Jump to content
The Education Forum

James Worrell: Fact or Fiction?


Duke Lane
 Share

Recommended Posts

The following is submitted for the consideration and critique of forum members. It is the first installment of a several-part examination of the actions and statements of James Richard Worrell, Jr., as related to Dallas Police, area news sources, and the Warren Commission, among others.

This installment examines Worrell's stated actions prior to his arrival in Dealey Plaza on Friday, November 22, 1963. Later submissions will look at the assassination and its immediate aftermath as described by young Worrell, focusing on material from publicly available sources. A final installment will detail additional information developed independently by this writer in recent weeks (including after this installment is posted).

Your comments are greatly appreciated.

[Edits below in red]

________________________________________

JAMES WORRELL: Fact or Fiction?

Part I

©2006 M. Duke Lane

On the morning of November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy awoke in a hotel in downtown Fort Worth. About 30 miles away, a 20-year-old high school senior prepared to leave home to see the 35th President of the United States during his trip to Dallas. The following day, Saturday, November 23, the young man contacted police and made the following statement:

Yesterday afternoon at approximately 12:30 pm I was standing on the sidewalk against a building on the corner of Elm and Houston Streets watching the motorcade of the President. I heard a loud noise like a fire cracker or gun shots. I looked arond to see where the noise came from. I looked up and saw the barrel of a rifle sticking out of a window over my head about 5 or 6 stories up. While I was looking at the gun it was fired again. I looked back at Mr. Kennedy and he was slumping over. I got scared and ran from the location. While I was running I heard the gun fire two more times. I ran from Elm Street to Pacific Avenue on Houston. When I was about 100 yards from the building, I stopped to get my breath and looked back at the building. I saw a w/m, 5'8" to 5'10", dark hair, average weight for height, dark shirt or jacket open down front, no hat, didn't have anything in his hands, come out of the building and run in the opposite direction from me. I then caught a bus to my home.
(
)

The sworn statement of James Worrell is important because it establishes the possible existance of someone in the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) who fled the scene of the President's murder just moments after the shots were fired. While Worrell initially identified the man as having been Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin, based on photos and news coverage, in the end he allowed that, despite any resemblance he may have thought, he was unable to identify the fleeing man and had only seen him from the rear.

Worrell's statement eventually led to his being called to Washington DC in March 1964 to testify before the Warren Commission. Before embarking on the trip (together with assassination witnesses Amos Euins, Arnold Rowland and Dallas Times Herald photographer Bob Jackson), Worrell gave an interview to Times Herald staff writer Darwin Payne in which he'd added a new twist to his story that he was to expand upon four days later: "It was so coincidental," Worrell told Payne. "I had gone to Love Field to see the President but it was too crowded. I cam[e] downtown and just happened to pick that place" in front of the TSBD to stand and watch the parade.

If nothing else did or could have, that addition to his story alone raises questions to his credibility. It caught Arlen Specter's attention to the extent that he asked Worrell, "Are you sure you were at Love Field when the President arrived there?" Worrell replied "oh, yes," and Specter conceded the point before continuing his questioning. A thorough examination of Worrell's statements - under oath and otherwise - is therefore warranted, and shall here be compared and contrasted with others' recollections of the events to which Worrell testified.

THE ITINERARY

James Richard Worrell, Jr., testified on Tuesday, March 10, 1964 before the Warren Commission in its offices located at 200 Maryland Avenue NE at Washington DC. Asked to state his whereabouts and actions leading up to his witnessing the assassination of John F Kennedy in downtown Dallas, he described how he had woken up that morning and waited for his mother and sister to leave their home at 13510 Winterhaven Drive in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch before embarking on the trip that eventually culminated in his visit to the nation's capital.

Worrell stated that he'd hitchhiked (about nine miles) to Love Field, and arrived there sometime around 9:00 a.m. He "messed around" until the President arrived and, not being able to see him very well - "I just saw him get off the plane and I figure that I wasn't going to see him good, so I was going to get a better place to see him" (emphasis added) - Worrell decided to catch a bus downtown where he hoped for a better vantage point.

