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  • Matt Crumpton

Ep 24: Texas Theater & Conclusions on the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit

Updated: Apr 23

The Texas Theater is eight blocks away from where Officer J.D. Tippit was shot and killed. Located at 231 W. Jefferson Boulevard – the Texas Theater is still in operation today. And of course, it was inside the Texas Theater where Lee Harvey Oswald was infamously arrested by the Dallas police for the murder of Officer Tippit.

But there’s much more to the Texas Theater than just Oswald being hauled off to the police station in handcuffs. Today, we’ll examine the witness statements from the Texas Theater to see what we can learn from people who were on the inside when all the action happened.

When exactly did Oswald arrive at the theater? Where in the theater did he sit? Did he interact with anyone? And was Jack Ruby also sighted at the Texas Theater that day?

We’ll answer those questions and more before summarizing the evidence for who killed J.D. Tippit.

Warren Report on Texas Theater

According to the Warren Report, this is the story of how Lee Harvey Oswald was captured inside the Texas Theater: QUOTE “Shortly after the Tippit murder, police sirens sounded along Jefferson Boulevard. One of the persons who heard the sirens was Johnny Calvin Brewer, manager of Hardy's Shoe Store, a few doors east of the Texas Theatre. Brewer knew from radio broadcasts that the President had been shot and that a patrolman had also been shot in Oak Cliff. When he heard police sirens, he "looked up and saw the man enter the lobby” a recessed area extending about 15 feet between the sidewalk and the front door of his store.”[1]

Brewer says this man was hiding from a police car at the time. He described the man he saw as wearing an untucked brown sports shirt.[2] After the man left the recessed area in front of his shoe store, Brewer then walked outside to follow the man and saw him enter the Texas Theater.

Brewer told the Warren Commission QUOTE “…I walked up to the theatre, to the box office and asked [Julia] Postal [who sold tickets at the box office] if she sold a ticket to a man who was wearing a brown shirt, and she said no, she hadn't. … And I said that a man walked in there, and I was going to go inside and ask the usher if he had seen him.”[3]

Julia Postal, for her part told the Warren Commission that she saw the man she later identified as Oswald and said he was wearing a brown sports shirt, was medium height, and QUOTE “ruddy looking to me.”[4] (Ruddy is another way to say having a red complexion.)

So, Brewer talks to Postal and then goes in to find Butch Burroughs, who took tickets and operated concessions at the theater. Brewer asks Burroughs if he had seen a man in a brown shirt enter the theater without a ticket, but Burroughs had been working behind the counter and had not seen anyone.[5] Both Postal and Burroughs later explained to the Warren Commission that the reason Burroughs failed to see the man come in the theater was that the man must have gone straight up to the Balcony using the stairway near the entrance.[6] Otherwise, Burroughs would have seen him.[7] [8]

Next, Brewer asked Burroughs to show him where the exits were in the theater because the guy who had just snuck in looked suspicious. Around this time, Julia Postal called the police to tell them about the suspicious man in the theater.[9] The house lights were then turned on in the theater. Shortly after that, police arrived and Brewer told them where the suspicious man was sitting in the lower back part of the theater.[10]

Patrolman NM MacDonald then approached Oswald to arrest him. But Oswald did not go easily. He stood up and started yelling, before taking a swing at MacDonald.[11] Then there was a struggle over Oswald’s firearm that ultimately resulted in Oswald getting a black eye and the firearm being removed from his possession. Finally, the police took Oswald to the station out the front door of the Texas Theater.

Oswald In the Theater

We just heard the official Warren Report story of the capture of Lee Harvey Oswald. It’s the story of Johnny Brewer and Julia Postal seeing a man wearing a brown shirt (like Oswald was wearing) who then snuck in the lobby of the Texas Theater without buying a ticket and ran up the stairs straight to the balcony without being seen by anyone. This man then ended up in the seats down low. If Butch Burroughs didn’t see the man in the brown shirt enter the theater, did anyone else see him? What else do we know about the exact movements of Oswald inside the theater?

