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An argument for actual innocence of Oswald in the Tippit case

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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 Oswald (LHO) killed Tippit. LHO was arrested with the same kind of weapon as used by the killer, at a location in the direction the killer was last seen headed and who was seen going into that very location immediately prior to LHO's arrest in that theatre. Multiple witnesses identified Oswald out of lineups as the gunman at the Tippit crime scene. Shells ejected by the gunman at the scene 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, I intend to argue for Oswald's actual innocence. 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 writing 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 Ferrel site is willing and if it survives cross-examination here. I particularly invite Steve Roe, so knowledgeable in JFK assassination details, and Tracy Parnell, if they are so inclined, to offer critical cross-examination of the case as I develop it (because their cross-examination, if so, will be high-quality).

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).

There are five lines of exculpatory evidence for LHO:

1) Alibi => innocence

Oswald was present in the Texas Theatre, some distance from the scene of the Tippit killing, at the time Tippit was killed in Oak Cliff. This is based on testimony of four out of four staff and patrons of the Theatre who gave information concerning time of arrival of LHO to the theatre, that is, one hundred percent of the witnesses among the staff and patrons of the theatre that day who have given information concerning knowledge of the time of Oswald's arrival. No staff or patron in the theatre who gave information on this question has not said LHO was in the Theatre significantly earlier than supposed, at a time incompatible with having been at the scene of the shooting of Tippit, either in firsthand testimony (two cases) or credibly reported secondhand (in the other two cases). A non-staff, non-patron of the theatre, a manager of a nearby store, said he saw LHO entering the theatre at a later time consistent in timing with having killed Tippit, but that will be argued to have been that witness's sighting of the killer, not Oswald, entering the theatre, and his identification of Oswald a mistaken identification.

2) Timing implausible => innocence

Disputed and controversial, this is an argument from "weight" of evidence falling short of certainty due to unknowns. This is different from the argument of #1 (alibi) since this argument requires no establishment that LHO was anywhere else specifically, only that it is implausible that LHO could have been present at the scene of the crime at the time of the crime in the time frame required. This actually is two distinct arguments. The first is the timing itself, assuming LHO was on foot. However, nobody saw him walking in the direction of the Tippit crime scene, which weighs in favor of either conveyance by car or exculpation. But there is no evidence he was conveyed in a car. The other, distinct argument is that there is no known reason why LHO would want to have been at the Tippit crime scene, though this is not itself of great weight since explanation of why he may have been there is not essential to the issue of guilt or innocence. But the absence of anyone from Oak Cliff coming forward who saw Oswald walking is a rather strong dog-that-did-not-bark argument that Oswald did not walk to the Tippit killing scene (yet witnesses at the scene saw the killer appearing to be on foot). To quote Asst. District Attorney Bill Alexander in Sneed: "The timing: He would have had to have run to get where he was on foot. A running person at that time of day in Oak Cliff would have excited somebody's attention, especially at that time ... I just have no idea how he got out there with nobody seeing him, and that's an intelligent I don't know".

3) Lack of report of DPD and FBI of evidence that LHO revolver had been fired since its last cleaning => innocence

This is a dog-that-did-not-bark argument. Failure of the Dallas Police department (DPD) or FBI to report any check or test establishing that Oswald’s revolver had been fired since its last cleaning—fouled cylinder, smell, etc.—cannot credibly be attributed to no such test or check having been conducted of this most basic utterly elementary point, in light of all of the other detailed forensic studies done. It can simply be assumed with approximately 100 percent confidence that such examination was done, but then the question arises 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. Since that was not done, there is stronger-than-trivial grounds for supposing such examination showed Oswald's revolver had not have been fired since its last cleaning, i.e. exculpatory for Oswald. That would be the obvious explanation for the otherwise-inexplicable failure of DPD to announce the findings of such examination. In other words, there is no good explanation for such a non-report of test of this nature than that it was done and it exculpated Oswald.

4) Credible case for possible identification of an alternative murder weapon used in the Tippit killing other than LHO's revolver => innocence

There was an unexplained find by a citizen of Dallas on Saturday morning, Nov 23, 1963, of a .38 snub-nosed Smith & Wesson revolver in a paper bag abandoned on a street in Dallas. The circumstances of that abandonment strongly suggests a weapon abandoned following a homicide, as there is no other obvious explanation for an abandonment of a handgun in a paper bag on a street. There was only one homicide by handgun in the Dallas area known on Friday, Nov 22, and that was officer Tippit, killed with .38 Special bullets. Since the circumstances of abandonment of that paper-bag .38 strongly suggest its use in a crime sometime before the early morning hours of Nov 23, and since the only murder by handgun known in Dallas of the previous 24 hours was Tippit, and since no report of investigation by DPD has ever been disclosed or known to exist explaining the history of this weapon, there is the serious possibility that this .38, rather than LHO's .38, could be the murder weapon of the Tippit killing (if that is not excluded on the grounds of other evidence). There are no records of DPD or any other investigative agency investigating that firearm beyond a cursory check of its serial number which was not further pursued,nor are the present whereabouts of that item of Dallas police evidence known. This behavior of DPD with respect to records of whereabouts and investigation of this item of evidence in itself heightens the focus of interest on this .38 found in such odd circumstances hours after the Tippit killing. 

