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Who was Richard O. “Dick” Bothun?

John Butler

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There is little information on the internet about Richard Bothun.  He is a mysterious and suspicious person as far as I am concerned.  Here is what I have been able to gather:

  • Richard Bothun was a railroad worker.

  • He was an amateur photographer.

  • Mr. Bothun took pictures in Dealey Plaza on the day of the assassination.

  • Mr. Bothun took pictures before the assassination and after, but not during the shooting.

  • There are at least 4 photos accredited to Mr. Bothun of which number 4 seems to be the most important.

  • He took photos from the same locations as Ike Altgens on the Houston St / Main St. intersection, along Elm St. in the grassy area between Elm St. and Main St.  And, he is with Altgens in the Zapruder film.

  • He gave his photos to the Dallas Morning News, the home of Ike Altgens.

  • Mr. Bothun did not give any interviews to reporters, or make a statement with either the FBI or Secret Service, nor was he interviewed by attorneys for the WC.  As far as I know he didn’t talk to anyone.  If anyone has something different, please advise.

  • Most of the major assassination researchers do not mention Richard Bothun.  There is little or no information about Bothun.  If they do mention him it is mostly about Bothun 4.

  • There are curious problems with Jack White and his statements over the years regarding the authenticity of the Altgens photos and Dick Bothun.

  • Richard Bothun, who photographed JFK motorcade and assassination aftermath, dies of heart attack in 1981.

What little is said on the internet about Bothun concerns the photo Bothun 4.

Does anyone else know anything extra about Dick Bothun?   Are there any photos of Dick Bothun other than the Zapruder film?

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If you have access to Richard Trask's "Pictures of the Pain," he has a short chapter - chapter 3 - in his book on Bothun that may be of some use to you in filling out a few more details on Bothun and his presence in Dealey Plaza and the aftermath history of his film. Bothun is also mentioned in passing in other pages of this same book.



Gary Murr

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Here is Bothun 4:


This photo is important because of the shadowy figure on the photo right.  It could be anybody and difficult to prove as anyone.  The argument is over whether this is James Files, also known as James Sutton, a self-confessed assassin of President Kennedy.  Also, the umbrella man and the dark complexion man are featured.

As said earlier, it could be anyone and this controversy plus the umbrella man and the dark complexioned man really takes one’s eye off the picture and what else may be amiss in it.  Shadows and reflections are sometimes a clue that something is not quite right in a photo.  This is 12:30 plus a bit in Dallas, TX.  It is within a few moments of the Kennedy assassination.  So, in the photo is it long shadows or short shadows a better reflection of the time of the picture?  The angle of the shadow from the lamppost is different from the shadows of the figures in the picture.  The lamppost shadow has the same angle as the shadows in the monument in the background.  Is it a composite photo?  

All of the cameramen have long shadows.  The motorcycle policeman has a short shadow.  The light pole has a long shadow which is angled upward. The shadows in the monument are angle upward as the lamppost.  For the Newmans, Bill casts no shadow and Gayle his wife casts a tiny shadow.  The umbrella man casts a tiny shadow.  The dark complexioned man casts short shadow.

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Here is Z frame 342.  It is one of the clearer ones involving these two:


Are these two men twins?  Are they identical twins?  The only difference I can see between the two is one man has a longer black tie.  Are their cameras different or Altgens simply not available to view due to light reflection?   Magnify this frame and you can see this reflection may not be natural.  Bothun has slightly darker hair, which under magnification becomes a dark splotch rather than evenly spaced grey hair. 

The eye of the artist says these men are identical.  The men appear identical.  Their suits are the same.  They wear their suits the same way.  Their pear shaped bodies are the same.  Their shoulder width is the same. Their dimensions are the same.  Guessing their weight, one could conclude they weigh the same.  Their heights are the same.  Their head shape and ears are the same.

I magnified this Z frame 342 to make Richard Bothun 10 cm in height on screen.  And, from there took a series of measurements.  My eye is telling me Bothun and Altgens are the same.  And, if there are differences they should be minor and due primarily to one’s distance from the other.

Here is a table showing simple measurements of the two figures:

Bothun / Altgens and 7 measurements from Zapruder film Z 342:

Height      Width-waist    Width-shoulders       Width-head      Width-trousers

Bothun             10 cm               3 cm                 3 cm                             1.2 cm              1 cm

Altgens             10.5 cm            3 cm                 3 cm                             1.2 cm              1 cm

                        Length- head   Length-forearm           Length- trousers belt to shoe

Bothun             1.8 cm              2.3 cm                          5.4 cm 

Altgens             1.9 cm              2.3 cm                          5.5 cm

This is just rough measurement.  Here a photogrammetrist is needed.

