Business as usual or meet the lone gunman(UA-66627984-1)

Dallas Police Department

Lee Harvey Oswald’s Paraffin Casts

Lee Harvey Oswald’s Paraffin Casts.

 

The paraffin casts are interesting as it appeared to be able to confirm whether Oswald had fired a weapon or not. I will share all my available information that I have managed to gather and my special thanks go to Malcolm Blunt for the documentation. I thank Terry Martin for the scans of the hallway photographs. I also used documents from NARAMFFAARC, History Matters and UNT.

Joseph L Thimes on gunshot wounds and their residue tests. This four page summarisation is a great way to familiarise yourself with the subject matter at hand. Also some article and book excerpts on the paraffin casts and its tests, from Malcolm Blunt Archive, are worth checking out as well. At the Weisberg Archive is a chronology of some of the reports and DPD statements released by Dallas Police. Jesse Curry and C.W. Brown seem to be most vocal about the tests.

The Warren Report on the paraffin casts

The Warren Report states on page 561: In fact, however, the test is completely unreliable in determining either whether a person has recently fired a weapon or whether he has not.

A positive reaction is, therefore, valueless in determining whether a suspect has recently fired a weapon. Conversely, a person who has recently fired a weapon may not show a positive reaction to the paraffin test, particularly if the weapon was a rifle. A revolver is so constructed that there is a space between the cylinder, which bears the chambers, and the barrel. When a revolver is fired, nitrate-bearing gases escape through this space and may leave residues on the hand. In a rifle, however, there is no gap between the chamber and the barrel, and one would therefore not expect nitrates to be deposited upon a person’s hands or cheeks as a result of his firing a rifle.

An agent of the FBI, using the C2766 rifle, fired three rounds of Western 6.5-millimeter Mannlicher-Carcano ammunition in rapid succession. A paraffin test was then performed on both of his hands and his right cheek. Both of his hands and his cheek tested negative.
The paraffin casts of Oswald’s hands and right cheek were also examined by neutron-activation analyses at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Barium and antimony were found to be present on both surfaces of all the casts and also in residues from the rifle cartridge cases and the revolver cartridge cases.  Since barium and antimony were present in both the rifle and the revolver cartridge cases, their presence on the casts were not evidence that Oswald had fired the rifle.

In short the Warren Commission wasn’t too impressed with the paraffin tests from an evidentiary point of view. Oswald, while working at the TSBD that morning definitely had gotten into contact with printing ink (nitrates). Which would have been enough to have contaminated the paraffin test from the beginning.

W.E. Barnes

 

Jim Murray/Black Star. Scanned by Terry Martin/ROKC from the Richard E Sprague archive at NARA.

When W.E. Barnes is photographed in the corridor after applying the casts it becomes clear that he has an empty(!) tin of wax in his hands (here is a close-up), but there are no paraffin casts on display, allegedly he dropped these off on the fourth floor, as per his  WC testimony, and the three of them did their appearance in the corridor with the evidence afterwards.

Mr. BELIN. At the time you carried back the paraffin casts?
Mr. BARNES. No. We came back and got the palm prints after I delivered the paraffin tests upstairs. 

W.E. ‘Pete’ Barnes and his empty tin of paraffin wax. Pic.: Ft Worth Star Telegram.

 

Effectiveness of a paraffin cast on a cheek to determine whether a rifle had been fired

  • W. E. ‘Pete’ Barnes who had been doing these tests for quite a few years, had not applied this test to a suspect’s face ever before. He did this test on orders of Will Fritz. And it would not have made any difference in determining whether Oswald had fired a rifle that day! For this I refer you to Barnes’ W.C. testimony.

Mr. BELIN. Well, let me ask you this. Of the paraffin tests that you have made, how many have you made of a cheek or cheeks?

Mr. BARNES. One.

Mr. BELIN. Was that with Lee Harvey Oswald?

Mr. BARNES. It was.

Mr. BELIN. Other than that, you have never made a paraffin test of anyone’s cheek?

Mr. BARNES. No.

Mr. BELIN. Any particular reason why you might not have in any other case?

Mr. BARNES. It has never been requested of me before.

Mr. BELIN. Based on your knowledge and information about the science of paraffin tests, do you know whether or not it is a common practice or not a common practice to make it of one cheek?

Mr. BARNES. It is not a common practice.

Mr. BELIN. Any particular reason it is not a common practice that you can think of or know of?

Mr. BARNES. Firing a revolver, should he fire a revolver, I would say the revolver most likely would be far enough away where powder residue wouldn’t reach his cheek.

Mr. BELIN. What about a rifle?

Mr. BARNES. Firing a rifle, you get your chamber enclosed with steel metal around it, and the chances of powder residue would be very remote.

Mr. BELIN. Have you fired a bolt-action rifle at all before?

Mr. BARNES. Many times.

Mr. BELIN. How close would the chamber be to the cheek as you would be looking through the sight of the gun?

Mr. BARNES. Be several inches to the rear of the chamber.

Mr. BELIN. Would this have any effect on the paraffin test at all?

Mr. BARNES. It sure would.

Mr. BELIN. What about telescopic sights? Would that push your face back further or not?

Mr. BARNES. Push it even further back.

Mr. BELIN. Would this have an effect on the paraffin test?

Mr. BARNES. The further you get from the chamber, the less possibility of getting powder residue on it would be.

A little later during the same testimony.

Mr. BELIN. Did Lee Harvey Oswald say anything to you as you were removing these casts, that you remember?

Mr. BARNES. Very little, other than what I repeated to you before, that he knew what I was trying to do, and that I was wasting my time that he didn’t know anything about what we were accusing him of.

Barnes is also quoted in a summarisation of a DPD/WC document that taking a paraffin cast of Oswald’s hand was ok with him.

  • Carl Day says pretty much the same during his C. testimony:

Mr. DAY. I directed them to make it, and also paraffin casts or just of a piece of paraffin on the left side of the face to see if there were any nitrates there.

Mr. BELIN. On the left side or right side of the face?

Mr. DAY. Right side.

Mr. BELIN. Do you know what the results of the paraffin tests were?

Mr. DAY. The test on the face was negative.

Mr. BELIN. Had you ever done a paraffin test on a face before?

Mr. DAY. No; actually–had it not been for the particular type of case and this particular situation here we would not have at this time. It was just something that was done to actually keep from someone saying later on, “Why didn’t you do it?” Actually, in my experience there, shooting a rifle with a telescopic sight there would be no chance for nitrates to get way back or on the side of the face from a rifle.

Mr. BALL. Is it usual to find any trace of nitrate on the face if a rifle has been fired? 
Mr. HICKS. That is the first time that I had the opportunity to make a paraffin test on a person’s face.
Mr. BALL. You never made one before?
Mr. HICKS. Never before.
Mr. BALL. The other tests were always on the hands?
Mr. HICKS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. Was there some reason for that?
Mr. HICKS. I had never had the occasion arise that I know of where anyone had that suggested, that a paraffin test be made of a cheek. On other occasions they were only interested in the hand.

The admissions during the W.C. testimonies of Barnes and Day mean that the paraffin cast of Oswald’s right cheek was not going to give them the confirmation of Oswald’s connect to the rifle.

Paraffin test before or after fingerprints?

Then there is the small, but pivotal matter of whether the fingerprints and palm print were taken before the paraffin tests. During Barnes’ testimony something jumps out. And that is whether the finger prints and palm prints were administered before or after the paraffin tests. If they did them before then these paraffin tests would have been useless from the beginning due to the nitrates from the ink being present.

Mr. BELIN. Sergeant, did you make any other tests or obtain any other evidence or information from Lee Harvey Oswald other than the paraffin that you made?
Mr. BARNES. I obtained palm prints from Lee Harvey Oswald.
Mr. BELIN. When did you do this?
Mr. BARNES. Immediately before we made—no, immediately after, I am sorry, immediately after we made the paraffin test.
Mr. BELIN. I would assume you did it afterwards?
Mr. BARNES. That is right. It was after we made the tests. 

According to Ramparts Magazine (page 4), Oswald had his palm prints and finger prints taken before those paraffin tests. In a report submitted by Richard Sims and Elmer Boyd it states that the fingerprints were taken before the paraffin casts.

Barnes is also interviewed for the HSCA on April 17th 1978. And he does not misspeak again and sticks to the order of the paraffin casts being taken first on Oswald and then having his finger and palm prints taken. At the end of the statement it says that J.B. Hicks was not present to be interviewed since he had left town to go fishing.

What happened with the casts?

