Lee Harvey Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald
Oswald on November 23, 1963, one day after the assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy
BornOctober 18, 1939
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedNovember 24, 1963 (aged 24)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Cause of deathGunshot wound
Resting placeRose Hill Cemetery, Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
32°43′57″N 97°12′12″W﻿ / ﻿32.732455°N 97.203223°W
Known forAssassination of John F. Kennedy and killing of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit
Criminal chargeMurder with malice (2 counts)
Spouse
(m. 1961)
Children2
Military career
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1956–1959
RankPrivate first class (demoted to Private)
Signature

Lee Harvey Oswald (October 18, 1939 – November 24, 1963) was a U.S. Marine veteran who assassinated John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, on November 22, 1963.

Oswald was placed in juvenile detention at the age of 12 for truancy, during which time he was assessed by a psychiatrist as "emotionally disturbed", due to a lack of normal family life. After attending 12 schools in his youth, he quit repeatedly, and finally when he was 17, joined the Marines. Oswald was court-martialed twice while in the Marines, and jailed. He was honorably released from active duty in the Marine Corps into the Marine Corps Reserve, then flew to Europe and defected to the Soviet Union in October 1959. He lived in Minsk, Byelorussia, married a Russian woman named Marina, and had a daughter. In June 1962, he returned to the United States with his wife, and eventually settled in Dallas, where their second daughter was born.

Oswald shot and killed Kennedy on November 22, 1963, from a sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository as Kennedy traveled by motorcade through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. About 45 minutes after assassinating Kennedy, Oswald shot and killed Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit on a local street. He then slipped into a movie theater, where he was arrested for Tippit's murder. Oswald was charged with the assassination of Kennedy, but he denied responsibility for the killing, claiming that he was a "patsy". Two days later, Oswald was fatally shot by local nightclub owner Jack Ruby on live television in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters.

In September 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald had acted alone when assassinating Kennedy. This conclusion, though controversial, was supported by investigations from the Dallas Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Secret Service, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

Despite forensic, ballistic, and eyewitness evidence supporting the official findings, public opinion polls have shown that most Americans still do not believe that the official version tells the whole truth of the events, and the assassination spawned numerous conspiracy theories.

Early life

Oswald was born at the old French Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 18, 1939, to Robert Edward Lee Oswald Sr. (1896–1939) and Marguerite Frances Claverie (1907–1981). Robert Oswald was a third cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt and a distant cousin of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and served in the Marines during World War I. Robert died of a heart attack two months before Lee was born. Lee's elder brother Robert Jr. (1934–2017) was also a former Marine. Through Marguerite's first marriage to Edward John Pic Jr., Lee and Robert Jr. were the half-brothers of Air Force veteran John Edward Pic (1932–2000).

In 1944, Marguerite moved the family from New Orleans to Dallas, Texas. Oswald entered the first grade in 1945 and over the next half-dozen years attended several different schools in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas through the sixth grade. Oswald took an IQ test in the fourth grade and scored 103; "on achievement tests in [grades 4 to 6], he twice did best in reading and twice did worst in spelling".

As a child, Oswald was described as withdrawn and temperamental by several people who knew him. When Oswald was 12 in August 1952, his mother took him to New York City where they lived for a short time with Oswald's half-brother, John. Oswald and his mother were later asked to leave after an argument in which Oswald allegedly struck his mother and threatened John's wife with a pocket knife.

Oswald attended seventh grade in the Bronx, New York, but was often truant, which led to a psychiatric assessment at a juvenile reformatory. The reformatory psychiatrist, Dr. Renatus Hartogs, described Oswald as immersed in a "vivid fantasy life, turning around the topics of omnipotence and power, through which [Oswald] tries to compensate for his present shortcomings and frustrations". Dr. Hartogs concluded:

Lee has to be diagnosed as "personality pattern disturbance with schizoid features and passive-aggressive tendencies". Lee has to be seen as an emotionally, quite disturbed youngster who suffers under the impact of really existing emotional isolation and deprivation, lack of affection, absence of family life and rejection by a self involved and conflicted mother.

