Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Man in the Doorway


The controversy has raged for some time about the famous James Altgens photo showing a man resembling Oswald sanding in the doorway of the School Book Depository Building watching the motorcade go by. The timing is just after the first bullet strike on John Kennedy. After doing my own comparison I have concluded that it is not Oswald but another employee, Billy Lovelady. They do resemble each other from a distance and certainly from a fuzzy image. The general consensus is that Lovelady is standing in the doorway though many in the conspiracy crowd refuse to believe it. The shape of the hairline, facial features, and the pattern on the shirt all point to Lovelady.

But like all things in the Kennedy assassination investigation there is always a twist. When Billy Lovelady was asked under oath for the Warren Commission who was with him he mentioned two people, Bill Shelley and Sarah Stanton. The twist comes when the Dallas police are interrogating Oswald and he states that did not shoot the president because he was on the first floor viewing the motorcade at the time the shots rang out. As proof he gives Bill Shelley’s name as one of the persons there. This fact is born out by witness testimony of Lovelady and Shelley himself. Obviously Oswald can’t be seen in the photograph above. However, the view is blocked by two secret Service agents and a tree. Could Oswald been standing to Lovelady’s left?

So here is the rub—only by Oswald being on the first floor could he have known of Bill Shelley in the doorway. He could not have seen him from the sixth floor even if he had hung himself out the window. Other evidence questions Oswald being the sniper. There is his gun in the sniper’s nest with his palm print on it, though one can hardly shoot a rifle one handed. Conversely, the paraffin test for nitrites on his cheek is a negative. The landing on each floor is 20 feet. So coming down the stairs he has to cross that distance. Nobody on those floors after the assassination saw Oswald walking by. As usual with the Kennedy assassination, the story weaves an odd tapestry of conflicting data and events.

However, none of the witnesses recalled Oswald being there with them. But how else could he have known of Shelley’s presence? It is not known if these men were friendly or spoke to each other that day. Maybe Oswald was too far in the back to be observed so no one made note of it. In this type of inquest you do not blurt out what you know—you only tell what you are asked. The questioner only has the basic facts of which assumptions are formed to what happened in a given event. The system of questioning witnesses is flawed because not all questions are asked. None of these witnesses were queried if Oswald had joined them on the first floor because it’s assumed he is on the sixth floor shooting at that time. It has already been decided at this juncture. By this method, questions that may reveal valuable information fall through the cracks.

But the story doesn’t get less muddled from here. As I reported in my piece, The Investigation That Never Was, two more witnesses most likely encountered Oswald on the first floor moments after the slaying of Kennedy. Pierce Allman and Terrance Ford were both program directors for the local TV station, WFAA. They were witnesses to the assassination on Elm and immediately rushed through the door of Texas School Book Depository Building to find a phone. They found a man there that directed them to where it was. Later, they could not identify Oswald from photographs as the man they had spoken to. However, Oswald told the Dallas police, the Secret Service, and the FBI that he was on the first floor at the time of the shooting when shortly thereafter two men entered, claiming to be SS agents and asked to use the phone. Allman and Ford later deny saying they were agents of any kind. Of final note, Oswald identified one of the men as having a crew cut and carrying a briefcase. One of the men did indeed fit this description including the briefcase.

Pierce Allman and Terrance Ford independently substantiate Oswald’s account of where he was shortly after the shots were fired. Both men were never called to give their testimony to the Warren Commission, nor any of the subsequent investigations. If Oswald was not on the sixth floor then who was? An accomplice? And this assassin would want to use Oswald’s junky rifle with a scope that is not properly sighted? There are never any real solutions here or else we wouldn’t be asking questions over forty years later. This is what keeps me interested in the Kennedy assassination. It’s all one big looping mystery.

So where was Lee Oswald at the time of the shooting of the President? First floor or sixth? Flip a coin.


Sources
McKnight, Gerald, Breach of Trust; jfk-assassination.de; Buglosi, Vincent, Reclaiming History; Scott, Peter Dale, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK; maryferrell.org