Monday, November 22, 2021

‘X’ Marks the Spot

58-Years After the Murder of Dallas Patrolman J.D. Tippit
An 'X' on Tenth Street. (Video frame: Dave Ledbetter) 
It’s hard to believe that fifty-eight years have passed since the murder of Dallas Patrolman J.D. Tippit – who was gunned down on an Oak Cliff side street forty-five minutes after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The scene of the Tippit murder itself is hardly recognizable today. When I first visited the location in 1985, the neighborhood looked largely unchanged – a community frozen in time.
Today, only one of the original buildings in the 400 block of East Tenth still stands – a testament to the ever-changing landscape.
Recently, someone placed an “X” (using white tape) on Tenth Street to mark the spot where Tippit was shot dead – a courtesy, I suppose, to the steady stream of tourists that frequent the area.
I don’t know who was responsible for choosing the spot to place the white-X, but unfortunately, the spot is wrong.
The spot where Tippit fell
Back in 1985, you could still see imperfections in the pavement that matched up with the crime scene photographs taken twenty-two-years earlier. By 1996, houses began to disappear, but the driveway Tippit stopped adjacent to was still there. By 1999, the road was resurfaced, sidewalks replaced, and an electrical pole added adjacent to the spot where Tippit stopped (the driveway had been removed).
In 2013, I got the chance to determine the exact location of Tippit’s squad car and the place where he fell for the History Channel documentary, “Oswald: 48 Hours to Live.” I was a technical consultant and on-camera expert for the film.
A replica police car – a vintage 1963 Galaxie 500 Ford sedan, identical to Tippit’s squad car – was brought to the location.
Fig.1 - A replica of Tippit's squad car correctly positioned on Tenth Street for the History Channel's documentary, "Oswald: 48 Hours to Live." (Photo: © 2021 Dale K. Myers. All Rights Reserved) 
Armed with a tape measure, the original Dallas police crime lab investigator’s notes, and photographs taken on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, I measured and positioned the replica car to match Tippit’s final stop and the place where he fell. That location is approximately 20 feet east of where the white-X appears today.
We later rolled the replica car forward four-feet so that the film crew could shoot the re-enactment without being restricted by the curbside electric pole.
Fig.2 - DPD crime lab photo taken on Nov. 22, 1963; and (bottom) a replica of Tippit's squad car on Tenth Street during filming for the History Channel's documentary, "Oswald: 48 Hours to Live." (Photo: (Top) DMARC; (Bottom)© 2021 Dale K. Myers. All Rights Reserved) 
A comparison of frames from a 2021 video taken by Dave Ledbetter and numerous photographs I took during the 2013 History Channel filming show the discrepancy between the white-X and the actual place where Tippit was shot dead.
Fig.3 - Two composite video frames showing the position of the white X on Tenth Street, allegedly marking the spot where Tippit fell. (Video frames: Dave Ledbetter / Composites: Dale K. Myers) 
Fig.4 - Comparison of the position of the X, shown in red (arrow), and a replica of Tippit's squad car positioned for the History Channel. Tippit fell near the left front tire, approximately 20 feet east of the current position of the white X. (© 2021 Dale K. Myers. All Rights Reserved) 
While the landscape continues to change in Oak Cliff, one thing that hasn’t changed is the debate over what’s truth and what’s not in the Kennedy and Tippit murders.
Release the files
Last week, the Dallas Morning News called for the release of all documents on the Kennedy assassination, which once again have been caught up in a bureaucratic sea of red-tape. According to the National Archives, the government holds more than 5 million pages of records, photographs, motions pictures, sound recordings, and artifacts – roughly 2,000 cubic feet of material.
About 16,000 documents (of the 5 million pages already available) have been withheld in full or in part – largely due to legitimate privacy concerns. Some speculate that the withheld material might show that Oswald had a relationship with the intelligence community (something conspiracy theorists have long conjectured), or that Oswald was influenced by pro-Castro Cuban contacts in Mexico City. But nobody familiar with the assassination story or the five-million pages of documents already available expect the final releases to change anything we already know to be true. How could they?
And let’s face it, most people haven’t read a single page of the five-million pages that have been available for the better part of five decades on this subject.
Even the Dallas Morning News acknowledged in their recent editorial that releasing the final 16,000 documents will not put an end to the conspiracy theories. “But it will at least close another chapter of the sordid tale,” they wrote. In short, maybe the buffs will at least shut-up about what the government is holding back.
I doubt it, but I suppose one can dream.
Dream on
Filmmaker Oliver Stone assures us that he already knows who killed JFK (no final document release necessary) and explains it all in a new two-hour documentary, JFK: Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, streaming this month on Showtime.
Apparently, this will not be Stone’s last word on the subject given the fact that a four-hour version and an annotated book-of-the-film are planned for release in early 2022.
I haven’t seen the new documentary, but if even a fraction of John Serba’s review of JFK: Revisited (Stream It of Skip It – is true, my eyes will surely glaze over in the first few minutes. To be honest, I could use a good nap.
Then there is this gem, from Farouk Araie, who opines on the editorial pages of Sowetan Live:
“It's been clearly evident for decades that the American public, and the people of the world, do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK. The belief is well founded. The evidence is on their side. It is the side of truth.
“Despite this fact, television and radio networks and major magazines refuse to publish the truth. The magnitude of this cover-up alone reveals the power and scope of the conspiracy that brought about the death of JFK.”
Good Lord. After fifty-eight years of diligent research by an army of amateur and official investigators, how does such drivel ever see the light of day?
But wait, there’s more. Farouk offers this bit of wisdom:
“The world will never know who the persons were that gave the ‘official’ orders to kill JFK, for those persons are either already dead, close to death, silent in fear of death, or they chose to remain silent until death.” 
Given their overwhelming fears, it’s a wonder the “conspirators” were able to gather enough courage to do anything, let alone, get rid of JFK.
It all comes back to family
In the end, all the debates and self-aggrandizing by would-be “detectives” looking to secure relevancy in a case solved nearly 60 years ago, must be brushed aside to consider the pain and suffering endured by family members of the victims of that tragic day.
The senseless murder of Officer J.D. Tippit, shot to death in broad daylight by Lee Harvey Oswald in his attempt to escape capture, is no different.
In March of this year, Tippit’s long-suffering widow, Marie, died at age 92. J.D.’s youngest sister, Joyce (Tippit) DeBord, also passed away, in August at 88.
They both took with them a lifetime of cherished memories of the husband and brother who many so-called “researchers” accused during their lifetimes and continue to accuse – without one shred of believable evidence – of being a participant in, and/or an accessory to, the murder of President John F. Kennedy.
I got to know Joyce and many other members of J.D. Tippit’s extended family very well over the last twenty-plus years, thanks largely to the late Linda Chaney and her sister, Carol Christopher, both nieces of J.D. Tippit.
It has been my great pleasure to document the Tippit story as they saw it and the truth about J.D.’s last day on Earth in my life work, With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit (Oak Cliff Press, 2013).
Fifty-eight years on, I can only pray that those who knew and loved him rest in the peace and knowledge that J.D. Tippit’s enduring legacy of bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of maximum danger lives on despite the changing landscape. [END]