Hartogs recommended that Lee be placed on probation on condition that he seek help and guidance through a child guidance clinic, and that Oswald seek "psychotherapeutic guidance through contact with a family agency". Evelyn D Siegel, a social worker who interviewed both Lee and Oswald at Youth House, while describing "a rather pleasant, appealing quality about this emotionally starved, affectionless youngster which grows as one speaks to him", found that he had detached himself from the world around him because "no one in it ever met any of his needs for love". Hartogs and Sigel indicated that Oswald's mother gave Lee very little affection, with Siegel concluding that Lee "just felt that his mother never gave a damn for him. He always felt like a burden that she simply just had to tolerate." Furthermore, his mother did not apparently indicate an awareness of the relationship between her conduct and Lee's psychological problems, with Siegel describing Marguerite Oswald as a "defensive, rigid, self-involved person who had real difficulty in accepting and relating to people" and who had "little understanding" of Lee's behavior and of the "protective shell he has drawn around himself". Hartogs reported that she did not understand that Lee's withdrawal was a form of "violent but silent protest against his neglect by her and represents his reaction to a complete absence of any real family life".

When Lee returned to school for the 1953 Fall semester, his disciplinary problems continued. When Oswald failed to cooperate with school authorities, they sought a court order to remove him from his mother's care so he could be placed into a home for boys to complete his education. This was postponed, perhaps partially because his behavior abruptly improved. Before the New York family court system could address their case, the Oswalds left New York in January 1954, and returned to New Orleans.

Oswald completed the eighth and ninth grades in New Orleans. He entered the tenth grade in 1955 but quit school after one month. After leaving school, Oswald worked for several months as an office clerk and messenger in New Orleans. In July 1956, Oswald's mother moved the family to Fort Worth, Texas, and Oswald re-enrolled in the tenth grade for the September session at Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth. A few weeks later in October, Oswald quit school at age 17 to join the Marines; he never earned a high school diploma. By this point, he had resided at 22 locations and attended 12 schools.

Though Oswald had trouble spelling in his youth and may have had a "reading-spelling disability", he read voraciously. By age 15, he considered himself a socialist. According to his diary, "I was looking for a key to my environment, and then I discovered socialist literature. I had to dig for my books in the back dusty shelves of libraries." At 16, he wrote to the Socialist Party of America for information on their Young People's Socialist League, saying he had been studying socialist principles for "well over fifteen months". Edward Voebel, "whom the Warren Commission had established was Oswald's closest friend during his teenage years in New Orleans", said "reports that Oswald was already 'studying Communism' were a 'lot of baloney.'" Voebel said that "Oswald commonly read 'paperback trash'".

As a teenager in 1955, Oswald became a cadet member of Civil Air Patrol in New Orleans. Fellow cadets variously recalled him attending CAP meetings "three or four" times, or "10 or 12 times", over a one- to three-month period.

Marine Corps

Oswald as a U.S. Marine in 1956

Oswald enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on October 24, 1956, just a week after his seventeenth birthday; because of his age, his brother Robert Jr. was required to sign as his legal guardian. Oswald also named his mother and his half-brother John as beneficiaries. Oswald idolized his older brother Robert Jr., and wore his Marine Corps ring. John Pic (Oswald's half-brother) testified to the Warren Commission that Oswald's enlistment was motivated by wanting "to get from out and under ... the yoke of oppression from my mother".

Oswald's enlistment papers recite that he was 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 meters) tall and weighed 135 pounds (61 kg), with hazel eyes and brown hair. His primary training was in radar operation, which required a security clearance. A May 1957 document stated that he was "granted final clearance to handle classified matter up to and including confidential after careful check of local records had disclosed no derogatory data".

At Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, Oswald finished seventh in a class of thirty in the Aircraft Control and Warning Operator Course, which "included instruction in aircraft surveillance and the use of radar". He was given the military occupational specialty of Aviation Electronics Operator. On July 9, he reported to the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California. There he met fellow Marine Kerry Thornley, who co-created Discordianism. Thornley wrote the 1962 fictional book The Idle Warriors based on Oswald. This was the only book written about Oswald before the Kennedy assassination. Oswald departed for Japan the following month, where he was assigned to Marine Air Control Squadron 1 at Naval Air Facility Atsugi near Tokyo.

Like all Marines, Oswald was trained and tested in shooting. In December 1956, he scored 212, which was slightly above the requirements for the designation of sharpshooter. In May 1959 he scored 191, which reduced his rating to marksman.

