Sunday, 15 February 1998 16:38

Harvey, Lee and Tippit: A New Look at the Tippit Shooting

Written by

An early draft of material on the Tippit murder later incorporated into John Armstrong's Harvey & Lee.

From the January-February, 1998 issue (Vol. 5 No. 2) of Probe

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday, November 20, 1963, Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit was having coffee at the Dobbs House Restaurant. Another man, known to employees as a regular "coffee customer," was complaining loudly about his order of eggs to waitress Mary Dowling. Tippit, a frequent customer, noticed the incident but said nothing. The man complaining was later identified by the owner and employees of the Dobbs House as "Lee Harvey Oswald."

On the morning of November 22nd, J.D. Tippit hugged his oldest son Allen and said, "no matter what happens today, I want you to know that I love you." Such overt signs of affection toward his son were uncharacteristic of Tippit. This was the last time young Allen Tippit saw his father alive. Some time later, "Lee Harvey Oswald" was seen at the Top Ten Record Store-a block from the Texas Theater. Oswald returned a short time later and was in the small record shop at the same time J.D. Tippit was there. An hour later Lee Oswald walked into the Jiffy Store on Industrial Blvd near Dealey Plaza. He purchased two bottles of beer and was asked for identification by store clerk Fred Moore. When Oswald displayed his Texas driver's license, Moore remembered the birthdate on the license as "October, 1939." When Oswald returned a short time later he purchased "peco" brittle. Beer and peco brittle seemed an unusual combination and was remembered by Fred Moore.

Neither the employees nor owners of the Dobbs House Restaurant, Top Ten Record Store or the Jiffy Store were called to testify before the Warren Commission. And with good reason. On November 20th and 22nd, "Lee Harvey Oswald" was working at the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD). He could not have been at the Dobbs House Restaurant nor the Top Ten Record Store in Oak Cliff, nor the Jiffy Store on Industrial Blvd.

The Tippit shooting, like the Kennedy assassination, has befuddled researchers for years. One of the main problems has been witness testimony placing Oswald in different places at the same time. Was Oswald in the 6th floor window or the 2nd floor lunchroom of the TSBD at the time of the assassination? Did Oswald leave Dealey Plaza in William Whaley's cab or in a Rambler Station Wagon? Was Oswald sitting in the Texas Theater or shooting Officer Tippit at 1:15 PM? If Oswald was in the Dallas Jail at 2:00 PM, who was the man, identified as "Lee Harvey Oswald," driving a red Ford Falcon on West Davis Street in Oak Cliff-a car with license plates that belonged to J.D. Tippit's best friend?

Other questions remain unanswered. Why were the spent cartridges given to Officer Poe at the scene of the Tippit shooting not identified by him four months later? Was there enough time for Oswald to have walked from 1026 N. Beckley to 10th & Patton? Why did some witnesses identify Oswald as Tippit's killer while others did not? The questions seem to multiply. The Warren Commission carefully chose a few select witnesses and questionable evidence to support their conclusion that Oswald shot Tippit. But when all of the evidence surrounding the Tippit shooting is properly examined, a far different picture emerges.

Leaving Dealey Plaza

Shortly before 12:30 PM a photograph captured the image of a man in the southwest corner window of the TSBD. (This photograph can be found in The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald on page 109.) The man appears to be wearing a white T-shirt and has a hairline nearly identical to a photograph of Lee Oswald taken by Robert Oswald (Lee, page 96-97). Arnold Rowland described a person wearing "a light-colored shirt," probably the same man, at the west end window of the 6th floor 15 minutes before the assassination. The man in the window could have been "Lee Oswald" who had been impersonating and setting up "Harvey Oswald" as a patsy for the past three months. (See my two previous articles "Harvey and Lee" in the last two editions of Probe.)

Jack Ruby telephoned a friend on November 22nd and asked if he would "like to watch the fireworks." Unknown to Ruby, his friend was an informant for the criminal intelligence division of the Internal Revenue Service. He and Ruby were standing at the corner of the Postal Annex Building at the time of the shooting. Minutes after the shooting Phil Willis, who knew Jack Ruby, saw and photographed a man who looked like Ruby near the front of the School Book Depository.

Harvey Oswald told police he had been in the lunchroom at the time of the assassination and had "committed no acts of violence." Coworker Charles Douglas Givens remembered Oswald wore a brown, long sleeved shirt the day of the assassination. This brown shirt was noticed by Mary Bledsoe when Oswald boarded the Marsalis bus and again by cab driver William Whaley when he drove Oswald to Oak Cliff. Although many people have felt Whaley was not credible, I think there is reason to believe his original, pre-Warren Commission identification because of the other details he noticed, such as an identification bracelet on his left wrist. Oswald was later photographed wearing just such a bracelet and the bracelet appears in the Dallas Police inventory as well. Whaley described, in various separate reports, a dark or brown shirt with a light or shiny colored streak in it.

Does this mean Lee Oswald (white shirt) and Harvey Oswald (brown shirt) were both in the TSBD at the time of the assassination? Did they both leave Dealey Plaza shortly after the assassination? Let us follow the evidence.

