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An argument for actual innocence of Oswald in the Tippit case

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Ruby connects himself to the Tippit killing

Carousel Club dancer Joyce McDonald, stage name Joy Dale, lived at 424 ½ West Tenth Street, Apartment 3, in Oak Cliff. This was her correct address as furnished by Andy Armstrong from Carousel Club written records to the FBI on Nov 26, 1963 (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1136#relPageId=111) and furnished by Joyce McDonald herself when she was interviewed by the FBI on Dec 2, 1963  (https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=57014#relPageId=80&search=Joyce_McDonald )

But on Nov 24, later the same day he killed Oswald, Jack Ruby was interviewed in jail by the FBI and asked to name names and give addresses that he knew, which Ruby did. Most of the names Ruby gave he did not give street addresses known by heart but for a few he did. One Carousel Club employee address Ruby did give was for dancer Joy Dale (Joyce McDonald).

But Ruby gave a wrong address for her, by mistake. Instead of the correct address (above) in the 400's block of West Tenth, instead Ruby--by mistake--gave the street address where Tippit was killed. Instead of Joyce McDonald’s address in the 400’s block on West Tenth, Ruby gave the Tippit killing address in the 400s block of East 10th St. 

By mistake (and that is surely what this was, a mistake) Ruby gave Joy Dale's address as "410 1/2 10th St." (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1137#relPageId=60).

Tippit met his killer when pulling his cruiser over in front of 410 East 10th St.

The Tippit killing address had nothing to do with Joyce McDonald, despite Ruby providing that as her address. Joyce McDonald did not live there nor is there any reason to suppose she had anything otherwise to do with that address. It was because her correct address by accident was also on Tenth Street even though West, and by accident also on a 400's block, which caused a confusion in Ruby's brain. Ruby got two distinct and unrelated addresses, both of which he knew, confused, pure and simple.

It was not a case of (these explanations can be excluded on grounds of improbability):

·      An actual alternative or previous address for Joyce McDonald, because the addresses are too similar (400s block; Tenth; both ending with 1/2) to be explicable as coincidence in a move from one location to another location by the same person.

·      A random mistake on Ruby’s part, the verbal equivalent of a typo with no further significance, because if that were the case it would have been random and not landed exactly on the address where Tippit was killed, of all street addresses in Oak Cliff.

The street address of the house in front of which Tippit was killed which Ruby supplied by mistake (to which Ruby added the “1/2” from Joyce McDonald's address which Ruby remembered) was in Ruby's immediate memory, a second address which came to his mind known by heart just as he knew Joyce McDonald's address by heart. Why did Ruby know the address where Tippit was killed (to have gotten the two confused)? Ruby's mistake signals unexplained knowledge or interest in that address calling for explanation. Either Ruby had some relationship to the house at that address or Ruby had some unusual interest in the Tippit killing, enough to have committed the street address where it occurred to memory, one or the other. And if the first (a relationship to the house at that address) that too raises the question of relationship to the Tippit killing.

Contrast that with nothing to associate Oswald with that address or any other address on East Tenth Street, and a total lack of any known logic or explanation why Oswald would have gone to or have been there on East Tenth Street in the first place. 

In other words, there is here an association of Ruby with the street address of the Tippit killing, uttered from his own mouth on the same day he killed Oswald, which tightens the argument that the killer of Tippit and would-be killer of Oswald in the Texas Theatre was Larry Crafard, associate of Ruby.

The Tippit killing of Nov 22 in front of 410 East Tenth Street, the address of Ruby’s “Freudian slip” utterance on Nov. 24, was followed by a failed attempt on the part of the killer of Tippit immediately after that to kill Oswald in the Texas Theatre. That intent to kill Oswald then failed (Oswald's life saved by the timely arrival of police and arrest of Oswald). Following that, Ruby assisted his recent hire, ex-hitman Larry Crafard, killer of Tippit and would-be killer of Oswald, in fleeing Dallas that night. Ruby admitted he and another man picked up Crafard at the Carousel Club at about 4 or 5 am in the early morning hours of Nov 23 and Crafard fled Dallas for Michigan without saying goodby to anyone.

