Continued from Part 2
In chapter nine of his book, Thomas explains to the reader his interpretation of President Kennedy’s and Governor Connally’s wounds. Thomas begins by explaining that the autopsy doctors had failed to dissect the President’s back wound possibly “…for the purpose of hiding the presence of JFK’s Addison’s disease.” Thomas then argues that any bullet striking the President’s vertebrae at full force “…would have been damaged by the impact” and notes that Ce399 was “…nearly pristine”. However, as I have argued in part 2 of this review, the back wound was probably inflicted by a fragment of a Mannlicher Carcano bullet which struck the road and deflected upwards.
Thomas also notes the controversy between the Warren Commission and the HSCA concerning the time that Governor Connally was shot; namely that the Warren Commission concluded Connally was shot at frame 210 of the Zapruder film, whereas the HSCA determined that it was at frame 190. As Thomas and I have noted, the best evidence indicates that Connally was actually shot at frame 224. It’s also worth noting that both the Warren Commission and the HSCA argued that Connally’s reaction to being shot was delayed. The Warren Commission even went on to state that:
“The Governor did not even know that he had been struck in the wrist until he regained consciousness in the hospital the next day.”
Despite this assertion, close examination of the Zapruder film reveals that after frame 224, Connally can be seen reaching for his right wrist with his left hand and then holding onto it. Thus, Connally was aware of his wound. Perhaps due to the excruciating pain and shock he had experienced, his memory had been adversely affected. Thomas writes that Michael West, a forensic pathologist from Mississippi, interpreted this as being “…akin to a knee jerk reflex”. This makes perfect sense to me. Thomas also writes that Jeff Lotz, of Failure Analysis Associates, discovered that Connally’s lapel flapped out from his coat at frame 224.
Thomas then moves onto a discussion of the bullet wound to Governor Connally’s back near his right armpit. Thomas cites the testimony of Dr Robert Shaw, the thoracic surgeon who operated on Governor Connally, where he claimed that Connally’s back wound was:
“….a small wound approximately a centimetre and a half in its greatest diameter. It was roughly elliptical.”
Dr Michael Baden, the chairman of the HSCA’s medical panel, had re-examined Connally’s back wound and determined that it was 2.8 cm long (it should be noted that the length of a MC bullet is 3 cm). Thomas mistakenly asserts that Baden had “…confirmed the findings of the original record”. Lone gunman zealots such as Dr. John Lattimer have been using this measurement as “proof” that a MC bullet had struck Connally’s back by tumbling, after it had exited from the President’s throat. This assertion assumes that Connally’s back wound had shrunken by 2mm.
Thomas explains: “Had the bullet struck the Governor straight on, nose first, it would most likely have made a round perforation less than a centimetre in diameter.” Thomas is undoubtedly referring to the fact that the diameter of a MC bullet is 6.8 mm. Thomas also explains: “The elongation of the wound indicates that the bullet struck sideways and is the primary evidence that the bullet had something first…” At frame 224 of the Zapruder film, Connally is turned sharply to his right towards the infamous Grassy knoll area. Had the shot to Connally’s back originated from the TSBD sniper’s nest, as Thomas posits; then the wound would certainly have been elliptical in shape.
Despite his assertion, Thomas then writes: “The possibility of a tangential wound, a trajectory from the side rather than behind cannot be ruled out completely, but is limited in this case by the alignment of the entrance and exit wounds and by the fact that the Governor was seated almost directly in front of the President.” However, not once does Thomas inform the reader that Connally’s upper body was turned sharply to the right, and therefore enabling him to receive a tangential wound from either the TSBD or the Dal-Tex building. My own belief is that Connally was shot from one of the upper floors of the Dal-Tex building; most likely from the 7th (top) floor.
Furthermore, why Thomas should choose to believe Baden is beyond me. Baden has been exposed as being utterly unreliable. For example, see this discussion of Baden’s credibility by Pat Speer. Some of Baden’s most outlandish claims include that the photographs of President Kennedy’s body were taken by an inexperienced Secret Service photographer; whereas in actual fact, the photographs were taken by John Stringer, the US Navy’s top autopsy photographer. Another ridiculous claim by Baden is that a close examination of the Zapruder film shows that the first shot (by “Oswald”) missed and hit the curb; when in reality, it shows no such thing!
I also strongly advise readers to read through this highly informative article by Milicent Cranor, in which she explains that Connally’s back wound had become 3 cm long – after it was surgically enlarged. This pertinent fact is something which Thomas shamefully never explains to the reader.
Thomas then moves onto what I consider a brilliant dissection of Larry Sturdivan’s theory that the so-called magic bullet (Ce399) remained virtually pristine after striking Connally’s 5th rib and radius bone, due to the impact velocity of the bullet on each bone allegedly being less than its deformation velocity. But Thomas first explains that the tests by the US Army at Edgewood arsenal showed that when a MC bullet was fired at human cadavers, the bullets were severely deformed. He also notes that the results of the deformation velocities were curiously withheld from the Warren Commission.
Thomas explains that Sturdivan had understated the muzzle velocity of the MC rifle (claiming that it was 2000 ft./s, when it was actually 2160 ft./s) and that Sturdivan overstated the distance from the TSBD Sniper’s nest to President Kennedy’s back (claiming that it was 100 yards, when it was merely 60 yards). By simultaneously understating the muzzle velocity and increasing the distance of travel, Sturdivan reduced the impact velocity of “Ce399”, and therefore the amount of damage the bullet was likely to sustain upon impact.