It turns out that Butch Burroughs had more to say about what he saw that day than what he told the Warren Commission. But, that’s because he only answered the questions that he was asked. And no one asked him what time he saw Oswald enter the building. Burroughs had this to say on The Men Who Killed Kennedy series:

“We started the movie at 1 oclock and I was counting candy behind the Candy case and Oswald slipped in between 1:00 and 1:07.”[12]

Burroughs also told author James Douglass the showstopping information that he sold Oswald popcorn at 1:15.[13] If Oswald arrived at the theater between 1 and 1:07 and he bought popcorn from Burroughs at 1:15, it would be impossible for Oswald to have killed J.D. Tippit, since the murder happened “around 1:15” according to the Warren Report.

But, then again, that would also mean that if Burroughs is right about the time - that Oswald must have gotten a ride to the Texas Theater to be there by 1:07. We know that he could not have walked there that fast. But we already know from Brewer and Postal that there was a person who was wearing a brown shirt who came in off of Jefferson Boulevard much later after the radio had already broadcast Tippit’s shooting. But, wouldn’t Burroughs know if he had sold popcorn to someone? How could he have sold popcorn to Oswald at 1:15 if Oswald didn’t enter the building until at least a few minutes later?

There were 15 to 20 people in the theater at the time.[14] Before Oswald bought his popcorn, he sat down in the seat right next to Jack Davis – who was 18 years old at the time and was never interviewed by the Warren Commission.[15] Davis wondered why this man was sitting next to him in a theater with hundreds of open seats. Davis then saw Oswald get up and move to another seat, which was also next to one of the few people in the theater.[16] Davis said it looked like Oswald was looking for someone he didn’t know personally. Davis says Oswald sat next to a few other people for a very short time and then got up to walk out to the lobby.[17]

It was at this time that Oswald bought the popcorn from Burroughs, who says it was at 1:15. After Burroughs sold him the popcorn, he saw Oswald walk back in the lower section of the theater and sit next to a pregnant woman.[18] Burroughs recalls that a few minutes after Oswald walked back in to the theater, the pregnant woman got up and went to the ladies washroom. And he recalls hearing the restroom door close shortly before the Dallas police came rushing into the theater.[19]

It would be helpful if there was a way to know what all of the witnesses who were there to watch a movie that day had to say – not just Jack Davis. But, unfortunately, none of the witnesses gave statements to the FBI or the Warren Commission about what they saw.

Other Oswald?

We’ve talked about the idea of two Oswalds already on Solving JFK. As you study the case, there are instances in the record of people saying that they saw Oswald who seem convinced of it, but their sightings are at times when Oswald’s presence is already indisputably accounted for in the record. For example, Ralph Yates – the guy that was sent to an asylum - said he picked up a hitchhiker who looked just like Oswald and was saying things that would be incriminating for Oswald. Another example is with Sterling Wood and his father seeing the man who looked just like Oswald at the gun range on a day that Oswald was with his family and Ruth Paine at the Paine house. The other big example we’ve looked at is when multiple witnesses saw a man who looked like Oswald running down the hill in Dealey Plaza to get into a Nash Rambler.

We have another one of these potential double Oswald sightings at the Texas Theater. The mystery has to do with which exit Oswald was taken out of the theater by police after his arrest. There is also some confusion as to why some parts of the official record state that Oswald was discovered in the balcony – and not the main floor of the theater.

First, let’s look at the exit scenarios. The official story, which I believe is correct, is that Oswald was taken out of the front door. There is a famous photo of Oswald struggling with police as he is taken out the front door – which resolves the issue alone.[20] Numerous statements from officers that day, including Sergeant Hill, also support the idea that Oswald exited the Texas Theater through the lobby and then the front door.[21]

But, if it isn’t really disputed that Oswald went out the front door, then why are there two witnesses who say that they saw Oswald taken out the back door?