But even before helping his employee of brief duration and unclear job duties, Larry Crafard, to fly by night to the other end of the country the night after Tippit was killed and Oswald narrowly avoided the same fate from the same killer, Ruby was talking to nearly everyone in sight of the need to extrajudicially kill Oswald before trial. Ruby explained this singular focus on his part in response to the grief of the JFK assassination as sympathy for Jackie Kennedy. As Ruby told it, it was all about compassion for Jackie Kennedy, and had nothing to do with the many mob contacts represented in his phone records and personal associations later investigated by the HSCA. In the version told by Ruby, transparently laying groundwork for an explanation that would sound sympathetic at the time of sentencing and in the public eye, his talk and intent to kill Oswald prior to trial had nothing to do with the recent arrival of an ex-hitman whom he barely knew but generously offered housing in the Carousel Club until said hitman fled Dallas with no goodbys in the dead of night in the early morning hours of Saturday Nov 23. 

In addition to talking of the necessity for Oswald to be killed before trial beginning mid-afternoon on Fri Nov 22 according to later testimony from witnesses, Ruby stalked Oswald at the police station Friday and Saturday, then on Sunday morning Nov 24 carried out the killing of Oswald that Crafard had not accomplished at the Texas Theatre on Friday.

Ruby's confusion of two addresses--that slip of the tongue, that Freudian slip, told by Ruby to the FBI on Sunday Nov 24 instead of the address of Joyce McDonald which he meant to say—has gone largely unnoticed, or if noticed misunderstood, in discussions of the Tippit killing. There is no record of alert law enforcement at the time pressing Ruby to explain why that particular address was the content of his mistake.

But I do not think that would be a detail that the fictional television detective Colombo would have missed. 

Edited by Greg Doudna
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The murder weapon of the Tippit killing

On the night of Nov 22/23, 1963, the night following the killing of officer Tippit in Oak Cliff by a killer using a .38 Special, someone abandoned a snub-nosed .38 Smith & Wesson revolver in a paper bag a few blocks away from the Carousel Club in downtown Dallas. Just threw the .38 Smith & Wesson in a paper bag by the side of a street, just got rid of it. It was found by a citizen the next morning who turned it in to the Dallas Police (documentation quoted and linked below).

By that time--Saturday morning Nov 23--the narrative had already rapidly developed and was in place and reported around the world: Lee Harvey Oswald had assassinated JFK from his workplace at the TSBD and then had shot and killed officer Tippit in Oak Cliff. Police had both the rifle and the revolver of Oswald, found on the 6th floor of his workplace and on his person at his arrest at the Texas Theatre, respectively. There was no unaccounted-for missing murder weapon in the Tippit killing.

But the next morning after the day of the assassination and the killing of officer Tippit--the only two known murders in Dallas that day--a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver turned up on a downtown Dallas street abandoned by somebody.

Think of the oddity of that and its timing.

Why would someone abandon a .38 Smith & Wesson in a paper bag on a street in downtown Dallas?

There are only about two reasons I can think why: either it had just been used in a crime such as an armed robbery or a killing and the perpetrator was abandoning an untraceable weapon so as not to be incriminated by having it found on their person if arrested, or, somebody who was not supposed to be in possession of a weapon for some reason was being pulled over by a police cruiser and threw it out a car window before coming to a stop, to avoid having it found by police in their possession.

The first question police might ask (one might think) would be whether there had been any armed robberies or homicides involving a handgun in the previous day or so which might be related to this abandoned snub-nosed .38 Smith & Wesson.

But there was no handgun homicide in Dallas on Friday Nov 22 other than the killing of Tippit. But, they already had (or thought they did) the murder weapon for that, the Oswald revolver.