Oswald was court-martialed after he accidentally shot himself in the elbow with an unauthorized .22 caliber handgun. He was court-martialed a second time for fighting with a sergeant who he thought was responsible for his punishment in the shooting matter. He was demoted from private first class to private and briefly imprisoned. Oswald was later punished for a third incident: while he was on a night-time sentry duty in the Philippines, he inexplicably fired his rifle into the jungle.

Slightly built, Oswald was nicknamed Ozzie Rabbit after the cartoon character; he was also called Oswaldskovich because he espoused pro-Soviet sentiments. In November 1958, Oswald transferred back to El Toro where his unit's function "was to serveil [sic] for aircraft, but basically to train both enlisted men and officers for later assignment overseas". An officer there said that Oswald was a "very competent" crew chief and was "brighter than most people".

While Oswald was in the Marines, he taught himself rudimentary Russian. Although this was an unusual endeavor, on February 25, 1959, he was invited to take a Marine proficiency exam in written and spoken Russian. His level at the time was rated "poor" in understanding spoken Russian, though he fared rather reasonably for a Marine private at the time in reading and writing. On September 11, 1959, he received a hardship discharge from active service, claiming his mother needed care. He was placed on the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

Oswald traveled to the Soviet Union just before he turned 20 in October 1959. He had taught himself Russian and saved $1,500 of his Marine Corps salary (equivalent to$11,100 in 2021). Oswald spent two days with his mother in Fort Worth, then embarked by ship on September 20 from New Orleans to Le Havre, France, and immediately traveled to the United Kingdom. Arriving in Southampton on October 9, he told officials he had $700 and planned to stay for one week before proceeding to a school in Switzerland. On the same day, he flew to Helsinki, where he checked in at the Hotel Torni, room 309, then moved to Hotel Klaus Kurki, room 429. He was issued a Soviet visa on October 14. Oswald left Helsinki by train on the following day, crossed the Soviet border at Vainikkala, and arrived in Moscow on October 16. His visa, valid only for a week, was due to expire on October 21. Almost immediately after arriving, Oswald informed his Intourist guide of his desire to become a Soviet citizen. When asked why by the various Soviet officials he encountered—all of whom, by Oswald's account, found his wish incomprehensible—he said that he was a communist, and gave what he described in his diary as "vauge [sic] answers about 'Great Soviet Union'". On October 21, the day his visa was due to expire, he was told that his citizenship application had been refused, and that he had to leave the Soviet Union that evening. Distraught, Oswald inflicted a minor but bloody wound to his left wrist in his hotel room bathtub soon before his Intourist guide was due to arrive to escort him from the country, according to his diary because he wished to kill himself in a way that would shock her. Delaying Oswald's departure because of his self-inflicted injury, the Soviets kept him in a Moscow hospital under psychiatric observation for a week, until October 28, 1959. Apartment building where Oswald lived in Minsk According to Oswald, he met with four more Soviet officials that day, who asked if he wanted to return to the United States. Oswald replied by insisting that he wanted to live in the Soviet Union as a Soviet national. When pressed for identification papers, he provided his Marine Corps discharge papers. On October 31, Oswald appeared at the United States embassy in Moscow and declared a desire to renounce his U.S. citizenship. "I have made up my mind", he said; "I'm through." He told the U.S. embassy interviewing officer, Richard Edward Snyder, that "he had been a radar operator in the Marine Corps and that he had voluntarily stated to unnamed Soviet officials that as a Soviet citizen he would make known to them such information concerning the Marine Corps and his specialty as he possessed. He intimated that he might know something of special interest." Such statements led to Oswald's hardship/honorable military reserve discharge being changed to undesirable. The story of the defection of a former U.S. Marine to the Soviet Union was reported by both the Associated Press and United Press International. Though Oswald had wanted to attend Moscow State University, in January 1960 he was sent to Minsk, Belarus, to work as a lathe operator at the Gorizont Electronics Factory, which produced radios, televisions, and military and space electronics. Stanislau Shushkevich, who later became independent Belarus's first head of state, also worked at Gorizont at the time, and was assigned to help Oswald improve his Russian. Oswald received a government-subsidized, fully furnished studio apartment in a prestigious building and an additional supplement to his factory pay, which allowed him to have a comfortable standard of living by working-class Soviet standards, though he was kept under constant surveillance. From mid-1960 to early 1961, Oswald was in a relationship with Ella German (Belarusian: Эла Герман), a Belarusian coworker born in 1937. They ate together in the factory cafeteria every day and dated about twice each week. German later described Oswald as "a pleasant-looking guy with a good sense of humor... not as rough and rude as the men here were back then"; she did not love him, but thought he was lonely and continued to date him out of pity. Their relationship became more serious – in Oswald's eyes – during the summer and fall of 1960, but began to deteriorate after German learned in October that Oswald had been seeing other women. On January 2, 1961, Oswald proposed, but German refused. Return to the U.S. Oswald wrote in his diary in January 1961: "I am starting to reconsider my desire about staying. The work is drab, the money I get has nowhere to be spent. No nightclubs or bowling alleys, no places of recreation except the trade union dances. I have had enough." Shortly afterwards, Oswald (who had never formally renounced his U.S. citizenship) wrote to the Embassy of the United States, Moscow requesting the return of his American passport, and proposing to return to the U.S. if any charges against him would be dropped. In March 1961, Oswald met Marina Prusakova (born 1941), a 19-year-old pharmacology student; they married six weeks later. The Oswalds' first child, June, was born on February 15, 1962. On May 24, 1962, Oswald and Marina applied at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for documents that enabled her to immigrate to the U.S. On June 1, the U.S. Embassy gave Oswald a repatriation loan of$435.71. Oswald, Marina, and their infant daughter left for the United States, where they received less attention from the press than Oswald expected.