He left Love Field before the motorcade's departure and travelled "so far on the bus ... as far as, I don't know where the bus stops, anyway I got close to [Dealey Plaza] and walked the rest of the way." He estimated that he arrived downtown at "about 10, 10:30, 10:45, something around there. There weren't many people standing around there then," he explained. The presidential motorcade, he said, arrived "an hour; an hour and a half" later.

Leaving aside the bad math that "an hour; and hour and a half" before the JFK arrived in Dealey Plaza at 12:30 was not "about 10, 10:30, 10:45, something around there," Air Force One did not land at Love Field until 11:37, so it is clearly not possible for Worrell to have seen the plane land and been at Dealey Plaza so far in advance of the motorcade's arrival there. In fact, he could not have been in Dealey Plaza any more than just a few minutes before, but the fact remain that he could have been in both places.

In the early 1960s, bus service was provided by the Dallas Transit Company, which later became the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system (DART). Over the years and through the successive purchases and reorganizations of the company, all copies of the bus schedules for 1963 have been lost or destroyed, and nobody contacted by this author has kept copies among their personal memorabilia, so it is not possible to determine the exact schedule of busses from Love Field to downtown that day through "official" means.

A bus still follows the same route today - with an added jog to a new terminal building - as the bus that Worrell would have had to take to make his rendezvous with Fate. In 2006, bus route #39 takes 42 minutes to travel this distance over the same streets as it did in 1963. Long-time employees and retirees of DART and its predecessor companies have, however, consistently remarked that busses ran more frequently and carried more passengers than they do today ... and the vehicles themselves were larger then than they are now.

(A case in point is the route from Oak Cliff to downtown, taken by Helen Markham to and from work: according to Commission Document 630h, the bus stopped at Jefferson Boulevard and Patton Street every ten minutes on weekdays; today, it comes by only once every 45 minutes.)

The general concensus regarding the Love Field-to-downtown bus is that it probably ran every ten minutes on weekdays, and certainly no less frequently than once every 15 minutes. It also probably took less time - about 30 minutes - to arrive downtown since traffic was not as heavy as it is today.

Thus for Worrell to have alit from the bus at its stop closest to Dealey Plaza, at about the same location as the current West End Terminal at 800 Pacific Avenue just five blocks - 0.2 miles or about five minutes walking distance from Dealey Plaza - in time to witness the assassination, he could have departed Love Field as late as 11:50 that morning and arrived in the plaza five minutes before the motorcade.

If he'd had to orient himself, ask directions, etc. - a distinct possibility, it would seem, since he said that he didn't know where the bus stopped and he'd gotten off (2H191-192) - it could have taken him longer. But Worrell stated that he'd caught the bus before the motorcade had left the airport at 11:50, so he could have caught a bus as early as 11:40 (three minutes after Kennedy was on the ground and Worrell realized he wouldn't be able to see him well), conceivably getting him to Dealey Plaza by about 12:15.

Even arriving then, it would have been well past the point when "there weren't many people standing around there then," as he'd testified. JFK was due at the Trade Mart roughly four miles away at 12:30, and would thus have passed through Dealey Plaza several minutes earlier if the motorcade was on time. Consequently, if Worrell arrived at 12:15 or afterward, almost as many people as would be there already were. If he'd arrived any later, he stood a good chance of missing the motorcade altogether, but not having transportation of his own, he had no control over that and was at the mercy of the bus and traffic.

Not that it has an effect on Worrell's ability to be in both locations to witness all that he'd said he did, one additional possibility that obviates the busses' schedule departure times is ... a curious bus driver.

