The unusual circumstances surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas spawned a multitude of conspiracy theories. These suspicions were mitigated when an official investigation by the Warren Commission concluded that there was no conspiracy and that Oswald acted alone. Since then, uncertainties have arisen as subsequent official investigations cast doubt on the Warren Commission’s findings. Ultimately, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) reversed the Warren Commission’s findings and concluded that Kennedy was probably assassinated as the result of a conspiracy, with “a high probability that two gunmen fired at the President”.
As a result, a variety of assassination conspiracy theories circulated proposing a criminal conspiracy involving parties as varied as the CIA, the mafia, anti-Castro Cuban exile groups, the military industrial complex, sitting Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Cuban President Fidel Castro, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, the KGB, and many more. What follows is a brief analysis of the events of that day and a detailed explanation of the major conspiracy theories to date.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy – summary of events
The saga unfolded in Dallas during a single devastating weekend. At 12:30 PM on Friday November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by gunfire as he traveled in a motorcade in an open-top limousine through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Texas Governor John Connally was wounded during the shooting but survived. Kennedy’s wife, Jacqueline, was not injured.
Within two hours of the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the murder of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit and arraigned that evening. Shortly after 1:30 am that night, Oswald was arraigned for murdering President Kennedy as well. On Sunday, November 24, at 11:21 am, two days after the JFK assassination, nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald as he was being transferred to the county jail. In a little more than 48 hours, Dallas witnessed two historical assassinations.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy – detailed description of the events
At 12:30 P.M. CST, Kennedy’s uncovered limousine entered Dealey Plaza and slowly approached the sharp turns leading into the plaza. Nellie Connally, then the First Lady of Texas, turned around to Kennedy, who was sitting behind her, and commented, “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you,” which President Kennedy politely acknowledged.
When the Presidential limousine turned left and passed the Texas School Book Depository, shots were fired as the limo continued down Elm Street towards the freeway. Within one second of each other, President Kennedy, Governor Connally, and Mrs. Kennedy, all turned abruptly from looking to their left to looking to their right. Connally, a WWII military veteran and experienced hunter, testified he immediately recognized the sound of a high-powered rifle, then turned his head and torso rightward attempting to see President Kennedy sitting behind him. Connally testified he could not see the president, so he then started to turn forward again, and was hit in his upper right of his back by a bullet (from a gunshot that Connally later testified he did *not* hear the muzzle blast from). Connally shouted,
“Oh, no, no, no. My God. They’re going to kill us all!”
Mrs. Connally testified that after hearing a first loud, frightening noise that came from somewhere behind her and to her right, she immediately turned towards President Kennedy and saw him with his arms and elbows already raised high with his hands clinched and held near his throat. She then heard another gunshot and John Connally started yelling. Mrs. Connally then turned away from President Kennedy towards her husband. Another gunshot sounded and she and the limousine’s rear interior were covered with fragments of bone, blood, and brain matter.
As President Kennedy waved to the crowds on his right with his right arm resting on the side of the limo, a shot entered his upper back, penetrated his neck, slightly damaged a spinal vertebra and the top of his right lung, exited his throat centerline just beneath his Adam’s apple, then nicked the left side of his suit tie knot. He raised his elbows and clenched his fists in front of his face and neck, then leaned forward and towards his left. Mrs. Kennedy (already facing him) put her arms around him in concern.
Governor Connally also reacted after the same bullet penetrated his back creating an oval entry wound, impacted and destroyed four inches of his right, fifth rib bone, exited his chest just below his right nipple creating a two-and-a-half inch oval sucking-air chest wound, then entered just above his right wrist, impacted and cleanly fractured his right wrist bone, exited just below the wrist at the inner side of his right palm, and entered his left inner thigh.
A second shot struck when the Presidential limousine was passing in front of the John Neely Bryan north pergola concrete structure. This shot would become the most controversial. According to official Warren Commission findings, this shot entered the rear of President Kennedy’s head, then exploded out a roughly oval-shaped hole from his head’s rear and right side. Head matter, brain, blood, and skull fragments, originating from Kennedy, covered the interior of the car, the inner and outer surfaces of the front glass windshield and raised sun visors, the front engine hood, the rear trunk lid, motorcycle officers riding on both sides of the president, the follow-up Secret Service car and its driver’s left arm. Mrs. Kennedy climbed from the rear seat and reached out onto the rear trunk lid of the limo. After she crawled back into her limousine seat, both Governor Connally and Mrs. Connally heard her say more than once,
“They have killed my husband. I have his brains in my hand.”
United States Secret Service agent Clint Hill was riding on the left front running board of the follow-up car, immediately behind the Presidential limousine. Hill testified he heard one shot, then he jumped off into Elm Street and ran forward to try and get on the limousine and protect the president. After the president had been shot in the head, Mrs. Kennedy began to climb out onto the back of the limousine, though she later had no recollection of doing so. Hill believed she was reaching for something, perhaps a piece of the president’s skull. He jumped onto the back of the limousine while at the same time Mrs. Kennedy returned to her seat. Hill clung to the car as it exited Dealey Plaza and accelerated, speeding to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
Governor Connally, riding in a seat in front of the President and three inches more to the left than the president, was also critically injured but survived. Doctors later stated that after the governor was shot, his wife pulled him onto her lap, and the resulting posture helped close his front chest wound (which was causing air to be sucked directly into his chest around his collapsed right lung).
James Tague, a spectator, and witness to the assassination, also received a minor wound to his right cheek while standing 531 feet (162 m) away from the Depository’s sixth floor, far-eastern window, 270 feet (82 m) in front of and slightly to the right of President Kennedy’s head facing direction, and more than 16 feet (4.9 m) below the president’s head top. Tague’s injury occurred when a bullet or bullet fragment with no copper casing struck the nearby Main Street south curb. When Tague testified to the Warren Commission and was asked which of the three shots he remembered hearing struck him, he stated it was the second or third shot
Aftermath in Dealey Plaza
The Presidential limousine was passing a grassy knoll on the north side of Elm Street at the moment of the fatal head shot. As the motorcade left the plaza, police officers and spectators ran up the knoll and from a railroad bridge over Elm Street (the Triple Underpass), to the area behind a five-foot (1.5 m) high stockade fence atop the knoll, separating it from a parking lot. Lee Bowers, a railroad switchman sitting in a two-story tower, had fairly good view of the rear of the stockade fence atop the grassy knoll during the shooting. He saw a total of four men in the area between his tower and Elm Street: a middle-aged man and a younger man, standing 10 to 15 feet (3.0 to 4.6 m) apart near the Triple Underpass, who did not seem to know each other, and one or two uniformed parking lot attendants. At the time of the shooting, he saw “something out of the ordinary, a sort of milling around,” which he could not identify. Bowers testified that one or both of the men were still there when motorcycle officer Clyde Haygood ran up the grassy knoll to the back of the fence. Other witnesses reported seeing as many as a dozen people standing on the triple-overpass, about 50 feet from the grassy knoll.
Meanwhile, Howard Brennan, a steamfitter who was sitting across the street from the Texas School Book Depository, notified police that as he watched the motorcade go by, he heard a shot come from above, and looked up to see a man with a rifle make another shot from a corner window on the sixth floor. He had seen the same man minutes earlier looking out the window. Brennan was able to give a description of the shooter.
As Brennan spoke to the police in front of the building, they were joined by Harold Norman and James Jarman, Jr., two employees of the Texas School Book Depository who had watched the motorcade from windows at the southeast corner of the fifth floor. Norman reported that he heard three gunshots come from directly over their heads. Norman also heard the sounds of a bolt action rifle and cartridges dropping on the floor above them.
Estimates of when Dallas police sealed off the entrances to the Texas School Book Depository range from 12:33 to after 12:50 p.m. Around this same time, using Howard Brennan’s description of the man he saw shooting out of the school book depository window, a description of the suspect was broadcast to all Dallas police at 12:45 p.m., 12:48 p.m., and 12:55 p.m.
The capture of Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested approximately 40 minutes after the assassination for killing a Dallas police officer, J. D. Tippit. According to the Warren Commission, Oswald left the book depository moments after shots were fired from the sixth floor, returned by bus and cab to his rooming house, then ventured out again — soon encountering a Dallas police officer who stopped him based on descriptions of the assassination suspect. Tippit had spotted Oswald walking along a sidewalk in the residential neighborhood of Oak Cliff, three miles from Dealey Plaza. After an exchange of words, Tippit got out of the car and Oswald shot him four times. Oswald was captured in a nearby movie theater, the Texas Theater, after he was seen sneaking into the theater without buying a ticket.
Oswald resisted, attempting to shoot the arresting officer, M.N. McDonald, with a pistol, and was struck and forcibly restrained by the police. He was charged with the murders of Kennedy and Tippit later that night. Oswald denied shooting anyone and claimed he was a patsy who was arrested because he had lived in the Soviet Union. Oswald’s case never came to trial because two days later, while being escorted to a car for transfer from Dallas Police Headquarters to the Dallas County Jail, he was shot and killed by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, live on American television.
Evidence found in the Texas School Book Depository
A 6.5 x 52 mm Italian Carcano M91/38 bolt-action rifle was found on the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository by Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman and Deputy Sheriff Eugene Boone soon after the assassination of President Kennedy. The recovery was filmed by Tom Alyea of WFAA-TV. This footage shows the rifle to be a Carcano, and it was later verified by photographic analysis commissioned by the HSCA that the rifle filmed was the same one later identified as the assassination weapon.
The previous March, the Carcano rifle had been bought by Oswald under the name “A. Hidell” and delivered to a post office box Oswald rented in Dallas. According to the Warren Commission Report, a partial palm print of Oswald was also found on the barrel of the gun, and a tuft of fibers found in a crevice of the rifle was consistent with the fibers and colors of the shirt Oswald was wearing at the time of his arrest.
A bullet found on Connally’s hospital gurney, and two bullet fragments found in the presidential limousine, were ballistically matched to this rifle.
Kennedy declared dead in the emergency room
The staff at Parkland Hospital’s Trauma Room 1 who treated Kennedy observed that his condition was “moribund”, meaning that he had no chance of survival upon arriving at the hospital. Dr. George Burkley, the President’s personal physician, determined the head wound was the cause of death.
At 1:00 p.m., CST (19:00 UTC), after all heart activity had ceased and after a priest administered the last rites, the President was pronounced dead. “We never had any hope of saving his life,” one doctor said. The Rev. Oscar L. Huber, the priest who administered the last rites to Kennedy told The New York Times that the President was already dead by the time Huber had arrived at the hospital, and he had to draw back a sheet covering the President’s face to administer the sacrament of Extreme Unction. Kennedy’s death was officially announced by White House Acting Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff at 1:33 p.m. CST (19:33 UTC). Governor Connally, meanwhile, was taken to emergency surgery, where he underwent two operations that day.
A few minutes after 2:00 p.m. CST (20:00 UTC) Kennedy’s body was placed in a casket and taken from Parkland Hospital and driven to Air Force One. The casket was then loaded aboard the airplane through the rear door, where it remained at the rear of the passenger compartment, in place of a removed row of seats.
Vice-President Johnson (who had been riding two cars behind Kennedy in the motorcade through Dallas and was not injured) became President of the United States upon Kennedy’s death. At 2:38 p.m. Johnson took the oath of office on board Air Force One just before it departed from Love Field.