On the Oak Cliff side of the Houston Street viaduct is the Good Luck Oil Company service station (GLOCO). Five witnesses saw J.D. Tippit arrive at the GLOCO station at 12:45 PM. He sat in his car and watched traffic cross the bridge from Dallas for about 10 minutes. There were no police dispatches ordering Tippit to this location. If Tippit was not somehow involved, why was he sitting there watching traffic? Within a minute of the cab passing the GLOCO station, Tippit left and sped south on Lancaster. Two minutes later, at 12:54 PM, Tippit answered his dispatcher and said he was at "8th and Lancaster"-a mile south of the GLOCO Station. He turned right on Jefferson Blvd. and stopped at the Top Ten Record Store a few minutes before 1:00 PM. Store owner Dub Stark and clerk Louis Cortinas watched Tippit rush into the store and use the telephone. Without completing his call or speaking to store personnel Tippit left, jumped into his squad car, and sped north across Jefferson Blvd. He ran a stop sign, turned right on Sunset and was last seen speeding east-one block from N. Beckley. Tippit was then two minutes (at 45 mph) from Oswald's rooming house. Tippit's whereabouts for the next 8-10 minutes remain unknown.

Cab driver Whaley let Harvey Oswald off near the corner of Neeley and Beckley around 12:54 PM (Tippit was driving past 8th & Lancaster). Oswald walked 6 blocks to his rooming house arriving near 1:00 (Tippit was at the Top 10 Record Store). Housekeeper Earlene Roberts told Secret Service Agent William Carter (12/5/63) "Oswald did not have a jacket when he came in the house and I don't recall what type of clothing he was wearing." While inside his room, Earlene Roberts glanced out her front window and saw a Dallas police car drive by slowly and honk the horn twice. She told the Warren Commission the police car was #107. Tippit's car was #10. If this car was not Tippit's, then whose car was it? All other Dallas Police cars were accounted for that day. While in his room, Oswald changed pants and, if you believe the Warren Commission, picked up his gun. Yet Earlene Roberts cleaned his extremely small room. She never saw a gun, nor a holster. Housekeepers like Earlene Roberts usually do as thorough a cleaning job as a NY cleaning service like so it isn't likely she missed a gun or holster in Oswald's possession.

On November 30th, FBI Agent Alan Manning interviewed Mrs. Evelyn Harris. In his summary of that interview, he wrote:

the daughter of Mrs. Lucy Lopez, a white woman married to a Mexican, worked at a sewing room across the street from the TSBD. Her daughter and some of the other girls knew Lee Harvey Oswald and also were acquainted with Jack Ruby. They observed Jack Ruby give Oswald a pistol when Oswald came out of the building.

This writer does not offer an opinion regarding the allegations stated in this FBI report. It is a fact that Oswald tried to fire a pistol in the Texas Theater (heard by Dallas Police officers and theater patrons). It is a fact that the FBI determined that this pistol had a defective firing pin. One has to wonder how a pistol with a defective firing pin could fire four shots at Officer Tippit and then fail to fire in the theater. If the girls are correct, Ruby could have intentionally given Oswald a pistol with a defective firing pin. This allegation was never followed up by the FBI, as there are no known interviews of these girls nor was Ruby ever questioned about this.

Harvey Oswald left the rooming house wearing a "dark jacket" and was last seen by Earlene Roberts on the corner of Zang and Beckley around 1:03 PM. During the next few minutes Oswald managed to get to the Texas Theater, over a mile away, without being seen by anyone en route. The only explanation that makes sense is that he was driven to the theater-a two and one half minute ride-perhaps by Tippit.

The Texas Theater

Researcher Jones Harris interviewed Julia Postal in 1963. When Harris asked Julia Postal if she had sold a ticket to "Oswald" (the man arrested), she burst into tears and left the room. A short time later Harris again asked Postal if she sold a ticket to "Oswald" and got the same response. From Postal's refusal to answer this question and her reaction to same, Harris believes that Postal did sell "Oswald" a theater ticket. On February 29, 1964 Postal told FBI Agent Arthur Carter "she was unable to recall whether or not he bought a ticket." (A few months later, when the Warren Report was issued, Postal's memory had improved. She was now certain the man did not buy a ticket. See page 178 of the report.)

Butch Burroughs, an employee of the Texas Theater, heard someone enter the theater shortly after 1:00 PM and go to the balcony. Harvey Oswald had apparently entered the theater and gone to the balcony without being seen by Burroughs. About 1:15 PM Harvey came down from the balcony and bought popcorn from Burroughs. Burroughs watched him walk down the aisle and take a seat on the main floor. He sat next to Jack Davis during the opening credits of the first movie, several minutes before 1:20 PM. Harvey then moved across the aisle and sat next to another man. A few minutes later Davis noticed he moved again and sat next to a pregnant woman. Just before the police arrived, the pregnant woman went to the balcony and was never seen again. In addition to Harvey there were seven people watching the movie on the main level (six after the pregnant woman left). Within 10 minutes, he had sat next to half of them.

We have followed the probable movements of the man wearing the "brown shirt," Harvey Oswald, from the Book Depository, to the bus, to the cab and to the rooming house. We still don't know how he managed to get from the rooming house to the Texas Theater without being seen. What about Lee Oswald, the man wearing the "white shirt," and possibly seen by Arnold Rowland in the west end window of the 6th floor shortly before the assassination?

The Man on the 6th Floor?

