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An argument for actual innocence of Oswald in the Tippit case

Greg Doudna

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(Part 1 of 3)

An argument for actual innocence of Oswald in the Tippit case

"The Innocence Project, founded in 1992 by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck at Cardoza School of Law, exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. The Innocence Project's mission is to free the staggering number of innocent people who remain incarcerated, and to bring reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment." (From the Innocence Project website, https://innocenceproject.org.)

It looks so airtight that Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO) killed Dallas Police officer J.D. Tippit on Nov 22, 1963. Oswald was arrested with the same kind of weapon used by the killer, at a location in the direction the killer was seen headed and then seen going into that very location immediately prior to Oswald's arrest in that theatre. Multiple witnesses identified Oswald out of lineups as the gunman at the Tippit crime scene. Spent shell hulls from the murder weapon thrown to the ground by the killer at the scene of the crime were matched to the revolver found on Oswald's person at his arrest to the exclusion of all other weapons, according to the FBI lab. 

Nevertheless, as in cases taken up by the Innocence Project, this is an argument for Oswald's actual innocence in the Tippit case. I request assistance from readers in fact-checking, in identifying logical flaws and/or possible improvements or oversights on my part. This is draft material subject to editing and change as this project develops, hopefully with contributions of some more knowledgeable than me in specific areas, ultimately perhaps to be posted on the Mary Ferrell site if the Mary Ferrell site is willing and if it survives cross-examination here.

This is my schematic outline of the case (it is not the full argument on any specific point, nor are references given or developed here).

Six lines of exculpatory argument for LHO:

1) Location implausible => innocence

This argument requires no establishment that Oswald was anywhere else specifically, only an argument that it is unlikely and unreasonable that Oswald would have been present at the scene of the crime at the time of the crime, in terms of any known reason or rationale or expectation. The location where Tippit was killed is not at all in the direction of or on the way to the Texas Theatre from Oswald’s rooming house in Oak Cliff, meaning if Oswald had gone to the crime scene he was not headed to the Theatre. But there is reason to suppose Oswald had advance intention to go to the Theatre, and there has never been a credible explanation of where else Oswald would have been headed or why he would be where Tippit was killed, if it was Oswald at the Tippit crime scene. And no witness saw Oswald walking from his rooming house in the direction of the Tippit crime scene.

The point is there is no known reason why LHO would have been or would want to have been at the Tippit crime scene. This is not quite decisive as an argument for exoneration since knowledge of why he may have been there is not essential if other evidence that he was there is airtight. But the anomaly of no known explanation for why he would be there underscores the question of whether the alleged other evidence of his presence actually is substantial. 

2) Lack of report that Oswald’s revolver had been fired since its last cleaning => innocence

This is a dog-that-did-not-bark argument. The Dallas Police Department (DPD) and FBI failed to report any check or test establishing that Oswald’s revolver had been fired since its last cleaning—fouled cylinder, smell, chemical test, etc. It is difficult to attribute this to no such test or check having been conducted of this most basic point (e.g. a Dallas Police officer sniffing the barrel of the gun). It can be assumed some such examination was done, but then the question is raised why results of such examination were never reported. If examination showed the revolver had been fired since its last cleaning, that surely would have been reported and broadcast, as consistent with Oswald having recently fired his revolver. Since no such report of that nature was given, there are grounds for supposing such examination showed no evidence that Oswald's revolver had been fired since its last cleaning. 

3) Fingerprints left by the killer of Tippit found not to be Oswald’s => innocence

Witnesses saw the killer of Tippit lean into the cruiser of Tippit on the front passenger side and talk to Tippit through the passenger window vent. Then as Tippit got out of the cruiser on the driver’s side the killer went around the right front fender and shot and killed Tippit. Less than thirty minutes later fingerprints were lifted from the top of the right passenger door and right front fender of the Tippit cruiser by a Dallas Police Crime Lab investigator.

These fingerprints were characterized by the Dallas Police to the Warren Commission as smeared and incapable of giving usable information. However it was determined ca. 1998 from a fresh examination by an experienced latent fingerprint examiner, Herbert Lutz, obtained and published by Dale Myers, that the fingerprints from both of those locations on the cruiser were from a single individual and that it is excluded that that individual was Oswald.

Those fingerprints almost certainly are from the killer of Tippit. Unless those fingerprints from exactly the position on the right front passenger door where witnesses saw the killer’s hands were from someone else, Oswald is exonerated.

4) Identification of the likely murder weapon used in the Tippit killing, different than LHO's revolver => innocence

Early Saturday morning, Nov 23, 1963, a citizen found a snub-nosed Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver with some fruit in a paper bag abandoned on a street in downtown Dallas where it had been thrown out a car window, strongly suggestive of a weapon abandoned following a recent homicide. Since the only murder by handgun known in the Dallas area in that time frame was officer Tippit, and since the paper-bag revolver is in exact agreement with the kind of weapon that killed Tippit, there is a strong likelihood that that .38 Special revolver found in the paper bag, rather than Oswald's revolver, was the murder weapon of the Tippit killing, provided that conclusion is not excluded on the grounds of other evidence.

This paper-bag revolver was not found in Oak Cliff where Tippit was killed but instead was found several blocks from the last known location in Dallas, before his unexplained flight from Dallas that same morning of Nov 23, 1963, of the candidate for identity of the actual killer of Tippit to be argued: it was found several blocks from the Carousel Club in downtown Dallas.

5) Alibi => innocence

Oswald was present in the Texas Theatre, some distance from the scene of the Tippit killing on 10th Street in Oak Cliff at the time Tippit was killed, according to witness testimony. The presence of Oswald inside the theatre at the time Tippit was being killed elsewhere is based on three out of three staff and patrons of the Theatre who gave information concerning time of arrival of LHO to the theatre, that is, one hundred percent of witnesses among the staff and patrons of the theatre that day who gave information concerning the time Oswald was in the theatre, either in the form of firsthand testimony (two cases) or reported secondhand (in the third case). A non-staff, non-patron of the theatre, a manager of a nearby store, testified he saw the arrested Oswald enter the theatre at a later time consistent in timing with that individual having killed Tippit, but that will be argued to have been that witness's sighting of the killer, not Oswald, entering the theatre.

6) Argument for an alternative identification of the killer of Tippit, an alternative solution to the case other than Oswald => innocence

An alternative narrative sees what happened in the Texas Theatre with Oswald as in continuity with Oswald being marked for death in the aftermath of the assassination of President Kennedy, in continuity with what happened two days later on Sunday, Nov 24, when Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby. The alternative candidate for the Tippit gunman to be developed is uncontroversially known to have been mistakenly identified by eyewitnesses as Oswald on occasions unrelated to the Tippit case. This man, recently arrived to Dallas, had self-professed hit man experience. He precipitously fled Dallas the day after the Tippit killing with no goodby to anyone (he told the Warren Commission he decided spontaneously that morning to hitchhike from Dallas to Michigan with $7 in his pocket to check that his sister in Michigan was OK [she was]). And last but not least, he was living on the business premises of the man who shot and killed Oswald two days later, and his employer, Jack Ruby. In the alternative narrative this killer of Tippit, after killing Tippit reloaded and went to the Texas Theatre with intent to kill Oswald, but that intent was interrupted by the call to the police of Brewer and Postal and rapid police response. Two days later, the killer’s employer, Jack Ruby, killed Oswald, accomplishing the objective which had failed to be accomplished two days earlier in the Texas Theatre. 

In other words, Oswald went to the Theatre to meet someone. The killer of Tippit knew Oswald was there and went to the Theatre to kill Oswald. Both intentions were thwarted by the arrival of police who arrested Oswald. Instead of arresting the killer of Tippit, police arrested that killer’s intended next victim, who was in that theatre.  

Edited by Greg Doudna
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(Part 2 of 3)

There are three classes of evidence commonly believed to implicate LHO which, per argument, are inverted or reversed to add weight in favor of exoneration of LHO. 

7) Witnesses and physical description => exoneration

Examination of cases, both of witnesses who identified the killer as Oswald and those who did not; assessment. It is argued that those witnesses who identified the killer as Oswald erred in those identifications and that witness testimony is exculpatory. Too much to even outline here as to specifics, but suffice it to say there have been many wrongful convictions in which DNA has established actual innocence, of persons who wrongly spent years in prison on the basis of eyewitnesses. It is an unfortunate and sad fact that there is a long history of eyewitnesses being fallible, for many reasons including desire to assist law enforcement in convicting people believed to be guilty, and so on.