According to Butch Burroughs – the concessions guy who sold Oswald popcorn at 1:15 - he saw a second arrest with the suspect taken out the back of the theater. In an interview with Jim Douglass, Burroughs said that the Dallas Police arrested QUOTE “an Oswald lookalike” three or four minutes after they arrested Oswald and took him out the front.[22] Burroughs said he could see the second man just as well as he could see Oswald and that man QUOTE “looked almost like Oswald, like he was his brother or something.”[23]

Bernard Haire - who owned Bernie’s Hobby House, two doors down from the Texas Theater – also saw an arrest happen in the back of the Texas Theater. At first, Haire couldn’t see what was happening because of the crowd. So, he went back through his store into the alley out back. The alley was full of police cars, but there were fewer spectators. There in that back alley, Haire witnessed what he thought for years was the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald.[24] It wasn’t until 1987 that Haire found out that Oswald had actually been taken out the front of the theater.[25]

So, from the stories of Bernie Haire and Butch Burroughs there is some evidence for the idea that another person who resembled Oswald was taken out the back door after being arrested. But is there any documentary evidence to support the idea of an Oswald lookalike? Sort of.

In the official homicide report for J.D. Tippit, it says QUOTE “suspect was later arrested in the balcony of the Texas Theater.”[26] Dallas police detective LD Stringfellow said in a letter to Captain Gannaway that is now in the Dallas City Archives that QUOTE “Oswald was arrested in the balcony of the Texas Theater.”[27]

Conspiracy theorists believe that the Oswald lookalike is the one who was arrested in the balcony and taken out the back of the theater. It’s a big claim that requires a large leap. Is it possible that the police officers who said Oswald was arrested in the balcony were just mistaken? Yes. It is definitely possible. Is it likely? I don’t know.

Oswald Ownership of the Revolver

When Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested at the Texas Theater, he had a Smith and Wesson .38 special revolver with serial number V510210.[28] Commission Exhibit 790 is a mail order coupon with the name AJ Hiddell – Oswald’s alias - that requests a .38 special from Seaport Traders to be shipped to his PO Box in Dallas - the same PO Box where the Carcano rifle was allegedly shipped. On top of that, Marina Oswald, Lee’s wife, said that Lee owned that revolver and that it was the one in the famous backyard photograph of Oswald holding a rifle and some Russian language papers with a revolver in a holster.[29] Pretty damning stuff when it comes to whether Oswald owned the revolver.

Now, the FBI report about Oswald’s interrogation says, QUOTE “Oswald stated that he purchased a pistol, which was taken off him by police officers November 22, 1963. He declined to state where he had purchased it.”[30]

As we previously discussed, Warren Report critics make arguments in defense of Oswald when it comes to his ordering the revolver that are similar to the ones they make about Oswald’s ownership of the rifle. Namely, that if the firearms were actually shipped in the mail and were, in fact, received by Oswald in the mail, then Railway Express Agency, which is the private mail delivery company that handled the revolver delivery, would’ve been required to get a certificate of good character and proof of identification on form 5024.

But there is no form 5024 for Oswald or for his alias Hidell. There’s no evidence in the record that Railway Express Agency ever sent a postcard to Oswald’s PO box to notify him to pick up the gun. There is nopaperwork showing that the transaction was completed and that payment was sent from Oswald to Seaport Traders. None of the bank transactions that would support the chain of custody of the revolver are in the record. And as far as we know, the FBI never visited Railway Express Agency to follow up.[31]

Ok, so there’s a lack of paper work to document that payment for the revolver was made from Oswald. And there is no proof that Oswald filled out the form necessary to receive a firearm in the mail at the time (Form 5024). But, remember, the Warren Report tells us that Oswald was arrested with a revolver that matched the serial number that Seaport Traders sent in response to an order from Hidell to Oswald’s P.O. Box.

So, the conundrum for conspiracy theorists is why did Oswald have the revolver on him when he was arrested? Unlike the rifle which was discovered later, the revolver was on Oswald’s body as he sat in the Texas Theater. That’s a hard fact to explain.

