AND EVIDENCE FROM THE
THAT CONTRADICT THE LONE-GUNMAN THEORY
Michael T. Griffith
@All Rights Reserved
The Public's Right to Know the Truth About the Case
THE ASSASSINATION of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963, was a cruel and shocking act of violence directed against a man, a family, a nation, and against all mankind. A young and vigorous leader whose years of public and private life stretched before him was the Victim of the fourth Presidential assassination in the history of a country dedicated to the concepts of reasoned argument and peaceful political change. This Commission was created on November 29, 1963, in recognition of the right of people everywhere to full and truthful knowledge concerning these events. This report endeavors to fulfill that right and to appraise this tragedy by the light of reason and the standard of fairness. It has been prepared with a deep awareness of the Commission's responsibility to present to the American people an objective report of the facts relating to the assassination. (WCR, p. 1)
Magic Bullet Traveled DOWNWARD Through the Neck
Seconds later shots resounded in rapid succession. The President's hands moved to his fleck. He appeared to stiffen momentarily and lurch slightly forward in his seat. A bullet had entered the base of the back of his neck slightly to the right of the spine. It traveled downward and exited from the front of the neck, causing a nick in the left lower portion of the knot in the President's necktie. (WCR, p. 3, emphasis added)
COMMENT: The Clark Panel, after styding the original autopsy photos and x-rays, likewise concluded the supposed magic bullet traveled downward (". . . the bullet . . . followed a course downward and to the left in its passage through the body"). But, the medical panel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) unanimously concluded the alleged magic bullet entered Kennedy's back and transited his throat at a slightly upward angle. Even allowing for some shift in skin and muscle tissue due to JFK's waving, and even taking into account the fact that JFK was leaning slightly forward, there is still no way that a bullet ired from the alleged sniper's nest could have caused the back wound described by the HSCA. Nor is there any way that a bullet exiting JFK's throat could have nicked the left edge of the tie's knot and still have struck just below John Connally's right armpit. Since photos show that Kennedy was wearing his tie neatly centered between the collar, only a bullet that was traveling at a sharply leftward angle could have nicked the knot's left edge.
Officer Baker's Rate of Movement on 11/22/63
When the shots were fired,
The encounter in the
lunchroom. The first person to see Oswald after the assassination was Patrolman
M. L. Baker of the Dallas Police Department. Baker was riding a two-wheeled
motorcycle behind the last press car of the motorcade. As he turned the corner
from Main onto
COMMENT: Yet, in the WC's reenactments, Baker moved at only "kind of a run" outside the TSBD, and at only "kind of a trot" inside the building. Also, the reenactments did not attempt to simulate Baker's revving up his motorcycle. Nevertheless, in the reconstructions he was able to make it to the front entrance in 15 seconds. Pauline Sanders told the Commission that she thought Baker made it to the entrance "within 10 seconds." Baker himself stated in a filmed interview that it took him only "a very few seconds" to reach the front door. The Couch film indicates it took Baker no longer than 25 seconds to reach the front door.
The significance of all
this is that Oswald would not have had enough time to reach the second-floor
lunchroom when Baker spotted him there. During the WC's reenactments in
Dr. Kemp Clark on Kennedy's Large Head Wound
Dr. Clark, who most closely observed the head wound, described a large, gaping wound in the right rear part of the head, with substantial damage and exposure of brain tissue, and a considerable loss of blood. Dr. Clark, who most closely observed the head wound, described a large, gaping wound in the right rear part of the head, with substantial damage and exposure of brain tissue, and a considerable loss of blood. (WCR, p. 54, emphasis added)
COMMENT: Of course, as is well known, Dr. Clark's description of the large head wound is solidly corroborated by dozens of other witnesses, including two doctors who observed the autopsy, several Bethesda medical technicians who assisted with the autopsy, the mortician who reassembled JFK's skull after the autopsy, and a federal agent who was called to the morgue for the express purpose of viewing the President's wounds. WC supporters deny there was a large wound in the right rear part of Kennedy's skull because an exit wound in the back of the head wound would indicate a shot from the front.