😎 Jacket abandoned by fleeing killer and Oswald's jackets => exoneration

The argument here is that of LHO's two jackets (medium-gray and dark blue), he wore his gray jacket to work that morning from Irving, based on testimony of Wesley Buell Frazier, also Marina (who said he arrived in his gray jacket in Irving the evening before; she was sleeping and did not see what he was wearing the next morning when he left). He left the TSBD with that gray jacket on (based on arguably being seen with it on a bus and in a cab), but ditched that jacket at some point before he went into his rooming house on N. Beckley. There at Beckley, as Earlene Roberts told, he entered in shirt-sleeves and left zipping up a dark jacket, this being his dark blue and warmer one. He went to the Texas Theatre with his dark blue jacket, took off the jacket inside the theatre due to the warmth inside the theatre. When he was arrested he was not wearing the blue jacket. The blue jacket would have been left in the Theatre somewhere other than where Oswald was sitting when arrested. That dark blue jacket, identified as Oswald’s on the basis of positive identification by Marina to the FBI and agreement in hair analysis, was reported found at the TSBD three weeks later and eventually turned in to the FBI. One possibility is it was found at the Theatre shortly after the arrest and turned in to police (or found by police in the search that continued after Oswald was arrested), who, realizing it was Oswald's, arranged for it to be reported found at the TSBD. Oswald's actual wearing of his gray jacket to work that morning combined with not having that light jacket when he entered his rooming house in shirt sleeves, and then leaving zipping up a dark jacket differs from Oswald being the killer who wore and then abandoned in flight a light gray jacket, exculpatory. Also, the killer's jacket had a dry cleaning slip which could not be matched, despite investigative effort, to any dry cleaning establishment in Dallas or New Orleans, suggesting it had been dry cleaned outside of Dallas or New Orleans. Also, the killer's jacket was size M whereas LHO wore size S so far as is known, and that is consistent with the Tippit killer being a bit heavier than Oswald in agreement with witness testimony.

9) Why the killer of Tippit went to the theatre where Oswald was arrested => exoneration

The existing narrative is that LHO was arrested in the Theatre in the direction in which the killer was last seen headed before disappearing, then seen going into that building, because the killer was Oswald. The alternative narrative accounts for the same facts in a different way, namely, that the killer of Tippit, after carrying out a professional hit or execution of Tippit, reloaded and went next to the Theatre with intent to kill Oswald--intent to do then what his employer did two days later.

* * * * *

There are three classes of claimed argument for LHO incrimination which are removed as weight in favor of incrimination, without positive weight in favor of innocence.

1) Paraffin test on hands => weak or no positive weight in favor of incrimination.

A paraffin test found nitrates on Oswald's hands consistent with gunpowder residue and recent firing of a handgun. But the nitrates found are also consistent with non-incriminating explanations such that this is indecisive and that argument for incrimination is not substantial, let alone proof.

2) Two fibers found in killer's jacket armpits were of the same kind and color as LHO shirt => weak or no positive weight in favor of incrimination

Dark colored shirts are so common that this agreement from fiber color gives little positive weight in favor of incrimination. There never was a lab claim of an exclusive match of those fibers to an item of clothing of Oswald's. The Tippit killer was arguably also wearing a dark-colored shirt which would be a source of similar color of fibers. 

3) Resisting arrest => indeterminate

LHO punched an officer, there was a scuffle and a struggle over his gun, and he was alleged (wrongly) to have attempted to shoot the revolver. The argument is that if he had not shot Tippit he would not have resisted arrest but would have surrendered without resistance. That is a subjective assessment and indeterminate since innocent people have also resisted arrest.

Edited by Greg Doudna
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(Part 3 of 3)

If the above has been sound so far, there remain two basic arguments from physical evidence--one so strong as to appear airtight; the other very strong as well--for incrimination of Oswald from one class of physical evidence, in opposition to the lines of argument for exoneration.

1) Cartridge hulls from the killer's gun found near the scene of the crime were found by the FBI lab to have been fired from Oswald's revolver to the exclusion of all other weapons. This is considered the linchpin establishing Oswald's guilt, considered so strong as to outweigh all other considerations.

2) Mixture of the same two brands of bullets in the bullets taken from Tippit's body which killed Tippit; the hulls abandoned from the killer's revolver as he fled the scene of the crime; and the bullets found in Oswald’s revolver and on his person had the same two kinds of brands of bullets, Winchester-Western and Remington-Peters. The argument for incrimination is that for the bullets of both the revolver of the killer of Tippit, and the revolver of Oswald, to each have the same two brands of bullets in mixed form, is sufficiently striking as to be unlikely to be coincidence and weighs in favor of incrimination, in agreement with #1 which is considered stand-alone decisive.

* * * * *


To recapitulate:

There are nine lines of argument for exoneration of significant strength.

There are two lines of argument for incrimination, one of apparent stand-alone decisive strength and the other of either decisive or significant strength.

All eleven of these lines of argument--nine one way; two the other--cannot simultaneously be correct. Either the nine exculpatory are correct and the two for incrimination have other explanations, or the two incriminating are correct and the nine exculpatory have other explanations.

It will be observed that the two arguments for incrimination involve one class of evidence: the ballistics. Not two or three or four, but one class of physical evidence, upon which the argument for Oswald's guilt in the Tippit killing on the basis of physical evidence rests.

Here is introduced the sensitive issue of police handling of physical evidence. The argument for incrimination from ONE class of physical evidence essentially is a trust and confidence issue: trust and confidence that the DPD handled the ballistics evidence honestly and did not cook the evidence in this case. It is not that there are multiple lines of redundant physical evidence establishing Oswald's guilt other than this one class of physical evidence handled by the DPD (if the present analysis has been sound to this point). It is this specific ballistics evidence handled and preserved by the DPD which incriminates Oswald for the Tippit killing in the eyes of history. 

The focus here will be on the Dallas Police handling of evidence rather than the FBI lab. A case will be made that the DPD did some cooking of the ballistics evidence. This case is not made capriciously but on the basis of argument. Though the argument is circumstantial, it is in keeping with known behavior of some police departments as a general statement; it is in keeping with behavior of the Dallas Police Department in other instances than the ballistics as a general statement; the DPD had means, motive, and opportunity to do such in this case; and there are positive indications that such happened in this instance as a specific statement.

The theory of the case developed here is that there were three corruptions in the Dallas Police Department handling of the ballistics evidence in the Tippit case.

(1) The Dallas Police Department did not hand over to the FBI but withheld three of four bullets taken from Tippit's body, after being instructed to hand over all physical evidence in their possession and stating that they had done so. (This one is a matter of record and not in dispute.) 

(2) The four abandoned .38 Special cartridge hulls found at the scene of the crime from the killer's revolver and marked by officers were replaced, sometime between Sat Nov 23 and Tue Nov 26, by person or persons within the Dallas Police Crime Lab, by four substituted cartridge hulls fired from Oswald's revolver. Marks were scratched on the substitute hulls attempting to imitate, not entirely successfully, the officers' marks on the original hulls. Following this, the newly-marked hulls fired from Oswald’s revolver were handed over to the FBI on Thu Nov 28 to examine whether they were fired from Oswald’s revolver, in order to determine whether Oswald was guilty.

(3) Three .38 Special live cartridges of Winchester-Western manufacture of six taken from Oswald's revolver were replaced by three of Remington-Peters manufacture. 

In this reconstruction there were no substitutions in the four body bullets of Tippit, the revolver of Oswald, or the five shell hulls found by officers Boyd and Sims in Oswald's pants pocket. There was no planting of cartridge hulls at the scene of the crime. There was no corruption in the FBI lab with respect to these items. The FBI lab reported accurately on the basis of what they received. There is no claim that members of the DPD plotted in advance of Oswald's arrest to frame him.

There is no dispute that most members of the DPD, just as the world at large, believed Oswald was the killer of Tippit, but that is not contradictory to a phenomenon of police shaping evidence for the purpose of assisting in securing convictions of persons they believe are guilty. 

The argument for DPD evidence-tampering in the above three ways starts with the strength of the lines of argument for exoneration which raise the question of how secure is the one class of physical evidence from which derive the two substantial lines of argument for LHO's incrimination. It will be argued that there is significant reason to suppose that there was cooking of evidence in the case of the ballistics in the three ways described.

If these two substantial arguments from ballistics in favor of Oswald's incrimination collapse, the way is clear to accept the force of the arguments leading to a realization--against seemingly impossible odds at the outset--that Oswald is legitimately exonerated from the killing of officer Tippit.

Edited by Greg Doudna
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When did Oswald enter the Texas Theatre?

The issue is whether the man who ducked into the theatre about 1:40 pm without paying was the same man as Oswald in the theatre. What is the evidence that that was Oswald, and not the killer of Tippit bent on next killing Oswald already in the theatre? There is the nearby shoe store manager, Brewer's, witness identification--he got a look at the man outside his store--the killer of Tippit--who ran into the theatre, and Brewer said that man was Oswald seated in the main seating section on the ground floor of the theatre. But that is the only witness at the theatre making that identification (I will return to Brewer in a moment). No staff or patron of the theatre was a witness to that identification. Julia Postal was not. She saw the man out of the corner of her eye duck in but never claimed to match his face to the arrested Oswald she saw taken out. (She did say to the WC she did not remember seeing Oswald as a theatre patron earlier: "Not that I know of, huh-uh". [Statement analysis might assess that wording as less certain than a simple "no"; see further below.]) Her description or memory from a glance or peripheral vision was she thought the 1:40 pm ticket-skipper looked "ruddy" (WC testimony), a recurring witness description of the Tippit killer which does not describe Oswald but does describe recently hired Ruby handyman and later self-confessed former hit man frequently confused in appearance with Oswald, Curtis Laverne Craford aka Larry Crafard. There is nothing in terms of witness testimony at the theatre other than Brewer to identify the man who ran into the theatre at 1:40 with Oswald in the theatre. When did Oswald enter the theatre? 

