The Kennedy Assassination: Inside the Book Depository
Right about here, in Dallas, Texas, American President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. The accused assassin was a man named Lee Harvey Oswald. After being held in custody for less than two days, Oswald himself would meet a violent end.
According to a subsequent investigation, Oswald had fired three rounds from the Texas School Book Depository. Police recovered three shell casings and a bolt-action rifle from the sixth floor of the building. But the shooting of Oswald sparked immediate suspicions of conspiracy. Suspicions that persist to this day and have driven most Americans to reject the government's conclusion that Oswald acted alone. The arguments for and against conspiracy take many shapes and forms. Far too many, in fact, to do them all justice in a single video.
Instead, in this video, I want to zoom in and focus on a very narrow slice of this case. Specifically, the events surrounding the Texas School Book Depository. What exactly happened inside this building from where the shots that killed the President are believed to have been fired? In September of 1963, a young man named Wesley Frazier received a call from an employment agency. There was a potential job opening at the Texas School Book Depository. On September 13, Frazier made his way from Irving, Texas...
...down to central Dallas. He met with Roy Truly, the superintendent of the building, and was hired on the spot. Back in Irving, Frazier lived with his older sister, Linnie Randle. A few houses down the street lived a woman named Ruth Paine. On October 14, both Randle and Paine had a cup of coffee at the house of a neighbor. Paine brought along a friend and Russian immigrant named Marina Oswald, the wife of Lee Oswald.
Marina could barely speak any English and had been staying with Paine for a few weeks, partly due to her husband's unemployment. Paine and Marina returned home, spoke with Roy Truly over the phone, and secured a job interview on behalf of Lee Oswald. The following morning, he went down to the Book Depository and began his first day of work on October 16. So an acquaintance with whom Oswald's wife was currently staying had a casual conversation with a neighbor.
That neighbor happened to have a brother who recently got employed at the Book Depository. This prompted his wife to ask the acquaintance to call the superintendent of the building to inquire about any vacancies. The position was not only temporary but only existed due to a temporary shortage of staff. But it gets even more tragic because Oswald was not the only one to apply for a job.
If Oswald was somehow entangled in a conspiracy, and the aim of that conspiracy was for him to become employed at the Book Depository, this roundabout sequence of events is a very strange way to go about it. As the name implies, the Texas School Book Depository was in the business of selling books. For $1.25 an hour, Oswald's job was to prepare the books for shipping.
He did so by filling out forms and transporting cartons of books between the upper floors and the first. The building had three elevators, two staircases, and was seven stories tall. In the northwest corner, one stairway and two freight elevators provided access to all seven floors. A small passenger elevator near the front entrance stopped at level four while stories one and two were connected by a second flight of stairs. Lacking a driver's license, Oswald relied on Wesley Frazier to carpool between Irving and Dallas every Friday evening and Monday morning.
He spent workdays at a rooming house in Dallas while spending the weekends with his wife and daughters in Irving. But on Thursday morning, November 21, the day before the assassination, Oswald decided to deviate from this routine. Frazier drove Oswald back to Irving, where he arrived unannounced at the household of Ruth Paine.
Both Paine and Marina were surprised to see Oswald on a Thursday. They assumed he'd come to make amends with Marina due to an argument they had had a few days before. The next day, Oswald said goodbye to his wife and left the Paine residence about 07:15 AM. Atop a dresser in the bedroom, he left behind his wedding ring. Oswald was next seen walking down the street by Linnie Randle, carrying a package.
He was soon joined by Frazier, and the two of them took a seat in his car to begin their commute. Not only was Oswald carrying a large package, but he'd forgotten to bring a lunch bag. They arrived in Dallas a few minutes before 08:00 AM. Typically, they would walk together from the parking lot to the Book Depository. But on this particular Friday, Oswald grabbed his curtain rods and rushed ahead into the building.
Working on the ground floor in view of the rear entrance was their colleague Jack Dougherty. Frazier and Dougherty are the only two people known to have seen Oswald entering the building. Frazier says he was carrying a package.
Dougherty says he was not. Contradictions like this one will become a recurring theme throughout the rest of this video. We'll take a closer look at the missing curtain rods in a later chapter, but, for now, let's stay with Oswald. As the morning progressed, Oswald was seen working as normal. Roy Truly described him as an above-average worker who mostly kept to himself. In fact, he was a bit of a mystery to his colleagues.
But there were exceptions to his reticence, and one of them occurred on this Friday morning. James Jarman was working on the ground floor when he observed Oswald staring out a window facing Elm Street. It's a brief yet fascinating moment. It almost seems as though Oswald had no idea that Kennedy would pass by the Book Depository. This was indeed the case for some of his colleagues. Jarman himself had only been made aware of the fact shortly before he spoke with Oswald.
There's no doubt that Oswald knew the President was coming to Dallas, but whether he knew the route of the motorcade is much more difficult to prove. The route of the motorcade had only been finalized a few days before the visit and hinged upon its destination. Kennedy was supposed to attend a banquet in Dallas but no one could agree on a venue. It came down to two options.
The Trade Mart northwest of downtown or the Women's Building to the east. One of the more vocal proponents of the Trade Mart was Texas Governor John Connally and, after much back and forth, he finally got his way on November 14. Had the Women's Building been selected, the motorcade would have sped through Dealey Plaza, east on Main Street, significantly further away and perpendicular to the Book Depository. Not to mention that First Lady Jacqueline would have been seated between the building and the President. The selection of the Trade Mart meant that the motorcade would now head west on Main Street and make these turns through Dealey Plaza to reach the northbound lanes on the freeway.
Now, these turns could still have been avoided had the motorcade continued like so and not taken the freeway. But since the freeway was the more scenic and expedient route, it was the more attractive choice. All of that is to say, the success of the assassination was largely dependent upon the selection of the Trade Mart. It might therefore be tempting to cast suspicion upon Governor Connally, but it should be noted that he rode in the Presidential Limousine along with the Kennedys and suffered grave injuries during the shooting. Not only that but Connally was actually opposed to a motorcade and favored a more direct route from the airport to the Trade Mart.
