Wednesday, November 22, 2017

When J.D. Tippit was gunned down

The truth about the timing of Oswald’s murderous deed

Dallas Patrolman J.D. Tippit in 1957 [Graphic: DKM © 2017]


Fifty-four years ago, Dallas patrolman J.D. Tippit was shot to death on an Oak Cliff side street. The mountain of evidence that shows Lee Harvey Oswald guilty of the crime has stood the test of over five decades of scrutiny, cross examination, and rebuttal.

In 2013, I published the second edition of With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit – a second-by-second account of Oswald’s horrific deed.

Of course, the myth that Oswald was an innocent victim of a police frame-up continues to sputter along among a small cabal who are unable to recognize the truth or simple refuse to face it when they see it.

Still, others prefer to perpetuate the myth for their own ego or financial gain by hiding pertinent facts from their audiences or simply harnessing the good old-fashion lie and riding it into the sunset, with a near certain belief that no one will be the wiser.

One of the primary weapons in the conspirati’s arsenal of deception is the fable that Tippit was shot much earlier than acknowledged by official investigators – so early in fact, that Oswald couldn’t possibly have arrived at the scene in time to shoot Officer Tippit.

In short, according to the myth-makers, the time of the shooting exonerates Oswald of any wrong-doing in Tippit’s death.

Of course, not even the conspiracy crowd believes their own rhetoric on this subject given the fact that every book, magazine article, or website arguing Oswald’s innocence follows the “timing problem” with a list of other reasons why Oswald didn’t shoot Tippit.

This exercise seems silly on its face, if the first argument were true.

After all, if you could demonstrate that Oswald couldn’t possibly get to the Tippit shooting scene in time to commit the murder, then, there would be no further need of any additional evidence of his innocence, right?

And so, in honor of the anniversary of J.D. Tippit’s untimely death and in the interest of establishing this one basic fact about the murder in Oak Cliff once and for all, I decided to lay out – once again – the pertinent details surrounding the time of Tippit’s death.

Most of what follows was taken from With Malice where you’ll find plenty more about Patrolman Tippit’s life and death. May he rest in peace.

A central tenet

In 1982, Michael L. Kurtz, a professor of history at Southeastern Louisiana University, wrote in his seminal book, Crime of the Century, “The evidence is inconclusive about the exact time of the Tippit murder.” [1]

This central tenet of the conspirati’s case for exonerating Oswald of the Tippit murder is absolute, unadulterated hogwash – as the facts below will clearly show.

The earliest newspaper accounts got it right from the get-go – Tippit was shot about 1:15 p.m. and the police were notified three minutes later:
“…Patrolman Tippitt (sic) shot about 1:15 p.m...." [2]

“[Tippit shot at] 1:15 p.m.….” [3]

“At 1:18 p.m., startled Dallas police heard another grim report. A veteran patrolman, 39-year-old J.D. Tippit, had been murdered in Oak Cliff at 10th and Patton.” [4]

“…shortly after 1:18 p.m. when a citizen called to report a policeman had been shot on the street.” [5]

“At 1:18 p.m., 43 minutes after the assassination, police heard a strange voice on a scout car radio. The best the dispatchers could remember was this: ‘One of your officers has been shot. I think he might be dead.’” [6]
 Numerous official documents support the time of these two events:
  • Autopsy Permit (Time of death: 1:15 p.m.)
  • Certificate of death (Death occurred at: 1:15 p.m.; time of injury: 1:18 p.m.)
  • Police Department Case Report (Time of offense: 1:18 p.m.)
  • Homicide Report (Time reported: 1:18 p.m.)
Given the fact that the time of death and the time of notification were clearly reported and documented contemporaneous with the events, how on Earth did this ever become an issue? Answer: The buffs.

In a nutshell

In 1964, the Warren Commission wrote that Tippit was shot at “approximately 1:15 p.m.” and that Oswald, having left his rooming house at about 1:00 p.m., had about 14 minutes to walk eight-tenths of a mile to the corner of Tenth and Patton to shoot Tippit – just enough time, according to the final report. [7]

From the earliest days, conspiracy theorists keen to exonerate Oswald for Tippit’s death have argued that Tippit was shot as early as 1:06 p.m. and therefore, couldn’t possibly have covered the distance in the amount of time available to him.

The “1:06 p.m.” shooting time originated from an affidavit provided to Dallas police by eyewitness Helen Markham.

Attorney, left-wing activist, and author Mark Lane first drew attention to Markham’s shooting time claim in his 1966 book Rush to Judgment writing: “…if Tippit was killed at 1.06, it could not have been Oswald.” [8]

Lane wrote that the Warren Commission “tacitly agreed” with his analysis, citing the commission’s section on speculation by critics surrounding the time of Tippit’s death:
Speculation – Mrs. Helen Markham, a witness to the slaying of Tippit, put the time at just after 1:06 p.m. This would have made it impossible for Oswald to have committed the killing since he would not have had time to arrive at the shooting scene by that time. [9]
But, the commission added their own assessment, which Lane conveniently ignored:
Commission finding – The shooting of Tippit has been established at approximately 1:15 or 1:16 p.m. on the basis of a call to police headquarters on Tippit’s car radio by another witness to the assassination, Domingo Benavides. In her various statements and in her testimony, Mrs. Markham was uncertain and inconsistent in her recollection of the exact time of the slaying. [10]
As it turns out, the commission was dead wrong about who contacted police and exactly when that occurred – more on that in a moment – although the commission’s main point was correct: Tippit was shot shortly before police were notified, which was well after the alleged 1:06 p.m. shooting time.

