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The mystery of James Worrell


Guest Mark Valenti
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Guest Mark Valenti

James Worrell, the high school student who allegedly saw a rifle in the TSBD, is an interesting character whose story has some noteworthy turns.

At the time of the assasination, he was a high school senior at the age of 19.

He admitted that he hadn't attended high school since October, 1963.

However, he testified that he "skipped school" on 11-22-63 to see JFK.

He said he woke at 6:30 am and "was going to go to school that day" - suddenly, after not having attended for over a month - but decided to see JFK instead.

He left home at 8:00 am, hitchhiked to Love Field, arrived around 9 am and "just messed around" until JFK's plane landed.

He wasn't sure what time JFK landed - "whatever time that was" - but Worrell "didn't get to see him good at all."

So Worrell "caught a bus and went over, went downtown and I just, I don't know, happened to pick that place at the Depository, and I stood at the corner of Elm and Houston."

At first, Worrell testifed, he took a bus to Dealey Plaza. Then he changed his mind: "No, no; I just traveled so far on the bus. I went down to Elm, and took a bus from there. I went down as far as, I don't know where that bus stops, anyway, I got close to there and I walked the rest of the way."

He testified that he reached Dealey Plaza "well, about 10, 10:30, 10:45, something around there."

According to Worrell, he was in Dealey Plaza "an hour, an hour and a half" prior to the arrival of the motorcade.

After the shooting, during which he claimed to see a rifle pointing out a window, he ran across Houston Street "and I rested there, I was out of breath, I smoke too much, short winded."

He was there approximately "three minutes before I saw this man come out the back dooor."

When asked if he told an FBI agent who interviewed him that the man he saw running was LHO, he answered, "I don't know if I did or not."

For a young man whose biography indicates at least a nonconformist bent - smoking too much, skipping school, nearly 20 with no high school diploma - he certainly displayed a proactive industriousness, rising early, getting to Love Field then hurrying to Dealey Plaza and staking out a choice viewing location.

Worrell died in 1966 in a motorcycle accident. His testimony bolsters the TSBD sniper's nest theory but also weakens it - he claims to have heard four distinct shots.

MV

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James Worrell, the high school student who allegedly saw a rifle in the TSBD, is an interesting character whose story has some noteworthy turns.

At the time of the assasination, he was a high school senior at the age of 19.

He admitted that he hadn't attended high school since October, 1963.

However, he testified that he "skipped school" on 11-22-63 to see JFK.

He said he woke at 6:30 am and "was going to go to school that day" - suddenly, after not having attended for over a month - but decided to see JFK instead.

He left home at 8:00 am, hitchhiked to Love Field, arrived around 9 am and "just messed around" until JFK's plane landed.

He wasn't sure what time JFK landed - "whatever time that was" - but Worrell "didn't get to see him good at all."

So Worrell "caught a bus and went over, went downtown and I just, I don't know, happened to pick that place at the Depository, and I stood at the corner of Elm and Houston."

At first, Worrell testifed, he took a bus to Dealey Plaza. Then he changed his mind: "No, no; I just traveled so far on the bus. I went down to Elm, and took a bus from there. I went down as far as, I don't know where that bus stops, anyway, I got close to there and I walked the rest of the way."

He testified that he reached Dealey Plaza "well, about 10, 10:30, 10:45, something around there."

According to Worrell, he was in Dealey Plaza "an hour, an hour and a half" prior to the arrival of the motorcade.

After the shooting, during which he claimed to see a rifle pointing out a window, he ran across Houston Street "and I rested there, I was out of breath, I smoke too much, short winded."

He was there approximately "three minutes before I saw this man come out the back dooor."

When asked if he told an FBI agent who interviewed him that the man he saw running was LHO, he answered, "I don't know if I did or not."

For a young man whose biography indicates at least a nonconformist bent - smoking too much, skipping school, nearly 20 with no high school diploma - he certainly displayed a proactive industriousness, rising early, getting to Love Field then hurrying to Dealey Plaza and staking out a choice viewing location.

Worrell died in 1966 in a motorcycle accident. His testimony bolsters the TSBD sniper's nest theory but also weakens it - he claims to have heard four distinct shots.

MV

I’m not sure there is anything mysterious about James Worrell and his testimony. From the sound of it, he wasn’t an especially bright individual. I have a very good friend who’s son sounds a little like him. He has a low IQ, maybe even what would be considered borderline retarded. He’s had to repeat a couple of grades in school, and is also 19 with no high school diploma. He also smokes because the guys he hangs out with (of similar intelligence) do. However, he’s very industrious, gets up early to find odd jobs to do for spare change. Not the kind of life that most of us here would lead, but I don’t think it’s especially “non conformist” in nature.