The paraffin casts are sent in three envelopes to DCCCIL at Parkland hospital by George Doughty (page 5). The results from these tests are not obtained until the next day. In this ten page report it is brought forward that the results are showing nitrate patterns consistent with the subject having discharged a firearm on exhibits #2 and #3. A pattern on exhibit #3 is typical of the patterns produced in firing a revolver. None of these point to Oswald firing a rifle. Nor are they able to differentiate the powder residues, after a Neutron Activation Analysis, to see which particles are from a revolver or from a rifle. There is more additional technical info from Vincent Guinn and articles here. Guinn himself defends the work he and others have done in a newspaper article on Oct 13 1964.

The FBI also releases a report in the afternoon of Nov 23rd which states the same. The FBI earlier that day is keen to obtain the test results for section Chief Jim Handley. The second page is peculiar as it states the paraffin tests were taken at 10:45 AM and that a doctor was present who conducted it!

The findings get repeated in another FBI document alongside the mention of Louie L Anderson, of the Dallas City Council Criminal Investigative Laboratory who washed and taken the paraffin casts home since they were marked to be discarded.

Norman Redlich writes to his fellow Warren Commission member Allen Dulles on July 2nd  1964 and states rather concisely what the Neutron Activation Analysis had managed to achive. Which is not much.

Marrion Johnson of NARA confirms on Feb 3 1966 (page 2) that he has examined seven pieces of paraffin cast and an empty wax tin among the FBI evidence exhibits.

In conclusion, there was not a shred of evidence that tied Oswald to the rifle, not the fingerprints, the palm prints nor the nitrate tests.

Add on that the DPD had no clue about the Hidell ID on the 22nd what did they actually have to charge Oswald with the murder of John Kennedy? Nothing!

Dave Methany – Minnesota Daily Feb 20 1964 Click to enlarge.

Lee Harvey Oswald’s Palm Prints

Lee Harvey Oswald’s Palm Prints.

 

The palm print is of major interest and that is because eventually Oswald’s palm print was linked to the rifle, but before it got to that it went through some interesting moves. I will share all my available information that I have managed to gather and my special thanks go to Malcolm Blunt for some of the documentation, Terry Martin for the scans of the hallway photographs. Also NARAMFFAARC and UNT. And additional research by Michael T GriffithHarold WeisbergHenry Hurt and David Lifton. Sylvia Meagher is one of the very first ones, in Dec. 1964, who writes about this.

The palm print cards.

There are two sets of Nov. 22nd palm prints known to me. Both signed by Hicks, and referred to as CE 735 & 736. A better quality set is also at the Malcolm Blunt archive in a FBI report from May 19 1978.

Then at UNT, the second set (left & right) is also signed again by Hicks and the images are referred to as the Commission Exhibits. This means that these photos come from the WC and are not reproductions from the DPD themselves. The black edging and numbering give that away. These sets are not originals.

These sets differ from each other once you check the annotations and the positions of the printed fingers of the palm prints in the photographic reproductions.

Carl Day and the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle.

Taking a closer look at Carl Day and his statements about the alleged palm print lift. It was allegedly underneath the barrel and ‘protected’ by the wood stock. Day was the only person who handled the rifle.

Lieutenant Day is seen in this Helmer Reenberg compilation of various clips handling the weapon on the sixth floor of the TSBD, near the front entrance and inside the third floor corridor of the DPD. Below a set of photos of Day in the third floor corridor on his way to Room 317 of Robbery & Homicide which was Will Fritz’s office and where Marina Oswald was to be shown the rifle for identification. She was of no help to them. There are no reports of Marina positively identifying the rifle there and then.

In his W.C. testimony he explains where he found the print and what happened during the process of developing the palm print.

Mr. DAY. I took it to the office and tried to bring out the two prints I had seen on the side of the gun at the bookstore. They still were rather unclear. Due to the roughness of the metal, I photographed them rather than try to lift them. I could also see a trace of a print on the side of the barrel that extended under the woodstock. I started to take the woodstock off and noted traces of a palmprint near the firing end of the barrel about 3 inches under the wood-stock when I took the woodstock loose.
Mr. BELIN. You mean 3 inches from the small end of the woodstock?
Mr. DAY. Right–yes, sir.
Mr. McCLOY. From the firing end of the barrel, you mean the muzzle?
Mr. DAY. The muzzle; yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Let me clarify the record. By that you mean you found it on the metal or you mean you found it on the wood?
Mr. DAY. On the metal, after removing the wood.
Mr. BELIN. The wood. You removed the wood, and then underneath the wood is where you found the print?
Mr. DAY. On the bottom side of the barrel which was covered by the wood, I found traces of a palmprint. I dusted these and tried lifting them, the prints, with scotch tape in the usual manner. A faint palmprint came off. I could still see traces of the print under the barrel and was going to try to use photography to bring off or bring out a better print. About this time I received instructions from the chief’s office to go no further with the processing, it was to be released to the FBI for them to complete. I did not process the underside of the barrel under the scopic sight, did not get to this area of the gun.

Mr. BELIN. At what time did these same photographs which are the same as Commission Exhibit 720 and 721 of this print—-
Mr. DAY. About 8 o’clock, somewhere around 8 o’clock, in that neighbourhood.
Mr. BELIN. Of what date?
Mr. DAY. November 22, 1963.
Mr. BELIN. What about the lift which has previously been marked as Commission Exhibit 637?
Mr. DAY. About what?
Mr. BELIN. When did you turn that over to the FBI?
Mr. DAY. I released that to them on November 26, 1963. I did not release this—-
Mr. BELIN. You are referring now—-
Mr. DAY. On November 22.
Mr. BELIN. You are referring to Commission Exhibit 637?
Mr. DAY. Yes.
Mr. BELIN. Is there any particular reason why this was not released on the 22d?
Mr. DAY. The gun was being sent in to them for process of prints. Actually I thought the print on the gun was their best bet, still remained on there, and, too, there was another print, I thought possibly under the wood part up near the trigger housing.
Mr. BELIN. You mean the remaining traces of the powder you had when you got the lift, Exhibit 637, is that what you mean by the lift of the remaining print on the gun?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. Actually it was dried ridges on there. There were traces of ridges still on the gun barrel.
Mr. BELIN. Can you tell the circumstances under which you sent Commission Exhibit No. 637 to the FBI?
Mr. DAY. We released certain evidence to the FBI, including the gun, on November 22. It was returned to us on November 24. Then on November 26 we received instructions to send back to the FBI everything that we had.
Mr. BELIN. Did you do that?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir; and at that time I sent the lift marked—-
Mr. BELIN. 637.

But then Day admits photographing the rifle again. He had another chance to photograph the rifle but did not bother about that all important lift again!

Mr. BELIN. I am now going to hand you No. 737 and ask you to state if you know what this is.
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir. This is the rifle found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository November 22, 1963.
Mr. BELIN. Who took that picture?
Mr. DAY. I took it myself.
Mr. BELIN. When?
Mr. DAY. About 9 or 9:30 p.m., November 22, on the fourth floor of the City Hall in my office.

Carl Day and the Mannlicher Carcano. Click to enlarge.

Day will not confirm for 100% that Oswald’s palm print is CE 637 without checking it first.

Mr. BELIN. Based on your experience, I will ask you now for a definitive statement as to whether or not you can positively identify the print shown on Commission Commission Exhibit No. 637 as being from the right palm of Lee Harvey Oswald as shown on Commission Exhibit 629?
Mr. DAY. Maybe I shouldn’t absolutely make a positive statement without further checking that. I think it is his, but I would have to sit down and take two glasses to make an additional comparison before I would say absolutely, excluding all possibility, it is. I think it is, but I would have to do some more work on that.

He is questioned about the palm print at the very end by John J McCloy and his statement is very telling.

Mr. McCLOY. Can you restate again for the record what you can positively identify in terms of fingerprints or palm prints and Oswald’s—-
Mr. DAY. The palmprint on the box he apparently sat on I can definitely say it is his without being in fear of any error. The other, I think it is his, but I couldn’t say definitely on a witness stand.
Mr. McCLOY. By the other, you mean the other palmprint?
Mr. DAY. The palmprint and that tracer print aside the trigger housing or the magazine housing.

In an FBI interview from Sept. 9 1964 J.C. Day states on page 4: It appeared probable these prints were from the right palm and fingers of Lee Harvey Oswald, but the rifle was released to the FBI, to be sent to Washington, D .C. before the examination was completed and positive identification of the prints could be made. The prints were not very good for comparison purposes.

Later on he states that after the palm print lift he only told Jessy Curry and Will Fritz about it that evening. He was not able to state the exact time of the discovery nor when he relayed the result to Curry and Fritz. He only knows it is prior Vincent Drain’s collection of the evidence. Yet Curry is asked about the fingerprints that same evening and Will Fritz early on the 23rd and both answered negative.