Of greater interest is that fact that Mark Lane didn’t feel the 1:06 p.m. shooting time was of any real significance until 1966 – two years after he had acquired the affidavit that cites that time.

In late February, 1964, Lane told interviewers that he had acquired affidavits from the Dallas District Attorney’s office with the help of an unidentified friend including one made by Helen Markham. [11]

On April 21, 1964, and on numerous occasions thereafter, Lane read Mrs. Markham’s affidavit to a lecture audience at Annie Laws Auditorium, at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, but didn’t draw any significant attention to the “1:06 p.m.” shooting time claim. [12]

Could it be that Lane himself didn’t believe Markham’s estimated shooting time?

I wouldn’t be afraid to bet

Over the last fifty years, the “1:06” shooting time allegation has grown to include three eyewitness accounts – Helen Markham, T.F. Bowley, and (belatedly) Mrs. Donald R. Higgins.

None of their accounts holds up to even the most basic scrutiny.

As I explained in the 2013 edition of With Malice:

Markham told the Dallas police in her original affidavit, dated November 22, that the shooting occurred “at approximately 1:06 p.m.” [13] In April, 1964, she told the Warren Commission, “I wouldn’t be afraid to bet it wasn’t 6 or 7 minutes after 1.” [14]

Markham’s time estimate is based on her recollection that as she left her home to catch her “usual 1:15 p.m. bus”, she stopped off in the washeteria, located on the first floor of the apartment building where she lived, to call her daughter from the pay phone. Unable to reach her daughter – whose phone was busy – she hurried out the door to the bus stop. She reportedly looked at the washeteria clock as she left. It read 1:04 p.m.

Based on the FBI’s timing, it would have taken Markham about two and a half minutes to walk to the corner of Tenth and Patton. Witnesses agree that the shooting occurred within a minute of her arrival – meaning Tippit would have been shot dead by 1:07:30 p.m. But, did it happen that way?

As it turns out, the accuracy of the washateria clock was never determined; nor is it certain that Markham left her home as early as she claimed.

The FBI determined that there was no “usual 1:15 p.m. bus,” as Markham claimed. The bus passed her stop on Jefferson Boulevard at 1:12 p.m. and every ten minutes thereafter. Presumably, Markham’s “usual 1:15 p.m. bus” was the 1:12 bus running a few minutes late.

What is important is that Markham was a daily passenger on the “1:15 p.m.” bus and routinely walked the five-minute route. She would have been aware that, if pressed for time, she could leave as late as 1:10 p.m., and still make the 1:15 p.m. connection. And of course, she could always catch the next bus at 1:22 p.m. and still make it to work with plenty of time to spare.

Additionally, Markham, who worked at the Eat Well Café on Main Street in downtown Dallas – a twenty-minute car ride (presumably a bit longer by bus) from Oak Cliff – didn’t start work until 2:00 p.m., which means that Markham could have left her home up to thirty minutes later than usual and still would have been to work on time.

As you’ll see in a moment, definitive evidence pins the shooting time to about 1:14:30 p.m. – which means that Helen Markham probably didn’t leave her home before 1:11 p.m. Her late departure may stem from her eagerness to contact her daughter by phone before she left, and her knowledge that that the 1:12 p.m. bus typically ran a few minutes late.

I looked at my watch

T.F. Bowley told investigators in a statement dated December 2, 1963, that after arriving on the scene and seeing an officer laying in the street, “I looked at my watch and it said 1:10 p.m.” [15]

Critics have made and continue to make a big deal out of Bowley’s statement. But the reality is that while the accuracy of Bowley’s timepiece was never determined, one thing is certain beyond any doubt – the time that Bowley notified police.

According to Bowley, he used the police radio to notify police of the shooting almost immediately upon his arrival – which by his own estimate, based on his activities, was within sixty-seconds of his arrival.

That call was recorded at police headquarters. The call began at 1:17:41 p.m. and ended at 1:18:22 p.m. – hence the 1:18 p.m. shooting notification cited in police documents. [16]

Pages and pages of argumentative folderol have been written about the timing of Bowley’s radio transmission – most of them based on transcripts of the Dallas police radio traffic prepared by the Dallas police, Secret Service, or FBI.

Even the Warren Commission relied on the transcripts to cite the 1:16 p.m. time of Domingo Benavides’ call to police (in fact, Benavides only attempted to notify police but never got through). [17]

What the commission should have done was check the original recording that the transcript was based on. Had they done that, they would have discovered that nearly two minutes elapsed between the last verbal time check given by the dispatcher (1:16 p.m.) and Bowley’s notification of the shooting (1:17:41 p.m.).

Even today, the Dallas police radio transcripts are cited by the so-called “research community” in an effort to raise questions about the events of November 22nd. Yet, every assassination researcher knows that the actual Dallas police recordings have been in circulation since June, 1969. [18] Relying on transcripts to make any kind of argument at this point in time without consulting the original recordings upon which the transcripts are based is simply foolish.

Other notifications

In addition to the Dallas police recordings, which establish Bowley’s notification time (and by extension, the approximate time of the Tippit shooting), three eyewitnesses telephoned police in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and two others made subsequent notifications.

All five calls align with the timing of Bowley’s notification, providing overwhelming evidence that the Tippit shooting occurred shortly before 1:17 p.m.