If a bus was scheduled to leave Love Field at, say, 11:35 - just before JFK landed, theoretically forcing Worrell to wait until at least 11:45 to board a downtown bus - but the driver decided to linger past his scheduled departure time to catch a glimpse of the President (he could alway blame his lateness on security delays or additional traffic, roadblocks or detours, plausible excuses all), Worrell could have caught a bus that normally would already have left the airport, getting him downtown a little earlier than our previous estimates, especially if the driver drove a little faster than usual to make up lost time.

Finally, since Worrell's bus - whichever one he was on and whatever time it was actually scheduled to depart - left Love Field ahead of the motorcade, there is no reason to suspect that its travel was in any way impeded by traffic or police patrols. According to a voluminous 34-page, detailed November 30 Dallas Police "chronological report of events" prepared for Chief Curry (HSCA record #180-1017-10137, file number 003019), the pilot car left Love Field just three minutes ahead of the motorcade; patrol officers assigned to security along the route did not halt traffic until that car arrived, the bus most likely proceeded along its regular route without incident.

There is no doubt that Worrell could not have been at Love Field and seen JFK if he had been downtown either "around 10, 10:30, 10:45" or "an hour; hour and a half" before the motorcade arrived in Dealey Plaza. Nevertheless, given the approximate travel time by bus to reach downtown from Love Field, and absent any documentation showing the departure times and frequency of the busses leaving the airport, it remains possible that James Worrell was, in fact, both at Love Field and in Dealey Plaza, although he may have had to hurry to get to his destination in time.

It must be noted that all of the estimates herein are dependent upon Worrell being in a position to board a bus in a reasonably short period of time. Since we do not know - even if we think we can infer - where he was "at Love Field," we don't know if he was in the midst of the 2000+ throng of onlookers, if he was at the fringe of the crowd, or if he was nowhere near it at all (having been "messing around" and all ... doing what and where?). More information will be forthcoming in later installments as it is available.

[To be continued ....]

Future additions:

Chapter 2 - Downtown at the Depository

Chapter 3 - Aftermath

Chapter 4 - The Periphery

Edited by Duke Lane
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 30
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Duke,

It's all very confusing. I have the feeling that Worrell may have invented the Love Field story just to give the reporter something to write about--he's a young kid, now famous, on his way to Washington. It's not like he's obstructing the authorities from relentlessly searching for the assassin--the Government and the press has already played the role of judge and jury. The only other explanation might be that he got confused and hitchhiked from Love Field, not to Love Field. A longshot, but there's no other way he could have made it, IMO.

On the question of what was seen in the immediate aftermath of the assassination, it's hard to go past James Romack's unequivocal statement that no-one ran from behind the TSDB in the first five minutes. Worrell's statements to the contrary may be another invention, IMO. I just can't see the team in the TSBD screaming out the back entrance straight after the assassination. It's too unsophisticated and obvious and they had no way of knowing who might see them. They would have departed in a more unobtrusive fashion. Just speculating, of course.

Edited by Mark Stapleton
Link to comment
Share on other sites

it's hard to go past James Romack's unequivocal statement that no-one ran from behind the TSDB in the first five minutes. Worrell's statements to the contrary may be another invention, IMO. I just can't see the team in the TSBD screaming out the back entrance straight after the assassination. It's too unsophisticated and obvious and they had no way of knowing who might see them. They would have departed in a more unobtrusive fashion. Just speculating, of course.

This may be the most questionable part of Loy Factor's story. Loy claimed that he and Ruth Ann rushed down the stairs from the 6th floor as soon as the first shots were fired, exited the back of the building where her car was parked, and drove away. Yet no one saw them come out, get in the car, and drive away, which had to be about two minutes after the shots. (As I recall it would have taken Oswald about 90 seconds to get as far as the second-floor lunch room.) Clearly someone wasn't telling the truth about goings-on behind the TSBD. Based on Romack's and Barnett's stories, I guess it might as well be Loy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duke,

It's all very confusing. I have the feeling that Worrell may have invented the Love Field story just to give the reporter something to write about--he's a young kid, now famous, on his way to Washington. It's not like he's obstructing the authorities from relentlessly searching for the assassin--the Government and the press has already played the role of judge and jury. The only other explanation might be that he got confused and hitchhiked from Love Field, not to Love Field. A longshot, but there's no other way he could have made it, IMO.

