CIA Shooter in the Texas School Book Depository

Warehouse workers inside the Texas School Book Depository conducted two operations simultaneously on November 22, 1963: 1) facilitating the entry and exit of a CIA sniper team, and 2) staging the narrative that a lone gunman shot the president from a sixth floor window.

Carolyn Arnold, a spectator on the southeast corner of Houston and Elm, saw two men in a window on the fifth floor.

I glanced up at the Depository Building. There were two men in the corner window on the fourth or fifth floor. One man was wearing a white shirt and had blond or light brown hair. This man had the window open. His hands were extended outside the window. He held a rifle with the barrel pointed downward. I thought he was some kind of guard. In the same window, right near him, was a man in a brown coat suit. Then the president’s car came by. I heard a gunshot. People ran. Like a fool, I just stood there. I saw people down. I walked toward them, with the thought maybe they were hurt and I could help them. People were running toward the grassy knoll. . . . In all, I heard four shots. [1]

The two men seen by Walther could not have been on the fourth floor. Photographs and films show the corner windows completely closed.

James Worrell also heard four shots. He was standing next to the Book Depository, when he heard the first shot. He looked up to see four inches of a rifle with the barrel extending two inches from the stock, “either on the fifth or the sixth floor on the far corner, on the east side.” (The Mannlicher-Carcano barrel extends five and one half inches from the stock.) He looked down the street to see where the rifle was aiming. A second shot was fired, and the president slumped into his seat. He looked up again and saw the flash and smoke of another shot. People were screaming, and others yelling “duck.” As he sought cover around the corner, he heard one more shot.

He ran north on Houston Street and got to the corner of Pacific Avenue, where he paused to catch his breath. About three minutes after the shots, at 12:33, he saw the back door of the Book Depository open and a man in a dark sport coat and light-colored pants came out. He turned right and ran south on Houston toward Elm Street, his coat flapping in the breeze. He was in his late twenties or early thirties, about 5’8″, dark brown hair. He was probably the brown suit coat man seen earlier on the fifth floor. (Warren Commission Hearings and Exhibits, volume 2, pp. 190-201, hereinafter cited as 2H190-201)

Josiah Thompson in his book Six Seconds in Dallas uses FBI reports to track the movements of the brown suit coat man after he was seen by Worrell. [2] Richard Carr, a steelworker at the corner of Houston and Commerce, saw a man wearing a brown suit coat, hat and horn-rimmed glasses walking very fast. He proceeded south on Houston Street and then turned left on Commerce. He got into a 1961 or 1962 gray Nash Rambler station wagon driven by a young Negro. The Rambler was last seen heading north on Record Street. He had previously observed the brown suit coat man around noon at a window on the seventh floor of the Book Depository. At 12:45 Marvin Robinson, driving on Elm Street, saw a Nash Rambler driven by a Negro stop in front of him.  No passenger was with the driver of the Rambler. A white male came down a grassy slope and entered the front passenger side of the vehicle. The car sped away towards the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. A deputy named Roger Craig also saw the man running toward a Rambler and getting inside. Later that afternoon he identified Lee Harvey Oswald as the man who got into the Nash Rambler driven by a dark-skinned man.

The escaping brown suit coat man somehow eluded a police officer who ran into the building seeking a gunman to apprehend. Officer Marion Baker, a motorcycle cop escorting the motorcade, believed the shots came from the roof. He dashed up the steps and went through the front door. TSBD manager Roy Truly went inside with him, volunteering to show him the way. Near the freight elevators in the back of the building were two men, both of whom were white. Baker said that “one was sitting on this side and another one between 20 or 30 feet away from us looking at us.” (3H263)

Baker and Truly looked up into the elevator shaft and saw both elevators on the fifth floor. When they failed to bring one down, they took the stairs. [3] At the second floor landing, Baker saw a suspicious movement of a person going into the lunchroom. Baker followed and pulled a gun on a man, who turned out to be Oswald. Truly said that he was one of his employees. Departing from the lunchroom, they continued up the stairs.