Thomas then goes on to explain that contrary to Sturdivan’s contention that the alleged exit velocity of the MC bullet from the President’s throat was less than 1,700 ft./s, the Army’s ballistics tests revealed the exit velocity was 1798 ft./s. Thomas explains that according to the testimony of both Sturdivan and Alfred Olivier before the Warren Commission, the MC bullet would have deformed from an impact velocity in excess of 1,700 ft./s. It is incredibly ironic that Sturdivan would testify before the HSCA that “…If it [the bullet] strikes bone, which is twice as dense [as soft tissue], then it would begin to deform nose on at approximately 1,400 feet per second.” and not at above 1,700 ft./s.
Sturdivan also testified before the HSCA that a MC bullet which passed through a goat, during ballistics tests, had encountered less resistance than Ce399, and lost less velocity, because Connally allegedly had a greater amount of tissue than the goat. Yet, as Thomas asks; “How much tissue did Sturdivan think Governor Connally had on his ribs?” Much valuable information concerning Sturdivan’s bullet entrance and exit velocities can be found on Pat Speer’s website. Suffice it to say, Sturdivan’s values are deliberately deceptive.
Thomas contends that a MC bullet had struck Governor Connally in the back; breaking apart as it hit his 5th rib, with the nose portion (Ce567) striking his right wrist, and the base portion (Ce569) striking his left thigh and leaving a round puncture. As stated in part 2 of my review, Thomas ignored the fact that Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman, who was riding in the right front seat of the limousine, testified before the Warren Commission that he heard a “flurry of shells” come into the limousine after he saw the President grab at his throat. As I also explained, the bullet did not break into two pieces as Thomas would have us believe, but rather into at least three pieces.
Thomas writes: “More compelling evidence that a broken rather than intact bullet struck the Governor’s wrist is that the missile carried pieces of mohair from the Governor’s jacket into the wound”. He adds that; “It is vastly more likely that the jagged edge of a broken bullet would tear the cloth of the [Connally’s] jacket and carry the material into the wound than the alternative, that the smooth surface of an intact bullet would have accomplished the same.” This makes perfect sense to me. Thomas also cites the testimony of Dr Charles Gregory, who operated on Connally’s wrist, where Gregory claimed that an “irregular missile”; such as broken bullet, can carry debris into a wound.
Thomas also notes that Ballistics experts, Dr Frederick Light and Dr. Joseph Dolce, claimed that Ce399 would have sustained more damage had it caused of all Connally’s wounds. One of the most fascinating discussions in this Chapter is the results of the spectrographic tests performed on the clothing of Governor Connally and President Kennedy, by Dr. Charles Petty at the behest of the HSCA. Petty used the EDX method to determine the amount of Copper and lead traces in the bullet holes, against a “control” (normal) level. A “control” level refers to the blank reading from the spectrographic testing on a part of the clothing away from the bullet hole. The results from the bullet holes are then compared to the “control” level to provide meaningful results.
Charles Petty claimed that EDX results are consider positive if the amount of a certain element is “….at least one order of magnitude, or ten times, greater than the control or normal level for that element”. Thomas argues that since the bullet hole at the front of Connally’s shirt had 12 times the amount of lead as the “control” value, this proves that the bullet had broken up inside Connally’s chest then exited. Thomas also explains that since the bullet hole in the shirt cuff had 21 times the amount of lead as the “control” value, then this is also proof that Connally was hit in the wrist by a broken bullet.
Although I tend to agree with Thomas’ interpretation of the results, citing this as proof that it was a MC bullet which hit Connally and broke-up is a narrow minded point of view. As Thomas notes, virtually all rifle bullets are Copper jacketed; and surely, MC bullets were not the only Copper jacketed bullets available in 1963 which contained a lead core.
Thomas also claims; “By contrast [to the aforementioned bullet holes] the defects in President Kennedy’s clothing, and in the back of the Governor’s clothing, the entry holes, had amounts of lead equivalent to that found in the controls, meaning no detectable amount of lead, and as a result that is consistent with an intact, copper-jacketed bullet passing through the President and striking the Governor”. However, this is a somewhat narrow minded interpretation of the results. The lack of lead could also be explained by a fragment of Copper from the jacket of a bullet striking the President in the back, with a separate shot to Connally by a Copper jacketed bullet.
Thomas explains that the HSCA’s photographic panel decided on a vote of 12 to 5 that President Kennedy was reacting to a “severe external stimulus” prior to Zapruder frame 224, and argues that President Kennedy would not have been able to raise his arms after he was shot through the neck. However, as Dr David Mantik writes in his review of Thomas’ book, this would only be true if he was shot at the level of the 5th/6th cervical vertebrae. The photograph of the President’s back wound places the wound at about the level of the 1st thoracic vertebrae. Therefore, he still would have been able to move his arms.
Thomas also believes that as the President was shot in the back, the bullet had “plucked” the tendons of his trapezius muscle, thereby causing his arms to flap. However, as Dr Mantik explains here, it is not anatomically possible for such a reaction to occur. Thomas then moves onto his explanation of what caused the President to react to a gunshot beginning at circa Zapruder frame 190, when he suddenly stops waving to a group of women on his right.
