Thursday, 13 September 2012

Was Lee Harvey Oswald guilty? - Part 1

The evidence against Oswald is conclusive and overwhelming - or so lone gunman theorists tell us. Nobody else was a shooter. We are told that for some unknown reason, Oswald decided he wanted to kill the President he admired. The following is the evidence which according to them, “proves” Oswald is guilty:

1.      Oswald owned the Mannlicher Carcano rifle discovered on the 6th floor of the Texas School book depository. He ordered it using his alias “Alek James Hidell”
2.      The Dallas police discovered his fingerprints on the 6th floor boxes, and on the rifle
3.      The Dallas police discovered a palm print from Oswald’s right hand on the barrel of the rifle
4.      Fibres from Oswald’s brown shirt he was arrested wearing, were discovered on the butt end of the rifle
5.      Oswald’s co-worker Buell Wesley Frazier and his sister, observed Oswald carrying a brown package to work
6.      Howard Leslie Brennan, a witness viewing the motorcade from Elm Street, positively identified Oswald as the assassin
7.      Oswald shot and killed Dallas policemen, JD Tippit, whilst escaping

Wow! I am simply overwhelmed by the “overwhelming” evidence against Oswald. But why don’t we, as serious assassination researchers, look into all the problems with the evidence.

Let's begin with Oswald’s alleged ownership of the rifle.

The rifle was a 6.5 mm, 40.2 inch long, Italian made Mannlicher Carcano rifle. Oswald allegedly ordered it from Klein’s sporting goods on March 12, 1963, under the name “Alek J Hidell”, where it was shipped to his PO Box (which was in his real name).

Researchers John Armstrong and Gil Jesus have proven this to be nothing but a complete false hood. For example:

·         Oswald’s work timesheets at Jaggars- Chiles- Stovall, prove that Oswald was at work when the money order for the rifle was purchased and mailed
·         The money order did not contain three bank stamps which it must have, as proof that it was routed through the federal reserve system and deposited
·         The money order in evidence was for a 36 inch rifle, yet they allegedly shipped Oswald a 40.2 inch rifle (even though Klein’s had 36 inch rifles in stock at the time, and didn't sell  40.2 inch rifles until April).
·         Klein’s didn’t mount scopes on 40.2 inch rifles – even though “Oswald’s” had a scope
·         Oswald’s mail was being monitored by FBI informants at the Post office, but they somehow overlooked him receiving a rifle, and no witnesses at the post office recall handing a long package to him
·         There is no certificate of good character issued to Oswald (as Hidell) by a judge – even though by law, one was required

Etc etc etc

Let’s also consider this: Why would Oswald use an alias (obviously to hide the fact that he was ordering a rifle), but then have it delivered to his PO Box under his real name? This makes no sense what so ever. The one other thing to consider is this: Hidell was not authorised to receive mail/packages at Oswald’s PO Box.

In my post, Was Lee Harvey Oswald a complete moron?, I discussed the allegation made by former FBI agent Robert Barrett, about a wallet found at the Tippit murder scene which contained ID for both Oswald and Hidell. Barrett’s claim was confirmed by former DPD officer, Leonard Jez, who told researcher Martha Moyer that the wallet contained ID for Oswald. I also discussed how no mention of the Hidell name was made by anybody on day one of the investigation – despite the claims a fake selective service card bearing the name was allegedly found in Oswald’s wallet when he was arrested. Please see post for more info.

Now despite all these problems, lone gunman zealots uphold one piece of evidence as “proof” that Oswald ordered the Mannlicher Carcano rifle – his handwriting on the money order. It is true that FBI experts identified the hand writing as belonging to Oswald, but couldn’t his handwriting be forged? Of course it could. Take for example the “Dear Mr Hunt Letter” The HSCA’s hand writing experts claimed it was a forgery. Hence, the writing on the money order could also easily have been a forgery. Also, let’s bear in mind that hand writing analysis is not an exact science.

Although there is a great deal of evidence that Oswald didn’t, and couldn’t have ordered the rifle, it truly amazes how lone gunman kooks continue to uphold a highly questionable piece of evidence such as hand writing, as absolute proof that Oswald owned the rifle.

