Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Tour of the Dallas Police Department Archives


Dallas Police Department Files Reveal Their Secrets...And Mysteries

Ever since it was announced that the Dallas Police Department was going to be placing their JFK evidence online (link HERE), I’ve been meaning to go through it and finally did. It’s a rather tedious task. The layout of the web page is certainly last century; there is no search though an index is provided. The links on the page are listed as boxes, and clicking those links takes one to another page filled with links for the scanned documents in GIF format. There is a code number for each GIF supposedly related to each box. But that is so jumbled up that some files that should be in Box 10 are actually in Box 15. The photographs are the worst part; they are badly scanned and for all purposes, unusable. For much better copies of the photos you have to go the online archive at The Portal to Texas History web site (linked HERE). Some of the other scanned documents are unreadable, some are blank pages, and many are a rambling series of seemingly unnecessary duplicates. Never the less, even a blind hog can find an acorn and there are quite a few to be found here.

So, after plodding through most of them during the holidays I have created this post as list of the highlights. Some of this is trivia, some a new take on old evidence and other items are just flat-out mysterious. Who knows, maybe some of this stuff is only of interest to me, but I’m hoping some of the information presented here will be of some enlightenment to readers and researchers.

J. D. Tippet’s Personnel File
Officer Tippet’s personnel file makes for an interesting read. Just about everything is listed in Box 8 and also Boxes 16-17. He joined the Dallas Police Department in 1952.

First off is J. D. Tippet’s Rorschach evaluation conducted by H. M. Chapman. Here it is in full:

“This man appears to be wholly devoid of any imaginative facilities. His percepts are predominantly the most common. His range of interest and achievements is quite limited, seen in his very narrow associational content. He takes little note of rare and unusual stimuli in his environment. His mental functioning is highly stereotyped. In conformity, he is within the limits of the average in that his thinking corresponds with that of the community at large. However, he proceeds occasionally with alogical reactions.

His grip on reality is below the average. Errors of judgment may be expected.

On two occasions he resorted to edging while handling the cards. This is a very unhealthy sign.

Only a single overt expression of feeling is revealed. This, however, is at the stable level and gives a slight indication of warm social contact.”

It starts out harsh but ends on one final, positive sentence. The “Errors of judgment may be expected...” did indeed happen. See below for those instances. Tippet did display courage in life threatening situations many times during the course of his law enforcement career although this psych test seems to be little concerned with that attribute.

Officer Tippet suffered many injuries as a policeman. This includes such injuries as a dog bite, an ice pick in the knee (ouch!), and a punch in the eye while trying to arrest a suspect. The most life threatening occurred on September 2, 1955, at 12:30 A.M., when Tippet and a fellow officer confronted a very drunken Leonard Garland outside of a club. Garland pulled a semi-automatic pistol, stuck it in Tippet’s face and said, “Stick’em up.” He didn’t and Garland attempted to fire his pistol but he had the safety on. This error allowed Tippit and his partner to draw their service revolvers and fire, killing Garland. The records indicate no internal investigation for this incident and in fact, Tippet was nominated for a departmental award. Quite a change from the way things are handled today! It was of course, an action of self defense and Tippet was protecting the life of his partner as well. It was later discovered that Leonard Garland was wanted by the FBI.

Reports indicate that J. D. Tippet was reprimanded several times. He accidentally missed two court appearances in a row and was suspended for one day without pay. He had other minor incidences such as losing his police ID and his driver’s license (along with a warrant) and did have a shotgun stolen out of an unlocked squad car. To be fair, his file contains many notes of praise for his work, helping to return stolen items, being courteous and professional, etc. Overall, J. D. Tippet’s records indicate he was a good police officer, and most certainly among the very brave.

The Mauser Rifle Report
Box 2 features the signed and sworn affidavit of Deputy Constable Seymour of the discovery of a 7.25mm, bolt-action Mauser rifle at approximately 1:22 P.M., on the day of the assassination and his resulting report on it.

