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Sandy Larsen

What we know about the Carcano rifle being processed for prints -- a summary.

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I just did a little research and came up with what I think is a pretty good, short summary of what happened regarding the processing of the rifle for prints. This if for those who want to know the basics without spending much time checking it out for themselves.

Feedback is welcome, of course.
 

Processing the Rifle for Prints -- What We Know

On November 22nd, DPD Lieutenant Carl Day began processing the rifle for latent prints. He found one fingerprint that he thought was the "best bet" for identifying Oswald, and possibly one more. He didn't process either.

Lt. Day also found a partial palm print located on the barrel under stock material. He "raised" the print, meaning that he used a chemical or some other means to bring it to the surface. He planned on photographing and lifting the print, but ran out of time. He said he would finish later.

Lt. Day's work was interrupted so that the rifle could be taken to FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C. and processed for prints there. The rifle was picked up by FBI agent Vince Drain.

Lt. Day would later claim that he lifted the print and showed Drain where it had been before Drain took the rifle. But Drain had no recollection of that happening.

Question: Did Lt. Day really photograph and lift the palm print before the rifle was taken?

The FBI's print examiner, Mr. Latona,  testified that he wasn't aware of the palm print until a week later, when he received a lifted palm print from the DPD. Lt. Day said he'd sent it on the 26th of November.

Question: Was the FBI unaware of the palm print for a week? Seriously, they had no idea Oswald had handled the rifle?

Once the rifle was in the hands of the FBI it was processed for prints. Non at all were found.

Question: What happened to the two latent prints Lt. Day had observed, one of which being what he thought was their "best bet?" They just disappeared?

According to Vincent Bugliosi's book, the HSCA determined that the palm print indeed did come off the Carcano rifle. They determined this by having Lt. Day compare other marks that were lifted (e.g. rust) with marks on the rifle. Lt. Day said they matched.

Question: Can Lt. Day be trusted again? What about the HSCA?

FWIW, in an October 1993 interview, Lt. Day said, "The prints on the rifle weren’t made the day of the assassination -- or the day before that, or the day before that. The prints were at least weeks, if not months, old." So most certainly no prints from the day of the shooting were found. (I later found a circa 1963 interview on YouTube where Day says, "It [the palm print] didn't come off very well. It was a rather dim print, indicating it was an old print.")

 

Sources:

11/23/63 Memo Regarding Lt. Day's Progress
Carl Day's WC Testimony
WC Testimony of FBI's Print Examiner (Latona)
Oswald Talked by Mary La Fontaine. p. 375

 

 

Additional Information

Pat Speer posted a number of good points regarding the rifle fingerprint, some of which I should Incorporate in this post. When I find the time. In the meantime, see the post here.

 

Edited by Sandy Larsen

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On 25/12/2017 at 6:17 AM, Sandy Larsen said:

FWIW, in an October 1993 interview, Lt. Day said, "The prints on the rifle weren’t made the day of the assassination -- or the day before that, or the day before that. The prints were at least weeks, if not months, old." So for sure no prints from the day of the shooting were found.

:D

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2 hours ago, Lawrence Schnapf said:

do you have a link to the 1993 interview?

 

Larry,

It looks like the first time the quote from the interview was published was in Mary La Fontaine's 1996 book Oswald Talked. She cites no source. My guess is that she saw the interview on TV. I assume she videotaped it, otherwise how could she have been able to quote it with accuracy?

I couldn't find the interview on YouTube. I did find this video:
 

 

As an aside, it's interesting how the reporters identify the rifle as:

  • A 6.5 mm rifle.
  • A British .303 inch rifle (along with three empty .303 cartridges).
  • A 7.65 mm Mauser.

But pertinent to your question, Day says the following regarding the palm print: "It didn't come off very well. It was a rather dim print, indicating it was an old print."

 

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Reminder to self:

I need to incorporate some of the following into my OP above... important stuff posted by Pat Speer on another thread regarding the rifle fingerprints :
 

Quote

Pat Speer said:

I have quite a lot of material on this issue on my website, that those with an interest should check out. The Fingerprints of Myth PowerPoint presentation should be of particular interest.

