JAHS Chapter 3


Add in bloodstained face sheet

Sunday Morning

An 11-24 AP article found in the Washington Post supports that something strange was afoot. This article, by Frank Carey, accurately reported the statements of the doctors at the press conference--that there was a wound in the middle of the throat and another at the back of the head, and that the doctors didn't know whether these wounds were caused by one or two bullets. It then claimed that pathologists consulted for the article believed the bullet creating the throat wound would "probably"strike the spinal cord. One anonymous pathologist then asserts that that the president's having taken a breath at the hospital proved the spinal cord had not been severed, but that, nonetheless, the fact Kennedy was having so much trouble breathing suggested "the cord was probably badly damaged." The article then asserted that, due to this difficulty, the doctors consulted concurred "that the fatal bullet or bullets most probably affected vital areas near the brain stem."

Well, this speculation is really not so strange. In fact, it's exactly what one would expect doctors to say, based upon the evidence provided. No, what's strange is that here, two days after the shooting, so little evidence had been provided. The article notes "Doctors who attended the slain president at Dallas and those who later--at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda--prepared his body for burial have not given out the specific cause of death. And it has not yet been announced whether an autopsy involving a post-mortem examination of vital organs was performed at the Naval Hospital."

The story then took another turn. On 11-24 The Dallas Morning News reported:

Photographer Sells Pictures Of Assassination for $25,000

President Kennedy flinches as the first shot strikes him.

Mrs. Kennedy takes her husband in her arms.

The second shot strikes the President in the side of his head, toward the back.

His head becomes a blur.

Mrs. Kennedy crawls out over the trunk compartment in the rear of the car trying to escape the line of fire.

Her husband slumps to the floor.

A Secret Service agent runs to aid Mrs. Kennedy.

This historic picture of the assassination of President Kennedy is recorded on 8-millimeter color movie film shot by Abraham Zapruder, dress manufacturer of 3909 Marquette. Perched on a concrete pillar in a plaza a few feet away, Zapruder took perfect pictures of a terrible tragedy.

Saturday, Dick Strobel of the Associated Press, Los Angeles; Jack Klinge of United Press International, Dallas, and Dick Strolle, Los Angeles representative of Life Magazine, negotiated with Zapruder for still picture rights to his film. Rights finally were sold to Life for more than $25,000, Zapruder told one of the other men who were bidding for the film.

This article, with its reference to a shot striking Kennedy on the side of his head (at the site of the large head wound)--reveals that the press was entirely clueless about the autopsy results. This was now two days after the autopsy, and no one in America had been told there was 1) a small bullet hole on the back of Kennedy's head, and 2) a small bullet hole on his upper back. These two wounds were the best evidence Kennedy had been shot from behind. Instead, the public had been told of a throat wound and a head wound, both of which could have been created by someone firing from in front of the President.

But forget about the public. What about the Dallas Police, who were still, as of this morning, charged with investigating the crime? Amazingly, even though they could be wasting valuable man hours looking for a second shooter--someone firing from the front--there is no evidence that anyone from Washington ever called them to tell them of the two previously unnoticed wounds discovered at autopsy.This suggests, if nothing else, that someone at the federal level had already decided to cut them out of the loop.

Even so, on the morning of 11-24, the papers were filled with quotes from Fritz and Wade on Oswald's obvious guilt. And it's not as if the press were unwitting bystanders. Some of the newspapermen have misrepresented the evidence against Oswald in a manner that suggests they were far from impartial. A nationally syndicated article for UPI by John V. Young described Oswald in the following manner: "Oswald, a Marine Corps misfit, expert rifleman, and former head of a 'Fair Play for Cuba' committee who defected to Russia for three years, refused to take a lie detector test after police said paraffin tests for gun powder on both his hands were positive. The U.S. Navy disclosed that after Oswald's undesirable discharge from the Marine Corps he wrote a letter to former Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally that he would 'employ all means' to get even for the wrong he felt was done him by the Corps."

The bias in Young's reporting is blinding. First, he describes Oswald as a "misfit" without any citation, with the obvious implication that "misfits" are not to be trusted. Second he describes Oswald as an "expert" rifleman, when in fact Oswald barely qualified as a "marksman" the last time he was tested. "Expert" is the highest level for a Marine Corps rifleman, while "marksman" is the lowest. Third, he describes Oswald as the head of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans, without mentioning that Oswald was its only member. But it gets worse.

Young next states that Oswald "defected to Russia." Oswald, in fact, never officially renounced his U.S. citizenship. He technically, therefore, having announced an intention to defect to Russia, only visited Russia. Young is also unfair in citing Oswald's refusal to take a lie detector test as evidence of his guilt. Oswald had not yet acquired a lawyer, so his taking a lie detector test at this time would have been stupid, to say the least.

Young's bias reaches new heights, however, when he says the paraffin tests were for "gunpowder" and implies that the results of these tests indicated Oswald killed the President. Paraffin tests show positive results for many chemicals, including the components of gunpowder, but are not specific to gunpowder. As a result, the fact that Oswald tested positive on both hands, could simply indicate that he'd handled such a chemical. More likely, however, they reflected that Oswald had handled a pistol, which he had, by his own admission. Young's failure to state that the one test performed which could have indicated Oswald had fired a rifle, the paraffin test of his cheek, had obviously come up negative (or else Curry, Fritz and Wade would have cited it as evidence for his guilt), is further indicative of his bias and/or lack of curiosity.

His next few sentences confirm this bias. He correctly states that Oswald wrote John Connally after he received an "undesirable discharge." He leaves out, however, that Oswald wrote Connally after his "honorable discharge" from the Marines was blemished by an "undesirable discharge" from the Marine Corps reserves after he moved to Russia. Far worse, while Oswald indeed wrote Connally requesting that his "honorable" status be restored upon his return, and said that he would "employ all means to right this gross mistake or injustice to a bona-fied U.S. citizen and ex-service man", Young offers no reason to believe Oswald's view of righting a mistake or injustice meant killing Connally and/or Kennedy. Young's twisting of Oswald's words into a threat to "get even for the wrong he felt was done him by the Corps" is therefore without foundation, and his depiction of Oswald as a "Marine Corps misfit" who sought to "get even" with "the Corps" incredibly unfair. One wonders if a spokesman for the Navy presented the evidence to Young in such a manner. If so, this might be taken as an indication that someone in the military chain-of-command had already made the decision to lynch Oswald in the public eye.

