The most important conclusion of the Warren Commission (WC) concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is that Lee Harvey Oswald was at the 6th floor window of the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) and fired three rifle shots at the Presidential motorcade. But this conclusion falls apart completely if Oswald was actually on the second floor just after the shots were fired (he was) or even, perhaps, in the first floor doorway watching the motorcade at the very moment of the assassination.
Where was Oswald when the shots were fired?
The WC never did have hard evidence that Oswald was actually on the 6th floor when the shooting began. No one in the TSBD could place him there around 12:30 when the first shots rang out. Howard L. Brennan, a bystander, looked up at the 6th floor from across Elm Street and claimed to have seen a man with a rifle at the (half opened) window, but he was unable to identify Oswald in a police line-up later that day. If Oswald was in the 6th floor “sniper’s nest” no one actually saw him there.
The real problems for the WC begin, however, when Oswald was identified outside the 2nd floor employee lunch room approximately 2 minutes after the final shot. He was seen there and stopped for questioning by TSBD supervisor Roy Truly and Dallas police officer Marion Baker. The officer shoved a pistol in Oswald’s belly and asked the Depository supervisor whether Oswald belonged in the building; he did. By all accounts, Oswald was holding a Coke and appeared calm and nonplussed by the abrupt appearance of police.
But having Oswald on the 2nd floor so soon after the shooting posed a problem for the WC. After all, if Oswald was on the 6th floor firing a rifle, did he really have time to hide that rifle between several rows of book boxes at the west end of the Depository; exit the 6th floor and then travel down four flights of stairs, to appear on the 2nd floor where, as noted, he was positively identified? The WC concluded that all of this activity could be accomplished in the time allotted but critics have always doubted that improbable timeline.
However, there is a more serious problem associated with the alleged Oswald descent to the 2nd floor. Two TSBD employees, Sandra Styles and Vicki Adams, were both at a 4th floor window watching the motorcade. Almost immediately after the last shot (perhaps within 40 seconds according to Ms. Adams) both women left the window, crossed the 4th floor, and then descended the stairwell to the ground floor. Now since the WC assumed that Oswald was descending those very same stairs at roughly the same time, it seems probable that these women would have seen or heard him; they did not.
Moreover Dorothy Garner, another TSBD supervisor, stayed at the 4th floor stairwell exit and watched Styles and Adams descend; she did not see Oswald on the stairwell either. After a short period of time, she then watched Roy Truly and Officer Baker ascend those same stairs on their way up to the 6th floor. Yet as we have noted, Truly and Baker had already confronted Oswald on the 2nd floor and this confrontation must have occurred prior to Garner’s observations and prior to the stairway descent of Adams and Styles. Thus, either Oswald descended those stairs well before Styles and Adams (even though they started down two floors lower) or he could not have been on the 6th floor firing at the President.
We know for certain that Oswald was near the 2nd floor lunch room within minutes of the fatal shot. But where was Oswald a minute or two earlier…at the precise moment of the assassination?
The famous Altgens photo (showing the motorcade in the foreground and the TSBD in the background) which was taken simultaneously with a bullet hitting JFK, also shows a man in the front doorway of the TSBD who looks remarkably like Lee Harvey Oswald. Speculation began almost immediately that it was Oswald but the WC concluded, instead, that the man was Billy Lovelady another TSBD employee. Lovelady testified before the WC that he was in fact the man in the Altgens photo and several other TSBD employees appeared to confirm Lovelady’s story.
But like many other aspects of the WC theory of the assassination, the Billy Lovelady story has almost completely collapsed. Modern photo analysis has all but proven that the man in the doorway is Oswald and not Lovelady (although Lovelady is likely somewhere on the front steps also). The relatively thin face in recently enhanced photos appears to be Oswald’s. The chin looks like Oswald’s as does the hairline. But the clincher is the unique looking shirt that the man in the doorway is wearing. For all intents and purposes, it’s almost like a fingerprint.
There are many films and photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald in the Dallas police station after his capture that show him wearing a rather strange looking, long sleeve shirt. The shirt has an odd gray weave design, has rather unusual looking lapels and is unbuttoned almost to the waist. Oswald is also wearing a white tee shirt that is exposed above his unbuttoned shirt.
Well, the man in the doorway is dressed in exactly the same manner; there are just no dissimilarities whatever. The long sleeve shirt he is wearing looks identical to Oswald’s: same pattern and weave, same grayish color, similar looking white tee shirt peeking above a shirt that is open almost to the waist. Even the shirt lapels, especially the left lapel, appear to match up precisely with the Oswald shirt in police photos. It is unreasonable to believe that this man in the doorway is none other than Lee Harvey Oswald.
Moreover, aside from physical appearance and dress, the man in the doorway is also standing and assuming a pose much like Oswald does in several police station photos. Lee Oswald had a habit of standing with his arms hanging down close to his body with his left hand reaching across his body to grasp his right arm. The man in the doorway appears to be standing in exactly the same manner as he leans in to watch the motorcade. In conclusion, the face, shirt and posture of the man in the doorway appears to match those of Lee Harvey Oswald. Either this is the world’s most amazing coincidence or “doorway man” is Oswald and, therefore, Oswald could not have been shooting at the President from the 6th floor.
But what about Billy Lovelady? Lovelady may well have been on the steps of the TSBD at the time of the shooting, but his claim to be the man in the doorway is simply not credible. Lovelady’s face is rounder than the man in the doorway and his chin is very different; he is stockier and heavier than the man in the photo. But the clincher, of course, is the unique shirt and the way it is worn. Lovelady never had a shirt anything like the doorway man’s shirt; if he did, he never produced it. Indeed, when asked to produce and be photographed in the shirt that he wore on November 22, 1963, Lovelady appeared in a short sleeve, boldly striped shirt that had no resemblance whatever to the doorway photo shirt. The Lovelady (self) identification is a hoax.
Lee Harvey Oswald was almost certainly not the 6th floor shooter, but he may well have been a “patsy” (as he claimed) and framed for involvement in the events of November 22, 1963. What that precise involvement was still remains unresolved.