This paper-bag .38 snub-nosed S & W was not found in Oak Cliff but was instead found quite a ways away. It was found not far from the last known location in Dallas before his unexplained flight the next day from Dallas of the alternative candidate for identity of the actual killer to be argued: it was found several blocks from the Carousel Lounge in downtown Dallas. 

If that .38 was the murder weapon, then LHO's revolver was not and LHO is exculpated.

(According to the DPD record of its finding, the paper-bag .38 is not identified as a Special, a detail of some interest here, but from my research it appears most snub-nosed .38 Smith & Wesson's at the time were Specials, just as LHO's snub-nosed .38 Smith & Wesson had been rechambered to be a Special. The assumption here is that the paper-bag .38 snub-nose likely was a Special, since that was so common, even though that is not confirmed by the DPD description. As noted, there are no records of any analysis or investigation concerning that firearm carried out by DPD or other agency, and the present whereabouts of that handgun is unknown. Whether the disappearance of records and the item of evidence itself was because no DPD investigation was ever undertaken, or because investigation was undertaken but never reported or preserved, is unknown.)

5. Argument for identity of the gunman other than Oswald => innocence

An arguable credible case for an alternative narrative of the case and identity of the gunman, if substantial, is exculpatory of Oswald. This alternative candidate for the Tippit gunman is uncontroversially known to have been mistakenly identified by witnesses as Oswald on occasions unrelated to the Tippit case; had hitman background; bore a distinctive physical feature noted by multiple witnesses of the Tippit killer which Oswald did not bear; fled Dallas the day after the Tippit killing for no known reason; and was in the employ of the man who shot and killed Oswald two days later. In the alternative narrative the killer of Tippit proceeded to the Theatre with intent next to kill Oswald, but that intent was interrupted by the call to the police of Brewer and Postal and rapid police response. Due to the rapid police response the killing of Oswald did not happen at that time (Oswald's life saved by the police). Two days later, the Tippit killer's employer, Jack Ruby, did kill Oswald, accomplishing what his employee had failed to accomplish two days earlier in the Texas Theatre. 

An important implication of this is that the Tippit killer was inside the theatre at the time of massive law enforcement convergence on the Theatre and would have been seen inside the theatre by numerous law enforcement persons and no doubt questioned. It is likely that police officers would have taken down a name and address from him among other patrons, though no records of the names and addresses taken by police that day of theatre patrons are known today. The killer of Tippit inside the theatre was not arrested, but like the other theatre patrons was free to go and left the theatre. The Dallas police failed to preserve or disclose records of names taken of theatre patrons that day. Oswald was arrested and taken out front. Another theatre patron, Applin, was taken out back by officers to go downtown to give a witness statement. But the killer of Tippit in that theatre walked away unidentified, through dozens of law enforcement officers. 

To the extent this argument for identity of the gunman is plausible it establishes reasonable doubt re Oswald. To the extent it is convincing it is exculpatory.

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(Part 2 o 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 exculpation of LHO. The arguments in these three cases are removed as incriminating arguments against LHO.

1. Witnesses => examination of cases, both of witnesses who identified the killer as LHO and those who did not; assessment. It is argued that those witnesses who identified the killer as Oswald erred in those identifications and that some credible witness testimony may be exculpatory.

Too much to even outline here, but suffice it to say there have been many wrongful convictions in which DNA has established actual innocence, of persons who wrongly served many 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.

2. Jacket abandoned by fleeing killer => argument for exculpation

The argument here is that of LHO's two jackets (light and dark blue), he wore his light jacket to work that morning from Irving, based on credible testimony of Wesley Buell Frazier, also Marina (who said he arrived in his light 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 light 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 behind in the Theatre probably on some seat. That dark blue jacket, securely identified as Oswald’s on the basis of hair analysis, was reported found a few days later at the TSBD and eventually turned in to the FBI. One possibility is it was found at the Theatre and turned in to police (or found by police directly in the search that continued after Oswald was arrested and driven away), who, realizing it was Oswald's, arranged for it to be reported found a few days later at TSBD. Oswald's actual wearing of his light jacket to work that morning combined with not having that light jacket on 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 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. If so, that is also exculpatory. Also, the killer's jacket was size M whereas LHO always wore size S according to Marina, and that is consistent with witnesses thinking the Tippit killer, while about the same height as Oswald, was a bit heavier.