Points taken ... except that he never capitalized on that fame. I have a newsclip of another "interview" of Worrell that will come into play later. Remember, this is but the first installment ....
On the question of what was seen in the immediate aftermath of the assassination, it's hard to go past James Romack's unequivocal statement that no-one ran from behind the TSDB in the first five minutes. Worrell's statements to the contrary may be another invention, IMO. I just can't see the team in the TSBD screaming out the back entrance straight after the assassination. It's too unsophisticated and obvious and they had no way of knowing who might see them. They would have departed in a more unobtrusive fashion. Just speculating, of course.
Romack's testimony is not unequivocal on that point at all. That's coming up, too, possibly as soon as the second installment of Part I; the third, at the latest.

This portion is solely about the Love-to-Dealey aspect of Worrell's day ... assuming, that is, that it even happened as he said. At this point, I'm hardly convinced that it did, but have to admit that it's possible ... and nothing more.

I'm just putting out the evidence - or, in cases, lack thereof - from as many points of view as possible. Mainly: is the evidence getting fair treatment? Let's not worry about the conclusions as yet, especially since I haven't made any firm ones myself. I think you'll find things in this you either might not have known, or may not have considered from one perspective or another. Hopefully, it'll turn out to be as complete as I think it will!

(Two full pages or more on a 30-minute bus trip alone should tell you something!! Before I'd even gotten to the Romack part in the first rewrite, I'd printed out nearly ten, and there's still more to go!!)

Edited by Duke Lane
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...
  • 3 years later...

Bump.

Hard to imagine this came together seven years ago now, doesn't seem anywhere near that long ago unless I think about it some ....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also worth noting that Worrell describes FOUR shots.

1. I heard a loud noise like a fire cracker or gun shots. I looked arond to see where the noise came from.

2. I looked up and saw the barrel of a rifle sticking out of a window over my head about 5 or 6 stories up. While I was looking at the gun it was fired again.

I looked back at Mr. Kennedy and he was slumping over. I got scared and ran from the location.

3,4. While I was running I heard the gun fire two more times. I ran from Elm Street to Pacific Avenue on Houston. When I was about 100 yards from the building, I stopped to get my breath and looked back at the building. I saw a w/m, 5'8" to 5'10", dark hair, average weight for height, dark shirt or jacket open down front, no hat, didn't have anything in his hands, come out of the building and run in the opposite direction from me. I then caught a bus to my home. (CE363)

Edited by Martin White
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, it's NOT worth noting ... if he wasn't there.

According to his own description of where he was standing, he is not in any photograph or movie of the front of the TSBD.

Until someone can place him there photographically, then it doesn't matter a whit about what he says occurred in DP.

Nothing else about his story holds up either. He didn't witness a thing, so sorry to say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Every witness can be discredited. Others besides Worrell heard four shots. Not many people saw the rifle or the Sixth Floor Sniper, and his acknowledged reaction - fear, running away, are typical of what someone would experience after being suddenly subjected to a traumatic situation. I tend to believe him.

BK

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's okay, anyone can believe what they want, myself included. My belief, however, is based on hard data: AF1 landing time, and motorcade departure & route; bus routes & schedules, pickup and drop-off points, distances, time, and an absolute, unqualified absence of anyone matching Worrell's description in any image showing the exact place where he said he was standing, between the TSBD doorway and the SE corner of the building.

I don't question how many shots he heard, I question that he heard any shots. If he was there, he'd have shown up in a photo since photos were taken of that exact location at the exact time he said he was there, right up to the shooting. That, on top of everything else, is why I state baldly: DICKY WORRELL WAS NOT IN DEALEY PLAZA AT 12:30 ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1963, PERIOD.

If he wasn't there, the number of shots he claimed to have heard is utterly meaningless.