A simple way to find out would have been to ask whoever took the tickets that day if they recognized Oswald as having been one of the theatre patrons. There is no record that that elementary question was asked or if so how it was answered. The one who took the tickets that day as the theatre opened was visiting general manager John Callahan. (WC testimony of Julia Postal: "just about the time we opened, my employer [John A. Callahan] had stayed and took the tickets because we change pictures on Thursday...") Callahan may have been able to give, perhaps did give, a very simple answer to that question if asked. However there is no record of his answer if he was asked. There is no record of an FBI interview of Callahan nor was Callahan called by the WC to testify. Nor is there any known publication of a journalist or book author having ever interviewed Callahan in the years following the assassination, nor any known talk or speech or writing from Callahan concerning Oswald in the theatre that day. How could Dallas Police and FBI have failed to interview him? But there is no record that they ever did, which does not necessarily mean they never did.

There is similarly no record that theatre patron Jack Davis was ever interviewed by the Dallas Police, the FBI, or the Warren Commission. But there is information from Jack Davis in later interviews and an oral history done for the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.

"Davis told this author [Jim Marrs] that on the day of the assassination, he went to the Texas Theater to see the war movies. The eighteen-year-old Davis found a seat in the right rear section of the theater and recalled seeing the opening credits of the first film, which occurred a few minutes past the 1 p.m. starting time for the feature movie. He said he was somewhat startled by a man who squeezed past him and sat down in the seat next to him. He found it odd that this man would choose the seat adjacent to him in a nine-hundred-seat theater with fewer than twenty patrons in it. Davis said the man didn't say a word but quickly got up and walked into the theater's lobby. A few minutes later, Davis, whose attention had returned to the movie, vaguely remembered seeing the same man enter the center section of the theater from the far side. Twenty minutes or so after this incident, according to Davis, the house lights came on and when he walked to the lobby to ask why, he saw policemen running in the door ... 'I heard some scuffling going on. A few minutes later the police brought out this same man who had sat down next to me.'" (Marrs, Crossfire [2013], 343, author's interview, fall 1988)

Theatre employee Butch Burroughs, who operated the concession stand, said the same thing as Jack Davis: that Oswald entered during the opening features prior to the start of the first movie, a few minutes after 1 pm (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p4AvezLnG0)

"We were playing this movie called "War is Hell' with Audie Murphy, and 'Proud Battle" with Dan Heffley. And we started the movie at 1:00, and I was counting candy behind the candy case. And Lee Oswald slipped in around, between 1:00 and 1:07."

Burroughs told Jim Douglass:

"Burroughs was asked by the Warren Commission attorney the apparently straightforward question, 'Did you see [Oswald] come into the theater?' and answered honestly, 'No sir; I didn't.' What someone reading this testimony would not know is that Butch Burroughs was unable to see anyone enter the theater from where he was standing at his concession stand, unless that person came into the area where he was working. As he explained to me in an interview, there was a partition between his concession stand and the front door. Someone could enter the theater, go directly up a flight of stairs to the balcony, and not be seen from the concession stand. That, Burroughs said, is what Oswald apparently did. However, Burroughs still knew Oswald had come into the theater 'between 1:00 and 1:07 P.M.' because he saw him inside the theater soon after that. As he told me, he sold popcorn to Oswald at 1:15 P.M.--information that the Warren Commission did not solicit from him in his testimony. When Oswald bought his popcorn at 1:15 P.M., this was exactly the same time the Warren Report said Officer Tippit was being shot to death" (Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable [2008], 291)

There was someone who dashed into the theatre around 1:40 pm without paying for a ticket, according to nearby store manager Brewer, looking like he was avoiding police and coming from the same direction as the Tippit killer was last seen headed. But that was the Tippit killer, not Oswald, if the witnesses are correct concerning the timeline. The killer of Tippit also went upstairs to the balcony, since Burroughs said he would have seen the 1:40 ticket-skipper if he had entered by the main section.

An important point is that Burroughs' claim to having seen Oswald in the theatre early is not late to Burroughs but is alluded to by Julia Postal in 1964 in her WC testimony, where Burroughs' story of seeing Oswald in the theatre earlier and selling popcorn to him is alluded to, misunderstood by Postal. Here is Julia Postal to the WC:

"Ah, he [Burroughs] said at first that he had seen him, and I says, 'Now, Butch, if you saw him come in--' says, 'Well, I saw him going out.' But he didn't really see him. So, he just summarized that he ran up in the balcony, because if he had come through the foyer, Butch would have seen him."

The way this can be read above is: Burroughs said that he had seen Oswald earlier. Julia Postal keeps thinking of the ticket-skipper of 1:40, whom Burroughs had clearly said he did not see, followed by Julia Postal's phone call to the police. Julia Postal disagrees with Burroughs as if to say how could you possibly have seen the ticket-skipper? Burroughs refers to the popcorn-selling in which Oswald came out of the main seating area, and bought popcorn--estimated by Brewer at about 1:15. Brewer was saying although he did not see Oswald earlier come in, he knew he was there earlier because he had seen him come out of the main theatre area when he bought popcorn around 1:15. That would be a sensible meaning of the cut-off expression quoted by Julia Postal from Burroughs, "I saw him going out." 

"In a 1987 interview with this author [Marrs], Burroughs, who then had become assistant manager at the Texas Theater, reiterated his story of someone slipping in the theater about 1:35 p.m. that day. However, Burroughs claimed that it could not have been Oswald because Oswald entered the theater shortly after 1 p.m. Burroughs said Oswald entered only minutes after the feature started, which was exactly at 1 p.m. He said several minutes later, about 1:15 p.m., the man later arrested by police and identified as Oswald came to his concession stand and bought some popcorn. Burroughs said he watched the man enter the ground floor of the theater and sit down next to a pregnant woman. About twenty minutes after this, the outside doors opened and Johnny Brewer arrived. Several minutes after the man--identified by Burroughs as Oswald--took his seat, the pregnant woman got up and went upstairs, where the ladies' restroom was located, said Burroughs." (Marrs, Crossfire [2013 edn], 342-43). 

Then there is this account, in agreement with the information developed from Jack Davis and Butch Burroughs, concerning Julia Postal (compare the slightly circumlocutionary way in which she answered the same question when asked in her earlier WC testimony, quoted earlier):

"Marrs referred me [author Tom Wallace Lyons] to J. Harris, a long time assassination investigator, who told me he interviewed Julia Postal. This interview took place in the office of the Texas Theater manager. Postal told Harris she thought she had glimpsed a surreptitious entry out of the corner of her eye. Eventually Harris turned the discussion to the moment the police brought Oswald out of the Texas Theater. Harris asked Postal whether, upon seeing Oswald, she had had any sense that she had sold him a ticket. Postal immediately burst into tears. Harris walked out of the office, then reinterviewed Postal in an attempt to calm her with less troubling questions. But she burst into tears again when asked whether she might have sold Oswald a ticket." (Lyons, "The Ruddy Link Between the Tippit Murder and the Texas Theater", Fourth Decade 4 no. 5, July 1997, pp. 3-9 at 6, accessible on the Mary Ferrell site)

Julia Postal, both in her original phone call to the police on Nov 22 and then out front in person to officers as they arrived, told arriving officers that the ticket-skipper was in the balcony. Several officers reported questioning an individual at the top of the steps to the balcony. This man, in the exact position where Julia Postal said the Tippit killer had gone, was let go by officers without any record of his name--a man in the exact position where Julia Postal knew and said the suspect had gone. Deputy sheriff Bill Courson of the Sheriff's Department may refer to the killer of Tippit here, whom he let walk by him:

"I started up the stairs of the balcony because that is where the call said that he was hiding. I'm reasonably satisfied in my own mind that I met Oswald coming down. I was looking for a man in a white or light colored jacket because at that time I hadn't been told that he had discarded the jacket and that it had been found. So there were two reasons why I didn't stop him. I'm looking for a man in the balcony, not coming down walking casually, and the description didn't fit because he was wearing a kind of plaid or checkered patterned shirt, not the light colored jacket. But I'm reasonably sure that it was Oswald." (Courson, in Sneed, No More Silence [1998], 485).

But that was not Oswald that Courson, one of the law enforcement responders converging on the Theatre, let walk by him coming down the stairs from the balcony as Courson went up the stairs looking for a Tippit killer somewhere in that balcony--for Oswald was at that moment seated in the main section below and about to be arrested in a scuffle there. The man Courson met coming from the balcony was someone else-- a man where Julia Postal said the ticket-skipper (the killer of Tippit) was, but who was not Oswald who was being arrested in the main area on the ground level of the theatre. After Courson went past this man coming from the balcony did other officers behind Courson stop and question that man before they too let him go without record of his name, despite names and addresses having been taken of patrons and staff in the theatre?

Bottom line: no staff or patron in the theatre, if the killer of Tippit who went into the balcony of the Theatre at about 1:40--no staff or patron in the theatre matched that man to Oswald in the main section who was arrested. The only ones inside the theatre who have given information concerning the timing of Oswald's arrival, in the two instances cited, specifically say Oswald was there early, along with the other customers that day. The only basis In terms of an eyewitness at the theatre for matching the killer, who went into the balcony area without paying, to Oswald, down on the main level, was nearby store manager Brewer.