When Oswald was arrested, there were 6 live cartridges found in the revolver: 3 Western .38 specials and 3 Remington Peters .38 specials. He also had another five Western .38s in his pocket. As a reminder, four expended cartridge cases were found near the Tippit crime scene – 3 Western .38s and 1 Remington Peters. So, the ammo that Oswald was found with does line up with the types of ammo that were used in the Tippit killing. No ammo was ever found at Oswald’s rooming house or at Ruth Paine’s house. So, Oswald must have taken all of the bullets he had with him, if in fact those were his bullets.

Oswald having the revolver on his body that matches the revolver linked to the Oswald/Hidell P.O. Box is one of those facts that Warren Report defenders credibly point to when explaining with certainty that Oswald did it. Throw in the fact that he had extra ammo in his pocket and that helps the lone gunman position even more.

Jack Ruby There?

As if two Oswalds isn’t crazy enough, there’s also a witness who says that Jack Ruby was in the Texas Theater when everything went down. George Applin, Jr. was watching the movie when the lights turned on and the police stormed in. At that time, Applin went to the back of the theater as the officers prepared to move in on Oswald. [32] While standing in the rear, Applin told a man sitting in the back row that it would be smart to move so that he didn’t get hurt.

Applin identified the man as Jack Ruby in 1979 when speaking to reporter Earl Golz. Applin told Golz that QUOTE “Ruby was sitting down, just watching them. And when Oswald pulled the gun and snapped it at [the policeman’s] head and missed and the darn thing wouldn’t fire, that’s when I tapped Ruby on the shoulder and told him he had better move because those guns were waving around….He just turned around and looked at me. Then he turned around and started watching them.”[33]

But, previously when Applin was interviewed by the Warren Commission he said that he had never seen the man since then, implying that he didn’t know who the man was. When asked why he was coming forward with the ID of Ruby at the Texas Theater in 15 years after he was asked by the Warren Commission he said QUOTE “I’m a pretty nervous guy anyway, because I’ll tell you what: After I saw that magazine where all those people they said were kind of connected with some of this had come up dead, it just kind of made me keep a low profile.”[34]

What difference does it make if Jack Ruby is at the Texas Theater that day? By virtue of being present at the Texas Theater when no one else knows this major event was going to happen, it would tend to show that Ruby had foreknowledge about the arrest and wanted to be there to witness it for himself. And where there is foreknowledge, there is a conspiracy of some sort. Of course, all of this speculation about Ruby depends on whether a single witness – George Applin, Jr - actually saw Ruby.

Carl Mather

TF White was an employee of Mack Pate’s Garage in Oak Cliff. At 2:00pm on the day of the assassination and Tippit murder, White saw a red 1961 Falcon drive into the parking lot of the El Chico restaurant across the street from his garage. The man appeared to be trying to hide. White then walked across the street to investigate thinking it could be the assassin who shot the president. White stopped 10-15 feet from the car. He could see the driver was wearing a white t shirt. The man turned toward White and looked him in the eyes. White then retreated because he feared the man would shoot him, but wrote down the license plate: Texas PP 4537. White was watching TV with his wife that night and recognized Lee Harvey Oswald as the person he had made eye contact with who was hiding in the Falcon across the street.[35]

But, what White didn’t know is that Oswald was already in custody when he saw the man in the Falcon. The Warren Report says that at 1:51pm, police car number 2 reported that it was on the way to headquarters with the suspect.[36] So, who was the man in the Falcon?