More on JFK's Large Head Wound
Dr. Carrico noted the President to have slow, agenal respiratory efforts. He could hear a heartbeat but found no pulse or blood pressure to be present. Two external wounds, one in the lower third of the anterior neck, the other in the occipital region of the skull [i.e., the back of the head], were noted. Through the head wound, blood and brain were extruding. (Parkland Hospital Report, 11/22/63, in WCR, p. 517, emphasis added)
There was a large wound in the right occipito-parietal region, from which profuse bleeding was occurring. 1500 cc. of blood were estimated on the drapes and floor of the Emergeny Operating Room. There was considerable loss of scalp and bone tissue. Both cerebral and cerebellar tissue were extruding from the wound. (Parkland Hospital Report, 11/22/63, in WCR, p. 518, emphasis added)
There was a great laceration on the right side of the head (temporal and occipital), causing a great defect in the skull plate so that there was herniation and laceration of great areas of the brain, even to the extent that the cerebellum had protrouded from the wound. (Memorandum prepared by Dr. Marion T. Jenkins of Parkland Hospital on 11/22/63, in WCR, p. 530, emphasis added) <--
COMMENT: The occipital bone is at the back of the head. An "occipital" wound on the right side of the head would be located in the right rear area of the skull. Cerebellar tissue is located only at the lower rear portion of the brain. The fact that such tissue was extruding from the President's head wound is further evidence that the wound was located in the right rear region of the skull. Obviously, if the head shot had come from the alleged sniper's nest, the exit wound would not have been located in the right rear part of the skull. This is one of the principal reasons that lone-gunman theorists deny that the large head wound was in the back of the head.
The Appearance of JFK's Back Wound
The hole was located approximately 5 1/2 inches (14 centimeters) from the tip of the right shoulder joint and approximately the same distance below the tip of the right mastoid process, the bony point immediately behind the ear. The wound was approximately one-fourth by one-seventh of an inch (7 by 4 millimeters), had clean edges, was sharply delineated, and had margins similar in all respects to those of the entry wound in the skull. Commanders Humes and Boswell agreed with Colonel Finck's testimony that this hole * * * is a wound of entrance. * * * The basis for that conclusion is that this wound was relatively small with clean edges. It was not a jagged wound, and that is what we see in wound of entrance at a long range. (WCR, pp. 87-88, emphasis added)
COMMENT: Can we apply this
reasonable standard to the
JFK's Throat Wound An Entrance Wound
Two external wounds were noted. One small penetrating wound of the neck in the lower 1/3. (Parkland Hospital Admission Note, 11/22/63, prepared by Dr. Charles Carrico, in WCR, p. 519, emphasis added)
COMMENT: Dr. Carrico told
HSCA investigators that the damage he saw behind the throat wound's surface
meant that the bullet must have been traveling from front to back. And, as
mentioned, Dr. Jacobs, noting the damage to the pharynx and trachea described
Connally's Back Wound vs. A Yawing Magic Bullet
While riding in the right jump seat of the Presidential limousine on November 22, Governor Connally sustained wounds of the back, chest, right wrist and left thigh. Because of the small size and dean-cut edges of the wound on the Governor's back, Dr. Robert Shaw concluded that it was an entry wound. While riding in the right jump seat of the Presidential limousine on November 22, Governor Connally sustained wounds of the back, chest, right wrist and left thigh. Because of the small size and clean-cut edges of the wound on the governor's back, Dr. Robert Shaw concluded that it was an entry wound. (WCR, p. 92, emphasis added)
BUT, a few pages later we read:
Moreover, the large wound on the governor's back would be explained by a bullet which was yawing, although that type of wound might also be accounted for by a tangential striking. (WCR, p. 109, emphasis added)
COMMENT: So which is it going to be? A small wound and no yawing bullet? Or, a large wound with a possibly yawing bullet?
Dr. Shaw has since stated that Connally's back wound did not look as though it had been caused by a yawing bullet.
The Six-Second Time Limit for the Shooting and the First Hit
As the President rode along
If the first shot missed,
the assassin perhaps missed in an effort to fire a hurried shot before the
President passed under the oak tree, or possibly he fired as the President
passed under the tree and the tree obstructed his view. The bullet might have
struck a portion of the tree and been completely deflected. On the other hand,
the greatest cause for doubt that the first shot missed is the improbability
that the same marksman who twice hit a moving target would be so inaccurate on
the first and closest of his shots as to miss completely, not only the target,
but the large automobile. Some support for the contention that the first shot
missed is found in the statement of Secret Service Agent Glen A. Bennett,
stationed in the right rear seat of the President's follow-up car, who heard a
sound like a firecracker as the motorcade proceeded down
* * * I looked at the back of the President. I heard another firecracker noise and saw that shot hit the President about four inches down from the right shoulder. A second shot followed immediately and hit the right rear high of the President's head.