Thomas believes that this was due to a fragment of a bullet which deflected off the road and entered the back of his skull (perhaps this is what caused the defect in the cowlick area). However, this explanation ignores the evidence that it was the back wound which was caused by a bullet fragment deflected upwards from the road pavement. Thomas cites the observations of witnesses Virginia (Virgie) Baker and Royce Skelton, both of whom claimed they saw a bullet strike the pavement after the first shot. However, Thomas ignores the fact that in her FBI interview dated 24/11/63, Baker claimed she saw the bullet strike the pavement in front of the limousine – and not behind it.
Thomas also discusses the wounding of bystander James Tague, writing that “The Warren Commission knew that a bullet had missed and that a piece of a shattered bullet had struck the curbstone throwing shards of cement that lacerated the face of a bystander, James Tague.” He apparently believes that after a bullet hit the pavement, a fragment from the bullet had sufficient Kinetic energy to travel over 200 ft., and dislodge pieces of concrete. Significantly, Thomas ignores that Tague was always adamant that it was not the first shot which had caused his injury! Please refer to this discussion for more information.
Thomas also believes that Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman had actually heard the President yell out “My God, I’m hit” after the first shot. However, Thomas neglects to mention that none of the other occupants of the limousine recalled hearing the President utter such words. Thomas uses this bolster his belief that Kennedy was responding to the pain of the bullet fragment which allegedly struck the back of his head. However, this ignores the fact that Pat Speer’s comprehensive analysis of the eye/ear witness statements has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the shot(s) to Governor Connally at Circa Zapruder frame 224 was fired from a rifle equipped with a silencer/suppressor. Therefore, if Kellerman had really heard the President yell out “My God, I’m hit” then it could have been in response to the shot near his EOP which then exited his throat; as Pat Speer and I believe.
In Chapter ten, Thomas discusses the back and to the left movement of the President’s head. The overwhelming majority of conspiracy advocates believe this is positive proof that the head shot originated from the left front of the President. However, lone gunman zealots believe that the back and to the left movement was either due to a neuro-muscular reaction, or alternatively, the much more extraordinary jet effect theory. Another theory is that the driver, Secret Service agent William Greer, had accelerated the limousine at the moment of the head shot(s), causing the President’s body to move backwards due to inertia. However, examination of the Zapruder film reveals that Greer, Kellerman, and the Connally’s move forward at the instant of the head shot(s), thereby debunking this theory.
Although Thomas is correct to criticise Larry Sturdivan’s utterly ridiculous theory that experiments with goats somehow prove that a neuro-muscular reaction caused President Kennedy (a human being) to move back and to the left, I have not completely dismissed the notion that some type of muscular reaction did in fact occur. Perhaps the best aspect of this Chapter is Thomas’ critique of Luis Alverez’ experiments, where Alverez had tried to demonstrate using watermelons that a jet effect from the explosion of the President’s head propelled his entire upper body back and slightly to the left.
Thomas makes a number of key points. For example, he notes that with the large gaping hole on the top right of the head, and with the President in the position shown in the Zapruder and Muchmore films, a jet effect would have driven the head to the left, and not backwards. He also notes that Alverez did not use a MC rifle during the experiments, but rather rifle with a higher velocity; and therefore, there was a much greater amount of transfer of Kinetic energy from the bullet to the watermelons. It’s also important to keep in mind that the melons were not attached to a heavy object, whereas the President’s head was attached to his upper body – which also went backwards.
Thomas also endorses the belief that the apparent forward movement of the President’s head between Zapruder frames 312 and 313 was due to the deceleration of the limousine at this point in time. This was first advocated by David Wimp. Although I believe that all of the occupants of the limousine do lurch slightly forward as Wimp has advocated, as I have mentioned previously, Pat Speer has demonstrated that the President’s head moves down slightly due to the impact of a bullet on the top of his head.
Thomas then moves onto a discussion of the so-called magic bullet (Ce399), providing an alternate explanation as to the bullet’s origin. It is worth mentioning here that Thomas provides a good discussion of the lengths to which the FBI went to in order to cover-up the fact that there was a bullet or bullet fragment which struck the commerce Street curb and injured witness James Tague. My own belief is that a fragment of the lead core of the MC bullet which struck the President’s head tangential, and sheared apart, had cleared the limousine and hit the curb sending a fragment of concrete which then cut Tague’s left cheek.
Thomas believes that Ce399 was a missed shot fired from the Sniper’s nest window of the TSBD, which hit the turf near the manhole cover to the left of the President’s limousine. Thomas posits that this was recovered by the man with blonde hair, believed by some to be FBI agent Robert Barrett, and then placed onto a stretcher at Parkland hospital. He believes the bullet was found, and then placed into the President’s coffin where it was allegedly discovered after his coffin was opened up at the Bethesda Naval hospital.
First of all, Thomas explains to the reader that the bullet was not discovered on Governor Connally’s stretcher as lone gunman zealots have been arguing. The bullet was discovered by Parkland hospital orderly Darrell Tomlinson, and then given to Parkland chief of security O.P Wright, who in turn allegedly gave the bullet to Secret Service agent Richard Johnsen. However, Thomas ignores the fact that Wright informed researcher Josiah Thompson that the bullet had a pointed tip! An Otis elevator repair man named Nathan Burgess Pool would inform HSCA investigator James McDonald that he was present when Tomlinson discovered the bullet, and he also claimed that it was pointed! See here.
