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Six Things You Don't Know About the Kennedy Assassination
© 2020, Stephanie Hoover - All Rights Reserved. Permission Required for Re-Use or Distribution.
It's called the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy.
You probably know it as the Warren Commission.
Bound inside a blue cover bearing only the seal of the United States, the 888-page report offers the conclusions of the seven men selected by President Lyndon B. Johnson to oversee the investigation into Kennedy's death.
Committee members included Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, and a young representative from Michigan named Gerald Ford. The commission was convened just seven days after Kennedy's assassination.
It is perhaps the best read report in history. Its findings have been studied, debated and explored in countless films, books, documentaries, television shows and news stories.
We all think we're familiar with the Warren Commission report because we've been hearing about it for more than half a century. But what are less commonly discussed are the documents produced during the FBI's investigation into Kennedy's death. Those efforts and details that never made into the famous, published, final draft.
Most people never read those FBI files. But this writer has. And I'm going to tell you six things you probably don't know about the investigation into the death of President John F. Kennedy.
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From Clouded in Mystery Publisher Stephanie Hoover:
Starting at number six on our list of things you probably don't know…
Though they were convinced he had one, the FBI tried, unsuccessfully, to find Oswald's Russian "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. 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 can 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."
Moving on to number five: while in the USSR, as it was known at the time, Lee Harvey Oswald was apparently quite the ladies' man.
Oswald kept a diary. In it he recorded his thoughts about the women with whom he was intimate during his visit to Russia. One such partner, named Enna, liked "fancy cloths [sic] and well made shoes," he reported. In October 1960, the two became quite close, quite quickly and their relationship turned intimate on the 21st of that month. It was a doomed relationship as it turned out, however, and the two star-crossed lovers 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," though, Oswald and she enjoyed one another's company throughout most of 1961.
Oswald also described a third woman. Germin, he said, was 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 he wrote in his diary that "at 24 she was still a virgin." Although he proposed marriage several times, she rebuffed him and that relationship also ended.
Number four on our list: at least one source accused Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby of being lovers.
The FBI received thousands of tips with regards to the assassination, and the agency was required to follow up on all of them. One particularly strange allegation came from a young woman named Verona Halifax. Verona received the information from her sister Joan, a student at Tulane University.
Now… Here's where it gets a bit complicated, so follow along…
Joan, Verona explained, had a friend who, in turn, had a male acquaintance who had slept with both Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, he said.
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 - and likely remorsefully - descending into this Wonderland-like rabbit hole, the FBI ended this line of inquiry.
Number three, and one of my favorite little known facts : Dick and Jane played key roles in the shooting.
When preparing his space inside the Texas School Book Repository, Oswald reportedly stacked four boxes to act as both a shield and rifle support. A fifth box 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 found inside those boxes included Think and Do, People and Progress, and the Second Rolling Reader.
Item number two: some suspected that Oswald was with a woman 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 except 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 led some to believe the print was left by a woman.
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 building 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 it remains a mystery to this day.
And finally, the number one item that many folks don't realize is this: as repugnant as it is, people began profiting from conspiracy theories about Kennedy's death almost immediately after his assassination.
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 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 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 have indicated 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 picture in no way resembled Lee Harvey Oswald's killer.
Adding to Clements' evidence were the statements of four employees of the Dallas Morning News who'd seen Ruby 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" likely provided some early, enterprising shyster a tidy income. It was the first of many frauds perpetrated with the intent of making a buck on the assassination of an American president.
According to a recent AP poll, nearly 60% of Americans still believe that Oswald was part of a larger plot to kill JFK.
Tens of thousands of books have been written about the assassination and subsequent investigation and 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 we have now learned, however... nothing tops the actual, original investigation when it comes to bizarre, little-known facts about this perennially fascinating tragedy. ☁