime lab.
Now here is the 4-22-64 testimony of Lt. Day regarding this same box.
Mr. BELIN. I want to turn for the moment to 729. I notice that the box on 729 appears to have a portion of it torn off and then replaced again. Is this correct or not?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. I am going to hand you what has been marked as Commission Exhibit 649 and ask you to state if you know what this is.
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. This is a portion torn from the box shown in 729.
Mr. BELIN. While you are holding that I'm going to hand you Commission Exhibit 648 and ask you to state if you know what this is.
Mr. DAY. That is the box shown in 729 at the center of the picture.
Mr. BELIN. Is that the box, 648, from which 649 was torn?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; it is.
Mr. BELIN. Could you relate what transpired to cause 649 to be torn from 648?
Mr. DAY. After I returned to the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository after delivering the gun to my office, we processed the boxes in that area, in the area of the window where the shooting apparently occurred, with powder. This particular box was processed and a palmprint, a legible palmprint, developed on the northwest corner of the box, on the top of the box as it was sitting on the floor.
Mr. BELIN. Then what did you do when you developed this print?
Mr. DAY. I placed a piece of transparent tape, ordinary Scotch tape, which we use for fingerprint work, over the developed palmprint.
Mr. BELIN. And then what did you do?
Mr. DAY. I tore the cardboard from the box that contained the palm print.
Mr. BELIN. Then what did you do?
Mr. DAY. The box was left in its position, but the palmprint was taken by me to the identification bureau.
Mr. BELIN. Did you make any identification of it?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. Later that night when I had a chance to get palmprints from Lee Harvey Oswald. I made a comparison with the palmprint off of the box, your 729, and determined that the palmprint on the box was made by the right palm of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Mr. BELIN. Did you make any identification on Exhibit 649 which would indicate that this is the palmprint you took?
Mr. DAY. It has in my writing, "From top of box Oswald apparently sat on to fire gun. Lieut. J. C. Day," and it is marked "right palm of Oswald. Lieut. J. C. Day."
There is also an arrow indicating north and where the palmprint was found. It further has Detective Studebaker's name on it, and he also wrote on there, "From top of box subject sat on."
Mr. BELIN. Now, when was that placed on that exhibit, that writing of yours, when was it placed on there?
Mr. DAY. It was placed on there November 22, 1963.
Mr. BELIN. Can you identify by any way Commission Exhibit 648?
Mr. DAY. This has my name "J. C. Day" written on it. It also has "R. L. Studebaker" written on it. It has written in the corner in my writing, "Southwest corner box 18 inches from wall."
Mr. BELIN. I also see the name "W. H. Shelley" written on there. Do you know when this was put on?
Mr. DAY. W. H. Shelley is the assistant manager apparently of the Texas School Book Depository.
Mr. BELIN. Did he put it on at the time you found the box?
Mr. DAY. No, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Do you know when that was placed on there?
Mr. DAY. That was placed there November 26. The box was not removed, just the cardboard was removed on November 22 excuse me, November 25 I should say that he put his name on there. I returned to the School Book Depository on November 25 and collected this box.
Now, let's be clear. Studebaker testified that he'd developed the print on Box D (which was 16 1/2 or 16 inches from the wall) after dusting the window boxes (which we can take to mean sometime after 1:30 PM), and then covered it with tape, and that "they"--presumably Det.s Johnson and Montgomery--took this print over to the crime lab (which would be shortly after 3:00 PM). And Day testified that "we" developed the print after he returned from bringing the rifle to the crime lab (which we can take to mean after 3:00 PM), and that he covered it with tape, and tore it from the box (which was 18 inches from the wall)...and that he personally took it over to the crime lab when he next left the school book depository (which he claimed was around 6:00 PM).
One of them is lying. Or maybe both of them are lying...or just wrong. Since Day never specified that he personally discovered the palm print on the box and since neither Johnson nor Montgomery ever said anything about bringing the corner of the box back to the crime lab, it seems possible Studebaker found the print while Day was off with the rifle, and that Day taped it off and tore it from the box after taking the rifle to the crime lab and returning to the crime scene.
