Some researchers now claim the final shot came from a storm drain. Others maintain the body of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit — the man Oswald was originally arrested for shooting — was used as a stand-in for JFK’s autopsy photos. A few say the final shot was an accidental Secret Service ricochet misfire. There are even rumors of a poison dart being fired from a bystander’s umbrella in an effort to paralyze the president, making him easier to hit.
I would dismiss these theories, but authorities have destroyed evidence, silenced or overlooked witnesses and left credible leads unexplored.
Oswald’s murderer, Jack Ruby, begged the commission to take him back to Washington, fearing for his life in Texas. “If you don’t take me back … you will see the most tragic thing that will ever happen,” he said. “I won’t be around for you to come and question me again.” They refused, and Ruby died three years later.
On Nov. 24, 1963, Commander James Humes threw his original JFK autopsy notes into his fireplace. After Oswald’s murder, FBI agent James Hosty — on orders from his superior, J. Gordon Shanklin — flushed a note Oswald left him two weeks before the assassination.
The assassination is maddening. On this very desk sits a 7-inch stack of four assassination books. I am getting close to the end of “Crossfire” by Jim Marrs (1989) and have been reading parts of Bugliosi’s 1.5 million-word, 5.6-pound, 1,612-page opus. The other night, I fell asleep halfway through re-watching Oliver Stone’s 189-minute 1991 picture, “JFK.” I’ve watched: all nine (!) parts of the ITV series “The Men Who Killed Kennedy”; the 1999 History Channel program “The Warren Commission”; the 2003 BBC feature “Kennedy Assassination: Beyond Conspiracy”; and another BBC production, 1978’s “The Killing of President Kennedy.”
After all this, I can only close the book on one murder: that of my spare time.
Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at twitter.com/robaburg.