I’m guessing that Mr. Worrell was most likely intimidated and overwhelmed when having to give statements and testimony, and it’s not surprising that he may have gotten some things wrong, or changed his story a bit. This doesn’t mean that he didn’t see what he says he saw. It just means that he had trouble relating that information in an intelligent, concise manner.

JWK

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I’m not sure there is anything mysterious about James Worrell and his testimony. From the sound of it, he wasn’t an especially bright individual. I have a very good friend who’s son sounds a little like him. He has a low IQ, maybe even what would be considered borderline retarded. He’s had to repeat a couple of grades in school, and is also 19 with no high school diploma. He also smokes because the guys he hangs out with (of similar intelligence) do. However, he’s very industrious, gets up early to find odd jobs to do for spare change. Not the kind of life that most of us here would lead, but I don’t think it’s especially “non conformist” in nature.

I’m guessing that Mr. Worrell was most likely intimidated and overwhelmed when having to give statements and testimony, and it’s not surprising that he may have gotten some things wrong, or changed his story a bit. This doesn’t mean that he didn’t see what he says he saw. It just means that he had trouble relating that information in an intelligent, concise manner.

JWK

I think you may be exactly correct about him - I'm just pulling items from the testimony that raises a personal red flag.

MV

That's how discoveries are made, Mark. I might be right, or might be totally off base. Since I didn't know Mr. Worrell personally, I can't say for sure. His story just sounded familiar to me.

We're in a sea of red flags here, and each one must be looked at and discussed.

JWK

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James Worrell, the high school student who allegedly saw a rifle in the TSBD, is an interesting character whose story has some noteworthy turns.

... For a young man whose biography indicates at least a nonconformist bent - smoking too much, skipping school, nearly 20 with no high school diploma - he certainly displayed a proactive industriousness, rising early, getting to Love Field then hurrying to Dealey Plaza and staking out a choice viewing location.

Worrell died in 1966 in a motorcycle accident. His testimony bolsters the TSBD sniper's nest theory but also weakens it - he claims to have heard four distinct shots.

I’m not sure there is anything mysterious about James Worrell and his testimony. From the sound of it, he wasn’t an especially bright individual.

... I’m guessing that Mr. Worrell was most likely intimidated and overwhelmed when having to give statements and testimony, and it’s not surprising that he may have gotten some things wrong, or changed his story a bit. This doesn’t mean that he didn’t see what he says he saw. It just means that he had trouble relating that information in an intelligent, concise manner.

See the threads James Worrell: Fact or Fiction? and KBOX's Sam Pate for a bit more on this subject. It's not completed yet as I've got a couple of more people to interview including his sister and his cousin (I've already spoken with his mother at length), so until then, the jury's out.

The big question is his veracity. My tentative conclusion?

Worrell -> :unsure:<- facts?

There are a lot of problems with the story that he told, most notably that if he left Love Field after JFK landed, the bus - if one was running just at the nick of time - could only have just barely made it downtown in time for Worrell to have gotten to Elm & Houston in time to see the motorcade. (This even forgives all of his mistaken time estimates.)

I haven't been able to find a copy of the 1963 bus schedule for the only route he could have taken, but do know from newspaper clippings that beginning in 1962, the bus only ran from Love to downtown once an hour. It took - and still takes - close to 30 minutes to make the trip in "normal" traffic. The primary question is what time it would have left Love, and I haven't been able to find anything or anyone who knows for certain.

The bus route crossed the motorcade route a couple of times, but this might not have been much of a problem since it seems as if traffic wasn't stopped until the parade was a block or two from any given location. Cross-traffic would have been the last stopped, meaning that it didn't necessarily preclude the bus being able to make the trip on schedule.

Even assuming he could have caught a bus, and that the bus was unaffected by the motorcade or other traffic, he'd have had only about two minutes to get to Elm & Houston once it stopped, and he'd have had to proceed there pretty directly as opposed to the aimless wandering that he seemed to depict in his testimony (he "just happened" to go there, he said, but apparently didn't plan to).

The one possible saving grace is that Sam Pate, who arrived behind the TSBD within just a couple of minutes of the shooting, noticed a young man cross Houston St diagonally from the TSBD side to the other, heading toward Pacific, which is what Worrell said that he'd done.

Even still, tho', Worrell depicted having cut and run almost immediately, while there's no question that Sam could not have gotten there in less than a minute from where he was, out on Stemmons near Hi Line.

Could his estimate of running scared after the first or second shot be as mistaken as his estimate that he'd seen JFK land and then gotten to Dealey Plaza an hour and a half before the motorcade? I'll concede that it's possible ... but how likely is it to have so many inconsistencies and still arrive at a reasonably cohesive conclusion?

More later ....

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Your research is very impressive - and I'm looking forward to seeing what else you turn up.
... but not quite good enough to get me on Spartacus' list of researchers and investigators ... nor even the "possible conspirators" list!! :)

(John, are you listening? ROFLMAO!)

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