L.J. Lewis, a wholesale car dealer and one of four men on the lot of Johnnie Reynolds Motor Company who heard shots and watched Oswald fleeing south on Patton, away from the murder scene, managed to get to a telephone first.

Delvis Taylor, who was answering the phones in the Dallas police dispatcher’s office that afternoon, scribbled the words: “Disturbance in the 400 block of East Tenth,” and the address where Lewis was calling from, “510 East Jefferson.” Taylor dropped the police call-sheet onto a conveyor belt that lead into the radio dispatcher’s room. [19]

Dispatcher Murray Jackson picked up the call sheet from the conveyor and read it, but before he could react, Bowley broke in on the police radio. [20] The time was 1:17:41 p.m.
T.F. Bowley: Hello, police operator?...
Although Bowley did provide police with the correct address of the shooting – 404 East Tenth – during his chaotic transmission, dispatcher Clifford E. Hulse directed responding officers to “510 East Jefferson” – the address on the call sheet (eyewitness L.J. Lewis’ location). [21]

Nearly simultaneous to L.J. Lewis’ notification, came a second call.

Mary Wright and her husband, C. Frank Wright, lived at 501 East Tenth, one block east and across the street from Tippit’s squad car. Frank Wright heard the shots, ran out onto his porch and saw Tippit just after he hit the pavement. Frank jumped off his front porch and ran down toward Tippit’s patrol car, as his wife, Mary phoned the police.
“I ran to the telephone,” Mary Wright told independent investigators in 1964. “I didn’t look in the [telephone] book or anything. I ran to the telephone, picked it up and dialed ‘O.’ I said, ‘Call the police, a man’s been shot!’” [22]
Dallas police immediately relayed the Wright call to the Dudley Hughes Funeral Home which supplied ambulance service in the area. Dudley M. Hughes, Jr., who took the call, filled out an ambulance call slip. He wrote Mary Wright’s address, “501 East Tenth,” put the call slip into a time clock and stamped it: “1:18 p.m., November 22.” [23]

Dallas police radio recordings show that the Dudley Hughes ambulance reported that they were en route to the scene at 1:18:38 p.m., arriving twenty-seconds later. The Hughes Funeral Home was just two blocks from the Tippit’s squad car.

Fifteen seconds later, at 1:19:15 p.m., police broadcast Mary Wright’s address to officers racing toward the scene.

Barbara Jeanette Davis, who along with her sister-in-law Virginia watched Oswald scurry across their front lawn as he unloaded his pistol, also telephoned police. Her address was broadcast by police at 1:21:18 p.m.

In addition to these three eyewitness calls, two other witnesses placed belated calls that also support a shooting time of about 1:15 p.m.

William Scoggins, the cabdriver who saw Oswald walk over toward Tippit’s squad car, heard shots, and watched as Oswald hurried passed his cab, also called for help.

Scoggins immediately jumped into the cab and tried to contact his dispatcher over his cab radio.
“At the time, the dispatcher was talking to another cab,” Scoggins told authorities, “and it took a little while – a couple of minutes – to get through to him and tell him what happened. I had to holler about three or four times before I got his attention.” [24]
The cab dispatcher told the FBI that he recorded the Scoggins’ call coming in at 1:25 p.m. During testimony to the Warren Commission, Scoggins noted that the ambulance arrived while Scoggins was in contact with the cab dispatcher. This would place the timing of the call considerably earlier, at about 1:18:59 p.m.

If Scoggins’ estimate of a three-minute time lag surrounding his attempt to contact the cab dispatcher is correct, the Tippit shooting would have occurred a little before 1:16 p.m. [25]

Robert and Mary Brock, a Texaco Service Station mechanic and his wife, telephoned police approximately five minutes after Oswald passed their Texaco Service Station, slipped into the parking lot behind the station, dumped his jacket, and disappeared in a westward direction.

Dallas police first broadcast the Texaco Service Station address, 401 East Jefferson, at 1:21:28 p.m. If the Brock’s five-minute estimate is accurate, Oswald would have passed their service station at about 1:16 p.m., which, given the two-block distance between the shooting scene and the service station and the time required to traverse that distance, is in keeping with a shooting time of about 1:15 p.m.

So, here we have five individuals whose efforts to notify authorities in the immediate wake of the Tippit shooting are well documented. In each instance, their efforts align with T.F. Bowley’s radio call which by his own testimony, was made within a minute of his arrival at the scene.

Six minutes after one

A third eyewitness, Mrs. Donald R. Higgins, also claimed – albeit belatedly – that the Tippit shooting occurred earlier than thought by officials.

In 1963, Donald and Margie Higgins managed several rented apartments in a home at 417 E. Tenth – 150 feet east of and across the street from the shooting scene.

In 1968, three years after the shooting, Mrs. Higgins told an independent researcher that she was watching television when she heard shots. She jumped up, ran to the front door, and saw a police officer lying in the street and a man with a pistol running away from her toward Patton Street.

Asked how she could be so certain of the time, Mrs. Higgins said, “Well, I was watching the news on television and for some reason the announcer turned and looked at the clock and said the time was ‘six minutes after one.’ He said it just like that, ‘six minutes after one.’ And you know how you always do, you hear the time and you automatically check your own watch. So, I just looked up at the clock on my television to verify the time and it said 1:06. At that point I heard the shots.” [26]

When Margie Higgins first told this story, there was no easy way to check her claim against archival video tapes of the three networks that were broadcasting that day. Remember, this was long before the days of cable television and streaming video services, with hundreds of channels available. In 1963, you had three choices, and fortunately all three were recording what they were broadcasting for posterity.