Another newspaper story in the 11-24 New York Times gives us more cause for pause. An article on the plans for Kennedy's funeral noted "The body of Mr. Kennedy which had been flown to Washington from Dallas yesterday (sic), was carried into the White House at 4:28 A.M. after being prepared by morticians at the Naval Hospital at Bethesda, MD." What's intriguing about this article is that it stated the exact time the body was brought into the White House but omitted that an autopsy had been conducted on the body at Bethesda. One can only assume the reporters knew an autopsy had been conducted. Certainly they should have suspected as much. So why didn't they say so? The public had a right to know. When President Warren G. Harding died suddenly in 1923 his widow would not allow an autopsy to be performed. Years later a best seller suggested she'd murdered her husband for infidelity. The New York Times should have reported that an autopsy had been performed or, if they really were unaware that one had been performed, demanded to know if one had been performed. The government's initial silence on these matters and the media's apparent lack of interest only fueled suspicion later when it was revealed that the descriptions of the President's wounds in the autopsy report written by military doctors differed greatly from the descriptions of his wounds given by the civilian doctors in Dallas.

Three items in that Sunday's Times demonstrate the need for clarity on these issues. The first article was the 11-23 AP dispatch attempting to correct the accounts of Kennedy's wounds given at the 11-22 Parkland press conference. As we've seen, this dispatch, while stressing that Kennedy was hit by two bullets, reported: "White House sources said they understood that one bullet hit Mr. Kennedy in the neck. He bent forward, turned his head and was struck in the skull by the second bullet." A turn of the page, however, brought one face to face with a more substantive article by Dr. Howard Rusk discussing the President's wounds. Rusk wrote "The high-velocity bullet that entered through the neck and exited through the base of the skull tore away the bone and brain tissue, striking the vital areas of the brain."As if that wasn't confusing enough, a Polaroid photograph snapped by Mary Moorman "just as President Kennedy slumped after shot," was published alongside Rusk's article. This photo showed the grassy knoll in front of Kennedy. As the Times had already published a number of photos showing their readers that the school book depository where Oswald worked was behind Kennedy, the undeniable message communicated by the proximity of this story and photo was that Kennedy was shot from in front and that the front page stories proclaiming Oswald's guilt were a lie.

Unanswered Questions

If those articles had led some to suspect there was something not right about the assassination, furthermore, what happened at 11:20 AM CST that morning would most certainly have convinced them there was something absolutely... positively... wrong... While being transferred to the custody of the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, Oswald was shot in the guts by Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner with ties to both the Dallas Police Department and the Chicago Underworld.

Now here's the shooting as regularly shown on TV. It is a quick and chaotic--Ruby comes out of nowhere, etc.

The scene is so frenetic, in fact, that some have sought to make light of it, by presenting Ruby's attack as some sort of dance.

Still, even in these chaotic and satiric forms, the footage of Ruby shooting Oswald raises some disturbing questions... First and foremost, why was Capt. Fritz--the man most responsible for Oswald's safety--pretty much the last person to notice Jack Ruby's attack?

No, really, here's an extended clip of the death dance above.

Fritz fails to respond to the shot. He doesn't react, moreover, until Ruby is almost pushed on him, and run over by the car.

So...was he simply distracted by the car backing up--the car in which he hoped to load his prisoner?

Or...did he know an attack was coming? And refuse to be a witness?

Now here's the shooting from yet another angle...

Well, heck, this shows that the CNN clip above--the way the shooting is now regularly broadcast on TV--cuts away from Oswald just before he looks to his left.

Well...what was he looking at?

Jumpin' Jehosephat... It was Jumpin' Jack Ruby... As proven by the following clip, when walking across the basement, Oswald looks directly at Ruby, the hat-bearing gent on the right.

Well, did he know Ruby? Or could he just sense something by looking at Ruby? And, if Oswald could sense something just by looking at Ruby, why didn't any of his bodyguards?

Now, the argument has been made that Oswald looked over to his left in response to a question yelled out by the reporter (Ike Pappas) to Ruby's right. And that would appear to be true.

But it's problematic, at the very least, that 1) Oswald's chief bodyguard, Capt. Will Fritz, just so happened to step forward and leave a big gap into which Jack Ruby could rush, and 2) Oswald noticed Ruby making his move, but couldn't defend himself due to his arms being held back by two detectives, James Leavelle on his right and L.C. Graves on his left, who, conveniently, oh so conveniently, just so happened to be looking in the other direction.

Now, here's Ruby shooting Oswald in a photo taken by Dallas Morning news photographer Jack Beers. To be clear, this photo was taken a split second before the shot was fired.

Well, heck, in this photo, it appears that Oswald is not looking at Ruby--that he'd looked away or averted his eyes a split second before being shot.

And, this, in turn, might very well suggest that 1) Oswald briefly looked at Pappas (and Ruby), and 2) thought nothing of them and looked away...only to have 3) Ruby spring out from his left and shoot him in the guts.

In such case, there was nothing innately suspicious about Oswald's looking at Ruby--as he did not recognize him, or immediately recognize him as a threat, when others did not.

But it's not a simple as that...

If nothing else, there's still that other problem... A composite of two of the most complete versions of the invariably-cropped Beers photo is shown below. Note that, here, as in the un-cropped Jackson photo, Capt. Will Fritz is standing at the left edge of the frame, and that here, once again, he has been cut off the photo as normally--or in this case always--shown. (Now, it could be that Fritz was cut in half on the original image but we really don't know that seeing as the full image--as far as I can tell--has never been printed.)