A brief trip that would've bypassed Dealey Plaza altogether. He was unfortunately overruled by Kennedy himself who wanted to see and be seen by the people of Dallas. Okay, so, all of that was happening behind the scenes. But, as far as the public was aware, there wasn't even going to be a motorcade.
As late as November 15, the Dallas Morning News reported that a motorcade seemed unlikely. But, the very next day, the parade was finally confirmed. While the precise route, followed by maps and detailed descriptions, was not officially disclosed until November 19, someone familiar with Dallas could have approximated the route a few days in advance.
That is to say, the earliest point a member of the public could have deduced that Kennedy would be driven past the Book Depository was November 16, less than a week before the visit. There's a good chance that Oswald saw these articles because he'd been observed reading political columns in the very same newspapers. Furthermore, we know from other aspects of Oswald's life that he was politically inclined. [OSWALD] Well, I have studied Marxist philosophy, yes, sir.
And also other philosophers. [INTERVIEWER] But are you a Marxist? I think you did admit on an earlier radio interview that you consider yourself a Marxist. [OSWALD] Well I would very definitely say that I am a Marxist, that is correct.
But that does not mean, however, that I am a Communist. [INTERVIEWER] What is the difference between the two? [OSWALD] Well there's a great deal of difference. Several American parties and several countries are based on Marxism such as Ghana, uh Ghana. Certain countries have characteristics of a socialist system such as Great Britain with its socialized medicine. These then are the differences between an outright Communist country and countries which adhere to leftist or Marxist principles. Conversely, a lack of interest in politics is precisely why at least one of Oswald's colleagues remained oblivious to the motorcade.
So while it's understandable for someone apolitical to be taken off guard by a Presidential visit, it makes far less sense for someone like Oswald. We'll never know what Oswald was thinking when he spoke with James Jarman shortly before the assassination. But it is worth repeating, though, that Oswald was hired on October 15. That's a full month before the motorcade route had been decided, let alone announced to the public. On the morning of November 22, a handful of employees had been assigned to install a new plywood floor on the sixth floor of the Book Depository.
Every once in a while, they would catch a glimpse of Oswald. Shortly before noon, it was time for lunch. For a bit of fun, they decided to race the two elevators down to ground level. As they began descending, they observed Oswald now standing on the fifth floor. He shouted for them to stop or to close the gate to the elevator upon reaching the first floor. Charles Givens then realized he'd forgotten his jacket and cigarettes up on the sixth floor.
About to return to ground level, Givens spotted Oswald approaching. And with that, Givens became the last person inside the Book Depository known to have seen Oswald before the assassination. At least, that's the official story. The encounter was fixed at 11:55 AM, more than half an hour before the shooting. But other employees claimed to have seen Oswald in other parts of the building around the same time or even later than Givens.
Givens himself provided conflicting accounts. But I'm getting ahead of myself. This encounter notwithstanding, Givens was not the last person to visit the sixth floor. Shortly after Givens had left, Bonnie Williams grabbed his lunch and went upstairs. He sat down, right about here, to await the President's arrival. The southeast corner is the location from where the shots that killed the President are believed to have been fired.
The so-called Sniper's Nest. Williams says he was alone but admits his view was obstructed by tall stacks of boxes. Meanwhile, down by the main entrance, someone was attempting to gain access to the building. This individual was never identified and is the only unknown person known to have entered the Book Depository before the shooting. After finishing his lunch up on the sixth floor, Bonnie Williams heard the voices of James Jarman and Harold Norman emanating from the floor below. Feeling a bit lonely, Williams went down to the fifth floor and joined his two colleagues.
The exact time of Williams' departure is unclear but it was likely no more than 10 or even 5 minutes before the shooting. On the grounds below, a sea of spectators lined the streets of Elm and Houston. Every once in a while, one of them would glance up at the Book Depository. Indeed Jarman, Williams, and Norman were spotted on multiple occasions leaning out the far east windows on the fifth floor. But movement could also be seen on the floor above them. A floor that, by all accounts, was now supposed to be empty.
Awaiting the motorcade by the east curb of Houston was a young newlywed couple named Arnold and Barbara Rowland. Some 15 minutes before the shooting, Arnold spotted a white man in the westernmost window on the sixth floor of the Book Depository. The man was holding a rifle.
His gaze locked at Houston. Despite standing a few meters away from an officer, Arnold chose not to report the gunman. If Rowland's recollection is accurate, it stands in direct conflict with that of Bonnie Williams who claimed to have eaten lunch on the same floor at the same time.
Williams neither saw nor heard anyone despite having an unobstructed view down to the southwest corner of the building where Rowland claimed to have seen the gunman. A few minutes later, a different spectator named Howard Brennan spotted a white man pacing to and fro the easternmost window on the sixth floor. At 12:30 PM, the Presidential Limousine emerged from behind a building and began driving north on Houston.
As the car made a sharp left turn at Elm, a high school student named Amos Euins glanced up at the Book Depository and caught sight of a protruding metal rod. Few realized what had happened. Was it a firecracker, backfiring motorcycle, or presidential salute? People near the Rowlands even started laughing. Perhaps feeling a bit foolish for being frightened by the ostensibly harmless explosion. Standing by the northwest corner of Elm and Houston was James Worrell.
He thought the explosion had come from directly overhead. Sure enough, on one of the upper floors, Worrell could see the barrel of a gun. At that moment, a second explosion echoed through Dealey Plaza. Worrell and Euins witnessed the recoil and muzzle flash of the rifle in concurrence with the sound. Brennan had yet to realize what was happening.
He thought a firecracker had been thrown from the Book Depository. He looked up, and the man he'd seen pacing only minutes before was now aiming down the sights of a rifle. Brennan could only recall hearing two shots, but his testimony implies he might have heard three.