An old story in the annuals of the Kennedy assassination, the discovery of a different rifle than Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano launches into one of the many controversies in the case. Discovered by Deputy Sheriff Eugene Boone in the northwest corner of the sixth floor, it was identified as a Mauser by him, Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman, and Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig.

What is striking is officer Weitzman’s detailed account of what the rifle looked like. He specifically mentioned the power of the scope as being 4/18 in optical range, the same as Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano scope. He also mentioned it has a thick sling attached to it. He and Deputy Sheriff Eugene Boone found the rifle between some boxes in the northwest corner of the sixth floor. Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig was there and also identified the rifle as a Mauser. Deputy Boone executed a signed affidavit (not included with the Dallas files) that the rifle was a Mauser as well. Weitzman said he handed the weapon over to Captain Fritz who then ejected a live round from the gun and for a while, publicly stated the gun found was a Mauser. (Later, this story would be changed to ejecting a live round from a Mannlicher-Carcano.)

Later, this whole story evolves into Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano with three spent 6.5mm spent hulls on the floor. It is a mystery as to why. All three of these police officers in their Warren Commission testimony mention finding a Mauser.

Officer Seymour Weitzman ran a sporting goods store on the side and was very experienced with firearms. It’s hard to believe he would so badly misidentify a firearm like this, a firearm he had probably seen before. Roger Craig said it had “Mauser” stamped on the barrel near the breach. Hard to get that wrong. Also, the affidavit of Weitzman is created on 23rd, the day after the assassination; nobody had gotten to him to have him change his account. He would later give the same description in his Warren Commission testimony. Check out the line of questioning HERE. You’ll notice that the attorney, Mr. Ball, never questions Weitzman in regards to the discrepancy to the weapon type, or how the Mauser morphs into a Mannlicher-Carcano. But later, the Warren Commission will decide that Weitzman and the other officers were simply mistaken.

The bottom line–there is no signed or sworn affidavit by any police officer in the Dallas Police archive that documents finding a Mannlicher-Carcano.

Jack Ruby’s Arrest Records
Box 8 and 15 have Jack Ruby’s prior arrest records. This amounted to minor brushes with the law such as selling booze on Sunday (12-5-54). The more serious encounter involved a handgun. In July 26, 1953 Ruby was spotted with a snub nosed .38 in his pocket. At the time, a businessman was allowed to carry a firearm without a permit so long as he was carrying money derived from his business; the firearm being used for protection from robbery. He was arrested by detective C. W. Deloney. Ruby’s excuse was that simply forgot he had the gun on his person. He bonded out of jail and that was the end of it.

Apparently, the snub nosed .38 was the same S&W pistol he would use to kill Lee Oswald with on live TV on November 24, 1963.

Big Man Seen With A Gun
Also included in the Dallas Police files are files from other departments and in this case, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department. An affidavit dated 11-22-63, and signed by the witness, Philip Ben Hathaway (Box 15), reports of seeing a man with a gun shortly before the assassination. According to Hathaway, him and three friends were taking off from work to see the parade and were walking up Akard street towards Main, when they saw a large man, dressed in a suit, estimated to be 6’6” or 6’7” and over 250 pounds and walking by headed towards Commerce street. Hathaway said he saw the man carrying what he described as a gun case. He assumed there was a rifle in it as it was of cloth and leather construction and would have been limp without containing anything–he never saw the actual rifle though implied the barrel made an impression against the cloth casing. He also noted how weighty it appeared as the man carried it. A friend remarked to Hathaway that possibly the man was a Secret Service agent. The time this man was seen was 11:50 A.M.

Hathaway’s friend, John Stevens R. Lawrence, also present, gave his sworn and signed affidavit to witnessing this individual as well (Box 15).

The Secret Service has long maintained they had no agents in Dealey Plaza, only in the follow-up car. So was this the eye witness account of another shooter? Or another sighting of a phony Secret Service agent?