How secure was Brewer's identification? Brewer from the stage in dim light saw a man standing up and sitting down the same man who had acted suspiciously in front of his store and then had gone into the Texas Theatre. That was the killer of Tippit. Brewer met arriving officers at the rear entrance of the theatre (the stage area). From that darkness of the state in dim light Brewer saw Oswald stand up from his seat and then sit down again on the main floor. That caught Brewer's eye and Brewer pointed him out to officers as their man--an identification from a distance based on suspicious movement and he thought it looked like the suspicious man he had seen. Brewer subsequently identified the arrested Oswald as the man he had seen outside of his store windows, but was that identification correct? 

It has long been suggested that Oswald was in that Theatre to meet someone. If so, others than Oswald knew he would be at the Texas Theatre, and arguably in this case that knowledge leaked to persons who sought to kill him and who now had verified his presence there. As to how Oswald got to the Theatre, probably by bus south on Beckley after the stop at his rooming house.

Edited by Greg Doudna
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The disappearance of DPD records of the Texas Theatre names of staff and patrons witnesses

It is difficult to see an innocent explanation for the Dallas Police department having no record of the names of the Texas Theatre patrons that day. Beyond any question names and addresses were taken down by police. But those names and addresses of witnesses inside the theatre potentially important for the knowledge that they might have given if properly questioned, disappeared without explanation.

Captain W. R. Westbrook, senior DPD officer in command at the time of Oswald's arrest, WC testimony, gave orders to take down names but said he had no idea what happened to the names. (WR VII, 118)

Mr. Westbrook: "I ordered all of them [officers] to be sure and take the names of everyone in the theatre at that time."

Mr. Ball. We have asked for names of people in the theatre and we have only come up with the name of George Applin. Do you know of any others?

Mr. Westbrook. He possibly might have been the only one [patron] in there at the time the rest of them might have been working there, because I'm sure at that time of day you would have more employees than you would have patrons.

Mr. Ball. You didn't take the names of any of the patrons?

Mr. Westbrook. No, Sir.

Mr. Ely. Yes; I have one [question]. Captain, you mentioned that you had left orders for somebody to take the names of everybody in the theatre, and you also stated you did not have this list; do you know who has it?

Mr. Westbrook: No; possibly Lieutenant Cunningham will know, but I don't know who has the list.

There is no record the Warren Commission took the indicated next step of asking, or asking the FBI to ask, Lieutenant Elmo Cunningham about this matter--or if there was inquiry made and the answer was not deemed useful it was not preserved, one or the other. Cunningham himself in Sneed, No More Silence (1998), 266, confirms he did have a list that day but says he had no idea what he did with it. But he explained that the list in his custody has disappeared is of no consequence because, Cunningham assured the Warren Commission, none of those witnesses would have been of any interest to investigators even if investigators had knowledge of who they were and had been able to question them. Cunningham in his WC testimony:

"There were about a dozen patrons in the theater which had just opened on that Friday afternoon around 1:00 o'clock. The two other officers and myself asked people what information they had which was absolutely nothing ... After [Oswald] was taken out I didn't take any written statements from the dozen or so people in the theater; I just talked to them and took their names down. In fact, I don't recall whether I turned the list of names in or not. In any case, there was nothing there in light of useful information."

Note Cunningham did not say he did not turn in names (or that he did). He says "I don't recall". But not to worry--he explains there was nothing any of those witnesses could have told which any investigator would have found useful, so no harm done that the list has disappeared. "I don't recall" is a common way to avoid disclosing information without being prosecuted for perjury or contempt of court for refusal to answer a question or disclose. Is Cunningham's claim not to remember what he did with that list, truthful? 

Detective John Toney, working with Cunningham that day, elaborates on the questioning of the theatre patrons that day. Toney's account appears to be straightforward and accurate. Toney:

"After the arrest [of Oswald], we sealed the theater to get a list of the witnesses, though there weren't many there (. . .) At that time, we didn't know what we had. We didn't know about Oswald; he was just a person with a gun. Since these people who were in the theater had not been advised of their rights at that time, and trying to be as legal as possible, we were merely getting names for the interrogators to be used later instead of interrogating them, per se, at the scene. This information was then handed over to the Homicide Division." (Toney, in Sneed, No More Silence, 309).

In the earlier written statements of officers at the Theatre that day turned in to Dallas Police Chief Curry, Cunningham's statement, dated Dec 3, 1963, omits any mention of taking down names (which he later said in Sneed that he did), or of the existence of any written list, let alone turning in of such a list (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=10483#relPageId=393). On the other hand, the written statement of Toney to Chief Curry, also dated Dec 3, 1963 (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=10483#relPageId=409), has this:

"Lt. Cunningham was in charge at the scene and requested that uniformed officers to keep the theatre closed for the purpose of interviewing the witnesses inside the theatre."

The Warren Commission apparently accepted Captain Westbrook's inability to answer what became of the names as a satisfactory final word on that matter without drilling down with further investigation on that point.

On the basis of Toney's account, Lt. Cunningham's account not in contradiction to it, and expected police procedure, it can be reconstructed that that list was turned over to the Homicide Division that day. It would seem the logical person to have received it would have been either Captain Fritz or perhaps more likely Det. Jim Leavelle who was in charge of the Tippit case. I am not aware of any information that relevant officers in the Homicide Division were ever questioned by the Warren Commission or FBI on this point so as to confirm or deny their division received that list, and in order to determine what became of that important witness list in their custody.

There is an appearance that that list may have been lost on purpose, so to speak. But why? Unknown. Was there something exculpatory or potentially exculpatory that would have assisted a defense team for Oswald and made conviction in court less secure? Was there some name on that Theatre witness list that DPD did not wish to see be made public? Unknown.  

This is only one of several indicators that Dallas Police department handling of evidence in the Tippit case may have involved tampering or intentional disappearance of evidence that may have been counterproductive in development of a clean case against Oswald. Disappearance of evidence or lacunas in evidence while in police custody necessarily raises the question of whether that which is disappeared might have been exculpatory to a suspect. 

Edited by Greg Doudna
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Some Dallas Police Department improprieties in the handling of physical evidence: context

Before entering into the question directly of whether trust and faith in the integrity of DPD handling of the ballistics evidence in the Tippit case is warranted, some other examples of Dallas Police handling of physical evidence, for context.

(1) Claim that identification of fingerprints from the Tippit cruiser’s passenger side which give the appearance of having been associated with the killer were unreadable (no information possible therefrom), instead of disclosure that those prints could be excluded as belonging to OswaldThis refers to fingerprints which had been found and lifted from two places on the Tippit cruiser, ca. twenty minutes after Tippit was killed, where witnesses had seen the killer leaning in to speak to Tippit and then move around the right front fender. Sergeant W. E. Barnes of the Dallas Crime Lab dusted and found what were reported to the Warren Commission to be several smear prints “just below the top of the door [on the right side], and also on the right front fender” (7H272), but, Barnes reported, “none of value”. That was the state of that evidence until new information was reported by Dale Myers in With Malice (pp. 336-40 of the 2013 edition [first edn 1998]). Myers obtained the Dallas Crime Lab photos of those prints from Dallas Police archives and had a latent fingerprint expert, Herbert Lutz, veteran crime scene technician for Wayne County, Michigan, examine the prints. Lutz found that one person was probably responsible for all of the prints taken by Barnes and that the fingerprints on the right front fender had enough information to exclude that they could have come from Oswald. As Myers summarizes, “In short, the fingerprints taken from Tippit’s patrol car were not Oswald’s”. Myers does not regard this as exculpatory for Oswald since “there were plenty of opportunities for a number of people to have touched the police car [after the Tippit killing] before it was secured”. But those fingerprints likely are the killer’s prints (what other single person was likely to have placed his hands both near the window on the passenger side and on the right front fender, in agreement with the movements of the killer with respect to the cruiser?)--even if that point is not certain. Potentially even today those prints could still be matched to and identify the true killer of Tippit. An unanswered and perhaps unanswerable question is raised whether it was convenient or suitable for the DPD Crime Lab to declare the prints had “no value” rather than disclose that a match with Oswald could be known excluded. Did the Dallas Police fail to disclose that which would have been counterproductive in building the case desired to prevail in the court of public opinion?

(2) Representation to the FBI of having turned all physical evidence over to the FBI, while withholding three of four bullets taken from Tippit’s body. The DPD was mandated to turn over all physical evidence to the FBI, and on Nov 28, 1963 the DPD did so except for those three bullets. That the FBI wanted all bullets involved in the Tippit case is made clear from its request to the Secret Service to hand over two of six bullets taken from Oswald’s revolver which the DPD had given the Secret Service two days earlier on Nov. 26. But the DPD withheld the remaining three of four bullets taken from the body of Tippit which had been removed during the autopsy and were in DPD possession, with DPD falsely claiming to FBI they had handed over everything. When Warren Commission investigators learned of the existence of these three bullets they asked the FBI to find and examine those bullets. On March 17, 1964, Capt. Fritz, speaking for the DPD, after first saying those bullets were lost, reported having found them and turned them over to the FBI (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=11293#relPageId=293). As Myers describes with references there,

“In 1964, the Warren Commission noted that Tippit’s autopsy report showed he had been hit by four bullets … the Commission asked the FBI on March 12, 1964, to contact the Dallas Police and recover the additional three bullets and subject them to FBI examination … At 4:45 p.m. on March 13, 1964, Captain Fritz advised FBI agent Drain that he had located the three slugs in his files and advised the FBI that they had been placed there by a detective who had not made a record of their location. Fritz apologized for having told the FBI earlier than only one slug (the one removed at Methodist Hospital) had been recovered” (Myers, With Malice, 770-771).