He confusingly said he saw the gunman fire the last shot yet denied seeing the discharge of the rifle. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the rifle was seen by a handful of witnesses as the gunman cautiously withdrew from the window. Neither Euins nor Worrell saw the face of the gunman and could thus offer little to no information regarding his appearance. Arnold was quite some distance away yet furnished a basic description of the man he'd seen about a quarter of an hour before the shooting. A description that was quite similar to the one provided by Brennan, who got the best look at the gunman.
Taken together, these accounts paint a picture of an assassin on the sixth floor of the Book Depository taking aim with a rifle and firing at the President from the Sniper's Nest. But other accounts leave room for a bit of doubt. As previously mentioned, Arnold Rowland spotted a white man with a rifle in the westernmost window on the sixth floor at about 12:15 PM.
But as late as 5 minutes before the shooting, Arnold observed an elderly black man leaning out the easternmost window on the same floor. He might have confused the sixth floor with the fifth where James Jarman, Bonnie Williams, and Harold Norman did indeed lean out the windows. In fact, they were the only black employees known to have watched the motorcade from a floor above the first. Except, they could hardly be described as elderly. But, then, take a listen to this. This question was then repeated to Arnold a few minutes later, at which point, his answer had dramatically changed.
So, in the span of a few minutes, Arnold went from "I didn't pay very much attention" to describing the man's complexion, hair, clothing, age, height, build, and even the blemishes on his face. As leading as that line of questioning was, Barbara was not alone in doubting her husband's credibility. Officials at two separate high schools attended by Arnold explicitly warned authorities not to trust everything he says. He was characterized as someone who would "not hesitate to fabricate a story" and "not tell the truth regarding any matter". Indeed, Rowland lied or exaggerated on multiple occasions when he testified.
Another witness who claimed to have seen a gunman in the Book Depository was Carolyn Walther. Shortly before the arrival of the motorcade, Walther had seen a man with blond or light-brown hair in one of these windows on the fourth or fifth floor. She explicitly ruled out the sixth. It should be noted, however, that, during the shooting, this window was closed with the blinds down while this one, as you already know, was occupied by Bonnie Williams and Harold Norman. In any case, the light-haired man seen by Walther was holding a machine gun, and standing beside him was another man wearing a brown suit.
Much like Arnold Rowland, Walther assumed the gunman was a presidential guard and refrained from telling the police. In fact, there's no evidence she told anyone of what she'd seen. Not even the colleague with whom she watched the motorcade. In Walther's defense, two other witnesses recalled seeing a man with light or light-brown hair on the fifth or sixth floor.
Except, they never saw a weapon nor an accomplice. Disagreements regarding the floors were, at least in part, due to the ground floor lacking visible windows. Another source of confusion was the distinct visual difference between the seventh floor and the ones below. Not only that, but multiple witnesses described the sixth floor as the second floor from the top. But in the chaos that ensued, it seems the tail end of that sentence was not always recorded.
Amos Euins is another curious witness because, even though he never saw the gunman's face, he did see the top of his head... ...somehow. Oswald did not have a bald spot. He was thinning a bit in the front but otherwise had a full head of hair. But the strength of Euins's account is somewhat diminished by his inability to recall much of anything else. Long after the assassination, 15 years to be precise, a journalist working for the Dallas Morning News tracked down a man named Johnny Powell.
Powell had supposedly seen two men fiddling with the scope on a rifle in the Sniper's Nest. He described their complexion as darker than white but that was about it. Once again, one has to wonder if he confused the gunman with Jarman, Williams, and Norman on the floor below.
I mean, after 15 years of silence, there's no telling how Powell's memory could have been distorted. A good example of such distortion is Richard Carr. A few minutes before the shooting, Carr had been standing roughly here when he spotted a man on the seventh floor of the Book Depository all the way over here. The man was white and wore a hat, glasses, and sportcoat.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Carr returned to ground level and caught sight of what he believed to be the same man now trotting south on Houston. He made a left turn right about here before being picked up by a station wagon. By 1969, however, Carr's story had notably changed.
The man with a sportcoat had now been standing on the fifth floor, not the seventh. After the shooting, Mr. Sportcoat had emerged from behind the Book Depository, accompanied by two other men. They, too, had been picked up by a separate station wagon before speeding away. It's unclear how Carr is supposed to have seen all of this, considering what he told the FBI back in '64.
In Carr's defense, James Worrell had seen a man emerge from the rear entrance of the Book Depository about three minutes after the shooting. This man also wore a sportcoat and headed south on Houston. Except, the man seen by Carr was kinda stocky and wore a hat, while the man seen by Worrell had a slender build and was hatless.
Besides, anyone connected with the shooting, leaving via the rear entrance, would surely have headed north, not towards the scene of the crime? As if that was not enough, two other witnesses, James Romack and George Rackley, stood roughly here for several minutes after the shooting. Both of them paid special attention to the rear entrance of the building. Unfortunately, conflicting accounts were not limited to the Book Depository.
Among the hundreds of witnesses in the vicinity of Dealey Plaza, nothing was as disputed as the number and origin of the gunshots. [JAY WATSON] And the shots were almost simultaneously, weren't they? [WILLIAM NEWMAN] Yes, sir. They were probably 10 seconds apart. [JAY WATSON] Do you know who fired the third shot? [WILLIAM NEWMAN] I didn't hear a third- I don't recall a third shot. There may have been. We hit- My family hit the ground and I don't recall a third shot.
I just couldn't- I'm not certain of that. I do know I heard two shots. [JAY WATSON] Well, I heard three. I know there were three. I said to Jerry after the second shot, I said, "My God those are gunshots," No one knows exactly how many spectators were in or near Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination.
