Two men on the sixth floor

1996-014-0098ccWe move from the grassy knoll and the ‘magic bullet’ to the sixth floor of the Texas school book depository some 100 metres north of the assassination spot. There was activity going on here. This was where Oswald was supposed for have fired all the bullets from in the official story, where Oswald acted alone. The lone nut, leftist.

We have established, I think, the unlikelihood that Oswald acted alone by the argument that there were shooters on the grassy knoll. Did Oswald act at all? This matters less. It is a bit of a curiosity in a sense. It is important to his relatives who want to have him as an innocent man, and interesting for civil rights campaigners the possibility that he may have been framed, as an innocent. But that is, in the scheme of things, still the lesser question. The important question is whether there was a political conspiracy.

The existence of multiple gummen – whether or not Oswald was one of them – does not in itself prove a political conspiracy. (It could theoretically be just two nuts working together to get rid of the President.) But the fact of the cover up by the authorities makes the existence of a political conspiracy more likely. If the authorities had nothing to hide, why were they covering things up?

Anyhow – there were likely a gunman and an accomplice the sixth floor of the book depository as well as that men or those men on the grassy knoll. It is improbably that that either of those men was Lee Harvey Oswald. Although there is a possibility he was involved in the conspiracy in some way, or was related to some of the forces engaged in the murder. It has been alleged that Oswald knew Jack Ruby, the nightclub owner who became his eventual assassin, and that Oswald was a low level FBI provocateur, informer, that he was trained by the CIA.

The ex marine has this image of being a complete loser. A drifter of no consequence. This is what the mainstream media maintain. However, he spoke fluent Russian and, after living in Minsk for a while as factory worker, redefected back to the United States without any consequences for his status. Instead, he moved to Dallas with his wife and although he took a series of low paid jobs – his last was as an order clerk at the School Book Depository – he was also befriended by a CIA agent in Dallas called George de Morenschildt, a deeply anticommunist White Russian oil geologist. Oswald’s intelligence connections are murky and surprisingly resistant to clear exposition. Some of his behaviour after the assassination suggests he knew some things; but I can’t imagine he would have accepted the role of patsy. So maybe he was cognisant of the conspiracy – but then tricked in some way by his masters.

Dozens of people worked at the book depository. It was a seven story brick building, square in shape, built in 1907. It housed schoolbook publishers and warehoused schoolbooks that were shipped all over Texas. Some floors were devoted to offices; others to just endless cardboard boxes piled high. Badly lit, open plan, low-ceilinged warehousing space dominated the upper floors. It was possible to move the boxes around and, I suppose, hide behind them. At ground level, there was a loading bay in the north end, facing away from the Dealey Plaza (and so never seen in photos.) There were two freight elevators that went up all seven flights at the north end, and one passenger elevator, for the office staff, that went up to just the fourth floor. At the north end, there was a narrow flight of stairs that went up all floors next to the elevators. There was a wide staircase near the main entrance – facing Dealey Plaza – that went up to the second floor only.

Oswald had been sorting books on the Sixth floor in the morning. He had been working alone, as was his custom, in and out. There were also a number of black staff who had been reflooring the space. The assassination took place around lunchtime. It was a sunny, mild Texas autumn day and many of the Book Depository’s staff were either in the south-facing offices so to be able to look out of the windows at the motorcade or they were standing in the Plaza itself, or on the steps to the main entrance. The depository had a somewhat deserted feel to it.

Oswald cannot be placed on the sixth floor at the time of the assassination. One or sometimes two men were seen on the sixth floor, on some observations holding and aiming a sniper’s rife, but none of them answered to Oswald’s description. Which is strange. How did these two men get there; neither of then was seen entering or moving up or down the stairs or elevators to take up their position. That has always been a mystery. The timing is a bit difficult too: how can they have entered the place without being witnessed? There were not many minutes when the sixth floor was unoccupied. Bonnie Rae Williams, a 20 year old black man who was laying floors, had been up on the sixth floor all morning with five other men. They were laying floors on the east side away from what came to be known as the sniper’s nest, in the South Eastern corner.. At five to twelve they raced each other down in the two elevators, according to his informative testimony which he gave to the Warren commission.

Oswald, according to Williams’s testimony, visited the sixth floor once or twice that day. He was an order filler, which meant he took orders from schools, located the books, and brought them down to the first floor to be freighted out of the loading bay to schools. As such, he had to have access to all seven floors. He moved about silently, unobtrusively, minding his own business and leaving the garrulous floormen to it. The sixth floor was not the main place where books were stored, but the reserve storage. In normal times (outside reflooring times) someone might visit the place only every three or four days.