Substantial weight may be
given Bennett's observations. Although his formal statement was dated November
23, 1963, his notes indicate that he recorded what he saw and heard at 5:30
p.m., November 1963, on the airplane en route back to
testimony supports the view that the first shot missed, because he stated that
he heard a shot, turned slightly to his right, and, as he started to turn back
toward his left, was struck by the second bullet. He never saw the President
during the shooting sequence, and it is entirely possible that he heard the
missed shot and that both men were struck by the second bullet. Mrs. Connally
testified that after the first shot she turned and saw the President's hands
moving toward his throat, as seen in the films at frame 225. However, Mrs.
Connally further stated that she thought her husband was hit immediately
thereafter by the second bullet. If the same bullet struck both the President
and the Governor, it is entirely possible that she saw the President's
movements at the same time as she heard the second shot. Her testimony,
therefore, does not preclude the possibility of the first shot having missed.
Other eyewitness testimony, however, supports the conclusion that the first of
the shots fired hit the President. As discussed in chapter II, Special Agent
Hill's testimony indicates that the President was hit by the first shot and
that the head injury was caused by a second shot which followed about 5 seconds
later. James W. Altgens, a photographer in
The possibility that the second shot missed is consistent with the elapsed time between the two shots that hit their mark. From the timing evidenced by the Zapruder film, there was an interval of from 4.8 to 5.6 seconds between the shot which struck President Kennedy's neck (between frames 210 and 225) and the shot which struck his head at frame 313. Since a minimum of 2.3 seconds must elapse between shots, a bullet could have been fired from the rifle and missed during this interval. (WCR, p. 115)
COMMENT: As virtually all researchers acknowledge, the WC clearly leaned toward the view that the first shot was a hit, and that the second shot was a miss. It was really the Commission itself, therefore, that established the time frame of six seconds for the assassination. Until the advent of the HSCA, the common understanding was that all the shots were fired in less than six seconds, and that no shots were fired prior to frame 210 of the Zapruder film.
If the Commission had not been bound by the spurious single-bullet theory, it could have used Governor Connally's testimony as strong evidence that he and Kennedy were struck by separate bullets. Connally insisted, and with very good reason, that he was not struck by the same missile that wounded the President in the back.
Running through the two passages quoted above is the fairly obvious belief on the part of the WC that a gunman shooting from the alleged sniper's nest would not have fired prior to frame 210. The Commission rightly opined that it was hard to believe that the same marksman "who twice hit a moving target would be so inaccurate on the first and closest of his shots as to miss completely, not only the target, but the large automobile." With regard to the suggestion that the sixth-floor gunman fired while the limousine was beneath the oak tree, which would include the split-second break in the foliage at frame 186, it is worth repeating what the Commission had to say on this point:
It is probable that the President was not shot before frame 210, since it is unlikely that the assassin would deliberately have shot at him with a view obstructed by the oak tree when he was about to have a clear opportunity. It is also doubtful that even the most proficient marksman would have hit him through the oak tree. Jim Moore, a staunch lone-gunman theorist, is entirely correct when he notes that the Commission's report "clearly indicated a leaning by its authors toward a second-shot miss."
Of course, it's now clear that a shot was fired before frame 210, but I do not believe that shot must have come from the sixth-floor sniper's nest. I don't think a gunman in the sixth-floor nest would have fired until after the limousine cleared the oak tree. A shot prior to frame 210 would have been at a sharper downward angle if fired prior to frame 166; it would have been hurried; it would have been partially obstructed from frames 166-210 (except for a split-second break at frame 186); and it would have required the gunman to shift his rifle to the right in order to shoot at the target after it emerged from beneath the tree. The Commission, as we have seen, did not believe the sixth-floor shooter fired before frame 210 either. Yet, there is credible eyewitness testimony and photographic evidence that a shot was fired prior to this time. The HSCA's own panel of photographic experts concluded that the Zapruder film showed the President reacted to a shot that was fired while the limousine was beneath the tree. Surely that shot came from a location other than the sixth-floor window.
FBI Fingerprint Expert on the Trigger-Guard Prints
Latona, supervisor of the Latent Fingerprint Section of the FBI's Identification Division.