While they were going up the stairs, two women were going down. Victoria Adams and Sandra Styles, Scott Foresman employees, saw the shooting of the president from a fourth floor office window. In a 2008 interview Styles said:

 . . . we lingered by the window for quite some time, trying to determine what was going on outside. Next, we made an attempt to take the front-of-the-building  elevator downstairs. For some reason, however –  which unlike the rear elevator, went only as high as the 4th floor – did not come when we called it. It was only after trying to call the elevator that we thought of going towards the rear stairs. And even then, we did not proceed very quickly – we were wearing high heel shoes! [4]

After failing to get the passenger elevator, Adams and Styles next tried a freight elevator. In a statement to Dallas police officer Jim Leavelle on February 17, 1964, Adams said:

After the third shot, I went out the back door [of the Scott Foresman office]. I said, “I think someone has been shot.” The elevator was not running and there was no one on the stairs. I went down to the first floor. I saw Mr. Shelly and another employee named Bill. The freight elevator had not moved, and I still did not see anyone on the stairs.

On a diagram of the first floor, Adams located William Shelley and Billy Lovelady “slightly east of the front of the east elevator and about as far south as the length of the elevator.” (6H389-390) They were the two white men seen by Baker less than a minute earlier. See the article “CIA and The Texas School Book Depository.” When asked what they did immediately after the shots, both Shelley (6H330) and Lovelady (6H339) said they were outside going toward the railroad tracks. Supporting their alibi is a short sequence from the Couch film showing two men walking in a westerly direction, one of whom wearing a suitcoat. Shelley that day wore a suitcoat, and Lovelady had a plaid shirt.

From the original film

Photo enhancement techniques recently applied by Gerda Dunckel [5] show a plaid shirt on the other man.

Gerda Dunckel’s film frame enhancement

However, Lovelady was wearing a long-sleeved shirt that day, whereas the shirt the man is wearing in the Couch film is short-sleeved.

What the Couch film probably shows is two unknown men walking in the same direction for a few seconds.

The elevators were not running, because of a power outage. Geneva Hine, a TSBD office worker on the second floor, said:

I was alone until the lights all went out and the phones became dead because the motorcade was coming near us and no one was calling so I got up and thought I could see it from the east window in our office. (6H395-396)

After the shooting, “the telephones were beginning to wink; outside calls were beginning to come in.” Presumably the lights came on at the same time too. [6]

After speaking to Oswald, Baker and Truly continued up the stairs. Someone on the fifth floor had taken advantage of the restoration of power and used the west elevator to go down. Baker and Truly took the east elevator to go up to the top floor and then used a flight of stairs to go on the roof. Baker found no evidence of a gunman there.

Baker re-enacted his movements for the Warren Commission on March 20, 1964, It took him a minute and thirty seconds to reach the landing of the second floor. The episode with Oswald took about thirty seconds (3H258), from 12:31:30 to 12:32 approximately. During that thirty second interval, Adams and Styles passed the second floor. They did not see anyone on the stairs, because Baker and Truly were in the lunchroom speaking to Oswald. After the two women went outside, someone turned the power back on. Richard Gilbride calculated that a freight elevator would expend 7.8 seconds to traverse one floor. For someone to get down from the fifth floor to the first floor would take 31 seconds. [7] The dark suit coat man was seen leaving the building at 12:33. The tightness of these parameters suggests the existence of lookouts at key locations secretly restricting access to the elevators by means of controlling the electrical power and using some kind of system of rapid communication.

Jack Dougherty testified that he was on the fifth floor standing ten feet west of the west elevator and five feet from the staircase when he heard a shot. He said nothing about anyone using the west elevator. Neither did Shelley and Lovelady mention anyone using an elevator or running out the back door.

The blonde-haired man might have stayed behind to pack up his gun or to add finishing touches to the sniper’s nest on the sixth floor. Perhaps he counted on his fellow conspirators to rescue him in case he got into a jam. Already by 12:45 a Secret Service impostor was stationed at the command post on the front steps of the Book Depository. Deputy Roger Craig recognized a picture of him on TV during the Garrison investigation of Clay Shaw. The imposter was Edgar Eugene Bradley, [8] a close friend of right-wing militants such as Col. William Gale, Loran Hall, and Dennis Mower. Bradley tried to recruit Mower to assassinate John F. Kennedy in 1960 when he was still a senator.