Hard to believe this as Fritz would have used this there and then since he had nothing that tied Oswald to the rifle at that time. On Dec. 23 1963 Will Fritz has a report made up about the evidence and the palm print is briefly summarised in it. All irregularities are swept under the carpet.

Carl Day and the Mannlicher-Carcano. Click to enlarge.

In Carl Day’s HSCA interview on Oct. 18 1977 he states that Will Fritz ordered him to bring it downstairs and display it to Marina Oswald. Day could not understand whether she recognised the rifle or not. Only after his return to the fourth floor does he ‘discover’ part of a print on the metal bit underneath the barrel where it sits on the stock.

Will Fritz tells him twice to stop as the FBI is taking the rifle with them. No mention of Jesse Curry who was originally stated as the man who told Day to cease his work on the rifle.

He did not give the FBI the print lift as he thought the FBI would do a better job. When the rifle returns to Dallas, Day is disappointed that the FBI did not find the print on the barrel. And once the FBI requires the rifle to be sent back again. Day sent the print lift alongside with the rifle.

He did not make a positive ID with the print he lifted off the barrel as belonging to Oswald. He felt (!) it was Oswald’s, but would not have testified that it was, under oath without further examination.

 Henry Hurt for his book Reasonable Doubt interviewed Carl Day and Vince Drain in 1984 (page 109). Day remains adamant that the Oswald print was on the rifle when he first examined it a few hours after the shooting. Moreover, Day stated that when he gave the rifle to Agent Drain, he pointed out to the FBI man both the area where the print could be seen and the fingerprint dust used to bring it out. Lieutenant Day states that he cautioned Drain to be sure the area was not disturbed while the rifle was in transit to the FBI laboratory. Drain flatly disputes this, claiming that Day never showed him such a print. “I just don’t believe there was ever a print,” said Drain. He noted that there was increasing pressure on the Dallas police to build evidence in the case. Asked to explain what might have happened, Agent Drain stated, “All I can figure is that it [Oswald’s print] was some sort of cushion, because they were getting a lot of heat by Sunday night. You could take the print off Oswald’s card and put it on the rifle. Something like that happened.”

In First Day Evidence by Gary Savage & Rusty Livingstone Savage writes Captain Doughty came in at about 20:30 – 21:00 hrs and told Day to stop working on the rifle (p 108).

Also in the book, on page 108, “He then placed a strip of 2” scotch tape over the developed print and rubbed it down before finally lifting the tape containing the print off and placed it on a card. He said he then compared the lift to Oswald’s palm print card and was certain (!) that it was Oswald’s. He also said that after the lift, he could still see an impression of the palm print left on the barrel.

This is hard to believe when Day stated previously stated that he did not do such a thing.

Next, Lieutenant Day had intended to photograph the area of the rifle barrel from which the palm print lift had been made, but was again interrupted by Captain Doughty at about 10:00 pm. He was told once again to stop working on the gun and release it to FBI Agent Drain, who would arrive about 11:30 pm. Lieutenant Day did not have time to write any reports about what he had found, but did have time to reassemble the rifle before Drain arrived.

 So we have a third person entering the fold as to teling Day to stop working on the rifle! He is at first told by Will Fritz to cease working on the rifle, then Max Doughty tells him twice at 22:00 and then in a statement made by Day to the FBI (page 5) he said that the call from Jesse Curry to get the evidence ready for the FBI to collect came just before midnight! Curry btw makes no mention of this in any of his WC testimony.

Day said that a few days after the evidence was turned over, an FBI agent came to his house. He wanted too know when Lieutenant Day had lifted the palm print included in the evidence they had received because they had positively identified it themselves as Oswald’s palm print. Lieutenant Day got the impression that they had missed it and he could “envision J Edgar Hoover going into orbit.” (pages 109&110).

Lieutenant Day believed at the time that he had not completely obliterated the palm print on the barrel after his lift and later stated he had pointed out the area of the palm print to FBI agent Drain when turning the rifle over to him. Drain on the other hand did not recall being show the palm print (page 110).

 In this ARRB document from Dec. 19 1996 they question the course of the narrative regarding the palm print and the lack of contemporaneous evidence and wonder whether they should question Carl Day again.

Henry Wade.

It is Dallas DA Henry Wade who mentions the alleged palm prints first and that is during the press conference on Nov 24, while Oswald is dead.

 The FBI.

he FBI‘s Vincent Drain collects the rifle. Day and others reports state that he handed the rifle over to Drain at 23:45. This time is hard to accept as being correct. When Oswald speaks to the press at 00:15 he is still wearing his shirt. That shirt was part of the collection of evidence taken by Drain to Washington. Furthermore Henry Wade held a press conference after Oswald’s and Drain is seen standing next to Wade. The earliest Drain could have collected it and taken it away with him would have been 00:30.

The FBI (J Edgar Hoover) writes on Nov. 23rd to DPD Chief Jesse Curry and have found nothing. He states the following on page 7: The latent prints appearing in the photograph taken of the rifle K1, by the Dallas Police Department, are too fragmentary and indistinct to be of any value for identification purposes. Photographs of this weapon taken by this Bureau have failed to produce prints of sufficient legibility for comparison purposes.

After processing the rifle the FBI returns the rifle to the Dallas Police on Nov. 24. The FBI could not find anything, but the DPD produces a palm print lift four days after the evidence has travelled back and forth from Dallas to Washington already.

Then the evidence is turned back over to the FBI by Carl Day to Vincent Drain on Nov. 26th. And this time the palm print lift is included with the rest of the evidence. The official report by Day.

The FBI states in a report, titled “LATENT FINGERPRINTS EXAMINATIONS”, from Nov. 28 that fingerprints and palm prints have been discovered on certain items, but there is no mention of any found on the rifle.

On Nov 29. 1963 the rifle is back in FBI custody after it had been back in DPD custody from Nov 24.

In this report by the ARRB all rifle transporations are logged.

The FBI on Feb. 23 1964 questions the initial missing photographs of the palm print (page 2).

Sebastian Latona.

Sebastian Latona, who is the FBI’s supervisor of the latent fingerprint section of the identity division, in his WC testimony states the following about the quality of the weapon and its connection to fingerprints:

 

Representative BOGGS. Now, does a weapon lend itself to retaining fingerprints?

Mr. LATONA. This particular weapon here, first of all, in my opinion, the metal is very poorly finished. It is absorbent. Believe it or not, there is a certain amount of absorption into this metal itself. It is not finished in the sense that it is highly polished.

Representative BOGGS. So this would be conducive to getting a good print, or would it?

Mr. LATONA. It would not.

Representative BOGGS. I see-because it would absorb the moisture.

Mr. LATONA. That’s right. Now, there are other guns-for example, Smith and Wesson, which have exceptionally nice finishes, the blue metal finishes are better surfaces for latent prints. Where you have a nickel-plated or silver plated revolvers, where it is smooth-they are much more conducive to latent prints than some of these other things, say like the army type, the weapons used in wartime that are dull, to avoid reflection-things of that type-they are not as good.

Latona has various photographs taken of the rifle and also looks for any other prints.

So I made arrangements to immediately have a photographer come in and see if he could improve on the photographs that were taken by the Dallas Police Department. Well, we spent, between the two of us, setting up the camera, looking at prints,… highlighting, sidelighting, every type of lighting that we could conceivably think of, checking back and forth in the darkroom-we could not improve the condition of these latent prints. So, accordingly, the final conclusion was simply that the latent print on this gun was of no value, the fragments that were there. After that had been determined, I then proceeded to completely process the entire rifle, to see if there were any other prints of any significance or value any prints of value I would not know what the significance would be, but to see if there were any other prints. I completely covered the rifle.

Then he is asked whether he dusted the rifle himself.

Mr. EISENBERG. We will get other evidence in the record at a subsequent time to shon those were the prints of Oswald. Mr. Latona you were saying that you had worked over that rifle by applying a gray powder to it. Did you develop any fingerprints?

Mr. LATONA. I was not successful in developing any prints at all on the weapon. I also had one of the firearms examiners dismantle the weapon and I processed the complete weapon, all parts, everything else. And no latent prints of value were developed.

When it comes to the palm print Latona’s testimony confirms that they had no knowledge of it until seven days after the murder. They only knew of the trigger guard prints wrapped in cellophane. Nor did he see any trace of markings of a lifting on the gun.

Mr. EISENBERG. Now, Mr. Latona, as I understand it, on November 23, ‘therefore, the FBI had not succeeded in making an identification of a fingerprint or palmprint on the rifle, but several days later virtue of the receipt of this lift, which did not come with the weapon originally, the FBI did succeed in identifying a print on Exhibit 1303

Mr. LATONA. That is right.