Another man was seen on the sixth floor shortly before the assassination by Richard Carr. Carr described him as "heavy set, wearing a hat, tan sport coat and horn rim glasses." Minutes after the shooting, James Worrell saw a person described as "5'10" and wearing some sort of coat" leave the rear of the Depository heading south on Houston Street. Carr saw the same man and recognized him as the man he had seen on the 6th floor of the Book Depository. The man walked south on Houston, turned east on Commerce, and got into a Rambler station wagon parked on the corner of Commerce and Record. The Rambler was next seen in front of the Book Depository by Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig. Craig saw a person wearing a light-colored, short-sleeved shirt, who he later identified as Oswald, get into the station wagon and then travel under the triple overpass towards Oak Cliff. Marvin Robinson was driving his Cadillac when the Rambler station wagon in front of him abruptly stopped in front of the Book Depository. A young man walked down the grassy incline and got into the station wagon which subsequently sped away under the triple overpass. A third witness, Roy Cooper, was behind Marvin Robinson's Cadillac. He observed a white male wave at, enter, and leave in the station wagon. A photograph, taken by Jim Murray, shows a man wearing a light-colored short-sleeved shirt headed toward the Nash Rambler station wagon in front of the Book Depository. Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig, also in the photo, is pictured looking at the man and the station wagon. The Hertz sign, on top of the Book Depository, shows the time as 12:40 PM. The man in the white shirt, possibly Lee Oswald, left Dealey Plaza in the station wagon and was last seen heading toward Oak Cliff.

Scene of the Shooting

Twenty minutes later, in Oak Cliff, a man resembling Lee Oswald is seen hurrying past the 10th Street Barber Shop-a block from Jack Ruby's apartment. Mr. Clark, a barber, said he saw a man he would bet "his life on" was Oswald passing his shop in a great hurry. At 1:00 PM bricklayer William Lawrence Smith left his construction job for lunch at the Town and Country Cafe-two doors west of the 10th Street Barber Shop. While walking east to the cafe a man, who he later identified as Oswald, walked passed him heading west-toward 10th & Patton. A minute later, Oswald was seen by Jimmy Burt and William. A. Smith walking west. The Warren Commission told us Oswald was walking east.

The clock read 1:04 PM as Helen Markham left the washateria of her apartment house near the corner of 9th & Patton. While walking south on Patton she noticed a police car driving slowly east on 10th Street. One half block in front of Markham, on the opposite side of Patton, cab driver William Scoggins was eating lunch in his cab. Scoggins noticed a man walking west as Tippit's patrol car passed slowly in front of him. Jack Tatum, sitting in his red 1964 Ford Galaxie a block east, noticed the same man turn and walk toward the police car. Tatum turned left onto 10th street and drove slowly west past Tippit's car. Tippit was then talking to the man through the passenger side car window. Tatum said "it looked as if Oswald and Tippit were talking to each other. There was a conversation. It did seem peaceful. It was almost as if Tippit knew Oswald." Tatum noticed that the man had dark hair, was wearing a white T-shirt, white jacket and had his hands in his pockets. Seconds later Tatum drove past Helen Markham, who was standing at the corner of 10th & Patton, waiting for him to pass. The police car was stopped 100 feet to the east. She noticed a man was talking to the policeman through the car window. Domingo Benavides, in his 1958 Chevrolet pickup, was driving west on 10th Street approaching Tippit's car. Jimmy Burt and William Arthur Smith were sitting on the front porch at 505 E. 10th.

Officer Tippit got out of his patrol car and was walking to the front of the car when the man pulled out a gun and shot him. Startled by the shots, Benavides turned his truck into the curb and ducked under the dash-he was 20 feet away. William A. Smith and Jimmy Burt ran towards Burt's car. Markham fell to her knees, covered her eyes, and began screaming.

When Jack Tatum heard shots, he stopped his car, looked over his shoulder and saw Tippit lying on the ground. He saw the gunman walk around the rear of the police car, then turn and walk along the driver's side of the car to where Tippit had fallen. The man then shot Tippit in the head. Tatum said "whoever shot Tippit was determined that he shouldn't live and he was determined to finish the job." Smith and Burt jumped in Burt's 1952 blue Ford and sped to the scene of the shooting-less than a block away. Burt got out of the car in time to see Tippit's assailant hurrying south on Patton Street. Smith described Tippit's killer as wearing a white shirt, light brown jacket, dark pants and dark hair.

After the Shooting

Frank Wright and his wife (a half block east at 501 E 10th), and Acquilla Clemmons (one block west at 327 E. 10th) heard shots, but did not actually see the shooting. Wright, nearly a block east, said he saw a man standing over a policeman who had just been shot but did not see a gun. The man got into a car facing the opposite direction and drove off. The car was described by Wright as a gray, 1951 Plymouth coupe. Wright is the only witness who claimed the assailant drove off in a car. Clemmons, nearly a block west, said she saw another person that appeared to be involved with the shooter in some way. She is the only witness who implied that two people were involved in the shooting.

We know Arthur Smith and Jimmy Burt, a block east, drove to the scene of the shooting within a half minute. Burt jumped out of his car and ran to the corner, a distance of 100 feet, in time to see the assailant scurrying south on Patton. Jimmy Burt may have been the second man seen by Clemmons. Burt quickly returned to his car and immediately drove off. Burt may have been the man seen by Frank Wright (a block east) leaving in a car described by Wright as a "grey, 1951 Plymouth coupe," although Burt left the scene driving his two tone blue 1952 Ford.