In his testimony before the
Commission, Latona stated that when he received the rifle, the area where
prints were visible was protected by cellophane. He examined these prints, as
well as photographs of them which the
* * * the formations, the ridge formations and characteristics, were insufficient for purposes of either effecting identification or a determination that the print was not identical with the prints of people. Accordingly, my opinion simply was that the latent prints which were there were of no value. Latona then processed the complete weapon but developed no identifiable prints. He stated that the poor quality of the wood and the metal would cause the rifle to absorb moisture from the skin, thereby making a clear print unlikely. (WCR, p. 123)
COMMENT: In spite of Latona's findings, lone-gunman theorists have readily accepted the recent claims of two private fingerprint experts who say they have matched the trigger-guard prints with Oswald's prints.
The Baker-Oswald Encounter: A Telling Incident
The stairway is located in
the northwest corner of the
On the second-floor landing there is a small open area with a door at the east end. This door leads into a small vestibule, and another door leads from the vestibule into the second-floor lunchroom. (See Commission Exhibit No. 1118, p. 150.) The lunchroom door is usually open, but the first door is kept shut by a closing mechanism on the door. This vestibule door is solid except for a small glass window in the upper part of the door. As Baker reached the second floor, he was about 20 feet from the vestibule door. He intended to continue around to his left toward the stairway going up but through the window in the door he caught a fleeting glimpse of a man walking in the vestibule toward the lunchroom.
Since the vestibule door is only a few feet from the lunchroom door, the man must have entered the vestibule only a second or two before Baker arrived at the top of the stairwell. Yet he must have entered the vestibule door before truly reached the top of the stairwell, since Truly did not see him. (WCR, p. 151, emphasis added)
COMMENT: It is indeed true that to believe the lone-gunman scenario, one must assume that Oswald entered the vestibule door (also known as the foyer door) only a second or two before Baker got to the top of the stairs. However, this means that Oswald somehow, someway came down the stairs and walked through the foyer door without being seen by Roy Truly, who was running ahead of Baker. The Commission never attempted to explain how Oswald could have done this.
The simple fact of the matter is that Oswald could not have gone through the foyer door only a few seconds before Baker reached the second-floor landing without first being seen by Truly. Truly would have seen Oswald either coming off the stairs or approaching the door. Lone-gunman theorists have no explanation for this problem. If they do, I have yet to see it.
Another mortal blow to the lone-assassin scenario that emerges from the Baker-Oswald encounter is that if Oswald had gone through the foyer door just "a second or two" before Baker reached the landing, the door, which had an automatic closer, would have been in full motion and would have been visibly open But Baker said the door was either closed or nearly closed when he looked at it. In other words, if Oswald went through the foyer door just a second or two before Baker looked at the door, the door would have been in obvious motion.
It should be pointed out that Baker was very tentative in making his belated claim that the foyer door "might" have been moving; even then, he said that if it was moving, it was "almost shut." However, the door, with its slow automatic closer, would not have had enough time to be "almost shut" if Oswald had just passed through it "a second or two" before Baker looked at it. And this unsolvable problem leads us straight back to the fact that Truly would have easily spotted Oswald, either coming off the stairs or approaching the foyer door, if Oswald had gone through that door only a couple seconds before Baker looked at it.
Alleged Murder Weapon in Paine Garage Till 11/22/63
Finally, evidence discussed in chapter IV tends to prove that Oswald brought his rifle to Dallas from the home of the Paines on November 22, and there is no other evidence which indicates that he took the rifle or a package which might have contained the rifle out of the Paine's garage, where it was stored, prior to that date. (WCR, p. 320, emphasis added).
COMMENT: So, according to this part of the Commission's report, "there is no evidence" that the alleged murder weapon was removed from the Paines' garage prior to November 22. If Oswald didn't remove the rifle from the Paines' garage until that day, what are we to make of the belated claims that he regularly cleaned and target practiced with the weapon? What about the witnesses who saw a man who strongly resembled Oswald firing at a local rifle range? If Oswald never took the rifle out of the garage prior to November 22, and if he owned no other rifle, then this means he had no target practice in the weeks leading up to the assassination.