Was the failure to turn over those Tippit bullets, and denial to FBI that there was anything missing in the physical evidence handed over, innocent error? A motive for impropriety is not clear but one possibility could be fear concerning the unknown results of FBI examination of the remaining three Tippit body bullets compared to Oswald's revolver (such as the risk of a finding that the bullets did not come from Oswald's revolver?). Simply put, since the one bullet from Tippit’s body, examined by the FBI lab on the night of Nov 22-23, 1963, had failed to be exclusively identified as having come from Oswald’s revolver but was indeterminate, there could be a fear or risk that one or more of the remaining bullets, upon examination, might prove exculpatory or otherwise introduce complications. (As it happened, all of those three remaining Tippit body bullets were reported indeterminate [neither confirmed nor excluded] by the FBI lab on the question of whether they came from Oswald’s revolver, just as the FBI had reported for the first one. But the Dallas Police might not have known that would be the outcome.)

(3) Disappearance of a critically important witness list of Texas Theatre patrons. Previously discussed. While it is difficult to conclusively prove intentionality, there is an appearance of possible intentionality in this disappearance and the consequent lack of followup interviewing of those witnesses whose names remain unknown to the present day, especially heartwrenching if one of those names had been supplied to officers by a true Tippit killer other than Oswald in the theatre that day. At best--and this seems a stretch--it was serious incompetence to lose such a list, which by coincidence functioned to eliminate the simplest and easiest means by which an Oswald legal defense team could establish an alibi and exculpation for Oswald if he was innocent of the Tippit killing, and by a further oversight oddly never resulted in any known departmental disciplinary sanction or accountability or even letter of reprimand for an officer found to have negligently lost such an important list of witnesses. There was also no attempt on the part of police or investigators at partial reconstruction of a list of theatre patrons' names that afternoon after the original officers' written list went missing. 

(4) Suspicion on the part of other law enforcement and investigative bodies that the Dallas Police Department Crime Lab was capable of and did fabricate physical evidence. An investigative body which expressed this concern was the Warren Commission. From an FBI memo of Aug. 28, 1964:

“Mr. Rankin [General Counsel, Warren Commission] advised that the members of the President’s Commission were rather anxious to try to resolve a question … Mr. Rankin advised several questions had been raised relative to the palm print found on the barrel of the assassination rifle … Mr. Rankin stated as he understood the matter the palm print located on the rifle barrel had been located by Lieutenant Day of the Dallas Police Department and had been lifted from the rifle by Lieutenant Day. … On Sunday, November 24, District Attorney Henry Wade, when questioned before news media, made the statement that a palm print had been found. … Mr. Rankin advised because of the circumstances that now exist there was a serious question in the minds of the Commission as to whether or not the palm impression that has been obtained from the Dallas Police Department is a legitimate latent palm impression removed from the rifle barrel or whether it was obtained from some other source.” (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=59637#relPageId=6)

Gerald Drain, the lead FBI agent in Dallas involved in liaising with the DPD concerning physical evidence, believed the Dallas Police Department had fabricated that evidence in a context of external pressure to build evidence in the case. Gerald Drain:

“I just don’t believe there ever was a print … All I can figure is that it [Oswald’s print] was some sort of cushion, because they were getting a lot of heat by Sunday night. You could take the print off Oswald’s card and put it on the rifle. Something like that happened.” (Drain quoted in Henry Hurt, Reasonable Doubt [1985], 109) 

These suspicions on the part of other law enforcement investigators that the Dallas Crime Lab had fabricated evidence on the part of other law enforcement are not proof in themselves that DPD did so, but it is the identities and standing of those who held such questions concerning the integrity of DPD handling of physical evidence which is the item of note here. 

There is more, but the above four cases are relatively straightforward factually. These may establish a context from which to approach the question of faith and confidence in the handling of the ballistics evidence in the Tippit case by the Dallas Police Department, and more specifically the Crime Lab of that police department. A witness to the Tippit crime scene had this to say to the Warren Commission:

Mr. CALLAWAY. We first went into the room. There was Jim Leavelle, the detective, Sam Guinyard, and then this busdriver and myself. We waited down there for probably 20 or 30 minutes. And Jim told us, "When I show you these guys, be sure, take your time, see if you can make a positive identification … We want to be sure, we want to try to wrap him up real tight on killing this officer. We think he is the same one that shot the President. But if we can wrap him up tight on killing this officer, we have got him." (3H355)

Edited by Greg Doudna
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The saga of the finding of the killer's light gray jacket--a surprising back story (and another DPD evidence-handling irregularity)

Dale Myers wrote a very interesting blog post on Nov. 12, 2020, with information from a previously-unreported witness, Doretha Dean, part of the husband-and-wife operators of Dean's Dairy Way at 409 E. Jefferson Blvd., told by way of surviving family members (daughters) (https://jfkfiles.blogspot.com/2020/11/warren-reynolds-and-oswalds-jacket.html). Dean's Dairy was a store next to Ballew's Texaco Station on the corner. The fleeing killer of Tippit was seen running north between Ballew's Texaco and Dean's Dairy into a parking lot and alley area out back, and it was there that a light gray jacket was found by police abandoned by the fleeing killer, or so the story goes. There is no dispute here that that jacket was the killer's, abandoned by the killer in that general location. But Myers' article--and this is new since his book--brings out new information, an interesting back story to the find circumstances of that item of physical evidence. For Doretha Dean had always told her daughters that she--Doretha Dean--had found that jacket, and not in the parking lot out back, but on a tire rack on the east side of Ballew's Texaco in a narrow corridor between Ballew's Texaco and the west side of Dean's Dairy.

According to Doretha Dean, she saw a man--(the Tippit killer)--walk heading west in front of her store, tugging on his jacket as if starting to take it off. The man turned right (north), around the corner of her store and headed to the area in the rear of the stores. Mrs. Dean, curious, walked outside and followed and found the jacket on the tire rack. Mrs. Dean then picked up the jacket and took it back with her into her store and gave it to the police, was Mrs. Dean's story handed down in the family.

Despite Myers finding the Mrs. Dean story as told by her daughters' story credible in just about every other way, he rejects the Mrs. Dean story of the jacket find, on the grounds that the long-reported version of its find by police under a car in the parking lot out back has too much evidence. Myers assumes that the two stories are contradictory and cannot both be correct, as premise, therefore rejects the Mrs. Dean story. But from the information brought out by Myers' reporting of the account of Mrs. Dean, I believe a different interpretation is indicated, in which both accounts are correct. First the jacket was found by Mrs. Dean. Then the jacket was reported, by on-site Captain Westbrook of the Dallas Police department, as found in the parking lot out back, but with an odd lack of disclosure on the part of Westbrook or any other officer as to who first brought that jacket to police attention.

In reading this interview account obtained by Myers I felt a glow of recognition as several anomalous details seemed to fall into place in this light. Why has it been such a long-held secret (seemingly) surrounding the simple fact of the name of the officer who first found the jacket under the car in the parking lot? Captain Westbrook reported the discovery of the jacket but always said it was not he who had found it. Westbrook said another officer had given it to him but he, Westbrook, did not know who that officer was.(!) No other officer at that scene at the time would publicly identify or personally come forth as the finder either, only, when any officer was asked, it was always some other unnamed officer. For example motorcycle officer Hutson told the WC he was there and saw the jacket picked up by "another officer" whom he never identified. Hutson testified that Westbrook was there, "but I don't know who had it in their hands. The only time I saw it was when the officer had it." The unnamed officer himself never came forward, either then or in later years, to identify himself, say in an interview or public appearance, to say something like, "By the way, I am the one who found the jacket and gave it to Captain Westbrook who phoned it in". To the present day, although there is speculation, it has never been confirmed or verified who the mystery officer who supposedly found the jacket in the parking lot, was. What was going on with that? The unusual withholding of a simple name of the officer who actually found the jacket? What was the big secret? So there always was that oddity, prior to the Mrs. Dean story.

Myers also objects (in addition to the argument that the police version refutes Mrs. Dean's version) that "there is nothing in the contemporary record that even remotely hints that Mrs. Dean recovered the discarded jacket".

But something in the contemporary record may support Mrs. Dean's story. In an FBI document of 8/24/64 referring to a statement of B.M. Patterson of Reynolds Motor Company of 11/23/63, Patterson--a witness with coworker Warren Reynolds--followed the killer west on Jefferson and saw him run north between Ballew's Texaco and Dean's Dairy, "did identify Oswald and also saw him discard his zipper jacket" (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=62230#relPageId=109). Myers accepts this witness of Patterson, assuming the reference must be to Patterson having seen the killer in the parking lot out back take off the jacket. Myers notes that upon reinterview Patterson did not back off from his claim to have seen the killer discard his jacket.