3. Location of Oswald at time of arrest in the Theatre in Oak Cliff => alternative narrative explanation

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 very building, because the killer was Oswald. The alternative narrative accounts for the same facts in an arguably credible alternative 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 there, with intent to do then what his employer did do 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 are also consistent with non-incriminating explanations such that this is indecisive, so much so that a weight argument 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 wearing a dark-colored shirt which would be a source of similar color of fibers. 

3. Resistance of arrest => indeterminate

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

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(Part 3 of 3)

If the above is sound so far, THEN there remain TWO hard-evidence arguments FOR incrimination of Oswald which derive from ONE class of physical evidence, in opposition to the five lines of argument for exculpation.

1. The ejected shells from the killer's gun at the scene were fired from Oswald's revolver, to the exclusion of all other weapons, according to the FBI lab. This is considered the rock-solid linchpin establishing LHO's guilt, outweighing any and all other considerations.

2. Same kind of mixture of the same two brands of bullets between the bullets taken from Tippit's body which killed Tippit, the shells ejected 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 having the same mixing of the same two kinds of brands of bullets, Winchesters and Remingtons. The argument for incrimination is that for both the killer of Tippit and LHO to each have the same mixture of the same two brands of bullets, is sufficiently striking as to be less likely explicable as coincidence and weighs in favor of incrimination, in agreement with #1 which is considered stand-alone decisive.

* * * * *


To recapitulate:

There are FIVE lines of argument for exculpation, each of significant strength

There are TWO lines of argument for incrimination, one of stand-alone decisive strength and the other of significant strength

All seven of these lines of argument cannot simultaneously be correct. Either the five exculpatory are correct and the two for incrimination have other explanations, or the two incriminating are correct and the five for exculpation have other explanations. This is a case of "what is the truth?” when there is a conflict in evidence or apparent conflict in evidence.

It will be observed (if the analysis is followed and sound to this point) that the two arguments for incrimination involve only ONE class of evidence: the shells. Not two or three or four, but ONE class of evidence, upon which ultimately the real argument for Oswald's guilt in the Tippit killing turns.

Here is introduced the sensitive issue of police department 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 shells evidence honestly and did not cook the evidence in this case. It is not that there are multiple lines of redundant 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 the shells, it is this specific shells evidence handled and preserved by the DPD, which hangs Oswald for the Tippit killing, in the eyes of history. 

The focus here will be on the DPD handling of evidence rather than the FBI lab. A case will be made that the DPD cooked the evidence concerning the shells. This case is not made capriciously or arbitrarily but on the basis of specific and arguably ultimately compelling argument, though the argument is also ultimately circumstantial without direct evidence or confession. But it is in keeping with known behavior of some police departments as a general statement; it is in keeping with behavior of the DPD in other instances than the shells 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. There is no claim here that members of DPD intended in advance to frame Oswald. There is also no contesting that members of the DPD, almost to a man, just as the world at large, thought Oswald was the killer of Tippit--but that is not contradictory to police misconduct in handling evidence for the purpose of assisting in securing convictions of persons they believe are guilty. 

The positive argument for DPD evidence-tampering starts with the strength of the lines of argument for exculpation which raises the question of how secure is the ONE class of physical evidence from which derive the only two substantial lines of argument for LHO's incrimination. It will be argued that there is significant reason to suppose, not only in terms of means, motive, and opportunity, but in specific indicators going beyond means, motive, and opportunity, that there was DPD cooking of evidence in the case of the shells, that trust and confidence in the integrity of the DPD handling of the evidence shells is impeached.

With this sole class of evidence from which derive the two substantial arguments in favor of Oswald's incrimination collapsed, the way is clear to dismiss the two significant arguments for incrimination and accept the five significant lines of exculpatory argument leading to a realization--against seemingly impossible odds at the outset--that Oswald was innocent of and is exonerated from the killing of Tippit.

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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 theatre. But that is the only witness testimony 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 notice that wording might be 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 rumored former hitman frequently confused in appearance with Oswald, 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 sold tickets that day if they recognized Oswald as having been one of the ticket purchasers. There is no record that this elementary question was asked. The one who sold the tickets that day as the theatre opened was 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 probably could have given a very simple answer to that question if asked. However there is no record he was asked, or record of his answer if he was asked. There was no FBI interview of him nor was he called to testify by the WC.

Theatre patron Jack Davis:

"Davis told this author 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. He found it odd that this man would choose the seat adjacent to him n 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 rom 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)

Butch Burroughs, who operated the concession stand, said 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. This was the Tippit killer who entered the theatre. He 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' very clear claim to Oswald having been in the theatre early is not late to the story 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, 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 I read this 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, 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 is the sensible meaning of the cut-off expression quoted from Burroughs, "I saw him going out." 