I checked those archival tapes in 2013 and the results don’t favor Mrs. Higgins. As it turns out, none of the three networks broadcasting that afternoon in Dallas gave a time check at 1:06 p.m. as she claimed:
  • Jay Watson, program director at the local ABC affiliate, WFAA-TV, did look off camera (presumably at a clock) and make a similar statement at 1:03 p.m. [27]
  • Two networks – ABC and CBS – gave a time check at about 1:15 p.m. (the official time of the Tippit shooting), although the phrasing they used was different from Mrs. Higgins’ recollection. [28]
Clarity and absurdity

Given all of the evidence, it seems impossible to believe that anyone could reasonably reach the conclusion that Tippit was gunned down at 1:06 p.m., or 1:10 p.m., or anything in between. The contemporary record – and in this case actual recordings – make it crystal clear beyond any and all doubt that the shooting did not occur earlier than reported that weekend and certainly could not have happened as early as the conspirati have claimed for over five decades.

To accept the timing suggested by the statements of Markham, Bowley, and Higgins, one would have to believe – and apparently there are a good number of conspiracy theorists perfecting willing to do so – that Tippit lay dead in the street for eight to twelve minutes before anyone bothered to notifiy police or call for an ambulance.

Obviously, the claim that Tippit was shot at 1:06 p.m. is simply not believable.

If not then, when?

Is there any way to prove that Tippit was indeed shot at 1:15 p.m. as the press reported in 1963? The answer, is yes.

It is clear that the actual shooting took place several minutes before T.F. Bowley’s 1:17:41 p.m. radio transmission. So, how much time elapsed between the shooting and Bowley’s radio call?

Again, as I explained in the 2013 edition of With Malice:

The Warren Commission accepted eyewitness Domingo Benavides’ claim that he was the person who radioed police, even though they had an affidavit from T.F. Bowley, who also claimed responsibility.

The commission could have used the Dallas police recordings to resolve the conflict in testimony, however, the recordings were never used for that purpose or to help establish the exact time of Tippit’s death.

Had the Warren Commission looked into the matter, they would have found that the recorded transmissions from channel one of the Dallas police radio contained evidence that Domingo Benavides tried unsuccessfully to contact the police dispatcher for a period of one minute, forty-one seconds. This fact helps pin down the exact time the shooting occurred.

Beginning at 1:16 p.m., a microphone is keyed a number of times on channel one of the Dallas police recordings, as if someone were “pumping” the microphone transmission button of a police radio. This continues for a little over 90-seconds, right up until the time passing motorist T.F. Bowley successfully contacts the dispatcher.

Testimony indicates that these sounds relate to Benavides’ attempt to use the police radio.

Benavides told the Warren Commission that he wasn’t sure if the dispatcher heard him, and Bowley stated that Benavides told him that he didn’t know how to work the radio. [29]

Because the sounds on the recording occur at the exact time of Benavides’ known attempts, and mimic those likely to have been produced, it is believed that these “fumbling” sounds are the result of Benavides’ attempts to use the radio.

Consequently, the Tippit shooting must have occurred prior to 1:16 p.m., when the sounds first begin. The question is, how much earlier?

Hiding in his truck

In 1964, Benavides told the Warren Commission that after the shooting he remained hidden in his truck “a few minutes” before venturing out to make the attempted call. [30]

Three years later during a CBS television broadcast, Benavides indicated that the time frame was much shorter.
“I gave him enough time to get around the house,” Benavides explained. “Thinking he might have went in the house, I set there for maybe a second or two and then jumped out of the truck and run over. As I walked by, I didn’t even slow down, I seen the officer’s dead. So, I just walked on – got in the car and I figured that would be the fastest way…to get a police officer out.” (emphasis added) [31]
Benavides’ latter recollection – that the time frame was relatively short – is corroborated by the testimony of several other witnesses.

Used car manager Ted Callaway, who was Benavides' boss, spotted Tippit’s killer approximately fifteen seconds after the shooting as the gunman jumped through the hedges adjacent to the house on the southeast corner of Tenth and Patton. This coincides with the moment the gunman disappeared from Benavides’ line of sight.

The gunman jogged south on Patton to Jefferson – a distance easily covered within forty-five seconds in the manner described. Callaway turned, and in a “good hard run” dashed the short block to the murder scene, arriving about thirty seconds later. That puts Callaway at the scene about 90-seconds after the shooting began. [32]

By then, Callaway said that “four or five people had gathered, and a couple of cars had stopped.” No doubt, one of the vehicles was occupied by passerby T.F. Bowley, whose own testimony indicates that Benavides began working Tippit’s car radio at about the time he arrived.

Putting Bowley's testimony aside, it is difficult to imagine that Benavides, who initially feared that the gunman lived in the corner house and might come back out shooting, would have remained hiding in his truck for very long given the presence of the gathering crowd and the arrival of his boss, Ted Callaway, at the scene.

Considering the timing of the sounds heard in the Dallas Police radio recordings, and the corroborating actions of three witnesses, the murder of Tippit probably occurred about 90-seconds prior to Benavides’ bungled attempt to notify the dispatcher.