Dallas newscaster Wes Wise was giving a talk to the Oak Cliff Exchange Club at the El Chico Restaurant on December 4, 1963 that was attended by Mack Pate – TF White’s boss. Pate told the newscaster about White seeing Oswald in the parking lot at 2pm. Then, he gave Wise the license plate number that White had written down.[37] Wise gave the plate number to a FBI contact who traced the plate back to a 1957 Plymouth owned by Carl Amos Mather. Agent Charles T. Brown then drove to Mather’s address and found that same license plate on Mather’s 1957 Plymouth.[38]

So, who was Carl Mather? According to the FBI, Mather did high-security communications work for Collins Radio, a CIA contractor. Carl Mather personally installed the special electronics equipment in VP Johnson’s Air Force Two plane.[39] Carl Mather refused to speak to the FBI. His wife was questioned by them instead. Mrs. Mather said her husband was a good friend of JD Tippit and that when Tippit was murdered his wife called them to let them know. She said Carl left work at 3:30 that afternoon and returned home.[40]

Eventually, Carl Mather did consent to an interview with HSCA in 1978, but only on the condition that he be granted immunity! He said he could not explain how his car’s license plate number could have been on a Falcon with the Oswald-looking driver at that time.[41]

The HSCA and Warren Report defenders dismiss this story (known as “the Wise Allegation”) as a confused auto mechanic jotting down a coincidentally connected license plate of a CIA connected friend of JD Tippit. Wes Wise would later go on to become mayor of Dallas from 1971-76 and worked to preserve the TSBD so that the assassination could continue to be studied. When asked about how Oswald could have possibly been in the El Chico lot and in police custody at 2pm, Wise said “Well, you’re aware of the idea of two Oswald’s, I guess?”[42]

This story is too bizarre. But, there is an FBI report that documents all of these things that Wise was told by TF White.[43] If true, the Wise Allegation supports the idea that 1) there was an Oswald imposter and 2) that imposter was either A) using the license plate of officer Tippit’s military industrial complex friend Mather, B) there was a fake license plate that happened to have the same characters as Mather, or C) TF White wrote down the wrong license plate and he just happened to get it wrong in a way that was Mather’s license.

CONCLUSION - Did Oswald Kill Tippit?

Now that we have covered all of the key information related to Tippit and Oswald’s arrest, it’s time to put all of the information together to see what we can find out. There are three categories of facts to consider: Facts that support Oswald’s guilt, Facts that support Oswald’s innocence, and Weird Facts that don’t neatly fit into the innocent or guilty category.

Let’s start with facts that support Oswald’s guilt:

First, the revolver that Oswald was found with when he was arrested had the same serial number as the one that was ordered to the Oswald-Hidell P.O. Box. Now, Oswald admits to having the gun, but says he bought it in May, which does not match the timeline of the Warren Report. This fact is somewhat deflated by the absence of the necessary paperwork to legally complete the firearm sale transaction. But for the missing paperwork to matter, you would have to believe that the FBI fabricated the documents regarding Oswald’s purchase of the gun, and then framed Oswald with a gun that matched the documents for there to be any other explanation than it being Oswald’s gun. And no matter what you believe, the fact is that Oswald had a revolver on him when he was arrested. Why did he need to have a revolver on him if he was completely innocent? That’s a very fair question. The revolver is a very strong fact supporting Oswald’s guilt in the murder of J.D. Tippit.

Second, on balance, the eyewitness testimony also supports Oswald’s guilt. But, when we zoom in to what was actually said, we find that it’s not as simple as nine people identifying Oswald as the shooter, like the Warren Report claims. The devil is in the details. Domingo Benavides, the closest witness and the one who actually called for help from the police radio, never formally identified Oswald. William Scoggins, the cab driver, had an obscured view of the shooting because of a bush that was in the way, but did see the shooter flee. And he identified Oswald as the shooter in police line ups. Helen Markham also eventually identified Oswald (though she did it in an unclear way).

But, the eyewitness testimony supporting Oswald’s guilt was the result of a police line up where Oswald was clearly agitated and actually said his name and place of employment – at the Texas Schoolbook Depository.[44] This was after it was known that the shots came from there. So, while the eyewitness testimony is valuable for what the witnesses said they saw as corroborated by one another’s story – the part about identifying Oswald is at least somewhat tainted by the unreasonably obvious police line ups that seem to be designed to point out Oswald.