But from the accounts of Patterson and Reynolds they followed the killer on Jefferson and kept a bit of distance behind (for safety), and it is more likely that Patterson witnessed the killer removing his jacket from a vantage point of Patterson being on Jefferson. It is not clear that there would be a vantage point on Jefferson by which a person could be seen removing his jacket in the parking lot out back at the reported find site (due to no line of sight behind the buildings)--the only way would be if Patterson had also run back and was in that parking lot as well as the killer to have seen that, which is not likely where Patterson was. Patterson's story, in other words, may be in agreement with the Mrs. Dean story. In Mrs. Dean's story, she saw the killer "tugging at his jacket" as he passed in front of her store and turned north, and this would agree with Patterson, likely watching from the other side of Jefferson, saying he saw the killer discarding the jacket. In an FBI interview report of 1/23/64 the discarding of the jacket is included in an account of what Patterson saw, even though that FBI interview report editorially adds after mention of the jacket, "which was later recovered by the Dallas Police Department". 

The post of Myers contains much more in the way of reconstruction of timing and movements (some modifying and updating With Malice). Myers thinks Warren Reynolds ran to the scene of the crime on 10th St. and there met officer Roy Walker who reported in at 1:22 p.m. a description of the killer and that he was last seen at the 300 block of E. Jefferson. I believe Myers' reconstruction errs on some of these details, and that Reynolds did not encounter Walker at 10th Street but at Jefferson in the area of the Texaco and Dean's Dairy. Myers reports that Roy Walker disclosed to Myers in 1983 that Warren Reynolds was Walker's witness source for the 1:22 physical description in which Walker reported the fleeing gunman was "last seen about 300 block of East Jefferson". Myers cites the sound of police sirens in the background of Roy Walker's recorded transmission as evidence of a 10th Street (not Jefferson) location of Roy Walker, but there was so much police presence and especially with Jefferson being a main artery that that point seems insubstantial. (Was the siren in the background the sound of the ambulance from the Dudley Funeral Home taking Tippit to Methodist Hospital?) Myers also cites Robert Brock, a mechanic at Ballew's Texaco, as saying Reynolds told them the running man they had seen had killed an officer, which Myers takes as evidence that Reynolds had to have gone to Tenth St. to have learned that; but a simpler explanation is that Brock conflated when Reynolds told them the fleeing man had killed an officer, with Reynolds telling them soon after Reynolds learned it (still at Jefferson) from "an unknown source" (Roy Walker?) at Jefferson (FBI interview report, 1/22/64, https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=111186#relPageId=109). That "unknown source" I believe may have been officer Roy Walker, at the time Reynolds gave Walker a physical description of the fleeing suspect and Walker called it in at 1:22 p.m. 

That Reynolds gave the information in Roy Walker's 1:22 radio transmission to Roy Walker at Jefferson and not at 10th, I think may be confirmed in a photo in With Malice on page 185, captioned "WFAA reporter Victor F. Robertson, Jr. listens as Warren Reynolds (sunglasses) tells a Dallas police officer that the gunman went into the rear of the used furniture store seen in the background". In that photo to the left is a profile figure of an officer with police cap and head bowed to hear better, with a cigarette in his mouth. That must be Roy Walker! Filmed on location at Jefferson. It was Roy Walker who phoned in the Jefferson block location of the last seen information of the killer, telling Myers in later years that his source (long a mystery) was Warren Reynolds, filmed at Jefferson telling Walker that by WFAA. So I think Myers' reconstruction of Reynolds running to 10th Street is incorrect and is not necessary to account for the facts.

Another correction I would offer to Myers' 2020 updated reconstruction in the light of Mrs. Dean's story concerns the detail of hearing an attempted forced entry into an abandoned building next door. Here is the daughters' retelling of their mother's story in the Myers blog post. Their mother, Mrs. Dean, is inside Dean's Dairy, in the setting of this account. Mrs. Dean . . . 

". . . heard a loud banging on the door of the two-story house next door at 413 E. Jefferson Boulevard. She described it as someone 'shaking and banging on the door as if they were ripping off the hinges of the screen door trying to get in.' She said that the efforts she heard were 'hard, fierce, and determined.'

"Immediately after hearing those sounds, she heard someone 'running down the rickety stairs that led down from the second floor' of the second-hand store.

"This caused her to look up and out the front window in an easterly direction toward the second-hand store. Just as she did, a young man rounded the corner walking briskly in a westerly direction. As he broke into a run, he was tugging at his jacket, as if to take it off. In those days, the Dairy Way had an overhead door so it made the store fully open rather than windowed, and the cashier's counter was close to the sidewalk. Mrs. Dean got a good look at the man who passed her at less than ten feet and positively identified him as Lee Harvey Oswald. She stepped outside the store and peered around the corner at the area in between the store and the Texaco service station next door. She saw Oswald continue behind the service station and into the parking lot."

These parts of Mrs. Dean's story, which Myers accepts, are followed by the story of Mrs. Dean finding the jacket on the tire rack and taking it back into her store with her, which Myers rejects (the jacket-finding part of the story). Myers believes the killer (because Myers believes Oswald was the killer, Myers refers to the killer as "Oswald") ran up the stairs of the vacant building next door to try to break into a locked abandoned building. When that failed, Myers reconstructed, the killer raced down the stairs again and continued west on the sidewalk. That makes no sense as the movements of a fleeing killer. The simple explanation is those sounds Mrs. Dean told her daughters from next door were not from the killer, but rather of police who did exactly that, stormed up those stairs and beat on the door, shaking down that building because Reynolds had told them he thought the killer might have gone into that building from the back. In the retelling by Mrs. Dean's daughters that was simply told out of order, and two distinct things--Mrs. Dean seeing the killer go by her store (that happened first), and separately, hearing officers storming the abandoned building next door (that followed after that)--were mistakenly conflated and told out of order, mistakenly as if (so the daughters misunderstood) it had been the killer who did exactly what officers did minutes later, noisily storm up those stairs and bang and beat on the door and enter that building.

So the killer did not decide to hide by turning off Jefferson to run up a flight of stairs of a random building to beat on a door noisily trying to break in, then when finding that random door locked ran back down the stairs and on the sidewalk continuing west. That did not happen. The killer went by Mrs. Dean's store without turning into the abandoned antique store building, then turned north around the corner of Mrs. Dean's store, shedding his jacket and on into the parking lot and alley behind, then proceeded west in that alley. It was police shaking down the house to Mrs. Dean's east that Mrs. Dean heard, not the killer making that noise on the steps next door.

Mrs. Dean may have been right concerning finding the jacket in the tire rack and taking it back into her store and giving it to police. When Mrs. Dean almost immediately saw police activity, the first thing she would do would be to turn over that jacket to an officer who would say, "what is this?" and she would explain it was from the fleeing man who had abandoned it. (Would that officer have been Roy Walker?) Police, aware of a lack of chain of custody, therefore had the jacket had "found" on the ground at the reported find spot under a nearby parked car, after Mrs. Dean had taken the jacket herself out back to officers in the parking lot there, however it worked. In this way both stories are true of where the jacket was found, except that all identifiable officers referring to the finding of the jacket say only that they were given it or saw it being turned in by another never-named officer who was never identified. The jacket's movements before Westbrook phoned in the find in the parking lot had this brief prehistory that was not disclosed by the DPD. This would represent a minor DPD coverup, nothing to do with framing anyone, but rather motivated by wanting to have a defensible chain of custody of that item of physical evidence usable in court. 

The key officer involved may have been Roy Walker. He worked as an officer as his normal job in that neighborhood. Myers says Roy Walker already knew Warren Reynolds, also that Mrs. Dean was friendly with local officers (such as Walker?). Therefore Roy Walker likely would be known to Mrs. Dean. We know Roy Walker was there at Jefferson and Crawford because of his encounter with Reynolds which was filmed. But Walker was never called to testify before the Warren Commission, nor have I been able to find an FBI interview report of Roy Walker. There is a good chance Roy Walker knew Mrs. Dean was the true finder of that jacket. How the jacket exactly was conveyed from Mrs. Dean in her store to the reported find spot in the parking lot out back is unclear, but perhaps Mrs. Dean carried it with her out back to police to give them the jacket, and that is how an officer or officers (perhaps Roy Walker), upon realizing what that jacket was, dropped it, picked it up again as if finding it, and the rest is history.

Edited by Greg Doudna
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15 hours ago, Micah Mileto said:

Micah, the point 5 on Tommy Rowe is completely bogus, fiction (I looked into that earlier). 

On the other points, I don't see Johnny Brewer having done anything wilfully wrong that day except make a mistaken ID of Oswald (and that is what I think it was, a mistake) as the man who entered the theatre past Julia Postal without paying. The two IBM friends in his store I don't think have anything to do with anything. I do not see Johnny Brewer as a conspirator that day. I think Johnny Brewer and Julia Postal's summoning of the police so quickly saved Oswald's life that day--the police presence preventing Oswald from being killed in that theatre by the killer of Tippit who was in the theatre.   