Wright's wife called the police to report the shooting. After several minutes Domingo Benavides got out of his pickup and tried to use the police radio. Mr. Bowley, who was driving west on 10th Street and did not see the shooting, stopped and used the police radio to report the shooting. Bowley looked at his watch-the time was 1:10 PM (Commission Exhibit 2003). Helen Markham, who was walking to catch the 1:12 PM bus for work, said the shooting occurred at 1:06 PM. Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig was aiding in the search of the TSBD building. When he heard the news that a police officer had been shot he looked at his watch and noted the time was 1:06 PM. An original police transcript, found in the National Archives, lists the time of transmission as 1:10 PM. If Markham, Bowley, Craig, and the original Dallas Police broadcast times are correct, Tippit was shot prior to 1:10-when Harvey was very likely sitting in the balcony of Texas Theater. If Tippit was shot as early as 1:10, "Harvey Oswald" could not possibly have ran from his rooming house to 10th & Patton, a distance of 1.2 miles, in 6 minutes. In addition to this time problem, not a single witness, in heavily populated Oak Cliff, saw anyone resembling Harvey Oswald after the Tippit shooting (except Mrs. Roberts and those at the Texas Theater).

In order for the Warren Commission to assert that Oswald killed Tippit, there had to be enough time for him to walk from his rooming house to 10th & Patton-over a mile away. The Warren Commission and HSCA ignored Markham's time of 1:06 PM, did not interview Bowley (1:10 PM), did not ask Roger Craig (1:06 PM) and did not use the time shown on original Dallas police logs. Instead, the Warren Commission (1964) concluded that Oswald walked that distance in 13 minutes. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (1978) determined the time was 14 minutes, 30 seconds. Both concluded Oswald was last seen at the corner of Beckley and Zang at 1:03 PM. Either of their times, 13 minutes or 14 minutes and 30 seconds, would place Oswald at 10th & Patton at 1:16 PM or later. The time of the Tippit shooting as placed by the Commission,1:16 PM, contradicted the testimony of Markham, Bowley, Craig and the Dallas Police log. Another problem for the Warren Commission to overcome was the direction in which Oswald was walking. If he was walking west, as all of the evidence suggested, he would have had to cover even more ground in the same unreasonably short period of time. The Dallas Police recorded that the defendent was walking "west in the 400 block of East 10th." The Commission ignored the evidence-5 witnesses and the official Dallas Police report of the event-and said he was walking east, away from the Texas Theatre.

Whose Jacket is it Anyway?

An ambulance was dispatched from Dudley Hughes Funeral Home (allegedly at 1:18 PM) and arrived within a minute. Tippit's body was quickly loaded into the ambulance by Clayton Butler, Eddie Kinsley (both Dudley Hughes employees) and Mr. Bowley. Tippit's body was en route to the Hospital by the time the Police arrived. Dallas Police Officer Westbrook found a brown wallet next to where Tippit had fallen. He showed the wallet to FBI Agent Barrett. The wallet contained identification, including a driver's license, for Lee Harvey Oswald. It seems unbelievable that anyone would leave a wallet, containing identification, next to a policeman he has just shot. But Barrett insists Oswald's wallet was found at the Tippit murder scene. If Tippit's assailant was the man who impersonated Harvey Oswald for the previous two months, setting him up for the assassination, then the wallet was left at the scene of the Tippit shooting for the authorities to find. Perhaps this was Lee Oswald's last act of setting up Harvey as a "patsy." If so, it left Lee without identification and gave the police a reason to search for that cop killer, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Virginia Davis saw Tippit's killer, possibly Lee Oswald, cross her yard at 400 E. 10th while shaking the empty shells out of his gun. Virginia found an empty shell and turned it over to Dallas Police Detective Dhority. Barbara Davis, Virginia's older sister, found a second shell and turned it over to Dallas Police Captain George M. Doughty. Domingo Benavides found two more empty shells and pointed them out to Officer J. M. Poe. Poe wrote his initials on the inside of the shells and put them in an empty cigarette package.

Lee Oswald hurried south on Patton and passed within 60 feet of Ted Callaway, manager of Harris Brothers Auto Sales (501 E. Jefferson). Callaway noticed Oswald's white "Eisenhower type" jacket and white T-shirt. When shown the brown shirt worn by Harvey Oswald when arrested, Callaway told the Warren Commission "Sir, when I saw him he didn't have-I couldn't see this shirt." He noticed Oswald's face was "very flush" and had dark hair. Sam Guinyard, who worked as a porter for Callaway, told the police he saw a "white man" running south on Patton.

Warren Reynolds saw a man "run south on Patton toward Jefferson Street and then walk at a fast rate of speed west on Jefferson." He last observed the individual turn north by the Ballew Texaco Service Station. When later shown a photograph of Oswald, Reynolds said he would hesitate to identify Oswald as the individual he saw. L. J. Lewis, standing beside Reynolds, observed the same man and said he "would hesitate to state whether the individual was identical with Oswald." Harold Russell and B. M. Patterson were with Reynolds and Lewis at the time of the shooting. They identified the individual they saw as Oswald from a photograph.

The man wearing a white shirt and jacket hurried west on Jefferson and passed the Ballew Texaco Station. Mary Brock said an individual with a "light complexion" and wearing "light clothing" walked passed her at a fast pace with his hands in his pockets. Five minutes later Reynolds and Patterson appeared at the station making inquiry as to whether she had noticed a man pass the station. She advised that she last saw the individual when he proceeded north behind the station. Mrs. Brock identified the individual as Oswald from a New Orleans police photograph, but not until ten months later.