Warren Commission and United States House Select Committee on Assassinations disagree
Immediately after the murder of JFK, many people suspected that the assassination was part of a larger plot. Ruby’s shooting of Oswald compounded initial suspicions. In 1964, the Warren Commission (officially the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy), a group put together by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination, concluded that Oswald acted alone and that no credible evidence supported the contention that he was involved with any sort of conspiracy to assassinate the president. The Commission also indicated that Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State; Robert S. McNamara, the Secretary of Defense; C. Douglas Dillon, the Secretary of the Treasury; Robert F. Kennedy, the Attorney General; J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the FBI; John A. McCone, the Director of the CIA; and James J. Rowley, the Chief of the Secret Service, each independently reached the same conclusion on the basis of information available to them.
In 1979, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) (a group established in 1976 after public demands that the assassination be looked into further) agreed with the Warren Commission that Oswald assassinated Kennedy, but concluded that the Commission’s report and the original FBI investigation were seriously flawed. While agreeing with the Commission that Oswald fired all the shots which caused the wounds to Kennedy and Governor Connally, it stated that there were at least four shots fired and that there was a “high probability” that two gunmen fired at the President.
Was the Warren Commission a sham?
Today, public opinion polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans believe there was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. A 2003 Gallup poll reported that 75% of Americans do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. That same year an ABC News poll found that 70% of respondents suspected that the assassination involved more than one person. A 2004 Fox News poll found that 66% of Americans thought there had been a conspiracy while 74% thought there had been a cover-up. As recently as 2009, some 76% of people polled for CBS News said they believed the President had been killed as the result of a conspiracy. Numerous researchers have pointed out what they characterize as inconsistencies, oversights, exclusions of evidence, errors, changing stories, or changes made to witness testimony in the official Warren Commission investigation, which they say could suggest a cover-up.
Richard Schweiker, United States senator and member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told author Anthony Summers in 1978,
“I believe that the Warren Commission was set up at the time to feed pabulum to the American public for reasons not yet known, and that one of the biggest cover-ups in the history of our country occurred at that time.”
On the CBS News program Face the Nation, Schweiker also said
“I think the Warren report, to those who have studied it closely, has collapsed like a house of cards. The fatal mistake the Warren Commission made was to not use its own investigators, but instead to rely on the CIA and FBI personnel, which played directly into the hands of senior intelligence officials who directed the cover-up.”
A multitude of inconsistencies and suspicious events
Deluth professor James H. Fetzer identified over a dozen separate “smoking guns” which he claims prove the official narrative supplied by the governmental investigative groups is impossible, and therefore a conspiracy and cover-up occurred. These include (1) problems with bullet trajectories, (2) the murder weapon, (3) the ammunition used, (4) inconsistencies between the Warren Commission’s account and the autopsy findings, (5) inconsistencies between the autopsy findings and what was reported by witnesses at the scene of the murder, (6) eyewitness accounts that conflict with x-rays taken of the President’s body, (7) indications that the diagrams and photos of the President’s brain in the National Archives are not the President’s, (8) testimony by those who took and processed the autopsy photos that the photos were altered, created, or destroyed, (9) indications that the Zapruder film had been tampered with, (10) allegations that the Warren Commission’s version of events conflicts with news reports from the scene of the murder, (11) an alleged change to the motorcade route which facilitated the assassination, (12) an alleged lax Secret Service and local law enforcement security, and (13) statements by people who claim that they had knowledge of, or participated in, a conspiracy to kill the President. If even a single one of these theories were valid, we would have the making of a conspiracy.
Important witnesses were ignored
Many witnesses, whose statements suggested a conspiracy, claim that they were either ignored or intimidated by the Warren Commission. Jean Hill claims that Arlen Specter, assistant counsel for the Warren Commission, attempted to humiliate, discredit, and intimidate her into changing her story and that she was abused by Secret Service agents, harassed by the FBI, and was the recipient of death threats. Hill was not alone. Several assassination eyewitnesses said that Warren Commission interviewers repeatedly cut short or stifled any comments casting doubt on the conclusion that Oswald acted alone.
In his book Crossfire, Jim Marrs gave accounts of several people who said they were intimidated by FBI agents, or intimidated by anonymous individuals, into altering or suppressing what they knew about the assassination. Texas School Book Depository employee Joe Molina “was intimidated by authorities and lost his job soon after the assassination. Witness Ed Hoffman was warned by an FBI agent that he “might get killed” if he revealed what he had observed in Dealey Plaza on the day of the assassination. In what had to be the murder of the century, that a single witness was ignored or coerced into changing their story, is beyond belief. In the case of the JFK assassination, there are hundreds of documented cases of intimidation and cohesion on record.
Key participants die under mysterious circumstances
If it is difficult to fathom that witnesses in such an important case were coerced, it’s even more difficult to believe that some witnesses who proved to be too much of a threat to the outcome of the case, were forcefully silenced – forever. Jim Marrs put forth a list of 103 people he believed died “convenient deaths” under suspect circumstances. He noted that the deaths were grouped around investigations conducted by the Warren Commission, New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Marrs pointed out that “these deaths certainly would have been convenient for anyone not wishing the truth of the JFK assassination to become public.”
Several other prominent and well-known authors have pointed out suspicious deaths of key participants. Vincent Bugliosi has described the death of journalist Dorothy Kilgallen —who claimed she was granted a private interview with Jack Ruby—as “perhaps the most prominent mysterious death” cited by assassination researchers. According to author Jerome Kroth, Mafia figures Sam Giancana, John Roselli, Carlos Prio, Jimmy Hoffa, Charles Nicoletti, Leo Moceri, Richard Cain, Salvatore Granello, and Dave Yaras were likely murdered to prevent them from revealing their knowledge. According to author Matthew Smith, others with some tie to the case who have died suspicious deaths include Lee Bowers, Gary Underhill, William Sullivan, David Ferrie, Clay Shaw, George de Mohrenschildt, four showgirls who worked for Jack Ruby, and Ruby himself.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated a particularly interesting “mysterious death” – that of Rose Cheramie. Louisiana State Police Lieutenant Francis Fruge traveled to Eunice, Louisiana on November 20, 1963, two days before the assassination, to pick up an injured Rose Cherami, who had sustained minor injuries after she was hit by a car. Fruge drove Cherami to the hospital and said that on the way there, she “related to him that she was coming from Florida to Dallas with two men who were Italians or resembled Italians.” Fruge asked her what she planned to do in Dallas, to which she replied: “number one, pick up some money, pick up my baby, and… kill Kennedy.” A hospital physician came forward noting that patient, Rose Cherami, stated before the assassination that President Kennedy was going to be killed” and that she had worked for Jack Ruby and that her knowledge of the assassination originated from “word in the underworld.” After the assassination, Lt. Fruge contacted Dallas Police Captain Will Fritz regarding what he had learned from Cherami, but Captain Fritz told him he “wasn’t interested”. Cherami was found dead by a highway near Big Sandy, Texas on September 4, 1965; she had been run over by a car.
Another “suspicious death” was that of Joseph Milteer, director of the Dixie Klan of Georgia. Milteer was secretly tape-recorded thirteen days before the assassination telling Miami police informant William Somersett that the murder of Kennedy was “in the working.” Milteer died in 1974 when a heater exploded in his house.
Even the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that there was an odd number of “convenient” deaths related to the case noting “that a statistically improbable number of individuals with some direct or peripheral association with the Kennedy assassination died as a result of that assassination, thereby raising the specter of conspiracy”.
Other researchers reported that witnesses who captured the assassination in photographs or on film had their cameras and/or film confiscated by police or other authorities. Gordon Arnold said that his film of the motorcade was taken by two policemen shortly after the assassination. Another witness, Beverly Oliver, came forward in 1970 and said she was the “Babushka Lady ” who is seen, in the Zapruder film, filming the motorcade. She said that after the assassination she was contacted at work by two men who she thought “were either FBI or Secret Service agents.” According to Oliver, the men told her that they wanted to develop her film and would return it to her within ten days, but they never returned the film.
Some researchers have alleged that various items of physical evidence have been tampered with, including: the “single bullet”, also known as the “magic bullet” by critics of the official explanations, various bullet cartridges and fragments, the limousine’s windshield, the paper bag in which the Warren Commission said Oswald hid the rifle, the so-called “backyard” photos which depict Oswald holding the rifle, the Zapruder film, the photographs and radiographs obtained at Kennedy’s autopsy, and Kennedy’s body itself.
Oswald’s Mexico City trip
Oswald’s trip to Mexico City a few weeks before the assassination also raises unanswered questions and suggests evidence may have been tampered with.
While he was there, Oswald attempted to obtain visas from the Cuban consulate and the Soviet embassy. In one taped conversation, Oswald — or someone saying he was Oswald — called the Soviet embassy. Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover listened to the tape and told President Lyndon Johnson that it wasn’t Oswald’s voice.
Whose voice was it? No one knows. The tape has disappeared.
Nor are there any photos of the Soviet embassy the day Oswald supposedly went there. The CIA told the Warren Commission that its camera wasn’t working that day.
Problems identifying Oswald’s weapon
Among the evidence against Oswald are the photographs of Oswald posing in his backyard with a Carcano rifle—the weapon identified by the Warren Commission as the assassination weapon. Some researchers, including Robert Groden, assert that these photos are fake.
The Warren Commission found that the shots which killed Kennedy and wounded Connally were fired from the Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5-millimeter Italian rifle owned by Oswald. But many authorities involved with the investigation identified the murder weapon as a 7.65 Mauser, a weapon that Oswald did not own. Deputy Sheriff Eugene Boone and Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman both initially identified the rifle found in the Texas School Book Depository as a 7.65 Mauser. Weitzman signed an affidavit the following day describing the weapon as a “7.65 Mauser bolt action equipped with a 4/18 scope, a thick leather brownish-black sling on it”. Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig claimed that he saw “7.65 Mauser” stamped on the barrel of the weapon. Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade told the press that the weapon found in the Book Depository was a 7.65 Mauser, and this was reported by the media. Later in the investigation, after Oswald was arrested, authorities changed the weapon identification from a 7.65 Mauser to a rifle that was owned by Oswald – a 6.5 Italian Mannlicher-Carcano.
According to Mark Lane:
“The strongest element in the case against Lee Harvey Oswald was the Warren Commission’s conclusion that his rifle had been found on the 6th floor of the Book Depository building. Yet Oswald never owned a 7.65 Mauser. When the FBI later reported that Oswald had purchased only a 6.5 Italian Mannlicher-Carcano, the weapon at police headquarters in Dallas miraculously changed its size, its make and its nationality. The Warren Commission concluded that a 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano, not a 7.65 German Mauser, had been discovered by the Dallas deputies.”
Ammunition inconsistencies and the Magic Bullet
The Warren Commission determined that three bullets were fired at Kennedy. One of the three bullets missed the vehicle entirely; another bullet hit Kennedy, passed through his body, and then struck Governor John Connally; and the third bullet was the fatal head shot to the President. Some claim that the bullet that passed through President Kennedy’s body before striking Governor Connally, dubbed by critics of the Commission as the “magic bullet”, was missing too little mass to account for the total weight of bullet fragments later found by the doctors who operated on Connally. Those making this claim included Connally’s chief surgeon, Dr. Robert Shaw, as well as two of the Kennedy autopsy surgeons, Commander James Humes, and Lt. Colonel Pierre Fink.
