Tagarchief: Dealey Plaza

The assassination of president Kennedy: five ‘smoking guns’

Two stories coincide at the time of the killing of president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, on that fateful Friday November 22., 1963 in Dallas. The first story is a human tragedy, the tragic  death of a man, father, husband, friend and loved one. But at the same time inevitable  the murder of the president of the United States of America arouses an unimaginable huge story on the level of the mass media. On a stage that guarantees maximum exposure for many years to come. A public stage where one could easily make money. With an easy message that appealed to the spirit of that time: with a lot of distrust against the government.  In over fifty years since a fierce debate was conducted on the question whether Oswald acted alone as murderer of the president, or that the murder was a conspiracy where Oswald got help or probably had nothing to do with is (“just a patsy”). This article is about the fact that in all those years compelling evidence for a conspiracy was never presented. At several points in time the so called conspiracy theorists thought they had found a smoking gun. But in every instance they were disappointed as later turned out they were wrong. In the next section the most important so called smoking guns are presented, as well as the generally accepted normal explanations. After fifty years the case against Oswald, as stated by the Warren Commission, still stands as strong as it did in 1964.


President John F. Kennedy, 35. president of the United States of America (1917, 1963)

An easy murder inquiry

Right after the murder took place two different stories emerged.  In Dallas the Dallas Police Department (DPD) quickly solved the murder case. Within less than two hours after the shooting they had a suspect in custody. And within the next 48 hours they collected so much compelling evidence that they could charge him for the murders of  J.D. Tippit and J.F. Kennedy. The case would have been relatively easy before a grand jury,  if only the president of the United States was not involved as one of the victims. For more than fifty years a fierce public debate has taken place whether or not the murder was a conspiracy against president Kennedy. The generally accepted idea seems to be that the murder is a sinister mystery and the government can not be trusted with regard to the conclusions on their investigations. The contrast between the murder on the local scale, in Dallas, as to the mondial scale could not have been greater.

The Warren Report followers

The public debate that is now going on for over 5 decades has become severely polarized. On the one side are those who follow the Warren Report conclusions. According to this first elaborate governmental inquiry Lee Harvey Oswald killed president Kennedy and acted alone. He shot 3 times from his sniper’s nest at the sixth Floor of the south eastern window. With his own rifle that he brought in the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building himself on the morning of Friday the 22. November 1963.

The conspiracy theorists

On the other side are the so called ‘conspiracy theorists’, who are either convinced that Oswald did not shoot at all, or at the least received help from one or others. The burden of proof rests on their shoulders. In the many years that followed they tried every effort to prove Oswald was not or could not be the shooter, or try to prove that others were involved. In all those years they never succeeded.

Smoking guns

At a number of times the conspiracy theorists were convinced they had found  a smoking gun. But time after time they turned out to be wrong. The presented so called evidence did not turn out to reveal the irrefutable evidence for a conspiracy they hoped to have found.  What was left was at the most a possible scenario (without any proof), or could be ignored as just impossible.

  1. Badgeman


Source: Mary Ann Moorman, 11.22.1963, Dallas, Elm Street

Mary Ann Moorman and her friend Jean Hill were standing on the south side of Elm Street to make a picture of the president and his wife. Moorman took a polaroid Photo at the exact moment the president was fatally hit in the head. This was the third shot Oswald fired from his snipers nest at the sixth floor on the south east corner of Texas Schoolbook Depository Building. Abraham Zapruder was standing at the opposite side of Elm Street and filmed the entire shooting sequence, also the moment that Moorman took her polaroid Photo (exactly between Zapruder frames 312 and 313). On her picture the grassy knoll is clearly visible. This meant that if the head shot was fired from the grassy knoll, as conspiracy theorists tend to believe, that shooter would be visible in the Moorman photo.

In 1982 an extreme blow up of her picture was presented that seemed to reveal a shooter behind the retaining wall. It looked like a Dallas police officer, shooting with a rifle at that very moment. He was called “badgeman” referring to a batch that seemed to be present on his uniform. After intensive investigation it turned out that badgeman could never be what the conspiracy theorists thought he was. If the shadow figure was a person, he could be no longer than 90 centimeters. And if he was a person of normal height, he should be standing at least 100 meters away to the back to and also he should be standing on some gantry of at least 20 meters high. There is no doubt that any of that kind was present on the parking lot behind the grassy knoll.