But there's more to it. Although Lt. Day, in his testimony, claimed he'd ripped the cardboard holding the palm print from the box and signed this piece of cardboard on the night of the shooting ...his writing is not apparent on the cardboard in the photographs of the re-construction three days later. It's just not there.
He flat-out lied. Well, it defies belief that Day would fail to sign this critical piece of cardboard if he was there when the print was discovered, or even the one to cover the print with tape, tear the cardboard holding this print from the box, and take it to the crime lab. And this leads me to suspect his whole story was a lie, and that it was Studebaker who discovered the print, and perhaps even gave it to Johnson and Montgomery to bring to the crime lab.
This suspicion is consistent, moreover, with the rest of Day's testimony.
Mr. BELIN. What else did you do, or what was the next thing you did after you completed photographing and inspecting the rifle on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building for whatever prints you could find, what did you do next?
Mr. DAY. I took the gun at the time to the office and locked it up in a box in my office at Captain Fritz' direction.
Mr. BELIN. Then what did you do?
Mr. DAY. I went back to the School Book Depository and stayed there. It was around three that I got back, and I was in that building until about 6, directing the other officers as to what we needed in the way of photographs and some drawing, and so forth.
Note that at this point Day makes no mention of his dusting the boxes and tearing the palm print off Box D. After returning to the building at 3 o'clock, he supervised the taking of some photos and the creation of a drawing. And so forth.
Mr. BELIN. What did you do when you got back, what photographs did you take?
Mr. DAY. We went, made the outside photographs of the street, we made more photographs inside, and did further checking for prints by using dust on the boxes around the window.
Note that he now remembers that "we" used dust to 'further check" the boxes around the window. Well, who was "we?" He, himself and Studebaker? Did he really make Studebaker re-dust the boxes? Or had Studebaker given up after failing to find anything (beyond the palm print on Box D), only to have Day force him to try his magic dust on a few more boxes?
Mr. BELIN. I hand you what has been marked as "Commission Exhibit 722" and ask you to state if you know what this is.
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. This is a view of Houston Street looking south from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building.
Mr. BELIN. Do you know when that was taken?
Mr. DAY. About 3 or 3:15, somewhere along there, on November 22, 1963.
Mr. McCLOY. You say from the sixth floor; was it from the farthest east window?
Mr. DAY. The south window on the east end of the building.
Mr. BELIN. You don't mean that. State that again. What side of the building was the window on?
Mr. DAY. It was on the south side of the building, the easternmost window.the print would not have developed with the clarity that it did.
Wait. This photo was taken after the sniper's nest boxes had been moved. This means that, if Day is to be believed, he returned at 3, went straight to the sniper's nest, finished dusting the boxes, tore the palm print off Box D, and started taking photos out the window to show the sniper's view...all within 15 minutes of his return. Okay. Maybe. But this rules out Montgomery and Johnson's being the ones to bring the cardboard to the crime lab. They left the building at 3.
Day's words are doubtful. It seems far more likely that Studebaker dusted the boxes, including Box D, when Day was not present.
And, if this is so--that Day pretended he'd helped discover a print that was discovered when he wasn't even in the building--well, it's probably not just him. Capt. Doughty, Day's boss, is reported to have told Vincent Drain on 8-31-64 that, yessirree, "The portion of the palm print that was raised by the use of fingerprint powder was cut out of the box on Friday afternoon, November 22, 1963, and brought to the Dallas Police Station by Lt. Day."
But, why would Day (and later Doughty) lie about such a thing? They would have to have known someone (like me) would come along and check this stuff, right?
Uh...no. When Day testified, on April 22, 1964, it was far from clear his testimony would ever be published, let alone be published in the same volumes as Studebaker's testimony, and pictures of the evidence. It may have been that someone (such as David Belin) coached Day into simplifying the "story" surrounding the sniper's nest evidence, if only for ease of digestion. And that Day thereby took credit for all of Studebaker's actions, and pretended he'd found the bag, and tore the palm print off the box, etc... And that Doughty played along with this.
The Missing Transcript
We have reason to suspect this is so, for that matter.
