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Tom Alyea & Disposition of Shells

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Tom Alyea, "Facts and Photos"

From Connie Kritzberg's Secrets from the Sixth Floor Window, pp. 39-46

I was the first newsman into the building and the only newsman to accompany the search team as they went from floor to floor searching for the person who fired the shots. At this time, we did not know the president had been hit. I rushed in with a group of plain clothesmen and a few uniformed officers. . . .

I [followed] the search team that was on its way to the rear elevator, to start the floor by floor search. We searched every floor, all the way to the roof. The gunman could have still been in the building. Finding nothing, they started back down. After approximately 18 minutes, they were joined by Captain Fritz, who had first gone to Parkland Hospital.

The barricade on the sixth floor ran parallel to the windows, extending in an "L" shape that ended against the front wall between the first and second twin windows. The height of the stack of boxes was a minimum of 5 ft. I looked over the barricade and saw three shell casings laying on the floor in front of the second window in the two window casement. They were scattered in an area that could be covered by a bushel basket. They were located about half way between the inside of the barricade. I set my lens focus at the estimated distance from the camera to the floor and held the camera over the top of the barricade and filmed them before anybody went into the enclosure. I could not position my eye to the camera's view finder to get the shot. After filming the casings with my wide angle lens, from a height of 5 ft., I asked Captain Fritz, who was standing at my side, if I could go behind the barricade and get a close-up shot of the casings. He told me that it would be better if I got my shots from outside the barricade. He then rounded the pile of boxes and entered the enclosure. This was the first time anybody walked between the barricade and the windows.

Fritz then walked to the casings, picked them up and held them in his hand over the top of the boxes for me to get a close-up shot of the evidence. I filmed about eight seconds of a close-up shot of the shell casings in Captain Fritz's hand. I stopped filming, and thanked him. I do not recall if he placed them in his pocket or returned them back to the floor, because I was preoccupied with recording other views of the crime scene. I have been asked many times if I thought it was peculiar that the Captain of Homicide picked up evidence with his hands. Actually, that was the first thought that came to me when he did it, but I rationalized that he was the homicide expert and no prints could be taken from spent shell casings. Therefore, any photograph of shell casings taken after this, is staged and not correct. It is highly doubtful that the shell casings that appear in Dallas police photos of the crime scene are the same casings that were found originally. The originals by this time were probably in a plastic bag at police headquarters. Why? Probably this was a missing link in the report the police department had to send to the FBI and they had to stage it and the barricade box placement to complete their report and photo records.

The position of the barricade, while difficult to follow for one who was not there, is important because of the difference in photographs seen today.

There are four different box positions.

1) There was one box in the barricade stack that was considerably higher than the others. This box is the one that can be seen in the photos taken from outside the window by Tom Dillard, because it was high enough to catch the sunlight and still be seen from the ground below. It is not to be confused with the second box set at an angle in the window sill, that was used as a brace for the assassin's rifle.

2) A portion of this box can also be seen in these same photos taken by Tom Dillard. It shows up in the lower right hand corner of the picture.

3) Two boxes were stacked on the floor, inside the window, to give arm support to the assassin. The top box was one of the two boxes from which the crime lab lifted palm prints.

4) The fourth box of importance was on the floor behind the sniper location. Officers also lifted palm prints from this box. It is suspected that the sniper sat on this box while he waited for the motorcade to pass.

The positioning of boxes 2, 3, and 4 were recorded by the police crime lab. They are the only boxes involved in the crime scene.

The actual positioning of the barricade was never photographed by the police. It s actual positioning is only on my movie footage, which was taken before the police started dismantling the arrangement.

We all looked over the barricade to see if the half open window with three boxes piled to form a shooting rest for a gunman. One box was actually on the window sill, tilted at an angle. There was a reason for this that I cover in my JFK Facts newsletter. The shooting location consists of two windows set together to form one single window. (The police photo showing the shell casings laying next to the brick wall was staged later by crime lab people who did not see the original positioning because they were not called upon the scene until after the rifle was found nearly an hour later.) . . .

Only recently I saw a picture of Lt. Day with a news still cameraman on the 6th floor. Day was shown pointing to the location where the rifle was found. This was nearly 3:30 or after. It was my understanding that Day and Studebaker had taken the prints, rifle and homemade sack back to police headquarters. I personally would like to know what they were doing back at the scene unless it was to reconstruct shots they had failed to take during the primary investigation. But this evidence had been destroyed and they were forced to create their own version. The photo I have seen of the barricade wasn't even close. I have also seen recently a police photo of the assassin's lair taken from a high angle which indicates that it was shot before the barricade box arrangement was destroyed, but it did not show the barricade itself. This has no bearing on the case other than the public has never seen the original placement. . . .