According to the Warren Report, Tippit's killer discarded a light-colored jacket underneath a 1954 Oldsmobile in the parking lot next to the Texaco station. This left him wearing only a white T-shirt. The jacket, soon found by police, was later described (CE 2003) as a grey man's jacket, "M" size in collar (medium, even though all of Oswald's other clothes were sized small), zipper opening, name tag "created in California by Maurice Holman." There were numerous laundry marks-"30" and "650" in the collar, K-42 printed on a Tag-O-lectric type marking machine. On the bottom of the jacket was another laundry tag "B-9738." The cleaning tags and laundry marks noted on the inside of the jacket suggest it was professionally cleaned on several occasions. The FBI tried and failed to locate a cleaning establishment from which any of these cleaning tags originated. The FBI examined all of Oswald's other clothing and failed to find a single laundry tag or mark. Marina told the FBI (CE 1843) that "Lee Harvey Oswald" had only two jackets, one a heavy jacket, blue in color (later found at the TSBD), and another light jacket, grey in color. She said both of these jackets were purchased in Russia. Neither of these jackets were ever sent to any laundry or cleaners anywhere-she recalled washing them herself.

According to DPD and FBI interviews of witnesses on November 22nd and 23rd, Tippit's killer was described as a white male, wearing black or dark pants; black shoes; black or dark brown hair; flush, light or red complexion; white shirt or white T-shirt, and a white or tan or otherwise light-colored Eisenhower type jacket. Police broadcasts (CE 1974) described the suspect as a "white male, about 30, 5'8," black hair, slender, wearing a white jacket, white shirt and dark slacks." The descriptions of Tippit's killer by several witnesses and police broadcasts are reasonably consistent with each other, but not with the Oswald arrested minutes later at the Texas Theater.

Man in the Balcony, Man in the Alley

Johnny C. Brewer claimed that on the day of the assassination, he saw a man standing in the lobby of his shoe store at about 1:30 PM. He watched the man walk west on Jefferson and thought (Brewer says he is not positive) that he ducked into the Texas Theater. It was not until December 6th, two weeks after Harvey Oswald's arrest, that Brewer described the man he saw as wearing a brown shirt. He asked theater cashier Julia Postal if she had sold the man a ticket. Postal replied "she did not think so, but she had been listening to the radio and did not remember." She did remember, when testifying before the Warren Commission, that she sold 24 tickets that day.

The Texas Theater has a main floor level and a balcony. Upon entering the theater from the "outside doors," there are stairs leading to the balcony on the right. Straight ahead are a second set of "inside doors" leading to the concession stand and the main floor. It is possible to go directly to the balcony, without being seen by people at the concession stand, by climbing the stairs to the right. Brewer walked through the first and second set of double doors to the concession stand. He asked Butch Burroughs, who operated the concession stand, if he had seen the man come in. Burroughs said that he had been busy and did not notice. Brewer checked the darkened balcony but did not see the man he had followed. Brewer and Burroughs then checked and made sure the exits had not been opened. Brewer then went back to the box office and told Julia Postal he thought the man was still in the theater and to call the police.

Julia called the police. Police broadcasts at 1:45 PM reported "Have information a suspect just went into the Texas Theater . . . Supposed to be hiding in the balcony" (17H418). When the police arrived, they were told by a "young female," probably Julia Postal, that the man was in the balcony. The police who entered the front of the theater went to the balcony. They were questioning a young man when Officers Walker, McDonald and Hutson entered the rear of the theater. Hutson counted seven theater patrons on the main level. From the record, these seven would break down as follows:

    2 Two boys (half way down center section searched by Walker & McDonald while Hutson looked on)
    1 Oswald (3rd row from back-center section)
    1 Jack Davis (right rear section-Oswald first sat next to him)
    1 Unknown person (across the aisle from Davis-Oswald left his seat next to Davis and moved to a seat next to this person; Oswald then got up and walked into the theater lobby)
    1 George Applin (6 rows from back-center section)
    1 John Gibson (1st seat from the back on the far right side)

Oswald bought popcorn at 1:15 PM, walked to the main floor and reportedly took a seat next to a pregnant woman. Minutes before police arrived, this woman disappeared into the balcony and was never seen again. She was not one of the seven patrons counted by Officer Hutson.

Captain Westbrook and FBI Agent Barrett came into the theater from the rear entrance minutes later. Westbrook may have been looking for "Lee Harvey Oswald"-identified from the contents of the wallet he found at the scene of Tippit's murder.

From police broadcasts, the police were looking for a suspect wearing a white shirt, white jacket, with dark brown or black hair, and hiding in the balcony. But their attention quickly focused on a man wearing a brown shirt with medium brown hair, on the main floor. When this man was approached by Officer McDonald, he allegedly hit McDonald and then tried to fire his .38 revolver. Several police officers and theater patrons heard the "snap" of a pistol trying to fire. A cartridge was later removed from the .38 and found to have an indentation on the primer. An FBI report described the firing pin as "bent." The man in the brown shirt, Harvey Oswald, was subdued by Officers Hawkins, Hutson, Walker, Carroll and Hill, and then handcuffed. Captain Westbrook ordered the officers to "get him out of here as fast as you can and don't let anybody see him." As he was taken out the front, Julia Postal heard an officer remark "We have our man on both counts." In an FBI report, we find the following:

this was the first time that she [Postal] had heard of Tippit's death, and one of the officers identified the man they arrested by calling out his name, "Oswald".… (Emphasis added. FBI report 2/29/64 by Arthur E. Carter.)

If the person who identified Oswald by name was Captain Westbrook, he could have obtained Oswald's name from identification-perhaps the Texas driver's license-in Lee Oswald's wallet found at the scene of the Tippit shooting. If someone other than Captain Westbrook identified Oswald by name, then someone in the Dallas Police had prior knowledge of Oswald. Identification of the policeman who made this statement might have aided in answering this question.