Then there is this, impossible to corroborate but in agreement with the other information developed here, 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 [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 glmpsed 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 phone call to the police 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 of an individual at the top of the steps to the balcony. This man, in the exact position where Julia Postal said the culprit (the Tippit killer) had gone, was let go by officers without any record of his name; officers saw this man and questioned him but there is no record of his name--a man in the exact position where Julia Postal knew and said the suspect had gone. Detective William Courson of the Sheriff's Department refers to this same man, probably the killer of Tippit, when he later said he thought that person was Oswald that he had let walk by:

"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, 485).

But that was not Oswald that Courson, one of the law enforcement responders converging on the Theatre, had let walk by him coming down the stairs from the balcony as he charged up the stairs to the balcony looking for the Tippit killer in the balcony--for Oswald was at that moment seated in the main section below and within seconds of being arrested in a scuffle there. Courson's "Oswald" in the balcony was a mistaken identification--a man where Julia Postal said the killer was, but not Oswald who was being arrested elsewhere in the theatre. After Courson went past this man coming from the balcony evidently other officers behind Courson did stop and question that man before they too let him go without record of his name, despite multiple police testimony claims that orders were given to take down names and addresses of all patrons and staff in the theatre.

So nobody in the theatre, whether staff or patron, was capable of matching the killer of Tippit who went into the balcony of the Theatre at about 1:40--no staff or patron in the theatre could match that man to Oswald in the main section who was soon arrested. The only ones inside the theatre who have given information concerning the timing of Oswald's arrival, in the two instances cited, quite specifically say Oswald was there early, along with the other paying customers. There is no statement from the ticket seller that day that Oswald was not recognized as having been one of the earlier ticket purchasing patrons. The only basis In terms of eyewitness at the theatre for matching the killer who went into the balcony area without paying, to Oswald, was nearby store manager Brewer.

How secure was Brewer's identification? Brewer saw a man acting suspiciously, then going into the Texas Theatre--that was the killer of Tippit. Brewer then met arriving officers at the back entrance of the theatre, saw Oswald standing up from his seat and then sitting down again on the main floor and picked him out to officers as their man--an identification from a distance based on suspicious movement and he thought it looked like him. Brewer subsequently gave a firm ID that the arrested Oswald was the man he had seen outside of his store windows. 

It has long been suggested that Oswald was in that Theatre to meet someone. If so, others than Oswald knew he would be there. As to how Oswald got to the Theatre, perhaps 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 Theatre patrons. Beyond any question names and addresses were taken down by police. But those names, 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 of the importance of taking down names but says he has 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.

The Warren Commission never took the indicated next step of asking Lieutenant Elmo Cunningham, or if there was a private inquiry made and the answer was not deemed useful it was never reported, one or the other. Cunningham himself in Sneed, No More Silence (1998), 266, confirms he had a list that day but says he had no idea what he did with the list, while explaining the missing list is of no consequence because none of those witnesses would have been of any interest to investigators anyway.

"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 no useful information any investigator would find useful from any of those witnesses, so no harm done. "I don't recall" is a common way to avoid disclosing information. 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 none of whom according to Cunningham had anything useful to offer. Toney's account appears to be straightforward and accurate. Toney in Sneed, 309:

"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."

In 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 any list, let alone telling of turning in such a list (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=10483#relPageId=393&search=Toney). Toney's written statement to Chief Curry, also dated Dec 3, 1963, has this (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=10483#relPageId=409&search=Toney ).

"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 settling that matter without drilling down with further investigation on that point.

On the basis of Toney's acccount, Lt. Cunningham's account not in contradiction to it, and expected police procedure, that list can be reconstructed as having been turned over to the Homicide Division that day. I am not aware of any information that relevant officers in the Homicide Division were ever questioned so as to confirm or deny they received that list and solve what became of that list in their custody. 

This is only one of several indicators that Dallas Police department handling of evidence in the Tippit case may have involved selective tampering or disappearance of evidence that did not assist in developing the case against Oswald but which could have been exculpatory with respect to the Tippit killing.

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

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

(1) Claim that identification of fingerprints from the Tippit cruiser’s passenger side which may have belonged to the killer were unreadable, instead of disclosure that those prints did not match to and could be excluded as belonging to OswaldThis refers to prints found on the Tippit cruiser in the positions where witnesses saw 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 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 broken by Myers in With Malice (pp. 336-40 of the 2013 edition). 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 conclusively exclude that they were Oswald’s. 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. There is the appearance that it was more convenient or suitable for the DPD Crime Lab to declare the prints had “no value” rather than disclose that a match with Oswald was excluded. The Dallas Police failed to disclose that which would have been counterproductive in building the case desired to prevail in court.