Dallas–Fort Worth

The Oswalds soon settled in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where Lee's mother and brother lived. Lee began a manuscript on Soviet life, though he eventually gave up the project. The Oswalds also became acquainted with a number of anti-Communist Russian and East European émigrés in the area. In testimony to the Warren Commission, Alexander Kleinlerer said that the Russian émigrés sympathized with Marina, while merely tolerating Oswald, whom they regarded as rude and arrogant.

Although the Russian émigrés eventually abandoned Marina when she made no sign of leaving her husband, Oswald found an unlikely friend in 51-year-old Russian émigré George de Mohrenschildt, a well-educated petroleum geologist with international business connections. A native of Russia, Mohrenschildt later told the Warren Commission that Oswald had a "remarkable fluency in Russian". Marina, meanwhile, befriended Ruth Paine, a Quaker trying to learn Russian, and her husband Michael Paine, who worked for Bell Helicopter.

In July 1962, Oswald was hired by the Leslie Welding Company in Dallas; he disliked the work and quit after three months. On October 12, he started working for the graphic-arts firm of Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall as a photoprint trainee. A fellow employee at Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall testified that Oswald's rudeness at his new job was such that fights threatened to break out, and that he once saw Oswald reading a Russian-language publication. Oswald was fired in the first week of April 1963.

Edwin Walker assassination attempt

Oswald's $29.95 second-hand Carcano rifle in the U.S. National Archives In March 1963, Oswald used the alias "A. Hidell" to make a mail-order purchase of a secondhand 6.5 mm caliber Carcano rifle for$29.95. He also purchased a .38 Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver by the same method. The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald attempted to kill retired U.S. Major General Edwin Walker on April 10, 1963, and that Oswald fired the Carcano rifle at Walker through a window from less than 100 feet (30 m) away as Walker sat at a desk in his Dallas home. The bullet struck the window-frame and Walker's only injuries were bullet fragments to the forearm. The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations stated that the "evidence strongly suggested" that Oswald carried out the shooting.

General Walker was an outspoken anti-communist, segregationist, and member of the John Birch Society. In 1961, Walker had been relieved of his command of the 24th Division of the U.S. Army in West Germany for distributing right-wing literature to his troops. Walker's later actions in opposition to racial integration at the University of Mississippi led to his arrest on insurrection, seditious conspiracy, and other charges. He was temporarily held in a mental institution on orders from President Kennedy's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, but a grand jury declined to indict him.

Marina Oswald testified that her husband told her that he traveled by bus to General Walker's house and shot at Walker with his rifle. She said that Oswald considered Walker to be the leader of a "fascist organization". A note Oswald left for Marina on the night of the attempt, telling her what to do if he did not return, was found ten days after the Kennedy assassination.