Let's recall this snippet from Lt. Day's 4-22-64 testimony before the Warren Commission in Washington.
Mr. BELIN. Is there any other testimony you have with regard to the chain of possession of this shell from the time it was first found until the time it got back to your office?
Mr. DAY. No, sir; I told you in our conversation in Dallas that I marked those at the scene. After reviewing my records, I didn't think I was on all three of those hulls that you have, indicating I did not mark them at the scene, then I remembered putting them in the envelope, and Sims taking them. It was further confirmed today when I noticed that the third hull, which I did not give you, or come to me through you, does not have my mark on it.
Mr. BELIN. Now, I did interview you approximately 2 weeks ago in Dallas, more or less?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. At that time what is the fact as to whether or not I went into extended questions and answers as contrasted with just asking you to tell me about certain areas as to what happened? I mean, I questioned you, of course, but was it more along the lines of just asking you to tell me what happened, or more along the lines of interrogation, the interrogation we are doing now?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Which one?
Mr. DAY. Wait a minute now. Say that again. I am at a loss.
Mr. BELIN. Maybe it would be easier if I just struck the question and started all over again.
Mr. DAY. I remember you asking me if I marked them.
Mr. BELIN. Yes.
Mr. DAY. I remember I told you I did.
Mr. BELIN. All right.
Well, this reveals both that Belin interviewed Day in Dallas, and that no transcript of this interview was created. The other men involved in the collection of evidence from the sixth floor--Studebaker, Sims, Montgomery, and Johnson--were all deposed on 4-6, so it only makes sense that Belin spoke to Day at this time. Ball deposed Capt. Westbrook at 9 AM, Det Sims at 10:20, and Det. Boyd at 11:00. He presumably then took a lunch. He then deposed Officer Dhority at 2:45, Det. Studebaker at 3:45, and Det. Montgomery at 4:50. It seems apparent, then, that Ball scheduled these depositions about an hour apart.
Well, then, what about Belin? What was he up to? He deposed Det. Johnson at 4:00. That's it.
It seems probable, then, that Belin didn't just chitty-chat with Day, but deposed him, for hours and hours, ending shortly before 4:00, when he deposed Johnson.
Now, if this is true, this transcript was then destroyed.
But why? Well, one strong possibility, it seems to me, is that Lt. Day was more truthful in this deposition, and readily admitted it was Studebaker who'd found the palm print on the box, and it was Studebaker who'd dusted the bag, etc. And that someone, probably Belin, told him that that story wasn't satisfactory, and that the Warren Commissioners needed to be told that Day had discovered all the key evidence, etc.
That's the most "innocent" way one can spin this, of course. The reality may have been more sinister, perhaps even far more sinister...
One might wonder, even, if this print found on the cardboard had actually been on the cardboard, when the cardboard was still on the box...
So...is there anything else about the print on CE 649 that might lead us to suspect it was fabricated after the cardboard had been torn from the box?
Yep. Take another look at CE 649.
Notice that the tape overlays Studebaker's signature. Well, assuming the print is legit, this suggests that as soon as Studebaker developed this print, his first instinct was to sign his name right next to it, and not protect the print. One would think a crime scene investigator would cover the print before signing the cardboard. And yet, in this instance, it appears that Studebaker signed the cardboard before the tape was added.
And this even though Studebaker testified to taping the print "as soon as the print was lifted." His choice of words is interesting here, moreover, as "lifting" a print is a term used to describe the act of pressing tape down on an object holding a print (including, yes, a photocopy of a print), and then pulling the tape taut, thereby "lifting" the print from its former home. "Lifting" is, for that matter, not a term used to describe the discovery of a print via the application of fingerprint powder. The term for that is "raising," as in "we sprinkled some fingerprint powder on the package, and raised a print by the return address" or "developing," as in "we developed a print on the package."
And that's not the only conclusion one can draw from Studebaker's signature being under the tape. Think about it. Although it seems unlikely Studebaker would raise a print on the box, sign his name by the print, and then cover the print and signature with tape, this becomes far more problematic should one accept it was Day who raised the print. I mean, really, Day raises a print, Studebaker rushes over and signs his name by it, and then Day slaps some tape over the print and Studebaker's signature, but fails to sign it himself? Spare me.