(2) Untruthful representation to the FBI of having turned over all physical evidence to the FBI, while withholding three 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 especially 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 three remaining body bullets of Tippit which had been removed during the autopsy of Tippit and were in DPD possession, with DPD falsely claiming to FBI they had handed over everything. When the Warren Commission investigators learned of the existence of these three bullets they asked FBI to obtain and examine them. On March 17, 1964, the DPD turned over the remaining three bullets taken from Tippit’s body to the FBI (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=11293#relPageId=293&search=tippit_autopsy%20bullets ). As Myers describes with references there, “In 1964, the Warren Commission noted that Tippit’s autopsy report showed he had been it 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” (With Malice, 770-771). It is difficult to attribute the DPD failure to turn over those Tippit bullets, and denial to FBI that there was anything missing in the physical evidence handed over, to innocent error. A specific motive for this particular impropriety is not clear but one possibility is if there had been DPD impropriety in substitutions of shells, the unknown results of FBI examination of the bullets in Tippit’s body could risk scrutiny or possible exposure. Alternatively and perhaps more simply, 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 conclusively identified as having come from Oswald’s revolver but was indeterminate, there could be a fear that one or more of the remaining bullets, upon examination, might prove actually exculpatory or otherwise introduce complications (as it happened, all of the three bullets were reported indeterminate by the FBI lab on the question of whether they came from Oswald’s revolver).

(3) Apparent intentional disappearance of a critically important witness list of Theatre patrons. Previously discussed. While it is difficult to conclusively prove intentionality, there is a strong appearance of intentionality in this disappearance and consequent lack of followup interviewing of those witnesses whose names are now not even known, especially heartwrenching if one such was the true Tippit killer who had fled into the theatre. At best--and this seems a stretch--it is extreme incompetence, which by coincidence functioned to eliminate the simplest and easiest means of establishing 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 for an officer found to have lost such an important list of witnesses without making a photocopy.

(4) Serious concern on the part of other investigative bodies that the Dallas Police Department Crime Lab was fabricating physical evidence. The investigative body which expressed this concern was the Warren Commission. From an FBI memo of record 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 involved in liaising with the DPD concerning physical evidence, believed the Dallas Police Department had fabricated that evidence, attributable to external pressure to build evidence in the case: “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 allegations or suspicions 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 reservations concerning the integrity of DPD handling of physical evidence which is the newsworthy item here. 

There is more, but these items are noted as relatively straightforward factually without too much dispute. These establish a working context from which to approach the issue of faith and confidence in the handling of the ballistics evidence in the Tippit case in the Dallas Police Department.

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)

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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 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--I am sure it was, from the witnesses--or that it was abandoned by the killer in that general location. But Myers' article--and this is new since his book--brings out significant new information. 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 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 killer--walk by her front store windows 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 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. But from the information brought out by Myers' reporting of this account of Mrs. Dean, I see a different, better interpretation indicated, in which both accounts are true. First the jacket was found by Mrs. Dean. Then the jacket was reported by police found in the parking lot out back.

With a glow of recognition so many previously anomalous details 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--he called in the discovery of the jacket and when asked said an officer gave it to him but he did not know who it was. No other officer who was on the scene at the time would publicly identify the finder either, only that it was some unnamed officer. Motorcycle officer Hutson told the WC he was there and saw the jacket picked up by "another officer" whom he never identifies, 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 to identify himself, say in an interview or public appearance, "By the way, I am the one who found the jacket and gave it to Captain Westbrook who phoned it in". To this day though there is speculation, it has never been securely confirmed or verified who this 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 there is something in the contemporary record which does 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, witness with Warren Reynolds who 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&search=hoover_shanklin patterson zipper jacket ). Myers accepts that 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 just far more likely that Patterson's witnessing of the killer removing his jacket was from a vantage point of a location of Patterson on Jefferson. There is no vantage point from anywhere 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, appears by its most natural reading to be a contemporary claim in support of the much later 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 C.T. 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. Walker in his WC testimony said when he drove to 10th Street he saw Tippit's car, but stopped at that location so briefly he did not even get out of his car. "Did you talk to any witnesses there?" Walker was asked. "No; I didn't get out", he answered. Walker does not say he encountered Reynolds there, which would have contradicted his denial to have talked to witnesses there. But, Myers reports that Walker did disclose to Myers in 1983 that Reynolds was Walker's witness source for the 1:22 physical description and "last seen about 300 block of East Jefferson". Myers cites the sound of police sirens in the background of Walker's recorded transmission as evidence of a 10th Street not Jefferson location of Walker, but there was so much police presence with sirens at that point likely heard at both locations this point seems insubstantial. 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 was simply mistaken in conflating 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" at Jefferson (FBI interview report, 1/22/64, https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=111186#relPageId=109&search=Reynolds_unknown source). That "unknown source" I believe is likely to have been officer C.T. Walker.

