Richard Bernarbei (1933-1979) was a college professor at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
About a year and a half ago I was wondering whether anyone else had noticed Prayer Man in the Wiegman and/or Darnell films before Sean Murphy started his quest less than ten years ago. I was already loosely checking out where this all originated from but I could not find anything from before the millennium until I came across Bernabei’s name while trawling through Harold Weisberg’s archive. I read his correspondence from the late 60’s, between them and Richard Sprague and almost fell off my chair and made mention of this after I regained my composure at ROKC. There is quite a bit of correspondence in this archive.
And by chance I came across his discovery of another person on those steps besides doorway man (a.k.a. Billy Lovelady). I shall post some of these pages of his correspondence below. These pages are the first signs of discovery of Prayer Man, although he was not named as such, that credit belongs to Sean Murphy.
Knowing that Richard Bernabei’s material was held at his workplace in Kingston I emailed Queens University in June last year and was told that the archives were not indexed nor digitised, so a dead end for me unless I or one of my fellow ROKCers made their way over there.
I left the whole thing for what it was, as I had plenty to go on until I emailed roughly 6 months ago to see if I could get a local person to investigate for me instead. Little did I know that an individual by the name of Sean Adessky had gone through all of Bernabei’s archive a few months before and had made an index. From that index one section jumped out to me.
Folder, “Man in the TSBD Doorway”
– Documents relating to the individuals seen in the doorway of the TSBD at the time of the shooting.
– Photographs, commission documents, sketches, few pages of handwritten notes.
Totalling 35 pages I was dying to get hold of all of this material, which they promptly helped me with. The whole document is more focused on Doorway Man (Billy Lovelady) but by researching it from every possible angle he also deals with Prayer Man for about 4-5 pages. These pages are very valuable since they contain sketches made by Richard Bernabei and diagrams as well of the people on the front steps of the Texas School Book Depository. This material is the first hard evidence of someone actually recognising a person in that shadowy area of those front steps of the Texas School Book Depository when JFK was assassinated and also actively documenting it. How he did this is a bit of an enigma, since the material of Wiegman he had in his collection there is not much to see there. Check for yourselves in the picture gallery below.
Bear in mind that at that time no one had gotten hold of the Jimmy Darnell film where Prayer Man is seen a lot clearer than in the Dave Wiegman film. The other sources, regarding this particular segment of the case, Bernabei had were Altgens 6 and the Hughes film.
Great stuff indeed, not just from a find p.o.v. but also what else he wrote inside that document. He followed the same ‘tactic’ Sean Murphy and Richard Hocking used. Not only did he study the film and photo material but he also looked at all the available testimonies and brought Oswald’s interrogations and whereabouts and TSBD employees Carolyn Arnold and Victoria Adams into the fold. Furthermore I plaster some scans of the images he had during his research. Two copies of Altgens 6, Willis 4, 8 & 10, Wiegman, Towner and Bell.
The letter below is from Richard E. Sprague who writes in good detail about Wiegman and his film to Richard Bernarbei.
- Sprague managed to buy a copy of the film on 35 mm, where this film is, is not known at this time. He also mentions that he has clipped some of the frames out of his film, therefor the possibility exists that the film was kept in a cut up state.
- He explains the many generations of the film.
- Wiegman had not seen his film at the time of their telephone interview.
The large format negatives Sprague is talking about are at the National Archives in Washington, we at ROKC managed to get copies of these.
And then the trail went dead, for almost 40 years………………..why?
Addendum Dec 30th 2016:
Mati Bernabei (Richard’s daughter) contacted me through Facebook and shared the following info with me, which she has allowed me to share:
She was 14 years old when he died in 1979. He was very unwell the last two years due to alcohol related deterioration of body and mind.
” I knew that he was deeply interested in JFK, I didn’t understand what he was working on. I was too young. Close to the time of his death (when he, and everyone, understood that his death was imminent), my mother and other friends of his convinced him to donate his JFK files to the Archives at Queen’s University. They didn’t want the work to be lost”
“. I’ve always imagined that his work would remain in dusty boxes in the Archives forever, so I am truly delighted that you found it useful . My father was an artist, heart and soul (before academia, he studied art), hence his drawings, and his understanding of visual perspective, light and shadow, etc. I’m sure he would be deeply gratified that his work is still of interest in some way. Very interesting for me to read your analysis too! Thank you!”
“When looking for the photo I reread a short bio of my father that my mom wrote in the 1990s when she doing a hobby genealogy project (for my sister and I). That mentions the donation to the archives, and I remembered more details. My father was a true mess in the last two years of his life. He had a heart murmur due to childhood rheumatic fever, thus the collapse of his body due to chain smoking and alcohol was accelerated. In June of 1979 my uncle (his brother) came to visit — by that time it was clear that there was no turning back – organ failure was occurring, and father would die soon (he died 2 months later). At that time my uncle and my mom convinced Pa to donate the JFK material. My father had already destroyed much of his artwork, in a fit of self loathing, I think. So, my mom and uncle rightly worried that he might do the same with his JFK documents.”