So, yes, it seems possible the editors of the Dallas papers publishing the Jackson and Beers photos knew how bad Fritz looked in these photos, and made a conscious decision to cut him out of the photos. I mean, what had once been photos showing a man killed when his protector inexplicably walked too far ahead of him became, with a simple flick of a razor, photos showing a man and his bodyguards taken by surprise. Fritz was cut, literally, from the story.

And that was good for Dallas...

And yes, that's a generous take on the situation. While it seems possible Fritz was cut from the photos in consideration of his (and Dallas') reputation, that doesn't mean his stepping away from Oswald in such a manner--and providing Jack Ruby his window of murderous opportunity--was equally well-intentioned.

Yes, unfortunately, the shooting of Oswald remains as curious as the shooting of Kennedy.


  • Although Ruby--who was not supposed to be in the garage where he shot Oswald--would later claim he just walked down a ramp to get there, none of the press or police observing Oswald's transfer saw him walk down this ramp. Well, this led some to wonder if maybe just maybe he'd used his connections to the police (he ran a strip club where many of them liked to relax) to get access to the garage.

  • And if that wasn't bad enough, it would later come out that Patrick Dean, the Dallas Police Officer tasked with securing the garage, was presumed to have lied in his testimony to Warren Commission attorney (and subsequent judge) Burt Griffin...

  • and not only that, but that Dean had been given (on the sly, without Griffin's knowledge) a lie detector test regarding his knowledge of Ruby in the garage...and had failed.

  • And if that wasn't bad enough, it would soon come out that the original plan had been for the Dallas County Sheriffs to handle Oswald's transfer, and that this wasn't changed until the night before.

  • And if that wasn't bad enough, it would also come out that the Dallas Police had received a phone call the night before the shooting warning them that a plot was in place to kill Oswald the next morning--and that Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry had dismissed this report.

  • And if that wasn't bad enough, it would also come out that the FBI had received a similar warning--that Oswald's life was in immediate danger--and that they'd similarly contacted Curry to inform him of this fact, and that he'd been similarly dismissive...

  • And if that wasn't bad enough, the Dallas Police Officer who took the call warning of the plot to kill Oswald, Billy Grammer, would later claim he'd spoken to Jack Ruby at the police dispatch division earlier that evening--and that he'd spoken to Ruby on a number of occasions prior to that evening--and that the voice on the phone warning him of an attempt on Oswald's life belonged to, yep, you guessed it, Jack Ruby.

Something strange was afoot at the Circle D...

In any event, Oswald was taken to Parkland Hospital. He was treated by some of the same doctors and nurses who'd treated Kennedy but two days before. He died at 1:07 PM CST.

Now, one might think this would lead to an expansion of interest in the case. But no, just the opposite.

Apathy spread like wildfire...

Even as the late President's flag-draped casket was placed on view at the Capitol.

At 2:40 PM, in the Executive Office Building, President Johnson met with some of his top advisers. The schedule of this meeting notes that first to arrive were Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, and that CIA Director John McCone, Ambassador to Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge, and Undersecretary of State George Ball soon followed. The topic of this meeting: the war in Vietnam. Although this meeting lasted less than an hour, it nevertheless marked a significant event in the history of that war, and of the world, as LBJ made it clear he was no JFK and would be willing to stomach what Kennedy had made clear he would not stomach--an increased American involvement in the war.

It's clear then that, on 11-24-64, within minutes of his predecessor's assassin being assassinated on television, Johnson was moving on to bigger and better things. And he wasn't alone...

At 4:00 PM EST, LBJ aide Walter Jenkins created a memo for the record in which he quoted FBI Director Hoover on the shooting. It reads, in part: "Last night we received a call in our Dallas office from a man talking in a calm voice saying he was a member of a committee organized to kill Oswald. We at once notified the Chief of Police and he assured us Oswald would be given sufficient protection...However, this was not done...Ruby says no one was associated with him and denies having made the telephone call to our Dallas office last night...he guessed his grief over the killing of his President made him insane. That was a pretty smart move on his part because it might lay the foundation for a plea of insanity later. I dispatched to Dallas one of my top assistants in hope he might stop the Chief of Police and his staff from doing so damned much talking on television. They really did not have a case against Oswald until we gave them our information... Oswald had been saying he wanted John Abt as his lawyer and Abt, with only that kind of evidence, could have turned the case around, I'm afraid. All the talking down there might have required a change of venue...The thing I am most concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin ...We have no information on Ruby that is firm, although there are some rumors of underworld activity in Chicago."

The Katzenbach mentioned by Hoover is Nicholas Katzenbach. Since Robert Kennedy has stepped aside to take care of his family, Katzenbach has assumed his duties as Attorney General.

And yet Katzenbach has expressed no interest in pursuing Kennedy's enemies--those who might have both a reason to kill Kennedy, and a relationship with Ruby. No, strange as it may seem, Katzenbach's primary concern is with the public's attitude towards Oswald. An 11-24-63 internal memo from Alan Belmont to Clyde Tolson of the FBI reflects that "At 4:15 PM Mr. Deloach advised that Katzenbach wanted to put out a statement, 'We are now persuaded that Oswald killed the President, however, the investigation by the Department of Justice and the FBI is continuing." According to Belmont, Deloach was opposed to the idea. In any event, no such statement was issued.

But that didn't stop Katzenbach from trying to rush something, anything, out before the public that might quiet the murmurs of conspiracy. Another Walter Jenkins memo from this date (this one to President Johnson and found in the Johnson Library) reflects that Katzenbach had begun calling up Johnson's allies (such as Congressman Homer Thornberry) and had begun petitioning them to ask the President that something be done. Jenkins reports: "Homer Thornberry called and said substantially as follows: 'I have talked with Nick Katzenbach and he is very concerned that everyone know that Oswald was guilty of the President's assassination. Oswald is dead and the newspapers are wanting to know if he was really the one that killed the President. Katzenbach recommended that consideration be given to appointing a Presidential Commission such as the ex-Supreme Court Justice Whitaker, former Court of Appeals Judge Prettyman and someone like Dewey, to make it non-partisan. The Presidential Commission would then study the evidence and make a finding. Katzenbach thinks this would be much preferable to a Congressional inquiry and I do too.' Homer called back a little later and said Katzenbach called him again to be sure that his message had been delivered and Homer thinks in the light of what all the commentators are saying now, prompt consideration should be given to some action. Homer says that Howard K. Smith and the others are now saying we don't know if Oswald really committed the crime and perhaps we will never know."