It was around 12:40 that eight ATF agents, posing as Secret Service agents, entered the building. In a memorandum from ATF supervisor Carl Booth Jr. to Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels, dated January 14, 1964:

On November 22, 1963 at approximately 12:35 p,m,, information was received that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax investigators from the Dallas Branch Office ran from our office at 912 Commerce Street to the Texas School Book Depository building.  At approximately 12:40 p.m., we arrived at the building and reported to Inspector J. R. Sawyer, Dallas Police Department, who was the senior officer present. We assisted in handling the crowds attempting to enter the building and monitoring audio and other broadcasts at the scene. At approximately 1:30 p.m. Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief G.L. Lumpkin requested that we assist in the second search of the building. We searched the building from the roof downward to the boiler rooms. At approximately 7:00 p.m. we left the building after advising Chief Lumpkin and Sheriff Bill Decker that our men would be available and on call to render any assistance possible. [9]

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax agency was the original name of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). At the end of the memo is a list of eight agents with their names, addresses, and phone numbers, among whom was Frank Ellsworth. The identification cards of ATF agents were virtually identical to Secret Service cards, both issued by the Treasury Department. Frank Ellsworth told researcher David Reitzes “In 1963, if you would have asked me if I was a Secret Service agent, I most likely would have answered yes – our roles overlapped that much.” [10] 

Between 12:40 and 12:45, a second power outage occurred. Luke Mooney, a sheriff’s deputy, entered the west freight elevator on the first floor with two women. The two women wanted to go up to the second floor. Mooney described what happened next.

We started up and got to the second. I was going to let them off and go on up. And when we got there, the power undoubtedly cut off, because we had no more power on the elevator. So I looked around their office there, just a short second or two, and then I went up the staircase myself. And I met some other officers coming down, plainclothes, and I believe they were deputy sheriffs. They were coming down the staircase. But I kept going up. (3H284)

Mooney, a deputy himself, did not recognize the plainclothes deputies on the stairs. They were probably ATF agents. Shortly after Mooney got off the freight elevator, Victoria Adams also noticed a power outage.

I pushed the button for the passenger elevator, but the power had been cut off on the elevator, so I took the stairs [in the lobby] to the second floor . . . went out and walked around the hall to the freight elevator meaning the one on the northwest corner . . . I went into the elevator which was stopped on the second floor, with two men who were dressed in suit and hats, and I assumed they were plainclothesmen. . . . I tried to get the elevator to go to the fourth floor, but it wasn’t operating, so the gentlemen lifted the elevator gate and we went out and ran up the stairs to the fourth floor. (6H391)

Mooney joined two other sheriff’s deputies, Eugene Boone and Roger Craig, in going up the stairs to the sixth floor to begin a search for evidence. In the southeast corner they found three rifle cartridges all facing the same direction and no more than an inch apart – a pattern that no bolt-action rifle could make when cartridges are ejected. Obviously, someone had carefully and deliberately placed them there. The deputies also found on the east side of the sniper’s nest a brown paper lunch bag containing chicken bones. They did not see a long paper bag, which supposedly was in plain view near the east side of the sniper’s nest.

Boone discovered a rifle with a telescopic sight laying on the floor, visible only by looking over the top and down an opening between stacks of boxes. Lt. Day retrieved the rifle and handed it to Capt. Fritz. Present at the time were an unknown “Secret Service agent” and two ATF agents, one of whom being Frank Ellsworth (Sims and Boyd report 24H320)

Capt. Fritz asked if anyone knew what kind of rifle it was. [Depute constable Seymour] Weitzman asked to see it. After a close [Craig’s emphasis] examination (much longer than Fritz or Day’s examination) Weitzman declared that it was a 7.65 German Mauser. . .  . At that exact moment an unknown Dallas police officer came running up the stairs and advised Capt. Fritz that a Dallas policeman had been shot in the Oak Cliff area. I instinctively looked at my watch. The time was 1:06 p.m. A token force of uniformed officers was left to keep the sixth floor secure and Fritz, Day, Boone, Mooney, Weitzman and I left the building. [11]

Craig’s time of 1:06 does not comport with the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Officer Tippit was shot at 1:15, which is barely enough time to make a plausible case against Oswald being the killer. The actual time of the shooting was approximately 1:00 pm. [12]

About the same time that many law enforcement officers were leaving the building, two firemen, Leslie L. Warnock and Harry Coombs, arrived to assist in a second search. Below are excerpts from Warnock’s account: [13]

They had called for the Salvage Wagon to go meet No. 1 Chief Joe Connelly at 501 Elm Street and assist the Secret Service and FBI in the search for the assassin or assassins in the School Book Depository Building. This was at 1:02 pm.