Moreover there are no witnesses who have reported seeing a shooter in the area of the grassy knoll. One possible witness came forward (Gordon Arnold) and declared he was standing in the area around badgeman during the time of the shooting. But his testimony proofed to be very unreliable and could not be substantiated.

Below is the picture of the shadow figure Badgeman. It should be noted that in the current time one should be very aware that photo’s floating around the internet may very well have been manipulated. Computer tools, now available for decades, make it very easy to alter photo’s. The picture shown below is merely meant to illustrate the shadow figure of badgeman.


2. Altgens6 photo

Ike Altgens was a professional press photographer who happened to be on Dealey Plaza at the scene of the crime as the shots rang out at president Kennedy. He made this photo, which became known as “Altgens6”, just after the president was hit in the upper back (the second shot).  For several reasons this is a very distinctive photo of the assassination. Most photographs that were taken on Dealey Plaza on that fatal Friday were from nonprofessionals and failed to be sharp and well lighted. Of course they had to deal with the photograph equipment available to the consumers in the early sixties. The Altgens6 however is very Sharp and professional. This photo contains several intriguing elements that have kept up a debate by conspiracy theorists for decades who claimed to have a smoking gun. The photo shows the main entrance of the Texas School Book Depository.


Source: Ike Altgens, 11.22.1963, Dallas, Elm Street

On the left of the entrance is a person visible who is watching the motorcade as is passes by who resembles remarkably to Lee Harvey Oswald. But that raised in itself immediate questions: the second shot just hit the president as this photo was taken. But is Lee Oswald shot from his snipers nest on the sixth floor there is no way he could simultaneously watch the motorcade on the ground floor. When is is indeed Oswald standing in the main entrance, this would implicate a conspiracy as someone else would be the shooter in the snipers nest on the sixth Floor.


After a long and fierce debate eventually is turned out that is was not Oswald standing in the main entrance. It was a colleague of his by the name of Billy Lovelady. There is no discussion no this subject anymore, what many people thought as a smoking gun in Altgens6 did not appear to be so.

3. Zapruder film

When Abraham Zapruder started filming he could not in any way suspect that he was about to make the most famous home movie of all time. The Zapruder movie shows the whole assassination sequence. The second and third, and the reactions of the victims that were shot are quite visible. With regard to the third shot the movie did not only document the impact but also the reaction of the president. After being hit (Zapruder frame 313) the presidents body falls back and to the left. At first glance this brought many people to believe this shot came from the front of the president. Later on it turned out that the physical reaction of the president is consistent with a shot from the back (the snipers nest in the Schoolbook Depository Building, right and behind the president. The Zapruder film did not turn out to be a smoking gun.


Source: A. Zapruder film, frame 312 (just before the fatal headshot).

4. Audio –policeradio

Than there was an audio recording that was made on Dallas Police Radio Channel 1, exactly at the moment of the assassination. The mike of one of the police motorcycles, part of the motorcade in Dealey Plaza, turned out to be stuck in the record position. Analysis of the recording revealed that more than 3 shots could be identified, implicating a conspiracy as Oswald only shot three times. The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in the late seventies that this was the (only) proof of a conspiracy that killed the president. Unfortunately they were unable to establish who the shooters were and from which location they fired. Later investigations revealed that the recording was useless as simultaneous sounds were identified that were coming from the Trade Mart where a church bell sounded at 12:30 pm (the exact moment of the assassination). Again what at first sight seemed to be a smoking gun did not seem to turn out that way.


Source: analysis of recorded sounds relating to the assassination of president John F. Kennedy; (Prepared for Select Committee on Assassinations, U.S. House of Representatives, by Mark R. Weiss and Ernest Aschkenasy, Department of Computer Science, Queens College, City University of New York, February 1979)

5. Umbrella man

He can be seen in several films and photographs. Just next to the Stemmons Freeway sign a man raises a black umbrella just as the president passes by in his limousine and the second shot hits him in his upper back. The umbrella does not make sense as at that moment the skies were all blue. Reviewing images of the motorcade through Dallas does not show any spectator to be wearing an umbrella. Quickly conspiracy theorists believe the umbrella man gave a sign for the assassination to take place at that very moment. There were even people who believed the president was shot from a gun that was placed within the umbrella.