Thomas cites the claim by Captain David Osborne (the chief of surgery at Bethesda Naval hospital at the time of the assassination) to HSCA investigators that an intact bullet was recovered during the autopsy. Thomas also cites a receipt by FBI agents James Sibert and Frank O’Neill which reads as follows:
“We hereby acknowledge receipt for a missile removed by Commander James J. Humes MC, USN on this date.”
Thomas explains to the reader that when Sibert and O’Neill were questioned about this issue by the HSCA, they claimed that they were actually referring to two tiny silvers of metal removed from the President’s brain. Thomas seems to be implying that Sibert and O’Neill were lying. This makes little sense in light of the fact they’ve always insisted that the bullet had fallen out of the President’s back, and did not exit through his throat?
As further evidence that a bullet was recovered during the autopsy, Thomas cites the fact that Captain John Stover’s name was on the receipt for the bullet, and that Stover allegedly acknowledged to David Lifton that a bullet was present at the autopsy. However, I would hardly call a man with a reputation like Lifton a reliable source of information. It is also important to bear in mind that a HSCA staff report claimed Osborne could not be sure that he actually did see a bullet. However, when Lifton interviewed Osborne, he allegedly denied having ever told the HSCA that he had doubts about seeing a bullet. Osborne also allegedly claimed that the bullet was intact and “not deformed in any way”.
Although it seems there was a bullet recovered at Bethesda, the evidence that this was Ce399 is rather weak. Thomas surmises that this was the bullet that was given to FBI agent Elmer Todd by Secret Service chief, James Rowley, at the white house. I tend to agree. For some time, I have been working a theory that Ce399 was fired by the Dallas Police from an unspent cartridge found in “Oswald’s” rifle. According to the Sibert/O’Neill report on the autopsy (here), FBI agent Charles Killion had telephonically advised them of the following:
“…the [FBI] laboratory had received through Secret Service agent Richard Johnson [Johnsen] a bullet which had reportedly been found on a stretcher in the emergency room of Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Texas.”
The official version of Ce399’s chain of possession holds that it was delivered to Chief Rowley by Johnsen at the white house, who then gave it to Elmer Todd in an envelope. However, the aforementioned report makes no mention of either Rowley or Todd, and instead implies that the bullet was delivered directly to the FBI laboratory by Johnsen. The work by John Hunt (here) has demonstrated that FBI agent Robert Frazier received a bullet at 7:30 pm, whereas Elmer Todd marked on the envelope that he received the bullet at the white house at 8:50 pm! My belief is that Johnsen had delivered a pointed bullet to the laboratory at 7:30pm, with Todd taking possession of Ce399 in the envelope at the white house. I will expand on this theory in a future post on my blog.
As proof that a bullet was recovered from the turf near the manhole cover, Thomas cites numerous sources, such as DPD Officer Joe W. Foster, and St Louis Dispatch journalist, Richard Dudman. In particular, Thomas notes that Warren Commission counsel Norman Redlich sent a memorandum to counsel Wesley Liebeler explaining that Dallas deputy Sheriff Buddy Walthers told fellow deputy Sheriff, Al Maddox, that a bullet was found in the grass. Thomas also explains that Walther’s widow, Dorothy, informed researcher Mark Oates that Walthers told her that a bullet was recovered.
After reading through Thomas’s work, I have become convinced that a bullet was recovered from the turf, and then placed on the stretcher. However, I believe that this was a pointed bullet just as O.P Wright and Nathan Burgess Pool claimed. Through the declassification of certain evidence by the ARRB, an envelope which allegedly contained a 7.65mm shell was discovered (this could have been mistaken for a bullet). Several researchers such as Jim DiEugenio have argued that this proves a 7.65mm German Mauser was fired from the 6th floor of the TSBD. However, the bullet could have originated from a rifle located on an upper floor of the Dal-Tex building, for example.
It’s worth noting that a 7.65mm Mauser bullet has a pointed tip, and could conceivably be the bullet which was discovered in the turf, and then transported to Parkland hospital and left on the stretcher. In the confusion surrounding the President’s assassination, the bullet could have been accidentally left there to be retrieved at a later point in time. However, if this was a 7.65mm bullet which was recovered, it is not consistent with the shot near the President’s EOP, with its smallest diameter measured as 6mm.
Thomas provides what I consider to be a good discussion of the bone fragment discovered by Dallas deputy Sheriff Seymour Weitzman. Weitzman testified before the Warren Commission that he gave the fragment to a Secret Service agent in Dealey Plaza. The problem is; no genuine Secret Service agents were present in Dealey Plaza immediately following the assassination. Thomas informs the reader that FBI agent Vincent Drain told Larry Sneed, author of the book No More Silence, that someone he believed was a “Security Officer” handed him a piece of the President’s skull.
Thomas believes the “Security Officer” was in fact an FBI agent named Doyle Williams. Thomas makes a number of key points which lend credence to his theory that Williams was the man who delivered the skull fragment to Drain. For example, Williams was present in Dealey Plaza shortly following the assassination. Williams informed researcher Henry Hurt that he was sent to Parkland hospital by his superior, Gordon Shanklin, to inform the Secret Service that the FBI was willing to assist them. Thomas explains that Williams tried to barge into the trauma room where the President was taken; only to be punched in the jaw and wrestled to the floor by Secret Service agents.