Before the Kennedy assassination, Dallas police had no suspects in the Walker shooting, but Oswald's involvement was suspected within hours of his arrest following the assassination. The Walker bullet was too damaged to run conclusive ballistics studies on it, but neutron activation analysis later showed that it was "extremely likely" that it was made by the same manufacturer and for the same rifle make as the two bullets which later struck Kennedy.

George de Mohrenschildt testified that he "knew that Oswald disliked General Walker". Regarding this, de Mohrenschildt and his wife Jeanne recalled an incident that occurred the weekend following the Walker assassination attempt. The de Mohrenschildts testified that on April 14, 1963, just before Easter Sunday, they were visiting the Oswalds at their new apartment and had brought them a toy Easter bunny to give to their child. As Oswald's wife Marina was showing Jeanne around the apartment, they discovered Oswald's rifle standing upright, leaning against the wall inside a closet. Jeanne told George that Oswald had a rifle, and George joked to Oswald, "Were you the one who took a pot-shot at General Walker?" When asked about Oswald's reaction to this question, George de Mohrenschildt told the Warren Commission that Oswald "smiled at that". When de Mohrenschildt's wife Jeanne was asked about Oswald's reaction, she said, "I didn't notice anything"; she continued, "we started laughing our heads off, big joke, big George's joke". Jeanne de Mohrenschildt testified that this was the last time she or her husband ever saw the Oswalds.

New Orleans

Oswald rented an apartment in this building in Uptown New Orleans c. May–September 1963.
Oswald's mugshot following his arrest for disturbing the peace in New Orleans, August 9, 1963
Oswald passing out "Fair Play for Cuba" leaflets in New Orleans, August 16, 1963

Oswald returned to New Orleans on April 24, 1963. Marina's friend Ruth Paine drove her by car from Dallas to join Oswald in New Orleans the following month. On May 10, Oswald was hired by the Reily Coffee Company as a machinery greaser. He was fired in July "because his work was not satisfactory and because he spent too much time loitering in Adrian Alba's garage next door, where he read rifle and hunting magazines".

In his 1988 book On the Trail of the Assassins, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison claimed that Oswald really spent that time across the street at 544 Camp Street. These were the law offices of Guy Banister, a former FBI agent, an avid segregationist, and a local politician. Garrison added that Guy Banister during the summer of 1963 in New Orleans, was most interested in infiltrating the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and used Oswald as his spy. In their 1978 investigation, the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated a possible connection between Oswald and Banister at the Camp Street address. The HSCA wrote that it "could find no documentary proof that Banister had a file on Lee Harvey Oswald nor could the committee find credible witnesses whoever saw Lee Harvey Oswald and Guy Banister together. There are indications, however, that Banister at least knew of Oswald's leafletting activities and probably maintained a file on him."

On May 26, Oswald wrote to the New York City headquarters of the pro-Fidel Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee, proposing to rent "a small office at my own expense for the purpose of forming a FPCC branch here in New Orleans". Three days later, the FPCC responded to Oswald's letter advising against opening a New Orleans office "at least not ... at the very beginning". In a follow-up letter, Oswald replied, "Against your advice, I have decided to take an office from the very beginning."

On May 29, Oswald ordered the following items from a local printer: 500 application forms, 300 membership cards, and 1,000 leaflets with the heading, "Hands Off Cuba". According to Marina, Lee told her to sign the name "A.J. Hidell" as chapter president on his membership card.

According to anti-Castro militant Carlos Bringuier, Oswald visited him on August 5 and 6 at a store he owned in New Orleans. Bringuier was the New Orleans delegate for the anti-Castro organization Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil (DRE). Bringuier would later tell the Warren Commission that he believed Oswald's visits were an attempt by Oswald to infiltrate his group. On August 9, Oswald turned up in downtown New Orleans handing out pro-Castro leaflets. Bringuier confronted Oswald, claiming he was tipped off about Oswald's leafleting by a friend. A scuffle ensued and Oswald, Bringuier, and two of Bringuier's friends were arrested for disturbing the peace. Prior to leaving the police station, Oswald requested to speak with an FBI agent. Oswald told the agent that he was a member of the New Orleans branch of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee which he claimed had 35 members and was led by A. J. Hidell. In fact, Oswald was the branch's only member and it had never been chartered by the national organization.