Report on Michael and Ruth Paine
Box 13 features a background report on Michael and Ruth Paine, written by W. S. Biggio a detective with the Dallas Police Criminal Intelligence Division. It’s stated in the report that the Paine’s moved to Irving, Texas from Malvern, PA in 1959 so Michael could work as an engineer for Bell Helicopter Corp. Prior to moving in 1959 Michael Paine is listed by informant T-1 (FBI) as a self-employed farmer and Ruth Paine as a housewife. Probably no one has made a
smoother career shift from farming to aeronautical engineering than Michael Paine!

Interestingly, It should also be noted that the Paine’s tax returns from 1956 to 1958 are classified. Mostly likely they would be doing the farming/housewife gig during this time period. Why would the government classify the tax returns of mere farmer and his wife? What were they really up to?

The Curtain Rods
The most curious piece of evidence listed was a series of small cards in Box 12 documenting attempts to get finger prints off curtain rods. The curtain rod story is supposed to be a total fabrication Lee Oswald allegedly told to Buell Wesley Frazier, his fellow co-worker that drove him to work that morning. Frasier, curious of the package Oswald had with him was told it was curtain rods to be used in his room at the boarding house. It was later concluded that the package contained a disassembled rifle that Oswald allegedly snook into the building that morning for the assassination of President Kennedy. (Please note that the main witness to all of this is Buell Wesley Frazier, and he flunked his polygraph examination, the night of the 22nd. His sworn statement about the rods in Box 2.) Never the less, the story of Lee Oswald lying about the contents of the package, takes root.

So it’s quite odd to have in the Dallas Police evidence archives, not only documenting attempts to check for fingerprints, but also vague photographs of the rods with the prints as well. Nothing much is said about it either, just that they took some prints. So it’s a mystery as to where the curtain rods are from, where they were found or for that matter, what happened to them. It’s all just a great big zero.

Maybe Oswald was telling the truth after all?

(Good quality photographs of the prints from the curtain rods can be seen HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.)

Long Term Interest
One thing of note that is evident in the archives is the Dallas Police Department maintained their JFK file long after the assassination. There are various documents spread about involving various investigations and requests for documents not only from the lawyers of the Warren Commission but also later from the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s. There is an apparent long-held interest by people such as Chief Curry as he contacts sources, such as the editor of Playboy magazine for a copy of Mark Lane’s 1967 interview. Ironically, for the members of the public that try to contact the Dallas Police Department, with new or interesting information or questions, they basically get the standard brush off. One such individual was Emory Brown, Jr. (Box 8) who got the standard reply from various Dallas Police officials to J. Edgar Hoover himself that stated there was, “a prompt, intensive, objective and thorough investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy.” No conspiracy for them, yet they maintained conspiracy-oriented files such as Lane’s interview with Playboy or other documents in regards to Jim Garrison’s conspiracy angle in the trial of Clay Shaw. Not to mention all of the correspondence, to and from, people like Emory Brown.

Miscellaneous Files

Box 1 contains a five-page report from the FBI lab in Washington, analyzing some early evidence that the DPD submitted for examination within 24 hours of the assassination. This includes such items as the rifle, the magic bullet (CE399), various bullet fragments both found and taken out of victims, the blanket, bag, and so on. John Armstrong states in his book, Harvey and Lee, that all of the evidence collected in Dallas by the police was submitted to the FBI within 24 hours, examined by them, returned to the DPD, and then “officially” given back to the FBI four days after the assassination. This implies a lot of hanky-panky going on with the evidence. I don’t doubt the chain of evidence was broken in the case but this five-page report shows a less than sinister motive for tampering. In this situation some evidence was handed over rapidly to the FBI but not all. James Hosty in his book Assignment: Oswald, was involved with collecting evidence and boxing it up. He reports none of the shipping back of forth going on. Evidently, some evidence was sent off early to the FBI but not all of it.