With Connally’s death in 1993, forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht and the Assassination Archives and Research Center petitioned Attorney General Janet Reno to recover the remaining bullet fragments from Connally’s body, contending that the fragments would disprove the Warren Commission’s single-bullet, single-gunman conclusion. The Justice Department replied that it “would have no legal authority to recover the fragments unless Connally’s family gave permission.” Connally’s family refused permission.
Argument over the number of shots fired (and number of gunmen)
The Warren Commission concluded that “three shots were fired [from the Texas School Book Depository] in a time period ranging from approximately 4.8 to in excess of 7 seconds.” Many assassination researchers dispute the Commission’s findings. They point to evidence that brings into question the number of shots fired, the origin of the shots, and the ability of Oswald to accurately fire three shots in a short amount of time. These researchers suggest the involvement of multiple gunmen.
Governor Connally, seated in the limousine’s jump seat directly in front of Kennedy, testified before the Warren Commission that “the thought immediately passed through my mind that there were either two or three people involved, or more, in this – or someone was shooting with an automatic rifle.”
Based on the consensus among the witnesses at the scene and in particular the three spent cartridges, the Warren Commission determined that “the preponderance of the evidence indicated that three shots were fired”. In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded there were four shots, one coming from the direction of the grassy knoll.
The Warren Commission, and later the House Select Committee on Assassinations, concluded that one of the shots hit President Kennedy in “the back of his neck”, exited his throat, continued on to strike Governor Connally in the back, exited Connally’s chest, shattered his right wrist, and embedded itself in his left thigh. This conclusion came to be known as the “magic bullet theory”.
Where were the shots fired from?
The Warren Commission concluded that all of the shots fired at President Kennedy originated from the sixth-floor window at the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository. The Commission based its conclusion on the “cumulative evidence of eyewitnesses, firearms and ballistic experts and medical authorities,” including onsite testing, as well as analysis of films and photographs conducted by the FBI and Secret Service.
In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations agreed to publish a report from Warren Commission critic Robert Groden, in which he named nearly two dozen suspected firing points in Dealey Plaza. These sites included multiple locations in or on the roof of the Texas School Book Depository, the Dal-Tex Building, and the Dallas County Records Building, as well as the railroad overpass, a storm drain located along the north curb of Elm Street, and various spots near the “grassy knoll”. Some researchers believe the assassination was a coordinated attack using three, triangulated vantage points (the Texas School Book Depository, the area of the grassy knoll, and the Dal-Tex Building) and the large road sign as a visual cue for the timing of the shots between the three gunmen.
The grassy knoll
The grassy knoll, located on the northwestern side of Dealey Plaza, was identified by the majority of witnesses as the area from where shots were fired. In March 1965, Harold Feldman wrote that there were 121 witnesses to the assassination with 51 indicating that the shots that killed Kennedy came from the area of the grassy knoll. In 1967, Josiah Thompson examined the statements of 64 witnesses and found that 33 of them thought that the shots emanated from the grassy knoll. It was patently clear from early in the investigation that the majority of witnesses believed the shots came from the grassy knoll.
Lee Bowers operated a railroad tower that overlooked the parking lot on the north side of the grassy knoll. He reported that he saw two men behind the picket fence at the top of the grassy knoll before the shooting. The men did not appear to be acting together and did not appear to be doing anything suspicious. After the shooting, Bowers said that one of the men remained behind the fence. Bowers said that he lost track of the second man whose clothing blended into the foliage. Bowers noted that he saw something that attracted his attention, either a flash of light, or maybe smoke, from the knoll, leading him to believe “something out of the ordinary” had occurred there. Bowers noted he heard three shots, the last two in quick succession. Bowers opined that they could not have come from the same rifle.
William and Gayle Newman were standing at the curb on the north side of Elm St. with their two children. Mr. Newman said that the shot to Kennedy’s head was fired from behind him (from the knoll).
Jesse Price was the building engineer for the Terminal Annex Building, located across from the Texas School Book Depository on the opposite side of Dealey Plaza. Price viewed the presidential motorcade from the Terminal Annex Building’s roof. Price said that he believed the shots came from “just behind the picket fence where it joins the underpass.” He claimed to have seen a man run towards the passenger cars on the railroad siding after the volley of shots.
Was there a shot from the Dal-Tex Building?
Several conspiracy theories posit that at least one shooter was located in the Dal-Tex Building, which is located across the street from the Texas School Book Depository. One piece of evidence that validates his theory is consideration of the physical location of James Tague, a witness to the assassination who was injured by a bullet fragment, is not consistent with the trajectory of a missed shot from the Texas School Book Depository. His position would, however, be consistent with a missed shot from the second floor of the Dal-Tex Building.
Damaged presidential limousine windshield
Some assassination researchers claim that FBI photographs of the presidential limousine show a bullet hole in its windshield above the rear-view mirror, and a crack in the windshield itself. When asked for an explanation, the FBI responded that what was thought was a bullet hole “occurred prior to Dallas”. A researcher later found a Ford Motor employee who had helped build a new windshield for the car, who said he and his co-workers had been told to destroy the old windshield, which had a bullet hole from the front.
Film and photographic evidence contradict official findings
Film and photographic evidence of the assassination have led viewers to different conclusions regarding the origin of the shots. In the Zapruder film, the President’s head and upper torso move backwards after the last, fatal shot – an indication that the bullet was fired from the front. However, close inspection of frames 312 and 313 show Kennedy’s head moving forward by as much as 1.9 inches, before his head moves backwards. Some state that the film is evidence of a “double hit” to Kennedy’s head depicting the President’s head being “struck twice in a synchronized fashion, from the rear and the right front side. A further theory says that it was the braking of the car by the driver William Greer which caused Kennedy’s head to move forward as a frontal shot was fired. Others argue that Frame Z313 shows multiple jets of blood, bone and brain matter exiting just above Kennedy’s right ear and claims this is consistent with a high velocity (approx. 4,000 ft/sec) rifle rather than the medium velocity (2,000 ft/sec) Mannlicher-Carcano. Chambers also claims that analysis of the Zapruder film at normal speed shows the President’s limousine comes to a complete stop moments before the final fatal head shot.
With regards to photographic evidence, even the autopsy photos taken of Kennedy’s body have produced many questions. Retired Navy warrant officer, Sandra Spencer, who, according to government records, had processed the autopsy film (and was never even questioned by the Warren Commission) says that the photos she processed do not match the ones held in the National Archive.
According to NPR:
She brought with her some pictures she had printed just a few days before Kennedy was murdered. She explained that the lab bought huge quantities of photographic paper, so the markings on the back of the prints she brought would certainly match the autopsy photos she processed. But they didn’t, suggesting they were printed at a different time or a different place.
What’s more, the official pictures weren’t anything like the ones she remembered.
“The prints that we printed did not have the massive head damages that is visible here,” she told Gunn. “… The face, the eyes were closed and the face, the mouth was closed, and it was more of a rest position than these show.”
The National Archives’ photos seemed to be taken in a bright, medical setting. The body was bloody. Spencer said the pictures she had processed seemed to be taken in a darkened room with a flash. She called them “pristine.” “There was no blood or opening cavities … or anything of that nature. It was quite reverent in how they handled it,” she said.
An open microphone provides additional contradictory evidence
According to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, a Dictabelt recording of the Dallas Police Department radio dispatch transmissions from November 22, 1963, was analyzed to “resolve questions concerning the number, timing, and origin of the shots fired in Dealey Plaza”. The Committee concluded that the source of the recording was from an open microphone on the motorcycle of H.B. McLain escorting the motorcade and that “the scientific acoustical evidence established a high probability that two gunmen fired at President John F. Kennedy.”
The acoustical analysis firm hired by the Committee recommended that the Committee conduct an acoustical reconstruction of the assassination in Dealey Plaza to determine if any of the six impulse patterns on the dispatch tape were fired from the Texas School Book Depository or the grassy knoll. The reconstruction would entail firing from two locations in Dealey Plaza (the depository and the knoll) at different target locations and recording the sounds through numerous microphones. The purpose was to determine if the sequences of impulses recorded during the reconstruction would match any of those on the dispatch tape. If so, it would be possible to determine if the impulse patterns on the dispatch tape were caused by shots fired during the assassination from shooter locations in the depository and on the knoll.
In 1978, at the behest of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, members of the Dallas Police Pistol Team participated in an acoustical reconstruction by firing both rifles and pistols from the locations selected by the researchers. The firearms experts testified that given the distance and angle from the sixth-floor window to the location of the President’s limousine, it would have been easier to use the open iron sights. The Warren Commission tests had been carried out on the assumption that Oswald, who they and the Committee concluded fired the shots, used the telescopic sight.
An article which appeared in Science and Justice, a quarterly publication of Britain’s Forensic Science Society, found there was a 96% certainty, based on analysis of audio recordings made during the assassination, that a shot was fired from “the grassy knoll” in front of and to the right of the President’s limousine.
Medical evidence suggests multiple gunmen
Some assassination researchers have pointed to testimony or medical evidence suggesting that at least one of the shots fired at President Kennedy came from a location other than the Book Depository. Roy Kellerman, the Secret Service agent seated next to the driver in the presidential limousine, testified that he saw a 5-inch-diameter (130 mm) hole in the back right-hand side of the President’s head. Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent who sheltered the President with his body on the way to the hospital, said: “The right rear portion of his head was missing.” Later, in a National Geographic Channel documentary, Hill described the wound as a “gaping hole above his right ear, about the size of my palm.” Robert McClelland, one of the Parkland Hospital doctors who attended to Kennedy, testified to the Warren Commission that the back right part of Kennedy’s head was blown out, with posterior cerebral tissue and some cerebellar tissue missing.
Some critics skeptical of the official “single bullet theory” state that the trajectory of the bullet, which hit Kennedy above the right shoulder blade and passed through his neck (according to the autopsy), would have had to change course to pass through Connally’s rib cage and wrist. Kennedy’s death certificate, signed by his personal physician Dr. George Burkley, locates the bullet at the third thoracic vertebra, which some claim is too low to have exited his throat. Moreover, the bullet was traveling downward, since the shooter was in a sixth-floor window. The autopsy descriptive sheet displays a diagram of Kennedy’s body with the same low placement at the third thoracic vertebra. The hole in back of Kennedy’s shirt and jacket are also claimed to support a wound too low to be consistent with the “single bullet theory”.
On the day of the assassination, Nellie Connally was seated in the presidential car next to her husband, Governor John Connally. In her book From Love Field: Our Final Hours, Nellie Connally said that she believed that her husband was hit by a bullet that was separate from the two that hit Kennedy.
There is conflicting testimony about the autopsy performed on Kennedy’s body, particularly as to when the examination of his brain took place, who was present, and whether or not the photos submitted as evidence are the same as those taken during the examination. Douglas Horne, the Assassination Record Review Board’s chief analyst for military records, said he was “90 to 95% certain” that the photographs in the National Archives are not of President Kennedy’s brain. Supporting Horne was Dr. Gary Aguilar who stated: “According to Horne’s findings, the second brain, which showed an exit wound in the front, allegedly replaced Kennedy’s real brain, which revealed much greater damage to the rear, consistent with an exit wound and thus evidence of a shot from the front.”