Therefore, there is good reason to believe that J.D. Tippit was shot at approximately 1:14:30 p.m.

Was Oswald there?

The only remaining question is whether Lee Harvey Oswald could have gotten to Tenth and Patton by 1:14:30 p.m. to commit the crime.

Nearly every book, article, and website promoting Oswald’s innocence claims that Oswald arrived at his rooming house at 1:00 p.m. and left three or four minutes later, citing Earlene Roberts as not only Oswald’s housekeeper but the timekeeper that absolves him of any wrong-doing in Tippit’s death.

According to their argument, Oswald’s departure at 1:04 p.m. makes it virtually impossible for him to walk the eight-tenths of a mile between his rooming house at 1026 N. Beckley and the Tippit scene at 404 East Tenth in two to nine minutes (assuming that Tippit was shot between 1:06 and 1:13 p.m.).

Yet again, as I explained in With Malice on pages 802-803, Oswald’s arrival and departure time at his rooming house in the wake of the assassination isn’t as clear-cut as the conspirati would have you believe.

Timing Oswald’s movements

The FBI [33], Secret Service [34], and Warren Commission all timed various aspects of Oswald’s route between the Depository and the scene of the Tippit shooting.

Estimates of the exact time of the assassination vary. DPD radio dispatch Captain James C. Bowles fixed the time of the last shot at about 12:31:04 (Channel 1) or 12:31:19 p.m. (Channel 2) [35] This compares favorably with sheriff radio dispatcher Jack L. Watson, who noted the time as 12:30:40 p.m. [36]

It is estimated that Oswald left the Depository 2.5 minutes later, at about 12:33-34 p.m.

According to reconstructions, Oswald took 4.5 [37] to 6.5 [38] minutes to walk seven blocks to where he boarded a bus – arriving between 12:37:30 and 12:40:30 p.m.

Oswald remained on the bus four minutes [39], departing between 12:41:30 and 12:44:30 p.m.

Oswald’s four-block walk to the cab stand in front of the Greyhound bus station required three minutes [40], putting his arrival between 12:44:30 and 12:47:30 p.m.

Early reconstructions timed the cab ride at 7 to 8.5 minutes [41] but had Oswald departing in the 500 Block of North Beckley. Cab driver William Whaley corrected the error, telling the Warren Commission that Oswald was let out in the 700 Block of North Beckley. The drive was timed at 5.5 minutes [42], which would put Oswald on Beckley in Oak Cliff sometime between 12:50 and 12:53 p.m.

You sure are in a hurry

The walk to Oswald’s room from the 700 block of North Beckley required 5.75 minutes, placing Oswald’s arrival at his rooming house between 12:55:45 and 12:58:45 p.m.

Earlene Roberts stated that Oswald came in “all but running” [43] which raises the possibility that Oswald arrived sooner than calculated. According to press reports:
“He came running in like the dickens,” she recalled, “and I said to him, ‘You sure are in a hurry’ but he didn’t say anything...” [44]
Mrs. [Earlene] Roberts, who works for the Johnsons, said that at about 12:45 p.m., today she had learned that Kennedy was shot. In rushed Oswald “on a dead run,” she said. [45]
The length of time Oswald remained in his room is also uncertain. Oswald initially told police he changed his trousers and got his gun. [46] Later, Oswald claimed to have changed both his shirt and trousers. [47] It was also never determined whether Oswald had to take time to load his pistol. Each of these factors could affect the time Oswald spent in his room.

It’s important to note that housekeeper Earlene Roberts felt the time Oswald spent in his room was very brief.

On the day of the assassination, Earlene Roberts said that Oswald “rushed in ... and got a short gray coat and went on back out in a hurry.” [48]

Secret Service reports initially estimated Oswald’s stay at thirty-seconds. [49]

Although Mrs. Roberts later told the Commission that Oswald was in his room three or four minutes, her description suggests a much shorter time period:
“...just long enough, I guess, to go in there and get a jacket and put it on and he went out zipping it.” [50]

“… just ran in his room, got a short tan coat and ran back out.” [51]

“...He ran to his room, came running back with a gray zipper jacket and out the door. I said, ‘you sure are in a hurry’ but he didn’t even answer.” [52]
Mrs. Roberts next saw Oswald “a moment later” standing near a bus stop in front of the house next door. [53]

Potentially, Oswald could have been at the bus stop anywhere between 12:56:15 and 1:02:45 p.m.

Investigators estimated that it would have taken Oswald 12 minutes to walk the eight-tenths of a mile distance from the bus stop to Tenth and Patton. [54] No one knows if he double-timed his walk or even ran part of the way.

Subsequent investigation has shown that Oswald was actually spotted near Tenth and Denver about a minute before the shooting. An additional 1.5 minutes would be necessary for Oswald to get to a point east of Tenth and Denver for him to be coming back in a westward direction, as witnesses described. [55]

The thirteen-and-one-half minute total estimate would place Oswald at that location sometime between 1:09:45 and 1:16:15 p.m.

It should be emphasized that there is a fair degree of uncertainty with respect to three areas of the official reconstruction – Oswald’s departure from the Depository, his arrival at the rooming house, and the length of time he stayed in the room.

Still, it’s fair to say that the six-and-a-half-minute time spread calculated above is a reasonable estimate for Oswald’s arrival on Tenth Street.

You’ll note that it was determined that Tippit was shot at approximately 1:14:30 p.m., and that his killer was first spotted ninety-seconds earlier, at about 1:13 p.m.