Well over two hundred were at some point questioned by a combination of authorities, journalists, and others. Attempts have been made to consolidate the various accounts, and it's clear from all such attempts that the majority of witnesses heard three shots. What's a bit less clear is the source of the explosions. The gunman was either placed in the vicinity of the Book Depository, marked here in red, or an area west of the building, marked in green, known as the Grassy Knoll. But, as you can see from these pie charts, the assessment of earwitness testimony is highly susceptible to bias. It's a surprisingly subjective exercise that can lead to widely different results.
Nevertheless, there were a substantial number of witnesses who pointed to the Grassy Knoll, located roughly here, and many of them were scattered throughout the plaza. To give you some examples, Ochus Campbell was standing near the front entrance of the Book Depository, yet believed the shots had come from the Grassy Knoll. Meanwhile, Marilyn Sitzman was standing on the Grassy Knoll, yet believed the shots came from the Book Depository. Standing beside Campbell was a woman named Jearaldean Reid, who believed the shots had come from the Book Depository. Standing by the curb in front of Sitzman was William Newman, who believed the shots came from the Grassy Knoll.
One might therefore conclude that there must have been two assassins. One in the Book Depository and one on the Grassy Knoll. Indeed, countless authors and even a congressional investigation have done precisely that.
Now, the scope of this video is not nearly exhaustive enough for me to attempt any conclusions regarding a second gunman. But I do wanna leave you with this. You might have seen these unlabeled blue slices before? Well, that's how many witnesses heard gunshots coming from multiple directions.
That is to say, next to no one did. All the shots came either from the east or west, not both. Ochus Campbell was far from alone in being deceived by the pronounced echoes of the gunshots.
This auditory illusion was not a fluke. Not only did the buildings surrounding Dealey Plaza act as an echo chamber, but even experienced hunters can struggle to pinpoint the number and origin of gunshots by sound alone. Here's a quote from a book on that very topic published a few years before the assassination. Employees in the Book Depository were no less confused about the gunshots than the spectators outside.
To give you some examples. On the first floor, Eddie Piper heard three shots that appeared to come from inside the building. On the third floor, Edna Case and Sandra Elerson heard nothing.
Meanwhile, Steven Wilson, on the same floor, heard three shots. Came from the west. On the fourth floor: Elise Dorman. Multiple shots. Came from this building across the street.
Victoria Adams. Three shots, from the west. Mary Hollies. Three shots, inside the building. But some employees not only heard the shots but could literally feel the explosions shake the building. Much like Geneva Hine on the second floor, Bonnie Williams could feel the explosions up on the fifth. It sounded to Williams as though the shots had been fired from the floor above.
His colleague, James Jarman, initially thought the shots had come from somewhere below but then changed his mind and agreed with Williams. Harold Norman, meanwhile, heard far more than gunshots. The explosions shook the building and a piece of loose plaster or dirt was dislodged from the ledge above and struck Williams in the head. Meanwhile, spectators on the streets below could see them leaning out the windows, looking up at the sixth floor. Frightened and somewhat entranced by the pandemonium outside, the three men remained on the fifth floor for several minutes.
Meanwhile, the apparent assassin upstairs was now in a race against time. When the shooting began, motorcycle policeman Marrion Baker had just made a right turn from Main Street to Houston. Baker recognized the explosions as gunfire and could see a flock of pigeons fluttering above two buildings further up ahead. Baker made a split-second decision and headed for the Book Depository.
Once inside, he was greeted by Roy Truly. Truly directed Baker to the elevators, but neither was available. He pressed the button while shouting up the elevator shaft for someone upstairs to close the gate.
No response. Instead, they began running up the stairs. The man whom Baker and Truly encountered in the second-floor lunchroom was none other than Lee Havey Oswald. The encounter was brief, lasting no more than 30 seconds.
Oswald appeared calm and failed to evoke suspicion, so Truly and Baker left him in the lunchroom and proceeded up the stairs. They spent some time searching the roof but there was no assassin to be found. Down by the main entrance, Jearaldean Reid was still trying to process what had just occurred. She decided to return to her office on the second floor of the building.
Here, about two minutes after the shooting, Reid became the last known person to have seen Oswald inside the Book Depository. Oswald is then presumed to have taken the front stairs and, on his way out the main entrance, encountered someone looking for a phone. There are at least two candidates for who this person might have been, but Oswald seems to have pointed out a phone inside the building before blending into the chaos outside. He was next observed boarding a bus a few blocks east on Elm. Nearly four months after the assassination, Truly and Baker participated in a crude reconstruction of the shooting to time their movements.
The experiment was repeated twice. On the first attempt, it took them 1 minute and 30 seconds to reach the second-floor lunchroom. Then, 1 minute and 15 seconds. These time trials were primarily conducted to determine whether Oswald could have fired the shots from the sixth floor and still made it down to the second in time for his encounter with Truly and Baker.
After all, if there wasn't enough time, Oswald could not have been the assassin. A bunch of different routes were tested and while Oswald could theoretically have taken one of the elevators or even the fire escape, in practice, there wasn't enough time. The only other means of descent was the stairway. A stand-in for the gunman trotted down from the sixth floor to the second in 1 minute and 18 seconds.
Then, at a slightly faster pace, in 1 minute and 14 seconds. There was just enough time. It's therefore possible that Oswald stopped on the second floor, perhaps upon hearing Truly shouting up the elevator shaft, and attempted to hide in the lunchroom mere seconds ahead of Truly and Baker's arrival. But it's not quite that simple because Oswald was not the only person using the stairway to escape the building. As previously mentioned, Victoria Adams watched the motorcade from an office on the fourth floor of the Book Depository.
Within 30 seconds of the shooting, Adams ran down the stairs to the first floor along with her colleague Sandra Styles. There are two significant problems with Adams's account. The first being that she and Styles supposedly left the fourth floor within 30 seconds of the shooting and then ran down the stairs to the first. This would place them in approximate sync with Oswald descending from the sixth floor to the second. But, okay, perhaps Oswald was a few flights above, and his footsteps were drowned out by their own.