Further evidence suggests autopsy doctors may have been pressured into altering their reports. Paul O’Connor, a laboratory technologist who assisted in the autopsy of President Kennedy, claimed that the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital was conducted in obedience to a high command. In his book JFK and the Unspeakable, James Douglass cites autopsy doctor Pierre Finck’s testimony at the trial of Clay Shaw as evidence that Finck was “a reluctant witness to the military control over the doctors’ examination of the president’s body”.
According to a 1996 deposition of James Joseph Humes, one of the doctors who performed the autopsy on Kennedy’s body, the autopsy was not performed strictly by the book; some procedures were left out, such as removing and weighing all the organs. In the deposition, Humes explained that when he took the material home after the autopsy was completed, he began thinking about how he had once seen the bloodstained chair Abraham Lincoln had been sitting in when he was shot. As he explained, the original autopsy report was destroyed – what we see and have available today is a *copy*.
“I thought this was the most macabre thing I ever saw in my life,” Humes said. “It just made a terrible impression on me. And when I noticed that these bloodstains were on this document that I had prepared, I said nobody’s ever going to get these documents. So, I copied them … and burned the original notes in the fireplace.”
When Humes was asked about other official medical documents that *did* have blood stains on them, he explained that they were not destroyed because they were prepared by someone else. As he stated, he wouldn’t “destroy something someone else had prepared”. Humes died three years after his deposition.
Oswald – a patsy or assassin?
Assassination researchers differ as to the role of Oswald in the assassination of President Kennedy. Many believe that Oswald was an uninvolved patsy, while others believe he was actively involved in a plot. Oswald’s move to Russia (his parents were born there) and return as an avowed communist to the United States (he found life in Russia weary) with help from the State Department, who gave him a repatriation loan of $435.71, has led theorists to speculate that he was working for the CIA and/or the FBI. It is known that Oswald maintained contact with the FBI. On August 9 when Oswald was arrested in New Orleans for disturbing the peace. In a strange twist, after his arrest, Oswald asked to speak with an FBI agent (a meeting that was not mentioned later when the FBI was specifically asked to conduct a background check on Oswald). Agent John Quigley arrived and spent over an hour talking to Oswald. Also, records show that Oswald visited the Dallas FBI office in November 1963, about 2 to 3 weeks before the assassination, and attempted to deliver a note to Special Agent James Hosty.
Jim and Elsie Wilcott, former husband and wife employees of the Tokyo CIA station, told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1978:
“It was common knowledge in the Tokyo CIA station that Oswald worked for the agency. Right after the President was killed, people in the Tokyo station were talking openly about Oswald having gone to Russia for the CIA. Everyone was wondering how the agency was going to be able to keep the lid on Oswald. But I guess they did.”
Marguerite Oswald, Lee Oswald’s mother, frequently expressed the opinion that her son was recruited by an agency of the U.S. Government and sent to Russia in 1959.
New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison, who in 1967 brought Clay Shaw to trial for the assassination of President Kennedy, stated
“Oswald was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency and was obviously drawn into a scapegoat situation and made to believe ultimately that he was penetrating the assassination. And then when the time came, they took the scapegoat, the man who thought he was working for the United States government and killed him real quick. And then the machinery, disinformation machinery, started turning and they started making a villain out of a man who genuinely was probably a hero.”
James Botelho, a former roommate of Oswald who would later become a California judge, stated in an interview:
“Oswald, it was said, was the only Marine ever to defect from his country to another country, a Communist country, during peacetime… When the Marine Corps and American intelligence decided not to probe the reasons for the ‘defection’, I knew then what I know now: Oswald was on an assignment in Russia for American intelligence.”
Senator Richard Schweiker, who was a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, stated:
“We do know Oswald had intelligence connections. Everywhere you look with him, there’re fingerprints of intelligence.”
Richard Sprague, interim staff director and chief counsel to the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, said,
“If he had it to do over again, he would begin his investigation of the Kennedy assassination by probing Oswald’s ties to the Central Intelligence Agency.”
In 2003, Robert Blakey, staff director and chief counsel for the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, stated:
“I no longer believe that we were able to conduct an appropriate investigation of the Central Intelligence Agency and its relationship to Oswald.”
Many believe that Oswald, a government operative, had become a questioning, dissenting CIA operative who had become a security risk and hence, made the perfect patsy.
Oswald’s marksmanship called into question
The Warren Commission examined the capabilities of the Carcano rifle and ammunition, as well as Oswald’s military training and post-military experience, and determined that Oswald had the ability to fire three shots within a time span of 4.8 to 5.6 seconds. According to their report, an army specialist using Oswald’s rifle was able to duplicate the feat and even improved on the time. The report also states that the Army Infantry Weapons Evaluation Branch test fired Oswald’s rifle 47 times and found that it was “quite accurate”, comparing it to the accuracy of an M-14 rifle.
Also contained in the Commission report is testimony by Marine Corps Major Eugene Anderson confirming that Oswald’s military records show that he qualified as “sharpshooter ” in 1956. However, according to official Marine Corps records Oswald was tested in shooting, scoring 212 in December 1956 (slightly above the minimum for qualification as a sharpshooter – the intermediate category), but in May 1959 scoring only 191 (barely earning the lower designation of marksman – the lowest category of skilled shooter, but still above undesignated shooters). He never approached the highest marksmanship category in the Marine Corps – the Expert.
Conspiracy theorists contend that Oswald was a notoriously poor shot, his rifle was inaccurate, and that no one has ever been able to duplicate his ability to fire three shots within the time frame given by the Warren Commission. FBI marksman Robert Frazier who tested the rifle in two sets of tests testified to the Warren Commission that he could not reach the 5.6 second mark for firing three shots and all his shots fired five inches high and five inches to the right due to an uncorrectable deficiency in the telescopic sight.
Was Oswald capable of assassination?
In all likelihood, Oswald was capable of at least *attempting* an assassination. That he was mentally unstable is practically without question and unknown to many, he was implicated by the Warren Commission in an earlier assassination attempt. According to the Warren Commission, on April 10, 1963, a gunman fired a rifle through a window of the Dallas home of Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker, a fervent anti-communist and segregationist who resigned from the Army after being reprimanded for giving troops right-wing propaganda. Walker, working at a desk in his home, was slightly injured by fragments. The Warren Commission later concluded Oswald was the gunman.
The Three tramps
No JFK assassination write-up can end without mentioning “The Three Tramps”. The “three tramps” are three men photographed by several Dallas-area newspapers under police escort near the Texas School Book Depository shortly after the assassination. Since the mid-1960s, various allegations have been made about the identities of the men and their involvement in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Records released by the Dallas Police Department in 1989 identified the men as Gus Abrams, Harold Doyle, and John Gedney. Many researchers have proposed alternative identifies for these three mysterious men.
Multiple conspiracy theories emerge
With a multitude of inconsistencies in the evidence and questions regarding Oswald’s involvement in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, multiple alternative theories have emerged, many of which bear merit. According to some researchers, conspiracy theorists consider four or five groups, alone or in combination, to be the primary suspects in the assassination of Kennedy: the CIA, the military-industrial complex, organized crime, the government of Cuba, and Cuban exiles. Other domestic individuals, groups, or organizations implicated in various conspiracy theories include Lyndon Johnson, George H. W. Bush, Sam Giancana, J. Edgar Hoover, Earl Warren, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, the John Birch Society, and far-right wealthy Texans. Some other alleged foreign conspirators include Fidel Castro, the KGB and Nikita Krushchev, Aristotle Onassis, the government of South Vietnam, and international drug lords, including a French heroin syndicate.
E. Howard Hunt’s participation in the assassination
The theory that former CIA agent and Watergate burglar, E. Howard Hunt, was a participant in the assassination of Kennedy garnered much publicity from 1978 to 2000. In 1981, he won a libel judgment against Liberty Lobby’s paper The Spotlight who in 1978 printed an allegation by Victor Marchetti suggesting Hunt’s involvement in a conspiracy; the libel award was thrown out on appeal and the newspaper was successfully defended by Mark Lane in a second trial. After his death in 2007, an audio-taped “deathbed confession ” in which Hunt claimed knowledge of a conspiracy was released by his sons.
In 2012, journalist Jefferson Morley reported that “the JFK Assassination Records Collection at the National Archives contains 366 pages of CIA documents on Howard Hunt that have never been made public.”
J.D. Tippit participation in the assassination
Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit has been named in some conspiracy theories as a renegade CIA operative sent to silence Oswald and as the “badge man” assassin on the grassy knoll. According to some Warren Commission critics, Oswald was set up to be killed by Tippit, but Tippit was killed by Oswald before he could carry out his assignment. Other critics doubt that Tippit was killed by Oswald and assert he was shot by other conspirators. Some critics have alleged that Tippit was associated with organized crime or right-wing politics.
The Bernard Weissman advertisement
The publication of a full page, paid advertisement critical of Kennedy in the November 22, 1963, Dallas Morning News, which was signed by “The American Fact-Finding Committee” and noted Bernard Weissman as its chairman, was investigated to determine whether any members of the group claiming responsibility for it were connected to Oswald or to the assassination. The Warren Commission stated that The American Fact-Finding Committee was a fictitious sponsoring organization and that there was no evidence linking the four men responsible for the genesis of the ad with either Oswald or Ruby, or to a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. During the Commission’s hearings, Mark Lane testified that an informant whom he refused to name told him that Weismann had met with Tippit and Ruby eight days before the assassination. Lane disputed the government’s findings and indicated that the source of his information was reporter Thayer Waldo of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Roscoe White revealed as assassin by his children
In 1990, Ricky Don White claimed that his father, Roscoe White, was one of three people ordered by the CIA to assassinate Kennedy. According to the son, Oswald, who was involved in the plot but did not fire any shots, was picked up after the assassination by Roscoe White and J. D. Tippit to be transported to Red Bird Airport. Ricky White stated that Tippit, who had no knowledge of the assassination or plot, became suspicious after Oswald panicked and got out of the car. He indicated that his father shot Tippit after Tippit indicated that he would need to take Oswald to police headquarters for questioning. Jack Shaw, Roscoe White’s pastor, said that Roscoe White had spoken to him about the assassination on several occasions and was “killed by a witness elimination team activated after Kennedy’s death.” According to Shaw, Roscoe White’s wife, Geneva, said to him she had overheard conversations between White and Jack Ruby in which White would “take care of” Kennedy and Tippit and that Ruby would “take care of Oswald”.
Murder of J.D. Tippit – alternative scenarios
The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald “killed Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit in an apparent attempt to escape.” The evidence that formed the basis for this conclusion was:
“(1) two eyewitnesses who heard the shots and saw the shooting of Dallas Police Patrolman J. D. Tippit and seven eyewitnesses who saw the flight of the gunman with revolver in hand positively identified Lee Harvey Oswald as the man they saw fire the shots or flee from the scene, (2) the cartridge cases found near the scene of the shooting were fired from the revolver in the possession of Oswald at the time of his arrest, to the exclusion of all other weapons, (3) the revolver in Oswald’s possession at the time of his arrest was purchased by and belonged to Oswald, and (4) Oswald’s jacket was found along the path of flight taken by the gunman as he fled from the scene of the killing.”