Williams fetched his chicken and Dr Pepper lunch and returned to the sixth floor. He hoped to see his friends there but they weren’t. So he ate his lunch in solitude, sitting on a wheel cart, staying ten or fifteen minutes. It is interesting that he told the Warren commission that the FBI interviewed him some months earlier and misrepresented the time he had spent there. In their report, they said he had spent three to five minutes. He said it was more like fifteen. Of course, Williams’s real testimony made it harder to place a gunman on the sixth floor, a narrower window of opportunity for them. (Unless they were present in a corner while he was eating.) Williams said he took the elevator down to the fifth floor at around 12.20 where his floor-laying friends had congregated to watch the motorcade pass by this. They did this and saw the assassination take place.

What were Oswald’s movements at this time? At five to twelve Oswald – on the fifth or sixth floor – had called out to the floorman racing down to the lunchroom in the two elevators to “send up an elevator will ya”. It was the kind of elevator where the sliding gates had to be shut manually – both inner and outer in order to be sent up. For 20 minutes his movements seem to be less certain. He claimed to have been in the first floor domino room (games room where the blacks ate their lunch) all this while: he correctly described two black diners there. One was called junior and the other were short. Jarman was caled Junior and Norman was indeed short,, and they were indeed in the domino room at that time. Questioned by the Warren commission Norman said he ate his lunch in the domino room but couldn’t remember who ate with him Critics of the Warren commissionn there was no clever questioning by the counsels in the area. Any competent defence attorney could have followed it up.

Ssome time between 1215 and 1225 Oswald was spotted by secretary Carolyn Arnold sitting by himself in the second floor lunchtoom. She told the Dallas Morning News that “I do not recall that he (Oswald) was doing anything,” Mrs. Johnston said. “I just recall that he was sitting there . . in one of the booth seats on the right- hand side of the room as you go in. He was alone as usual and appeared to be having lunch. I did, not speak to him but I recognized him clearly.”

This is interesting, because there are several outside witnesses that talk of seeing at least one white mN on the sixth floor at this time – the very moment Oswald was sitting in the second floor lunchroom.

About 15 minutes before the assassination, high school student Arnold Rowland and his wife Barbara (they were 18), standing among the crowds in Houston street, reported seeing two men on the sixth floor, one with a rifle and a telescopic sight. They thought it was part of the Secret Service protection. He said the man with the rifle was in the far western window – near where the flooring was taking place – while a dark complexioned man in a plaid shirt was standing in the right, sniper’s nest, window.

Ruby Henderson was another witness. She was standing on the east side of Elm Street just north of Houston Street waiting for the motorcade. She scanned the Texas Book Depository and saw two men on the sixth floor; one had a white shirt, possibly a Mexican or a negro, and one had a darker shirt. She said they were in the semi-darkness standing back from the window in anticipation of the arrival of the motorcade, so did not see them clearly.

This was at a time when the floor layers, with the exception of Williams, had all decamped to the fifth floor, where they are visible in photographs, leaning out to see the president – one floor below the assassin. Williams joined them shortly after. Is the black man that Rowland saw Williams? Could have been, except Williams himself, in his Warren testimony, said he was not at the ‘sniper’s nest, but much further West, the area around the furthermost window which the sniper later built up a little of nest of boxes from, to rest his rifle.

Carolyn Walther, standing next to fellow textile worker Ruby Henderson, looked up and said, in an interview with CBS: “While I waited, I glanced up at the Depository building. There were two men in the corner window on the fourth or fifth floor. One man was wearing a white shirt and had blond or light brown hair. This man had the window open. His hands were extended outside the window. He held a rifle with the barrel pointed downward. I thought he was some kind of guard. In the same window, right near him, was a man in a brown suit coat.” Note that the testimonies here: the white T shirted man has a dark complexion in Ruby’s version, has brown or blond hair for Carolyn. The other man has a “darker shirt” in one testimony, a brown suit coat Note that Oswald was described as wearing a red T-shirt that day. Carolyn Walther thought the man was a security guard watching over Kennedy, protecting him.

Ronald Fischer, an auditor for the County of Dallas, and a a coworker, Robert Edwards, were standing on the street directly across from the Depository. It was about ten minutes before the arrival of the motorcade. Edwards commented: “Look at that guy up at the window.” The inmates of the upper floor county jail located across from the Depository just to the East had a perfect view of the proceedings, strangely or maybe not so so strangely the Warren Commission never quizzed them. In 1978, one of the inmates, John L Powell, told the Dallas Morning News that he saw two men, one with a rifle, on the sixth floor. He told the paper. He said he could see them so clearly he saw one “fooling with the scope” on the gun. “Quite a few of us saw ‘em. Everybody was trying to watch the parade and all that. We were looking across the street because it was directly straight across. The first thing I thought is, it was security guards. . . . I remember the guys,” he said, adding the pair were wearing “kind of brownish looking or duller clothes . . . like work clothes.” He also stated “maybe more than half” of the forty inmates in his holding cell were looking across to the Book Depository.