When we arrived Chief Connelly told me the Secret Service had requested me if I was available because I had top Secret Security clearance. Chief Connelly and I went to the front steps of the Book Depository Building where we were met by Dallas Police, the F.B.I. and Secret Service Agents. We were then escorted to the front door where we were met by another F.B.I. agent. He in turn allowed only myself to enter. I was taken to the agent in charge and introduced.

He explained what it was he wanted the Fire Department to provide. I asked him if I could bring one fireman in to assist since it was going to be several pieces of equipment. He asked me who this man would be. Did he have top secret security clearance. I told him his name was Harry Coombs and he did not have top secret security clearance. The agent asked me if I would vouch for him? I told him I would trust him with my life. He then said, get him.

Their assigned task was to bring in floodlights and extension cords in order to illuminate the cockloft, or attic, which was above the seventh floor of the Book Depository. This correlates with the task given by Chief Lumpkin to the ATF agents to search the building from roof to basement. Evidently, the ATF agents must have given Warnock and Coombs the impression that they were Secret Service and FBI.

After it was determined that no assassin lurked in the attic, the agent in charge invited the two firemen to view the sniper’s nest.

He showed us where he, Lee Harvey Oswald, had stacked boxes neatly arranged around the area so that he would not be seen if someone accidentally came up. He had also unscrewed the light bulbs around the area. There was a lunch sack, potato chip sack, piece of wax paper and some chicken bones lying in the area. He was prepared to stay for a while. Also, three empty rifle shells on the floor, next to a window that was opened slightly. They fingerprinted everything and had sent the prints off over some sort of small machine and were waiting for the report. Then a voice came over the small radio the agent was carrying. They have identified the assassin as Lee Harvey Oswald. He lived in Dallas and had been working at the depository. Then, another voice came on the radio saying a policeman had been shot in Oak Cliff by someone identified as Oswald. We all started walking towards the stairs and freight elevator at the back of the building. I was talking to an agent and we were sort of looking around all the boxes as we walked, then he looked at me and back at a stack of boxes that had a space between the two neat rows that were about fifteen feet from the stairs. We looked down, there was the rifle. We moved the boxes back gently – enough for him to ease the rifle out. They immediately identified it by type, serial number, caliber and make. Then fingerprinted it. The prints matched Lee Harvey Oswald, again. As we went downstairs, we were told that Lee Harvey Oswald had been apprehended.

Not one, but two, rifle discovery incidents occurred on the sixth floor. The first was a Mauser. The second was the Mannlicher Carcano that was photographed being carried out of the Book Depository by Lt. Day.

The piece of wax paper mentioned by Warnock might have been the paper bag found by Detectives Marvin Johnson and Leslie Montgomery. Fashioned in the shape of a rifle case from TSBD wrapping paper and tape, the bag was about three and a half feet long and eight inches wide. When found, it had been folded and refolded. It can therefore be inferred that the paper bag was made sometime after 1:06 pm.

The “small machine” used to transmit fingerprints to a crime lab might have been a facsimile machine similar to what was developed by Lockheed for the wireless transmission of high-resolution space images from satellite cameras. If Oswald’s prints were indeed on the Mannlicher Carcano as alleged, they might have indicated that he handled the weapon, but it does not prove that he actually fired it.

Assembling the sniper’s nest and planting evidence could not have happened without the cooperation and even the participation of the warehouse workers. William Shelley, Billy Lovelady, Bonnie Ray Williams, Charles Givens, Daniel Arce, and Jack Dougherty spent the morning on the sixth floor reinforcing the old floor with new plywood. At 12 noon they broke for lunch and took the freight elevators down to the first floor.

Between 12 noon and 12:30 Dougherty went back up to the sixth floor “to retrieve some stock” and then went down to the fifth floor, where he was stationed at the time of the shooting. Williams went up to the sixth floor to eat his lunch. Between 12:10 and 12:20 he used the east freight elevator to go down to the fifth floor to join co-workers James Jarman and Harold Norman to watch the parade (3H173). Neither Dougherty nor Williams was apparently aware that there were two others on the same floor.