Source: Charles Bronson, 11.22.1963, Elm Street

Years later, in 1978 the Umbrella man, Louie Steven Witt, came forward. And explained why he opened his umbrella at the very moment the president came by. It was a protest against John F. Kennedy’s father. During World War 2 he was ambassador to the USA in London. The complaint of the protester was that his father had supported Neville Chamberlain, prime minister of the UK before Churchill, too much. Chamberlain was accused of working too closely with the Germans. The image of the umbrella appeals to a real English gentleman with umbrella and was a common way of protest in that time. Kennedy would undoubtedly have recognized it if he was not shot at that very time.

And more…

In the past years many more supposed smoking guns were presented. Some too absurd to even consider. For example: some claim that in photo’s it is visible that Jacky Kennedy while entering Dealey Plaza is seen giving a sign that the assassination is to be carried out. This is probably one of the most discreditable and shameless accusation in the entire murder case. Others claim to see that the driver of the presidential limousine looks backward and shoots the president with a gun. Even more absurd someone claims to see that the president was hit by an explosive that was placed in the back of the jump seat of governor Conally who was sitting right in front of the president. And yet another individual claims to see a mirror image in the Zapruder images proving the shooter was placed on the roof of the records building. And this went on and on for many years.

Lee H. Oswald

All those years the mass media provided a grand stage for conspiracy theorists who were primarily occupied with raising questions, causing a lot of dust and confusion before an audience with by definition maximum exposure. Despite all the great words and accusations, they accomplished only very little new information or insight in the tragic event. And that is the point where we return to captain Fritz, head of the Homicide and Robbery division of the Dallas Police Department in 1963. Within less than 48 hours he build a massive case against Lee Harvey Oswald. The subsequent thorough investigation of the Warren Commission concluded he was the shooter and acted alone. Since that moment those conclusions still hold, at the very best some details were added in the following investigations. But the conspiracy theorists have never succeeded in destroying these conclusions.


Source: DPD, 11.23.1963, Dallas

All ingredients were present in the Oswald case. He had the opportunity to act. He knew from a newspaper report on Tuesday November 1963 that the motorcade would pass along his workplace. He knew that around 12:30 pm he would have a time window of some 10 seconds to strike.

On Thursday November 21., the day before the assassination he paid an unannounced visit to his wife and kids who were living at a separate home where he stored his Mannlicher Carcano rifle. On the next morning he took it with him to work. So on Friday 22. November 1963 he had the murder weapon available. At work he constructed a snipers nest. At the crime scene police found three spend cartridges. The FBI concluded that these were fired from Oswalds rifle to the exclusion of all other weapons.   That was also the case with the bullet found on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital. The presidential limousine was brought back to Washington straight after the assassination and investigated by the secret service and the FBI. They found two bullet fragments that were most likely from the third fatal head shot. The damaging in the car was consistent with this third and only bullet that hit the car. All the medical evidence proved that the president was shot from behind and above, consistent with the snipers nest. The wounds of governor Conally match with these findings.

What’s left over is the motive. A farewell letter or declaration was never found. During his interrogations Oswald denied all allegations. The problem with establishing his motive is that is can be seen completely separate of his personal relation to Kennedy. The murder on the president of the USA is by itself a motive with regard to the massive media attention that will arouse. This fits very well to a person who sees no perspective in life. In fact, it was a suicide mission that would finally result in a place in the history books.


From all the books, articles and documentaries on this case it was Vincent Bugliosi (who died in 20150) who gave in my opinion the most convincing story on the Kennedy assassination case. In his book Reclaiming History in over 1500 pages he very convincingly destroys all the conspiracy theories. In the mid eighties Bugliosi fulfilled the role of prosecutor in an unique television project. Oswald was tried before a real Texan jury, as real as possible. The jury convicted Oswald of murder and concluded that he had acted alone.