Editorial by John Ziegler
How Did Lee Harvey Oswald REALLY Kill JFK?
It has been 50 years now since the first gigantic news event of the television age, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Over a generation later, well over half of the American people still believe that JFK was killed by a conspiracy which was covered up by the government. While at one time I was wholeheartedly in agreement with the majority, I long ago came to the strong conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald essentially acted alone.
The Warren Commission got it right, but mostly by accident. They got the right man (only because they desperately wanted/needed Oswald to be guilty), but when it came to HOW it happened I believe they were significantly off base. Here is a short outline of what the Warren Commission thought happened on November 22, 1963 and also what I, after extensive thought/research and a dramatic evolution of belief (I used to believe strongly that Oswald was indeed, as he called himself, a "patsy"), think really transpired on that fateful Dallas day.
Warren Commission findings:
-- Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy by himself (essentially true).
-- Oswald fired three shots from the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building where three shell casings matching Oswald's rifle where found (true).
-- Oswald's (probably) first shot missed the limousine completely, hits pavement, shatters, and grazes a witness across the road quite a distance away (didn't happen).
-- Second shot hits Kennedy in the back, goes through his throat/neck, hits John Connelly in the back, ribs, wrist, and lodges in his leg, later to be found in "pristine" condition and be called the "magic" bullet (didn't happen).
-- Third shot hits Kennedy in the head, blows out his skull, and kills the President (true).
Here is what I believe the evidence indicates REALLY happened:
Oswald acted alone, possibly inadvertently inspired by wannabe revolutionaries David Ferrie and Guy Bannister (the major characters in Oliver Stone's otherwise totally wrong "JFK" movie).
The Warren Commission concluded that one of Oswald's shots (probably the first) missed badly and hit off the curb of the street (that is quite a dramatic miss!) with a fragment of a bullet which was never found causing a nick on the cheek of a bystander named James Teague. I believe that there is remarkably little evidence to support a conclusion that has had a dramatic impact on all the other analysis of this event. If it was the first shot, I defy anyone to say when in the Zapruter film this shot could have possibly been fired. If it was the second shot, there there is absolutely no way to account for the definitive testimony of both John and Nellie Connelly.
Based on Kennedy's reaction to getting hit the first time (just before the limo is hidden by the road sign) that missed first shot would have had to been fired WAY before there is ANY reaction from anyone at all in the Zapruder film and at a position from which there were way too many people on that sidewalk for it not to be universally accepted that it happened that way.
I also question how Oswald, both mentally and physically, could have missed SO badly on his first shot and then instantly gathered himself and fire two nearly perfect shots in the next 5-6 seconds.
As for Teague, I find it amazing that a nick on the cheek (after the most traumatic event he could ever witness) with no bullet fragments found is enough to dictate everything else about what transpired. Because the rest of the evidence so strongly contradicts this missed first shot theory, I believe it never happened that way.
I think the first shot was fired slightly earlier than the Warren Commission concluded (the entire shooting took closer to 7 seconds rather 6 seconds; a little girl chasing the limo just feet from the President in the Zapruder film suddenly stops on a dime and looks up to towards the 6th floor of the depository building just BEFORE the Commission claimed the first shot that "hit" took place) and was described by the secret service agents and others as sounding like a "backfire." The shot, essentially a "misfire," lodged only a couple of inches into JFK's back and elicited a slightly delayed reaction from the President.
This shot would not have killed JFK and the misconstruing of his reaction to it is the key to many experts coming to false conclusions about the exact nature of the shooting. Contrary to popular belief, JFK NEVER even comes CLOSE to grabbing his throat (because a bullet never passed through there), but rather clinches his fists with his elbows out, which is consistent with a nearly involuntary neuromuscular reaction caused by the bullet lodged in his back so close to his spine.
This first bullet would later fall out of JFK's back at the hospital (a conductor of the autopsy reported sticking his finger in the back wound and feeling the end of the woundt, but finding no bullet) later to be found on his stretcher and be misidentified as the pristine "magic bullet" which had supposedly fallen out of Connelly. This confusion occurred because, in the chaos at the hospital, no one kept track of which stretcher was JFK's and which was Connelly's and there is literally a 50/50 chance that they identified the stretchers incorrectly.
A key fact that supports this theory is that both John Connelly and his wife went to their deaths absolutely POSITIVE that they saw JFK reacting to being hit by the first shot (saying nothing about his throat wound or him grabbing his throat) before Connelly was hit. The Warren Commission chose to ignore this vital bit of information because Arlen Specter (then working as a Warren Commission lawyer before becoming a U.S. Senator) could not make the timing of three shots work to insure that Oswald was the only shooter (which was clearly everyone's goal from the start of the investigation) unless both Kennedy and Connelly where hit by the same bullet.