Mr. EISENBERG. Which may explain any inconsistent or apparently inconsistent statements, which I believe appeared in the press, as to an identification?

Mr. LATONA. We had no personal knowledge of any palmprint having been developed on the rifle. The only prints that we knew of were the fragmentary prints which I previously pointed out had been indicated by the cellophane on the trigger guard. There was no indication on this rifle as to the existence of any other prints. This print which indicates it came from the underside of the gun barrel, evidently the lifting had heen so complete that there was nothing left to show any marking on the gun itself as to the existence of such even an attempt on the part of anyone else to process the rifle.

Mr. DULLES. Do I understand then that if there is a lifting of this kind, that it may obliterate—

Mr. LATONA. Completely.

Mr. DULLES. The original print?

Mr. LATONA. That is right.

Mr. EISENBERG. So that you personally,

Mr. Latona, did not know anything about a print being on the rifle which was identifiable until you received, actually received the lift, Exhibit 637?

Mr. LATONA. On the 29th of November.

Mr. EISENBERG. Seven days after the assassination. And in the intervening period, correspondicgly, the FBI had no such knowledge?

Mr. LATONA. As far as I know.

The WC and the FBI try to iron out the creases.

On Aug 28 1964 Wesley Liebeler reports to J Lee Rankin and mentions the Carl Day’s WC testimony and points out the issues regarding the lift of the palm print. He makes mention of FBI agent Sebastian Latona who makes contradicting statements about the barrel, the fingerprint powder, the prints and the lack thereof.

On Aug 28 1964 in a FBI document to Alan Belmont it is noted that the Warren Commission has some questions about the timing of the actual lift of the palm print. They also wonder aloud whether Day had taken actual photographs of the lift or the barrel and this is something he had not done.

In WC Exhibit 2637, a letter from J Edgar Hoover on Sep 4 1964 to J Lee Rankin. Hoover states that the attached photos of the palm print are the ones that were found under the barrel of the rifle.

In a DOJ document of Sep 11 1964 Day is mentioned as having lifted the palm print and that it belonged to Oswald. And that the FBI also tested it and came to the same conclusion. This record is based on the Sep 9 interview (see previous paragraph) of Carl Day by the FBI.

And when the Warren report is published the whole ‘discovery of the palm print’ is rubber stamped.

 

 

Related: Lee Harvey Oswald’s Fingerprints.

Lee Harvey Oswald’s Fingerprints

Lee Harvey Oswald’s Fingerprints.

 

Updated Dec 12 2022 with Nov 23 fingerprint info.

Updated Dec 14 2022 I have sectioned the piece and grouped content and also added some more additional text.

This is a chapter I, at first, did not want to write, and it shows as I started to type some things down on this matter over four years ago. This is part 1 of 3 about Lee Harvey Oswald’s fingerprints. The palm prints and the nitrate test are the other two. In this I will share all my available information that I have managed to gather and my special thanks go to Malcolm Blunt for the documentation, Terry Martin for the scans of the hallway photographs. Also NARA, MFF, AARC, History Matters and UNT. And research by Michael T Griffith, Harold Weisberg, Henry Hurt and David Lifton.

In this WC draft document (pages 1-3) they present their side of this fake story. Here’s mine.

There have been quite a few researchers discussing the finger prints in conjunction with the rifle. A good one is a letter from Michael T Griffith to the ARRB in Dec 1996, this shows how there were no finger & palm prints that evening tying the rifle to Lee Oswald!

In the 1980’s Jerry D. Rose tried to dig into this with articles in Penn Jones’ The Continuing Inquiry in April 1984 and also in a follow up article in The Third Decade in May of 1985. The annotations are not mine in case you are wondering. They are Harry Livingstone’s. By reading both these articles and combining these with the photographs of the fingerprints that are now available from UNT we are a little wiser, yet some issues remain.

Oswald is being visited in Will Fritz’s office by Captain George “Max” Doughty, Detective J.B. “Johnny” Hicks and Sergeant William E “Pete” Barnes. They arrived to take Oswald’s finger and palm prints, but also apply a nitrate test to determine whether he had fired a rifle.

The Search for the Original Fingerprints sets.

Only a few of the fingerprint sets are available to see publicly in archives and as Warren Commission Exhibits. Original sets that have been digitally reproduced are yellowish in colour. Some are at The Portal to Texas History. Further investigation of those sets shows that not one of the Oswald inked & original fingerprint sets seem to be from Nov 22nd. They only have reproductions of WC exhibits in their archives for that date.

One of the first to report on any fingerprints is Nat Pinkston in his late afternoon report of the 22nd. Day has found a partial print and he wishes to photograph it before it gets lifted.

There is a set of photos made by Jim Murray/Blackstar of the three above mentioned policemen holding Oswald’s fingerprints, palm prints and paraffin test tools. They are paraded around the third floor corridor for the world press to see. The policemen appear out of Room 317 one at a time. W.E. Barnes holds the palm prints, George Doughty shows two fingerprint cards and J.B. Hicks carries an empty tin of wax a brush, a small jar and a scraper.

Careful study of the fingerprint sets put on display by the DPD in the third floor corridor show these sets in enough detail of the prints themselves to ascertain where they are positioned on the fingerprint card. This is based on the comparison with the 5 rows wide and 2 rows down squares printed on the cards and the positions of certain fingerprints of Oswald on these cards.

At first, with just the above linked photos available, I was under the impression that Doughty showed off just one set of fingerprints.

Captain George Doughty with Lee Harvey Oswald’s finger print cards. Photos: Jim Murray/Black Star. Scans by Terry Martin for ROKC from the National Archives in the Richard E. Sprague Collection. Click to enlarge.

A video of this scene in the 3rd floor corridor shows that there are two cards shown. But I can only see one set due to the angle of the camera.

As luck would have it, in Malcolm Blunt’s archive, in a folder titled ‘Newspapers’, I come across the second set. Photographed up close by a news photographer from that opposite angle. And again that set of prints cannot be reconciled with any of the known fingerprint cards that are publicly available in any archive, nor are they presented as Commission Exhibits.

Lt. George Doughty showing off the second set of fingerprints. Thanks to Malcolm Blunt. Click to enlarge.

I came across another set of finger prints also signed by J.B. Hicks, this set is known as CE 627, but is not part of one of the sets shown that evening to the press.

While the HSCA was active a record is made on Jul 7 1978. It states that the original fingerprints and palm prints cannot be found in the archives. While scanning documents from Malcolm Blunt I came across three pages of which two were RIF sheets (ending with 48 and 49) and a cover sheet which states that the files have been withdrawn. After looking at these more carefully I can state that the RIF sheet ending with 49 is the same as the file stored online at the National Archives. But the RIF sheets are not equal as to the font used, check for yourself and compare the one below with the one at the link. The file with the RIF number ending with 48 is nowhere to be found. It gets no mention in Google and this in combination with cover sheet that the file consisting of four pages has been withdrawn by the F.B.I.  Now what is so compromising in those four pages for the file to disappear?

From thereon a search ensues and some are eventually found. The find of these fingerprints, shown on the next page, and the palm prints in the FBI archives described in this undated FBI document is quite something and you wonder whether the other two sets suffered a similar fate and not re-appearing.

During Carl Day’s W.C. testimony however it appears that he had these original sets with him. So what happened to the originals?

Mr. BELIN. With the permission of Commissioner McCloy, would it be possible to have Xerox copies substituted for these so that the original can go back with Lieutenant Day?
Mr. McCLOY. Yes.
Mr. BELIN. As I understand it, these are the last original copies you have of palm prints of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Mr. DAY. Yes.
Mr. BELIN. Were you there when these prints were made?
Mr. DAY. No, sir. The prints that were made in my presence, which I compared with these, I can state are his, were sent to the FBI.
Mr. BELIN. Would these be the same prints as shown on Commission Exhibit 628 and 629?
Mr. DAY. No, sir. They are still not the originals. They had my name on it when I saw them sign it. But I did compare these with ones I saw made personally of Oswald, and I can say this is his left hand, his left palm, and his right palm.
Mr. BELIN. So you are saying 735 and 736 are his right and left palms. What about 628 and 629?
Mr. DAY. 629 is the right palm, and 628 is the left palm of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Mr. BELIN. What about 627, can you state what that is, if you know?
Mr. DAY. That is a set of fingerprints, standard set of fingerprints, of Lee Harvey Oswald taken by Detective J. B. Hicks on November 22, 1963.
Mr. BELIN. You have just examined these with your magnifying glass, is that correct?
Mr. DAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. And you so identify these?
Mr. DAY. They are the fingerprints of Lee Harvey Oswald, whose palm prints appear in 735 and 736.