That Reynolds gave the information in Walker's 1:22 radio transmission, at Jefferson and not at 10th, I think is 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 Walker! Filmed on location at Jefferson. Yet Walker never mentioned going to Jefferson in his Warren Commission testimony. Though it was 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 the notion of Reynolds running to 10th Street is incorrect.

Another correction I would offer to Myers' 2020 updated construction in the light of Mrs. Dean's story concerns the detail of hearing the 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, inside Dean's Dairy, 

". . . 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."

Those 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). But Myers believes the killer (he calls the killer, as Mrs. Dean and others thought: Oswald) ran up the stairs of the vacant building next door to try to break into a locked abandoned building. When that failed the killer raced down the stairs again and continued to run on the sidewalk west. That makes no sense as the movements of a fleeing killer. That was not the killer, but Mrs. Dean telling her daughters of hearing 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 the door locked ran back down the stairs and back to the sidewalk to continue west--that never happened. 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.

Next I believe the killer emerged from the alley where Crawford crosses and he did not remain in the alley but turned northward to run in the street on Crawford while crossing Crawford at the same time, nearly getting run down by the ambulance from the Dudley Hughes Funeral Home going in the same direction on its way to Tippit. Although attendant William Kinsley located the encounter with the running man whom he thought looked like Oswald, on Jefferson--with the man running eastward on Jefferson which makes no sense as the location and direction of the killer (for that reason Myers suggests the running man was Warren Reynolds, not the killer, with Kinsley correct on the location but mistaken in the identification)--the other attendant with Kinsley in the ambulance, J.C. Butler who was driving from the SE corner of Crawford and Jefferson, said he did not turn east on Jefferson but went north on Crawford before turning east on 10th to get to Tippit. That--on Crawford--is where I believe the encounter with the running man, who was the killer, happened--midway on Crawford, both ambulance and killer in the street headed north, in agreement with Butler's memory of the route driven (see Myers, With Malice , 152-54). On the basis of that identification of the location of the running man--on Crawford--the killer would not have proceeded further west in the alley, but instead is last known appearing to be headed west on 10th again from Crawford (after that, the hot witness trail is gone until resumed at Brewer's shoe store and entrance into the Texas Theatre further west on Jefferson). 

Returning to Mrs. Dean, I think her story was right concerning finding the jacket in the tire rack and taking it back into her store and giving it to police. I think Mrs. Dean either called the police herself or immediately saw police activity, and 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 killer abandoning it. The officer, horrified at the lack of chain of custody, then had it found on the ground at the reported find spot, or threw it down and picked it up again, or Mrs. Dean took 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 all say only that they were given it or saw it being turned in by another never-named officer, but that unnamed officer was never identified. The jacket's movements before Westbrook phoned in the find in the parking lot had a brief prehistory that was not disclosed by the DPD. This would represent a minor DPD coverup, nothing to do with framing anyone in this case, but rather--I assume--motivated to have a cleaner chain of custody of that physical evidence with an eye toward developing evidence usable in court. 

The key officer involved may have been C.T. Walker. He worked as an officer as his normal job in that neighborhood. Myers says he already knew Warren Reynolds, also that Mrs. Dean was friendly with local officers. Therefore Walker would very likely be known to Mrs. Dean. We know Walker was there at the Jefferson and Crawford area because of his encounter with Reynolds which was filmed. But Walker skips his presence there entirely in his Warren Commission testimony. He does not actually deny he was there (he was not asked), but in retelling his movements he simply fails to mention it. I think there is a good chance 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 in default of better information I would assume Mrs. Dean carried it with her out back to go to police there to give them the jacket, and that is how an officer or officers (whether Walker or any other), upon realizing what that jacket was, immediately dropped it, picked it up again as if finding it, and the rest is history.

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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), calmly stood over the fallen Tippit on the ground and administered a coup de grace shot directly 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 from a walk to a slow lope on Patton. Only by the time he got to crossing Crawford was he witnessed (by Butler and Kinsley in the ambulance from the Dudley Hughes funeral home) for the first time running at speed. 

Rosman noted the killer’s behavior was more in keeping with a Mob hit or 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 ejected his spent shells 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) either suggests or 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. Burroughs and Jack Davis inside the theatre (more patrons might have been able to confirm if it had been possible to interview them) tell who was there before the killer’s arrival: Lee Harvey Oswald, who in his movements as described by theatre patron Jack Davis, 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 would have been confirmed to the killer before the killer executed Tippit and 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 identification of the killer than Oswald, namely recent Ruby hire Curtis LaVerne “Larry” Crafard, who was believed to be Oswald by other witnesses unrelated to the Tippit killing, witnesses who came forward after the assassination who insisted they had seen Oswald before the assassination, after seeing Oswald on television, when really they had seen Crafard 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 reported a positive certain identification of the man with Ruby as Oswald, with his two other employee coworkers in the store that day, when interviewed by the FBI, saying they were unable to be certain the man was not Oswald, after looking at photos (https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=56999#relPageId=47&search=arndt_crafard ). But the man certainly was Crafard, not Oswald. That is not in any dispute; and Crafard in his WC testimony told of accompanying Ruby to the electronics store.