At 12:15 a spectator on the street, Arnold Rowland, saw a man armed with a rifle that had a scope. He was holding it at port arms at the southwest corner window of the sixth floor, the one opposite to the sniper’s nest. The man appeared to be in his thirties, light complexioned with dark, probably black, hair, about 150 to 200 pounds, light-colored shirt, and dark slacks. He might have been a Latino or Caucasian. The total time he saw him was about 15 to 20 seconds. Rowland also saw a black man in the sniper’s nest window from 12:15 to 12:25.

He was very slender, very thin . . . bald or practically bald . . . 50, possibly 55 or 60 . . . not real dark compared to some Negros, but fairly dark. Seemed like his face was either – I can’t recall detail but it was very wrinkled or marked in some way. (2H88)

.

Richard Gilbride identifies the black man in the sniper’s nest as TSBD worker Eddie Piper in a brilliant section of his book JFK Inside Job called “Piper & and the Sniper’s Nest,” pp. 67- 75. Piper was born in 1908, stood 5’10” tall, and weighed 140 pounds.

At 12:25 Rowland turned his eyes toward the intersection of Houston and Main where the president’s limousine was due to appear. A minute or two later, Carolyn Walther saw the blonde-haired man armed with a rifle – without a scope – at the southeast corner of the fifth floor. He was also seen by a black teenager named Amos Euins. An FBI report dated December 14, said that at 12:15 Euins noticed what appeared to be a metal rod projecting out of what he believed to be the fifth floor southeast corner window.

He said after the President’s car started down the hill, he heard what he thought was a car backfire and he looked around and also glanced at the TSBD building, and on the fifth floor where he had seen what he thought to be a metal rod, he noticed a rifle in the window and saw the second and third shots fired. He stated he saw a man’s hand on what appeared to be the trigger housing and he could also see a bald spot on the man’s head. He stated he did not see the face of this individual and could not identify him. He said he was sure this man was white, because his hand extended outside the window on the rifle.  

Euins also saw a black man with a rifle. Newsman Robert Underwood overheard him speaking to Officer David Harkness.

. . . there was one police officer there and he was a three-wheeled motorcycle officer and a little colored boy whose last name . . . [was Euins]. He was telling the motorcycle officer he had seen a colored man lean out of the window upstairs and he had a rifle. He was telling this to the officer and the officer took him over and put him in a squad car. By that time, motorcycle officers were arriving, homicide officers were arriving and I went over and asked this boy if he had seen someone with a rifle and he said “Yes, sir.” I said, “Were they white or black” He said, “It was a colored man.” I said, “Are you sure it was a colored man?” He said, “Yes sir.” (6H170)

The blonde-haired man armed with a rifle whom Carolyn Walther saw was the same white male whom Euins saw firing a rifle. The black man whom Rowland saw in the sniper’s nest window was the same man whom Euins saw displaying a rifle. Euins saw both men consecutively in two different windows on two separate floors. When Underwood came near to Euins and Harkness to overhear their conversation, he caught only the tail end of what the teenager was telling the officer. 

Confusion over what Euins actually said emerges from efforts by the police, FBI, and Warren Commission officials to compel Euins to meld the two men into a single individual – a white man firing a rifle on the sixth floor.

Within seconds after the blonde-haired man fired his last shot, a strange thing happened at the same southeast corner window of the fifth floor. Robert H. Jackson, a photographer riding with other newsmen in an open-top press car that was among the vehicles in the motorcade said

After the last shot, I guess all of us were just looking all around and I just looked straight up ahead of me which would have been looking at the School Book Depository and I noticed two Negro men in a window straining to see directly above them, and my eyes followed right on up to the window above them and I saw the rifle or what looked like a rifle approximately half of weapon, I guess I saw, and just looked at it, it was drawn fairly slowly back into the building, and I saw no one in the window with it. I didn’t even see a form in the window. (2H159)

The rifle that Jackson saw in the sniper’s nest window was not the one that fired the shots. It was the display rifle being “drawn fairly slowly back into the building” to maximize the opportunity for spectators on the ground to see it. The irrepressible curiosity manifested by the two blacks directly below was seen by two other newsmen. Robert Underwood said:

Bob Jackson from the Herald said he thought he saw a rifle in the window and I looked where he pointed and I saw nothing. Below the window he was pointing at, I saw two colored men leaning out there with their heads turned toward the top of the building, trying, I suppose, to determine where the shots were coming from. (6H169)

News photographer James Altgens, the one who photographed the president clutching his throat when he was hit, said:

I was standing – looking up toward the building – I saw people looking out of windows. I saw a couple of Negroes looking out of a window which I later learned was the floor below where the gun – where the sniper’s nest was supposed to have been, but it didn’t register on me at the time that they were looking from an area that the bullet might have come from. (7H523)

Thomas Dillard, a photographer for the Dallas Morning News, photographed the sniper’s nest window and the window below it.