This reminds me...
Shining a Light on B.S. 2
The Day Kennedy Was Shot by Jim Bishop (1968) is yet another Oswald-did-it book designed to defend President Johnson, the Dallas Police, and the Warren Commission. While writing his book, Bishop spoke to dozens of sources, including members of the Dallas Police and President Johnson. And yet he still managed to get some important stuff really really wrong.
Here, then, is Bishop's account of Lt. Day's actions upon his return to the school book depository, circa 3:00, after depositing the rifle at the station.
"The entire sixth floor had been isolated by policeman. Day and his assistants went to work in that corner window where the empty cartridges had been found. They dusted the bricks on the ledge; they examined the heating pipes behind the assassin's seat on a cardboard box. The man moved about gingerly, disturbing nothing. They got nothing until they brushed the top of the box lying in front of the window. This, it was assumed, would be the low seat for the killer. On the front edge, facing the window, they saw a palm print come up clearly.
It was the first technological discovery, and yet it proved nothing. Anyone could have been sitting near that window, and anyone could have leaned on a box. The case against Oswald was to be built of chips and bits of evidence, the whole weighing more than the sum of its parts. The lieutenant backed his men away from the print, took strips of Scotch Tape and pressed it down on top of the white palm print. Then Day wrote on the box: 'From top of box Oswald apparently sat on to fire gun. Lieut. J.C. Day.' He tore the top off and took it back to headquarters."
Oy. In but one paragraph, Bishop gets five things wrong: 1) it's highly unlikely Studebaker held off dusting the sniper's nest until after Day returned from the Crime Lab; 2) It's doubtful Day taped off the print on the box found in the sniper's nest; 3) the print found on the box wasn't "white"; 4) Day never wrote the words quoted by Bishop on the top of the box, that is, while the cardboard on which it was written was on the box; and 5) it's doubtful it was Day who tore the top off the box.
Now take a close-up look at where this corner of the box was torn from Box D.
Well, heck. As revealed to me by my 8 year-old son, cardboard consists of three layers--a stiff sheet of paper on top, a middle ruffled layer, and a stiff sheet of paper on bottom. As shown above, the bottom layer of the cardboard in the area where CE 649 was torn from the box remained intact, as did much of the middle ruffled layer. Well, this proves that whoever tore the print off the box failed to tear or cut the cardboard all the way through the bottom flap of the box, and just half-assed it, whereby much of CE 649 is only paper thin. And this means that, officially, Studebaker (or Day, if you believe Day) not only failed to take a picture of the one print found on a cardboard box in the sniper's nest, but then tore this print off its box in a half-assed manner, and came damn close to tearing right through the print.
And no, I'm not joking, or trying to pull a fast one. Here, take a look at CE 649, as photographed by the Dallas Police before being sent to the FBI .
Look at the shadow along the bottom. Look at the crease at the bottom of the right side. CE 649 is paper thin, folks. It was so thin, in fact, that FBI fingerprint expert Sebastain Latona repeatedly described it as a piece of paper in his 4-2-64 testimony before the Warren Commission.
Here, see for yourself...
Mr. EISENBERG. If there are no further questions on the carton 641. I will move on to another exhibit. I now hand you a carton, somewhat larger in area than the 641 which we were just discussing, with various markings on it which I won't discuss, but which is marked Box "D" in red pencil at the upper left-hand corner of the bottom of the box. Are you familiar with this carton, Mr. Latona?
Mr. DULLES. Has that been admitted?
Mr. EISENBERG. It has not so far been admitted.
Mr. LATONA. This Box D, I received this along with Box A for purposes of examining for latent prints.
Mr. EISENBERG. Was that examined by you or under your supervision for that purpose?
Mr. LATONA. Yes, it was.
Mr. EISENBERG. When was that received?
Mr. LATONA. That was received on the 27th of November 1963.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Chairman, may I have this admitted as 648?
Mr. DULLES. What date?