This is why I think proving anything is a waste of time with this case, because people prefer to accept things on faith if it fits their preconceived notions, and use that faith to "refute" facts. It is why a grand jury will never be seated by those who advocate it most loudly: because everything is "true" except what they don't want to believe, and "facts" only disprove those things, never their own beliefs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's okay, anyone can believe what they want, myself included. My belief, however, is based on hard data: AF1 landing time, and motorcade departure & route; bus routes & schedules, pickup and drop-off points, distances, time, and an absolute, unqualified absence of anyone matching Worrell's description in any image showing the exact place where he said he was standing, between the TSBD doorway and the SE corner of the building.

I don't question how many shots he heard, I question that he heard any shots. If he was there, he'd have shown up in a photo since photos were taken of that exact location at the exact time he said he was there, right up to the shooting. That, on top of everything else, is why I state baldly: DICKY WORRELL WAS NOT IN DEALEY PLAZA AT 12:30 ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1963, PERIOD.

If he wasn't there, the number of shots he claimed to have heard is utterly meaningless.

This is why I think proving anything is a waste of time with this case, because people prefer to accept things on faith if it fits their preconceived notions, and use that faith to "refute" facts. It is why a grand jury will never be seated by those who advocate it most loudly: because everything is "true" except what they don't want to believe, and "facts" only disprove those things, never their own beliefs.

No Duke, it isn't a waste of time if you pick which alley you want to go down and what suspects you want to examine. Worrell's just doesn't tell us anything worthwhile, anything that would threaten anyone, so he's pretty safe to discredit. Like I said, everyone can be discredited if you look closely enough, or make up something that could possibly be true.

If you spent the same amount of time on the Tippit murder witnesses it might have been more worthwhile, in my view. Thanks for all you do, and keep plugging away...

BK

Edited by William Kelly
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No Duke, it isn't a waste of time if you pick which alley you want to go down and what suspects you want to examine. Worrell's just doesn't tell us anything worthwhile, anything that would threaten anyone, so he's pretty safe to discredit.

Perhaps he did, perhaps he didn't.

What does seem to be a fact is that his initial claims appear to have engendered others, a veritable family tree of red herrings, particularly a man (or in some cases, men) leaving the TSBD after the shooting from the same location, and indirectly (but directly traceable), a virtual herd of Ramblers in the area when only one can be factually and photographically placed there.

While these particulars may be relatively innocuous, there are no doubt many other stories that have grown into legends that have as little basis in actual fact, but that have nevertheless become ingrained in the lore, taken root, and spawned offshoots that are "true" because "there's no reason not to believe" what someone said once upon a time that is simply taken as fact.

I didn't "pick" any of these people to examine, but after "Cowtown" some years ago, I found it's much simpler to find out what's not true than to prove what is. Most have been born of an initial skepticism that, once voice, has been challenged. One was rather inadvertent: I'd actually set out to show exactly the opposite of what I eventually found. xxxx happens.

The Tippit thing is one of those that's more challenging to show what did happen than to point out what are pretty obvious flaws in the story if you take the time to dissect it. There are more people in the background, as it were, than there are those who try to inject themselves into the middle of the story, more people who are reluctant to talk about it than who want to tell a new story to the world.

(Quite the opposite, it seems, from Dealey Plaza: maybe it's just that there's nothing "sexy" or "famous" in it?)

In that arena, I will take more than just a little bit of credit for "exposing" the real "citizen caller" in Oak Cliff, and some, at least, for the City of Dallas finally recognizing Tom Bowley as being the man who called in the shooting, rather than Donnie Benavides (as per the WCR). His actions are a much more sober substantiation of Helen Markham's estimate of the time of death.

The thing that really confounds me is when people will agree that Oswald wasn't or couldn't have been at 10th & Patton to shoot Tippit and then go on to discuss why he did or didn't do something while he was(n't) there.