This would mean that Styles and Adams left the fourth floor mere seconds ahead of Oswald's arrival, reached the ground floor mere seconds ahead of Roy Truly and Marrion Baker's ascent, before encountering William Shelley and Billy Lovelady right about here. But this is when problem number two makes an entrance. When the President was shot, Shelley and Lovelady stood on the front steps of the Book Depository. They spent several minutes roaming about outside before returning to the building.
And that's the problem. How did Styles and Adams encounter Shelley and Lovelady within seconds of the shooting if it took them several minutes to return to the building? Shelley could recall no such incident. Presuming that Lovelady was correct and Shelley had a lapse of memory, it's possible their encounter with Styles and Adams occurred minutes rather than seconds after the shooting. After all, Adams could have been mistaken. This scenario implies that Oswald made his escape, Truly and Baker went upstairs, and then, several minutes later, Styles and Adams left the building. But it's not quite that simple.
Watching the motorcade alongside Styles and Adams was their supervisor, Dorothy Garner. Not only does this account corroborate that of Adams, meaning they left within seconds, not minutes, but it implies that Garner was in a position to observe the stairway from somewhere on the fourth floor. In spite of this, Garner made no mention of seeing Oswald scampering down the stairs between Styles and Adams' departure and Truly and Baker's arrival.
What makes this conflict so difficult to resolve is that neither Styles nor Garner were called to testify. We have but a few brief statements of what they witnessed. All we know about Sandra Styles is that she went down the stairs with Adams. Did it happen within seconds of the shooting? We don't know.
Did she see or hear anyone else while running down the stairs? We don't know. Did she encounter Shelley and Lovelady on the first floor? We don't know. Authorities appear to have presumed Adams unreliable and then ignored the witnesses who could have easily refuted or confirmed that presumption. A simple reenactment like the one granted Truly and Baker could have gone a long way to resolve this issue.
But that never happened. Many decades after the assassination, author Barry Ernest was able to track down Sandra Styles, Dorothy Garner, and Victoria Adams. Styles confirmed that she and Adams left the window within seconds of the shooting but she doesn't explicitly say they left the fourth floor within seconds. In any case, as they "moved quickly down the stairs", she heard no footfall apart from their own.
Garner confirmed she never witnessed the descent of Oswald despite seeing Truly and Baker heading upstairs. Adams went a bit further and accused investigators of tampering with her testimony. Sandra Styles apparently told Ernest something similar.
The only black employees who could have possibly made it to the rear stairway in time were Carl Jones, Roy Lewis, Eddie Piper, and Troy West. What you see here are their approximate positions at the time of the shooting but, during the seconds and minutes that followed, only Piper is known to have paid any attention to the stairs in the back. As soon as the shooting began, Piper crossed the first floor to get a better view of a clock. He remained in roughly this location until he observed Truly and Baker running up the stairs. Remember James Romack and George Rackley? I mean, I wouldn't blame you if you don't.
There's like a hundred different names to keep track of. But they were the ones who failed to spot anyone leaving the Book Depository via the rear entrance for several minutes after the shooting. Well, the thing is, according to both Styles and Adams, they left the Book Depository via the rear entrance upon reaching the first floor. So if Romack and Rackley are to be believed, then, once again, the descent of Styles and Adams must have taken place minutes rather than seconds after the shooting. Not only that but when Sandra Styles was contacted by another researcher, she apparently expressed great uncertainty regarding the stairwell descent and thought it might, in fact, have occurred "a couple of minutes" after the shooting.
I don't know what to make of all this. The conspiracy crowd will, of course, amplify the more suspicious elements while those who support the official narrative will focus on that which discredits Adams. But, ultimately, we don't know the exact timeline of events. It's difficult enough to pin down the minute-by-minute chronology. Once you get down to seconds, there's a lot of guesswork at play. The time trials by Truly and Baker gives us a rough estimate but that's not cast in stone.
They could've easily been a bit faster, a bit slower. So, too, could've Shelley, Lovelady, Garner, Styles, Adams, and Oswald. I must also mention that we don't know much about the layout of the fourth floor beyond this crude schematic.
If the other floors are any indication, much of this space was occupied by bookshelves and tall stacks of boxes. This is significant because Dorothy Garner never actually saw Styles and Adams enter the stairway. She only heard footsteps of what she presumed to be them running down the stairs. Following a quick sweep of the roof, Roy Truly and Marrion Baker returned to the ground floor of the Book Depository. Oswald was not the only absentee, but he was the only one whom Truly knew for a fact had left the building after the shooting. Meanwhile, on the sixth floor, a stack of boxes in the southeast corner attracted the attention of Deputy Luke Mooney.
Two windows west of the Sniper's Nest, authorities found a bottle of Dr. Pepper and some chicken bones. Leftovers from the lunch eaten by Bonnie Williams shortly before the assassination.
But according to some officers, including Mooney, remains of a similar meal were also found in the Sniper's Nest. In spite of this, no such items were ever photographed. Apart from the sack of chicken bones found here, there are no records of leftovers being recovered from anywhere else near the Sniper's Nest.
But it wasn't just the chicken bones. There were similar disagreements regarding the three cartridge cases. According to Mooney, Dallas Police Captain William Fritz tampered with the evidence.
Mooney did not explicitly state but strongly implied that Captain Fritz moved at least one of the cartridge cases before they were photographed. According to Fritz, he did everything by the book. Amidst the swarm of officers canvassing the sixth floor was a lone journalist by the name of Thomas Alyea. Alyea was equipped with a camera and actually filmed much of the frantic search effort. About three decades later, Alyea made some rather startling claims that were largely consistent with but also expanded upon those made by Mooney.
While these alleged portions of Alyea's film have never surfaced, preservation took a backseat while the film was being prepared for broadcast. Portions of the film were carelessly chopped-up and discarded and fragmentary clips are all that remains today. In any case, after supposedly filming the casings in the hand of Captain Fritz, Alyea recalled how they were deceitfully returned to the floor. To counterbalance these allegations of foul play, I must also mention that there were those who found nothing amiss about the cartridge cases. Even Mooney sort of agreed that the casings had not been moved immediately after explaining that they had been moved.