The third evidentiary argument against Oswald is that the shells found at the scene matched the revolver that Oswald was arrested with. Now, this evidence is discredited to an extent by Officer Poe’s statement that he carved his initials in the shells and the shells in the National Archives not having Poe’s initials.[45] But, now you are back into the world of accusing the authorities of affirmatively framing Oswald, which could be possible. But, remember, Oswald also had 5 more rounds in his pocket. It’s a pretty crazy coincidence if Oswald just happens to have a revolver full of ammo and 5 more rounds if he was just out to catch a casual matinee.

The fourth piece of evidence is the light gray zip-up jacket that was discovered by an unknown man who pointed it out to Captain Westbrook. This jacket was allegedly worn by the shooter and disgarded in a parking lot near the Tippit shooting. Oswald’s wife, Marina, said that Lee owned the gray zip up jacket that was in evidence. But, she also said that Lee had never dry cleaned a jacket and the jacket that was found had a dry cleaning tag on it. Additionally, Earlene Roberts says Oswald left the house wearing a dark zip up jacket. So, on balance, the weight of the jacket as a piece of evidence against Oswald is not as strong as the revolver, the shells, and the eyewitness testimony. Still, those four facts are not great for the prospect of Oswald’s innocence.


Of course, as we know, there is always more to the story. Now, let’s take a look at facts that support Oswald’s innocence.

First, the timing proposed by the Warren Report does not appear to be possible given all of the witness testimony and evidence. The Warren Report wants to make it sound like Oswald had 15 minutes because he left shortly after around 1 and killed Tippit around 1:15. But, when we zoom in to the testimony, we find that Oswald is seen standing waiting for a northbound bus around 1:04. The Tippit crime scene was south from Oswald’s rooming house. Why would Oswald be at a northbound bus stop if he was about to go south.

The exact timing in the Tippit case is one of the most disputed issues. Some Warren Report defenders argue that the timing is off because Oswald actually left a little earlier than the Warren Report says he did. We really don’t know with absolute certainty when Oswald left his rooming house. But, using the Warren Report’s own timeline plus Earlene Roberts testimony, it had to be around 1:05.

We also have TF Bowley saying he arrived and saw Officer Tippit on the ground and looked at his watch and it was 1:10.[46] Margie Higgins said she heard the shots and looked at the clock and saw that it was 1:06.[47]Helen Markham also says the shooting took place around 1:06 or 1:07 – which makes sense because she was on the way to catch her bus at 1:12.[48] It gets worse for Warren Report defenders on the timing when we hear from Butch Burroughs at the Texas Theater that Oswald arrived between 1:00 and 1:07 and purchased popcorn from him at 1:15. Clearly, Oswald could not have murdered Tippit around 1:15 if he was at the Texas Theater buying popcorn at that time.

The timing issue is very strong for Oswald. But, the counterpoint of Warren Report defenders is that it is more likely that everyone’s watches were off (given the other evidence against Oswald), than it is that the watches were generally correct and Oswald did not kill Tippit.

The second issue that points to Oswald’s innocence is the eyewitness testimony of the shooter’s actions. It doesn’t make any sense for Oswald to have done what the shooter is accused of doing. Helen Markham says, “Tippit stopped. And then the man stopped.”[49] Tippit didn’t catch up to the shooter on the street. Instead, the Officer pulled up along side the man on the sidewalk, but behind him, and stopped. And then the man turned around and approached Tippit’s car. The Warren Report wants us to believe that Tippit approached the man because he fit the description of the presidential assassin. But, the testimony from the witnesses does not support that conclusion.

This pedestrian man who would become the shooter could have casually kept walking and completely avoided a confrontation with a police officer at this point. Or, he could have tried at least. But, the shooter didn’t do that. He walked back to the car and rested his arms on the ledge and leaned into the window of the car. That’s not a defensive move of someone on the run. It’s a cold blooded and pre-meditated murder. And when you add in the coup de grace shot to the head to finish Tippit off, it seems like the shooter wanted to make sure that Tippit was dead. Either that or Oswald is really just crazy and like Warren Report defenders say, you can’t try to explain crazy.