As far as DVP's claims about the palm print... he misses quite a bit.

1. In September, after questions were raised re the palm print, Day refused to sign a sworn statement in which he said he found the palm print on the rifle.

2. Hoover's claim Latona matched up artifacts on the lift which matched up with the rifle was contained in a letter written to the commission, and was never received in sworn testimony.

3. Latona was not recalled as a witness to make a sworn statement about the palm print.

4. No copy of Latona's report on the palm print has ever surfaced.

5. No photo showing the location of the palm print on the rifle has ever surfaced.

6. Although Day claimed he lifted the print on the 22nd, there is no record of him making this lift or comparing this lift to Oswald's prints in the DPD's files. I mean, just think about that. He lifts the print on the 22nd. And FAILS to do a comparison to Oswald's prints. Even though the DPD knows by the next day the FBI failed to find any prints on the rifle. Then Oswald gets murdered. And the world wants to know if Oswald was the killer. And he STILL fails to perform a comparison to Oswald's prints, or even call the FBI and tell them he has a print that can tie Oswald to the gun. For two days... And then he sends the print to the FBI with no notice... If this isn't suspicious, well then, it sure is proof of incompetence....

 

As far as Day's integrity, etc... he is without doubt one of the least credible witnesses put on display by the commission.

He claimed HE found the palm print on the seat box, when it was really his assistant Robert Studebaker who discovered and signed the cardboard holding this print.

He made out that he inspected the paper bag in the building, when it was almost certainly "discovered" and removed while he was transporting the rifle to the police station.

He claimed he noticed signs photographers had been in the sniper's nest upon his return to the building on Sunday 11-24, when the photographers claimed he'd given them a personal tour of the sniper's nest on Friday 11-22, and even took pictures of him pointing out the window and the location where the rifle had been found.

He made out that the 11-25 sniper's nest re-enactment photos showed the window boxes from the 22nd, when they showed different boxes, including one marked up to look like the box from the 22nd.

He never revealed the whereabouts of the original boxes from 11-23--11-26, when they were presumably sent to Washington.

 

Edited by Sandy Larsen

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On ‎12‎/‎26‎/‎2017 at 1:29 PM, Sandy Larsen said:

It looks like the first time the quote from the interview was published was in Mary La Fontaine's 1996 book Oswald Talked. She cites no source. My guess is that she saw the interview on TV. I assume she videotaped it, otherwise how could she have been able to quote it with accuracy?

Oh, well, if it's in Oswald Talked it must be true.  If someone comes up with a credible source - such as the actual interview or at least a transcript - OK, fine, he said it.  But this is such a prime example of Conspiracy Logic - piece things together from anywhere and everywhere, utterly without regard to credibility, and - voila! - you have a conspiracy theory.  An un-footnoted "quotation" in Oswald Talked?  Hello?  And Jim "loves" it?

FWIW, I was always more troubled by the absence of fingerprints on the shell casings, particularly since I seem to have such difficulty keeping my fingerprints off of anything made of brass,  However, apparently it is well-known that the gases unleashed when a rifle is fired effectively wipe the casings of prints, to such an extent that it used to be generally regarded as futile to even attempt to find prints.  But now, apparently, techniques that were not available in 1963 make the task somewhat less futile.

Edit:  A Google search for various permutations of the Day quote didn't turn up much, other than other "researchers" repeating it as gospel.  The only one that had a citation attributed it to "Fetzer, 2000, p. 81."  So that should increase your confidence, or perhaps not.

Further edit:  Perhaps here, although this was 1996 rather than 1993.