Box 2 features a report on the Jack Ruby’s rectal probe. Yes, three inches up the wa-zoo of Ruby’s lower G.I. Ouch! The document shows it was ordered by both the DPD and the FBI. That’s what you get for murdering a government operative on live TV, bud.

Box 8 has a Report dated 4-20-54 to Chief J. E. Curry from J. H. Sawyer, Inspector of the Police, which features his interview with Mrs. Eva Grant, Jack Ruby’s sister. Apparently she had gotten a copy of a police report, the contents of which she claimed would help her brother, showing Dallas Police officers perjuring themselves in the case. Also of note is she claimed the FBI and the DPD had tapped her phone. Inspector Sawyer tried to dissuade of her this idea but as she said replied, “How else did you know about my getting ahold of this report?” Busted!

Box 13 has lists testimonies of numerous employees of the School Book Depository Building. Noted here because Russ Baker on page 112 of his book, Family of Secrets, says the building was empty of tenets six months before the assassination. Not so according to these files which feature up to six long-term employees. One witness, Mrs. Geneva L. Hines had been employed in the building over over six years.

Sources

Dallas Police Department Archives:
http://jfk.ci.dallas.tx.us/

Evidence Photographs - The Portal to Texas History - Dallas Municipal Archives:
http://texashistory.unt.edu/explore/partners/DSMA/browse/?start=0&fq=untl_collection%3AJFKDP

Seymour Weitzman WC Testimony:
http://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh7/html/WC_Vol7_0058b.htm

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Assignment: Oswald by James P. Hosty, Jr.


Former FBI Agent’s Book Reveals Some Surprises

I’ve read that FBI Special Agent James P. Hosty’s book, Assignment: Oswald, published in 1996 and now out of print, offers some surprising background details on the early turbulent days of the FBI’s investigation of the Kennedy and Tippet murders. Hosty’s account spares no one in this frank description of the events and personalties that shaped the early days of the JFK assassination investigation. James Hosty does a good job at recounting the chaotic scenes in the Dallas FBI headquarters and later, the Dallas Police Department with the gaggle of photographers and newsmen, the chain smoking, coffee swilling detectives, the banging and clanging of the teletype machines and typewriters, to the short fuses of overworked men enduring sleepless nights fueled by caffeine and adrenaline.

Early on Hosty makes this sobering assessment of being in the FBI:

“With time, my idealism waned, and I accepted the hard fact that law enforcement is basically gray. I also came to understand that one of our jobs was to protect the Bureau’s image at all costs, even if it ran roughshod over individuals or principles.”

A candid disclosure to say the least. And therein, lies the problem with the FBI investigating crimes. Their approach will have political angle to it. Hosty clearly illustrates this later when his boss Gordon Shanklin, who he describes as a “damn good man” orders him to destroy evidence in the case. Not once but twice, with a third time implied. And why? So as to eliminate any embarrassment to the prestige of the FBI and hence, J. Edgar Hoover since both were viewed as one and the same at the time. It should also be noted that Hoover’s early comments immediately after the assassination were that the FBI had no foreknowledge about Oswald, but in fact, they had a file on him starting the year of his defection to the Soviet Union in 1959. They kept him under tight surveillance by the time he landed back in America in June of 1962 to just a few days before the assassination in 1963.

The Destruction Of Evidence
As stated above, when Hosty reflects that part of his job was to “protect the Bureau’s image at all costs, even if it ran roughshod over individuals or principles...” he more than prove that the destruction of a note passed to him from Lee Oswald, apparently annoyed at Hosty for interviewing his wife. As stated previously Hoover had said the FBI had no previous interaction or knowledge about Oswald–and obvious lie–and with Hosty keeping him under surveillance the note, though unsigned, becomes a problem. Embarrassing Hoover was a one-way ticket to Nowhere Land or early retirement. Hosty was ordered by Gordon Shanklin to destroy the note and the memo that went with it. And he did so. That is of course, a felony and destruction of material evidence in a murder investigation.