A week later, on August 16, Oswald again passed out Fair Play for Cuba leaflets with two hired helpers, this time in front of the International Trade Mart. The incident was filmed by WDSU, a local TV station. The next day, Oswald was interviewed by WDSU radio commentator William Stuckey, who probed Oswald's background. A few days later, Oswald accepted Stuckey's invitation to take part in a radio debate with Carlos Bringuier and Bringuier's associate Edward Scannell Butler, head of the right-wing Information Council of the Americas (INCA).

Marina's friend Ruth Paine transported Marina and her child by car from New Orleans to the Paine home in Irving, Texas, near Dallas, on September 23, 1963. Oswald stayed in New Orleans at least two more days to collect a $33 unemployment check. It is uncertain when he left New Orleans; he is next known to have boarded a bus in Houston on September 26 – bound for the Mexican border, rather than Dallas – and to have told other bus passengers that he planned to travel to Cuba via Mexico. He arrived in Mexico City on September 27, where he applied for a transit visa at the Cuban consulate, claiming he wanted to visit Cuba on his way to the Soviet Union. The Cuban consular officials insisted Oswald would need Soviet approval, but he was unable to get prompt co-operation from the Soviet consulate. CIA documents note Oswald spoke "terrible hardly recognizable Russian" during his meetings with Cuban and Soviet officials. After five days of shuttling between consulates – and including a heated argument with an official at the Cuban consulate, impassioned pleas to KGB agents, and at least some CIA scrutiny – Oswald was told by a Cuban consular officer that he was disinclined to approve the visa, saying "a person like [Oswald] in place of aiding the Cuban Revolution, was doing it harm". Later, on October 18, the Cuban embassy approved the visa, but by this time Oswald was back in the United States and had given up on his plans to visit Cuba and the Soviet Union. Still later, eleven days before the assassination of President Kennedy, Oswald wrote to the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C., saying, "Had I been able to reach the Soviet Embassy in Havana, as planned, the embassy there would have had time to complete our business." While the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald had visited Mexico City and the Cuban and Soviet consulates, questions regarding whether someone posing as Oswald had appeared at the embassies were serious enough to be investigated by the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Later, the Committee agreed with the Warren Commission that Oswald had visited Mexico City and concluded that "the majority of evidence tends to indicate" that Oswald visited the consulates, but the Committee could not rule out the possibility that someone else had used his name in visiting the consulates. According to a CIA document released in 2017, it is possible Oswald was trying to get the necessary documents from the embassies to make a quick escape to the Soviet Union after the assassination. Return to Dallas Texas School Book Depository, the building where Oswald worked, and from which he shot Kennedy On October 2, 1963, Oswald left Mexico City by bus and arrived in Dallas the next day. Ruth Paine said that her neighbor told her on October 14 about a job opening at the Texas School Book Depository, where her neighbor's brother, Wesley Frazier, worked. Mrs. Paine informed Oswald, who was interviewed at the depository and was hired there on October 16 as a$1.25 an hour minimum wage order filler. Oswald's supervisor, Roy S. Truly (1907–1985), said that Oswald "did a good day's work" and was an above-average employee. During the week, Oswald stayed in a Dallas rooming house under the name "O. H. Lee", but he spent his weekends with Marina at the Paine home in Irving. Oswald did not drive a car, but he commuted to and from Dallas on Mondays and Fridays with his co-worker Wesley Frazier. On October 20 (a month before the assassination), the Oswalds' second daughter, Audrey, was born.

The Dallas branch of the FBI became interested in Oswald after its agent learned that the CIA had determined that Oswald had been in contact with the Soviet embassy in Mexico, making Oswald a possible espionage case. FBI agents twice visited the Paine home in early November, when Oswald was not present, and spoke to Mrs. Paine. Oswald visited the Dallas FBI office about two to three weeks before the assassination, asking to see Special Agent James P. Hosty. When he was told that Hosty was unavailable, Oswald left a note that, according to the receptionist, read: "Let this be a warning. I will blow up the FBI and the Dallas Police Department if you don't stop bothering my wife" [signed] "Lee Harvey Oswald". The note allegedly contained a threat, but accounts vary as to whether Oswald threatened to "blow up the FBI" or merely "report this to higher authorities". According to Hosty, the note said, "If you have anything you want to learn about me, come talk to me directly. If you don't cease bothering my wife, I will take the appropriate action and report this to the proper authorities." Agent Hosty said that he destroyed Oswald's note on orders from his superior, Gordon Shanklin, after Oswald was named the suspect in the Kennedy assassination.