We had an absolutely perfect view of the School Depository from our position in the open car, and Bob Jackson said, “There’s a rifle barrel up there.” I said, “Where?” I had my camera ready. He said, “It’s in that open window.” Of course, there were several open windows and I scanned the building. . . . And at the same time I brought my camera up and I was looking for the window. Now, this was after the third shot and Jackson said, “There’s the rifle barrel up there,” and then he said it was the second from the top in the right-hand side, and I swung to it and there was two figures below, and I just shot with one camera, 166mm. lens on a 35-mm. camera which is approximately a two times daily photo twice normal lens and a wide angle on a 35-mm. which took in a considerable portion of the building and I shot those pictures in rapid sequence with the two cameras. (6H164)

The “two figures below” were subsequently identified as warehouse workers Bonnie Ray Williams and Harold Norman. The Dillard photo shows them looking in random directions toward the horizon, as if unaware of the tumult below. Their calm appearance is in stark contrast to their impetuous reactions evident in their testimonies.

We were on the fifth floor, the east side of the building. We saw the policemen and people running, scared, running – there are some tracks on the west side of the building, railroad tracks. They were running towards that way. And we thought maybe – well, to ourself, we know the shots practically came from over our head. But since everybody was running, you know, to the west side of the building, towards the railroad tracks, we assumed maybe somebody was down there. And so we all ran that way, the way that the people was running, and we was looking out the window. (3H175)

Harold Norman described what he did to Mr. Carter, Special Agent of the Secret Service, on December 4, 1964:

Just after the President passed by, I heard a shot and several seconds later I heard two more shots. I knew that the shots had come from directly above me, and I could hear the expended cartridges fall to the floor. I could also hear the bolt action of the rifle. I also saw some dust fall from the ceiling of the fifth floor and I felt sure that whoever had fired the shots was directly above me.

In his testimony to the Warren Commission he described what he did next:

Well, we ran to the farthest window facing the expressway . . .  it seems as though everyone else was running towards the railroad tracks, and we ran over there. Curious to see why everybody was running that way for. (3H192)

While taking testimony from Harold Norman, George Ball reminded him of a report by an FBI agent named Kreutzer written on November 26, 1963. Ball said,

He [Kreutzer] reports that you told him that you heard a shot and that you stuck your head from the window and looked upward toward the roof but could see nothing because small particles of dirt were falling from above you. . . . And he reports that you stated that two additional shots were fired after you pulled your head back in from the window. Do you remember telling him that?”

Norman: No, sir; I don’t remember ever putting my head out the window. (3H196)

The Dillard photos were altered to remove the original images of Williams and Norman leaning beyond the ledge with their faces turned upward. Inserted in their place were images taken from no-longer-extant reenactment photos, showing their appearance from the street as they waited for the motorcade, taken on March 20, 1964. They are similar to Commission Exhibit 486, which was taken inside the building.

Evidence of alteration to the Dillard photo is an odd, blackish shape obscuring Williams’s right shoulder.

Two men trying to see the window above them probably looked too contrived in the original photo to be a believable reaction to a weapon being fired just overhead. However, their upward gaze did serve the purpose of deflecting attention away from the true source of the shots and directing the eyes of spectators on the ground to the display rifle above.

The face of a blonde-haired man appeared among three photographs and two sketches of five men in a UPI story on July 31, 1978. The House Select Committee on Assassinations made these pictures public “in the hope that citizen recognition of them might shed additional light on the assassinations” of John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

 A woman in Chowchilla, California recognized a close friend as being among those whom the Committee was seeking. David Minier, author of an article entitled “What is CIA Hiding about Kennedy Assassination?” written on October 21, 2021 for The Fresno Bee tells her story.