Nevertheless it would be assumed that the Dallas Police Department--assassination of JFK and killing of Tippit totally aside--would investigate that paper-bag snub-nosed .38 revolver, and have records of it, except that is not the case. The Dallas Police either made no record of it or disappeared any record that was made of that paper-bag .38 revolver found early in the morning of Nov 23. The only reason the existence of a Dallas Police Department receipt of that revolver at that time is known today, before removal or destruction from files if it even ever was entered into files, is from an FBI document first released in 1978 and first noticed in the mid-1990s, plus three other FBI documents at the same time associated with it. (Yet there is no issue that that FBI document, and hence the underlying Dallas Police Department information from which the FBI document draws, is not authentic, nor has that been alleged.) That FBI document was released among 100,000 pages of FBI documents released in 1978, not noticed or discovered until 1995 when Paul Hoch obtained it from the Assassination Information Bureau (AIB), as told in this account written by Bill Adams in the May 1996 issue of Fourth Decade: https://maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=48693#relPageId=8&search=paper_bag revolver.

Like other highly relevant matters of evidence concerning the Tippit killing . . .

-- the missing names and addresses officers had been instructed to collect and had collected, written down, and submitted of theatre patrons in the Texas Theatre;

-- the missing identification of the man questioned by police who came out of the balcony of the Texas Theatre moments after the suspected Tippit killer had been reported to police to be in the balcony, a man who was not Oswald but who at least one and maybe two witnesses seemed to remember as having resembled Oswald;

-- the lack of any record of a police interview of John Callahan, the manager of the Texas Theatre who sold the tickets to those in the theatre that day, who could well have been able to say whether or not one of those to whom he had sold a ticket had been Oswald, if he had been asked;

-- the lack of a verified statement from any of the five officers who scratched their initials on the four shells ejected from the killer's .38 revolver found at the Tippit crime scene, identifying their initials on the shells that the Dallas Police Crime Lab turned in to the FBI represented as those same shells, which the FBI found had been fired from Oswald's revolver, suggesting substitutions--

In keeping with these other instances, the missing Dallas Police record of this extremely relevant find, of the snub-nosed .38 Smith & Wesson revolver in a paper bag found abandoned hours after the Tippit killing with no other murder or armed robbery in Dallas known to which this abandoned revolver was associated, is of a piece with the other items noted above.

It is not that there is any reason to suppose any Dallas Police were party to the assassination or the killing of one of their own officers. It is rather that once there was a suitable closure of the case, namely on Oswald as the killer of Tippit, evidence that did not support that case was either not of interest or in certain cases covered up.   

Here is the full text of the FBI document which refers to the find of that revolver turned in to the Dallas Police, as quoted here (I cannot find it on the Mary Ferrell site): https://jfkconspiracyforum.freeforums.net/thread/983/gun-bag:


TO SAC, DALLAS (89-43) DATE: 11/25/63



On 11/23/63, Patrolman J. RAZ brought into the Homicide and Robbery Bureau, Dallas PD, a brown paper sack which contained a snub-nosed .38 caliber Smith & Wesson, SN 893265.

This gun had the word "England" on the cylinder and had been found at aprpoximately 7:30 AM in a brown paper sack, together with an apple and an orange, near the curb at the corner of Ross and Lamar Streets and was turned in by one Willie Flat, white male, 9221 Metz Drive, employed at 4770 Memphis, to the Dallas PD.



(2) FBI DL 89-43-636

This was followed by three other FBI documents (given in full at the same link above), dated Nov 29, Nov 29, and Nov 30, 1963, which report FBI efforts to trace the serial number and history of that firearm. Record was found from the serial number that that revolver had been shipped by the Smith & Wesson company on Jan 13, 1942 to the US Government, Hartford Ordnance, Hartford, Conn. It was reported by a sales manager of Smith & Wesson that 

"shipments to Hartford Ordnance at that time were destined for England under Lend-Lease Agreement and stamping on cylinder is probably a proof-mark of that government certifying its acceptance. Such weapons are known to have been sold surplus in England, altered and rechambered in that country to accommodate thirty-eight special ammunition. Such weapons were subsequently imported for sale by U.S. gun dealers."

I have bolded the part about the .38 revolvers in that class of shipment being "altered and rechambered" to accomodate the slightly smaller .38 Special ammunition because it is significant: .38 Special is the kind of bullets which killed officer Tippit. A snub-nosed .38 modified to fire .38 Special bullets is the same kind of revolver that Oswald had. As I understand it, modification of .38 revolvers to fire .38 Special bullets was extremely common, with the snub-nosed .38 Special perhaps the most common type of concealed handgun in America at the time. 