J. C. "Carl" Day Oral History

Author:
Lt. J. C. "Carl" Day
Date:
1996-08-15
Description:
Videotaped oral history interview with J. C. "Carl" Day. As head of the Dallas Police Crime Scene Search Unit in 1963, Lieutenant Day was in charge of examining the rifle and fingerprint evidence found at the Texas School Book Depository building following the assassination. Interview conducted at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza on August 15, 1996 by Bob Porter. The interview is forty-five minutes long. The video attached to this record is an excerpt. The entire interview is available in our Reading Room to on-site researchers or by submitting a Rights & Reproductions Request Form.
Partner:
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Part of:
Oral History Collection/The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Rights:
All requests for permission to reproduce, publish or broadcast materials in this collection must be submitted to the Museum's registrar, using the Rights & Reproductions Request Form on our website: jfk.org. Inquiries may be sent to registrar@jfk.org.
Source:
http://eMuseum.jfk.org/view/objects/asitem/items@:15781
Edited by Lance Payette

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58 minutes ago, Lance Payette said:
On 12/26/2017 at 1:29 PM, Sandy Larsen said:

It looks like the first time the quote from the interview was published was in Mary La Fontaine's 1996 book Oswald Talked. She cites no source. My guess is that she saw the interview on TV. I assume she videotaped it, otherwise how could she have been able to quote it with accuracy?

Oh, well, if it's in Oswald Talked it must be true.  If someone comes up with a credible source - such as the actual interview or at least a transcript - OK, fine, he said it.  But this is such a prime example of Conspiracy Logic - piece things together from anywhere and everywhere, utterly without regard to credibility, and - voila! - you have a conspiracy theory.


I don't check citations for every single thing I quote from books. I do so only when I feel it is necessary. For example, I would do so if I were using the material in a book I was writing myself.

I find it very difficult to believe that Mary La Fontaine would fabricate that statement. My guess is that she saw the interview on some news show and she didn't think to cite it because she saw it for herself... there was no book or magazine article to cite.

You can disbelieve the statement it if you want. I choose to believe it.

BTW Lt. Day said much the same thing in this interview, at 2:40:

 

 

Edited by Sandy Larsen

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It is my understanding that ole time police-work such as that used in Dallas in 1963 often consisted of faking-up some evidence in order to insure a confession. This faked-up evidence is not entered into evidence at trial, however. With that thought, in mind, then, it seems possible Day and Fritz faked-up the palm-print, etc, but never intended for this evidence to be used at trial. That would explain why they did such a bad job with the paper trail for this evidence. It is largely non-existent.

As far as the quote regarding the print being an old print, Day made this claim numerous times. First Day Evidence, a book written as a defense of the crime lab by the nephew of one of Day's employees, contains something similar. As do the Sixth Floor Museum Oral Histories...

The problem with the quote, however, is that is unscientific, in that books on fingerprinting insist you can not accurately determine the age of a print.

Edited by Pat Speer

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1 hour ago, Pat Speer said:

It is my understanding that ole time police-work such as that used in Dallas in 1963 often consisted of faking-up some evidence in order to insure a confession. This faked-up evidence is not entered into evidence at trial, however. With that thought, in mind, then, it seems possible Day and Fritz faked-up the palm-print, etc, but never intended for this evidence to be used at trial. That would explain why they did such a bad job with the paper trail for this evidence. It is largely non-existent.

As far as the quote regarding the print being an old print, Day made this claim numerous times. First Day Evidence, a book written as a defense of the crime lab by the nephew of one of Day's employees, contains something similar. As do the Sixth Floor Museum Oral Histories...

The problem with the quote, however, is that is unscientific, in that books on fingerprinting insist you can not accurately determine the age of a print.


Pat,

What you say here may go hand in hand with something that is written in this document which also appears to be unscientific. It states that Lt. Day had "raised" the palm print but not yet photographed or lifted it. Raising a print means to use a chemical or some other means to pull it out out of a porous material. That makes no sense given that gun barrels aren't porous.  (I don't have a book on lifting fingerprints, so maybe I'm missing something.)

I think you may be on to something, the possibility of it being standard practice back them to conjure up fake evidence. As with every institution, police forces used to be much more corrupt and unprofessional than they are today.

 

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