For more information on the Oswald’s ownership of the rifle, be sure to check out Gil Jesus’s website here.

One of the most important factors to take into account when assessing Oswald’s guilt is the fact that there is not a shred of evidence which indicates Oswald ever had possession of the rifle ammunition! Not that lone gunman kooks would tell you this, mind you. For example, no ammunition was found amongst Oswald’s possessions. There are also no witnesses at any ammo stores who recalled selling Oswald any ammunition, nor were any receipts discovered proving that Oswald bought the ammo.

Also, let’s take into account the fact that neither the DPD nor the FBI could identify any of Oswald’s prints on the three spent shell casings discovered in the sniper’s nest, or the single  live round discovered inside the rifle. From DPD Lieutenant Carl Day’s testimony:


Could you tell us what exactly you did in testing those hulls for fingerprints?

Mr. DAY.

I used fingerprint powder, dusted them with the powder, a dark powder. No legible prints were found.

With the evidence showing that Oswald didn’t own the rifle, and that he didn’t purchase the required ammunition, the case against him as the lone deranged assassin is severely undermined. The only alternative ways to explain his guilt is that he either stole both the rifle and ammunition, or he had a co-conspirator(s) who gave him the rifle with ammo, or the co-conspirator(s) brought the rifle into the depository. However, there is no evidence that Oswald stole either one. Hence, if Oswald was the assassin, there had to be at least one other person involved.

Finger prints on the boxes and rifle

Let’s now take a look at the fingerprints the DPD discovered on the rifle and the boxes forming the sniper’s nest. The examination of the boxes and the rifle was undertaken by Lieutenant Carl Day – the head of the DPD crime lab. According to Day’s Warren commission testimony, he discovered two prints on the magazine housing of the rifle, which he thought belonged to Oswald. He also examined the bolt of the rifle for prints, but was unable to find any prints on it.

The following are the relevant excerpts from Day’s testimony:


Did you dust the bolt for fingerprints?

Mr. DAY.

Yes, sir.


Before the live round was ejected?

Mr. DAY.

No, no; the only part that Captain Fritz touched was the round nob. I looked at it through a glass and decided there was not a print there, and it would be safe for him to open the bolt.

Concerning the prints on the magazine housing:


Did you do anything with the other prints or partial prints that you said you thought you saw?

Mr. DAY.

I photographed them only. I did not try to lift them.


Do you have those photographs, sir? I will mark the two photographs which you have just produced Commission Exhibits 720 and 721. I will ask you to state what these are.

Mr. DAY.

These are prints or pictures, I should say, of the latent--of the traces of prints on the side of the magazine housing of the gun No. C-2766.


Were those prints in such condition as to be identifiable, if you know?

Mr. DAY.

No, sir; I could not make positive identification of these prints.


Did you have enough opportunity to work and get these pictures or not?

Mr. DAY.

I worked with them, yes. I could not exclude all possibility as to identification. I thought I knew which they were, but I could not positively identify them.


What was your opinion so far as it went as to whose they were?

Mr. DAY.

They appeared to be the right middle and right ring finger of Harvey Lee Oswald, Lee Harvey Oswald.

As we can see, Day could not positively identify the fingerprints as belonging to Oswald. He also claimed he didn’t lift the prints, but rather only photographed them. However, he did lift the palm print which was allegedly discovered on the underside of the gun barrel, and eliminated any possible future examination of the print on the barrel. When the FBI’s latent fingerprint examiner, Sebastian Latona (a man who had previously examined over 1,000,000 finger prints for identification) examined the prints identified by day, he concluded they were worthless. From page 123 of the Warren report:

“The formations, the ridge formations and characteristics, were insufficient for purposes of either effecting identification or a determination that the print was not identical with the prints of people. Accordingly, my opinion simply was that the latent prints which were there were of no value”

So here we have Latona, claiming the fingerprints which Day had only thought belonged to Oswald, were of no value as far as he was concerned. Remember, according to Latona’s testimony, he had examined over a million finger prints during his career, so he knew exactly what he was talking about.