Claude Barnes Capehart was living in Chowchilla in 1978. When The Bee printed a government request for information about three persons of interest in a photograph taken at the assassination scene, Capehart’s girlfriend, Faye Weaver, recognized him as one of them. [14]

Capehart first denied it, then confirmed it was he. He told her he had worked as a “hit man” for the CIA on numerous occasions, retiring in 1975. He told Weaver he was present with Lee Harvey Oswald at the scene of the JFK assassination. He said two others were with Oswald, and it was not Oswald who shot the president.

Weaver related this to Chowchilla’s resident deputy sheriff, Sgt. Dale Fore. She told Fore that Capehart was “paranoid” about his photograph in The Bee, and left Chowchilla a few days later, after threatening her not to talk. Weaver said Capehart had passports bearing his photo but assumed names, and numerous firearms, including a high-power rifle with scope and a silenced handgun. She also saw items taken form the CIA spy ship Glomar Explorer and the Soviet nuclear submarine K-129, which the spy ship had secretly raised from the ocean floor. Capehart carried a pistol both on his person and in his car, Weaver said.

Sgt. Fore had met Capehart on several occasions, and Capehart told him he had retired from the CIA. He operated a well drilling business, and Fore noticed he always had “a bundle of cash.” When Weaver showed Fore The Bee photograph of three persons of interest, Fore found one to be a “dead  ringer” for Capehart.

The author of the article does not tell us which of the three photographs is Capehart. One is a photo of a dark-haired man sitting on a street curb in Dealey Plaza moments after the assassination. Another is a side view of a man wearing a suitcoat. He has light or gray hair, an aquiline nose, and appears to be in his late 40s or early 50s. The third is, according to the UPI article, a photo of a “handsome, apparently blond-haired man in his 20s or early 30s. He appears to be wearing a jacket over a dark turtleneck sweater or pullover.” The latter two men were both in Mexico City in the fall of 1963 at the same time Lee Harvey Oswald was there.

 A picture of Capehart on the findagrave website can be compared to the three photographs released by the HSCA. The “dead ringer” that Weaver recognized as her boyfriend is undoubtedly the blonde-haired or light-brown-haired man with the turtleneck sweater. See the article “ The Zodiac Killer and the the CIA.”

A smattering of documents released by the CIA in 1998 reveal that on November 20, 1963, Capehart was 39 years old, 6 feet 1 inch, 220 pounds, brown hair, blue eyes. He joined the army in 1943 and served for three years, attaining the rank of sergeant. From 1961 to 1972, he worked for Reynolds Electrical and Engineering, a Las Vegas corporation that managed the Nevada Test Site, where nuclear devices were tested. In October 1973 he began working for Global Marine, which designed, built, and operated the Glomar Explorer. He departed from Global Marine on July 9, 1975.

An article called “The Capehart Caper” appeared in the November-December 1994 issue of Probe.

In 1978, the HSCA published several photographs of mysterious characters who may have been connected to the assassination in newspapers throughout the country. Capehart’s girlfriend (who chooses to remain nameless) came to Fore and said she recognized Capehart’s face in one of the photos. Further, she told Fore that Capehart was in the Texas School Book Depository the day of the assassination and he knew Oswald had not killed Kennedy. Capehart then showed her supposed elements of his former trade: a silenced handgun, automatic firearms, a cyanide pistol, and passports under another name. He also added that he had been in Chile during the CIA-ITT overthrow of Allende.

Capehart, a hit man for the CIA, was probably the blonde-haired man at the southeast corner window of the fifth floor just before the appearance of the president’s limousine.

Although Oswald did not fire a weapon that day, he was nevertheless involved in the plot to kill the president. His sharp turn into the lunchroom at the instant the policeman saw him was a decoy maneuver to give more time to the sniper team to escape or go into hiding. The success of this maneuver depended on lookouts on the first floor within easy calling distance who could alert him if and when such a delaying tactic was needed. When Baker reached the second floor lunchroom, he observed that Oswald seemed “calm and collected.” (3H252) Several minutes later, newsman Robert MacNeil entered the building seeking a telephone and saw three men who “seemed to be exceedingly calm and relaxed, compared to the pandemonium which existed right outside their front door.” (15) The three men displayed the calmness of conspirators who knew that things were going according to plan: Shelley, Lovelady, and Oswald. After the Tippit shooting, Oswald ran into the Texas Theatre, where police officers arrested him, and put him in a squad car. Detectives seated in the car with him noted his uncanny serenity. C. T. Walker said, “He was real calm. He was extra calm. He wasn’t a bit excited or nervous or anything.” (7H41) At the police station, Oswald answered questions about what he did after his encounter with the police officer in the lunchroom.