Number three, the bullets recovered from Tippit’s body could not be traced back to the same gun. The FBI expert said that the failure to be able to tie the bullets to Oswald’s revolver was because work had been done on the revolver to rechamber it such that the bullets were too mangled to be traceable. So, there is an explanation of why the bullets can’t be matched. But, on top of the bullets not being tied to Oswald’s revolver, Officer McDonald, who arrested Oswald claims that when he was fighting with Oswald for possession of the gun, he heard it click, but the primer was dented and it didn’t fire. Conspiracy theorists use this testimony combined with the bullets not matching to argue that Oswald’s revolver that he had with him in the Texas Theater didn’t even work. Now, the FBI expert said that Officer McDonald was mistaken and the revolver did not have a dent in the primer. Who knows what the truth is?

The fourth piece of evidence supporting Oswald’s innocence is the testimony of Warren Reynolds, one of the Tippit murder witnesses, who believes that he was shot in the head to make sure that he testified the way the authorities wanted him to. Sure, this is the opinion of one man, but the fact that Warren Reynolds identified Oswald not because he was the man he saw, but because he was afraid to say he couldn’t identify Oswald – is important. It points to potential witness tampering. By whom is another question.

The fifth piece of evidence for Oswald is the fact that no one mentions seeing a brown shirt at the Tippit crime scene. Oswald is wearing a brown button up shirt when he is arrested. But, all of the witnesses at the Tippit crime scene who identified Oswald said he was just wearing a white tee shirt under the zip up jacket. It’s possible that the jacket obscured the brown shirt. But, you would think that one of the 9 witnesses would have mentioned the brown button up shirt under the jacket when they described what the shooter was wearing. Now, Johnny Brewer and Julia Postal do say that the man who came in to the theater without buying a ticket was wearing a brown shirt. So, the brown shirt evidence is a little muddier than some of the other pro-Oswald items.

The sixth thing that conspiracy theorists point to is the credibility Johnny Brewer’s story that he heard about the Tippit shooting on the radio before the shooter was able to travel 8 blocks from the scene of the crime to the Texas Theater. Brewer is important because he is the one who convinces Julia Postal from the theater to call police and points out where Oswald is sitting for the police when they arrive on scene. At first, I thought Brewer was listening to the police scanner and heard about the shooting over that radio. But, Brewer says he was listening to the regular radio. In my life experience, radio news stations would not have awareness of a crime and the ability to broadcast the crime in the time it would take someone to walk 8 blocks – especially in 1963. But, I suppose it is possible that, in light of the Kennedy assassination that day, the news radio was broadcasting throughout the day and could have had access to the police scanner to report what they heard. But, that is speculation. We just don’t know.

Number seven, the fingerprints that were on Tippit’s passenger window ledge have been examined and they do not match Oswald’s fingerprints.[50] This fact would be a showstopper, but for the testimony of Jack Tatum that the shooter kept his hands in his pocket. So, assuming that Tatum is right, we wouldn’t expect there to be any prints. Then again, Helen Markham clearly described the shooter put his hands on the ledge. If Markham is right, then the lack of matching fingerprints exonerates Oswald.

Finally, the eighth thing that supports Oswald’s innocence is the evidence that there may have been another person who resembled Oswald. Several witnesses have described the shooter as “Ruddy looking” or having a red complexion. Oswald did not have a red complexion. Ted Callaway, Helen Markham, Domingo Benavides, and Julia Postal all described the shooter this way. Is it possible that they were all mistaken or did they see someone who looked like Oswald but had a red complexion? This idea is further bolstered by the fact that some police reports say Oswald was arrested in the balcony and Butch Burroughs and Bernard Haire saw a man who looked like Oswald arrested and taken out the back of the theater.