Mr. LATONA. 27th.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is 5 days after the assassination?
Mr. LATONA. Yes.
Mr. EISENBERG. May I have this admitted as 648?
Mr. DULLES. It shall be admitted.
(The box referred to was marked Commission Exhibit Number 648, and received in evidence.)
Mr. DULLES. Can you identify it in some further way? I think there are some markings on here.
Mr. EISENBERG. There is "Box D." It is a little hard to read. It says "1 40 N TH&DO"---
Mr. DULLES. "New People and Progress."
Mr. EISENBERG. Apparently referring to the name of the textbook. This is not a Rolling Reader carton.
Mr. DULLES. No.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, when you received this box, could you tell whether it had been previously examined for latent fingerprints?
Mr. LATONA. A portion of it had.
Mr. EISENBERG. And can you tell us what portion had been?
Mr. LATONA. The bottom evidently, because a piece had been cut out.
Mr. EISENBERG. You are pointing to a place on the bottom of the box which is to the left of the point at which I have affixed the sticker "Commission Exhibit Number 648," immediately to the left of that point?
Mr. LATONA. That is correct.
Mr. EISENBERG. Was that portion of the box given to you?
Mr. LATONA. Yes, it was.
Mr. EISENBERG. With the box?
Mr. LATONA. At the time we got the box.
Mr. EISENBERG. I think I have that. I now hand you what appears to be a portion of a cardboard carton and a piece of tape with various writings, included among which is "From top of box Oswald apparently sat on to fire gun." Do you recognize this piece of paper, Mr. Latona?
Mr. LATONA. Yes, I do. This is a piece of paper that evidently had been cut from the box.
Mr. EISENBERG. Does that fit into the box?
Mr. LATONA. It does.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Chairman, may I have this admitted as 649?
Mr. DULLES. It shall be admitted as 649.
(The piece of carton referred to was marked Commission Exhibit Number 649, and received in evidence.)
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Latona, did you find any identifiable prints on the cardboard carton 648?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; in addition to this one which has been cut out and which had been covered by a piece of lifting tape, there were, two fingerprints developed in addition to that one.
Mr. EISENBERG. Two identifiable fingerprints?
Mr. LATONA. That is right.
Mr. EISENBERG. Palmprints?
Mr. LATONA. No; they were fingerprints.
Mr. EISENBERG. I mean were there any palmprints?
Mr. LATONA. There were no palmprints.
Mr. EISENBERG. How did you process this box?
Mr. LATONA. By the use of iodine fumes and silver nitrate solution.
Mr. EISENBERG. Did you find evidence of processing prior to your receipt apart from the exhibit which is now 649?
Mr. LATONA. Yes; this particular area which has been cut out had been processed with powder.
Mr. EISENBERG. Was there powder on other areas of the box?
Mr. LATONA. I don't believe there was.
Now, this is interesting. Beyond describing CE 649 as a "piece of paper," Latona also claimed, and claimed repeatedly, that it was "cut out" from Box D.
What's that about?
Well, which makes more sense to you--that Studebaker/Day would casually tear an important piece of evidence from a box in this manner? Or that he/they would casually tear off a section of a box found in the sniper's nest just in case, y'know, they needed to make use of it later?
It's reasonable to assume, then, that the "cut out" story was not just a mistake, or a daily cookie designed to assuage our hunger for conspiracy. It seems possible, even, that the "cut out" story was designed and developed to help Lt. J.C. Day sell the bona fides of CE 649.
Let's recall that Vincent Drain, in his 8-31-64 memo on an interview with Day's and Studebaker's boss, Capt. Doughty, claimed Doughty told him ""The portion of the palm print that was raised by the use of fingerprint powder was cut out of the box." (26H803)
And now add that Drain, in a report written that same day on an interview with Day, repeated "He
stated that four cardboard boxes were stacked against the sixth floor window overlooking the street.