Let's refresh. At the time of his death, Oswald had never confessed. In fact, he'd declared himself a patsy. No one could identify him as the shooter. The paraffin test of his cheek had come up negative. Several witnesses had stated that either shots were fired from someplace other than the school book depository where he worked or that men had raced out of the back of the depository building after the shots had been fired. The films of the assassination had not been studied. The First Lady, the Connallys, and some of the closest witnesses in the motorcade had not been interviewed. No motive for his purported act had been established. And there was something odd about his trip to Mexico...


Wade's refusal to go through the evidence, and pile even more dirt on the not-yet buried Oswald's corpse, however, was not appreciated by everyone. An 11-24 article by Anthony Lewis, found in the next day's New York Times, headlined "OFFICIALS DISTURBED," and reported "Federal officials, convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin of President Kennedy, were considering tonight appropriate ways to let the public see the evidence."

Apparently, one of the ways deemed "appropriate" was to have the Dallas FBI go through the evidence against Oswald for the press, and misrepresent a fact or two. An 11-25 New York Times article recounting the evidence against Oswald reported that the paraffin tests showed "particles of gunpowder from a weapon, probably a rifle, on Oswald's cheek and hands." This, of course, was untrue. The results were negative for Oswald's cheek. Disturbingly, the Times article said this information came from Gordon Shanklin, Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas FBI.

Meanwhile, at Bethesda Naval Hospital, at 5:00 PM EST, Dr. James J. Humes turned in the final draft of the President's autopsy report. He'd concluded, after conferring with Dr. Perry the day before and discovering that a small throat wound had been obliterated by a tracheotomy incision, that one bullet entered the President's back and exited his throat, and that a second bullet entered low on the back of the President's skull, broke into pieces, and exited from the top of the right side of his skull.

A short time later, during a 5:55 PM EST phone call with Whitney Young, Director of the National Urban League, President Johnson hatched a plan. After Johnson complained "Well, I've got to get this funeral behind me and I've got all these heads of state coming," Young suggested that in his upcoming statements Johnson should "point out that...with the death of President Kennedy...that hate anywhere that goes unchecked doesn't stop just for the week." This got Johnson thinking on ways he could exploit Kennedy's death. He told Young "Dedicate a whole page on Hate... hate international... hate domestic...and just say that this hate that produces inequality, this hate that produces poverty... that's why we've got to have a tax bill... the hate that produces injustice... that's why we've got to have civil rights... it's a cancer that just eats at our national existence." Apparently, the only conspirator Johnson seemed interested in pursuing was hate.

Not everyone shared his disinterest. Oswald's brother Robert, who'd been taken into protective custody by the Secret Service, along with Oswald's wife, mother, and children, would later relate that in the immediate aftermath of the assassination: "I began to realize there was some difficulty between the Secret Service and the FBI...Gradually the reports and rumors from various sources seemed to fit together. As early as Friday night, I had heard some speculation about the possibility of a conspiracy behind the assassination of the President...On Saturday and Sunday there were rumors in Dallas that the "conspiracy" might involve some Government agency. By Sunday night, I realized that the agency under greatest suspicion was the FBI." (Lee: a Portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald by His Brother, published 1967)

Hmmm... Perhaps this suspicion had something to do with Johnson's decision to use the FBI as his private police department. A note from presidential aide Clifton Carter to Johnson on this evening reflects that he'd just spoken to Texas Attoney General Waggoner Carr, and that Carr had expressed a willingness to create a court of inquiry that "could be used to clear up any question about the Oswald case in Dallas. He said the FBI could conduct this hearing through him in any manner they cared to complete the record on Oswald." To this Johnson added: "Good idea, but purely a state matter. Can't say President asked for it." Well, this reveals both Johnson's desire to personally oversee the investigation of Kennedy's death, through the FBI, and his even greater desire to hide this desire from the public.

And this isn't just conjecture. Within Harold Weisberg's Archives, now housed at Hood University, are a number of Dallas FBI documents not initially sent to the National Archives, and never reviewed by the Warren Commission. These documents were provided Weisberg as a result of one of his many Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. Well, one of the documents provided Weisberg, and little noted by others, is an 11-24-63 memo to file by Inspector James Malley. Malley wrote: "At approximately 8:50 PM, this date, Assistant to the Director Belmont advised that the Director has talked to the President again and the President approved the idea that we make a report showing the evidence conclusively tying Oswald in as the assailant of President Kennedy. In addition, the President wants to make a report on the killing today of Oswald by Ruby...The Director stated that the President feels there will be considerable pressure on both of these matters in the next day or so, and consequently desired that both reports be furnished to the Dept. of Justice this Tuesday. The Director noted that this would be a burden, but that we would have to put as many men as possible on at this time."

Feel free to get suspicious at this time...

And stay suspicious...

The Late-Emerging Palm Print

Above: 11-24-63...Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade attempts to close the case.

In a filmed press conference from early on the evening of 11-24-63 (presumably around 9:20 EST) that was broadcast on NBC at 10:39 PM EST, Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade gave in to pressure, presumably from the "Federal officials" mentioned in the article by Anthony Lewis, and recited the evidence against Oswald.

Now, that would be bad enough--calling a press conference to recite the evidence against a suspect who was 1) denied a fair trial, and 2) murdered due to the incompetence or complicity of the arresting agency. But this press conference was worse: a misrepresentation of the evidence against a man who could never defend himself.