Fingerprints of Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov 22 signed by J.B. Hicks. Undated FBI document (page 6) from the Malcolm Blunt archives.

The signature of Lee Harvey Oswald on that card, is not his own. Oswald would not sign any of the fingerprint cards, so the DPD did it for him.

W.E Barnes in his WC testimony.

Mr. BELIN. Did he request that he have an attorney present at all, or not?
Mr. BARNES. He didn’t request one. He would not sign the fingerprint card when I asked him. We have a place on this card for the prisoner’s signature, and I asked him would he please sign that, and he said he wouldn’t sign anything until he talked to an attorney.
Mr. BELIN. Did he ask for an attorney or say anything about an attorney when you took the paraffin test?
Mr. BARNES. None to me.
Mr. BELIN. What did you say when he said he would not sign the fingerprint card?
Mr. BARNES. That was all right with me.

Mr. BELIN. Did you just take the palm prints, or did you also take fingerprints?
Mr. BARNES. We took both.

Then there are inkless fingerprints, of which there is a set at UNT, these were also made by J.B. Hicks.

Lee Harvey Oswald – Ink free fingerprint set. from UNT. Click pic to enlarge.

He makes mention of taking these inkless prints during his WC testimony.

Mr. HICKS. Let me see now, I took a set of Oswald’s prints from him that night some time. I do not recall.
Mr. BALL. 9 o’clock or so?
Mr. HICKS. It was some time in that area.
Mr. BALL. Where were you when you took the prints?
Mr. HICKS. I was in Captain Fritz’s office. In other words, I made those on an inkless pad. That’s a pad we use for fingerprinting people without the black ink that they make for the records.

Mr. BALL. Did you do any identification work on either the assassination of President Kennedy or the investigation of Tippit’s murder?
Mr. HICKS. Do you mean as far as fingerprints?
Mr. BALL. Yes; and things of that sort.
Mr. HICKS. Let me see now, I took a set of Oswald’s prints from him that night some time. I do not recall.
Mr. BALL. 9 o’clock or so?
Mr. HICKS. It was some time in that area.
Mr. BALL. Where were you when you took the prints?
Mr. HICKS. I was in Captain Fritz’ office. In other words, I made those on an inkless pad. That’s a pad we use for fingerprinting people without the black ink that they make for the records.

Things get even more peculiar when I come across an inkless set in the book First Day Evidence by Gary Savage & Rusty Livingstone. This set differs from the one at UNT, simply by comparing the positions of Hicks’ signature on both. This set is also not known outside this book, it’s unique. it looks like a reproduction of an original to me and dare I say it that this set has been ‘taken’ from the evidence locker, since there is no other archival / online presence of this set of prints. A souvenir.

Reproduction of the fingerprint card inside First Day Evidence by Gary Savage & Rusty Livingstone..

 

 

The inkless set, from the book First Day Evidence by Gary Savage & Rusty Livingstone further above in this article, is ascribed to being taken at Parkland on Nov 25th when Oswald is in the morgue.

Fingerprints Lee Harvey Oswald from Nov 25 1963. From: Getty Images. Click to enlarge.

Oswald’s fingerprints from the morgue are taken early on Nov 25th 1963. Paul Groody, a Dallas mortician, in a sworn statement on Oct 23 1979 (pages 26 & 27) states:

Q: While the body was in the prep room did the FBI or the Secret Service come into the prep room?

A: Yes, I am not sure which, but members of those kind of company, those kind of departments, did arrive with photographic equipment and fingerprinting equipment and go in and fingerprint because we had to clean the fingers off afterwards, and therefore there was that further work done by some authorities.

Q: Did you have to clean each finger on each hand?

A: If I remember correctly, we did. I am not positive on that but at least we know they took fingerprints. We were used to it.

Q: The substance they use is a black, very noticeable substance is that not correct?

A: Yes, that’s true. The black ink they use, and all usually. Its quiet difficult to get good prints, especially after embalming, and especially this one because they don’t come out so good. There is a lot of wrinkling and a lot of drying, you might say, and they wouldn’t have been great prints. I am sure of that, but could be distinguishable.

In a video from the movie The Men Who Killed Kennedy in 1988, Groody states that “agents would come” early on the 25th and that they had fingerprinting equipment with them and had left ink on Lee Harvey’s hands. Showing that they had finger and palm printed him. And they had to remove this ink to make the body be ready for burial.

In Henry Hurt’s book Reasonable Doubt (page 107). In 1983 FBI Agent Drain, who was closely involved in the investigation stated in an interview (with Hurt-BK) that he could not think of any logical reason that the FBI would want further prints from Oswald, since they had already taken sufficient ones for the case. What was even more puzzling to Drain was the report that the agents went to the funeral home, when there had been ample earlier opportunities.

It is hard to believe that the men that were either USSS or FBI agents since both agencies used the widely available set i their documentation. The next two sets from the Secret Service Report are identical to the ones above. These have additional type info added. I have enhanced these two images as they were in quite a bad state on the Mary Ferrell website.

Lee Oswald’s fingerprints in Secret Service CD 78. Pic. from Mary Ferrell. Click to enlarge.

 

Lee Oswald’s fingerprints in Secret Service CD 78. Pic. from Mary Ferrell. Click to enlarge.

In First Day Evidence by Gary Savage & Rusty Livingstone Savage writes on page 111 Rusty and J.B. Hicks rolled at least three inkless cards and inked card of Oswald that Sunday night in the Parkland morgue.

If the FBI or the USSS did take fingerprints besides the DPD then these have not been shared publicly. And why did they just stick with the same copies shared by the DPD in their documentation? Groody tactfully avoids who they were that walked in with fingerprint equipment.

The Trigger Housing of the Carcano.

Further in the book First Day Evidence by Gary Savage & Rusty Livingstone Savage writes on page 105 “Crime Lab detective Barnes was in the office at the time Lieutenant Day photographed the trigger-housing fingerprints. He later compared the trigger-housing photographs himself to a card of Oswald and told us that he found 3 points of identity. Pete told Rusty and me that there was no doubt in his mind that it was Oswald’s fingerprint.” That by itself is nothing short of astonishing as Barnes never uttered anything of the sort in his WC interview. Besides, three points of identity are not enough anywhere in the USA. A minimum of 10-12 would be ok. The FBI, in 1959, aimed for twelve points of identity. So three points of identity amounts to not much.

The Media.

Dallas newsmen Joe Long and Gary DeLaune of KlIF radio station (RG272 E19 Reel 20 at NARA) both broadcast reports that the rifle contained no fingerprints. “Once again, that late report from police headquarters. No fingerprints found on the weapon which had been located in the building from which the fatal shots were fired. The…rifle, turned over to the FBI, is being sent to Washington …but this is a big disappointment to those investigating today’s assassination.”  I have tried to find the statement on any of the YouTube videos of available recordings.

On Saturday when Captain Fritz was asked by WFAA (RG272 E19 Reel 20 at NARA): “Were Oswald’s prints found on the rifle?” He replied “No, Sir.” From: Best Evidence by David Lifton (page 354).

Vincent Drain

After the press conference Oswald is being searched again, has his shirt taken away for the F.B.I. to take with them. It is Vincent Drain who leaves with the rifle, the pistol, fingerprints, palm prints and some of other Oswald’s belongings on a special military plane towards Washington. Drain took possession of the evidence after Henry Wade’s press conference at about 00:30, and not at 23:45 as officially stated by everyone. At 23:30 Vincent Drain is spotted seen behind Wade and Fritz (scroll to bottom) while they talk to the gathered press in front of Room 317 of Robbery & Homicide. Then there is Oswald’s brief press conference at 00:15 and he is still wearing his shirt that becomes part of the evidence that Drain took with him to Washington. Then Oswald has been moved upstairs to the fourth floor to be processed and hands his shirt over. At the same time Henry Wade is giving his press conference with Drain seen standing next to him.

Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade giving his press conference after Oswald’s. Pic.: Fort Worth Star Telegram. Click to enlarge.

Drain handed it over at Headquarters. J Edgar Hoover wrote to DPD Chief Jesse Curry and listed the evidence received in Wa. on Nov 23rd. Oswald has his finger & palm prints taken again since all fingerprint and palm print cards were taken by the FBI. There are two original fingerprint original fingerprint cards at UNT. These sets that are marked Nov 23rd. The signature belongs to Karl P Knight who was the head of the fingerprint division (page 19). The first set below is not dated, but the second one is. Again it appears that Oswald refused to sign the fingerprint cards.

On Nov 29 1963 Vincent Drain creates a report, confirming what Hoover wrote on the 23rd, listing all items of evidence that were taken early on Nov 23. The latent prints appearing in the photograph taken of the rifle, k1, by the Dallas Police Department, are too fragmentary and indistinct to be of any value for identification purposes. Photographs of this weapon taken by this Bureau also failed to produce prints of sufficient legibility for comparison purposes.