With the fingerprints on the rifle being worthless, only the so-called palm print could positively link the rifle to Oswald. But before discussing the palm print, let’s take a look at the prints found on the boxes inside the sniper’s nest. The following photo shows the boxes forming the sniper’s nest. The two boxes stacked on top of each other in the middle of the photo, were allegedly used by Oswald as the gun rest.

The box circled in red was allegedly used by Oswald as a seat whilst waiting for the kill. When Lt Day examined the box for prints, he discovered Oswald’s right palm print on top of it. The speculation was that Oswald left the print there, as he was sitting down with his right hand resting on the box. From page 140 of the Warren report:

“During the afternoon of November 22, Lieutenant Day of the Dallas police dusted this carton with powder and developed a palm print on the top edge of the carton on the side nearest the window.222 The position of this palm print on the carton was parallel with the long axis of the box, and at right angles with the short axis; the bottom of the palm rested on the box.223 Someone sitting on the box facing the window would have his palm in this position if he placed his hand alongside his right hip.”

The box was also sent to the FBI and examined by Sebastian Latona. He confirmed the print was made by Oswald’s right palm. Although lone gunman kooks have been upholding this as an incriminating piece of evidence, Latona explained the print could have been as old as 3 days. From page 141 of the Warren report:

“Latona identified it as Oswald's right palm print. In Latona's opinion "not too long" a time had elapsed between the time that the print was placed on the carton and the time that it had been developed by the Dallas police. Although Bureau experiments had shown that 24 hours was a likely maximum time, Latona stated that he could only testify with certainty that the print was less than 3 days old

Now if the print could have been as old as three days, then it is hardly an incriminating piece of evidence. Let’s bear in mind that Oswald worked on the 6th floor as an order filler, so the presences of his prints on some of the boxes (even those near the window) are not necessarily proof of his guilt. Even the Warren commission admitted as much. Also, had Oswald sat on the box while filling out orders on his clip board, then the palm print could have been created then.

How about the boxes forming the “gun rest”? When Latona examined these boxes, he discovered a left palm print and right index finger print belonging to Oswald on the top box, but none of Oswald’s print on the bottom box. In fact, Latona was able to find a total of 20 finger prints, and 8 palm prints which he could identify. From page 141 of the Warren report:

“Sebastian F. Latona, supervisor of the Latent Fingerprint Section, testified that 20 identifiable fingerprints and 8 palm prints were developed on these cartons. The carton on the windowsill and the large carton below the window contained no prints which could be identified as being those of Lee Harvey Oswald. The other "Rolling Readers" carton, however, contained a palm print and a fingerprint which were identified by Latona as being the left palm print and right index fingerprint of Lee Harvey Oswald.”

Now if Oswald was truly guilty, then why weren’t any of his prints discovered on the bottom box, or on the box on top of the window sill? Perhaps he wore gloves, in which case the prints on the top would not have been created as he formed the sniper’s nest. If he didn’t wear gloves, then his prints should have been found on those boxes as well. It’s quite possible that any additional prints from Oswald were obliterated from the boxes, as they were handled by the authorities. Bear in mind that there were unidentified prints on the boxes. Those prints could very well have belonged to co-conspirators who didn’t wear any gloves.

Ultimately the Warren commission concluded that the prints were not conclusive of Oswald’s presence at the 6th floor window during the assassination, but rather they had some probative value in reaching the conclusion Oswald was the assassin. However, as the report also explained – they couldn’t establish the exact time Oswald was at the window. They also determined that none of the employees, aside from Oswald, left any identifiable prints on the boxes. From page 141 of the Warren report:

“Although a person could handle a carton and not leave identifiable prints, none of these employees except Oswald left identifiable prints on the cartons.232 This finding, in addition to the freshness of one of the prints and the presence of Oswald's prints on two of the four cartons and the paper bag led the Commission to attach some probative value to the fingerprint and palm print identifications in reaching the conclusion that Oswald was at the window from which the shots were fired, although the prints do not establish the exact time he was there.”

At best, the fingerprint and palm print evidence on the boxes are suggestive of Oswald’s guilt. The fact that lone gunman advocates continue to uphold the prints as incriminating, is yet another example of their narrow minded approach to the evidence.