According to a transcript in a book put out by NBC News, Seventy Hours and Thirty Minutes, Wade told the press "His fingerprints were found on the rifle. Paraffin tests showed that he had fired a rifle recently."

Now, both these statements are false, undeniably untrue. Oswald's fingerprints were not found on the rifle. Both the Dallas PD and the FBI crime lab found the prints around the trigger guard inadequate to make a match. While Dallas Crime Lab Chief J.C. Day later claimed he'd lifted Oswald's palm print from the rifle on the 22nd, moreover, he said he never ID'ed this print as Oswald's prior to handing it off to the FBI on the 26th, and the FBI claimed they failed to make an ID till the 29th.

And that's just the half of it. Even worse, the paraffin tests for Oswald's cheek were negative and suggested, if anything, that he had NOT fired a rifle.

Now, to be fair, it seems likely Wade was "innocent" in this last matter. The 11/24/63 Wade press conference available on myfoxdfw.com shows Wade claiming "His fingerprints were found on the gun--I've said that--"(then clarifying for the journalists)"on the rifle." (Someone then asks about the paraffin tests) and Wade replies "Yes, I haven't gotten into that. The paraffin tests showed that he'd recently fired a gun. It was on both hands. Both hands." (And then clarifying, when asked if this meant a rifle) "A gun." Wade then corrects himself from moments earlier: "It's a palm print rather than a finger print." (Then clarifies) "Yes on the gun also." He is then asked on what part of a gun the palm print was found, and replies "Under the--on part of the metal, under the gun."

Well, huh... While Wade does say that fingerprints were found on the rifle, as quoted, NBC failed to note that he later corrected himself and said it was a singular palm print. Far worse, he NEVER said the tests indicated Oswald had fired a rifle. Never. Since this is most certainly the Wade press conference quoted by NBC, then, it seems likely this last quote was simply made up by NBC for its book, which just so happened to come out in 1966, just as books by writers Edward Epstein, Mark Lane, and Harold Weisberg were beginning to receive attention, and give people real reasons to doubt Oswald's guilt. Hmmm.

While it's also suspicious that Wade cited a palm print found on the rifle as evidence, even though the lone palm print found on the rifle had not yet been thoroughly compared to Oswald's palm print, this may also have an "innocent" explanation. As Lt. Day, the Dallas crime lab employee purported to have lifted the palm print from the rifle on the 22nd, would later claim that "at a quick glance" he'd believed the palm print matched Oswald's, and that he'd told this to Police Chief Jesse Curry and Capt. Will Fritz, it seems reasonable to assume that one of these men passed this information on to Wade. If so, it seems reasonable to believe Wade said the palm print matched Oswald's without realizing that Day had taken but a cursory look at this print, and that the FBI crime lab did not even know of its existence.

If so, however, this reflects badly on Wade's competence. Here he was, hours after the Dallas Police had received a report from the FBI's crime lab in which it was declared no identifiable prints were found on the rifle, giving a press conference on the evidence against Oswald, and repeating second-hand stuff he'd heard about a palm print being found on the rifle. There's just no getting around it. He either failed to read the FBI's report on the evidence before going before the cameras to talk about the evidence, or had deliberately misrepresented the case against Oswald by telling the nation something he should have believed untrue.

So, what did Wade have to say on the matter? On June 8, 1964, Wade testified before the Warren Commission, and was asked about his previous statements by General Counsel J. Lee Rankin. As to his statements at the press conference, Wade admitted: "I think a little of it may vary from the facts but all I know is what Fritz told me. He said the Dallas police had found a palmprint on the underside of the gun of Oswald. At that time, the FBI was standing by to fly the gun to the laboratory here in Washington which incidentally, they didn't find, but I assume the Commission has interviewed Senator--not Senator--Day, the fingerprint man of the Dallas police but I have learned since that he probably can't identify the palmprint under there but at that time they told me they had one on it. They said they had a palmprint on the wrapping paper, and on the box, I believe there by the scene. They did at least put Oswald there at the scene."

Wade was then asked if he could recall the specific location of the palm print. He responded: "Specifically, I couldn't say because but he said they had a palm-print or a fingerprint of Oswald on the underside of the rifle and I don't know whether it was on the trigger guard or where it was but I knew that was important, I mean, to put the gun in his possession."

So, there it is. Fritz had told Wade about a print on the night of the shooting. Wade couldn't recall, for that matter, if the print he'd been told about had been the fingerprint on the trigger guard which both the FBI and DPD would later claim were too smudged for identification, or the palm print on the underside of the barrel for which there is no paper trail prior to 11-26, when Lt. Day sent a lift of a palm print purportedly found on the underside of the rifle barrel to Washington... unannounced.

I mean, this is suspicious right there. Are we really to believe Lt. Day wasn't told the results of the FBI's initial inspection of the evidence, and that they'd found no identifiable prints on the rifle? Well, then, assuming he was told the results, why didn't he call up the FBI on 11-24, or even 11-25, and tell them, "Uhh fellas, I got something here you better take a look at?"

It's suspicious omissions like this that have forever clouded the case.

And that's being generous. The strong probability is that Wade was thinking of the trigger guard print at the press conference, and that he'd never been told about the palm print under the barrel by Fritz, and that this was because Fritz himself had never been told of such a print. Consider: an FBI report by Nat Pinkston written on the evening of the assassination (CD5 p166) reflects that he'd spoken to Lt. Day and that Lt. Day had told him he'd processed the rifle "for fingerprints or palm prints and had been successful in raising a partial latent print." Pinkston then relates that Day said he would "endeavor to both photograph and lift this latent print." Well, this fails to mention the trigger guard print, the only print Day photographed on the evening of the assassination. It is therefore almost certainly a reference to the trigger guard print. If it was a reference to the barrel print, after all, Day would almost certainly have told Pinkston about the trigger guard print he'd already photographed. And that's not all. That Day was talking about the trigger guard print is further attested to by Pinkston's use of the word "partial," a term used by Day and others in relation to the trigger guard print, and not the palm print.