When the assassination took place at 12.30, one policeman, Marion Baker, hearing shots – some from the direction of the Depository – and seeing a flock of pigeons lift from the Depository, rushed into the South main entrance of the building. There he encountered Roy Truly, the buildings manager. Both elevators were stuck on the upper floors, so they rushed up the stairs. On the second floor, between an estimtaed 75 to 90 seconds after the assassination,the two men passed the second floor lunch room, where Baker spotted Oswald sitting at a table calmly sipping a coke. He called Oswald to him and Truly said he knew the man, he worked for him. Leaving Oswald to go back to his coke, the two men rushed upstairs until they got the roof. Let us pause there for a minute and ask. The time was now about 12.32. Was it really likely that in two minutes Oswald rushed down four flights of stairs, from the sixth floor to the second floor, having wiped off the rifle off fingerprints, buried it behind some boxes in another corner(where it was found), made it across the entire open plan sixth floor, dodging boxes along the way, rushed down four flightrs, opening heavy fire doors on each floor, filched out the change, put it into a coke machine, waited for a coke bottle, opened it, then started drinking. It is interesting that the Warren commission doesn’t say he was “sipping a coke”, perhaps because that detail would have added even further to the time burden they were seeking to prove. Oswald was not sweaty, nervous or out of breath. He is unlikely to have made it just looking at those time constraints. But there are further pieces of evidence that indicate that Oswald was not the assassin and had not been on the sixth floor at the time of the killing.

Victoria Adams and Sandra Styles were two girls who, as soon as they saw the assassination from the south window on the fourth floor, went down the stairs. The two girls corroborated each other’s testimonies, and the stroy would have given Oswald an alibi. They are key figures in establishing Oswald’s innocence for direct involvement in the assassination at least. They heard or saw no one on the crealy narrow srairs either above them or below them. In other words, Oswald did not rush from the sixth floor to the second floor. Adams also confirmed that the elevators were not moving. Here is an excerpt from her testimony to the Warren commission:

Mr. BELIN. Let me ask you this. As you got to the stairs on the fourth floor, did you notice whether or not the elevator was running?
Miss ADAMS. The elevator was not moving.
Mr. BELIN. How do you know it was not moving on some other floor?
Miss ADAMS. Because the cables move when the elevator is moved, and this is evidenced because of a wooden grate.
Mr. BELIN. By that you mean a wooden door with slats in it that you have to lift up to get on the elevator?
Miss ADAMS. Yes.
Mr. BELIN. Did you look to see if the elevator was moving?
Miss ADAMS. It was not; no, sir.
Mr. BELIN. It was not moving?

As a third witness, one Mrs Dorothy Gardne followed the girls out of the fourth floor office, confirms, they came down just as the policeman and the buildings manager pushed upwads to the top of the building. There was no time for Oswald to make it down to the lunchtoom from the sniper’s nest. Quite simply, he was in the lunchroom all along. Perhaps because of the explosiveness of this alibi., Sandra Styles was never interviewed by the Warren commission and Dorthy Garner’s testimony was suppressed until 1999. In the absence of these two corrobrating stories, the Adams story did not become an impediment in the Warren Commission’s narrative that Lee Harvey Oswald did it.

Another testimony, from out on Dealey Plaza, confirms that the assassin on the sixth floor was not Oswald because, four minutes after the shots, when Oswald had already been seen drinking coke and Truly and Baker were heading up to the top, witness Lillian Mooneyham of the 95th District Court told the FBI that she watched the motorcade from the windows in the Dallas Criminal Courts Building. In FBI report of January 10, 1964, Mooneyham said, “I left Judge [Henry] King’s courtroom and went to the office of Judge Julian C. Hyer . . . where I continued to observe the happenings from Judge Hyer’s window.”
The FBI report said: “Mrs. Mooneyham estimated that it was about four and a half to five minutes following the shots fired by the assassin, that she looked up towards the sixth floor of the TSBD and observed the figure of a man standing in the sixth floor window behind some cardboard boxes. This man appeared to Mrs. Mooneyham to be looking out of the window; however, the man was not close up to the window but was standing slightly back from it, so that Mrs. Mooneyham could not make out his features.” Another witness, Howard Brennan, writinng in his memoirs, later, wrote that even after Kennedy’s car had accelerated underneath the underpass, speeding to the hospital with a dying president, the assassin was still up there – while Oswald was down in the lunchroom. Brennan writes in his memoir Eyewitness to History: “To my amazement the man still stood there in the window! He didn’t appear to be rushed. There was no particular emotion visible on his face except for a slight smirk. It was a look of satisfaction, as if he had accomplished what he had set out to do. He seemed pleased that no one had realized where the shots were coming from. Then he did something that puzzled me. Very slowly and deliberatley he set the rifle on its butt and just stayed there for a moment to savor what he had done, like a hunter who had “bagged his buck.” Then, with no sense of haste, he simply moved slowly away from the window until he disappeared from my line of vision.”
At 12.33 Oswald left the building. Within hours he was arrested for the murder. Within two days he was himself murdered.

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