As the physical evidence presented elsewhere in With Malice demonstrates, it is more than a coincidence that the estimated time for the killer’s appearance on Tenth Street (1:13 p.m.) falls within the period Oswald had available to him (1:09:45 to 1:16:15 p.m.).

Utter screwballs

It’s been fifty-four years since J.D. Tippit’s life was snatched from him on an Oak Cliff side street.

For the better part of those years, JFK research conferences and Internet news groups looking into the assassination story have been largely populated by rabid conspiracy-minded individuals who pounce on anyone with opposing points of view and chase them off.

Unfortunately, these actions promote stupidity. Free of being challenged, the conspirati’s arguments become weak, incoherent, and eventually irrational. Their inability to engage intellectually with the opposing side leads inevitably to name calling – lone-nutters, apologists, and worse.

In a climate where public servants are the enemy, J.D. Tippit – a hard-working farm-boy, turned police officer and father of three – is twisted by radical elements into a racist, dirty cop, lurking behind the grassy knoll and conspiring to murder and frame an innocent warehouse worker.

Tell that to one of J.D. Tippit’s surviving family members and you’re liable to get punched in the mouth.

Unfortunately, the irrational among the conspirati aren’t satisfied with simply trashing a murdered public servant. For them, anyone standing in the way of their dream of exoneration for the self-admitted Marxist, Lee Harvey Oswald, is fair game too, and that includes eyewitnesses. And no one has been a bigger target than Helen Markham.

Dallas police homicide detective, James R. Leavelle, who was the lead investigator on the Tippit murder case, told me that Mrs. Markham would have been a good witness until conspiracy buffs got ahold of her and turned her all around.

There’s no question that the Warren Commission’s “star witness” in the Tippit shooting was destined to receive the brunt of the conspirati’s venom, no matter who it was. The fact that it turned out to be a sometimes confused and occasionally incoherent working-class waitress who got the unexpected shock of her life one afternoon hasn’t deterred those eager to find Oswald innocent from dumping on her at every opportunity. In many instances, she seemed to go out of her way to help them.

So, it’s no surprise that conspiracy buffs have had a good ol’ time with Mrs. Markham’s credibility over the last fifty-some years. The low-point might have been when Warren Commission counsel Joseph A. Ball referred to Mrs. Markham as “an utter screwball” during a heated debate at the Beverly Hills High School, California, in December, 1964 – a phrase that has seen countless repetitions.

Lane later wrote in Rush to Judgment that Mr. Ball’s characterization was in his view “unduly harsh,” though, no doubt, Lane had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

Lane went on to write (and many others have repeated) that Markham testified that Tippit tried to speak to her (despite the fact that Tippit was reportedly killed instantly), that she was alone with Tippit in the street for twenty-minutes (despite considerable evidence that others were at the scene within seconds), and a number of other details clearly at odds with the official version of events. [56]

It has become a foundational element of the conspiracy crowd’s mantra that Helen Markham is a completely unreliable and unstable witness – except for one thing – the time of the Tippit murder.

When it comes to the 1:06 p.m. shooting time she postulated, Helen Markham is a truthful, reliable, and unshakable witness to Oswald’s innocence. The word “hypocrisy” comes to mind, but that would be too kind.

A visceral reaction

I suspect that the truth about Mrs. Markham’s eyewitness account was lost long ago when she began hiding from so-called independent researchers who were focused on finding her, confronting her, and destroying her credibility at any cost. That’s scary enough.

Still, we can only imagine the unfiltered horror she experienced as she watched the life cut out from underneath an innocent public servant going about the performance of his duties in broad daylight. That has got to mess with your mind.

No matter what you think of Helen Markham’s shifting statements over the years, there is one moment that is hard to reconcile with the moniker of liar that the conspirati have hung on her.

And that is her visceral and unconscious physical reaction to seeing Lee Harvey Oswald walk out onto the assembly room stage during a police line-up held just three hours and fifteen minutes after she saw J.D. Tippit gunned down in a barrage of bullets.
“…I had cold chills just run all over me.” [57]
That’s something you just can’t fake. [END]


[1] Kurtz, Michael L., Crime of the Century: The Kennedy Assassination from a Historian’s Perspective, University of Tennessee Press, Second Edition, 1993, p.135

[2] Ewell, James, Hugh Aynesworth, John Rutledge, “President’s Murder Charged to Oswald,” Dallas Morning News, November 23, 1963, Section 4, p.5

[3] Roberts, Gene, “Step by Stealthy Step to Killing a President,” Detroit Free Press, December 8, 1963, p.1

[4] “Suspect Charged,” Dallas Times Herald, November 23, 1963, Section A, p.8

[5] UPI, “Policeman Killed After JFK Slaying, Fort Worth Press, November 23, 1963, p.5

[6] “Pro-Red Accused as Slayer of Kennedy,” Detroit News, November 23, 1963, Section A, p.11

[7] WR, pp.165

[8] Lane, Mark, Rush to Judgment, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966, p.188

[9] WR, p.651

[10] WR, p.651. Note: While Markham told the Dallas police on November 22 that the Tippit shooting occurred at “approximately 1:06 p.m.,” she told the FBI the same day that the time of the shooting was “possibly around 1:30 p.m.” [FBI 105-82555 Oswald HQ File, Section 21, p.79 / Affidavit of Helen Markham]