To be sure, later that evening, around 11:00, long after Day had stopped working on the rifle, and presumably told Fritz and Curry about the prints he'd found on the rifle, NBC newsman Robert McNeil told the nation: “Dallas Police Chief Jess Curry has recently reported that his men have found a partial fingerprint on the rifle believed used in the assassination. The weapon will be sent to Washington to assure proper handling of the print.” Note that Curry mentions but one print--a fingerprint--and that he describes this as a "partial" print. Note further that he says they are sending the rifle to Washington to assure proper handling of the print. Well, the trigger guard print was not only photographed, but covered with cellophane, while the purported print on the barrel was neither photographed nor protected. It follows then that Curry was talking about the trigger guard print.

So, then, how does one get from this to the probability Wade was discussing the trigger guard print at the press conference? Wade, after all, corrected himself and called the print a palm print, when the trigger guard is believed to have been a fingerprint. Well, let us also consider another FBI report, this one written by Vincent Drain on 11-26-63 (CD5, p166). This report claims: "On November 26, 1963, three negatives of a palm print were received from Lieutenant Carl Day of the Dallas Police Department Crime Laboratory, by SA Vincent E. Drain. These negatives were from photographs taken of which was believed to be a fingerprint or palmprint on the trigger guard assembly of a rifle, serial number C2766, believed to have been used by Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of President John F Kennedy on November 22, 1963." Well, think about it. This report proves that as late as 11-26 Lt. Day was still thinking the trigger guard print could be a palm print. This removes the mystery as to how Wade could claim as much the day before. Wade had thought it was a palm print because Day had thought it could be a fingerprint or a palm print, and had quite possibly told Fritz he thought it was a palm print on the night of the shooting.

In any event, although Wade succumbed to pressure demanding he run down the evidence against Oswald one last time before the media, even though his grasp of the evidence was minimal, he stood by his guns on another point--by re-iterating his belief the case against Oswald was closed. An Associated Press transcript of the press conference, found in the Weisberg Archives, concludes:










On the next day we learn of two witnesses who couldn’t let themselves believe what they’d seen, and who'd convinced themselves that the explosion of the President’s head had been a firecracker going off in the car. Jack Franzen (11-24-63 FBI report, 22H840) “He said he heard the sound of an explosion which appeared to him to come from the President’s car and noticed small fragments flying inside the car and immediately assumed someone had tossed a firecracker inside the automobile. He heard a second and third and possibly a fourth explosion and recognized these sounds as shots fired from some firearm. At the same time he noticed blood appearing on the top and sides of the head of President Kennedy.” Shot or shots after the head shot. Mrs. Jack Franzen (11-25-63 FBI report, 24H525) “She advised shortly after the President’s automobile passed by on Elm Street near where she and her family were standing, she heard a noise which sounded to her to as if someone had thrown a firecracker into the President’s automobile. She advised at approximately the same time she noticed dust or small pieces of debris flying from the President’s automobile. She advised she heard two other sounds which sounded like shots from a firearm and noticed blood appearing on the side of President Kennedy’s head.” Shot or shots after the head shot.

We also receive a statement from another witness from the floor just below the sniper’s nest. James Jarman (11-24-63 FBI report, CD5 p.334-335) “He said that he heard a shot and then saw President Kennedy move his right hand up to his head. After an elapse of three or four seconds, he heard a second shot and then the vehicle bearing President Kennedy speeded up and he was unable to observe any more about the presidential vehicle. He said a third shot was heard by him closely following the second shot possibly within a second or two afterwards. He said these shots sounded to him to be too loud to have been anywhere outside the TSBD building.” (Our subsequent inspection of the Zapruder film shows that the limousine sped up after the head shot.) Shot after the head shot..

We receive a phone call. While in the protective custody of the Dallas Police, Lee Harvey Oswald has been murdered. Our investigation of a possible conspiracy slows to a trickle. Of the 27 witnesses to the shooting we have heard from so far, 16 have told us, in one way or another, that there was a shot fired after the head shot, 3 others have told us they heard the last two shots fired close together without saying which one struck the President, and another 3 have told us they only heard two shots but thought there may have been a third. 3 additional witnesses have told us they only heard two shots, with the last one being the head shot. This means 26 out of our 27 closest witnesses have made statements consistent with a third shot miss, leaving only 1 witness, Mrs. Gayle Newman, as a witness to a third shot hit. And she dived to the ground after the head shot.

KRLD Transcript of 11-24-63 Interview of Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry (CE 2149, 24H780)

(Note: This is before Oswald's death. Curry has just been asked to list the "high points" of the evidence against Oswald.)

Curry. I don't know what you mean by high points, but we have been able to do this. We have been able to place this man in the building, on the floor at the time the assassination occurred. We have been able to establish the fact that he was at the window that the shots were fired from. We have been able to establish the fact that he did order a weapon that is similar and we feel is the weapon that was used. We have been able to, through the FBI Laboratory, to establish the fact that we do have the murder weapon. Their reports have been able to tell us that this is the gun that fired the bullets that killed the President and wounded the governor.

Note that Curry has mentioned the FBI's laboratory, but has said nothing of the fact the FBI said it had found no identifiable prints on the rifle. It seems clear, then, that he is resigned to the fact Oswald's prints weren't on the rifle.

Various Transcripts and Articles Regarding the 11-24-63 Press Conference Given By Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade After Oswald's Death

11-24-63 Wade Press conference transcript in the 11-25-63 NY Times

Wade. On this box that the defendant was sitting on, his palm print was found and was identified as his, The three ejected shells were found right by the box.

(Then later, during Q & A)

Q. What other evidence is there?

Wade. Let's see...His fingerprints were found on the gun, have I said that?

Q. Which gun?

Wade. On the rifle.

Q. You didn't say that...What about the paraffin tests?

Wade. Yes, I've got paraffin tests that showed he had recently fired a gun--it was on both hands.

Q. On both hands?

Wade. Both hands?

Q. Recently fired a rifle?

Wade. A gun.