One prominent lone-gunman theorist commented on this passage by saying that Oswald did all his target practicing before he went to New Orleans, and that once he returned to Dallas the rifle remained in the Paines' garage until the day of the shooting. In other words, if we are to believe the WCR on this point, Oswald did not engage in any target practice during the forty days preceding the assassination. To put it another way, Oswald, who was known as a mediocre shot at best, supposedly went up to the sixth-floor window and accomplished a world-class shooting feat, a feat which has yet to be duplicated, without having had any rifle practice for over a month.
Oswald Not Such A Dumb, Violent Maniac After All
Contrary to reports that appeared after the assassination, the psychiatric examination did not indicate that Lee Oswald was a potential assassin, potentially dangerous, that "his outlook on life had strongly paranoid overtones" or that he should be institutionalized. Dr. Hartogs did find Oswald to be a tense, withdrawn, and evasive boy who intensely disliked talking about himself and his feelings. He noted that Lee liked to give the impression that he did not care for other people but preferred to keep to himself, so that he was not bothered and did not have to make the effort of communicating. Oswald's withdrawn tendencies and solitary habits were thought to be the result of "intense anxiety, shyness, feelings of awkwardness and insecurity." He was reported to have said "I don't want a friend and I don't like to talk to people" and "I dislike everybody." He was also described as having a "vivid fantasy life, turning around the topics of omnipotence and power, through which he tries to compensate for his present shortcomings and frustrations." Dr. Hartogs summarized his report by stating:
This 13 year old well built boy has superior mental resources and functions only slightly below his capacity level in spite of chronic truancy from school which brought him into Youth House. No finding of neurological impairment or psychotic mental changes could be made. Lee has to be diagnosed as "personality pattern disturbance with schizoid features and passive-aggressive tendencies." Lee has to be seen as an emotionally, quite disturbed youngster who suffers under the impact of really existing emotional isolation and deprivation, lack of affection, absence of family life and rejection by a self involved and conflicted mother.
Dr. Hartogs recommended that Oswald be placed on probation on condition that he seek help and guidance through a child guidance clinic. There, he suggested, Lee should be treated by a male psychiatrist who could substitute for the lack of a father figure. He also recommended that Mrs. Oswald seek "psychotherapeutic guidance through contact with a family agency." The possibility of commitment was to be considered only if the probation plan was not successful.
Lee's withdrawal was also noted by Mrs. Siegel, who described him as a "seriously detached, withdrawn youngster." She also noted that there was "a rather pleasant, appealing quality about this emotionally starved, affectionless youngster which grows as one speaks to him." She thought that he had detached himself from the world around him because "no one in it ever met any of his needs for love." She observed that since Lee's mother worked all day, he made his own meals and spent all his time alone because he didn't make friends with the boys in the neighborhood. She thought that he "withdrew into a completely solitary and detached existence where he did as he wanted and he didn't have to live by any rules or come into contact with people." Mrs. Siegel concluded that Lee "just felt that his mother never gave a damn for him. He always felt like a burden that she simply just had to tolerate." Lee confirmed some of those observations by saying that he felt almost as if there were a veil between him and other people through which they could not reach him, but that he preferred the veil to remain intact. He admitted to fantasies about being powerful and sometimes hurting and killing people, but refused to elaborate on them. He took the position that such matters were his own business. . . .
Lee scored an IQ of 118 on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. According to Sokolow, this indicated a "present intellectual functioning in the upper range of bright normal intelligence." Sokolow said that although Lee was "presumably disinterested in school subjects he operates on a much higher than average level." On the Monroe Silent Reading Test, Lee's score indicated no retardation in reading speed and comprehension; he had better than average ability in arithmetical reasoning for his age group. (WCR, pp. 379-381)
COMMENT: Lee Oswald had a rough childhood. Like many children who move around a lot and who grow up in a home with only one parent (and an apparently inadequate single parent at that), Oswald was shy and lacked self-confidence. But he was not some murderous, mentally-deficient freak. Moreover, he was highly intelligent and performed capably in the Marines. He certainly had his share of problems, and he was by no means an angel, but he was hardly the ogre that many WC defenders have painted him out to be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:† Michael
T. Griffith holds a Masterís degree in Theology from The Catholic Distance
University, a Graduate Certificate in Ancient and Classical History from
American Military University, a Bachelorís degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior
College, and two Associate in Applied Science degrees from the Community
College of the Air Force.† He also holds
an Advanced Certificate of Civil War Studies and a Certificate of Civil War