Which of course, makes one wonder what else they destroyed...

The second time came when Shanklin orders Hosty to destroy Oswald’s rough draft letter to the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. According to Hosty, Shanklin was not in his right mind from the long, stressful hours and irrationally blew up at him, demanding that Oswald’s draft and Ruth Paine’s updated copy to be destroyed. Hosty, more cautious this time, decided instead to create an FD-302 report and file the letters away in a standard evidence folder. Later, in a better state of mind, Shanklin thanked Hosty for filing it away and preserving this important piece of evidence. The second felony is thus, avoided.

The third time, implied was when Hosty was sent to retrieve evidence at the Dallas Police headquarters. This included Oswald’s wallet which will be mentioned later but more importantly, Oswald’s notebook, which featured one page with Hosty’s name, car license number, and office location in it. When he returned the items he got what he described a funny look from Special agents Shanklin and Malley. Later, he asked a colleague, Emory Horton about this, who tells Hosty they were hoping he would rip the page out the notebook with his name in it! Hosty apparently never thought of doing such a thing, nor was ever ordered to do so. Once again, more potential embarrassment for Hoover.

When giving his Warren Commission testimony, James Hosty is never asked about the destruction of Oswald’s note to him. Nor is he asked about why he is listed in Oswald’s notebook. That is probably because when the FBI transcribed the notebook for the Warren Commission they intentionally left out the Hosty page.

The destruction of Oswald note would follow James Hosty down through his career, resurfacing from time to time, and be embellished to include a bomb threat. According to Hosty, the other players in this drama, including Gordon Shanklin would be playing a game of “cover the ass.” Hosty believes that justice was served in the case since one, he never lied under oath to the WC about the note as he was never asked about it; two, he didn’t commit Obstruction of Justice because there was no pending trial or hearing when the note was destroyed; and finally, no getting him for destruction of government property as the note was not officially entered in as evidence as it was considered an unsigned personal letter.

All technicalities of course. Never the less, Hosty does admit to doing wrong in destroying the note. Even though he was disciplined twice by Hoover, which included a month’s suspended pay, he was reimbursed for it years later. In the end all he has to do is worry over it because there will be no legal ramifications from his actions.

The Origin Of The Second Wallet
Long considered a conspiracy wacko theory by the Lone Nut gang, the story of the two wallets, both owned by Oswald, which I have covered before, has its real genesis in the comments made by FBI Special Agent, Robert Barrett to James Hosty who documents the event in book. So to be clear, this doesn’t originate with nuts looking for a plot; it comes to us from law enforcement officials.

According to Barrett, he came upon the Tippet murder scene to be shown a wallet by Captain W. R. Westbrook of the Dallas Police. Barrett is asked if he knows a Lee Oswald or an Alex Hidell, which he does not. Even more remarkable is the billfold is seen being examined by Capt. Westbrook and two other Dallas Police officers on newsreel footage (no audio) shot by Ron Reiland of WFAA-TV. Interesting enough, nobody, either the Dallas Police officers present at the crime scene nor Barrett, documents this evidence find in their official reports.

The confusion builds with Oswald being arrested with a billfold on him. Two wallets? Who runs around with two on them? This leads to theories of Oswald being framed for the Tippet murder and hence, a conspiracy. Robert Barrett firmly believed the murder of Tippet was a shut case, a “slam-dunk” as he said. Why? Partly because he saw the wallet with Oswald’s ID in it at the Tippet murder site. As stated above, when Hosty is sent to the Dallas Police to retrieve evidence he signs a receipt for a wallet and he neatly writes the whole thing off as being the one taken off Oswald shortly after his arrest. The point being, Oswald already had a wallet on him. So they take the billfold from the Tippet murder scene and imply it fell out of his pocket there? I think not. As they stated at the time, the police didn’t search Oswald before they placed him the squad car and sped away to book him. It is documented that a wallet was found in his left back pocket when they did search him.