“My father’s struggles were obvious to people who knew him in the last few years, thus there was no need or purpose in in trying to create a facade. And, he talked and wrote about too. He was a kind, loving, tragically self-destructive person in those last years.”
Special thanks to Heather Home and Susan Office at Queens University.
Mati Bernabei for the portrait and the additional info.
And many thanks as well to Francesca Brzezicki for making the Bernabei correspondence and photo scans for me.
Wiegman scans by ROKC from the Richard E. Sprague archive at the National Archives in Wa.
This Roy Truly interview was done by Will Lang for Dolores Kraich and sent to Holland McCombs, who was bureau chief for TIME and LIFE magazine in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Dallas.
It deals with Truly’s recollections of Oswald’s job application, the day of the assassination, the second floor lunch room encounter, but also delves into the whole Doorway man matter.
- Truly, on page 2 describes Oswald as an ‘undetected paranoiac’
- Page 3, he states that Oswald could not have known about the motorcade passing by the TSBD until 72 hrs beforehand. And starts to speculate about and eventually condemns Oswald heavily “But as I suppose we all now realize, he had to shoot somebody or do something big. He probably would have shot anybody who was big enough if he had the chance or could make the chance”.
- Page 4 digs into the doorway-man Lovelady vs Oswald saga.
- Page 5, he discusses the day JFK got shot. He mentions Lovelady and being outside on the steps, and himself standing in front of those steps near the curb of Elm. What is downright rubbish is his description of a wave of people making their way back and that Baker had to push his way though the crowd. The Couch and Darnell films show that Baker had a clear run towards the TSBD building.
- On page 8 he contradicts himself regarding this wave of people. “there were not so many people out there in front of this building when the President’s car passed here”
- Page 9 shows that the author(s) forwarded a copy to Hugh Aynesworth in 1967.
Overall a well rehearsed interview, a puff piece by the looks of it, but Truly makes the same mistake again like he did with his statements, testimony and newspaper reports, he always adds info that makes one question his claims.
Monday the 14th I joined Monique Sleiderink of TV Oost (that’s the local Dutch TV channel for the East of the country) for an interview about Prayer Man. I had a great time, simple as that. Hope to join them again when the book is out. There is a nice page made up on RTV Oost’s website. In Chrome right click and choose translate. Here are some pictures taken during the TV show, one with Monique outside in the corridor and some screenshots of the video itself.
And on the 22nd I did an interview for KRO/NCRV’s Groot Op 5. They had picked up on my TV oost appearance and wanted to do an interview the next day, but I was travelling back then, so we postponed until the 22nd. Again a short interview about 4 minutes which was great to do.
Both interviews have taught me a bit about trying to get the message across in a short amount of time, as if I were to put the evidence forward I would need at least 4 hours :-)
I have been given both recordings and I shall supply the videos with subtitles and upload to YouTube in due time.
first this site and a few others got hacked and had a spam bot installed that sent millions of spam mails. Google blacklisted the site, but has all been rectified and given a clean state of health and is a lot more secure now.
Then there was the one day seminar in London, we had 15 souls downstairs at The Greene Man pub near Great Portland St. Dealey Plaza UK held a one day seminar where I did a talk about the 2nd floor encounter and also talked about Oswald’s interrogations, which is my next essay. I hope to have it finished before year’s end. Don’t hold me to it tho ;).
We followed with a screening of A Coup In Camelot. We managed to watch it on a 65″ 4K screen. Everyone enjoyed watching the documentary a lot. I myself enjoyed the Barry Ernest and Vince Palamara sections, even though I am well familiar with their work, it was good to see their research presented in this excellent documentary.
Barry Keane did a fitting tribute to J.F.K. at the very end, like he always does every year. After which half of us went back into the pub since it had been such an enjoyable event. Talks about Canterbury have already started and we will try and get a killer line-up for this event. 2.5 days of constant yapping about all types of aspects of the JFK Assassination, what’s not to love :)
Out of the blue Stu Wexler told me that I was being presented with an award at the Mary Ferrell awards at the JFK Lancer conference in Dallas last weekend.
I have been given the Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award 2016 at the JFK Lancer Conference for my Anatomy essay. The Award is for new research in respect to my work on further exploring the official story of the Oswald encounter. The Pioneer awards are intended to recognise and honour new research in a variety of fields. This year Bill Simpich, Malcolm Blunt and a few others received the awards along with me.
At first my reply to Stu was “yeah right”, but I was quickly convinced otherwise.
I am humbled by this Award and have to thank the JFK Lancer team, for the great honour of this accolade and since it is only the first piece of four, it is a major stimulant to continue.