When I first encountered the FBI document above dated Nov 25 I wondered if there was a disagreement between the paper-bag revolver which in that FBI report was referred to simply as a ".38" not a .38 Special, whereas it was .38 Special bullets which had killed Tippit. But I soon realized for example in CE 2011, the FBI document prepared for the Warren Commission, that .38 Special revolvers or .38 revolvers which had been modified and rechambered to fire .38 Special bullets, were routinely referred to as simply .38's. In any case the second FBI document quoted above removes any ambiguity on this point: the paper-bag snub-nosed .38 Smith & Wesson found a few blocks from the Carousel Club hours after the killing of Tippit was exactly the kind of gun which had been used to kill Tippit.

The FBI documents do not give further tracing information of what became of that weapon after its original shipment in 1942 to the US Govt in Connecticut and then likely shipment to England and likely return to the US for sale as surplus. There is no record of the FBI comparing the bullets in Tippit's body to bullets fired from that paper-bag revolver found abandoned in Dallas hours after that killing, for a possible match.

That paper-bag snub-nosed .38 found abandoned in downtown Dallas sometime during the night of Nov 22/23, 1963, was not identified with any other crime, any owner, any other homicide. Whereas Oswald's revolver found on his person is explicable in terms of self-defense, and carrying a concealed weapon does not imply the carrier has murdered or intends to murder with it, the abandonment of a handgun in a paper bag on a street is a very different matter and does suggest exactly that, an abandonment of a weapon used in a crime which could well be a homicide.

That is to say, there are two, not just one, .38 Special revolvers of interest with respect to the murder weapon that killed Tippit. Which is more likely, of these two, if there were no other information? The handgun found on Oswald at his arrest? Or the handgun found abandoned, very likely (even if not certain) abandoned because it had been used in a crime up to and including homicide--no other explanation for that abandoned handgun known--abandoned the very night following the Tippit killing, abandoned only a few blocks from the Carousel Theatre the very night of Larry Crafard's flight from Dallas, after he was picked up in a car at the Carousel Theatre by Ruby and George Senator at about 5 am. 

And if there was not a connection of that paper-bag .38 revolver to the Tippit killing, why did the Dallas Police either make no record of it or disappear all traces if records were made?

Let me go directly to the conclusion suggested: that abandoned paper-bag snub-nosed .38 Smith & Wesson was the murder weapon of Tippit. That was the murder weapon used by Larry Crafard to murder Tippit after which he reloaded and went to the Texas Theatre to murder Oswald next if that had not been prevented by the arrival of police who arrested Oswald. The Tippit murder weapon was not Oswald's .38. Oswald was innocent of the murder of Tippit. He didn't do it. Crafard did. 

What became of that paper-bag .38 Smith & Wesson revolver? Did the Dallas Police retain it? If it was considered assassination or Tippit related they would have turned it over, or were supposed to do so, to the FBI. If it were considered unrelated the DPD might have kept it (but in that case why was FBI involved in trying to trace it?). Where is that paper-bag .38 today? Not known.  

Gone, just gone, never examined for its ballistics characteristics, or fingerprints, or comparison with Tippit body bullets. Just disappeared, vanished. The murder weapon of Tippit.

Edited by Greg Doudna
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I don't know about that Pete, but here is something that has sobered me from studying this Tippit case: the realization of what must be a high number of criminal convictions of innocent people in history, convicted by juries who in almost all cases thought they were convicting the right person. 

When the Tippit killer ran into the Texas Theatre, spotted by Brewer and Julia Postal, I am convinced it was the sheer accident of, first, Brewer and usher Burroughs could not see anyone in the balcony in the dim light where the killer had gone after entering (and somehow he in the balcony avoided being seen by Brewer and Burroughs peering up into the dark balcony looking for him), and second, Brewer still from a distance, from the stage, saw Oswald in the ground level seating area stand up and move and that caught Brewer's attention, and he had a similar dark shirt, and Brewer told police, "that's him!", with, in Brewer's view, his identification retrospectively proven correct and any doubt in his mind removed if there ever was any, by all the information that came forth about the man he had pointed out, Oswald.

