Six Things You Don't Know About the Kennedy Assassination
©2016 - Stephanie Hoover - All Rights Reserved
A young Lee Harvey Oswald visits the Bronx Zoo.
The entirety of the report and exhibits contained in the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy (commonly known as the Warren Commission) requires 484 linear feet of shelf space at the National Archives.
Much has been written about these findings, in both fictional and factual formats. The report has spawned countless movies, documentaries, and television shows, as well as forests worth of print coverage.
We all think we know what the report says because we've been hearing about it for more than half a century. But actually reading the contents of the report is nothing short of astounding. Prose 'n Cons took a peek through the pages. We list here six things you probably don't know about the assassination and ensuing investigation.
1 - People profited from conspiracy theories almost immediately after the shooting.
In May 1964, Wanda Schafer, a shop owner from Dallas, received a visit from the FBI. They wanted to see a photograph in her possession - specifically an 8" by 10" black-and-white picture of President Kennedy's motorcade. In the upper right-hand corner of this photo there was a man wearing a fedora. Mrs. Schafer thought that man might be Jack Ruby.
Asked how she came to be in possession of the photograph, Schafer explained that her husband worked for a printing company. In mid-December 1963, he had brought the photo home, after copying it from a picture owned by his foreman, Aaron Foster. Foster said he'd received it from another employee, P. V. Bearden. Bearden, in turn, explained that he had purchased his copy from a man selling them on Forest Avenue in Dallas for a dollar a piece.
Had the man in the photo actually been Jack Ruby it would have been of great interest to the FBI. It might even indicate that Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby were somehow working together in the assassination of the president. This possibility was dashed, however, when Special Agent Manning C. Clements, who had previously interviewed Jack Ruby for nearly four hours, said the man in the hat in no way resembled Lee Harvey Oswald's killer.
Additionally, Ruby had been seen by four employees of the Dallas Morning News the day of the assassination. He was in that newspaper's advertising office on November 22, 1963 from noon till at least 1:30 and therefore could not have observed Kennedy's motorcade.
While a bust for law enforcement, the infamous "photo of Jack Ruby" provided some enterprising shyster a tidy income after the murder.
2 - Was a woman with Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of the shooting?
The FBI worked relentlessly to identify all fingerprints found on items in Oswald's sniper's nest at the Texas School Book Repository. After nearly a year, all were accounted for with the exception of one latent palm print. Though the FBI made a request, the management of the repository refused to allow female employees to be fingerprinted, an act that seemed to indicate the print was that of a woman's.
Company Vice President Ochus Virgil Campbell cited several reasons for the refusal, including the fact that none of the female employees had access to the area where the cartons were stored. More importantly, however, the FBI's request came in September 1964. Since this was the busiest month of the year for the company, Campbell worried that demanding prints of female employees could result in resignations. His fears were not unfounded. A publishing company previously operating out of the TSBR vacated the premises soon after the assassination. It did so to ward off possible negative publicity should its employees become associated with the event.
So why did the FBI focus on female employees? Did they suspect Oswald had a female accomplice? Probably not. Identifying all prints at the scene was simply a matter of due diligence. Truth is, however, that unknown print could have come from any of the dozens of law enforcement officers, reporters, or curious onlookers who rushed to the building after President Kennedy was shot. Whoever left the print remains a mystery to this day.
3 - Dick and Jane played key roles in the shooting.
Oswald stacked four boxes to act as both a shield and rifle support. A fifth was used as a seat. The books within those cartons were bizarrely anachronistic to the event. All were part of the now classic Dick and Jane early reader series. Specific titles were Think and Do, People and Progress, and the Second Rolling Reader.
4 - Were Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby Lovers?
The FBI received thousands of tips and had to follow up on all of them, regardless of presumed validity. One particularly strange allegation came from Verona Halifax who received the information second-hand from her sister Joan, a student at Tulane University. Joan, said Verona, had a friend who had a male acquaintance who had slept with both Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, at separate times. This friend of a friend of Verona's sister Joan went on to divulge - on the highest authority, of course - that Oswald and Ruby were also lovers. After thoroughly descending into this Wonderland-like rabbit hole, the FBI ended this line of inquiry.
5 - While in the USSR, Lee Harvey Oswald was quite the ladies' man.
Oswald kept a diary. In it he recorded his thoughts on the women with whom he was intimate during his visit to the USSR. One such partner, named Enna, liked "fancy cloths [sic] and well made shoes." In October 1960, Oswald wrote, the two became quite close with their relationship "culminating in intercourse" on the 21st of that month. The two parted ways just 14 days later.
After Enna, Oswald began seeing a woman he described as "plain looking and frighteningly large." Because she was kind and her passions were "proportional to her size," however, Oswald and she enjoyed one another's company throughout most of 1961.
Oswald described a third woman, Germin, as a "black haired Jewish beauty" with fine, dark eyes and skin "as white as snow." He fell in love with her at first sight, he said, even though "at 24 she was still a virgin." Although he proposed marriage several times, she rebuffed him and the relationship ended.
6 - The FBI tried, unsuccessfully, to find Oswald's "Spy Kit."
After the assassination, the FBI gathered all of Oswald's possessions from his various places of residence. They collected books, personal hygiene items, jewelry, clothing, shoes - anything left behind that he had owned or used.
A microdot camera.
Contents of shampoo bottles, toothpaste tubes, and even hair oil were analyzed. Jewelry, including cufflinks and a bracelet engraved with his wife's name, were searched for "concealed cavities." All apparel, including underwear, were searched for "microdots" - tiny images created with special cameras that could only be read using a microscope.
As thorough as these searches were, FBI lab examiners reported that "Nothing ... would indicate that these specimens would be particularly useful in the field of espionage."
Nearly 60% of Americans, according to a recent AP poll, still believe that Oswald was part of a larger plot to kill JFK. It is estimated that more than 40,000 books have been written about the assassination and subsequent investigation. The internet has only served to propagate the number of theories about who "really" killed Kennedy. It will also continue to spawn new generations of self-described experts who offer their own take on the events of November 22, 1963. As Prose 'n Cons has learned, however, nothing tops the actual, original investigation when it comes to bizarre, little-known facts about this perennially fascinating tragedy.