At the Lucas B & B Restaurant a waitress, Mary Lawrence, came forward to tell the FBI that she had served a young man with Ruby at about 1:30 am, Nov 22, 1963, whom she believed was Oswald. 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. But that again was Crafard, not Oswald (https://maryferrell.org/archive/docs/057/57751/images/img_57751_119_300.png ).

A third example was Wilburn Litchfield. The following from a statement he wrote for the FBI on Dec 2, 1963 speaks for itself:

“On December 2, 1963 I furnished a sworn statement to the Dallas Police Department concerning my presence at the Carousel Club sometime during the first two weeks of November 1963. The sworn statement is true except the last paragraph wherein I made a positive identification of the individual I saw at the Carousel Club, being identical with Lee Harvey Oswald. I wish to state at this time that I cannot make a positive identification of said individual as being identical with Lee Harvey Oswald.”

There are more (actually quite a few more) cases than these, in which people who saw Crafard thought they had seen Oswald (that the man seen by Litchfield in the last case was Crafard, is likely). These confusions of 22-year old Crafard with 24-year old Oswald, by witnesses who did not know better, were unrelated to the Tippit killing. These known cases raise the question whether the witnesses of the Tippit killer also had seen Crafard instead of Oswald. Crafard's similar height and weight (Crafard was said by the FBI to be 5’8”, an inch shorter than Oswald, and weight 150 lbs, about 10-12 more than Oswald), his light-tan or reddish skin color or “medium” not light complexion like Oswald’s (even though Crafard was "white") brought out in the HSCA color photos of Crafard, and his fuller dark brown hair than Oswald, agree with repeated witness descriptions of the Tippit killer on points of detail in which Crafard did slightly differ from 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 high quality witness description of a specific detail in physical description, describing a block cut of hairline, not tapered, in the back of the head.

Oswald’s hair was tapered in the back of his head going down his neck (many photos). 

The killer of Tippit was a man who looked like Oswald, who close to a dozen witnesses said was Oswald (some, as in the case of Helen Markham, in lineups where they seem to have believed their task was to pick one among the choices presented). However none of those witnesses, with the possible exception of Brewer, had prior knowledge or acquaintance with Oswald before identifying Oswald as the killer of Tippit, from viewing the killer in a matter of seconds in their memory. They picked Oswald out in lineups and identified him from photos as the Tippit killer. (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.) Crafard, needless to say, was in none of the lineups and photos shown by police to these witnesses in those hours after Oswald’s arrest.

But if witness Benavides’ description of the hairline is accurate—and he was the witness in the closest physical 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). Yet from the many witness identifications it is a certainty that the killer was someone who looked like Oswald to witnesses, exactly analogous to the known instances of Crafard who witnesses thought looked like Oswald seen on television after the assassination to such an extent that they thought Crafard whom they had seen was Oswald.

Crafard said 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). Crafard had no alibi for any time on Friday Nov 22 before about 4:30 pm at the earliest that day except for that provided by long-time Ruby employee who had spent three years in prison, Andy Armstrong, who backed up Crafard's claim that he had been sleeping alone in the Carousel Club most of that day. (The potential alibi at 4:30-5:00 pm was Crafard said he ate at a Walgreen’s counter near the Carousel, which was not verified but potentially could have been.) Crafard explained to the Warren Commission that he was alone in the Carousel except for visits in the afternoon from Andy Armstrong and Ruby.

Hours later Crafard left Dallas suddenly early Saturday morning, Nov 23, for Michigan with no advance announcement or saying goodby to anyone, hitchhiking with $7 in his pocket, because he was concerned to see if his sister in Michigan was OK (so he said to the Warren Commission).

Possibly experienced hitman Crafard 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 killings of Tippit and Oswald. This was an odd hire on the part of the very Ruby who HSCA investigators found had unusual and extensive Mob contacts and Mob phone calls in those same weeks and who shot and killed Oswald himself 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 Crafard's proclivity to be confused with Oswald on the part of 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 Oswald as the killer they saw leaving the scene of the Tippit killing, and then of Brewer who identified Oswald as the man he had seen pause in front of his store before going into the theatre. The known confusion 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, smoking gun reloaded and ready for further action, headed to the Texas Theatre and seen going into that theatre, at a time when witnesses inside the theatre say Oswald was already there.

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

On the assumption of the existing narrative, there would 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 Crafard, then there would be two persons inside that theatre who staff or patrons might think looked like Oswald: namely, Oswald and Crafard.