Some researchers have alleged that the murder of Officer Tippit was part of the conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Jim Marrs hypothesized that “the slaying of Officer J. D. Tippit may have played some part in [a] scheme to have Oswald killed, perhaps to eliminate co-conspirator Tippit or simply to anger Dallas police and cause itchy trigger fingers.” Researcher James Douglass said that “the killing of Tippit helped motivate the Dallas police to kill an armed Oswald in the Texas Theater, which would have disposed of the scapegoat before he could protest his being framed.” Harold Weisberg offered a simpler explanation: “Immediately, the flimsy police case against Oswald required a willingness to believe. This was proved by affixing to Oswald the opprobrious epithet of ‘cop-killer.'” Jim Garrison alleged that evidence was altered to frame Oswald, stating: “If Oswald was innocent of the Tippit murder the foundation of the government’s case against him collapsed.”
Some critics doubt that Tippit was killed by Oswald and assert he was shot by other conspirators. They allege discrepancies in witness testimony and physical evidence which they feel call into question the Commission’s conclusions regarding the murder of Tippit. According to Jim Marrs, Oswald’s guilt in the assassination of Kennedy is placed in question by the presence of “a growing body of evidence to suggest that he did not kill Tippit”. Others say that multiple men were directly involved in Tippit’s killing. Conspiracy researcher Kenn Thomas has alleged that the Warren Commission omitted testimony and evidence that two men shot Tippit and that one left the scene in a car. William Alexander, the Dallas assistant district attorney who recommended that Oswald be charged with the Kennedy and Tippit murders, later became skeptical of the Warren Commission’s version of the Tippit murder. He stated that the Commission’s conclusions on Oswald’s movements “don’t add up,” and that “certainly [Oswald] may have had accomplices.”
Sketchy witness testimony
The Warren Commission identified Helen Markham and Domingo Benavides as two witnesses who actually saw the Tippit shooting. Conspiracy theorist Richard Belzer criticized the Commission for, in his description, “relying” on the testimony of Markham whom he described as “imaginative”. Jim Marrs also took issue with Markham’s testimony, stating that her “credibility… was strained to the breaking point”. Joseph Ball, senior counsel to the Commission, referred to Markham’s testimony as “full of mistakes,” characterizing her as an “utter screwball.” The Warren Commission addressed concerns regarding Markham’s reliability as a witness and concluded: “However, even in the absence of Mrs. Markham’s testimony, there is ample evidence to identify Oswald as the killer of Tippit.”
Domingo Benavides initially said that he did not think he could identify Tippit’s assailant and was never asked to view a police lineup, even though he was the person closest to the killing. Other witnesses were taken to police lineups. However, critics have questioned these lineups in that they consisted of people who looked very different from Oswald.
Additionally, witnesses who did not appear before the Commission identified an assailant who was not Oswald. Acquilla Clemons saw two men near Tippit’s car just before the shooting. After the shooting, she ran outside of her house and saw a man with a gun whom she described as “kind of heavy.” He waved to the second man, urging him to “go on.” Frank Wright emerged from his home and observed the scene seconds after the shooting. He described a man standing by Tippit’s body who had on a long coat and who ran to a parked car and drove away.
Weapon and ammunition discrepancies
Critics have questioned whether the cartridge cases recovered from the scene were the same as those that were subsequently entered into evidence. Two of the cases were recovered by witness Domingo Benavides and turned over to police officer J.M. Poe. Poe told the FBI that he marked the shells with his own initials, “J.M.P.”, to identify them. Sergeant Gerald Hill later testified to the Warren Commission that it was he who had ordered police officer Poe to mark the shells. However, Poe’s initials were not found on the shells produced by the FBI six months later. Testifying before the Warren Commission, Poe said that although he recalled marking the cases, he “couldn’t swear to it.” The identification of the cases at the crime scene raises more questions. Sergeant Gerald Hill examined one of the shells and radioed the police dispatcher, saying: “The shell at the scene indicates that the suspect is armed with an automatic .38 rather than a pistol.” However, Oswald was reportedly arrested carrying a non-automatic .38 Special revolver.
Timing of Oswald’s movements doesn’t match events
The Warren Commission investigated Oswald’s movements between the time of the assassination and the shooting of Tippit, to ascertain whether Oswald might have had an accomplice who helped him flee the Book Depository. The Commission concluded “through the testimony of seven witnesses that Oswald was always alone.” According to their final report, Oswald was seen by his housekeeper leaving his rooming house shortly after 1:00 pm and had enough time to travel nine-tenths of a mile (1.4 km) to the scene where Tippit was killed at 1:16 pm.
Some Warren Commission critics believe that Oswald did not have enough time to get from his house to the scene where Tippit was killed. The Commission’s own test and estimation of Oswald’s walking speed demonstrated that one of the longer routes to the Tippit shooting scene took 17 minutes and 45 seconds to walk. No witness ever surfaced who saw Oswald walk from his rooming house to the murder scene.
Some believe that Tippit’s murder may have occurred earlier than the time given in the Warren Report noting that the Commission established the time of the shooting as 1:16 pm from police tapes that logged Domingo Benavides’ use of the radio in Tippit’s car. However, Benavides testified that he did not approach the car until “a few minutes” after the shooting, because he was afraid that the gunman might return. He was assisted in using the radio by witness T. F. Bowley who testified to Dallas police that at the time he arrived to help, “several people were at the scene,” and that the time was 1:10 pm.
Witness Helen Markham initially told the FBI that the shooting occurred around 1:30 pm but she later told the Warren Commission: “I wouldn’t be afraid to bet it wasn’t 6 or 7 minutes after 1.” Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig stated that when he heard the news that Tippit had been shot, he noted that the time was 1:06 pm. However, in a later statement to the press, Craig seemed confused about the time of the shooting.
Warren “Butch” Burroughs, who ran the concession stand at the Texas Theater where Oswald was arrested, told author James Douglass in 2007 that Oswald came into the theater between 1:00 and 1:07 pm, which if true would make Oswald’s alleged 1:16 pm shooting of Officer J. D. Tippit impossible.
New Orleans conspiracy
Soon after the assassination of President Kennedy, Oswald’s activities in New Orleans, Louisiana, during the spring and summer of 1963, came under scrutiny. Three days after the assassination, on November 25, 1963, New Orleans attorney Dean Andrews told the FBI that he received a telephone call from a man named Clay Bertrand, on the day of the assassination, asking him to defend Oswald.
Also, in late November 1963, an employee of New Orleans private investigator Guy Banister named Jack Martin began making accusations that fellow Banister employee David Ferrie was involved in the JFK assassination. Martin told police that Ferrie “was supposed to have been the getaway pilot in the assassination.” He said that Ferrie had outlined plans to kill Kennedy and that Ferrie may have taught Oswald how to use a rifle with a telescopic sight. Martin claimed that Ferrie had known Oswald from their days in the New Orleans Civil Air Patrol, and that he had seen a photograph, at Ferrie’s home, of Oswald in a Civil Air Patrol group. Ferrie denied any association with Oswald.
However, it was later discovered that Ferrie had attended Civil Air Patrol meetings in New Orleans in the 1950s that were also attended by a teenage Lee Harvey Oswald. In 1993, the PBS television program Frontline obtained a photograph taken in 1955 (eight years before the assassination) showing Oswald and Ferrie at a Civil Air Patrol cookout with other C.A.P. cadets.
According to several witnesses, in 1963, both Ferrie and Banister were working for lawyer G. Wray Gill on behalf of Gill’s client, New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello, in an attempt to block Marcello’s deportation to Guatemala. On the afternoon of November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the day Marcello was acquitted in his deportation case, New Orleans private investigator Guy Banister and his employee, Jack Martin, were drinking together at a local bar. On their return to Banister’s office, the two men got into a heated argument. According to Martin, Banister said something to which Martin replied, “What are you going to do—kill me like you all did Kennedy?” Banister drew his .357 magnum revolver and pistol-whipped Martin several times. Martin, badly injured, went by ambulance to Charity Hospital.
Earlier, in the spring of 1963, Oswald had written to the New York City headquarters of the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee, proposing to rent “a small office at my own expense for the purpose of forming a FPCC branch here in New Orleans.” As the sole member of the New Orleans chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, Oswald ordered 1,000 leaflets with the heading, “Hands Off Cuba” from a local printer. On August 16, 1963, Oswald passed out Fair Play for Cuba leaflets in front of the International Trade Mart in New Orleans.
One of Oswald’s leaflets had the address “544 Camp Street” hand-stamped on it, apparently by Oswald himself. The address was in the “Newman Building” which, from October 1961 to February 1962, housed the militant anti-Castro group, the Cuban Revolutionary Council. Around the corner but located in the same building, with a different entrance, was the address 531 Lafayette Street, the address of “Guy Banister Associates”, the private detective agency run by Guy Banister. Banister’s office was involved in anti-Castro and private investigative activities in the New Orleans area. A CIA file indicated that in September 1960, the CIA had considered “using Guy Banister Associates for the collection of foreign intelligence, but ultimately decided against it.”
In the late-1970s, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigated the possible relationship of Oswald to Banister’s office. While the committee was unable to interview Guy Banister (who died in 1964), the committee did interview his brother Ross Banister. Ross told the committee that his brother had mentioned seeing Oswald hand out Fair Play for Cuba literature on one occasion. Ross theorized that Oswald had used the 544 Camp Street address on his literature to embarrass Guy.
Guy Banister’s secretary, Delphine Roberts, would later tell author Anthony Summers that she saw Oswald at Banister’s office, and that he filled out one of Banister’s “agent” application forms. She said, “Oswald came back a number of times. He seemed to be on familiar terms with Banister and with the office.” The House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated Roberts’ claims and said that “because of contradictions in Roberts’ statements to the committee and lack of independent corroboration of many of her statements, the reliability of her statements could not be determined.”
In 1966, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison began an investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy. Garrison’s investigation led him to conclude that a group of right-wing extremists, including David Ferrie and Guy Banister, were involved with elements of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Garrison would later claim that the motive for the assassination was anger over Kennedy’s attempts to obtain a peace settlement in both Cuba and Vietnam. Garrison also came to believe that New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw was part of the conspiracy, and that Clay Shaw used the pseudonym “Clay Bertrand”. Garrison further believed that Shaw, Banister, and Ferrie conspired to set up Oswald as a patsy in the JFK assassination. On March 1, 1967, Garrison arrested and charged Shaw with conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy. On January 29, 1969, Clay Shaw was brought to trial on these charges, and the jury found him not guilty.
In 2003, Judyth Vary Baker, whose employment records show that she worked at the Reily Coffee Company in New Orleans at the same time Oswald did, appeared in an episode of Nigel Turner ‘s documentary television series, The Men Who Killed Kennedy. Baker claimed that in 1963 she was recruited by Dr. Canute Michaelson to work with Dr. Alton Ochsner and Dr. Mary Sherman on a clandestine CIA project to develop a biological weapon that could be used to assassinate Fidel Castro. According to Baker, she and Oswald were hired by Reily in the spring of 1963 as a “cover” for the operation. Baker further claimed that she and Oswald began an affair, and that later Oswald told her about Merida, Mexico, a city where he suggested they might begin their lives over again.
The CIA conspiracy
The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that “there was no indication in Oswald’s CIA file that he had ever had contact with the Agency” and concluded that the CIA was not involved in the assassination of Kennedy. The facts show otherwise.
Gaeton Fonzi, an investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, wrote that investigators were pressured not to look into the relationship between Lee Harvey Oswald and the CIA. He stated that CIA agent David Atlee Phillips, using the pseudonym “Maurice Bishop”, was involved with Oswald prior to the Kennedy assassination in connection with anti-Castro Cuban groups.