[11] WC 179-40002-10143 / FBI Letterhead Memorandum, March 6, 1964, p.11-12 (Marguerite Oswald KP File); [FBI 124-10371-10187, pp.171-172, 177-178 / FBI Letterhead Memo, Appearance of Attorney Mark Lane on the Jerry Williams Radio Program, April 30, 1964, Boston, Massachusetts, May 11, 1964, pp.2-3, 7-8

[12] FBI 124-10371-10166, pp.9-11 / FBI Letterhead Memo, Appearance of Mark Lane at University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, April 21, 1964; pp.1-3

[13] 24H215 CE2003, p.37

[14] 3H306

[15] 24H202 CE2003, p.11

[16] The timing of all radio transmissions cited here and in With Malice was conducted by the author using a reel-to-reel magnetic audio tape copy of the original dictabelt recording supplied by 1963 Dallas police radio dispatch supervisor, James C. Bowles. The records of the Dallas Police Radio Dispatchers Office show that Bowley’s radio call was received at “1:18 p.m.” (FBI 105-82555, Oswald HQ File, Section 21, p.2 / Affidavit of T.P. Wells, November 25, 1963)

[17] Note: The Warren Commission wrote: “It was Benavides, using Tippit’s car radio, who first reported the killing of Patrolman Tippit at about 1:16 p.m.: “We’ve had a shooting out here.” (WR, p.166) The citation the commission points to is CE1974, p.52 (23H857), an FBI transcript of Dallas police radio transmissions, which shows that last time check before the alleged Benavides radio transmission as 1:16 p.m. and the next time check given shortly after the transmission as 1:19 p.m. (23H858)

[18] [Note: A 1995 transcript prepared from the actual recordings is available here:]

[19] Author’s interview of Murray J. Jackson, March 9, 1985; Author’s interview of James C. Bowles, May 9, 1983, pp. 15-16; Interview of Murray J. Jackson, CBS News Inquiry: The Warren Report, Part 3, CBS Television Network, June 27, 1967; 19H137 Batchelor Exhibit No. 5002, p.20

[20] CBS News Inquiry: The Warren Report, Part 3, CBS Television Network, June 27, 1967

[21] DPT C-1, 1:18:17 p.m.

[22] Nash, George and Patricia Nash, “The Other Witnesses,” The New Leader, October 12, 1964, pp.7-8

[23] Ibid, p.8

[24] CD630b (FBI interview of William W. Scoggins, March 17, 1964, p.2); 3H326 (WCT of William W. Scoggins, March 26, 1964)

[25] With Malice, pp.134

[26] Ernest, Barry, The Girl on the Stairs: My Search for a Missing Witness to the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, 2010, p.90

[27] “It’s three minutes after one o’clock...” WFAA-TV Collection, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

[28] “…time now is – ah – in 15 seconds we’ll be – ah – 1:15 p.m. …” Jerry Haynes, WFAA-TV Collection, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza; “…one-ten this afternoon – that’s five minutes ago…” Walter Cronkite, CBS Television Archive

[29] 6H449 (WCT of Domingo Benavides, April 2, 1964); 24H202 CE2003, p.11 (Affidavit of T.F. Bowley, December 2, 1963); Author’s interview of T.F. Bowley, March 16, 1983, p.1

[30] “After the gunman turned the corner,” Benavides explained to the Warren Commission, “I set there in my truck a few minutes to kind of - I thought he went in back of the house or something. At the time, I thought maybe he might have lived there and I didn’t want to get out and rush right up. He might start shooting again.” (6H448 (WCT of Domingo Benavides, April 2, 1964)) The growing neighborhood crowd apparently made the auto mechanic feel more at ease about getting out of his truck to help. (With Malice, p.136)

[31] CBS News Inquiry: The Warren Report, Part 3, CBS Television Network, June 27, 1967

[32] All of the timings presented here and in With Malice were timed by the author at the actual locations.

[33] 24H18 CE1987

[34] CD87, pp.547-549

[35] Savage, Gary, JFK: First Day Evidence, Monroe, LA: The Shoppe Press, 1993, p.353

[36] 19H522

[37] CD87

[38] CE1987

[39] CD87; CE1987

[40] Ibid

[41] Ibid

[42] 6H434

[43] 6H439

[44] Aynesworth, Hugh, “Oswald Rented Room Under Alias,” Dallas Morning News, November 23, 1963, Section 1, p.5

[45] UPI, “Policeman Killed After JFK Slaying, Fort Worth Press, November 23, 1963, p.5

[46] 24H265 CE2003

[47] 24H267 CE2003

[48] KLIF Interview

[49] CD87

[50] 6H440

[51] Aynesworth, Hugh, “Oswald Rented Room Under Alias,” Dallas Morning News, November 23, 1963, Section 1, p.5

[52] UPI, “Policeman Killed After JFK Slaying, Fort Worth Press, November 23, 1963, p.5

[53] 7H439

[54] CD87; CE1987

[55] Author’s timing

[56] Lane, Mark, Rush to Judgment, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966, p.188, 190

[57] 3H311


Yankee Cowboy said...

Brilliant piece Dale, as usual.

Also keep in mind that Markham told the FBI the shooting occurred "possibly around 1:30" and she told the Secret Service Tippit was gunned down at "approximately 1:00." She clearly wasn't sure of the time.

Barry Ryder said...

Hi, Dale,

another very necessary corrective for 'the buffs' to consider, if, indeed, they ever do 'consider' facts over speculation.