These boxes were dusted for fingerprints, since it was their opinion that the boxes possibly had been used as a shield and a rest for the person who fired the rifle at President JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY and Governor JOHN B. CONNALLY. He stated after dusting these boxes, a palm print was raised on the box, which was believed to have been the box that the person firing the rifle had been sitting on. This part of the box, which contained the palm print, was cut out and brought to the Dallas Police Crime Laboratory. The boxes were then left on the sixth floor and not taken to the Dallas Police Crime Laboratory until the morning of November 25,1963. Lieutenant DAY stated that it did not seem pertinent to him at the time, since there were no other prints on these bars that he observed." (26H805)
And here's the Warren Report on this print: "This print which had been cut out of the box was also forwarded to the FBI." (WR, pages 140-141) The footnote for this passage points to Latona's testimony, moreover, which means the writers of the Warren Report disregarded the statements and testimony of the men who removed the print from the box in favor of a man who only saw the print after it had been removed.
Cutting was, undoubtedly, the preferred method for removing a piece of cardboard containing evidence from a box. By casually tearing the cardboard from the box, Studebaker/Day called into question the legitimacy of CE 649. Is it just a coincidence, then, that the FBI and Warren Commission came to pretend CE 649 had been "cut out" of the box?
I suspect not.
The "Lucky" Mistake
I mean, rat or no rat, Latona would have to have smelled a rat...
Mr. LATONA. The two fingerprints which were developed on Commission Exhibit 648 by silver nitrate are not identified as anyone's, but the print which appears on the piece which was cut out has been identified.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is 649?
Mr. LATONA. Of Exhibit 648--which is Exhibit 649----
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes?
Mr. LATONA. Which came from Exhibit 649 has been identified as a palm-print of Harvey Lee Oswald, the right palmprint.
Mr. EISENBERG. That is Lee Harvey Oswald, Mr. Latona?
Mr. LATONA. That is right, Lee Harvey Oswald.
Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, can you tell how this was developed, this print on 649?
Mr. LATONA. The appearance is it was developed with black powder.
Mr. EISENBERG. You testified before concerning the aging of fingerprints. Considering the material on which this print was developed, 649, do you think you could form an opinion, any opinion at all, concerning the freshness or staleness of this print?
Mr. LATONA. Bearing in mind the fact that this is an absorbent material, and realizing, of course, that a print when it is left on a material of this type it starts to soak in. Now, the reason that we in the FBI do not use powder is because of the fact that in a short period of time the print will soak in so completely that there won't be any moisture left. Accordingly when you brush powder across there won't be anything developed. Under circumstances, bearing in mind that here the box was powdered, and a print was developed with powder, the conclusion is that this is comparatively a fresh print. Otherwise, it would not have developed. We know, too, that we developed two other fingerprints on this by chemicals. How long a time had elapsed since the time this print was placed on there until the time that it would have soaked in so that the resulting examination would have been negative I don't know, but that could not have been too long.
Mr. EISENBERG. When you say "not too long," would you say not 3 weeks, or not 3 days, or not 3 hours?
Mr. LATONA. Very definitely I'd say not 3 days. I'd say not 3 weeks.
Mr. EISENBERG. And not 3 days, either?
Mr. LATONA. No; I don't believe so, because I don't think that the print on here that is touched on a piece of cardboard will stay on a piece of cardboard for 3 days.
Mr. EISENBERG. Would you bring that any closer?
Mr. LATONA. I am afraid I couldn't come any closer.
Mr. EISENBERG. 3 days?
Mr. LATONA. That is right.
Mr. EISENBERG. That would be the outermost limit that you can testify concerning?
Mr. LATONA. We have, run some tests, and usually a minimum of 24 hours on a material of this kind, depending upon how heavy the sweat was, to try to say within a 24-hour period would be a guess on my part.
Mr. EISENBERG. I am not sure I understand your reference to a minimum of 24 hours.
Mr. LATONA. We have conducted tests with various types of materials as to how long it could be before we would not develop a latent print.
Mr. EISENBERG. Yes?
Mr. LATONA. Assuming that the same print was left on an object or a series of similar prints were left on an object, and powdering them, say, at intervals of every 4 hours or so, we would fail to develop a latent print of that particular type on that particular surface, say, within a 24-hour period.