The incident was reported by Secret Service agent Andrew Berger, and was confirmed by Parkland hospital nurse Doris Nelson. Yet, Williams denied that he was challenged by the agents guarding the door to the trauma room. Thomas asks the reader: “Was it really necessary to force his [Williams’] way into a high security area to pass on such mundane information” (Thomas is referring to the aforementioned message from Gordon Shanklin). This is indeed a very good question. If Williams did have in his possession a piece of the President’s skull, it would make sense that he would try and barge into the trauma room to deliver it to the doctors and nurses attempting to save the President’s life. Thomas also believes that it was Williams who delivered Ce399 to Parkland hospital.
If the Secret Service, during the high tension following the President’s shooting, forcibly prevented Williams from delivering the skull fragment into the trauma room, which they might have thought could have saved the President’s life, then it’s understandable why they would hide the fact that Williams was trying to deliver the fragment to the doctors. As evidence that the fragment which Weitzman discovered was delivered to Bethesda Naval hospital, Thomas cites the testimony of James Humes, where Humes claimed:
“Someone presented these three pieces of bone to me. I do not recall specifically their statement as to where they had been recovered. It seems to me they felt it had been recovered either in the street or in the automobile, I don’t recall specifically.”
Since two of the fragments were discovered in the automobile, as per the reports by Secret Service agents Samuel Kinney and Clint Hill, then it’s perfectly logical in light of all the evidence that the third fragment was the one discovered by Weitzman. I commend Thomas for his work on this issue.
Equally pleasing was Thomas’ critique of Thomas Canning’s analysis of bullet trajectories for the HSCA. Canning was a NASA rocket hired by the HSCA to determine the trajectories of the President’s back and head wounds, and the alleged trajectory between the President’s throat wound and Connally’s back wound. Canning concluded that the trajectories of the wounds led back to the TSBD Sniper’s nest. However, as Thomas and others have noted, Canning ignored the fact that bullets do not follow a straight path when travelling through a person’s body. Canning was also allowed to move the location of the President’s back wound upwards as he desired – despite the fact that the HSCA’s forensic pathology panel had already determined the wound was located at about the level of the first thoracic vertebrae.
Canning had also assumed that the entrance wound to the President’s head was located in the cowlick, just as the HSCA’s pathology panel had concluded. Of course, this ignores the fact that all three of the autopsy doctors; and four other witnesses, indicated that the wound was located near the EOP – and that not a single witness to the autopsy claimed that the entrance wound was located in the cowlick area. Thomas’ critique of Canning’s work is far too detailed for me to go into here, and will leave it up to any interested in reading about to go to Pat Speer’s website (here), or to simply purchase a copy of Thomas’ book. Suffice it to say, Thomas’s critique was thorough and enlightening.
In chapter 13, which has been entitled Comparative bullet lead analysis, Thomas debunks the NAA (neutron activation analysis) used by Vincent Guinn to “prove” that the bullet fragments from Governor Connally’s right wrist had originated from Ce399. Lone gunman zealots such as Vincent Bugliosi have been vehemently arguing that this proves that the President and Governor Connally were both hit by Ce399. Thomas argues that Guinn’s “analysis” is invalid because Guinn only took one measurement from each of the samples he tested, instead of replicating his results.
Guinn had also failed to take a sufficient number of samples for testing, and failed to scientifically prove that MC ammunition is unique to other kinds of rifle ammunition. He also withheld the results from most of the specimens he measured, and did not statistically analyses the data he had obtained from the tests. In fact, as Thomas writes:
“With the single exception of Guinn’s HSCA report, no study of bullet metal before or since has ever claimed to be able to distinguish individual bullets from within the same production batch.”
In other words, apart from Guinn’s contention, there is no way to determine whether Connally’s wrist fragment had originated from Ce399, or from another bullet from the same batch of bullets. Adding further doubt to Guinn’s credibility is the fact that Guinn had conducted similar analyses for the Warren Commission – and at the behest of both the FBI and Warren Commission, he had concealed the results because they failed to support the notion that Oswald was the sole assassin! (Be sure to read through this important discussion of Guinn’s “analysis” by metallurgist Erik Randich and chemist Patrick Grant, in which they explain the flaws of his analysis).
Thomas dedicated the next chapter to a discussion of the murder of DPD Officer J.D Tippit (this chapter can be viewed online here at the Mary Ferrell foundation website). Thomas claims that Tippit’s name was Jefferson Davis Tippit, for which lone gunman zealot Dale Myers criticised him. Former DPD Sgt Don Flusche told Larry Sneed that Tippit’s first name was John. In this news article, former DPD Officer Charles Comer also refers to Tippit as John Tippit.
Thomas begins with a discussion of the possibility that two men may have been involved in the shooting. Witnesses Aquila Clemmons and Frank Wright claimed they had seen two men murder Tippit. Thomas dismisses this notion by stating “Given that the witnesses to the shooting saw only a single individual in the confrontation with the Officer, it is entirely conceivable that one or more of the running suspects were only bystanders, fleeing out of fear.” (My discussion of the Tippit murder witnesses can be read here).