Carl Day.

Carl Day in his WC testimony is not sure and would need to further investigate when he knows that the quality of them is not up to sufficient quality.

Mr. McCLOY. Am I to understand your testimony, Lieutenant, about the fingerprints to be you said you were positive—you couldn’t make a positive identification, but it was your opinion that these were the fingerprints of Lee Oswald?
Mr. DAY. Well, actually in fingerprinting it either is or is not the man. So I wouldn’t say those were his prints. They appeared similar to these two, certainly bore further investigation to see if I could bring them out better. But from what I had I could not make a positive identification as being his prints.

When Carl Day passed the rifle on to Vincent Drain he had no positive ID from what he had found near the trigger guard of the rifle and the fingerprints of Oswald delivered to him that evening by Hicks and Barnes. Day was not holding back since he was under oath. He also states this in his statement from Jan 8th. 1964.

 

Related: Lee Harvey Oswald’s Palm Prints.

Dallas Action Podcast Aug 21st 2022

Dallas Action Podcast Aug 21st 2022

 

I did a two hour talk with Doug Campbell of the Dallas Action Podcast and we only discussed Oswald ‘s interrogation and more to the point only the first few hours of his incarceration and his first interrogation. There’s plenty of detail being shared. I hope everyone listening enjoys it as much as I did doing it.

Click the pic to be taken to the podcast. Thank you Douglas!

 

Out Of The Blank

Out of the Blank

 

Robbie Robertson contacted me a few weeks ago for a chat and that is what we did late July.

Here is the result, which I am pretty happy with.

The Anatomy Papers

The Anatomy Papers

 

Here they are, the Anatomy papers. About 550 pages to plough through.

Anatomy of the Second Floor Lunchroom Encounter. This is its seventh update since its inception in 2016.

Anatomy of Lee Harvey Oswald’s Interrogations. Third update which has key info added to almost every chapter.

Anatomy of the T.S.B.D. Premiere release.

Anatomy of Prayer Man. Premiere release.

I started working on these papers in the Spring of 2016 after I had done a two hours presentation at DPUK’s Canterbury seminar.

It started with the Anatomy of the Second Floor Lunchroom Encounter. The overall idea was to create these papers to assist me with the creation of a set of four interactive software presentation movies like Prayer Man. More Than Just A Fuzzy Picture. from late 2015. That movie was a little overlong (near 100 minutes) and I thought I should do four chapters instead.

 

I quickly followed by the Interrogations paper, but this particular subject proved to be a bit of a mission and took a few edits to get it to the shape it is in now.

The first edit reduced the paper by 100 pages, but since picking up more and more material from the Blunt archives.The recent additions about the TSBD and Prayer Man did not take as much time to put together as the interrogations one. But then I got involved with digitising the Malcolm Blunt archives and that delayed me for at least two years since this archival job proved to be huge and very time consuming.

Even with this release I can tell you that papers 3 and 4 will be updated by end of summer with a set of interview transcripts of former TSBD employees. And I am also toying of merging all four papers into one story. Whether that will be turned into a book is another kettle of fish.

But now having finished these four papers and knowing there will be another major update before year’s end due to the considerable amount of additional material put forward I will try and condense it all into one paper. There is the idea that there will be a series of 10 minute clips that go deeper into the circumstances and settings around Lee Harvey Oswald’s presence inside the TSBD during the assassination of  John F Kennedy. We will see in a few months.

I hope you enjoy reading the wealth of material and evidence put together by me and with the additional help of Malcolm Blunt’s documents.

At some point some bullet point versions will be released which summarise the evidence brought forward, which then enables the viewer to go through a dozen pages with all pivotal elements highlighted.

#payattentionbrian

June 2022 update

Greetings!

First of all a small discovery in Darnell, finally some better focus on the group in  the James Darnell film that is about to and is ascending the steps on the bottom left stairs. We can see two women who ascending who both look to the left down on Elm St. Click the photo below. This shot, even though at miserable quality, allows me to discern what is actually happening on the bottom left of the steps. In other Darnell copies the frames are way over exposed and blurred.   #payattentionbrian !!!!

The TSBD workers ascending the stairs. Click to enlarge.

At this time my money is on Patricia Ann Donaldson being the woman with the scarf over her head. And the other lady in black (ID still unknown) is the one who stood next together on Elm.

Patricia Ann Donaldson in the Dave Wiegman film on Nov 22 1963. Click to enlarge.

Then the Anatomy papers, I like to think I am done for now. There has been about a two year delay due to my activities with the Malcolm Blunt archives. This delay was needed due to the quality of documentation found at Malcolm’s. And the problem with that was that it was spread all over his filing cabinets inside many unmarked folders. I was not just digitising the archives, but I was discovering at the same time.  So that meant that getting these papers ready took way longer than originally thought. After April 2021 I barely looked at them until I had finished with scanning the first phase of Malcolm’s documents in Nov last year. In Dec I started to research, create two new papers and  and make amendments to earlier released papers.

Yet I also know that there will be some updated content in the form of quotes of interviews of various people being added in the near foreseeable future.  We spoke with Roy Edward Lewis in 2018 and 2022 and this material is being transcribed as we speak. Plus a set of other interviews, so that update will be there by end of Summer. The only other question remains is to condense all work into one file instead of four.

And thanks for the great feedback on my previous article, a newish chapter of the Anatomy of the Second Floor Lunchroom Encounter

I reckon in about a week the papers shall be released for y’all to plough through. Until then!

 

The Destruction of Lee Oswald’s Alibi & The Invention of the Second Floor Lunchroom Encounter

The Destruction of Lee Oswald’s Alibi & The Invention of the Second Floor Lunchroom Encounter.

 

I have been investigating the second floor lunchroom encounter for several years now and have offered plenty of evidence that shows that this particular event was a fugezi from the word go. My first paper Anatomy of the Second Floor Lunchroom Encounter which had its first release in 2016 showed a lot of evidence that questioned this so called encounter. Three years later the paper had doubled in size with  a ton more evidence to show this encounter was one of the worst fakes created. This is a new amended chapter which will appear as part of my new Anatomy of the Second Floor Lunchroom Encounter paper. This paper and the other two will be released early June.

In my second paper, I discuss the interrogations of Lee Oswald in depth, but here I will only add the parts in relation to the first floor and the second floor lunch room encounter.

During the first interrogation Will Fritz spoke with Oswald (and have detectives Richard Sims and Elmer Boyd sit in with him). This was a standard tactic for having an extra person or two sit in with the one who did the questioning, this was to support in court what was being said. In the USA there were no tape recorded interrogations until two decades later. Fritz, Boyd and Sims must have been alone with Oswald for 30-45 minutes as FBI agents Hosty and Bookhout did not arrive and joined this interrogation not until 15:15 hrs. No one knows what was said during that period. From this first interrogation with the FBI present are a few notes and reports to look at. The official FBI report that represents the questions and answers of this first interrogation is the joint Bookhout & Hosty report. However this was not made up until the next day Nov 23rd  

James Bookhout and James P Hosty FBI Report Nov 23 1963. Click to enlarge. From Mary Ferrell.

James Bookhout and James P Hosty FBI Report Nov 23 1963. Click to enlarge. From Mary Ferrell.

James Hosty and James Bookhout of the FBI state in their joint November 23 report: “OSWALD stated that he went to lunch at approximately noon and he claimed he ate his lunch on the first floor in the lunchroom; however he went to the second floor where the Coca-Cola machine was located and obtained a bottle of Coca-Cola for his lunch. OSWALD claimed to’ be on the first floor when President JOHN F. KENNEDY passed by his building.” 

This Nov 23rd report:

  1. Does not mention the specific location of Oswald on the first floor at the time of the assassination, which Oswald did tell them (more about that in a mo).
  2. Nor does it mention any encounter involving Oswald, a police officer and Roy Truly.
  3. He got the coke for his lunch not after the assassination!

This was the only official report from that first interrogation issued the day after it had happened. No one of the Dallas police had issued a report and when they did, it was after Oswald’s death.

By James Hosty’s own admission he did take notes during that first interrogation and he was the only one. First in his own notebook. He scribbled partial phrases in his notebook that I am reproducing below.

Notebook notes from James P Hosty of the FBI. From NARA, thanks to Malcolm Blunt. Click to enlarge.

James Hosty claimed he had destroyed these notes, after the report had been typed up and submitted, as per FBI procedure, yet when his book Assignment Oswald was released according to him these notes had ‘re-appeared’ in his desk drawer. A miracle or was Hosty breaking bureau protocol keeping these notes as a souvenir?

