Kennedys and Kings

In this dense and expertly synthesized review, Jim DiEugenio shows how more recent evidence has caused our understanding of the Tippit murder and its relationship to the assassination to evolve.

Original black and white photographic negative taken by Dallas Times Herald and United Press International photographer Darryl Heikes. Up until the earthquake caused by Oliver Stone’s film JFK, there was an accepted paradigm in the critical community regarding the murder of Dallas Police Patrolman J.D. Tippit. Two good examples of what that case looked like under critical scrutiny could be accessed in Henry Hurt’s book Reasonable Doubt, and Jim Garrison’s memoir, On the Trail of the Assassins. The former was published in 1985, and the latter in 1988. Garrison asked some cogent questions about the ballistics evidence in the case, which, in turn, cast aspersions on the honesty and efficacy of the handling of the evidence.

As Garrison wrote, the Warren Commission version of the Tippit shooting said that Oswald alone killed Tippit at about 1:15 P.M. After President Kennedy’s assassination, Oswald departed work at the Texas School Book Depository and took a taxi to his boarding house. The official story then has Oswald walking to the crime scene at 10th and Patton from his rooming house at 1026 North Beckley in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, a distance of around 9/10 of a mile. In itself, as both Hurt and Garrison noted, this created a problem. It began with Oswald’s landlady testifying that she had seen him standing on the corner across the street from the rooming house waiting for a bus after he went into his room at about 1:00 P.M. When asked what time she saw him there—waiting for a bus that would take him in the wrong direction from 10th and Patton—she replied it was about 1:04. (Garrison, p. 194; Hurt p. 144) The idea that someone could traverse the nearly one-mile distance from the rooming house to the crime scene in something like 11 minutes is hard to swallow. I know two researchers—both of them much taller than Oswald—who tried to negotiate that distance and actually walked the route. Neither of them came close to equalling what the Commission said Oswald did. And neither of them walked normally; they both power-walked the distance. As Henry Hurt added, no one saw Oswald running that distance, or walking for that matter. Recall, this is about a half hour after President Kennedy’s assassination. If Oswald had been running, wouldn’t someone have noticed him? (Hurt, p. 145)...

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