Did the photo editors screw up and include Altgens twice in the film and had to take measures to insure folks would see these identical images as two people.  Are two films blended in this?  Or, is another camera man needed to explain the story across the street?

Jack White had a curious thing to say about Bothun in January, 2009 on the internet.  He said, “When I met him about 1979-80, I remember him being in his 40s or early 50s. Based on this I think he died way before his time. He lived in Fort Worth and commuted to Dallas to his job at the M-K-T railroad offices two blocks from the Plaza, on Main. In 1963, he would have been perhaps in his 20s or early 30s. I remember him looking much different than the man seen in Zapruder beside Altgens. I remember him as tall and thin, not stocky.

This is an unusual thing to say after validating the Altgens photos as authentic for decades.


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John, I did a quick search to find any info on a Richard Bothun who died in 1981 and came across a Richard O. Bothun who died in 1981 aged 59, couldn't find out where he lived yet (so don't even know if it's the same one or not). Peace.

EDIT: I did also come across a Janet S Bothun aged 93 who lives in Fort Worth Texas http://www.spokeo.com/Janet-Bothun/Texas

Edited by Alistair Briggs
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Thanks Alastair,

Geneaology is tough work.  You think you have someone right and much later you find that your wrong.

It sounds like you have fond a good candidate.  What disturbs me is Jack White knew about Bothun for decades.  I wish I could find a photo of Bothun.

I am almost certain I am right about Altgens being twinned in Zapruder.  Was it a mistake or intentional.

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Trask Interview with Mrs. Jan Bothun, 11/26/84 (Pictures of the Pain pg.155):

Mrs. Bothun recalled that her husband was very shocked at the sight of the President being hit in the head and that he had been close enough to hear Mrs. Kennedy “holler.”

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7 hours ago, John Butler said:

Right Alastair,

Went around the bend on that math mistake.


No worries, John. :)


FWIW I feel that it can be quite difficult to judge a persons age just from looking at them (harder still if from a photograph) as some people can look older than they are and others younger than they are - the ageing process is not linear, it's not an exact science. Having said that, most times any of us were to look at a photo and guess the age of someone we would probably be quite close amd not extremely far away...

... for example, if someone had shown me blindly the photo above showing Bothun and Altgens and asked me to guess their ages I would honestly have said man on left (Bothun) early 40's and man on left (Altgens) about 50.

lol as an aside about that photo, the bag on the grass looks like it could actually be a huge 'stetson' hat. lol and what about the man with the rifle in the 'sprocket hole'. lol ;)

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Glad you brought up Altgen's bag.  He is accredited with taking only 8 photos.  I've always wondered why such a small number of photos?  He was a professional.  He had his bag with extra cameras, lens, and plenty of film.  He went out to Dealey Plaza before noon.  Why not more photos?  Good question, I guess.

Your dead on about the ageing process.  People were still asking me for an ID when I bought a beer at 26 yrs old.

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You may be onto something big, John. There is an eerie similarity between Bothun's photos & Ike Altgens'  Dealey Plaza photos. Both could pass as being taken from the same camera, from the same photographer's film spot.

Ike Altgens appears in Bothun photo 4. Do you suspect some photo hanky panky there, John?


Brad Milch

Edited by Brad Milch
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23 minutes ago, John Butler said:


Glad you brought up Altgen's bag.  He is accredited with taking only 8 photos.  I've always wondered why such a small number of photos?  He was a professional.  He had his bag with extra cameras, lens, and plenty of film.  He went out to Dealey Plaza before noon.  Why not more photos?  Good question, I guess.

Yeah, a good question...

If memory serves me right Altgens only had one camera with him and that camera was his own manual camera. He didn't take the companies normal equipment as he wasn't originally assigned to be out the office that day. Might well have had lenses and plenty of film (although changing those would of course take a bit of time). Eh, again, if memory serves me right, he originally went to the bridge to find a good angle but was sent away from there, so instead made his way over to the plaza...

I would say the reason he didn't take photos before the motorcade passed was because he didn't see a need for it - if he was there to photograph the motorcade not much point in 'wasting' film taking photos before it... as for why no more photos after the event - I don't know, but then who can really tell how the 'shock' of seeing what he saw would have affected him...

... perhaps he did snap another couple of photos or more but they didn't work out. I just don't know.

... if memory serves me right Altgens said something about a manual camera needing more care to take good photos with.

... still, a good question you have asked.



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