Police officers who claim they were on the 6th floor when the assassin's window was found have reported that they saw chicken bones at or near the site. One officer reported that he saw chicken bones on the floor near the location. Another said he saw chicken bones on the barricade boxes, while another reported that he saw chicken bones on the box which was laying across the window sill. Some of these officers have given testimony as to the location of the shell casings. Their testimony differs and none of it is true. I have no idea why they are clinging to these statements. They must have a reason. Perhaps it is because they put it in a report and they must stick to it.

One officer stated that he found the assassin's location at the 6th floor window. He went on to say that as he and his fellow officers were leaving the building, he passed Captain Fritz coming in. He said he stopped briefly to tell Captain Fritz that he had found the assassin's lair at the 6th floor window. This seems highly unlikely because Captain Fritz joined us on the 5th floor and aided in the search. The chances are great that this, or these officers heard the report, that stemmed from WFAA-TV's incorrect announcement that the chicken bones were found on the 6th floor. This officer or officers perhaps used this information to formulate their presence at the scene. There were no chicken bones found on the 6th floor. We covered every inch of it and I filmed everything that could possibly be suspected as evidence. There definitely were no chicken bones were no chicken bones on or near the barricade or boxes at the window. I shot close-up shots of the entire area. The most outstanding puzzle as to why these officers are sticking to this story is the fact they claim to have found the sniper's location, then left the building, as they said to join the investigators at the Tippit shooting location. I have never seen a report that indicates they attempted to use any telephone in the building in an attempt to notify other investigators. They just left the scene to check another assignment, and by chance ran into Capt. Fritz coming in the front door. They claim to have placed a detective at the location but they did not relay their finding to any other officer before they left the building. I presume that the alleged detective they allegedly left at the scene was instructed to stand there until someone else stumbled upon the scene, or they found time to report it after investigating the Tippit scene. Sorry, it doesn't wash.

I do however know that Officer Mooney was present when the rifle was found because I took film of him at the scene. He is shown talking to another detective, but this was nearly an hour after the sniper's location was found at the window. I have no idea when he arrived. We ended up with more men than when we started. As they joined us during the search the latecomers would bring us the latest news of the president's condition. When Captain Fritz arrived 18 minutes after we started, he brought news that both Governor Connally and the president had been hit but by the time he left, the seriousness of their wounds was unknown. Fritz left the hospital almost immediately when he was notified that a search was underway in the Texas School Book Depository for the sniper. We in the search team had no phones, radios or TV sets. As I recall, we learned that the president was dead about the time we found the rifle. I don't know who brought us this word. Several officers arrived while we were waiting for Lt. Day. One of them was Roger Craig, who is responsible for giving much misinformation to the press. None of us were prepared to hear that the president's wound was a fatal one. We thought perhaps it was a minor thing or possibly a flesh wound. It was a stunning shock, and our attitude [towards] the rifle had suddenly changed. We stared at the small portion of the butt as it lay under the overhang boxes while we waited for Lt. Day to arrive and recover the weapon that killed our president. . . .

We finished combing the 6th floor, looking for the assassin or any other evidence. Finding nothing more at this time Captain Fritz ordered all of us to the elevator and we started searching the 7th floor and from there we went to the roof.

Nothing in the way of evidence was found so we retraced our search back down, floor by floor. Shortly after we arrived back on the 6th floor, Deputy Eugene Boone located the assassin's rifle almost completely hidden by some overhanging boxes near the stairwell. I filmed it as it was found. In my shot, the figure of Captain Fritz is standing within the enclosure next to the rifle. He knew then that the possibility of a fire fight with the sniper had greatly diminished. He dispatched one of his men to go down and call for the crime lab. About fifteen minutes later, Lt. Day and Studebaker arrived. Still pictures were taken of the positioning of the rifle, then Lt. Day slid it out from its hiding place and held it up for all of us to see. The world has seen my shot of this many times. Lt. Day immediately turned toward the window behind him and started dusting the weapon for fingerprints. Day was still within the enclosure formed by the surrounding boxes. I filmed him lifting prints from the rifle. He lifted them off with scotch tape and placed them on little white cards. When he had finished, he handed the rifle to Captain Fritz. Fritz pulled the bolt back and a live round ejected and landed on the boxes below. Fritz put the cartridge in his pocket. I did not see Fritz pick up anything other than the live round. . . .