Mr. EISENBERG. So that is a maximum of 24 hours?
Mr. LATONA. That is right.
Mr. EISENBERG. You would not care, you say, though----
Mr. LATONA. No.
Mr. EISENBERG. To employ that here, but your experiments produced a maximum time of 24 hours.
Mr. LATONA. Bear that out; yes. Like I say, undoubtedly this print was left on there----between the time that the print was left and the time that it was powdered could not have been too long a time.
Well, this should have led Latona to some questions.
1. Why was the piece of cardboard torn from Box D (CE 649) the only bit of cardboard on which he noticed fingerprint powder?
2. Did Day and Studebaker deliberately use powder on the cardboard torn from Box D, knowing it had a shorter period of effectiveness, and would be more valuable as evidence?
I mean, this is a HUGE freakin' coincidence, people... According to Latona, not only did the DPD only powder one small piece of one of the boxes, but they found a print with this powder, and their doing so proved Oswald had touched this box within the last day. That's like hitting a bullseye on your first try, while blind-folded.
Now, one might wonder how the FBI would subsequently try to answer these questions. It is fortunate, then, that in 1995 the FBI Crime Lab would come under fire for its lack of scientific objectivity, and a defense would be written demonstrating just how dang science-y it was, for which the FBI's experts would offer up anecdotes about its most famous cases, including the Kennedy assassination.
Here. then is the FBI's latter-day explanation for the print found on the cardboard.
"Less than two hours after Kennedy had been shot, Dallas Police found a rifle lying next to a window in the Texas School Book Depository. A barricade of cardboard book cartons had been built around the window. Although Oswald's right palmprint was found on the rifle's stock, someone could have left the rifle there to implicate him. Following standard crime-scene procedure, detectives searched the area for latent prints. Oswald's fingerprints and palmprints were developed on three of the cardboard boxes and on a paper bag.
That proved nothing."
Well, let's stop right here. We have been told 1) that the rifle was found by the assassination window, (which hides that it was found across the building from the supposed sniper's nest), 2) that Oswald's palm print was found on the rifle's stock (which hides that it was supposedly lifted by the Dallas Police from a part of the barrel hidden from sight when the rifle was intact, and that the FBI checked this area for prints and found no signs of such a print), and 3) that the DPD found Oswald's prints on three boxes and a paper bag, (which hides that they purportedly found but one print on one box, and that the FBI itself claimed responsibility for finding prints on one other box--one, not two--and the paper bag).
Hmm. That's three lies that help conceal the unusual nature of the evidence presented against Oswald. What comes next?
"If prints are to be connected to a crime, they have to be found in places they shouldn't be found. Oswald worked in the building, so it was not at all unusual that his prints would be found there. What the police had to prove was that these were fresh prints, that Oswald had been at that window within the last few hours. Since prints can't be dated, that was an almost impossible job. But not in this case, in which Dallas detectives had made one of the luckiest mistakes in sci-crime history.
Cardboard is a porous, or absorbent, surface. Detectives should have sprayed chemicals on the boxes, but they mistakenly used dusting powder--and they had developed several prints. The question was, why? The boxes were sent to the lab in Washington for a more complete examination. By experimenting with dusting powder on similar boxes, specialists discovered it would develop prints for up to three hours after they had been made, but then the body fluids would be absorbed into the cardboard, keeping prints from being developed. The fact that Oswald's prints had been developed with dusting powder proved he had been at that window within the time frame of the assassination."
(Hard Evidence by David Fisher, 1995 Dell Publishing p. 163-164 of the paperback)
Note that, in its latter-day zeal to defend the suspicious behavior of the Dallas Police and the conclusions of the Warren Commission, the FBI came to throw its own expert under the bus, and not only claim the boxes were mistakenly dusted, but that several prints were discovered and this proved Oswald had handled these boxes on the day of the shooting, shortly before shots were fired from the sniper's nest. Latona had, of course, said he believed the boxes had not been dusted, and had said the one print discovered by dusting cardboard would have to have been made within 24 hours, not 3 hours.
There's also this. The palm print on the cardboard wasn't the only problematic print on Box D.