Harvey Oswald, the man wearing the "brown shirt," who probably bought a ticket from Julia Postal, bought popcorn from Butch Burroughs at 1:15 PM, sat next to Jack Davis before the main feature began at 1:20 PM, sat next to another identified patron, and then sat next to a pregnant woman (who disappeared), was brought out the front entrance and placed in a police car. En route to City Hall, Oswald kept repeating "Why am I being arrested? I know I was carrying a gun, but why else am I being arrested?" In light of the above, it was a good question to pose.

The police (Lt. Cunningham and Detective John B. Toney) did question a man in the balcony of the theater. Lt. Cunningham said "We were questioning a young man who was sitting on the stairs in the balcony when the manager told us the suspect was on the first floor." Detective Toney said "There was a young man sitting near the top of the stairs and we ascertained from manager on duty that this subject had been in the theater since about 12:05 PM." Notice that both Cunningham and Toney say they spoke to the "manager." Manager? We know from Postal's testimony that the owner of the theater, John Callahan, left for the day around 1:30 PM. The projectionist remained in the projection room during Oswald's arrest. Julia Postal remained outside at the box office. Burroughs was the only other theater employee and, according to his testimony, he "stayed at the door at the rear of the theater" (near the concession stand), "did not see any struggle" and then "remained at the concession stand" during Oswald's arrest. Burroughs never left the main level of the theater. Clearly, neither Postal, Burroughs, nor the projectionist (the only theater employees on duty) spoke to these officers either in the balcony or on the stairs in the balcony. Someone either identified himself as a theater "manager," or the officers mistook someone as the theater "manager," or these officers were lying about speaking to the "manager." The "manager" and the person whom they questioned in the balcony remain unidentified.

Oddly, and inconsistently, the police homicide report of Tippit's murder reads "suspect was later arrested in the balcony of the Texas Theater at 231 W. Jefferson." Detective Stringfellow's report states "Oswald was arrested in the balcony of the Texas Theater." After (Harvey) Oswald's arrest Lt. E..L. Cunningham, Detective E.E. Taylor, Detective John Toney, and patrolman C.F. Bentley were directed to search all of the people in the balcony and obtain their names and addresses. Out of 24 (the number of tickets Postal said she sold) theater patrons that day, the Dallas Police provided the names of two-John Gibson and George Applin. If the names of the other 22 theater patrons were obtained, that list has disappeared. The identity of the man questioned by police in the balcony remains a mystery. He was not arrested and there is no police report, record of arrest, nor mention of any person other than Oswald. What happened to this man? What happened to the list of theater patrons?

Captain C.E. Talbert and some officers were questioning a boy in the alley while a pickup truck was sitting with the motor running a few yards away (24H242). Talbert was one of the few DPD officers at the Texas Theater who did not write a report of Oswald's arrest to Chief Curry (16 officers wrote such reports). Talbert's testimony before the Warren Commission runs for over 20 pages. At no time was he asked about his involvement at the Texas Theater or his questioning of a young man in the alley behind the theater.

Bernard Haire, owner of a hobby shop two doors from the theater, walked out the rear of his shop shortly before 2:00 PM and saw police cars backed up to Madison Street. He watched as the police escorted a man from the rear of the Texas Theater wearing a "white pullover shirt." They placed the man in a squad car and drove away. He noticed the man was very "flush" in the face as though he had been in a struggle. Haire's description of this man-"white shirt" with a "flush face"-is consistent with witness statements of Tippit's killer before, during and after the shooting. For 25 years Mr. Haire and other witnesses thought they had witnessed the arrest of Oswald behind the Texas Theater in the alley. When told Oswald was brought out the front of the theater Haire asked "Then who was the person I saw police take out the rear of the theater, put in a police car, and drive off?"

Collins Radio and the CIA

Shortly after 2:00 PM, Mr. T. F. White observed a man sitting in a 1961 red Ford Falcon, with the engine running, in the El Chico parking lot behind his garage. This is five blocks north of the Texas Theater. As Mr. White approached the car, the driver turned and looked at him. The driver then sped off in a westerly direction on Davis Street. Mr. White, who later saw Oswald's picture on TV, said the man in the Falcon was identical to Oswald and wore a "white T-shirt." When told by the FBI that Oswald was in jail at 2:00 PM, White still maintained that the man he saw driving the red Falcon was "possibly identical" to the Oswald he had seen on TV after the assassination. This Oswald "sighting" shortly after Harvey Oswald's arrest at the Texas Theater could have been a case of mistaken identity. But Mr. White, who had been given police training, wrote down the vehicle's license plate number. The plates belonged to a blue 1957 Plymouth 4 door sedan-not a 1961 red Ford Falcon. The Plymouth belonged to Carl Mather, a long time employee of Collins Radio and close friend of J.D. Tippit. Newsman and former Dallas Mayor Wes Wise heard of the unusual Oswald sighting. Mr. Wise and fellow news reporter Jane Bartell questioned Mather about the incident over dinner. Mather was so nervous he could hardly talk and said little. In 1977 the HSCA wanted to interview Mather about this incident. He agreed, but not before he was granted immunity from prosecution by the Justice Department. Mather was interviewed by the HSCA, but most of the documents relating to that interview remain classified in the National Archives. Why?