John F. Kennedy and J. D. Tippit shootings

Witness Howard Brennan standing in the same spot across the street from the Texas School Book Depository four months after the assassination. Circle "A" indicates where he saw Oswald fire a rifle at the presidential motorcade.

Official investigations

Warren Commission

President Lyndon B. Johnson issued an executive order that created the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination. The commission concluded that Oswald acted alone in assassinating Kennedy, and the Warren Report could not ascribe any one motive or group of motives to Oswald's actions:

It is apparent, however, that Oswald was moved by an overriding hostility to his environment. He does not appear to have been able to establish meaningful relationships with other people. He was perpetually discontented with the world around him. Long before the assassination he expressed his hatred for American society and acted in protest against it. Oswald's search for what he conceived to be the perfect society was doomed from the start. He sought for himself a place in history – a role as the "great man" who would be recognized as having been in advance of his times. His commitment to Marxism and communism appears to have been another important factor in his motivation. He also had demonstrated a capacity to act decisively and without regard to the consequences when such action would further his aims of the moment. Out of these and the many other factors which may have molded the character of Lee Harvey Oswald there emerged a man capable of assassinating President Kennedy.

The proceedings of the commission were closed, though not secret. Approximately three percent of its files have yet to be released to the public, which has continued to provoke speculation among researchers.

Ramsey Clark Panel

In 1968, the Ramsey Clark Panel examined various photographs, X-ray films, documents, and other evidence. It concluded that Kennedy was struck by two bullets fired from above and behind him: one of which traversed the base of the neck on the right side without striking bone, and the other of which entered the skull from behind and destroyed its right side.

House Select Committee

In 1979, after a review of the evidence and of prior investigations, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) largely concurred with the Warren Commission and was preparing to issue a finding that Oswald had acted alone in killing Kennedy. Late in the Committee's proceedings, a dictabelt recording was introduced, purportedly recording sounds heard in Dealey Plaza before, during, and after the shots. After an analysis by the firm Bolt, Beranek and Newman appeared to indicate more than three gunshots, the HSCA revised its findings to assert a "high probability that two gunmen fired" at Kennedy and that Kennedy "was probably assassinated as the result of a conspiracy". Although the Committee was "unable to identify the other gunman or the extent of the conspiracy", it made a number of further findings regarding the likelihood that particular groups, named in the findings, were involved. Four of the twelve members of the HSCA dissented from this conclusion.

The acoustic evidence has since been discredited. Officer H.B. McLain, from whose motorcycle radio the HSCA acoustic experts said the Dictabelt evidence came, has repeatedly stated that he was not yet in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination. McLain asked the Committee, "'If it was my radio on my motorcycle, why did it not record the revving up at high speed plus my siren when we immediately took off for Parkland Hospital?'"

In 1982, a panel of twelve scientists appointed by the National Academy of Sciences, including Nobel laureates Norman Ramsey and Luis Alvarez, unanimously concluded that the acoustic evidence submitted to the HSCA was "seriously flawed", was recorded after the shots, and did not indicate additional gunshots. Their conclusions were published in the journal Science.

In a 2001 article in the journal Science & Justice, D.B. Thomas wrote that the NAS investigation was itself flawed. He concluded with a 96.3 percent certainty that at least two gunmen fired at President Kennedy and that at least one shot came from the grassy knoll. In 2005, Thomas's conclusions were rebutted in the same journal. Ralph Linsker and several members of the original NAS team reanalyzed the timings of the recordings and reaffirmed the earlier conclusion of the NAS report that the alleged shot sounds were recorded approximately one minute after the assassination. In 2010, D.B. Thomas challenged the 2005 Science & Justice article and restated his conclusion that there were at least two gunmen.

Backyard photos

Image CE 133-A, one of three known "backyard photos". Oswald sent this image (as a first-generation copy) to George de Mohrenschildt in April 1963.