In relation to Oswald’s whereabouts the following sticks out: “First floor outside office” which could relate to where Oswald was when the motorcade passed by. And I tend to lean that way, mainly after comparing the notes above with the ones I post a little further below. And also after comparing these with Fritz’s handwritten notes, more about these later on. Also make yourself aware of the so called ‘sectioning’ on these notes. It seems to group unrelated bits together.

But! Once again there is not a mention of any altercation with Marrion Baker nor a mention of Roy Truly.

But then in Feb. 2019 I found a document amongst a set of so called “Hosty files” in Malcolm Blunt’s archive collection. This particular document, written on the back of a sheet of printed affidavit paper of the Dallas police states something that eventually was deep sixed by Hosty and the others only to re-appear when Malcolm Blunt copied the entire set of Hosty papers twenty years ago at the archives in Washington. Through investigating I have found out that Hosty handed these over to the ARRB in 1996. Malcolm himself did not realise he had this bomb shell in his filing cabinet and only when I went through the whole folder to scan it all in for the new D.P.U.K. website did it appear. I decided to publish this document right away at my website’s diary.

James P Hosty Sept 1975. Click to enlarge.

The text that is key to Hosty’s handwritten report is: “O stated he was present for work at the T.S.B.D. on the morning of the 22nd and at noon went to lunch. He went to 2nd floor to get a coca cola to eat with lunch and returned to 1st floor to eat lunch. Then he went outside to watch P. Parade.”  It is safe to say that P. stands for Presidential.

An important element of this paragraph is that he got his coke for his lunch which was before the shots were fired. This aspect is re-confirmed in the joint Hosty/Bookhout report. Again no mention of a lunchroom encounter, Baker and/or Truly.

And then there is the hammer that states that Oswald was outside to watch the Presidential Parade. This lead was swept under the carpet by all those who were present and never repeated again.

Oswald interrogation notes Nov 22 1963. James P Hosty. Thanks to Malcolm Blunt. Click to enlarge.

In Hosty’s book Assignment Oswald he described how he kept on taking notes even after the interrogation. “I headed back to Fritz’s office, where I knew the police were keeping Oswald’s personal belongings. Nothing there, but in the second inner office, which belonged to Lieutenant Walter Potts, I spotted Oswald’s things, which had been removed from his person and from his apartment at the Oak Cliff rooming house. Among the items on Potts’s desk was Oswald’s black address book. I pulled out my pad of blank police affidavit forms and started transcribing the entries in his book, thinking I might find some interesting leads or even some possible co-conspirators”.

 Then if you compare the notebook pages and the handwritten partial draft statement above, something else becomes apparent. They show near identical sections.

James P Hosty interrogation notes and pre-report. Graphic: BK. Click to enlarge.

James Hosty used his notebook notes to compile this draft on D.P.D. affidavit paper, and this also means that the phrase “1st floor entrance office” in Hosty’s notebook notes directly relates to Oswald’s whereabouts as described in the draft on the D.P.D. affidavit paper (the green highlighted areas on both documents). Before the Feb. 2019 find it was assumed that “first floor entrance office” was related to Warren Caster’s visit when he showed Roy Truly and a few others two rifles he had brought in. But closer study of the sections show that inside there are unrelated matters “grouped” together. “First floor entrance office” means first floor entrance of the office.

He writes in his book Assignment Oswald, about an exchange, from his memory how the questioning went on during that first interrogation.

Okay now, Lee, you work at the Texas School Book Depository, isn’t that right?

Yeah, that’s right.

When did you start working there?

About October fifteenth

What did you do down there?

I was just a common labourer.

Now, did you have access to all floors of the building?

Of course.

Tell me what was on each of those floors.

The first and second floors have offices. The third and fourth floor are storage. So are the fifth and sixth.

And you were working there today, is that right?

Yep.

Were you there when the president’s motorcade went by?

Yeah.

Where were you when the president went by the book depository?

I was eating my lunch in the first floor lunchroom.

What time was that?

About noon.

Were you ever on the second floor around the time the president was shot?

Well, yeah. I went up there to get a bottle of Coca-Cola from the machine for my lunch.

But where were you when the president actually passed your building?

On the first floor in the lunchroom.

And you left the depository, isn’t that right?

Yeah.

When did you leave?

Well, I figured with all the confusion there wouldn’t be any more work to do that day.

Again Oswald, according to Hosty’s recollections, be it almost 40 years later, Oswald got the coke for his lunch and makes no mention of an encounter with Baker. Hosty also makes mention of the reason why Oswald left work. But what is significant is that the 2nd floor lunch room encounter simply does not exist at that time.

Not for long that is, so get ready for a lil’ twist.

Nat Pinkston.

Unbeknown to James Hosty and James Bookhout, their colleague, Nat Pinkston is busy inside the TSBD shortly after the first interrogation to ‘rectify’ matters so Lee Harvey Oswald becomes the guilty party.

In Sept. 2019 I posted an article called Nat Pinkston and the Snack Room Encounter. This article contained the document I had found that year in Malcolm Blunt’s archive and is to me the first documented evidence of a mentioning of an encounter in the second floor lunchroom. The document is dated L1/22/63 and I am not sure what L1 stands for, but let’s assume it stands for November 22nd. The other thing is that Nat Pinkston submitted other reports on Nov 22 using this L1 in the date.

Besides the description of the encounter there is another element that is very interesting and helps with dating this even more precise.

The last two paragraphs relate to the sighting of guns inside the building in front of Roy Truly’s office being observed by Oswald. This particular matter is being recorded during the first interrogation of Oswald by James Hosty in his notes. This of course is being reported to FBI HQ and investigated further, and in this case Pinkston questions Roy Truly about this. So a few hours after this, the second floor lunch room encounter is being ‘created’ as such & written up in this report. This is the closest piece of reporting of creating a 180 and assign blame to Oswald for shooting The President. This document is released before the joint Bookhout-Hosty report. That by itself is a miracle since it was Bookhout & Hosty that were present at the interrogation and Pinkston was not! And he introduces this new accusation that cements Oswald’s guilt of shooting The President. This report runs parallel with the joint Book-Hosty report and it is even released before theirs.

Nat Pinkston’s Nov 22 1963 report. Inserting the second floor lunchroom encounter.
With thanks to Malcolm Blunt.. Click to enlarge.

What follows next is another report from J Doyle Williams and Nat Pinkston on that very same day of Roy Truly. It apparently has been dictated on the 22nd, but is not typed up until the day after. The phrase “they saw no one else in the building at that time” further below in that statement rings hollow, since two black employees (Troy Eugene West and Eddie Piper) were on the first floor, Truly even spoke with Piper! The fourth floor had several women near the staircase within minutes after the shooting looking at the scenes in the railroad yard down below. Also closer inspection of the Darnell film, of the people on the stairs showing that several people made their way up to go inside before Baker & Truly.

FBI Affidavit Roy Truly by J Doyle Williams & Nat A Pinkston. Click to enlarge. From: Mary Ferrell.

FBI agent Kenneth B Jackson interviews Roy Truly again on the 23rd.

FBI Affidavit Roy Truly by Kenneth B Jackson Nov 23 1963. Click to enlarge. Mary Ferrell.

Then you have the joint Hosty and Bookhout report from the 22nd, but not dictated until the 23rd, and it shows that the so called “second floor lunchroom encounter internal communique” has not been passed on to both Hosty & Bookhout as they just create the report that is based on James Hosty’s notes and their collective memory of that interrogation, which once more, does not contain any encounter at all, since Oswald got his coke for his lunch.

So while Hosty and Bookhout create their real report there is already a fake one in play by Nat Pinkston only just after the first interrogation has been finished.

And then Bookhout gets the nod and produces another report on the 24th. Oswald has been shot dead earlier that day and this report contradicts his joint report with James Hosty on a few occasions.

FBI Affidavit James W Bookhout Nov 25 1963. Click to enlarge. From: Mary Ferrell.

In the above solo report by James Bookhout on November 24 things are turned around a bit, but not for the better.

“Oswald stated that on November 22 1963, at the time of the search of the Texas School Book Depository building by Dallas police officers, he was on the second floor of said building, having just purchased a Coca-Cola from the soft-drink machine, at which time a police officer came into the room with pistol drawn and asked him if he worked there.

Mr. Truly was present and verified that he was an employee and the police officer thereafter left the room and continued through the building. Oswald stated that he took this Coke down to the first floor and stood around and had lunch in the employee’s lunch room. He thereafter went outside and stood around for five or ten minutes with foreman Bill Shelley.”