Given that this Chapter can be viewed online, it is not my intention to provide a thorough review of it, but to point out some of Thomas’ omissions and mistakes. Thomas believes that it was Tippit’s squad car which was present outside Oswald’s rooming house, explaining that “Mrs [Earlene] Roberts hazarded a guess during her testimony that the squad car’s number was 106 or 107.” Thomas ignores the fact that Roberts informed the FBI on November the 29th that she had seen car 207 outside the rooming house. This car was assigned to DPD Officer Jim Valentine, and took Sgt Gerald Hill to Dealey Plaza from City Hall. As I explained in this two part article, Hill lied about how he travelled to Oak Cliff. As I also explained, Hill had by all likelihood framed Oswald for the murder of Tippit!
Thomas’ discussion of the so-called order sending Tippit into central Oak Cliff could have been better. For example, he could have noted that when the Channel 1 dispatcher Murray Jackson allegedly ordered Tippit into Central Oak Cliff, he did not contact William Mentzel (the Officer assigned to the Central Oak Cliff district) to ensure that he was in his assigned district. Thomas could also have noted that when Jackson allegedly contacted Tippit at 12:54 pm asking him if he was in the Oak Cliff area, and ordering him “You will be at large for any emergency that comes in.”, he never bothered to inform Mentzel that he should be at large for any emergency – in his own patrol district! Please refer to this article for my own discussion of this issue.
Thomas’ dismissal of the wallet found at the Tippit murder scene containing ID for Oswald and Hidell is, to put it kindly, absurd. Thomas writes that DPD detective Paul Bentley, who had removed Oswald’s wallet from his left hip pocket, informed Larry Sneed that he had discovered ID for Oswald and Hidell. Although this is true, during an interview with WFAA-TV on the day following the assassination (here), Bentley was specifically asked what kind of ID Oswald had in his wallet – and made absolutely no mention of the fake selective service card bearing the name Alek James Hidell. In his report concerning Oswald’s arrest, he again failed to mention that the Hidell ID was found in Oswald’s wallet. Thomas mentions none of this to the reader.
Furthermore, Thomas neglected to inform his readers that when DPD Chief Jesse Curry had informed reporters on the day following the assassination (here) that the money order for the rifle bearing the name A. Hidell had been tracked down by the FBI – he made absolutely no mention that Oswald had the Hidell ID in his wallet when arrested. Thomas also writes:
“….a comparison of the filmed wallet [found at the Tippit murder scene] with those in the Archives by Dale Myers shows that it is not one of those.”
First of all, why Thomas should consider a charlatan like Dale Myers as reliable is completely beyond my comprehension. Secondly, a comparison of one of the wallets at the national archives, allegedly belonging to Oswald, with the wallet found at the Tippit murder scene shows that they are the same wallet (see here). Please refer to this article for my own discussion of this pertinent issue.
Despite my misgivings about Thomas’ dismissal of the wallet found at the Tippit murder scene, I found his discussion of the station wagon to be enlightening. In his summary of the Tippit Chapter, Thomas writes the following:
“The circumstantial evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald shot Officer J.D Tippit is compelling. It is known that he was on foot in the neighbourhood and attempting to escape from the assassination. Eyewitnesses saw him flee the scene of the crime, run west on Jefferson Boulevard and hide in the Texas Theatre, where he was arrested carrying a pistol.”
Contrary to Thomas’ assertion, the circumstantial evidence of Oswald’s guilt is not compelling. The eye witnesses saw a man who undoubtedly looked like Oswald, but as I’ve explained on my blog, their identification of Oswald is completely unreliable. For example, Ted Callaway and Sam Guinyard, who observed the killer running South on Patton Street, claimed they saw him on opposite sides of the Street! Thomas also made no mention of the highly suspicious Igor Vaganov, or the contradictions in the statements of the DPD Officers and witnesses to Oswald’s arrest at the Texas Theatre. Nevertheless, I agree with Thomas that DPD Officer Harry Olsen was likely involved in Tippit’s murder.
Thomas then discusses the polygraph examination given to Jack Ruby by FBI agent Bell Herndon. He explains that there is a great difference in opinion as to how reliable a polygraph is at detecting lies. For example, the American Polygraph association claimed the accuracy of a polygraph was 85 to 95%, whereas a study by the Office of Technology Assessment concluded that the error rate could be as high as 70%.
When Ruby was asked during the polygraph examination whether he knew Oswald and whether he was involved in the assassination, Herndon testified that Ruby was being truthful. However, as Thomas explains, when the HSCA reviewed the results of the polygraph examination, they discovered that Herndon turned down the sensitivity of the Galvanic skin response, whereas the standard procedure was to actually increase it as the examination proceeded.
Against standard procedure, Herndon also failed to ask Ruby any “control” questions, and failed to repeat any of the relevant questions. Furthermore, there were a total of 10 people present when the examination was being made (undoubtedly putting a greater amount of pressure on Ruby) when only Herndon and Ruby should have been present. Thomas also explains the lengths to which FBI director J. Edgar Hoover went to in order to prevent a polygraph examination being given to Ruby. Overall, I thought Thomas’ work on the polygraph examination was brilliant.