One possible reason is Oswald's prior connection to Collins Radio and what Collins Radio actually represented. Oswald, in the company of George De Mohrenschildt, had once visited the home of retired Admiral Henry Bruton, who was an executive of Collins Radio. This was reported by the HSCA in a manuscript called "I'm A Patsy" by De Mohrenschildt. Bruton and his position with Collins is also mentioned in Edward Epstein's book Legend. Bruton had been a lawyer in Virginia before becoming a Navy intelligence officer. Bruton's specialty was electronic surveillance and this is what he was bringing to Collins Radio. In April of 1963, the Wall Street Journal announced that Collins would construct a modern radio communications system linking Laos, Thailand, and South Vietnam. On November 1, 1963, the New York Times reported that Fidel Castro had captured a large boat called the Rex which was being leased to Collins Radio at the time. The next day, one of the captured Cuban exiles aboard the Rex confessed that the boat had been used to ferry arms into Cuba and that "the CIA organized all arms shipments" (New York Times 11/3/63). According to Bill Kelly (Back Channels, Summer 1992), the Rex was the flagship of the JM/WAVE fleet, the CIA's super station in Miami. According to Kelly, Castro announced that the arms shipments were meant for an assassination attempt on top Cuban leaders. What a provocative scenario: five blocks from where Oswald was arrested we have an Oswald double in a car traced to Tippit's friend and the friend works for a CIA associated company that plays a role in the plots against Cuba and Castro.

Meanwhile, Harvey Oswald was sitting in the police station, accused of crimes he did not commit. When questioned by the Dallas Police, he said he had walked out the front of the TSBD, boarded a bus, taken a cab to North Beckley, and then gone to a movie. Harvey Oswald's statements to the Dallas Police follow and agree with witness identification of the man wearing the "brown shirt." He maintained his innocence and described himself as a "patsy" but to no avail. The Dallas Police charged him, one "Lee Harvey Oswald," with murder. Sheriff Bill Decker provided the Warren Commission (12H51) a file titled "Harvey Lee Oswald, W M 24, murder.....11/22/63 of John Fitzgerald Kennedy." At least the Sheriff's department got his name right.

The Trouble with Transcripts

As far as the authorities-Dallas Police, FBI, CIA, White House-were concerned, they had their man. Harvey Oswald was not believed when he said he was in the lunchroom at the time of the shooting. Roger Craig was ignored when he said he saw Oswald leave Dealey Plaza in a Rambler Station Wagon. Markham, Bowley and Craig, who said the shooting occurred at or before 1:10 PM, were ignored. Their statements were supported by the original police transcript ( CE 705). When CE 705 was introduced into evidence by the Warren Commission on April 22, 1964, a serious conflict arose. The transcripts showed Tippit's last attempted transmission to the dispatcher at 1:08 PM and the report of his murder, by Bowley, at 1:10 PM (the same time noted by Bowley on his watch). It was obvious that Oswald could not have walked from his rooming house (1:04 PM) to 10th and Patton by 1:08 or 1:10 PM. A solution to the problem created by this exhibit was required. The Warren Commission requested the FBI to prepare a new transcript. In July of 1964, an FBI agent allegedly listened to the original dispatch patrol car transmissions at Dallas Police Headquarters. The original transcript described police officers only by their assigned numbers. The new transcript listed the officers by number and name. But Tippit's name and number (no. 78) were deleted from the new transcript. The transmissions at 1:08 PM were now listed as having been made by police officers #55 and #488 (CE 1974). Neither the names nor police identification numbers were identified or given for those two particular officers. Numerous changes can be found by comparing the old and new transcripts. The new transcript reports the Tippit murder by Bowley at 1:19 PM, nine minutes later than in the original. In the original transcript, when Bowley is reporting the shooting to the dispatcher, an unknown person in the background said "No. 78, squad car #10" This unknown person was familiar enough with police terminology to refer to Tippit as number 78 and his car as a "squad car." The new transcript, as created by the Bureau, identified the unknown person in the background, as the "citizen" and "dispatcher." How this FBI agent was able to listen to the voice of one unknown person and divide that conversation into the citizen (Bowley) and the dispatcher has not been explained. The Commission used the items in the new transcript to certify that Oswald now had enough time to go from the rooming house to 10th and Patton and shoot Tippit.

Strange Evidence

The empty shells obtained and initialed by Officer Poe at the scene of Tippit's murder were apparently not the same shells the Warren Commission held as evidence. When the Commission's shells were shown to Poe months later, he could not find and identify the marks he remembered making. Two .38 Remington-Peters and two .38 Winchester-Western hulls were found. But only one Remington-Peters slug and three Winchester-Western slugs were removed from Tippit's body. The .38 revolver taken from Oswald had been rechambered (slightly enlarged) to accept .38 Special cartridges. When discharged through a rechambered weapon, .38 Special cartridges "bulge" in the middle and are noticeably "fatter" than cartridges fired in an unchambered revolver. The empty cartridges, found in the National Archives, appear normal in size, indicating that they were fired in an original .38 revolver-not in a rechambered revolver such as the one taken from Harvey Oswald at the Texas Theater. The revolver taken from Oswald at the Texas Theater was not the gun used to kill Tippit. The Warren Commission tells us that Oswald ordered the .38 pistol from Seaport Traders in Los Angeles, via REA Express. But they have never explained how REA Express delivered the pistol C.O.D. to P.O. Box 2915 in Dallas. Who would deliver a gun C.O.D. to a post office box? Who paid REA? How were they paid? Who signed for the delivery? These riddles have yet to be answered.