In 1995, former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and National Security Agency executive assistant John M. Newman published evidence that both the CIA and FBI deliberately tampered with their files on Lee Harvey Oswald both before and after the assassination. Furthermore, he found that both agencies withheld information that might have alerted authorities in Dallas that Oswald posed a potential threat to the President. Subsequently, Newman expressed a belief that CIA chief of counter-intelligence James Angleton was probably the key figure in the assassination. According to Newman, only Angleton “had the access, the authority, and the diabolically ingenious mind to manage this sophisticated plot.” However, Newman surmised that the cover operation was not under James Angleton, but under Allen Dulles (the former CIA director, and later Warren Commission member, who had been dismissed by Kennedy after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion).
Shadow government conspiracy
One conspiracy theory suggests that a secret or shadow government including wealthy industrialists and right-wing politicians ordered the assassination of Kennedy possibly because Kennedy’s death allowed for policy reversals desired by the secret government to escalate the United States’ military involvement in Vietnam.
Military-industrial complex conspiracy
Some conspiracy theorists have argued that Kennedy planned to end the involvement of the United States in Vietnam and was therefore targeted by those who had an interest in sustained military conflict, including the Pentagon and defense contractors.
Former Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough in 1991 stated: “Had Kennedy lived, I think we would have had no Vietnam War, with all of its traumatic and divisive influences in America. I think we would have escaped that.”
As such, some believe that Kennedy was assassinated because he was turning away from the Cold War and seeking a negotiated peace with the Soviet Union. Douglass argued that this “was not the kind of leadership the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the military-industrial complex wanted in the White House.”
In his farewell speech, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had warned, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.”
Secret Service conspiracy
The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that it investigated “alleged Secret Service complicity in the assassination” and concluded that the Secret Service was not involved. However, the HSCA declared that “the Secret Service was deficient in the performance of its duties.” Among its findings, the HSCA noted: that President Kennedy had not received adequate protection in Dallas; that the Secret Service possessed information that was not properly analyzed, investigated, or used by the Secret Service in connection with the President’s trip to Dallas; and finally, that the Secret Service agents in the motorcade were inadequately prepared to protect the President from a sniper. Specifically, the HSCA noted:
“No actions were taken by the agent in the right front seat of the Presidential limousine (Roy Kellerman) to cover the President with his body, although it would have been consistent with Secret Service procedure for him to have done so. The primary function of the agent was to remain at all times in close proximity to the President in the event of such emergencies.”
Some argue that the lack of Secret Service protection occurred because Kennedy himself had asked that the Secret Service make itself discreet during the Dallas visit. However, Vince Palamara, who interviewed several Secret Service agents assigned to the Kennedy detail, disputes this. Palamara reports that Secret Service driver Sam Kinney told him that requests, such as removing the bubble top from the limousine in Dallas, not having agents positioned beside the limousine’s rear bumper, and reducing the number of Dallas police motorcycle outriders near the limousine’s rear bumper, were not made by Kennedy.
Abraham Bolden, the first African American on the White House Secret Service detail, claimed to have overheard agents say that they would not protect Kennedy from would-be assassins:
“President Kennedy alienated Southerners and conservatives around the country, most of whom were already suspicious of him. In this, the Secret Service reflected the more backward elements of America. Many of the agents with whom I worked were products of the South…. I heard some members of the White House detail say that if shots were fired at the president, they’d take no action to protect him. A few agents vowed that they would quit the Secret Service rather than give up their lives for Kennedy.”
Questions regarding the forthrightness of the Secret Service increased in the 1990s when the Assassination Records Review Board, which was created when Congress passed the JFK Records Act, requested access to Secret Service records. The Review Board was told by the Secret Service that in January 1995, in violation of the JFK Records Act, the Secret Service destroyed protective survey reports that covered JFK’s trips from September 24 through November 8, 1963.
Cuban exiles killed Kennedy
With the 1959 Cuban Revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, thousands of Cubans left their homeland to take up residence in the United States. Many exiles hoped to overthrow Castro and return to Cuba. Their hopes were dashed with the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, and many exiles blamed President Kennedy for the failure. As such, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that some militant Cuban exiles might have participated in Kennedy’s murder. These exiles worked closely with CIA operatives in violent activities against Castro’s Cuba. In 1979, the committee reported:
“President Kennedy’s popularity among the Cuban exiles had plunged deeply by 1963. Their bitterness is illustrated in a tape recording of a meeting of anti-Castro Cubans and right-wing Americans in the Dallas suburb of Farmer’s Branch on October 1, 1963.”
Holding a copy of the September 26 edition of The Dallas Morning News, featuring a front-page account of the President’s planned trip to Texas in November, Cuban exile Nestor Castellanos vented his hostility:
“We’re waiting for Kennedy the 22d, [the date Kennedy was murdered] buddy. We’re going to see him in one way or the other. We’re going to give him the works when he gets in Dallas. Mr. good ol’ Kennedy. I wouldn’t even call him President Kennedy. He stinks.”
Organized crime figures killed Kennedy
Official documents never seen by the Warren Commission have revealed that some organized crime groups worked with the CIA on assassination attempts against Cuban leader Fidel Castro. CIA documents released in 2007 confirmed that in the summer of 1960, the CIA recruited ex-FBI agent Robert Maheu to approach the West Coast representative of the Chicago mob, Johnny Roselli. When Maheu contacted Roselli, Maheu hid the fact that he was sent by the CIA, instead portraying himself as an advocate for international corporations. He offered to pay $150,000 to have Castro killed, but Roselli declined any pay. Roselli introduced Maheu to two men he referred to as “Sam Gold” (Sam Giancana) and “Joe” (Santo Trafficante Jr.), Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post explained:
“After Fidel Castro led a revolution that toppled a friendly government in 1959, the CIA was desperate to eliminate him. So the agency sought out a partner equally worried about Castro, the Mafia, which had lucrative investments in Cuban casinos.”
In his memoir, Bill Bonanno, son of New York Mafia boss Joseph Bonanno, disclosed that several Mafia families had long-standing ties with the anti-Castro Cubans through the Havana casinos operated by the Mafia before the Cuban Revolution. Many Cuban exiles and Mafia bosses disliked President Kennedy, blaming him for the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion and potential lost revenues from their casino operations. They also disliked his brother, the young and idealistic Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who had conducted an unprecedented legal assault on organized crime. This was especially provocative because several Mafia “families” had allegedly worked with JFK’s father, Joseph Kennedy, to get JFK elected. Both the Mafia and the anti-Castro Cubans were experts in assassination, the Cubans having been trained in the art by the CIA. Bonanno reported that he recognized the high degree of involvement of other Mafia families when Jack Ruby killed Oswald, since Bonanno was aware that Ruby was an associate of Chicago mobster Sam Giancana.
Some conspiracy researchers have alleged a plot involving elements of the Mafia, the CIA and the anti-Castro Cubans, including Anthony Summers who stated:
“Sometimes people sort of glaze over about the notion that the Mafia and U.S. intelligence and the anti-Castro activists were involved together in the assassination of President Kennedy. In fact, there’s no contradiction there. Those three groups were all in bed together at the time and had been for several years in the fight to topple Fidel Castro.”
News reporter Ruben Castaneda wrote in 2012: “Based on the evidence, it is likely that JFK was killed by a coalition of anti-Castro Cubans, the Mob, and elements of the CIA.” In his book, They Killed Our President, former Minnesota governor Jessie Ventura concluded: “John F. Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy involving disgruntled CIA agents, anti-Castro Cubans, and members of the Mafia, all of whom were extremely angry at what they viewed as Kennedy’s appeasement policies toward Communist Cuba and the Soviet Union.”
Author David Scheim provided evidence that Mafia leaders Carlos Marcello, Santo Trafficante, Jr. and Jimmy Hoffa ordered the assassination of President Kennedy. Scheim cited in particular a 25-fold increase in the number of out-of-state telephone calls from Jack Ruby to associates of these crime bosses in the months before the assassination, and to an attempted confession by Jack Ruby while in prison.
Investigative reporter Jack Anderson claimed that Mafia member Johnny Roselli gave him extensive details of the plot. Anderson said that many of Roselli’s details checked out. Anderson said that Oswald may have played a role in the assassination, but that more than one gunman was involved. Johnny Roselli, as previously noted, had worked with the CIA on assassination attempts against Castro.
The History Channel program, The Men Who Killed Kennedy presented additional evidence for organized crime involvement. Christian David was a Corsican Mafia member interviewed in prison. He said that he was offered the assassination contract on President Kennedy, but that he did not accept it. However, he said that he knew the men who did accept the contract. According to David, there were three shooters. He provided the name of one, Lucien Sarti. David said that since the other two shooters were still alive, it would break a code of conduct for him to identify them. When asked what the shooters were wearing, David noted their modus operandi was to dress in costumes such as official uniforms. Much of Christian David’s testimony was confirmed by former Corsican member Michelle Nicole, who was part of the DEA witness protection program.
Lyndon B. Johnson conspiracy
A 2003 Gallup poll indicated that nearly 20% of Americans suspected Lyndon B. Johnson of being involved in the assassination of Kennedy. Critics of the Warren Commission have accused Johnson of plotting the assassination because he hated the Kennedys and feared that he would be dropped from the Democratic ticket for the 1964 election. Researcher Barr McClellan claims that Johnson, motivated by the fear of being dropped from the Kennedy ticket in 1964 and the need to cover up various scandals, masterminded Kennedy’s assassination with the help of his friend, Austin attorney Edward A. Clark. McClellan suggests that a smudged partial fingerprint from the sniper’s nest likely belonged to Johnson’s associate Malcolm “Mac” Wallace, and that Mac Wallace was, therefore, on the sixth floor of the Depository at the time of the shooting. McClellan further claims that the killing of Kennedy was paid for by oil magnates, including Clint Murchison and H. L. Hunt. McClellan states that the assassination of Kennedy allowed the oil depletion allowance to be kept at 27.5 percent. It remained unchanged during the Johnson presidency. According to McClellan, this resulted in a saving of over 100 million dollars to the American oil industry.
Madeleine Brown, who alleged she was the mistress of Johnson, also implicated him in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. In 1997, Brown said that Johnson, along with H. L. Hunt, had begun planning Kennedy’s demise as early as 1960. Brown claimed that by its fruition in 1963, the conspiracy involved dozens of persons, including the leadership of the FBI and the Mafia, as well as prominent politicians and journalists. In addition, Brown said that on New Year’s Eve 1963, she met Johnson at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas and that he confirmed the conspiracy to kill Kennedy, insisting that “the fat cats of Texas and [U.S.] intelligence” had been responsible.
Suspicions that Johnson was involved in covering up facts about the assassination were supported by Parkland Hospital doctor Charles Crenshaw. While treating Oswald, Crenshaw said he received a phone call from Johnson. Crenshaw gave his account of the phone conversation in his book Trauma Room One:
Johnson: “Dr. Crenshaw, how is the accused assassin?”
Crenshaw: “Mr. President, he’s holding his own at the moment.”
Johnson: “Would you mind taking a message to the operating surgeon?”
Crenshaw: “Dr. Shires is very busy right now, but I will convey your message.”
Johnson: “Dr. Crenshaw, I want a death-bed confession from the accused assassin. There’s a man in the operating room who will take the statement. I will expect full cooperation in this matter.”