Finally, we come to the core of Thomas’ book – the acoustics evidence. As I said at the beginning of my review, I was very impressed by Thomas’ work. It is my honest belief that Thomas is probably the top expert on the acoustics evidence in the world (although researchers such as Dr. David Mantik also have a great amount of knowledge). Thomas’ belief is that there were a total of five shots fired at the President. According to Thomas, the first and second shots were fired 1.65 seconds apart, the second and third were fired 1.1 seconds part, the third and fourth were fired 4.8 seconds apart, with the fourth and fifth fired 0.7 seconds apart.
Thomas explains that the acoustics experts hired by the HSCA had placed three arrays of microphones to determine the approximate location of the microphone of the DPD motorcycle which captured the sounds of the shots; at the time each of the suspect shots on the Channel 1 Dictabelt recording were fired. Although I believe there could be some validity to the acoustics evidence, it is extremely unlikely that there were a total of five audible shots. As Pat Speer demonstrates in his analysis of the ear witnesses to the assassination, over 90% heard three shots or less, with a total of only 18 out of the 269 witnesses analysed hearing four or more shots. What I find to be quite coincidental is the fact that the majority of witnesses indicated they heard the last two shots fired almost simultaneously, just as the acoustics evidence allegedly proves.
The acoustics experts analysed the validity of the test shots against the suspect shots on the DPD Dictabelt by using correlation coefficients, with a higher coefficient indicating a greater likelihood of a match between the echo patterns of the test and suspect shots. Thomas writes that “Generally speaking, values 0.50 or less are considered to be so low as to constitute evidence that there is no real relationship.” Tests with suspect shots 1, 4 and 5 achieved a maximum coefficient of 0.80, with the lowest as 0.70. Tests with suspect shot 2 achieved a maximum coefficient of 0.80, with the lowest as 0.60. Tests with suspect shot 3 achieved only a single microphone match, with the coefficient at only 0.60.
Given the fact that only a single match was found for shot 3, with a coefficient as low as 0.60, Thomas should have disregarded it as an actual captured shot. Bear in mind the fact that Bonnie Rae Williams (who was standing directly below the Sniper’s nest window on the 5th floor of the TSBD) informed the Dallas Sheriff’s Office on the day of the assassination, and the FBI on the following day, that he heard only two shots fired from above his head. Suspect shots 1 and 5 were determined to have been fired from the Sniper’s nest window of the TSBD. The fact that 4 matching microphone positions were determined for shot 1, and 3 matching positions for shot 5, is consistent with Williams’ recollection of having heard only two shots fired from above his head.
It’s important to note that tests with suspect shot 2 achieved a maximum coefficient of 0.80 from the TSBD. Thomas believes that this was a shot fired from possibly the Dallas County records building. Thomas argues that since “Oswald’s” rifle required a minimum of 2.3 seconds to fire successive shots, it could not have fired the second suspect shot only 1.65 seconds after the first suspect shot. Given that only a single coefficient of 0.80 was achieved with a test shot fired from the TSBD Sniper’s nest, with the other two as 0.60, this suspect shot should also have been dismissed. This then leaves us with three audible shots; two from the TSBD and one from the direction of the Grassy knoll, with the last two fired almost simultaneously in accord with the ear witness statements.
Thomas, like the HSCA’s acoustics experts, believes that the motorcycle with the “stuck” open microphone was that of DPD Officer H.B McLain. McLain was part of the President’s motorcade escort, and was riding a two wheeler motorcycle. When McLain was asked by James Bowles, the DPD’s communications supervisor, to listen to a tape copy of the Dictabelt recording, he explained the motorcycle with the “stuck” microphone was a three wheeler. As McLain put it to Larry Sneed:
“You can tell very clearly the difference between the sound of a solo motorcycle that we rode and a three-wheel motorcycle; it’s like daylight and dark. The solo engine has a kind of a thump to it: CHUKE.. CHUKE.. CHUKE.., while the three-wheeler has more of a thrashing sound.. AAANG.. AAANG.. AAANG! You could hear all this on the tapes, but the people in Washington [the HSCA] didn’t listen.”
Whilst some defenders of the acoustics evidence have accused McLain of lying, I don’t believe this to be the case. In this interview with New Zealand researcher Seamus Coogan, McLain expressed his belief that there was a conspiracy behind the assassination, and that the Warren Commission “…did not investigate any thing. They told you what happened and that's the way they wrote it down”. Since the acoustics evidence supports the notion that there was a conspiracy, it is perfectly logical to believe that a conspiracy believer such as McLain was being honest when he said it was a three-wheelers microphone that was “stuck” open and not his.
One of the biggest problems with the acoustics evidence is the presence of Police sirens on the Dictabelt recording approximately four minutes following the assassination (the actual recording of the Dictabelt can be listened to here). Lone gunman zealots, and conspiracy advocates who completely dismiss the acoustics evidence as being bogus, argue that this proves the motorcycle with the “stuck” microphone was at the Dallas Trade Mart, which the motorcade passed en route to Parkland memorial hospital following the assassination.
James Bowles claimed that the DPD Officer whose microphone was “stuck” open was William Price. Although Price was assigned to the Trade Mart with a three wheeler motorcycle, he never confirmed that it was his microphone which was open. In fact, no DPD Officer assigned to the Trade Mart with a three-wheeler ever came forward to identify himself as being the one with the “stuck” microphone. My own belief is that at the time of the assassination, there were possibly two microphones which were “stuck” open, one in Dealey Plaza, with another one at the Trade Mart when the sirens passed by.