The palm print

The one “solid” piece of evidence used by lone gunman theorists as proof of Oswald’s guilt is the palm print allegedly discovered by Lt Carl Day on the barrel of the rifle. However, it is one piece of evidence which has serious question marks concerning its legitimacy. The palm print issue has been discussed at length by countless researchers – most notably by Sylvia Meagher, in her the sterling book, Accessories after the fact.

Now obviously if the print is not genuine, then the DPD were involved in framing Oswald for the assassination of the President. Lone gunman kooks assure us that the DPD would do no such thing. Well let’s consider why they would. First of all, the files released by Dallas DA Craig Watkins have revealed that under the tenure of then DA, Henry Wade, the DPD put over 20 innocent people in prison! So we know they were corrupt.

One of the best examples is the case of James Lee Woodward. Woodward spent 27 years in prison for a murder which DNA testing has proven he didn’t commit! In fact, Wade’s office hid photographs from Woodward’s defence attorneys, which showed that the tyre marks from his car didn’t match those discovered at the murder scene. For more info, please see this article on the website.

Secondly, the DPD had charged Oswald for murdering one of their fellow officers. Do lone gunman kooks honestly not think the DPD would manufacture evidence to get back at him? Of course they would. Let’s also consider this: Oswald was arrested in the Texas Theatre allegedly with a revolver. He left the TSBD following the assassination, where he then supposedly shot Officer JD Tippit whilst escaping. The DPD obviously had a viable suspect for both crimes. Now, do lone gunman theorists really think the DPD were going to go on a wild goose chase, looking for other suspects, when they had Oswald? Of course they weren’t.

I honestly wonder whether lone gunman theorists actually understand the full magnitude of the Kennedy assassination. Kennedy was the President of the United States of America. Once the news of his assassination was announced, the entire United States and the leader of every civilised nation were anxiously waiting to learn who the culprit(s) were. In the year 1963 and before, the assassination of a sitting President was not considered a federal crime. So with the assassination under DPD jurisdiction, they were under the enormous burden to find the identities of the culprit(s). Obviously with Oswald as a viable suspect, they would charge him for the assassination – even if it meant assuring his guilt by manufacturing false evidence, such as the palm print!

Bear in mind, that before the so-called backyard photographs of Oswald, and the money order for the rifle were discovered, both DPD chief Jesse Curry and District Attorney Henry Wade, had made it known to the media that they believed Oswald was the assassin.

So let’s take a look at all the problems with the palm print. The print was allegedly discovered by Lt Carl Day on the night of the assassination. Below are the relevant excerpts from Day’s Warren commission testimony:


How about the palm print?

Mr. DAY.

The palm print again that I lifted appeared to be his right palm, but I didn't get to work enough on that to fully satisfy myself it was his palm. With a little more work I would have come up with the identification there.


Is there anything else you did in connection with the rifle, the cartridges, the live cartridge, or the taking of prints from any of these metallic objects that you haven't talked about yet?

Mr. DAY.

No, sir; I believe that is the extent of the prints on any of those articles.


Did you make a positive identification of any palm print or fingerprint?

Mr. DAY.

Not off the rifle or slug at that time.


At any other time did you off the rifle or the slugs?

Mr. DAY.

After I have been looking at that thing again here today, that is his right palm. But at that time I had not no----


When you are saying you looked at that thing today, to what are you referring?

Mr. DAY.

Your No. 637 is the right palm of Oswald.


Handing you what has been marked "Exhibit 629" I ask you to state if you know what this is.

Mr. DAY.

That is the right palm of Lee Harvey Oswald.


Do you know where this print was taken?

Mr. DAY.

Yes, sir; it was taken by Detective J. B. Hicks in Captain Fritz' office on November 22, 1963.


Did you take more than one right palm print on that day, if you know?

Mr. DAY.

Yes, sir; we took two, actually we took three. Two of them were taken in Captain Fritz' office, and one set which I witnessed taking myself in the identification bureau.


Any particular reason why you took more than one?

Mr. DAY.

In most cases, when making comparisons, we will take at least two to insure we have a good clear print of the entire palm.