Crenshaw: “Yes, sir.”
Dr. Crenshaw said that he relayed Johnson’s message to Dr. Shires, but that Oswald was in no condition to give any statement.
Former CIA agent and Watergate figure E. Howard Hunt accused Johnson (along with several CIA agents who he names) of complicity in the assassination in his posthumously released autobiography American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate, and Beyond. Shortly afterwards, an audio-taped “deathbed confession ” in which Hunt claimed knowledge of a conspiracy was released by his sons.
Cuban government conspiracy
Conspiracy theories frequently implicate Fidel Castro as having ordered the assassination of Kennedy in retaliation for the CIA’s previous attempts to assassinate him. In the early 1960s, Clare Booth Luce, wife of Time-Life publisher Henry Luce, was one of a number of prominent Americans who sponsored anti-Castro groups. This support included funding exiles in commando speedboat raids against Cuba. In 1975, Clare Luce said that on the night of the assassination, she received a call from a member of a commando group she had sponsored. According to Luce, the caller’s name was “something like” Julio Fernandez and he claimed he was calling her from New Orleans.
According to Luce, Fernandez told her that Oswald had approached his group with an offer to help assassinate Castro. Fernandez further claimed that he and his associates eventually found out that Oswald was a communist and supporter of Castro. He said that with this new-found knowledge, his group kept a close watch on Oswald until Oswald suddenly came into money and went to Mexico City (known as the time as the “spy capital of the Western Hemisphere) and then Dallas. Finally, according to Luce, Fernandez told her, “There is a Cuban Communist assassination team at large and Oswald was their hired gun.”
In May 1967, CIA Director Richard Helms told President Lyndon Johnson that the CIA had tried to assassinate Castro. Helms further stated that the CIA had employed members of the Mafia in this effort, and that “CIA plots to assassinate Fidel Castro dated back to August of 1960, to the Eisenhower Administration.” Helms also said that the plots against Castro continued into the Kennedy Administration and that Attorney General Robert Kennedy had known about both the plots and the Mafia’s involvement.
Cuban government conspiracy’s biggest proponent – President Lyndon Johnson
On separate occasions, Johnson told two prominent television newsmen that he believed that JFK’s assassination had been organized by Castro as retaliation for the CIA’s efforts to kill Castro. In October 1968, Johnson told veteran newsman Howard K. Smith of ABC:
“Kennedy was trying to get to Castro, but Castro got to him first.”
In September 1969, in an interview with Walter Cronkite of CBS, Johnson said that in regard to the assassination:
“I can honestly say that I’ve ever been completely relieved of the fact that there might have been international connections.”
Finally, in 1971, Johnson told his former speechwriter Leo Janos of Time magazine that he “never believed that Oswald acted alone”.
President Lyndon Johnson also implicated the CIA in the assassination. According to a FBI document released in 1977, Johnson’s postmaster general, Marvin Watson told the FBI “that Johnson was now convinced there was a plot in connection with the assassination. Watson stated the President felt the CIA had something to do with this plot.”
Soviet government conspiracy
According to some conspiracy theorists, the Soviet Union, with Nikita Khrushchev motivated by having to back down during the Cuban Missile Crisis, was responsible for the assassination. According to a 1966 FBI document, Colonel Boris Ivanov, chief of the KGB at the time of the assassination, stated that it was his personal opinion that the assassination had been planned by an organized group, rather than a lone individual. The same document stated,
“Officials of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union believed there was some well-organized conspiracy on the part of the ‘ultraright’ in the United States to effect a ‘coup.'”
Much later, the highest-ranking Soviet Bloc intelligence defector, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa said that he had been told that “among the leaders of Moscow’s satellite intelligence services there was unanimous agreement that the KGB had been involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.”
Surgically altered wounds
David Lifton presented a scenario in which conspirators on Air Force One removed Kennedy’s body from its original bronze casket and placed it in a shipping casket, while en route from Dallas to Washington. Once the presidential plane arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, the shipping casket with the President’s body in it was surreptitiously taken by helicopter from the side of the plane that was out of the television camera’s view. Kennedy’s body was then taken to an unknown location, most likely Walter Reed Army Medical Center, to surgically alter the body to make it appear that he was shot only from the rear.
Part of Lifton’s theory comes from a House Select Committee on Assassinations report of an interview of Lt. Richard Lipsey on January 18, 1978, by committee staff members Donald Purdy and Mark Flanagan. According to the report, Lt. Richard Lipsey said that he and General Wehle had met President Kennedy’s body at Andrews Air Force Base. Lipsey placed the casket in a hearse to be transported to Bethesda Naval Hospital. Lipsey mentioned that he and Wehle then flew by helicopter to Bethesda and took the body of JFK into the back of Bethesda. Lipsey said that “a decoy hearse had been driven to the front of Bethesda.” With Lipsey’s mention of a “decoy hearse” at Bethesda, Lifton theorized that the casket removed by Lipsey from Air Force One, from the side of the plane exposed to television, was probably also a decoy and was likely empty.
Laboratory technologist Paul O’Connor was one of the major witnesses supporting another part of David Lifton’s theory that somewhere between Parkland and Bethesda the President’s body was made to appear as if it had been shot only from the rear. O’Connor said that President Kennedy’s body arrived at Bethesda inside a body bag in “a cheap, shipping-type of casket”, which differed from the description of the ornamental bronze casket and sheet that the body had been wrapped in at Parkland Hospital. O’Connor said that the brain had already been removed by the time it got to Bethesda, and that there were “just little pieces” of brain matter left inside the skull.
Federal Reserve conspiracy
Jim Marrs, in his book Crossfire, presented the theory that Kennedy was trying to rein in the power of the Federal Reserve, and that forces opposed to such action might have played at least some part in the assassination. According to Marrs, the issuance of Executive Order 11110 was an effort by Kennedy to transfer power from the Federal Reserve to the United States Department of the Treasury by replacing Federal Reserve Notes with Silver Certificates. Actor and author Richard Belzer named the responsible parties in this theory as American “billionaires, power brokers, and bankers… working in tandem with the CIA and other sympathetic agents of the government.”
Israeli government conspiracy
Immediately following Kennedy’s death, speculation that he was assassinated by a “Zionist conspiracy ” was prevalent in much of the Arab world and the Middle East. Among these views were that Zionists were motivated to kill Kennedy due to his opposition to an Israeli nuclear program, that Lyndon B. Johnson received orders from Zionists to have Kennedy killed, and that the assassin was a Zionist agent.
One theory suggests that Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion orchestrated the assassination after learning that Kennedy planned to keep Israel from obtaining nuclear weapons. It is surmised that the assassination was a joint enterprise conducted on the highest levels of the American CIA, in collaboration with organized crime, and most specifically, with direct and profound involvement by the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad. The theory also alleges involvement of Meyer Lanskyand the Anti-Defamation League. In 2004, Mordechai Vanunu stated that the assassination was Israel’s response to “pressure [Kennedy] exerted on Ben-Gurion, to shed light on Dimona’s nuclear reactor in Israel.” In a speech before the United Nations General Assembly in 2009, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi also alleged that Kennedy was killed for wanting to investigate Dimona.
Staged fake attempt gone bad
A theory proposed by author Hugh McDonald suggests that Oswald was lured into a plot that he was told was a staged fake attempt to kill JFK to embarrass the Secret Service and to alert the government of the necessity for beefed-up Secret Service security. Oswald’s role was to shoot at the motorcade but deliberately miss the target. The plotters then killed JFK themselves and framed Oswald for the crime. McDonald claims that, after being told the “truth” about JFK’s death by CIA agent Herman Kimsey in 1964, he spent years trying to locate a man known as “Saul.” Saul was supposedly the unidentified man who was photographed exiting the Russian embassy in Mexico City in September 1963, whose photos were subsequently sent to the FBI in Dallas on the morning of November 22, 1963 (before the assassination) and mislabeled “Lee Harvey Oswald”. McDonald claims to have finally tracked Saul down in London in 1972 at which time Saul revealed the details of the plot to him.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover conspiracy
Mark North’s Act of Treason: The Role of J. Edgar Hoover in the assassination of President Kennedy, (1991) implicates the FBI Director. North documents that Hoover was aware of threats against Kennedy by organized crime before 1963 and suggests that he failed to take proper action to prevent the assassination. North also charges Hoover with failure to work adequately to uncover the truth behind Kennedy’s murder.
Secret Service agent George Hickey accidental misfire
Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK (1992) by Bonar Menninger alleges that while Oswald did attempt to assassinate JFK and did succeed in mortally wounding him, the fatal shot was accidentally fired by Secret Service agent George Hickey, who was riding in the Secret Service follow-up car directly behind the Presidential Limousine. The theory alleges that after the first two shots were fired the motorcade sped up while Hickey was attempting to respond to Oswald’s shots and he lost his balance and accidentally pulled the trigger of his AR-15 and shot JFK. Hickey’s testimony says otherwise: “At the end of the last report (shot) I reached to the bottom of the car and picked up the AR 15 rifle, cocked and loaded it, and turned to the rear.”
28-man assassination team
The Gemstone File : A Memoir (2006), by Stephanie Caruana, posits that Oswald was part of a 28-man assassination team which included three U.S. Mafia hitmen (Jimmy Fratianno, John Roselli, and Eugene Brading ). Oswald’s role was to shoot John Connally. Bruce Roberts, author of the Gemstone File papers, claimed that the JFK assassination scenario was modeled after a supposed attempted assassination of President F.D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt was riding in an open car with Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago. Cermak was shot and killed by Giuseppe Zangara. In Dallas, JFK was the real target, and Connally was a secondary target.
U.S. Government officials outed by AWOL cryptographic code operator
The Mary Farrell Foundation summarizes, and archives documents related to Private First Class Eugene B. Dinkin, a cryptographic code operator stationed in Metz, France, who went AWOL in early November 1963, entered Switzerland using a false ID, and visited the United Nations’ press office and declared that officials in the U.S. government were planning to assassinate President Kennedy, adding that “something” might happen to the Commander in Chief in Texas. Dinkin was arrested nine days before Kennedy was killed, placed in psychiatric care, and released shortly thereafter. His allegations eventually made their way to the Warren Commission, but, according to the Ferrell Foundation account, the Commission “took no interest in the matter, and indeed omitted any mention of Dinkin from its purportedly encyclopedic 26 volumes of evidence.”
The Altered Dimensions “Unified” Hoover/Nixon/Mafia/Hoffman theory
It’s impossible to write about the Kennedy assassination without throwing in your own conspiracy theory so here’s ours. The “Unified Hoover/Nixon/Mafia/Hoffman theory”, presented by Altered Dimensions of course, proposes that the assassination was spearheaded by the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover in particular, in retaliation for treatment he was receiving from the Kennedy brothers (and threat to reveal his homosexual practices, likely to be proven by photographic evidence) and possibly with the assistance of future President Richard Nixon as a plan to rid the White House of the Kennedy brothers and pave the way for a more “friendly” White House environment for Hoover, Nixon, and organized crime.
In this theory, the FBI (or Hoover alone) coordinated an attack using Oswald as a scapegoat (but willing participant) and other, more competent shooters around the Dealey Plaza area, particularly the parking lot behind the grassy knoll where the most opportune shot was available, and a “quick getaway” could be initiated (while Oswald remained “trapped” inside the Texas School Book Depository). With regards to the grassy knoll location, we disregard much of Bowers Warren Commission testimony as “sketchy” (far too much detail was given to seem plausible).