There must be a reason why nobody talks about David Atlee Phillips being under arrest in Fort Worth that afternoon anymore, but they still just don't get that some witnesses ... weren't. And some events ... didn't happen just because someone who didn't and couldn't see them says they did.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No Duke, it isn't a waste of time if you pick which alley you want to go down and what suspects you want to examine. Worrell's just doesn't tell us anything worthwhile, anything that would threaten anyone, so he's pretty safe to discredit.

Perhaps he did, perhaps he didn't.

What does seem to be a fact is that his initial claims appear to have engendered others, a veritable family tree of red herrings, particularly a man (or in some cases, men) leaving the TSBD after the shooting from the same location, and indirectly (but directly traceable), a virtual herd of Ramblers in the area when only one can be factually and photographically placed there.

While these particulars may be relatively innocuous, there are no doubt many other stories that have grown into legends that have as little basis in actual fact, but that have nevertheless become ingrained in the lore, taken root, and spawned offshoots that are "true" because "there's no reason not to believe" what someone said once upon a time that is simply taken as fact.

I didn't "pick" any of these people to examine, but after "Cowtown" some years ago, I found it's much simpler to find out what's not true than to prove what is. Most have been born of an initial skepticism that, once voice, has been challenged. One was rather inadvertent: I'd actually set out to show exactly the opposite of what I eventually found. xxxx happens.

The Tippit thing is one of those that's more challenging to show what did happen than to point out what are pretty obvious flaws in the story if you take the time to dissect it. There are more people in the background, as it were, than there are those who try to inject themselves into the middle of the story, more people who are reluctant to talk about it than who want to tell a new story to the world.

(Quite the opposite, it seems, from Dealey Plaza: maybe it's just that there's nothing "sexy" or "famous" in it?)

In that arena, I will take more than just a little bit of credit for "exposing" the real "citizen caller" in Oak Cliff, and some, at least, for the City of Dallas finally recognizing Tom Bowley as being the man who called in the shooting, rather than Donnie Benavides (as per the WCR). His actions are a much more sober substantiation of Helen Markham's estimate of the time of death.

The thing that really confounds me is when people will agree that Oswald wasn't or couldn't have been at 10th & Patton to shoot Tippit and then go on to discuss why he did or didn't do something while he was(n't) there.

There must be a reason why nobody talks about David Atlee Phillips being under arrest in Fort Worth that afternoon anymore, but they still just don't get that some witnesses ... weren't. And some events ... didn't happen just because someone who didn't and couldn't see them says they did.

Well, once you know something is not true, then even if it is ingrained in lure at least you know it isn't true and you can build on that.

Take the rifle scope, which Bill O'Reily says Oswald used to kill the President, when it has been determined was not used by whoever the sniper was, since it was not properly aligned and not needed. People keep saying the sniper used the scope even though he could't have. What's the point in arguing about it?

As for David Atlee Phillips under arrest in Fort Worth that morning, I'd like to hear more about that, though I don't believe it just because you said it happened.

BK

Edited by William Kelly
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, it's NOT worth noting ... if he wasn't there.

According to his own description of where he was standing, he is not in any photograph or movie of the front of the TSBD.

Until someone can place him there photographically, then it doesn't matter a whit about what he says occurred in DP.

Nothing else about his story holds up either. He didn't witness a thing, so sorry to say.

Duke... I found the image on the left of Worrell and then tried to find someone similiar in the location he described....

And I found this taller man, with what looks like an open dark cardigan and similair features...

Thoughts?

betzer-Worrell-1_zps381fb01b.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

David, what are we looking at? Can you post a larger or full-sized image of the inset photo? What is it, what is it looking at, and what time is it? Remember that Worrell was gone by the third shot; he heard two after he started running, he said. The key time(s) to find him would be before any shots were fired, particularly as the motorcade was moving north along Houston.

Remember, too, that he was there for an hour or longer, he said, before the parade got there (even though AF1 hadn't landed even an hour before JFK got to DP, and Dicky had to get from Love Field (where he'd seen the President) to DP by bus in the interim.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...