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

Richard E Sprague

Richard Bernabei

Richard Bernarbei (1933-1979) was a college professor at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Richard Bernabei (1951). Thanks to Mati Bernabei.

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.

The 6th floor window in the Robert Hughes film

Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes

On Nov 26th 1963 Robert Hughes hands over his film which he shot while the motorcade was turning from Houston on to Elm St. on Nov 22nd 1963.

The FBI initially investigates and reckons there is a person visible in the window where the so called sniper’s nest is located. But they change their mind once the film is being studied in Washington.

Although the FBI had the Hughes film in its possession 4 days (Nov 26th 1963) after the Big Event, the WC decided not to use it. This is an important FACT! Actually the WC barely used anything from that day while they were aware of most photographs and film footage they choose not to admit it into evidence.

In a memo dated Nov 26th it says it appears that there may be someone in the 6th floor window.

This is repeated in a memo on Nov 28th by A. Rosen to Alan Belmont

Alan Belmont  writes on Nov 28th, the same day he received the memo from Rosen without any further evidence besides jumping on the band wagon that he can see one person in the window.

A memo by Robert Barrett makes the same claim, let’s also add that this particular finding comes from Dallas first and foremost. The FBI lab in Wa. has not had their hands on the Hughes film yet and investigate this particular claim. And this shift from Dallas to Washington is where things seem to change!!!

The FBI makes 10 copies of the film according to the memo on Dec 9th (check out all the signatures!) and guess what? They reported they could NOT SEE ANY HUMAN FORM in that window.

But it is getting better! In a memo (which includes Belmont as one of the recipients btw!) from Dec 10th  by W.D. Griffth it is repeated that no human form is visible.

Not only does the FBI investigate this in WA. and comes to the conclusion I just mentioned.. They want a second opinion and the FBI sends it to the Navy Photographic Interpretation Centre and they conclude the same.  

Richard E. Sprague adds on that there is no rifle showing either. From a timing perspective this makes it rather difficult to conclude that 3 shots have been fired from that very same window.

 

Memo Nov 26th 1963

Memo Nov 26th 1963

FBI Memo Rosen to Belmont Nov 28th 1963

FBI Memo Rosen to Belmont Nov 28th 1963

Memo by Robert Barrert Nov 30th 1963

Memo Dec 9th FBI-10 copies of Hughes film made

Memo Dec 9th 1963-1

Memo Dec 9th 1963-2

Memo Dec 9th 1963-2

FBI Report stating they can not see any human form in Hughes-1

FBI Report stating they can not see any human form in Hughes-1

FBI Report stating they can not see any human form in Hughes-2

FBI Report stating they can not see any human form in Hughes-2

WD Griffth Memo Dec 10 1963

Sprague, Richard E., Monographs

Buell Wesley Frazier Part 1

Buell Wesley Frazier, has always been a major person of interest in this case, he allegedly took Lee Harvey Oswald to work that day and let him go with his ‘package’ inside the TSBD. A package not seen by Jack Dougherty when Oswald entered the building.

Charles Douglas Givens asked Buell Wesley Frazier where his rider was when he walked inside the TSBD and I am not going into depth about all that as it is widely discussed at ROKC HERE

Buell Wesley Frazier has been one of the few Texas School Book Depository employees who is alive and still talks about that day in 1963 in Dealey Plaza, Dallas Texas. In the last few years he has been more talkative than the years before when he would only go to the 6th Floor Museum or participate in a documentary doing his run one more time in an old car reenacting the ride he had with Lee Oswald that morning.

Buell Wesley Frazier was in for rough treatment from the DPD later that day after he was picked up from the hospital while visiting a sick relative and just before he was about to be arriving at home he was hauled back in. We know that Captain Will Fritz wanted him to sign a confession in being an accomplice, which he refused after Fritz raised his hand to strike at him, why this did not happen is a bit of an enigma and perhaps the Lancer 2015 Conference can give some more answers in Jan. 2016 when the transcirpt and video becomes available.

Here are 4 shots from the Richard E Sprague archive ROKC managed to scan in at NARA

Pic. credit Jim Murray

Larry Hancock made a blogpost about Buell Wesley Frazier’s appearance there, at Lancer. In the comment section at the bottom and I quote “Frazier says that he went out on the steps and was intent on looking out and down, he can identify folks in front of him such as Lovelady but he does not recall ever turning around and looking to his side or behind him so he has no direct recollection of anyone at all standing where PM appears to be located. He can’t make any identification from the photo…which is no big surprise. He also has no idea of whether that person had been there for a time or might have come out when everyone else was on the steps. I did get the impression that the steps filled up with people from the building and that it was unlikely any outsider had pushed through to the top of the steps so whoever it was somebody from inside the building.”

I find this whole scenario hard to swallow, especially when the still grab from the Jimmy Darnell film clearly shows he is looking and possibly interacting with Prayer Man, hell Prayer Man is even looking back. There is no need to deny this,the shot says so.

Prayer Man in Jimmy Darnell film

pm stan dane

 

Enter Greg Burnham, someone who forbids any discussion of Prayer Man at his forum, but has bought the ad words for it to get top ranking in Google (go figure).

He posts at the Education Forum: “David Mantik told me a few days ago that at this year’s Lancer Conference Buell Wesley Frazier denied that Oswald was anywhere near the front of the TSBD, on the steps, or was Doorman. Frazier is an eyewitness who was there, who knew Oswald, and was in a position to know if LHO was there or not. Frazier was unequivocal about it.” Again this has hardly any bearing whatsoever, why would Frazier admit to it, as that would mean that the jig was up if he admitted to it there and then. Plus why these two all of the sudden put their snouts in the Prayer Man through is questionable as well. Surely trying to grab the glory for the discovery of it all, since I cannot think otherwise as this part of the case has hardly had a mention or one iota of research by them these past few years in any way.