With no knowledge of any of this background or analysis, here is Butch Burroughs, the usher that day, telling Jim Douglass simply what he saw that day: two persons who looked like Oswald. Never mind that the DPD has no record of a second arrest that day.

“Butch Burroughs, who witnessed Oswald’s arrest, startled me in his interview by saying he saw a second arrest occur in the Texas Theatre only ‘three or four minutes later’. He said the Dallas Police arrested ‘an Oswald lookalike.’ Burroughs said the second man ‘looked almost like Oswald, like he was his brother or something.’ When I questioned the comparison by asking, ‘Could you see the second man as well as you could see Oswald?’ he said, ‘Yes, I could see both of them. They looked alike.’ After the officers half-carried and half-dragged Oswald to the police car in front of the theater, within a space of three or four minutes, Burroughs saw the second Oswald [sic] placed under arrest and handcuffed. The Oswald look-alike, however, was taken by police not out the front but out the back of the theater.” (Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, 292-93)

Obviously there were not two Oswalds, there was only one Oswald. But the fact that there were two who looked like Oswald is simply very strong indication consistent with the reconstruction that the true killer of Tippit, who went into that Theatre that day after killing officer Tippit, was Crafard.

And there is even law enforcement corroboration, independently of Butch Burroughs, also testifying to the existence of two, not one, patrons in that theatre out of the only dozen or so who were there, who looked like Oswald. This is Bill Courson of the Sheriff’s Department, in plain clothes and cruiser, 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)

With 100% certainty, the man Courson passed was not Oswald, because Oswald was at that moment seated in the main section below and officers were momentarily about to arrest him there. The man Courson thinks 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 then who was he?

It was the same person Butch Burroughs saw who looked like Oswald, but who was not Oswald. Courson’s account corroborates that of Butch Burroughs.

Who is this mystery second person in the theatre that day who looked like or was mistaken for Oswald? 

I believe it was the killer of Tippit, Crafard, intent on doing then what the police response prevented him from carrying out but which would be carried out two days later by his employer: the execution of Oswald. 

The killer of Tippit, Crafard, was questioned by police at the theatre, then released without any record of his name. That could be because some officers did not realize who they had. 

Or, it could be because some officers did.

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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 views of many in the non-lone-nut camp 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 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.) 

At least that has been my understanding until I rechecked this case which gives me pause, 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 Crafard 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 ow 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 or 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&search=morrow_parking garage ) 

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&search=morrow_parking garage )

Comment: the physical description, supported by the proximity to the Carousel Club, suggests the man was Crafard. Oswald was already employed at the TSBD, whereas Crafard was receiving unemployment assistance at that time from the Texas Employment Commission requiring mandated job applications. The most important detail indicating Crafard is the physical description of the blue jeans and white shirt, which is exactly the description of Crafard's wearing blue jeans of other witnesses, whereas I do not know of Oswald having been described as wearing blue jeans; that is not what Oswald's coworkers at the TSBD reported Oswald wore to work at the TSBD (and if this was an Oswald visit to this parking garage before he started work at the TSBD at 8 am, it would be in the same pants Oswald wore to work). 

Also, the slovenly appearance or impression of the would-be applicant causing Morrow to "run him off" agrees with other reports of Crafard, but disagrees with descriptions of Oswald who was normally reported as neat in appearance despite being poor and not in fancy clothes. 

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 Commerce Street running parallel to Main Street was only one block south of the parade route on Main Street. I do not know if a seven-story height from the top of that parking garage could have given a clear sniper's shot to the parade route, but it could have. 

I see three possibilities: it was Oswald; it was Crafard presenting himself as Crafard (Morrow was confused); or it was Crafard presenting himself as Oswald (impersonation). (I do not think Morrow fabricated the story.) Of these three, I consider the first the least likely, but unable to judge which of the second or third is more or less likely. 

Although not certain, this seems to me to be the best case for an impersonation of Oswald in Dallas prior to the assassination--done by Crafard, if so. 

Update Sept 22, 2021: After more thinking, I think Crafard non-impersonation is what happened, more likely than Crafard impersonation of Oswald. Three reasons. First, it seems a bit complex for Crafard to be carrying out. Second, there is no other real evidence of Crafard impersonation of Oswald, weighing against any disputable single case being such. And third, Morrow's memory of the name "Oswald" in association with his (real) memory of the encounter with Crafard that morning falls into well-attested comparative phenomena of witness retroactive confusions or conflations in memory such as, e.g. it was a name he wrote down of an unrelated parking customer on that busy morning conflated in memory, or (more likely) he wrote down a name (Crafard's), of no real consequence worth remembering at the time, but under the influence of belief that it had been Oswald his memory was manufactured that he remembered it was "Oswald".  

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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