Button-Button Who's Got the Button?
The Warren Report asserts, without elaboration, that four .38 caliber bullets were recovered from officer Tippit's body. Three of the bullets were Winchester-Western, the fourth was a Remington-Peters. The fact that two different kinds of bullets were recovered from the victim is of obvious relevance to suspicions that Tippit might have been shot by more than one assailant. Regardless of how one wishes to view the problem, the implications raised by different kinds of ammunition renders a careful accounting of the chain of possession of the bullet evidence as imperative, and a credible ballistics comparison essential. The American people got neither.
Contrary to the statement in the Warren Report, only three slugs entered Tippit's body. The police received the three bullets recovered from the autopsy on the day after the shooting ths resulted in the official reports and public pronouncements that Tippit had been shot three times. The Homicide report, written by Detective James Leavelle, states, "Oswald pulled a .38 pistol and shot Officver Tippit three times: one time each in the head, chest and stomach."
However at least one detective, Lieutenant Carl Day, knew that a fourth bullet had been recovered because he had given it to the FBI the night before….The bullet in question, Commission Exhibit 602, was transmitted to the FBI late on the night of the assassination…..the FBI was told at this time by the Dallas Police that the one bullet was all that was recovered. It was not until the following March that the Warren Commission got around to inquiring about the remaining Tippit slugs and a search of the police evidence files turned up the three missing bullets. On November 30 and December 3 of 1963, the Dallas Police had belatedly forwarded the ballistic evidence from the Tippit case to the FBI for laboratory analysis, but this did not include the bullets recovered from the autopsy.
The FBI and the Warren Commission's staff knew that such bullets had been recovered because they had the victim's autopsy report. Tippit's autopsy report was conspicuously absent from the Wrren Commission's published exhibits…..When the autopsy report was finally made public in 190, it was obvious why the results had been withheld. In contradiction to the Warren Report, only three bullets, not four, had been recovered from Tippit's body. Although Tippit was actually struck four times, one of his chest wounds was only a bruise, that is, superficial, non-penetrating wound. Dr. Earl Rose, the autopsy pathologist, reported that no bullet associated with this wound was recovered……
This bullet, a .38 Special Winchester slug, had struck a brass button on Tippit's jacket, and the button, along with the jacket and the policeman's sternum, had prevented the bullet from entering his body and causing more than a superficial wound. The bullet, still embedded in the dislodged button, fell out of Tippit's clothing during the ambulance ride and was found by ambulance attendant Eddie Kinsley on arrival at the hospital. Years after the assassination, Kinsley told reporter Earl Golz: "I kicked one of the bullets out of the ambulance that went into his button….onto the parking lot of Methodist Hospital. It didn't go in the body…it fall off the ambulance still in his button."
But in 1963 no one had asked Kinsley about the bullet because the police had not bothered to determine the provenance of the evidence. The FBI knew that the bullet had struck a button because the button was still wrapped around the bullet (Fig. 14.2). …The Warren Commission became aware of the discrepancy and asked the FBI to resolve the mystery by investigating the origin of the extranenous bullet.
It is clear that the FBI's report on the matter, Commission Document 2011, was a fabrication by the FBI whose purpose was to disguise mishandling of the evidence by the Dallas police. The fabrication is a false affidavit which "authenticates" the discovery of CE-602, also known by its FBI number Q-13, the button bullet. Dallas police detective R.A. Davenport swore in this affidavit, dated 12 June 1964, that he had watched Doctor Paul Moellenhoff remove the bullet from the body of officer Tippit, furthermore, that said bullet exhibited his marking! The obliging doctor agreed to sign a separate affidavit asserting that he had removed the bullet from Tippit, while admitting that he could not identify the specific bullet (Q-13) as the same. How could the good doctor fail to recall a bullet embedded in a button? One wonders, also, how frequently this doctor removed bullet evidence from murder victims before they could be autopsied, and failed to mention such to the coroner? The long withheld autopsy report revealed that the bullet had never entered the body and that, therefore, the affidavits were false.
There is no reason to doubt that the button-bullet is authentic. It is unlikely in the extreme that the ambulance driver would invent such a story, nor would anyone plant a bullet embedded in a button. Moreover, the three bullets found by the FBI in the Dallas police files in March 1964 are authenticated by the initials of Dr. Rose, the autopsy pathologist. In fact, one has to suspect that it is for reason of their authenticity that the Dallas Police decided to withhold them from the FBI in the first place. What tales would these bullets tell forensic experts? For the time being, withholding the evidence covered up the mismatch between the bullets and the casings.
The episode demonstrates the willingness of the FBI and Dallas Police to fabricate evidence, in this case a false affidavit, to cover-up the failings in their investigation. The button bullet is also relevant to the issue of a second assailant. A man's jacket was found hanging inside the patrol car. The Dallas Police assumed that this jacket belonged to Tippit. The button bullet proves that Tippit died wearing his jacket.
BK: Why weren't Det. Davenport and Dr. Moellenhoff indicted by a grand jury for their false affidavits?
Are they still alive?
And who did that jacket in the back of Tippit's police car belong to?
Edited by William Kelly, 09 October 2010 - 03:47 PM.