Your point (and Yankee Cowboy's) about the the unreliability of witness timings is vital when assessing event chronologies. People often get timings wrong. The 'buffs' like to pick and choose which testimony they prefer but, conspiracy writers will rarely ever mention witness timings that don't suit their own agendas.

Mrs Virginia Davis described the shooting as having occurred " about 1:30.." in her affidavit of the 22nd.

William Scoggins told the Warren Commission that he was sitting in his cab, eating his lunch when he saw Tippit's cruiser cross the intersection " around 1:20.."

As you know very well, these witness timings were wrong. It would be very nice and very convenient to offer-up Davis and Scoggins as positive proof for a later shooting time but, good researchers - such as yourself - never feel the need to employ such lazy options.

I don't recall having ever heard or read a 'conspiracy' author discuss these two examples of mistaken witness testimony.

We all know why, don't we?

Many thanks for writing the piece.

Barry Ryder

Unknown said...

Truthful details are meaningless when someone already has their head polluted with a conspiratorial worldview, when one sees boogeymen behind every tree it tends to be impossible to see reality.......If facts and evidence were enough than this monstrosity would have ended over 50 years ago......Great article nevertheless.

Anonymous said...

I think Jesse Curry summed it up best.

We don't have any evidence that Oswald fired the rifle and never did.Nobody has been able to place him in that window with that rifle in his hand yet.

Dale K. Myers said...

Anonymous, I’ve seen former Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry misquoted often (as you did again here) and so here’s the real scoop:

On November 5, 1969, Curry commented on Oswald’s involvement in the assassination during a press conference to promote Curry’s just released book, “JFK Assassination File.”

Among other things, Curry said about Oswald’s involvement, “I’m not sure about it. No one has ever been able to put him (Oswald) in the Texas School Book Depository with a rifle in his hand.” That is how Tom Johnson, veteran Dallas Morning News reporter quoted Curry.

United Press International (UPI) and the Associated Press (AP) quoted Curry differently:

“We don’t have any roof he fired the rifle. No one has been able to positively put him in that building with a gun in his hand;” (UPI) and “With all the evidence we had, no one was ever able to place Oswald behind the rifle in the Texas School Book Depository,” adding “I do think Oswald was implicated.” (AP) The AP also reported that Curry stated that it was determined that Oswald did fire the pistol that killed Dallas Officer J.D. Tippit.

United Press International (UPI) and the Associated Press (AP) are wire services, and newspapers, radio, and television stations who subscribe to those services are free to edit these wire stories as space and time allow, which means you’ll see some slight variations of these wire stories in various publications.

Most importantly, you’ll note that Curry never says what you and others in the past have attributed to him – namely, that the Dallas police didn’t have any evidence that Oswald fired the rifle.

They had plenty of physical evidence that Oswald was the gunman, but only one eyewitness – Howard Brennan – who refused to identify Oswald in a lineup the night of the shooting, when it would have counted. Later, as we all know, he claimed that he could have identified Oswald, but feared for his family’s safety. Of course, by the time he gave his reason for the refusal, it was too late to convince a doubting public.

The case against Oswald in the Kennedy shooting is clearly circumstantial, but what a circumstantial case! Given everything we now know, can there really be any reasonable doubt? Apparently, for some, there will always be some doubt – but reasonable doubt?

In any event, Curry’s comment in 1969 has been turned into something that it never was – an alleged admission by the former Chief of Police that the police supposedly had no evidence that put the rifle in Oswald’s hands. That is obviously not the case.

Oswald’s actions before and after the Kennedy shooting, as well as the physical evidence found at the TSBD, clearly implicate Oswald (as Curry said). For me, Oswald’s actions – his consciousness of guilt – betrays his claimed innocence and serve as the ultimate witness against him, a “witness” whose testimony is more powerful, more convincing than any testimony Howard Brennan could have offered with a timely identification. That “witness” against Oswald is Oswald himself.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info,Dale.

Dale K. Myers said...

You're welcome!

Barry Ryder said...

Hi, Dale and anonymous,

A couple more Curry quotes may be of interest,

On the evening of the 23rd, November, Curry was interviewed by Nelson Benton of CBS at City Hall. He told Benton:

"We have been able to place this man in the building, on the floor at the time the assassination occurred. We have been able to establish the fact he was at the window that the shots were fired from. We have been able to establish the fact that he did order a weapon that is similar and we feel it is the weapon that was used. It establishes beyond reasonable doubt in our mind that (uh) he's our man with our gun."

On February 7, 1977, UPI carried this statement from Curry, "I don't accept the idea that Oswald acted alone. I'm not saying someone was there in the window helping him shoot. But he was influenced by other persons. Someone convinced him the president should be assassinated."

Barry Ryder

Anonymous said...

You said clearly in the FRONTLINE program, "He (Oswald) certainly couldn't have gotten here unless he got a ride." What changed your mind?

Dale K. Myers said...

Anonymous - Frontline's "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?" was broadcast in 1993. I published "With Malice" in 1998. During those five years, I dug deep into the timing of Oswald's movements and came to the conclusion that the timing wasn't as "certain" as I originally believed. Nothing in the intervening 19-years (when I wrote the above article) - and nothing to date (2023) has changed my mind about my 1998 conclusion. It's all above. If that's not clear enough for you, try reading "With Malice" (1998 Edition) pp.351-353.