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A different way of looking at why the killer of Tippit went to the Texas Theatre

As brought out in a 2010 article by Alaric Rosman in Dealey Plaza Echo available on the Mary Ferrell site (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=146528#relPageId=4), the killer of Tippit was calm and professional, with the killing of Tippit giving every appearance of having been an execution. The killer of Tippit coldly killed him with shots to the body, then, as is clear in the autopsy and witnessed by Jack Tatum (a credible witness in my view), stood over the fallen Tippit on the ground and administered a coup de grace shot into the temple. Then the killer walked, did not run, but walked away from the scene according to witnesses (Barbara Davis, Virginia Davis, Markham, Scoggins), although he did go to a trot south on Patton.

Rosman noted the killer’s behavior was more in keeping with a Mob hit or a contract killing, which is also what the HSCA investigators thought based on the coup de grace temple shot, not in keeping with expected demeanor or behavior of a desperate fugitive under the Oswald scenario.

The killer abandoned his spent shell hulls as he walked around the corner of Tenth turning south on Patton, but instead of discarding the gun, reloaded it and kept the reloaded gun on his person. If the Tippit killing was a professional killing, the killer’s keeping of the gun and reloading instead of ditching an untraceable weapon (so as not to be found with a murder weapon on one's person if caught) is consistent with the killer intended to kill again, as he headed to the Texas Theatre. Who was in that theatre slated to be killed next? 

Well, we know who was there. Theatre patron Jack Davis and usher Burroughs inside the theatre tell who was there before the killer’s arrival: Lee Harvey Oswald. In his movements as described by theatre patron Jack Davis, Oswald looked like he was looking for someone he expected to meet.

A contract killer, having killed once and reloaded, made his way to the Texas Theatre not to hide but to kill again. His target was the marked man who was killed two days later by Jack Ruby before the eyes of the world. In this scenario Oswald's presence in the theatre was known to the killer before the killer headed to the Theatre.

The witness descriptions of the killer describe someone who looked like Oswald although certain details and features in the witness descriptions agree better with a different possibility for the killer than Oswald, namely recent Carousel Club hire Curtis LaVerne “Larry” Craford, who was mistakenly believed to be Oswald by other witnesses unrelated to the Tippit killing, witnesses who came forward after the assassination who believed they had seen Oswald before the assassination, after seeing Oswald on television, when really they had seen Craford not Oswald. There was the case of the Contract Electronics store in which of three employees who dealt with Ruby and a man accompanying Ruby in that store, one of those three employees positively identified the man with Ruby as Oswald, while the other two employee coworkers, while not willing to claim a positive identification, told the FBI they were unable to be certain the man was not Oswald, after looking at photos (https://maryferrell.org/archive/docs/056/56999/images/img_56999_47_300.png). But the man was Craford, not Oswald. Craford in his WC testimony told of accompanying Ruby to that electronics store.

At the Lucas B & B Restaurant a waitress, Mary Lawrence, told the FBI that she had served a young man with Ruby at about 1:30 am, Nov 22, 1963. After seeing Oswald on television after the assassination, Mary Lawrence “stated the photograph of Oswald on television appeared very similar to the young man who was with Jack Ruby” and that the cashier on her shift agreed with that as well. That again was Craford, not Oswald (https://maryferrell.org/archive/docs/057/57751/images/img_57751_119_300.png).

There are more cases than these but these are representative. These witness confusions in identification, of 22-year old Crafard mistakenly identified as 24-year old Oswald, were unrelated to the Tippit killing. These cases raise the question whether it can be excluded that witnesses of the Tippit killer also misidentified Craford as Oswald. Although Craford was similar in general physical description to Oswald there were certain differences, of interest when examining the testimony of eyewitnesses who saw the gunman at the Tippit crime scene. Crafard was interviewed by the FBI in Dec 1963 and reported by the FBI to be 5’8”, an inch or two shorter than Oswald's 5'9" or 5'9-1/2". Craford's weight was reported by the FBI as 150 lbs, about 15 pounds heavier than Oswald (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1136#relPageId=377). Although both Craford and Oswald were white men, Craford was reported by the FBI as "medium" complexion, not light complexion like Oswald. Craford's hair in FBI color photos taken on that occasion was fuller and darker brown than Oswald's. Another physical description of Craford from one who knew him at the Texas State Fair before Craford found employment and housing at the Carousel Club said Craford was

"5'6" or 5'7" in height, weighing possibly 175 pounds. He said Larry's eyes were blinking almost constantly. The young man was always dressed in 'cowboy clothes,' including blue jeans and boots. He observed this young man 'shooting guns' into the air which appeared to be for the purpose of attracting customers to the concession which he considered was probably a 'western show'" (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=57045#relPageId=85).

In each of these small differences in physical descriptions, witness descriptions of the Tippit killer agree more closely with Craford than with Oswald. Domingo Benavides, who saw the Tippit killer from about 15 feet away as Tippit was killed, closer to the killing than any other witness at the moment it happened, told the Warren Commission:

“As I saw him, I really—I mean really got a good view of the man after the bullets were fired, he had just turned. He was just turning away  I remember the back of his head seemed like his hairline was sort of—looked like his hairline sort of went square instead of tapered off, and he looked like he needed a haircut for about 2 weeks, but his hair didn’t taper off, it kind of went down and squared off and made his head look flat in back.” (6H449, 451)

That is a credible witness description of a specific detail in physical description, describing a block cut hairline in the back of the head, not tapered.

In the many photos of Oswald after his arrest that day, Oswald’s hair is seen tapered in the back of his head going down his neck. Not a block cut. This is a fact not in agreement with Oswald as the killer. This detail of testimony from Benavides has not been given the attention it merits. It indicates the killer of Tippit was someone other than Oswald.

The killer of Tippit will have been a man who had some similarity to Oswald in physical appearance, based on the witness testimonies. But the witness testimonies from the crime scene seem impossible to distinguish between having been caused by Oswald or someone else whom witnesses may have mistakenly identified as Oswald, just as is known to have happened with Craford. The Dallas Police lineup procedures were a mess and no matter how witnesses may have been formally instructed, some of the witnesses, as in the case of Helen Markham, seemed to have believed their task was to pick one among the choices presented. None of the witnesses who identified Oswald as the gunman at the Tippit crime scene, or the same man who went to and entered the Texas Theatre, with the possible exception of Brewer, had prior acquaintance with Oswald before identifying Oswald, typically from viewing the killer for a matter of seconds from a distance. (Brewer believed he had sold a pair of shoes to Oswald a few weeks previously, though he did not remember and had no record of the man’s name.) Craford was in none of the lineups and photos shown by police to these witnesses in the hours after Oswald’s arrest, such that it is not known how an option to select Craford would have affected witnesses' positive identifications of Oswald in those police lineups. 

If witness Benavides’ description of the hairline is accurate—the witness in the closest proximity to the killer at the time of the killing—that killer cannot have been Oswald, just as the fingerprints on Tippit’s cruiser in positions where the killer may have been in contact were not Oswald’s fingerprints (as brought to light by Myers, With Malice, 336-40). 

In 2001 Craford told Peter Whitmey, who had tracked down Craford in Oregon, that he “had allegedly been a ‘hit man’ in San Francisco prior to coming to Dallas” (to Peter Whitmey in 2001) (https://alt.assassination.jfk.narkive.com/aIk78K4h/garrison-larry-crafard-shot-kennedy). The only alibi Crafard had for any time on Friday Nov 22 before about 4:30 pm was that provided by long-time Ruby employee who had spent three years in prison, Andy Armstrong, who backed up Craford's claim that he had been sleeping alone in the Carousel Club most of that day, the day the president visited Dallas. (The potential alibi at 4:30-5:00 pm was: Craford said that he ate at a Walgreen’s counter near the Carousel Club, which was not verified but potentially could have been.) Craford testified to the Warren Commission that he was alone in the Carousel Club on Nov 22 except for visits in the afternoon from Andy Armstrong and Ruby.

Craford left Dallas suddenly early Saturday morning, Nov 23, for Michigan with no advance announcement or saying goodby to anyone. Craford told the WC he hitchhiked from Dallas to Michigan with only $7 in his pocket with no notice of his departure to anyone including his employer, Ruby, because he was concerned to see if his sister in Michigan was OK (she was).

Craford was a recent new hire of Ruby—mid-October 1963—with practically nothing in the way of specified job duties, in the weeks leading up to the assassination of a president and the killings of Tippit and Oswald, both likely associated with the assassination. It was an odd hire on the part of Ruby who, as HSCA investigators found, extensive Mob contacts and Mob phone calls in those same weeks before he, Ruby, Craford's employer, shot and killed Oswald on Sunday, Nov 24, in the basement of the Dallas police station. It is no wonder Peter Whitmey writes:

“Given the fact that J.D. Tippit was shot a fourth time in the head at close range by the gunman (allegedly Oswald), as described to the HSCA by a reluctant witness who was too afraid to come forward in Nov. 1963, I believe it is possible that a professional killer was responsible for Tippit’s murder. Certainly the witness, Jack Tatum, now deceased, believed it was a mob-related murder, even though he was certain it had been carried out by Oswald, and the HSCA even described the fourth shot as the ‘coup de grace’. I can’t help but suspect Craford might have [been] responsible, given what he revealed about his background, although he claims to have been a[t] the Carousel nightclub at the time of the shooting.” (Whitmey at the link above)

The odd phenomenon of multiple witnesses confusing Craford with Oswald--witnesses trying to do the right thing, trying to help the authorities—a known and undisputed phenomenon of witness identification confusion with respect to these two individuals—is the key point to be appreciated with respect to the witnesses who identified the gunman they saw leaving the scene of the Tippit killing, with Oswald, and then of Brewer who identified Oswald as the man he had seen pause in front of his store before going into the theatre. This known phenomenon of witnesses who, having seen Crafard were convinced they had seen Oswald, provides an explanation for the witnesses who identified Oswald as the killer of Tippit, seen reloading his gun, seen headed to the Texas Theatre and going into that theatre, at a time when witnesses inside the theatre say Oswald was already there.