In the testimony we heard a few minutes ago, Mooney was shown this photograph. He then examined this one, taken from a different angle, before being shown this one. Now, these two are just differently cropped copies of the same photograph.
That doesn't really gel with the casing supposedly being picked up and haphazardly tossed back on the floor as Thomas Alyea would claim decades later. While there are question marks surrounding the chicken bones and cartridge cases, there can be no doubt that some of the boxes in the Sniper's Nest were moved prior to being photographed. Several minutes after the Sniper's Nest was discovered, a bolt-action rifle was found between two rows of boxes near the stairway. Now, there was some initial confusion regarding its make and model. Some thought it looked like a Mauser but, upon closer inspection, it was identified as an Italian Carcano. The officer who misidentified the rifle later explained that he did so at a glance.
However, over a decade after the assassination, in 1976, a former Deputy Sheriff by the name of Roger Craig claimed to have seen the marking "7.65 Mauser" stamped right on the barrel of the rifle. To some, this is evidence that a Mauser was, in fact, discovered on the sixth floor before being swapped for a Carcano.
But Craig was the only person to make this specific claim, did so many years after the assassination, and after telling a journalist the following. There were no reports of a Mauser being found on the roof either. Besides, the only rifle seen in the film taken by Thomas Alyea is unmistakably a Carcano.
Unique markings on the cartridge cases would later prove that this was indeed the rifle from which all three had been fired. Before the day was over, the rifle had been traced to a company in Chicago, Illinois. The company had sold the rifle to someone named A. Hidell and shipped it to a Post Office Box in Dallas in early 1963.
Alek James Hidell was a pseudonym known to have been used by Oswald. So there was now a direct link between the shells, the rifle, and Oswald. Not only that, but Oswald's prints were lifted from both the rifle and boxes in the Sniper's Nest. Apart from the spent shells and the rifle, authorities discovered one other key piece of evidence. The bag was alleged to have been found here, yet this space is suspiciously empty in all the crime scene photographs.
Detective Robert Studebaker, who'd been working as a forensic assistant for less than two months, neglected to explain why he never photographed the bag. In Studebaker's defense, no one was on the lookout for a brown paper bag. Assassin? Sure. Rifle? Casings? Absolutely. But some debris in a dark-lit corner of the room? It wasn't until the bag was picked up and inspected that its significance became apparent. Now, as you may recall, Wesley Frazier drove Oswald back to Irving on November 21 to pick up some curtain rods.
The following morning, Oswald was seen carrying a package by both Frazier and his sister, Linnie Randle. According to Frazier, Oswald told him the package contained curtain rods which he then brought back to Dallas. But you may also recall that Jack Dougherty denied seeing such a package. The thing is, Dougherty was not a reliable witness. When questioned by the FBI and Secret Service, he appeared "very confused about times and places".
He required assistance from his father due to "considerable difficulty in coordinating his mental faculties with his speech." While Dougherty denied having such issues, his testimony is nonetheless riddled with contradictions. While Dougherty insisted that Oswald had nothing in his hands when he arrived at work, it turned out that this certitude was based on nothing but a glance. Given that Frazier had eyes on Oswald for several minutes, the weight of evidence suggests he carried a package to work on the morning of November 22. A far more contentious question is whether the package carried by Oswald was the same as the brown paper bag discovered on the sixth floor.
According to both Randle and Frazier, the only two witnesses known to have seen the package, the answer was a definite no. Their main source of contention was that the package carried by Oswald was shorter than the brown paper bag. The bag was just long enough to store the rifle in its disassembled state, so if the package carried by Oswald was much shorter, then it could not have contained the rifle.
Except, Randle saw it briefly at a distance, through window, while Frazier never paid it much attention. In fact, the length of the package seemed about as certain to Frazier as his lack of attention to it. The tape and paper with which the brown paper bag had been constructed matched the tape and paper used to wrap books for shipping on the first floor of the Book Depository. Not only that but a fingerprint and palmprint matching that of Oswald were also found on the bag. In spite of all this, some authors refuse to accept that the brown paper bag and the package carried by Oswald were one and the same. Instead, the argument tends to be that the bag was fabricated by authorities in an effort to frame Oswald.
But you then have to square that against no curtain rods being found inside the Book Depository. Oswald already having curtains in his rented room in Dallas. Him failing to obtain permission from his landlady to redecorate. Him supposedly being in such urgent need of curtain rods that he just had to return to Irving on Thursday instead of waiting just one more day.
Him then neglecting to mention anything about curtain rods to his wife and Ruth Paine upon his arrival. And that's despite the fact that Paine actually had some spare curtain rods in her garage. The same garage where Oswald stored his rifle. Around the time of the rifle's discovery on the sixth floor of the Book Depository, Captain William Fritz was apprised of Oswald's absence.
Fritz immediately left the building and returned to police headquarters. After escaping the Book Depository, Oswald boarded a bus right about here. But the assassination ground traffic to a halt, so Oswald soon left the bus and hailed a cab.
After returning to his rooming house in Oak Cliff, a neighborhood in southwestern Dallas, Oswald changed his clothes, grabbed a gun, and left in a hurry. Police Patrolman J.D. Tippit encountered Oswald some 45 minutes after the shooting a bit further south, right about here. As soon as Tippit stepped out of the vehicle, Oswald drew his gun and fired four shots in rapid succession. Oswald was then caught sneaking into a nearby movie theater without purchasing a ticket. A large contingent of officers descended upon the theater.
They surrounded the building, switched on the lights, and approached the suspect. Flanked by officers, Oswald drew a gun, and a brief scuffle ensued. But this time, he was quickly subdued, handcuffed, and taken to police headquarters back in downtown Dallas. Over the next two days, between his arrest and untimely death, Lee Harvey Oswald was interrogated by members of the Dallas Police, FBI, Secret Service, among others. None of it was recorded.