Photos of Oswald holding the rifle that was later determined to be the murder weapon are an important piece of evidence linking Oswald to the crime. The photos were uncovered with other possessions belonging to Oswald in the garage of Ruth Paine in Irving, Texas, on November 23, 1963. Marina Oswald told the Warren Commission that around March 31, 1963, she had taken pictures of Oswald as he posed with a Carcano rifle, a holstered pistol, and two Marxist newspapers – The Militant and The Worker.

Oswald had sent one of the photos to The Militant's New York office with an accompanying letter stating he was "prepared for anything": according to Sylvia Weinstein, who handled the newspaper's subscriptions at the time, Oswald was seen as a "kookie" and politically "dumb and totally naive", as he apparently did not know that The Militant, published by the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, and The Worker, published by the pro-Soviet Communist Party USA, were rival publications and ideologically opposed to each other.

The pictures were shown to Oswald after his arrest, but he insisted that they were forgeries.

In 1964, Marina testified before the Warren Commission that she had photographed Oswald, at his request and using his camera. These photos were labelled CE 133-A and CE 133-B. CE 133-A shows the rifle in Oswald's left hand and newspapers in front of his chest in the other, while the rifle is held with the right hand in CE 133-B. The Carcano in the images had markings matching those on the rifle found in the Book Depository after the assassination. Oswald's mother testified that on the day after the assassination she and Marina destroyed another photograph with Oswald holding the rifle with both hands over his head, with "To my daughter June" written on it.

When shown one of the photos during his interrogation by Dallas police, Oswald stated that it was a fake. According to Dallas Police Captain Will Fritz:

He said that the picture was not his, that the face was his face, but that this picture had been made by someone superimposing his face, the other part of the picture was not him at all and that he had never seen the picture before. ... He told me that he understood photography real well, and that in time, he would be able to show that it was not his picture, and that it had been made by someone else.

The HSCA obtained another first-generation print (from CE 133-A) on April 1, 1977, from the widow of George de Mohrenschildt. The words "Hunter of fascists – ha ha ha!" written in block Russian were on the back. Also in English were added in script: "To my friend George, Lee Oswald, 5/IV/63 [April 5, 1963]." Handwriting experts for the HSCA concluded the English inscription and signature were by Oswald. After two original photos, one negative and one first-generation copy had been found, the Senate Intelligence Committee located (in 1976) a third backyard photo (CE 133-C) showing Oswald with newspapers held away from his body in his right hand.

These photos, widely recognized as some of the most significant evidence against Oswald, have been subjected to rigorous analysis. Photographic experts consulted by the HSCA concluded they were genuine, answering twenty-one points raised by critics. Marina Oswald has always maintained she took the photos herself, and the 1963 de Mohrenschildt print bearing Oswald's signature clearly indicate they existed before the assassination. Nonetheless, some continue to contest their authenticity. In 2009, after digitally analyzing the photograph of Oswald holding the rifle and paper, computer scientist Hany Farid concluded that the photo "almost certainly was not altered".

Other investigations and dissenting theories

Some critics have not accepted the conclusions of the Warren Commission and have proposed several other theories, such as that Oswald conspired with others, or was not involved at all and was framed. A Gallup Poll taken in mid-November 2013, showed 61% believed that Kennedy was killed as a result of conspiracy, and only 30% thought Oswald acted alone.

Oswald was never prosecuted because he was murdered two days after the assassination. In March 1967, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison arrested and charged New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw with conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy, with the help of Oswald, David Ferrie, and others. Garrison believed that the men were part of an arms smuggling ring supplying weapons to the anti-Castro Cubans in a conspiracy with elements of the CIA to kill Kennedy. The trial of Clay Shaw began in January 1969 in Orleans Parish Criminal Court. The jury acquitted Shaw.

Several films have fictionalized a trial of Oswald, depicting what may have happened had Ruby not killed Oswald. The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald (1964); The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald (1977); and On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald (1986) have imagined such a trial. In 1988, a 21-hour unscripted mock trial was held on television, argued by lawyers before a judge, with unscripted testimony from surviving witnesses to the events surrounding the assassination; the jury returned a verdict of guilty. In 1992 the American Bar Association conducted two mock Oswald trials. The first trial ended in a hung jury. In the second trial the jury acquitted Oswald.

See also

This page was last updated at 2022-11-30 13:42 UTC. . View original page.

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