Indication that Crafard was the Tippit killer who entered the Texas Theatre after Oswald was already there

On the assumption of the conventional narrative, there should be only one person inside the Texas Theatre that day remembered by patrons and staff as looking like Lee Harvey Oswald: namely, Lee Harvey Oswald.

But if the existing narrative is wrong, and the killer who entered the Texas Theatre was not Oswald but Craford, then there would be two distinct persons inside that theatre who some staff or patrons might think looked like Oswald, namely Oswald and Craford. Here is deputy sheriff Bill Courson of the Sheriff’s Department, in plain clothes and cruiser, telling of responding to the radio call of a suspect in the Tippit killing believed to have gone into the balcony of the Texas Theatre.

“I pulled up [to the Texas Theatre] and bumped the bicycle rack in front of the theater, left the car and went in and identified myself as an officer to the ticket taker [Julia Postal]. I didn’t know whether she even saw me or not, but I flashed my badge, then walked from there onto the stairs. I started up the stairs of the balcony because that is where the call said that he was hiding. I’m reasonably satisfied in my own mind that I met Oswald coming down. I was looking for a man in a white or light colored jacket because at that time I hadn’t been told that he had discarded the jacket and that it had been found. So there were two reasons why I didn’t stop him: I’m looking for a man in the balcony, not coming down walking casually, and the description didn’t fit because he was wearing a kind of plaid or checkered patterned shirt, not the light colored jacket. But I’m reasonably sure that it was Oswald.” (Bill Courson, in Sneed, No More Silence, 485)

The man Courson passed was not Oswald, because Oswald was at that moment seated in the main section below and momentarily about to be arrested there. The man Courson thought was Oswald that he let walk past him, coming from the balcony, as he went to look for the Tippit killer in the balcony, was not Oswald. But who was he?

It may have been the killer of Tippit, intent on doing then at the Texas Theatre on Friday what the police response prevented him from carrying out but which would be carried out two days later by his employer on Sunday morning: an execution of Oswald. 

If so, the killer of Tippit walked out of the theatre that day without Courson or any other officer having any record of his name. That could be because some responding officer did not realize who they had. 

Or, it could be because some officer did.

Edited by Greg Doudna
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Nice summary, Greg. And whom was Crafard living with at the time, step forward Jack Ruby. Could it have been Ruby telling Craford where to go in Dallas to make people think it was Oswald all the time. Makes you wonder if it was Ruby who was settting Oswald up all the time.Does anybody know what  kind of car and what color, Ruby owned at the time of Tippit's death?

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Thanks Ray. I do not share the view that there were all sorts of intentional impersonations of Oswald involving mundane human activities in explanation of the many claims following the assassination of sightings or encounters with Oswald or Oswald-like persons prior to the assassination. Case by case I have worked through most of those claims and find them up or down, one or the other, to be explained as either genuinely Oswald or mistaken identifications but not necessarily impersonations. (Referring to Dallas, not Mexico City where a voice impersonation of Oswald by an intelligence agency is a certainty and what else was going on in Mexico City I do not understand.) 

Mistaken identification

One case which gave me pause is the alleged Oswald inquiry concerning obtaining a job at the seven-story Southland Hotel Garage/Allright Parking System on 1208 Commerce Street, shortly before the assassination. Note that this parking garage is only one block away on the same side of the street as the Carousel Lounge of Ruby where Craford was living (1312 1/2 Commerce). From an FBI report of an interview on 1/20/64;

"Mr. [Hubert A.] Morrow stated that approximately six or seven days prior to the assassination of the President of the United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy SUBJECT [Lee Harvey Oswald] came to the parking lot asking for a job. Mr. Morrow stated that while talking to him about the job, SUBJECT asked him how high the parking lot building was and if it afforded a good view of Dallas. Mr. Morrow stated that at the time SUBJECT was applying for employment he was dressed in a dirty white T shirt and blue jeans, and was carrying a newspaper, and that it was during the early morning hours. Mr. Morrow stated that the last time he saw SUBJECT he was waiting to talk with Mr. Claude Hallmark another one of the managers. Mr. Morrow states that the reason he remembers SUBJECT so well is that he wrote SUBJECT's name down, and that he thought the name was Osburn; but that when he called SUBJECT Mr. Osburn, SUBJECT corrected him and told him that the name was Oswald. Mr. Morrow related that two of the employees also observed SUBJECT while he was at the parking lot. These employees are: Emmett Montgomery, N/M and Charlie Dabbs, C/M. (...) On January 23, 1964, the undersigned officer attempted to contact Mr. Claude Hallmark for interview, but Mr. Hallmark was not available. An interview was obtained with Mrs. Viola Sapp, cashier at the parking lot (...) Mrs. Sapp stated that she knows for a fact that SUBJECT did not ever talk with Mr. Hallmark and that SUBJECT never made a written application for employment." (https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=111186#relPageId=171

According to FBI interview reports Morrow's Oswald identification was not confirmed by anyone else there, and the manager, Hallmark, told FBI he believed his employee, Morrow, had fabricated the entire thing:

"Garret Claud Hallmark advised (...) he placed an ad for help for the Southland Parking Garage in the "Dallas Morning News", first run on October 28, 1964 [sic, 1963], for four days, Monday through Thursday, and the second ad was run from November 3 to 6, 1963 (...) He said he had no record of Lee Harvey Oswald ever applying for a job but Mr. H. A. Morrow, Jr., the day manager of the Southland Hotel Garage, a branch of the Allright Parking System, did claim that a person he believed to be Lee Harvey Oswald, had been interviewed for a job by Hallmark. Morrow told him this applicant came in after the second ad was run, namely after November 3, 1963, possibly a week before the assassination. Hallmark said he immediately searched his records and was unable to find where anyone named Lee Harvey Oswald had ever applied for a position and he was certain that he had not interviewed anyone by that name. He said that Morrow first made mention of the fact that Oswald was an applicant about Tuesday or Wednesday following the assassination of the President at Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.

"Hallmark said as far as he was concerned, he believed the entire story concerning Lee Harvey Oswald, as told by Morrow, was a fabrication on the part of Morrow. He said that when Morrow first talked to him, he recalled that Morrow said he had run Lee Harvey Oswald off because he, Morrow, did not think Hallmark would hire Oswald.

"Hallmark said on the contrary, he would have possibly been interested in getting a young man as clean cut as the pictures of Oswald reflected him to be, at least to interview him, had he made application." (https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=111186#relPageId=167)

Comment: the physical description, supported by the proximity to the Carousel Club, raises the question whether this man might have been Craford. Oswald already was employed at the TSBD. Craford, however, may have been receiving unemployment assistance from the Texas Employment Commission (on the basis of an account from TEC counselor Laura Kittrell) requiring mandated job applications. A detail arguing against an Oswald identification is the description of the blue jeans and white shirt; Oswald was never described by coworkers at the TSBD as wearing blue jeans. If this really had been Oswald visiting this parking garage before he started work at the TSBD at 8 am, it would be in the same pants Oswald wore to work, always remembered by coworkers as gray khaki-like pants, never blue jeans. 

Was the interest in the job shortly before the assassination related to the assassination? Commerce Street where that parking garage was located was not on the parade route but at the time of this job inquiry the parade route was not known. Commerce Street runs parallel to Main Street only one block south of what became the parade route on Main Street. It is likely a seven-story height from the top of that parking garage could have given a clear sniper's shot to the parade route, on either Commerce or Main.

Whether this was or was not Oswald, an impersonation of Oswald, or a mistaken identification of a man who was not Oswald and no impersonator of Oswald, is difficult to say. 

Edited by Greg Doudna
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Greg - very nice work. You really dug down into the evidence, such as it is. 
Supposing your identification of Crafard as the killer of Tippit is correct, what do you think was his motive? You say it has the earmarks of a professional hit, and that Crafard was a hit man. We know he worked for Ruby, so maybe Ruby ordered the hit. The question still remains why?

I’ve previously heard it argued that a dead cop was a great motivator for police. Even if that were the motive, I would still ask why Tippit? 


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Thanks Paul Brancato. I do not know why Tippit was executed. It must be related to the JFK assassination if the scenario is correct that the murder of Tippit preceded an attempt by the same killer to murder Oswald, but I do not know why. 

David B., I did not know Craford died in 2011, thanks. He would have just turned 70. I see his date of death in Lafayette, Oregon is given on ancestry.com but hardly any other information: https://www.ancientfaces.com/person/curtis-laverne-craford-birth-1941-death-2011/85495481.

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