Q. The rifle prints were his, were Oswald's?

Wade. Yes.

Q. Were there any fingerprints...?

Wade. Palm prints rather than fingerprints.

Q. Were there any fingerprints at the window?

Q. (second newsman) Palm prints on the what?

Wade. Yes, on...

Q. On the rifle?

Wade. Yes, sir.

Q. Where are they on the rifle?

Wade. Under--on part of the metal--under the gun."

Now, for some, this is explosive. They interpret Wade's claiming there was a palm print under the gun as meaning there was a palm print under the rifle barrel, and cite this as proof Wade had been told about the lift from the rifle barrel Lt. Day would later send to the FBI. But there's a number of problems with this. One is that Lt. Day claimed he had not ID'ed the palm print as Oswald's before sending it to the FBI on 11-26, and two is that Lt. Day said he only told two people about lifting this print--Chief Curry and Capt. Fritz--both of whom to this point have given us no indication they know of any yet to be studied prints from the rifle.

So let's continue our study of the statements about the prints, to see which was which, and see, when, if ever, anyone clarified the record regarding the location of the trigger guard prints.

11-24-63 Wade Press Conference as Reported in the 11-25 Wisconsin State Journal, Madison WI

DALLAS (AP) — A palm print identified as that of Lee Harvey Oswald was found on the underside of the rifle. Such ballistics tests showed fired the bullets that killed President Kennedy, District Atty. Henry Wade said Sunday night. \Vade called a news conference to make public what he said Was the complete mass of evidence accumulated to prove Oswald was the presidential assassin.

Although he revealed more details than he had divulged previously, Wade made no startling disclosures. But he said he was confident

be had an air-tight case.

Print On Gun

"I have sent men to the electric chair with less evidence," Wade said. "The gun was here, his prints were on the gun, the gun was the gun that killed Kennedy, his palm prints were on the box on which the killer sat, and witnesses put him on the sixth floor at the time of the shooting," Wade said. Among the specific links in the chain of evidence against Oswald, in addition to the palm print on the rifle, Wade cited:

11-24-63 Wade Press Conference as Reported in the 11-25-63 Waterloo Daily Courier Waterloo Iowa


Cites 2 Facts

Wade said two facts stood linking the slim, brown - haired Oswald to the slaying. First, a palm print on the underside of the rifle which fired the bullets that killed Kennedy was identified as Oswald's. Secondly, Wade said, Oswald had definitely been placed inside the building at the time the shots were fired from there at Kennedy.

'The gun was here, his prints were on the gun, the gun was the gun that killed Kennedy, his palm prints were on the box on which the killer sat, and witnesses put him on the sixth floor at the lime of the shooting."

11-24-63 Wade Press Conference as Reported in the 11-25-63 Post-Tribune, Jefferson City MO

(Chicago-Tribune Press Service)

DALLAS — The full preparation of evidence which proved that Lee Harvey Oswald, 24, self identified Marxist, assassinated President Kennedy here Friday, was made public for the first time Sunday night.

The action was taken by the Dallas County authorities after consultation among themselves and reportedly with Washington officials who believed that the American people should be told unreservedly of the case against President Kennedy's slayer.

The spokesman was Dallas County State's Attorney, Henry Wade, who had prepared to prosecute the case.

Wade said that local police with the help of federal agencies had provided what he regarded as an "absolutely conclusive chain of evidence proving Oswald was the sniper-assassin." This evidence convinced me beyond any shade or moral doubt," Wade said. "I have sent many others to the electric chair on much less conclusive evidence."

In Building

Primary facts disclosed that Oswald had been placed in the Texas School Book Depository building from which the sniper fired at the time of the shooting. A palm print identified as Oswald's was taken from the window sill of the sixth floor window through which the sniper thrust his rifle barrel. The rifle and three spent cartridges cases were found in the room near the window. A palm print identified as Oswald's was found on the metal portion of the rifle barrel. The FBI positively proved that the rifle was purchased in March of 1963 by Oswald from a Chicago mail order house. The weapon was mailed to a Dallas postoffice box to a man named "A. Hiddel."

What the? Wade never said anything about the print being on the rifle barrel during the press conference. Was this just a misunderstanding? Did Wade tell this to the writer afterwards? Where did this come from?

Let's let Wade try to answer this for us...

The 6-8-64 Testimony of Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade before the Warren Commission

Mr. RANKIN. Did you discuss the evidence that they did have at that time with Captain Fritz?

Mr. WADE. Yes, sir.

Mr. RANKIN. Will you tell us what evidence you recall?

Mr. WADE. I have made no notes but roughly he gave the story about him bringing the gun to work, saying it was window rods from the neighbor, someone who had brought him to work. He also said there were three employees of the company that left him on the sixth floor. He told about, the part about, the young officer running in there right after the assassination and Oswald leaving after the manager said that he was employed there. Told about his arrest and said that there was a scuffle there, and that he tried to shoot the officer. I don't know--I think I am giving you all this because I think a little of it may vary from the facts but all I know is what Fritz told me. He said the Dallas police had found a palmprint on the underside of the gun of Oswald. At that time, the FBI was standing by to fly the gun to the laboratory here in Washington which incidentally, they didn't find, but I assume the Commission has interviewed Senator--not Senator--Day, the fingerprint man of the Dallas police but I have learned since that he probably can't identify the palmprint under there but at that time they told me they had one on it. They said they had a palmprint on the wrapping paper, and on the box, I believe there by the scene. They did at least put Oswald there at the scene.

Mr. RANKIN. Will you clarify the palmprint that you are referring to on the rifle? Was it on the underside of the rifle, was it between the rifle and the stock or where was it as you recall?

Mr. WADE. Specifically, I couldn't say because but he said they had a palm-print or a fingerprint of Oswald on the underside of the rifle and I don't know whether it was on the trigger guard or where it was but I knew that was important, I mean, to put the gun in his possession. I thought we had that all the time when I took the complaint on the thing. Let me see what else they had that night. Well, they had a lot of the things they found in his possession. They had the map, you know, that marked the route of the parade. They had statements from the bus driver and the taxicab driver that hauled him somewhere. I think they varied a little as to where they picked him up but generally they had some type of statement from them. That is generally what they gave me now.