Brewer by accident got the wrong man who was the leading suspect in the JFK assassination--Brewer by mistake got the killer's target, the hit-man's intended victim, the reason the killer was in the theatre, instead of the killer who had entered the theatre and gone into the balcony. Brewer's mistaken identification and that Oswald had a revolver on his person and resisted arrest (but did not try to shoot a police officer) sealed the case against Oswald in the eyes of police and the world. The killer of Tippit went into the balcony and was seen coming out of the balcony. The lack of any police record of his name even though police talked to him and even though police had been ordered to take down names and addresses of patrons in the theatre, I think could be because one or more officers recognized a mob connection of that individual, maybe even recognized Crafard as an associate of Ruby. In order to conceal the identity of one person in the theatre the entire list of names was not entered into records or preserved. Notably, no citizen ever came forward in later years to identify himself as having been that man in the theatre balcony that day who had been questioned by police, the only individual of adult age known to have been in the balcony that day in the moments immediately after the killer of Tippit was reported to have gone into that balcony.  

When police converged on the Texas Theatre in response to Julia Postal's call to the police regarding a suspicious man in the balcony, officer Henry Stringer who arrived to the back of the theatre found a pickup truck idling with its engine running, no driver in sight (report of Stringer, Dec 3, 1963, https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1140#relPageId=260&search=engine_running pickup truck stringer; Myers, With Malice, p. 229). To my knowledge that never was explained in any document I have seen (i.e. the driver found or identified and explanation of why that vehicle had been left with its engine running). Perhaps there is a mundane explanation, but a non-mundane explanation could be that was a getaway vehicle for the hitman inside the theatre intent on killing Oswald, and the driver, perhaps already standing outside the running vehicle, fled when police cruisers were seen or heard approaching the location.  

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The Tippit killer's fingerprints

The fingerprints on Tippit's car by the passenger window where the killer was witnessed leaning in to talk to Tippit, and found on the right front fender where the killer went around to shoot Tippit and may have leaned and put his hand on the hood or bumper in that location for balance . . . for decades were identified as "smear prints...none of value", and thereby not excluded as Oswald's.

In either 1998 or 2013, whichever it was (I have the 2013 edition of Myers, With Malice), Dale Myers produced and reported one of the single most exculpatory or exonerating evidentiary indications of Oswald's innocence in the Tippit killing.

For it was Dale Myers who did what no one prior to him had done--he obtained those fingerprints from Dallas Police Department files and had an experienced latent fingerprint expert make a fresh study of them.   That expert, Herbert Lutz of Wayne County, Michigan, found that the prints on the passenger door and the right front fender were:

  • made by the same individual, and
  • that individual was not Oswald (match to Oswald's prints was excluded)

(pp. 336-340 ofWith Malice

This is extraordinarily significant, in terms of the issue of Oswald's guilt or innocence in the Tippit killing.

It does not matter that Dale Myers is the leading proponent that Oswald killed Tippit. That has nothing to do with anything here. What matters is Myers, and no one else, produced new information, a new fact, of extraordinary relevance to the Tippit case.

For those fingerprints practically certainly were left by the killer of Tippit. There is a remote possibility that that is not the case, that somebody other than the Tippit killer left those prints in those two locations exactly where the killer was with respect to Tippit's car. So it is not quite airtight. Also, separate issue, with the whole Malcom Wallace fingerprint saga in mind, second and third expert opinion corroborations would be better than just one expert opinion. But the one expert opinion is what we have to go on, it is what it is, and there is nothing known to refute or impugn it at this time, nor the expertise of the expert.

Now to the basic question: what are the odds that those prints were left by the killer? Well, this is in the end going to be a subjective judgment, and judgments will vary. But I will give mine: I would put that at about 95% confidence that those prints are from the killer. Not 100%, not complete certainty. But 95%, almost certain. The reason is the two locations match the killer's location so perfectly with eyewitness testimony of where the killer was. And even more than that, the expert's finding that the passenger door prints and the right front bumper prints are not from different individuals but from the same individual. It is this last point which to me spikes the probability way up to ca. 95%.

To repeat and emphasize, what Dale Myers produced in this is new, going beyond what was previously known.