Another issue is the sound of the Carillon bell which can be heard several seconds following the suspect shots on the Dictabelt recording. Thomas explains to the reader:
“The HSCA staff was unable to locate a bell tower near Dealey Plaza in 1978. But it was subsequently discovered that back in the early 60’s there was a downtown carillon bell and that it was audible in Dealey Plaza.”
However, Thomas also writes:
“In a subsequent analysis of the recordings IBM scientists, including NRC panel member Richard Garwin, discovered that the bell sound is actually on both [DPD] Channels.”
In my opinion, the presence of the bell sound on both DPD Channels is evidence that the sound was captured in Dealey Plaza. The motorcycle escorts in the president’s motorcade were using Channel 2 for communications. However, the DPD Officers at the Trade Mart were only using Channel 1 for normal Police communications. Since the sound was captured by a microphone on Channel 2, it logically follows that there was a Microphone “stuck” open in Dealey Plaza on Channel 1 as well.
In the final Chapter of his book, Thomas explains his “reconstruction” of the shooting sequence using the acoustics evidence. Thomas posits the first shot was fired from the TSBD Sniper’s nest at Circa Zapruder frame 175 which missed. This is incredibly ironic in light of the fact that Thomas previously used Governor Connally’s rapid head turn to his right at Circa Zapruder frame 162 as evidence that the first shot was fired at this point in time!
Thomas posits the second shot which was fired 1.65 seconds after the first, at Circa Zapruder frame 204 was also a missed shot. Thomas claims that this was the shot which caused witness Phil Willis to snap a blurry picture due to his startle reaction to the shot. However, Willis clearly said it after the first shot, and not the second which startled him; a fact which Thomas ignores. As I’ve already stated, there was no audible shot at this point in time.
According to Thomas, the third shot was the single bullet shot to the President and Governor Connally fired from the TSBD Sniper’s nest. He explains that this synchronises with Connally’s jacket flapping out (at Zapruder frame 224) and his Stetson hat flipping up. However, this assumes that the sound of the gunshot from the TSBD reached H.B McLain’s microphone at the exact difference in time the visible reaction was captured by Zapruder’s camera prior to the headshot(s). In my opinion, it defies probability that this could happen; and as previously explained, the evidence supporting a shot from the TSBD at this point in time is extremely weak at best.
The fourth shot was allegedly the head shot; fired from behind the picket fence on top of the Grassy knoll area. It defies physics that such as shot could have sharply deflected after hitting the President’s right temple, and then blowing out a hole at the back right of his head as Thomas posits. My belief is that this shot missed. According to the analysis of the acoustics evidence, there was a 0.80 correlation coefficient for the shot emanating from behind the picket fence. Based on the shock wave precedence of the bullet, Thomas calculated the muzzle velocity of the rifle as being approximately 2350 to 2550 ft./s.
Ironically, he had advocated a muzzle velocity of only 2,200 ft./s when calculating the flight time of the bullet to hit the president in the head. It’s completely baffling as to why Thomas didn’t use the 2350 to 2550 ft./s estimate in calculating the flight time. In any event, as I explained in part 2 of my review, the most credible hypothesis is that the bullet fired from the MC rifle found on the 6th floor of the TSBD hit the top of the President’s head tangentially.
The fifth and final shot was fired from the 6th floor of the TSBD according to Thomas, which missed and struck the turf to the left rear of the President’s limousine. Although I agree that a shot did miss and hit the turf, Thomas’ contention that a total of three shots had missed is very unlikely, in my opinion. I agree that one or even two misses is plausible, but not three. Although Thomas believes the bullet which hit the turf was Ce399, my own belief is that the bullet was a pointed bullet which was found on the stretcher at Parkland Hospital by Darrell Tomlinson.
There’s one final issue I would like to discuss before concluding my review. As most researchers are aware, many witnesses to the assassination mistook the first shot for the back fire of a motorcycle. Thomas believes that the “stuck” microphone captured the sound of a motorcycle backfire. Indeed, when one listens to a copy of the Dictabelt recording, there is a loud popping sound immediately preceding the suspect shots. Thomas now claims that this is what Governor Connally was reacting to when he rapidly turned his head to the right. However, Connally made it clear that what he thought he heard was a rifle shot; and not a motorcycle backfire.
Thomas actually speculates that the backfire may have inadvertently caused the gunmen to fire prematurely at the President, although he admits that this is pure conjecture. In my opinion, the popping sound heard a split second before the suspect sounds on the Dictabelt recording may actually have been the backfire of the three-wheeler which captured the sounds. Now consider this: Thomas wants the reader to believe that there was a total of six gunshot like noises (one backfire noise and five shots); whereas the overwhelming majority of the witnesses only recalled hearing a total of three gunshot like noises! I find the notion that most of the witnesses would hear only three of the noises out of a total of six to be completely ridiculous.
That concludes my review. Overall, this was a good book, but not a great book. I have watched several of Thomas’ interviews on YouTube, and found him to be an intelligent and decent man. It was therefore a bit uneasy for me to criticise him in the manner in which I did. Despite my misgivings with some of his work, I think that he made a great contribution to trying to solve the assassination with his work on the acoustics evidence, the finger print evidence etc. Sometime in the future, I intend to perform my own analysis of the acoustics evidence and post it on my blog.