I filmed Captain Fritz talking with associates in this dismantled area [the "sniper's nest"], along with Studebaker, who was dusting the Dr. Pepper bottle which had been brought up to him from the 5th floor. This is all recorded on my film. I never learned if prints were lifted from the pop bottle. I'm not sure if anybody ever asked.

I took the film from my camera, placed it back into its metal can, wrapped the tape around it, and tossed it to our News Editor, A. J. L'Hoste, who was waiting outside with the other newsmen who were not allowed in the building. A. J. raced it to the television station which was about three blocks away. About fifteen minutes later the world saw the murder weapon, where it was found and pictures of the crime lab people dusting it for fingerprints, and the shell casings that once housed those bullets. They also saw how the assassin prepared for his ambush and the view he had of the killing zone.

Addendum #1

A correspondent asked Tom Alyea about the accuracy of the above material and forwarded Alyea's response:

Thanks for sending me the material from Connie Kritzberg's "Secrets from The Sixth Floor." I never read the book. Many years ago she interviewed me about what I saw during the search. I gave her some pictures to use in her story. This is the first time I have seen the story. I regret to say that there are some inaccuracies, which is to be expected in an interview. You must remember that she was not on the sixth floor. She was at her desk in the city room at the Dallas Times Herald newspaper. It is disjointed and out of sequence, which makes it difficult to follow. This is often the case when the interviewer asks the questions and was not at the scene. Connie is a friend of mine, and a good reporter, but I did not see the final draft before it went to press. There is always the possibility that I failed to make my answers clear, and she derived a different meaning. Please remember that these short statements contained little detail and circumstances behind the situation.

I shall make a few corrections that I feel are necessary to maintain accuracy:


The average height of the barricade (Barricade #1) was four and a half feet. I don't know how high this would be in the Metric scale.

My shot of the shell casings in Capt. Fritz's hand was between three and four seconds.

(Important correction:) Take out the sentence that starts with, "It is highly doubtful…"

My statement was that after Capt. Fritz held the casing over the barricade for me to film, he turned to examine the shooting support boxes on the windowsill. I couldn't see the captain put the casings in his coat pocket because his coat pocket was below the top of the barricade. He did not return them to the floor and he did not have them in his hand when he was examining the shooting support boxes. Over thirty minutes later, after the rifle was discovered and the crime lab arrived, Capt. Fritz reached into his pocket and handed the casings to Det. Studebaker to include in the photographs he would take of the sniper's nest crime scene. We stayed at the rifle site to watch Lt. Day dust the rifle. You have seen my footage of this. Studebaker never saw the original placement of the casings so he tossed them on the floor and photographed them. Det. Studebaker was alone at this site until after Lt. Day left the building with the rifle. We in the search team went to the sniper's site. Studebaker had already photographed the casings on the floor and was busy dusting the pop bottle when we arrived. The casings were no longer on the floor. I never saw them again. The barricade had been completely dismantled and the boxes from the West side of the barricade had been removed and placed in various locations around the site. We did not realize at the time that Studebaker had not recorded on film the original placement of the boxes in the barricade. He also had removed the shooting support boxes on the window ledge and stacked them one on top of the other on the floor inside. He took a picture of this reconstructed arrangement. This is the view researchers have of the shooting support boxes that were originally on the brick window ledge. The corner of the outside box was positioned over the lower window channel that tilted the box at an angle.

(Important correction)…Take out the sentence that starts with, "I have also seen recently…"

This high angle photograph was taken after the crime lab returned to the sixth floor three days later 'Monday, November, twenty-five. Capt. Fritz had seen the photographs and had directed the crime lab to correct the shots of the window boxes and the casings on the floor. He had seen the original placement and ordered the crime lab to correct it. Neither Lt. Day nor Det. Studebaker had seen the original placement, so they procured my film from the TV station to get it right. The high angle shot (shots) were made to show the original placement. Their reconstruction was close, but not exact. However, they did not bring the casings with them so they did not make the correction of the original placement of the shell casings.

(Important correction) Take out the sentence that starts with :" I do however know that Officer Mooney…"

Mooney was a Sheriff's Deputy, not a police officer. He did not arrive on the sixth floor until after the rifle was found and the search was over.