Myers combines what he regards as the overwhelming argument on other grounds that Oswald killed Tippit, combined with the slight possibility that the fingerprints may not be from the killer, to conclude that Oswald killed Tippit (does not interpret the prints as exonerating Oswald). Again, that is neither here nor there. What does matter is Dale Myers produced this advance in relevant evidence, it is extraordinarily important new evidence, and never mind Myers' own interpretation of what he produced, it strongly suggests, if not comes close to all but outright establishingthat Oswald was not the Tippit killer.

Furthermore, those prints--almost certainly from the killer; not from Oswald--potentially could identify the actual killer. They could be checked against Crafard's prints. Crafard had a criminal record. Certainly there must be prints of Crafard. This could be done.

Even at this late date, the Tippit case potentially could be solved in history on the basis of fingerprints.

But the existing information of these fingerprints already known now, thanks to Myers, strongly suggests exculpation of Oswald--whatever the true solution to the case may or may not be.

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On 10/11/2021 at 4:01 AM, Greg Doudna said:

The Tippit murder weapon was not Oswald's .38. Oswald was innocent of the murder of Tippit. He didn't do it. Crafard did. 

Do you see it being Crawford led out the back of the theater to waiting DPD cops and a running pickup truck as seen by the store owner… name escapes me.

and that would suggest those at the back of the theater… Baggett, Westbrook, Hawkins, etc MUST be aware of this charade to frame Ozzie and remove Crawford from the scene….

Excellent write up.. deep and meaningful.  How do you see Vaganov involved?

he only lived down the road from all this action and was loaded with the same weapon types that did the killings…  Magen was also mistaken for Oswald by ATF ELLSWORTH.

Personally I see a strong chance that Vaganov was Tippit’s contract killer.  And btw, NAGY was also in town at this time… fwiw.




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Interesting ideas.  Most people don't have great facial recognition skills for those met infrequently.  Freguently?  Maybe.

But, in the case of the Oswald doubles they are seen infrequently by various folks and suggestion by others would easily lead to those folks identifying Oswald who was actually someone else who resembled Oswald.  Sometimes, even remotely resembled Oswald.

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Hi David Josephs, on Vaganov, I don't think he was the Tippit gunman. A number of witnesses saw the gunman and gave fairly good physical descriptions which does not agree with Vaganov's height of 6'2". I do not think a single witness described the gunman as tall, which would be one of the first things a witness who had seen Vaganov would say. (Acquila Clemons' seeing of a tall man waving to the killer and hearing him shout "go on!" I have elsewhere argued--shown, I think--was Acquila Clemons standing at the northwest corner of Tenth and Patton seeing Ted Callaway, who was big and tall, on Patton waving across the street to the killer and shouting "hey man, what's going on?") Also I believe the light-gray, near-white jacket found behind the Texaco station at Jefferson and Crawford was left by the killer, and as brought out by author John Berendts in an Aug 1967 Esquire article on Vaganov, that jacket measured 32 1/2 inches sleeve length whereas Vaganov's sleeve length measured 36 inches.

A distinctive red car seen by Benavides at the scene of the Tippit killing was suspected to be Vaganov's red Thunderbird but what Benavides saw is pretty clearly now identified as Jack Tatum's red 1964 Ford Galaxie--the movements of the red car described by Benavides match Tatum's car's movements. And finally, there is no evidence connecting Vaganov to the killing of Tippit or to anyone involved in Ruby's circle. Vaganov had some brushes with the law mainly for forged check writing but in the end he let Esquire magazine pay him to tell his story and most of his story checked out, such as a report that he had told his wife's mother he was offered a job at $17,500 a month and Vaganov explained that was an Encyclopedia Britannica salesman ad promising as much as $1,750 month earnings, and Berendts verified Encyclopedia Britannica had run such ads. The Aug 1967 Esquire article on Vaganov: https://classic.esquire.com/article/19670801073/print.

I agree with Berendts in the conclusion of that article: "Vaganov's willingness to be questioned, to have his picture published in a national magazine, to go to Dallas and face the Tippit eyewitnesses, would by themselves tend to rule him out. Furthermore there is not one shred of direct evidence linking him with either killing that day or with any of the principals involved."

Edited by Greg Doudna
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