A follow-up hit was executed by an already-dying Jack Ruby (he had lung cancer) and coordinated by organized crime personnel (likely with the help of Unions/Hoffman but most certainly with assistance and coordination from Hyman Rubenstein, Jack Ruby’s brother) to remove Oswald from the event. Whether or not Hoffa was involved and how it relates to his almost immediate prison sentence, his unusual pardon from President Nixon in 1972 (and $1.7 million payment he received from the Unions upon his release), and 1975 disappearance, I’ll leave for the readers to decide but be sure to consider who would benefit and particularly, which “loose ends” would remain in such a scenario – Hoover, Nixon, and Hoffa with Hoffa being the highest risk (followed by Nixon).
A more detailed analysis can be provided for anyone willing to offer me a book deal [grin].
What happened to Jacqueline Kennedy’s blood-stained pink dress?
Jacqueline Kennedy was still wearing the blood-stained watermelon pink suit when she got to the White House in the early-morning hours after her husband was shot dead. She had refused to take it off at Parkland Hospital in Dallas or on the flight back to Washington with the body of her husband. Once at the White House, her personal maid put the suit in a bag so Mrs. Kennedy wouldn’t have to look at it.
The suit today is in the National Archives building in Maryland. It came in a box, along with a handwritten note from Jackie Kennedy’s mother on her personal stationery. It read simply: “Jackie’s suit and bag – worn November 22nd, 1963.” The suit was never cleaned.
The public hasn’t seen the suit since the assassination and won’t see it until 2103. In 2003, nine years after her mother’s death, Caroline Kennedy gave the suit as a gift to the people of the United States with the understanding that it would not be put on display until 2103.
The archive has the suit stored in a windowless vault, in an acid free container, where the air is changed three times an hour to properly maintain the wool and cloth. It is kept at a temperature of 65 to 68 degrees, which is best for the fabric.
The many historical JFK assassination films – analysis, notes, and review of the historical films
Given that the Zapruder JFK assassination film is shown so often, many people are unaware that there are more than one John F. Kennedy assassination films in existence. In fact, there are several – Alyea, Bell, Bronson, Couch, Daniel, Dorman, Jeffries, Hughes, Martin, Muchmore, Nix, Pashcall, Towner, Wegman, and possibly more, shot film of the assassination or the events immediately preceding and following the killing of President John F. Kennedy. Additional evidence can potentially be found in many of these films for those with keen eyes. And if you find it odd that most of the assassination films have frames missing, typically at critical moments, then you are not alone.
Another interesting aspect of these various JFK assassination films is the fact that in several instances, the videographers (or photographers) managed to capture each other filming giving us not only excellent evidence of their precise point of view but a means to tie all the various viewpoints together and hence, determine the exact timeline of events.
In the video below, we have assembled four different JFK assassination films. Each one is shown at its normal speed followed by a segment showing the same sequence at 1/2 speed. For the well-known Zapruder film, we have even included a frame-by-frame version of the most famous JFK assassination video.
Charles Bronson film
Captured by witness Charles Bronson. Bronson and his wife stood atop a concrete pedestal in Dealey Plaza at the southwest corner of Main and Houston streets. When an ambulance arrived in the plaza to pick up an epileptic seizure victim a few minutes before the motorcade reached the area, Bronson filmed a short sequence “to capture that little bit of excitement,” not realizing that he also captured a portion of the Texas School Book Depository building on film. As the presidential limousine drew near, Bronson filmed another brief sequence with his home movie camera before switching to take two still photographs as the car approached the turn onto Houston Street. Switching cameras again, Bronson filmed the limousine as it traveled north on Houston Street. He was holding his Leica camera, ready to take another still, when the first shot was fired and he instinctively snapped a photograph. Within seconds, as the shooting continued, Bronson raised his home movie camera. His two-second clip captured the fatal shot to President Kennedy.
Malcolm Couch film
William Couch, a WFAA-TV cameraman, was in one of the follow-up cars behind the President, filming the events as they took place. He claims to have seen about a foot of a rifle being withdrawn from the Texas School Book Depository. Towards the beginning of the video, we see a policeman, Marion Baker, running towards the entrance to the Texas School Book Depository. Barker claims to have entered the building and proceeded to the 2nd floor where he found Oswald “looking relaxed”.
Film captured by Jack Martin. He is likely in a position between Tina Towner and Robert Hughes at the time he’s filming the president on Houston street. We can also, for a brief moment, see President Kennedy on Elm street after it rounds the corner onto Elm (shot through the trees).
Filmed by Mary Muchmore, the color 8 mm film that Muchmore photographed is one of the primary documents of the Kennedy assassination. The Muchmore film, with other 8 mm films taken by Abraham Zapruder and Orville Nix, was used by the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination and to position the presidential limousine in a forensic recreation of the event in May 1964. Muchmore set up her 8 mm Keystone movie camera near the northwest corner of Main Street and Houston Street and awaited the president’s arrival. The Muchmore film consists of seven sequences: six before the assassination, and one during the shooting. Muchmore began filming the presidential motorcade with her movie camera from her initial location near the northwest corner of Main Street and Houston Street as the motorcade turned onto Houston Street into Dealey Plaza. She then turned and walked with Wilma Bond several yards northwestward to again film the President’s limousine as it went down Elm Street. Her film then captured the fatal head shot, seen from about 138 feet (42 m) away. The film ends seconds later as Secret Service agent Clint Hill, attempting to protect President Kennedy, runs to, then, quickly climbs board the accelerating limousine.
Muchmore sold the undeveloped film to the Dallas office of United Press International on November 25, 1963, for $1,000. It was processed by Kodak in Dallas, and flown to New York City. It appeared the following day on local television station WNEW-TV. While visiting her family in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving, Muchmore told them about the film she had taken of the assassination; her family then told the FBI about the film. The FBI initially interviewed Muchmore in December 1963, during which she admitted she had a camera with her but denied that she took any pictures of the assassination scene. The FBI was unaware of the film’s existence until a frame enlargement was published in the book Four Days: The Historical Record of the Death of President Kennedy in January 1964.
Tina Tower film
13-year-old Tina Towner captured this film from the corner of Elm and Houston Street. This film shows the exact timing of when the first shot was fired but unfortunately, the film is “damaged” at this point. Towner used a Sears Tower Varizoom home movie camera to film the event.
Robert Hughes film
Captured by Robert Hughes, it has been claimed that at the 25 second mark, the film was tampered with to hide the reaction of President John F. Kennedy the moment the first shot was fired (at that point, you can see him pull his hand back as well as notice a reaction from bystanders). Again, several other films have frames missing at this precise point also. As with most of the others, Hughes shuts off the camera after seeing the president but quickly turns it back on after hearing shots fired. Hughes shot the film from the sidewalk on the west side of Houston Street.
Mark Bell film
U.S. mail carrier Mark Bell shot this film and although he did not capture the assassination itself, he did capture events before and after. The reaction of the people can be studied in this film. It also presents another viewpoint of the grassy knoll and the Texas School Book Depository some time after the shooting took place. He shot the film from Houston Street near Main Street. It shows the motorcade travelling by on Houston and then turning left of Elm and then speeding off under the triple overpass.
Dave Wiegman film
Dave Wiegman Jr., and NBC cameraman, was one of the cameraman filming in the follow up cars behind the presidential limousine. After the assassination, Wiegman jumped from his car and ran towards the grassy knoll, rolling the film as he ran. He then runs back and films the infamous Newman family who have taken cover fearing more shots were to be fired. Below is a picture taken by witness Richard Bothun in it we can see the exact position that Dave Wiegman filmed from.
Elise Dorman film
Film captured by Elsie Dorman, probably the worst footage shot of the assassination event. It is very unstable but does give us the position of Tina Towner holding her camera on the corner of Houston and Elm street. Dorman worked on the fourth floor of the Texas School Book Depository and took this film from that location. It shows the motorcade on Houston Street but unfortunately does not capture the Presidential limousine during the assassination itself.
Filmed captured by Jack W. Daniel hoped to capture a home movie of President Kennedy against the picturesque backdrop of Dealey Plaza, especially the area now known as the grassy knoll. “My original plan was to go across the street about even from where… [Abraham] Zapruder was, so I could film back towards the Dealey Plaza, being the most photogenic place,” he recalled in his 1997 oral history. However, even more important to Daniel than a natural green background was the opportunity for his three young sons to have a clear view of President Kennedy—and vice versa. At the last minute, he instead selected a less crowded area on the west side of the triple underpass. He recalled, “I thought it would be a little more personal thing—the boys waving at the president, and the president waving back.” Armed with his pistol-grip Argus home movie camera, he purposely stood several feet behind his children so that they could be captured on film waving at the president. “I told my boys, ‘Now when the motorcade turns off of Main Street, start waving because he’ll be here in seconds.’” Seconds later, Daniel and his sons heard shots being fired, but two of his sons continued to wave as the motorcade emerged from the triple underpass. As the limousine sped past their position in a blur, Daniel captured the confusing scene on film.
The origin of the “Nix Shooter” comes from this film (what appears to be a shooter on the grassy knoll) which is probably the 2nd best footage (behind Zapruder’s) of the actual assassination. Shot by Orville Nix, it contains film of the motorcade on Houston Street and then the assassination from a view opposite that of Zapruder.
The grassy knoll viewpoint supports the theory that Cuban hitman Herminio Diaz (who had worked for Mafia boss Santo Tafficante Jr. and arrived in the United States just months before the assassination) acted as a second gunman (with 3 of the 4 shots coming from Oswald and the deadly head shot coming from the more experienced hitman, Diaz).
Film captured by Ernest Charles Mentesana of the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. You can see policeman talking among themselves seemingly deciding what steps they need to take in the assassination aftermath.
Filmed by George Jefferies, it is a rare color film of the JFK assassination events that was not discovered until February 2007. We get an excellent view of President John F. Kennedy and Jackie as they pass by about 90 seconds before the assassination. There is film at the end of the Texas School Book Depository but it is believed to have been filmed the next day.
Filmed by James Darnell in which we can see the immediate aftermath of the assassination. Later Darnell filmed the activity behind the grassy knoll shortly after the assassination tad taken place. We can, in particular see a policeman and a man being moved along by this policeman – this man wearing a fedora. What’s interesting is this man, upon seeing James Darnell and his camera, attempts to shield his face from it. Another witness that day told of a man in a suit instructing them to leave the area.
Filmed by Patsy Paschall from the third floor of the courthouse on Houston Street. It gives us a view of the events leading up to the assassination and the chaos that followed. Patsy Paschall shot this home movie from the northwest corner of the Old Courthouse building, across Houston Street from Dealey plaza.
Important (and interesting) official documents from the case.
Below are links to several official documents related to the case including phone records, FBI reports on Oswald, private notebooks of Oswald and Ruby, and more.
Photo montage of various photographs related to the case.
Below is a photo montage of many rare and interesting photos taken during the John F. Kennedy assassination and the follow up investigation.
In-Article Image CreditsDaniel Wayne Douglas arrest report Officer J. D. Tippit shooting via UNT with usage type - Public Domain
Jack Ruby at press conference via ICP with usage type - Public Domain
Featured Image CreditJackie Kennedy climbing onto trunk of presidential limousine via