(Important correction) Take out the sentence that starts with, "He dispatched one of his men…"

Capt. Fritz did this after the shooting site was discovered, with the instructions to have the crime lab men wait on the first floor when they arrived. We were still looking for an armed gunman. We had only found his shooting location. After the rifle was found, Capt. Fritz sent one of his detectives down in the elevator to bring up the crime lab, because it was obvious that the sniper had escaped and the threat of a firefight was unlikely. The crime lab is never called to a scene that has not been secured. I hope you researcher friends will realize this when the read the police testimonies where they place Lt. Day at the shooting site crime scene while we in the search team were still searching for an armed sniper on the same floor. They had a noble reason for giving this false testimony. They wanted to protect their boss, Capt. Fritz from possible censure for picking up the casings before the crime lab arrived and processed them. The easiest way was to place Lt. Day at the scene before Capt. Fritz arrived. All this is detailed in my report.

Addendum #2

From: Dale Myers (dmyers@rust.net)

Subject: Re: Tom Alyea on the sixth floor evidence

Newsgroups: alt.conspiracy.jfk

Date: 1999/07/04

As we all know, time alters recollections. Case in point: compare Tom Alyea's more recent statements (posted by Dave Reitzes) with his statement from December 19, 1963:


"...I ran on upstairs with the Secret Service men. Then other units came in - the Riot Squad. I thought I was going to film a gun fight. They ran to the 4th floor and I went with them. Some of the other units went to the top of the building. They were conducting a systematic search. It boiled down to the sixth floor. After awhile it was obvious that the assassin was not in the building. They looked for the gun. I filmed 400 ft. of film of the Secret Service men looking for the assassin, climbing over boxes, over the rafters, and the actual finding of the gun. At the time it was suspected that the assassin had stayed quite a time there. There was a stack with a stack of chicken bones on it. There was a Dr. Pepper bottle which they dusted for fingerprints. The fingerprints were not Oswald's. You know how he piled the boxes up? The gun was found across the length of the room from where he fired. It was stashed between boxes. I had difficulty in filming. They did not want me closeto the window or to the gun. I asked permission to go to the window to film. A Secret Service man said, 'You are close enough.' I asked the Secret Service man to take pictures of the stashed gun. I set the camera but he wiggled the camera. I got a picture of them taking the gun from the hiding place and dusting it for fingerprints. After this the Crime Lab man, Captain Will Fritz - and I have footage of this - pulled the bolt back and a live round came out. They dusted the gun for fingerprints. This was my third camera. They wouldn't let me out of the building and they wouldn't let anyone else in. I never saw my film on the air because I had to get the film to someone outside. This was the first film from there. We had Mal Couch's film of the crowd but not of the President being hit. [How did you get the film out?] There's a story for you. I actually handed it out through the door but it had been publicized over the air and established everywhere that I had thrown it out of the building through a window. I hesitate to tell you the real story. I started to throw it out of the building but being so close and knowing that we had the other film, I wanted our station to be the first to show a film of the assassination. A A.J. L'Hoste was under the window. I yelled out to him. In actuality I tossed the film out the front door to Ron Reiland who had gotten back from covering the apprehension of Oswald at the Texas Theater. This was another ABC exclusive. There were 2 policemen at the Depository door. They were not sure that I should get things outside. Ron was outside and I was inside. One of the policemen there called a Lieutenant and while they were calling him, I threw the film out....."


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  • 10 months later...


Edited by Bernice Moore
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NUMBERs 28, 29. Two photographs showing that no one could have fired any shots from the sixth-floor window and that the cartons in the window were arranged to look like a sniper's nest three days after the assassination. Photo number 28 is the official photo of the sniper's nest taken by Dallas police photographer Robert Studebaker. It was probably taken on November 25, three days later. Photo number 29* was taken by Dallas Morning News photographer Jack Beers at 3:30 P.M. on the day of the assassination. The most important thing the photos show is that the real position of the boxes at the time of the shots did not allow enough space for anyone to be in a firing position.


Edited by Bernice Moore
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Thanks, Bill and Bernice. Great stuff!

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NUMBERs 28, 29. Two photographs showing that no one could have fired any shots from the sixth-floor window and that the cartons in the window were arranged to look like a sniper's nest three days after the assassination. Photo number 28 is the official photo of the sniper's nest taken by Dallas police photographer Robert Studebaker. It was probably taken on November 25, three days later. Photo number 29* was taken by Dallas Morning News photographer Jack Beers at 3:30 P.M. on the day of the assassination. The most important thing the photos show is that the real position of the boxes at the time of the shots did not allow enough space for anyone to be in a firing position.


The Beers photo was taken after the boxes were dusted by Studebaker and do not reflect the position of the boxes as first found.

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