As we can see, Lt Day identified the palm print he allegedly lifted off the barrel of the rifle, as being that of Oswald’s right palm. However, there are many reasons to believe that Day was lying. First of all, Day was alone when he “discovered” the print – so there is absolutely no corroboration for his discovery. Secondly, although he photographed the two latent finger prints he found on the rifle, he neglected to photograph the palm print. As Sylvia Meagher explained, Day claimed that he neglected to photograph the print, because he received orders from Chief Curry to stop working on the rifle. However, this was a lie!

According to his testimony, Day photographed the two latent finger prints at 8:00 pm. During his interview with the FBI, he informed them that he received orders from Chief Curry to stop working on the rifle shortly before midnight. Now if Day photographed the prints at 8:00 pm as he claimed, then he had ample time to also photograph the palm print. His excuse for failing to photograph the print is therefore a lie. Unless of course we are to believe that “shortly before midnight”, actually meant at 8:00 pm. completely ridiculous!

When FBI agent, Vincent Drain, collected the rifle for examination shortly before midnight, Day allegedly told him that he had discovered the print on the rifle. Drain however, failed to corroborate Day’s claim! But it’s worse than that actually. When Sebastian Latona examined the rifle for the palm print, he found no trace of it! As Latona explained to the Warren commission, the lifting of the palm print had apparently been so complete, that not a trace of it remained on the barrel of the rifle. From Latona’s testimony:


We had no personal knowledge of any palm print 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 been 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.


Do I understand then that if there is a lifting of this kind, that it may obliterate----




The original print?


That is right.


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?


On the 29th of November.


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


As far as I know.

With no trace of the print being discovered on the barrel of the rifle, and with not a single photograph taken of the print on the barrel, there is simply proof the print was ever on the barrel as Lt Day claimed. However, the most truly bizarre episode surrounding the print, as Latona informed the Warren commission, is the fact that the FBI had received the print on the 29th of November (a full week following the assassination)! Now most people would consider this to be truly odd, but not as far as lone gunman zealots are concerned.  

Latona eventually identified the palm print as being that of Oswald’s right palm. His findings were confirmed by Arthur Mandella (a finger print expert with the New York police dept.) and by another FBI fingerprint expert, Ronald G Wittmus. However, given that there are no photographs of the print on the rifle, no corroboration for Day’s lifting of the print, the lies Day told, and the fact the FBI received the print a full week following the assassination, there is simply no reason to believe Oswald ever left a print on the rifle.

But if that’s not enough to convince you that there was no palm print, then just consider this: There was no mention of any palm print during the first two days of the investigation, by anybody! (It reminds me of the Hidell ID). In fact, the first mention of it was made during a press conference held by Henry Wade on the evening of the 24th of November – after Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby.

It is also important to note that in recent years, the validity of fingerprint identification has been considered to be unreliable. Dr David Mantik explains this in great detail in his review of John McAdams appalling book, JFK assassination logic. Please see this link. One example of the unreliability of finger print evidence is the Hyde Park bombing case in London, for which a man named Gilbert McNamee was convicted. As Dr Mantik explained:
“13 different experts including Heads and Deputy heads of bureaux in England, Senior fingerprint experts and Independent experts gave opinions at the Royal Court of Justice in London as to their findings. Opinions ranged from "not identical", "identical" and "insufficient." Opinions also ranged as to whether the mark had any movement in it. McNamee’s appeal was successful”

In 1993, latent fingerprint examiner, Vincent Scalese, allegedly identified the latent fingerprints on the magazine housing of the MC rifle (which Carl Day first discovered), as positively belonging to Oswald. Warren commission defenders have in turn upheld this as positive proof of Oswald’s guilt. However, the recent studies on fingerprint identification have rendered this conclusion to be false.



  1. Please note:

    After having re-read this post, I realised I neglected to mention the fact that no cleaning equipment for a gun was found amongst Oswald's belongings.

    Go figure.

  2. Has anyone mentioned how Oswald shot his rifle- right-handed vs. left-handed? If he shot right-handed, then his left palm is obviously under the weapon. Would this make a right-handed print irrelevant?


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