Other Facts

What about the third category of facts in the Tippit case? – Ones that raise suspicion that something is going on that we don’t know about but don’t clearly support Oswald’s guilt or innocence.

First, the actions of Officer J.D. Tippit in the half hour or so before he was killed were just plain bizarre. Tippit lied about his location to the police dispatcher when he was sitting in the Gloco gas station parking lot watching vehicles come across the bridge from downtown. Then, he tore out of the parking lot and was next spotted urgently placing a phone call at Top 10 Records. After that, Tippit cuts off James Andrews and searches his back seat. Clearly, he was looking for someone. But, with the only description of the shooter that was broadcast being a “slender white male, about 30 years old” how could Tippit have known who to pull over? I don’t believe he could have, unless he already knew what the shooter looked like. Or, at a minimum, Tippit would have had to know more information about the shooter than what was available at the time. How could Tippit have known that?

The second weird fact is the honking police car at Oswald’s rooming house that was mentioned by Earlene Roberts to the Warren Commission. What are the chances of a police car stopping in front of Oswald’s rooming house at that time and honking the horn, if it has nothing to do with what is going on. Some conspiracy theorists believe that the honking police car may have been Oswald’s ride to the Texas Theater. And that is certainly possible. Was Oswald waiting for the honking police car to pick him up from the bus stop or was the police car honk just a wild coincidence? We don’t know for sure.

Finally, the third bizarro piece of evidence is the fiasco with Oswald’s wallet. We know that the one he kept at the Paine’s house was not the one that he actually used from Marina’s testimony that it was basically like a bank that he would leave money in for her. But, to this day, there remains a dispute between Warren Report defenders about where Oswald’s wallet was found. If it was found in the police car by Detective Bentley, it could not have also been found at the Tippit crime scene by Captain Westbrook. The existence of two wallets that both had full ID for Oswald and Hidell is hard to believe.


So, did Oswald kill J.D. Tippit? If I was on a criminal jury, I would vote no because of the issues I just laid out – with the timing issue being the most important. On the other hand, if the standard was lower, like for wrongful death in a civil trial, it becomes a closer call.

But, I’m still not convinced that Oswald killed Tippit. It’s inconclusive for me. You have to reserve the possibility that Oswald did given the evidence in the record. While it is true that there is very strong evidence supporting Oswald’s revolver ownership, there is that little bit of doubt with the missing firearms paperwork. And the eyewitness testimony is not great for Oswald, but the police lineups were unreasonable since Oswald stuck out like a sore thumb and was required to say his place of work at the Book Depository.

I don’t claim to know exactly who killed J.D. Tippit. But, if it wasn’t Oswald, we know from the eyewitness testimony that it had to be someone who looked like Oswald and likely had a reddish complexion. And that person would have to be part of a much larger plot to frame Oswald.

Next Time on Solving JFK: We’ll go inside the Dallas Police Department to see what Oswald’s short detention there was like. What did Oswald say to police? Who did Oswald call in jail?

[1] Warren Report at 176. [2] [3] Id. [4] [5] [6] [7] Id. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] Men Who Killed Kennedy Part 4 at 19:30. [13] James W. Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, at 290. [14] [15] Douglass at 290. [16] Id. [17] Douglass at 291. [18] Id. [19] Id. [20] [21] [22] Douglass at 291. [23] Id. [24] Id. at 292. [25] Id. [26] Id. [27] Id. [28] Warren Report at 171. [29] Id. at 174. [30] [31] John Armstrong, Harvey & Lee, page 473. [32] Douglass at 361. [33] Id. [34] Id. [35] Douglass at 293. [36] Warren Report at 179. [37] Douglass at 294. [38] Douglass at 295. [39] Id. [40] Id. [41] Douglass at 296. [42] Id. [43] [44] Sylvia Meagher, Accessories After the Fact at 257. [45] James DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland at 101. [46] CE 2003, p11 [47] [48] [49] [50] Dale Myers, With Malice, at 274-78.

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