So no one knows exactly what was said inside this room. Instead, we have to settle for the cliff notes, and of especial interest to us is Oswald's alibi. [REPORTER] Did you shoot the President? [OSWALD] I didn't shoot anybody, no, sir. [REPORTER] You just heard Oswald who said he did not shoot anybody.
Oswald vehemently denied any involvement in the assassination. Instead, he claimed to have eaten lunch with two coworkers on the first floor of the Book Depository. One of them was a black coworker whose name Oswald could not recall. The other was James Jarman. But according to another interrogator, Oswald's claim was not to have eaten lunch with Jarman and this unnamed coworker but merely that he saw them pass through the lunchroom while he was eating. So, according to this version of events, Oswald's alibi was that he possibly saw two coworkers, one whose name he could not recall, enter and traverse the lunchroom, together or separately, during an unspecified period of time.
Whether Oswald claimed to have eaten lunch with or in proximity of his colleagues, it makes no difference because neither alibi could be substantiated. Instead, James Jarman had last seen Oswald taking an elevator upstairs sometime between 11:30 AM and 12:00 PM. William Shelley and Eddie Piper had last seen Oswald roaming about the first floor around noon. At which time, Oswald had told Piper that he was either "going out" or "going up" to eat lunch. Then there's the account of Charles Givens. You may recall that Givens is officially recognized as the last person inside the Book Depository known to have seen Oswald before the assassination.
Their encounter was fixed at 11:55 AM and is supposed to have taken place on the sixth floor. But prior to relating this version of events, Givens had reportedly told the FBI that he saw Oswald on the first floor at 11:50 AM. A statement which he later denied ever making. Either way, Oswald being on the first floor at noon does absolutely nothing to prevent him from being on the sixth half an hour later. Unless Carolyn Arnold is to be believed.
So, that would be about here. In a subsequent statement, Arnold claimed to have gone outside as late as 12:25 PM. Thereby pushing the time of her potential ground-floor sighting of Oswald as close as 5 minutes before the shooting. Putting aside the fact that her observation was described as a "fleeting glimpse" and that she could not be certain of the man's identity, Arnold herself would later deny it ever happened.
Instead, Arnold claimed that this encounter had actually taken place in the second-floor lunchroom. The problem with both of these accounts is that none of her colleagues reported anything remotely similar. Whether it was the first or second floor, Oswald was apparently invisible to everyone but Arnold. Besides, it took Arnold 15 years to relate her revised version of events.
Not ideal for such a time-sensitive issue. That being said, depending on what conspiracy theory you're willing to entertain, there are ways to interpret what Oswald told his interrogators so that it aligns with either one of Arnold's accounts. Take this one, for instance. This claim is interesting because, in the early days of the assassination, it appeared to be supported by photographic evidence.
But this figure was quickly identified as Billy Lovelady. A man who bore such a close resemblance to Oswald that, when footage of Oswald first appeared on television, Lovelady's stepchildren thought it was him. Now, speaking only for myself here, really? Am I missing something here because they're not exactly doppelgangers, right? Anyway, in recent years, another such figure, this time with even fewer pixels to work with, has, once again, been the subject of debate. Because this smudge of a person can't be positively identified, some believe it, therefore, must be Oswald.
On the other hand, Oswald explicitly denied watching the motorcade when he spoke with another interrogator. Not to mention that his presence outside went completely unnoticed by all those who did watch the motorcade. Now, there's one final account of Oswald's supposed alibi that stands out from the rest. It stands out because it really skirts the line of self-incrimination. If this is an accurate recollection of what Oswald said, he placed himself on a floor above the second at the time of the shooting.
While he neglected to mention which floor, he described a conversation between himself and an unnamed black coworker, which sounds remarkably similar to the one described by Charles Givens. This would mean that Oswald, seemingly by accident, placed himself on the sixth floor during the shooting. After that horribly confusing mishmash of stories, what have we learned? Well, Oswald appears to have contradicted himself by offering multiple alibis. It's also possible that what he said was misunderstood or otherwise misrepresented by the interrogation participants. As mentioned at the beginning of all this, we don't actually know what Oswald said. This is all based on second-hand accounts, related days, weeks, or even months after the assassination.
But the main takeaway has to be the lack of corroboration. With the exception of Carolyn Arnold, a highly unreliable witness, no one laid eyes on Oswald between roughly noon and the shooting. At least, no one inside the Book Depository. Among those who witnessed a sniper in the Sniper's Nest, Howard Brennan was the only one who thought he could identify the gunman.
At least, that's what he stated initially. Within a few hours of the shooting, Brennan had become far less certain. Brennan was then brought down to the basement of the police station to view a lineup of suspects. Among them was Oswald. So, that's not ideal.
While Brennan did pick Oswald from a lineup, that identification was far from certain. But, if Brennan is to be believed, this uncertainty was not genuine but merely an act intended to protect his family. So, according to Brennan, within a few hours of the assassination, he'd become concerned that it was the product of a communist conspiracy. He feared that, should he attempt to identify the gunman, he could become a target and thereby endanger his family.
So when Brennan was brought down to view a lineup later that evening, he feigned uncertainty to protect his family. At least, so he claimed. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether to believe or disbelieve Brennan's story.
On Sunday morning, November 24, Oswald was scheduled for transfer from the city to the county jail. Reporting from outside the police station, a local news correspondent couldn't help but to jinx the whole shebang. [REPORTER] Now, this is the armored truck that will carry Lee Harold Oswald from the basement here at Dallas police headquarters downtown to the Dallas County Sheriff's Office and the Dallas County jail.
Strict security precautions have been exercised from the very beginning and have been even increased this morning as fear arises and grows stronger that someone may attempt to take the life of the man accused of murdering the President of the United States. [REPORTER] He's been shot! He's been shot! Lee Oswald ha been shot! [CBS NEWS ANCHOR WALTER CRONKITE] The doctors at Parkland Hospital said that the single shot could scarcely have done more damage to a body than that shot did to Lee Harvey Oswald. It penetrated his spleen, his pancreas, the aorta, the kidney, and the liver. [DALLAS CHIEF OF POLICE JESSE CURRY] Oswald expired at 01:07 PM.