Mr. RANKIN. That is all you recall as of that time?

Mr. WADE. Yes, sir.

Mr. RANKIN. Did you give any report to the press then about----

Mr. WADE. No; I will tell you what happened then.

Let's cut in. This is quite confusing. Wade says essentially that he can't recall the location of the palm print Fritz told him about on the 22nd, but that he was told a palm print had been found on the underside of the rifle. Was this the palm print purportedly lifted from the barrel later sent the FBI? Or the print on the middle of the rifle that Bookhout was told about around the time Wade says Fritz told him about this print?

We have to lean to the latter. As Day had told others about the trigger guard print on the 22nd, and had begun to match up the trigger guard print to Oswald's prints on the 22nd, it seems probable Fritz would mention this print to Wade, as opposed to a print Day had barely studied.

Let's continue then with more of Wade's testimony regarding his press conference...

Mr. WADE. This was 8 o'clock roughly on the 24th, Sunday night. I sat down with Captain Fritz and took a pencil and pad and listed about seven pieces of evidence from my own knowledge and I was going to write it down. They got hold of Chief Curry and he said no, that he had told this inspector of the FBI that there would be nothing further said about it. I asked Chief Batchelor and Lumpkin, they were all there, I said you all are the ones who know something about it, I said if you have at least got the right man in my opinion the American people ought to know. This is evidence you can't use actually, because he is dead. You can't try him. And the upshot of that was the police wouldn't say a word and refused actually to furnish me any more of the details on this. I mean what the seven points. I went on out there in from front of the cameras and ran them through those points. Actually my purpose in it was, good or bad was, because the Dallas police were taking a beating because they had solved the crime and had good evidence and I told them it was good but I did leave out some things and I was a little inaccurate in one or two things but it was because of the communications with the police. I didn't have the map, incidentally. I wanted the map at that time but forgot all about it, and I ran through just what I knew, which probably was worse than nothing. It probably would have been better off without giving anything, because we didn't give what all we had.

Mr. DULLES. Do you remember the elements of inaccuracy that got into this statement of yours?

Mr. WADE. I think I told them about the palmprint on the bottom of the gun, that Lane has made a great issue of and I still think I was right on it but he has made an issue. I think Oswald snapped the pistol over there in the jail or at least in the theater where they arrested him. There was a question of whether the gun had been snapped or not and I was told it was, you all may have seen the gun; I never have seen the gun. You had---I might have at that stage said what bullets are supposed to hit whom. That might have been somewhat inaccurate then but that is all I can think of. I don't think there is any basic thing. But my purpose in that, and I know the minute I got off that television, inspection called me and said please say nothing further about this case.

Well, you see, at that stage----

Mr. DULLES. Who was it that called you?

Mr. WADE. The inspector at FBI called me in the police station. He was the one the police had talked to. He was the man from Dallas down there. It wasn't Shanklin, Shanklin was in charge of the office. But I told him what my purpose was but apparently someone told him gathered since he had delivered a message, apparently someone had told him to have me quit talking about it. But my purpose on that was, I never did think that the people or the television were giving the right facts on the thing and they were making believe that probably they didn't have the right one, that the Dallas police had him in there to kill him, they even had commentators saying practically that, don't you know. So, I did that entirely--not anything for me. You may think I wanted to be on television. I didn't care a thing about being because I don't run for office in New York and Washington and. other places, but I thought the police needed, because their morale was awfully low and they were at fault in Ruby killing him. There was undoubtedly a breakdown on security there in the basement.

Mr. RANKIN. On the seven points were any of them that were new that hadn't already been told to the public?

Mr. WADE. To tell you the truth, I don't know. I think there were some of them that hadn't been but I think most of them had. But I couldn't see at this stage the evidence on this thing, nobody, the situation where you had an assassination, and a dead person and another case pending, and it was against my interest actually, to trying Ruby, it would be a whole lot better trying Ruby if he killed the wrong man than if he killed the assassin of the President but I was trying to establish that this was the assassin of the President. And I didn't give all the evidence, and I don't know whether there was anything new or not because I didn't see much of television during all this time. I don't actually know everything that was given out, and there was so much in the papers that I didn't have time to read them, so I didn't know for sure what all the police had given out.

Senator COOPER. Substantially then, you were laying out to the public the facts which had led you to issue a warrant for Oswald as the killer of President Kennedy?

Mr. WADE. That was the purpose of that interview.

Well, that clears it up, right? The "palm print" "under the gun" mentioned by Wade in his press conference was not something he'd learned about on the 23rd or 24th, or was told to him by the Dallas Police after Oswald's death. It was a piece of evidence related to Wade before he indicted Oswald for killing Kennedy.

Well, this has got to be reference to the trigger guard prints, right?

Those were the only prints widely discussed on the 22nd. And they certainly weren't widely dismissed on the 22nd, whereby Wade would list another print not yet even studied as putting the rifle in Oswald's hands, and not even mention the trigger guard.

So how could Wade have been so confused he called the fingerprints on the trigger guard a palm print under the gun?

Well, as proven by Bookhout's memo, Day was initially focusing on but one of the trigger guard prints. So that's that. And "under the gun"? Well, that's the location of the trigger guard, right? The print purportedly lifted from the barrel was lifted from near the end of the barrel, under the wood stock. It would be bizarre to call that "under the gun."

So that leaves Wade's calling the print in question a "palm print" when the trigger guard prints are believed to have been fingerprints as the main reason to believe Wade was discussing the palm print purportedly lifted from the rifle barrel, as opposed to the fingerprints he'd photographed on the trigger guard.

Oswald was buried the next day.

On the next day, the FBI, in a renewed effort to connect the prints on the rifle to Oswald, asked the Dallas Police for the negatives to its photos of the trigger guard prints.

JAHS Chapter 4