OSWALD stated that he took this Coke down to the first floor and stood around and had lunch in the employees’ lunch room. He thereafter went outside and stood around for five or ten minutes with foreman BILL SHELLEY, and thereafter went home. He stated that he left work because, in his opinion, based upon remarks of BILL SHELLEY, he did not believe that there was going to be any more work that day due to the confusion in the building. [16]

About 12:40 Oswald left in a Nash Rambler driven by a dark-skinned man. After his arrest, a search of his pockets revealed that he had a bus transfer that was punched at 1:00 that day. He must have received the transfer from another man’s hands, possibly an Oswald double.

At 8:05 pm at the police station he declared to news reporters that he was a patsy. Apparently, he was not a patsy in distress. The following day, his brother Robert went to the police station to see him. Robert tried to explain to Lee how dire his situation was. He said, “Look, they’ve got your pistol, they’ve got your gun, they’ve got you charged with shooting the President and a police officer. And you tell me you don’t know what is going on?” His reply: “I just don’t know what they’re talking about, Don’t believe all this so-called evidence.” [17] If he depended on the weakness of the evidence to get him off the hook, he probably did not expect that he would be dead the next day, shot down by a night club owner in front of news cameras in the basement of the police deaprtment.

Notes:

  1. From the November 1988 issue of American History Illustrated.
  2. Josiah Thompson, Six Seconds in Dallas, published 1967, pp. 237-244
  3. According to the Warren Report (p. 78) the last ones to use the west elevator were Jarman and Norman. Jarman unequivocally stated that he closed the gate after using it (3H203) thus making it accessible for others to use. This meant that only a power cutoff could have prevented Baker and Truly from using the elevator.
  4. Richard Gilbride, JFK Inside Job, published 2021, p. 33. Styles disputed Adams statement that they went “immediately” to the stairs. She thought that at least five minutes had elapsed. This estimate however is far too long to fit within the chronology of the power outage.
  5. A search of the internet has turned up no information on who Gerda Dunckel is. She might be a fictitious person invented by a photoshop lab deep within the intelligence community. The difference between enhancing an image to clarify details in the original versus re-touching an image to add details not originally there, when done by experts, can be difficult to distinguish.
  6. Referring to the lunchroom, Baker said “it was kind of dim in there that particular day” (3H257).  The lighting in the lunchroom should have been more than adequate with two good-size fluorescent light fixtures attached to the ceiling (see picture 17H214). The word “dim” probably means a darkened area illuminated by sunlight coming through the window near the stairs.  The phrase “that particular day” seems to indicate that Baker had a chance to visit the lunchroom at another time when it was properly lighted.
  7. Gilbride, JFK Inside Job, p. 120.
  8. Roger Craig, When They Killed the President, unpublished manuscript, 1971. According to the Warren Report, p. 52 all Secret Service agents remained at their posts during the race to the hospital. None stayed at the scene of the shooting, and none entered the Texas School Book Depository at or immediately after the shooting. Forrest Sorrells was the first agent to arrive in the area about 20 to 25 minutes after the shooting.
  9. https://www.jfk-online.com/FBI-180-10089-10200-A&TT%20agents-ATF.pdf
  10. https://www.jfk-online.com/jfk100phonyss.html
  11. Craig, When They Killed the President.
  12. See the article “Missing Radio Transmissions,” by William Weston in the May 2000 issue of The Fourth Decade in the Mary Ferrell Archives.
  13. https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth532627/m1/3/ Credit for finding the Warnock document and bringing it to my attention goes to Peter Heitmann.
  14. Faye Weaver died in Chowchilla on February 25, 2003 at the age of 73.
  15. See the article “Robert MacNeil and the Three Calm Men” by William Weston in the November 1994 issue of The Fourth Decade in the Mary Ferrell Archives.
  16. James Boukhout FBI report of interview of Oswald at the police station, November 25, 1963.
  17. Robert L. Oswald, Lee: A Portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald by His Brother, published in 1967, pp. 143-144.

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