The article is due a substantial update so watch this space.
So the lads have been back at it again, this time using the Wiegman film. After being obliterated by my previous post Duncan MacRae, Carig Lamson and Brian Doyle aka as Ralph Yates on Amazon and Albert Doyle (the dead father’s account) thought they’d give their verbal excrement technique another go.
Let’s compare pix shall we? In this case size does matter!
The Chris Davidson GIF, from Dave Wiegman stills. Source: Death In Dealey Plaza. Resolution of this DVD 768 x 576 px. Let’s take a look at a sample of this in a 1920 x 1080 px window. I am doing this for comparison reasons. This is not the exact same frame. This is a screen grab I managed to get myself from the DVD in question.
The real source for this version of the Wiegman film is a theatrical newsreel version from 1964 from UCLA, the makers of the Death In Dealey Plaza would probably have a 5th generation copy to make their dupes from so that makes this a 6th or even a 7th generation, since their tapes were transferred to DVD and the screen shots used for the GIF are then 8th generation repros.
1st gen: Wiegman original
2nd gen enlargement to 35mm
3rd gen postive film sold on to other companies such as Hearst and UCLA
4th gen negative made from positive
5th gen makers of DIDP get a copy.
6th transfer to tape then the question is does it go from tape to DVD or from the dupe they got from UCLA. My guess is the former rather than the latter since there is not a huge difference in resolution and this happened more than ten years ago (the dvd rel. that is)
So the DVD would be the 7th gen.
The CD Gif the 8th
The Prayer Woman image the 9th!
Now we take the CD Gif and place it in the same window, yes that is how big the original is. Chris rotated the pic to make it line up with the other shot. It has had some post production as the contrast has been increased and the photo appears to be lighter. But size-wise it is pretty much the same as my copy.
Now I post MacRae’s PW image next to the same GIF. And also inserted a 400 DPI version of the same CD GIF next to it.
So an 8th generations deep reproduction of an image, in its size as shown in the photograph above is being drastically cropped, “enhanced” and manipulated and becomes the actual 9th generation copy.
From this so called enhancement we can conclude the following:
- It’s size has been increased significantly even tho the resolution of the enlargement has been set back at 72 dpi.
- Increase of contrast and darkened overall
- The top of Prayer Man’s head has been cropped off.
- The appearance of wheel barrow man, if Prayer Man is Prayer Woman then surely MacRae, Lamson and Doyle can explain the sudden appearance of wheel barrow man. Not that anyone will believe this to be someone, but this points at things are being ‘made to appear’ inside that picture due to its excessive enlargement and post-production.
Now I place the Sprague neg. (No. 3) in there, the negs that we scanned in with a flatbed scanner have a much higher resolution than anything else publicly available and shown by any photographic researcher. This is not the exact frame as the one inside the CD GIF (No. 1) but it is very close. And the MacRae interpretation at No. 2.
The generations for this particular shot would be:
1st gen: Wiegman original.
2nd gen enlargement to 35mm.
3rd gen postive film sold on to other companies such as Hearst and UCLA.
4th gen negative made from positive.
5th gen is the positive made from that negative sold to Sprague.
6th gen are the Sprague negs.
7th gen the scans of which you see the one on the right (No. 3). They are also reproductions from large format negatives.
Source: letter from Richard E. Sprague.
In all honesty the area that has been enlarged and manipulated by them is even smaller than shown with the No. 1 pic since they cropped the top of his head off.
I have left this image untouched besides drawing a marquee and applying auto levels to bring Prayer Man out a little more out of the darkness. The dust, even the hairs and scratches are visible on it and even that is enough to kill off the glasses, the bag, the teacup (nice touch Dunc’ but that’s stretching things a little too far….) and all the other make believe hooey advocated by Doyle and MacRae. But here it is at its best. Mind you that these are flatbed scans and we are in the process of getting these negs properly scanned in. And I for one cannot wait to show them!
MacRae and Lamson provide absolutely no evidence of how these images have come about, they are not able to reproduce any of it on any other Wiegman frame and they shroud their work in secrecy instead. Doyle just whimpers on like an unruly child, but it’s his crazy deluded headset that is most worrying, his Fetzerian remarks which are interlaced with Cinque style delusions are to be monitored closely.
Skillful photo experts, something Doyle keeps coming up with as support for his delusions, would not go along with his plan at all in the first place. They’d say GTFO and get me the best copy available, instead of messing about with 5th-9th generations down. So how about it Doyle? While you were taking a selfie in front of the TSBD did you bother to go inside and ask for the first generation copy of the Darnell film? Of course you did not……….
They can only debate fuzzy pictures, since they cannot refute the other mountain of evidence that places Oswald on the first floor and outside on the landing while JFK was blasted away.
Finally make up your own mind about this, but I know who my money is on and he ain’t a she.