First, he mentions “at the time of the search of the Texas School Book Depository building by Dallas police officers” while Baker was the only police officer in that building for a fair amount of time (5 mins is reasonable to assume) and that is if Baker went in as fast he said he went; everyone else on the force was busy in the railroad yard. Or this is an indication that Oswald was in the building much later than he has been ‘credited’ for? Like 15 minutes by any chance?

Secondly, Oswald had purchased a coke, which from a timing perspective makes it already ‘interesting’ (getting the correct change out, putting it in the machine and waiting for the bottle to appear and take the cap off). Neither Truly nor Baker saw anything in his hands. Although Baker messed that up with his handwritten report on Sept. 23rd 1964, the day before the W.C. report was issued and it was sent rapido to Washington.

Thirdly, Oswald stood around and had lunch after the shooting, and even stood outside with Bill Shelley for 5/10 minutes after having had his lunch. Shelley who was not seen outside the building after returning from his ‘trip’ with Billy Lovelady and seen much later escorting Garcia and Williams to a police car. So how long was Lee Oswald in that building?  According to this second report, for quite some time, which makes one wonder, how the bus/cab ride transpired, changing his clothes and ‘grabbing his gun’ and walk towards 10th and Patton and blow Tippit away. Nor does this rhyme with the W.C. conclusion that he was gone in 2.5 minutes! This cannot be done at any time from a timing perspective as described by James Bookhout!

This document is used to toe the line with the creation of the second floor lunchroom encounter.

So far we have only seen the reports and notes of Hosty and Bookhout of the FBI. James Hosty mentions in his Church Committee testimony that he was the only person taking notes during that very first interrogation. Hosty was called away from any further interrogations whereas Bookhout stayed on until Sunday morning.

  • Will Fritz only made up an official undated and unsigned report weeks after. This report has been seen in various versions. Fritz was not seen taking any notes during that first or any other interrogations. He himself claimed he took no notes, as this wasn’t his style of interrogating someone. He had ample opportunity to call in a camera and/or audio recording equipment since the corridor was filled to the brim with reporters and cameramen. One of the typists inside the Robbery & Homicide office could have assisted him transcribing the session. None of these options were used by him.

In my Anatomy of Lee Harvey Oswald’s Interrogations paper I quote several people regarding the recording of Fritz’s interrogations (pages 9-13). That notes were made by him must have taken everyone by surprise when they came to light thru an anonymous donation to the ARRB in late 1996. These notes were ‘buried’ for more than 33 years! So people had to make do with Fritz’s undated and unsigned statement from Dec. 1963 and his Warren Commission testimony. The handwritten notes are not contemporary, as a matter of fact no one knows when these were made. Some suspect Fritz copied Bookhout’s notes.

Will Fritz outside room 317, Homicide & Robbery Bureau. Click to enlarge.

Fritz’s interrogation notes display a few interesting bits when it comes to Lee Oswald’s location just before, during and just after the assassination. But they have to be considered carefully due to the fact that they were made after the interrogations.

Will Fritz’s Oswald interrogation notes. Page 1. Click to enlarge. From: Mary Ferrell.

On page 1, above, it states:

claims 2nd floor coke when

off came in

Oswald had a coke from the 2nd floor when the officer came in. Came in where? 1st? 2nd? “when off came in” looks inserted at a later time.

More about this in a  minute.

to first floor had lunch

Oswald had lunch on the 1st floor.

out with Bill Shelley in front

Oswald knew Shelley was standing in front of the building. And that is before the shooting, not after! As Shelley had departed almost immediately after the shooting from the TSBD steps. Entering the T.S.B.D. from the west side. And he was not seen again outside until 13:30.

Will Fritz’s Oswald interrogation notes. Page 3. Click to enlarge. From: Mary Ferrell.

On page 3 of the same set of Fritz’s interrogation notes from Nov. 23rd the Domino Room and Oswald’s lunch come into play. Something Fritz never investigated any further, why not?

says two negro came in

one Jr + short negro – ask? for lunch says cheese sandwiches + apple

-Oswald saw Jarman and possibly Norman come in to the Domino room while he had his lunch. Lunch consisted of cheese sandwiches and an apple.

Looking at both these pages one thing becomes evident. That is that a new sentence does not start on a new line, but midway as well, this leaves his notes open to interpretation. A forum post by Sean Murphy explains this with samples.

In his report to Chief Curry from November 23 1963 Fritz says: “We also found that this man had been stopped by Officer M.L. Baker while coming down the stairs. Mr. Baker says that he stopped this man on the third or the fourth floor on the stairway, but as Mr. Truly identified him as one of the employees he was released”. The third or fourth floor refers to Baker’s first statement.

 Fritz’s undated report, in draft mode states: “I asked him what part of the building he was in when the president was shot, and he said that he was having his lunch about that time on the first floor. Mr. Truly had told me that one of the police officers had stopped this man immediately after the shooting near the back stairway, so I asked Oswald where he was when the police officer stopped him. He said he was on the second floor drinking a coca cola when the officer came in.” This just blends it all very nicely together.

Will Fritz‘s typed report from December 23 states: “We also found out that this man had been stopped by officer M.L. Baker while coming down the stairs. Mr. Baker says that he stopped this man on the third or the fourth floor of the stairway, but as Mr. Truly identified the man as one of his employees, he was released. This very same report falsely claims that Oswald’s working area was mostly on the second floor! It would actually be one of the least frequented areas for him actually.

Will Fritz’s typed report from Dec 23rd 1963. From: UNT.

His W.C. testimony:

Mr. BALL. Did you ask him what happened that day; where he had been?
Mr. FRITZ. Yes, sir.
Mr. BALL. What did he say?
Mr. FRITZ. Well he told me that he was eating lunch with some of the employees when this happened, and that he saw all the excitement and he didn’t think, I also asked him why he left the building. He said there was so much excitement there then that “I didn’t think there would be any work done that afternoon and we don’t punch a clock and they don’t keep very close time on our work and I just left.”
Mr. BALL. At that time didn’t you know that one of your officers, Baker, had seen Oswald on the second floor?
Mr. FRITZ. They told me about that down at the bookstore; I believe Mr. Truly or someone told me about it, told me they had met him, I think he told me, person who told me about, I believe told me that they met him on the stairway (Fritz has trouble composing himself-BK), but our investigation shows that he actually saw him in a lunch room, a little lunch room where they were eating, and he held his gun on this man and Mr. Truly told him that he worked there, and the officer let him go. (so regardless of an encounter on the stairway Fritz declared it happening inside the lunchroom???-BK)
Mr. BALL. Did you question Oswald about that?
Mr. FRITZ. Yes, sir; I asked him about that and he knew that the officer stopped him all right.
Mr. BALL. Did you ask him what he was doing in the lunch room?
Mr. FRITZ. He said he was having his lunch. He had a cheese sandwich and a Coca-Cola.
Mr. BALL. Did he tell you he was up there to get a Coca-Cola?
Mr. FRITZ. He said he had a Coca-Cola.

Martha Joe Stroud corresponded with the Warren Commission that Fritz was not happy with his deposition and would not sign it unless corrections were applied. Nor would have the original archived as such at NARA. And there seem to be two versions of his statement. I would love to see the difference between the two!

Thanks to Robin Unger. Click to enlarge.

Oswald has gone for lunch and stayed in the Domino Room after he had gotten his Coke from the second floor. Many must have seen him getting his coke, since the ladies from the 2nd floor offices started to have their lunch at about 12:00 in the second floor lunch room, some of whom did not leave to watch the parade until 12:20-12:25.

The Domino Room was in the back at the north eastern end of the building, and the infamous back stairs were not far away and had direct access to them. And as stated above In the Hosty & Bookhout notes and statements he got the coke for his lunch.

The Secret Service was present too, Forrest Sorrels and Thomas J Kelley were there during some of Lee Oswald’s interrogations on the 23rd.

  • Thomas J Kelley is the only one who supplies an interrogation report that actually goes so far as to claim that Oswald explicitly admitted to not having watched the motorcade. In his First interview with LHO he states:

“At this time Captain Fritz showed a Selective Service Card that was taken out of his wallet which bore the name of Alex Hidell. Oswald refused to discuss this after being asked for an explanation of it, both by Fritz and by James Bookhout, the FBI Agent. I asked him if he viewed the parade and he said he had not. I then asked him if he had shot the President and he said he had not. I asked him if he has shot governor Connally and he said he had not”.

Now look at the bottom of the page of the Fritz notes and compare and you see that Fritz may have been a bad record keeper, but I doubt he would have left a jewel of the ‘parade’ question and answer like that out in his notes. Kelley’s bit is suspect as a 3 dollar bill.

Not one word about the parade. And that is because he did not give that answer at all.

Will Fritz’s Oswald interrogation notes. Page 4. Click to enlarge. From: Mary Ferrell.