[REPORTER] He died? [CURRY] He died at 01:07 PM. We have arrested the man. The man will be charged with murder. [REPORTER] Who is he? [CURRY] The man- The suspect's name is Jack...
...Rubenstein, I believe. He goes by the name of Jack Ruby. That's all I have to say. Throughout this video, we've encountered witnesses who not only contradicted each other, but also themselves. Central to many arguments of conspiracy is that these contradictions represent attempts by the conspirators to conceal the truth. To give you an example, Charles Givens initially claimed to have seen Oswald on the first floor at 11:50 AM. Then he denied ever saying that and claimed to have spoken with Oswald on the sixth floor at 11:55 AM.
Some authors have found this change a bit too convenient and suspect that Givens was coerced to change his story by the conspirators. In support of that conclusion, we have this document in which Dallas Police Lieutenant Jack Revill said the following. About two months later, Givens did precisely that. He changed his story.
But let's have a think about this. According to this interpretation of events, the conspirators had free reign to dictate Givens's testimony. They could have told him what to say or, perhaps, rewritten his testimony after the fact. You may recall that that is precisely what Victoria Adams claimed and Carolyn Arnold implied earlier in the video. That someone had put words in their mouth by altering the written record. Okay, so wielding that near-limitless power, what words did the conspirators choose to put in the mouth of Givens? Well, they supposedly invented a brief conversation about lunch and elevators, away from the Sniper's Nest, more than half an hour before the shooting.
I guess, "I saw Oswald sitting in the Sniper's Nest", or even, "I saw Oswald carrying a large package heading for the Sniper's Nest", was a bit too on the nose? The same is of course true of every other witness in Dealey Plaza. Apart from the doubtful identification by Howard Brennan, no one could actually place Oswald in the Sniper's Nest at the time of the shooting. I really cannot stress this enough. It apparently did not occur to the conspirators to have at least one witness unambiguously identify Oswald as the assassin.
Better yet, take a photograph. For all this talk of witness coercion and evidence tampering, that seems like a bit of an oversight. What I'm trying to illustrate is that it's surprisingly trivial to pluck a stray document here, an unfounded allegation there, and sprinkle in some thoughts about means and motive, and you'll end up with a conspiracy theory that, at least on the surface, sounds convincing. Whether it's organized crime, a foreign government, or domestic agency, there's enough material here to make a compelling case against countless groups and individuals. Something upon which many authors, filmmakers, and others have capitalized to great success.
I don't know if all of them are right or wrong. This video clearly doesn't cover enough ground for me to determine that. But to ascribe a conspiratorial motive to anything remotely suspicious seems irresponsibly black-and-white for a case so clouded by shades of gray. A person acting in a way that's unlawful, unethical, untruthful does not prove they colluded in a plot to assassinate the President of the United States. Such thrilling leaps of conspiracy make for entertaining stories but that doesn't make them true.
Remember Thomas Alyea? He was the journalist filming on the sixth floor during the initial search for the assassin. Decades later, Alyea began accusing officers of tampering with the evidence, staging photographs, and lying under oath. The veracity of those allegations aside, the fascinating thing about Alyea is that he never believed Kennedy fell victim to a conspiracy. Alyea had a refreshingly nuanced take on the assassination by recognizing that evidence of corruption is not the same as evidence of conspiracy.
Sloppy police work neither began nor ended with the Kennedy assassination and people lie for all sorts of reasons. Loyalty, embarrassment, fear, pride, attention, power, money. There's no shortage of motivations to choose from.
Besides, what kind of clueless masterminds would allow a cameraman to casually film their supposed cover-up? Something I found myself doing a lot while making this video was attempting to view the assassination from the perspective of the alleged conspirators. You could, for instance, question the logic of placing an assassin in this specific window. A window in which he ran the risk of being caught red-handed by other workers inside the building.
A window in which he could have easily been and actually was spotted by spectators and the approaching motorcade. A window from which his view was partially obstructed... ...by a tree. You could also question the logic of using a sniper to shoot at a moving target in the first place. Especially when that person had a tendency to stand still in very exposed public places. If Oswald acted alone and the assassination was a crime of opportunity, these less-than-ideal choices start to make a lot more sense.
He found himself at the right place at the right time, had mere days to prepare, and used the only building to which he had access. But for a group of conspirators to handicap their own assassination plot, requires a bit more ingenuity to explain. He was a patsy, he was supposed to get caught, there were multiple assassins, you know the drill. But there's so much of that in this case. So much had to go just right for a conspiracy and the subsequent cover-up to succeed. From the roundabout process by which Oswald was hired at the Book Depository to the selection of the motorcade route.
From Oswald's narrow escape and subsequent arrest to him being given multiple chances to speak with the press. From the supposed tampering, suppression, and planting of evidence to dozens of expert witnesses being successfully fooled or coaxed to lie under oath. Not only would a plan as complex and prolonged as this one have been difficult to predict with countless points of failure but it seems, and, excuse my language here, a bit overkill. Yes, Kennedy was the President of the United Stated but he was not exactly difficult to access. He was rather famous for abandoning his Secret Service detail and wandering off into crowds.
In fact, that's precisely what he did on multiple occasions during this very trip. [REPORTER] ...shake hands with one or two more people. But this is the moment where the Secret Service has its point of tension. They say, "When the President stops moving, that's when we're concerned because that is when the possibility of trouble comes to the forefront."
This was one of those impromptu moments for which President Kennedy is so well-known. So many times, you have heard that the Secret Service men suddenly find themselves without the President, that, suddenly, he has left them and stepped into the crowd and decided to shake hands and give his personal greetings. You could say, perhaps, that this is