As one can see, the two billfolds does make for a confusing episode. Warren Commission supporter Dale K. Myers simply says the second wallet has “no pedigree” and “To date, the wallet’s origin and owner remain unknown.” Another defender of the WC, Vince Bugliosi, in the End Notes to his book Reclaiming History simply concludes that the errant wallet is Tippets. But that is not what SA Robert Barrett told James Hosty! The Dallas Police officers seen handling a wallet on film–they never said it was Tippets. And besides, Tippet’s wallet is documented to have been found with his belongings at the hospital. The last known person to have the wallet in hand was officer Westbrook. After that, it’s lost in the fog.

Other Revelations, Tampering of a Personnel File
Probably Hosty’s most interesting revelation is that his own personnel file was tampered with containing altered documents to make him out to be derelict in his duties. After an internal investigation of Hosty’s handling of the case, Gordon Shanklin and Jim Malley questioned Hosty about what he knew, typed it up and placed it in his file. Years later when turned down for a promotion he inquired about it and found out that he had been blacklisted by the second in command of the FBI, Clyde Tolson (Hoover’s roommate). After he got access to his file, he found to his shock that the answers to the questions had been changed to make him look at fault and negligent in his investigation of Oswald. Hosty had wisely made a copy of the original questions and answers. He also photocopied the new documents that had been altered. He has no proof but speculated it was Shanklin and Malley that made the alterations.

Here’s a list of more allegations and events:

  • Robert Oswald was found to be in the room when Marina Oswald was being questioned. Hosty was there and thought Robert was a Secret Service agent. This is a violation of procedure in the questioning a witness.
  • Marina Oswald’s phone was tapped. One time she is heard saying that the American people were suckers to send her any money. Hosty reports a total of $70,000 initially came in.
  • Hosty apparently never knew that Marina could speak, read, and write in English. Lee mailed her letters written in English while they were still living in Russia. It is of note that Hosty apparently never saw this evidence or Robert Oswald’s statements to the FBI that Marina spoke to him numerous times in English.
  • The bullet retrieved from the Gen. Walker shooting was a “tentative match” by the FBI lab for Oswald’s rifle. Only a 5-point match and the FBI required a 7-point match. So, the Warren Commission sent the bullet off for testing by the New York State Police lab. They only required a 5-point match and of course they got it.
In Closing
James P. Hosty is like a lot of guys. Your average, honest working stiff that starts out gung-ho and then runs into the Wall. Where politics crush justice, truth, and morals. The Long Knives arrive to stab you in the back for the things they did. That’s why Hosty remarked, “I also came to understand that one of our jobs was to protect the Bureau’s image at all costs...” and he flung head-long into it when things transpired to embarrass Hoover who punished him in certain ways, unjustly.

There is a lot of irony here too. Hosty take his swipes at the “conspiracy buffs” for coming up with nonsense involving the assassination but his focus is narrow. He only centers on his end of it and the work he did. He seems to have no other interest in areas that conflict with the official account as revealed in the Warren Report. He goes along with it all being a Company Man. Yet his account of the machinations of his fellow FBI agents behinds the scenes, being ordered to destroy documents, his own personnel file being tampered with containing altered documents to make him the fall-guy, is one broad reaching account of conspiratorial activity. How then, are these men to come to an honest investigation into the death of the President? Or for that matter, in our century, when the September 11 attacks occurred? Can we ever trust these people?

Assignment: Oswald makes a good addition to any researcher’s library. James Hosty’s frank account of his experiences as an FBI agent, warts and all, is an honest and down-to-earth account of those early days of the Kennedy assassination.

Sources
Assignment: Oswald by James P. Hosty, Jr. with Thomas C. Hosty, Arcade Publishing, 1996, photographs, 328 pages. Out of print. Available used from various online sources. Price varies.

James P. Hosty’s Warren Commission testimony
http://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh4/pdf/WH4_Hosty.pdf