I believe the second shot missed JFK completely and created all of the many wounds in Connelly while likely getting largely "lost" through Connelly's damaged bones and body with the remnants never being found (which is not unusual in normal crime scenes).
The third shot hit JFK in the head and blew out the contents of his skull forcing his head to go in what appears to be an odd direction when being hit by a shot from the angle from which Oswald would have been shooting. However, there is other evidence to support the theory that the shot came from Oswald's direction. There is a very clear photo from in front of the limo which shows both Kennedy and Connelly reacting to being hit by the first two shots. In that photo there is NO crack in the front windshield of the limo. AFTER the assassination there IS a clear crack in the windshield on the DRIVER'S side of the limo (keeping a direct line from Oswald's sniper nest) and there were two bullet fragments found in the front of the Limo.
As for those who are convinced by the "back and to the left" motion of JFK's head after impact, you have been deceived. His head actually does move forward after impact for one frame of the film and then is pushed in that "odd" direction by the force of JFK's internal matter exploding from his skull.
The lack of a bullet-caused throat wound is the key to the entire theory I have outlined here and why it is that there has been so much confusion leading to false conclusions. A series of coincidences contributed to this phenomenon. First, JFK APPEARS to grab his throat but does not. Secondly, JKF did have a VERY small hole in his throat when he got to the hospital. The hole was much too small to be an exit wound from a gunshot from behind and did not line up with the initial reports of the hole in JFK's back. Thirdly, because of the convenient placement of the small hole the doctors at Parkland opened it up to use as a tracheotomy in an effort to save JFK's life, thus destroying much of its evidentiary value.
It is important to note here that JFK did have VERY small holes in his shirt and tie right at the throat. However, there were NO traces of metal found in any of those holes. So where did the holes come from? Quite possibly, as outlined in the famous book "Six Seconds in Dallas," they came from a bone fragment that was splintered from either the first or the third shots which struck JFK. This theory is consistent with the photo taken from in front of the limo before the third shot.
Of course, if true, all this theory of the case proves is that SOMEONE acted alone in firing three shots to kill JFK and that, theoretically, it could have been someone other than Oswald. However, Oswald was the only bookstore employee who did not show up for role call after the shooting and he was seen coming into work that day with a package consistent with his dismantled rifle which he had clearly purchased and that was found on the 6th floor with shell casings matching the rifle.
Oswald was seen after the shooting on a different floor than where the shooting took place, but he had PLENTY of time to get there before anyone realized what had happened. Also, Oswald's behavior the day of the shooting (before and after when he clearly killed police officer J.D. Tippit) is perfectly consistent with him being the shooter and there is not one shred of evidence identifying anyone else. I defy anyone to come up with a remotely rational alternative explanation for what really happened without Oswald being a shooter (for instance, there is just no way to explain Oswald as a "patsy" for a giant conspiracy when his neighbor, Ruth Paine, was the one who got him the job at the School Book Depository building BEFORE the parade route had been altered or announced).
As for Jack Ruby's shooting of Oswald, the known evidence seems far more consistent with an impulsive act of attempted heroism, then of being part of some grand conspiracy. If he knew he was going to kill Oswald, why was he not there remotely on time and why did he leave his beloved dog in his locked car?
I am still mystified as to why Oswald never took credit for the assassination. Obviously we will never know why that was the case. However, I believe that the theory as to HOW he did it outlined here is the only one proposed that does not conflict with any of the known evidence in the case. This theory has been run by the author of the preeminent work of Kennedy assassination research, Gerald Posner (his book 'Case Closed' changed my mind about the assassination), and he could find no apparent flaws in it. Years after I came up with this theory, Mark Furhman, of O.J. Simpson infamy, wrote a book based largely on a remarkably similar theory.
So why do so many people still believe that JFK was killed by a government conspiracy? I think this is because they WANT to believe that such dastardly act could not have been pulled off so easily by a lone loser like Oswald. Also, for fans of Kennedy his mystique is magnified by the "mystery" surrounding his death as well as the prospect that he was so dangerous to the establishment that he had to be snuffed out by the highest powers. Admittedly, this is an intoxicating premise for those prone to being taken in by it. However, as is so often the case, the reality and the mythology of the Kennedy assassination appear to have very little in common.
Ironically, 50 hours after the assassination the vast majority of Americans accepted the basic truth of what happened on the day that changed this country forever. Fifty years later they do not. Fifty years from now I shudder to think just how off the public perception of that event will be, but if I am still around I will be trying to set people straight.
John Ziegler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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