A Question of Shirts

The Warren Commission did not ask Butch Burroughs what time "Oswald" snuck into the balcony nor what time he sold "Oswald" popcorn (1:15 PM). Jack Davis was not interviewed by the Warren Commission. He could have told them Oswald (man in brown shirt) was sitting next to him before 1:20 PM. On November 22nd not a single person who saw Oswald before, during or after Tippit's shooting described him as wearing a brown shirt. Witnesses said he wore a "white T-shirt and a white or light-colored jacket." There was no mention of a brown shirt by Johnny Brewer for two weeks; by Sam Guinyard for three months; by Julia Postal until February 29, 1964. The jacket found under the Oldsmobile at the Texaco Station was made in the U.S. (the label read "created in California by Maurice Holman"); yet Marina said Oswald owned only two jackets-both purchased in Russia. Marina was never asked about this contradiction. Neither Westbrook nor FBI Agent Barrett were questioned by the Warren Commission about Oswald's driver's license.

Some witnesses identified the man in police custody as Tippit's killer, some did not. Laurel Kitrell-long time employee of the Texas Employment Commission-had the opportunity to interview both two "Lee Oswald"s in October, 1963 and recognized they were different people. She said they were "very similar in appearance, but different." Witnesses saw someone resembling Lee Oswald (white shirt, flush face, black hair) briefly before, during, and after the Tippit murder. When they saw Harvey (brown shirt, brown hair) in the police lineup, they may have mistaken him for Lee.

This is what I think happened to Tippit and Harvey Oswald. What about Lee? At 2:00 PM, while Harvey was in police custody, someone matching Lee's description was seen driving west on Davis Street in a car as seen by T. F. White. Lee was seen twelve hours later at the Lucas B & B Restaurant (two doors from Ruby's Vegas Club) with Jack Ruby. Head waitress Mary Lawrence was well acquainted with Ruby-she had known him eight years. She reported seeing Oswald and Ruby together early in the morning (1:30 AM) of November 23rd, following the assassination. Two days later she received an anonymous phone call. A male voice said "If you don't want to die, you'd better leave town."

Did Lee Oswald and Tippit know each other? Was Tippit involved? They were seen at the Dobbs House on November 20th and the Top Ten Record Store on the morning of November 22nd. Tippit was at the GLOCO Station when Oswald's (Harvey) cab crossed the Houston St. Viaduct. Tippit spoke to and was possibly shot by "Lee Oswald." License plates from the car of Tippit's close friend, Carl Mather, may have been seen on a car driven by Lee Oswald shortly after the assassination. There are either a lot of Oswald/Tippit coincidences or Tippit was somehow involved.

Who was the unidentified FBI agent who made numerous changes to the police broadcast? Did people within the Dallas Police Department participate in a cover-up of the Tippit murder? Were they aware of two "Oswalds"? Who changed the time of Tippit's murder from 1:10 PM to 1:19 PM on DPD police broadcasts? What happened to Oswald's driver's license? We know a Lee Oswald showed a Texas driver's license to Fred Moore at the Jiffy Store on Industrial Blvd on the morning of November 22nd. Dallas Police Captain Westbrook reportedly found Oswald's driver's license at the scene of the Tippit murder later that afternoon. Detective Paul Bentley, when interviewed on WFFA TV on Saturday, November 23rd, said "there was a Dallas Public Library card. He had other identification such as a driver's license and credit cards, things like that in his wallet" (credit cards for Oswald?) Why was the license not listed on police inventory reports? How did the license get from the scene of Tippit's murder to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)? A Texas driver's license belonging to Lee Oswald turned up at the DPS the following week. Aletha Frair, and 6 employees of the DPS saw and handled Oswald's driver's license. It was dirty and worn as though it had been carried in a billfold. Mrs. Lee Bozarth (employee of DPS) stated that she knew from direct personal experience there was a Texas driver's license file for Lee Harvey Oswald. The DPS file had been pulled shortly after the assassination. Who pulled Oswald's file from the DPS? What happened to this file and driver's license? Lt. E..L. Cunningham, Detective E.E. Taylor, Detective John Toney, and patrolman C.F. Bentley were directed to search all of the people in the balcony and list their names and addresses. What happened to that list? Why were none of these officers questioned about their knowledge of such a list? Why are there no police or FBI interviews of the theater patrons? Why were Lt. Cunningham and Det. Toney not asked about the man they questioned in the balcony? Why was Bernard Haire, who saw the police take a man from the rear of the theater, never interviewed by the FBI nor asked to testify before the Warren Commission or the HSCA? Why was Captain Talbert not asked about the man he questioned in the alley behind the theater? Why was neither T. F. White nor Carl Mather questioned by the Warren Commission? When finally questioned by the HSCA 15 years later, why did Carl Mather insist on being granted immunity before he testified? Why is his testimony still classified? Why do police reports state that Oswald was arrested in the balcony? Why does Sheriff Decker's file list the assailant's name as "Harvey Lee Oswald"?

Because these questions, although unanswered, have a common thread. These questions-if properly answered-could expose a government agency's creation, manipulation, and control of both Harvey and Lee Oswald. That agency is the CIA.

Last modified on Sunday, 16 October 2016 16:20
John Armstrong

John Armstrong began investigating Lee Harvey Oswald in the early 1990s, uncovering a plethora of discrepancies concerning Oswald's height, weight, eye color, scars, medical records, school records, military records, and photographs, as well as indications that the FBI suppressed, ignored, fabricated, altered, and destroyed evidence.  After delivering lectures at conferences throughout the 90s, he published his findings as Harvey and Lee.  The research materials for the book were given to Baylor University, which has made digital scans available; see also his website.

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