Lee Harvey Oswald

DALLAS (Spl.) — Lee Harvey Oswald, 24, was charged for murder with malice in the slaying of President John F. Kennedy at 11:56 p.m. Friday night.

Henry Wade, the district attorney making the announcement in Dallas City Jail, said the charge was made on “physical evidence.”

“It was no one else but him.”

Oswald denies killing the president. He said, “The only thing I knew about it was when reporters asked me.”

The slightly built brown-haired man defected to Russia in 1959. He returned to the United States in 1962 after denying the alien status offered by Russia.

Earlier, he was charged with the Friday murder of a Dallas policeman. The officer, J. W. Tippett, was shot in Oak Cliff about 40 minutes after the president was killed.

Six witnesses identified Oswald as the officer’s murderer. Wade said it is a capital offense, and he would seek the death penalty on both charges.

Oswald was arraigned for the murder of Tippett in David L. Johnson’s Precinct 2 Justice Court.

ITALIAN GUN

The Italian-made gun believed to have been the assassination weapon was sent

 to Washington for a ballistics check.

Oswald’s Russian wife Marianne said she thought she had seen a rifle of this type in her husband’s possession, Jesse Curry, Dallas chief of police, said.

“I do not think so,” Curry said when asked if Dallas police thought the man had a Communist background.

Oswald is said to be pro-Castro and chairman of a “Fair Play for Cuba Committee.” He has been arrested in New Orleans for his Committee demonstrations, a Dallas policeman said.

Oswald said he is not a Communist but a Marxist.

He will be arraigned for the presidential killing at City Hall tomorrow. The prisoner will stay at Dallas City Jail until Monday, and, then, be taken to the county jail.

Murder is not a federal charge, and if brought to trial, he will be tried in a Texas district court, presumably in Dallas. “He offers no alibis,” Wade said, “but denies both killings.”

“You are against me because I like Russia,” he said as policemen escorted him to an elevator.

Newsmen from all over the world jammed the hall.

The small blue-eyed man wore a brown shirt, a white tee shirt and dark pants.

Over his left eye was a gash. His right eye was bruised and cut. Police said he got both from a scuffle, when officer M. N. McDonald arrested him for Tippett’s murder. He had a .88 caliber pistol stuffed in his belt.

Officer McDonald apprehended him in the downstairs middle section of the Texas Oak Cliff Theater.

Oswald ran into the theater, witnesses said, after shooting Tippett. The theater was one and a half blocks from where Tippett was believed to have been shot.

“War is Hell” and “Cry of Battle” are playing at the theater which was filled with school children observing a holiday due to the President’s visit.

Lt. Carl Day, head of the Dallas Crime Laboratory, said the rifle was found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building.

IN BUILDING

Will Fritz, captain of the Dallas homicide bureau, told newsmen that Oswald was definitely in the building when the President was shot.

The gun was found lying on a carton of books about six feet from the back stairs. Chicken bones and other pieces of food were on the floor surrounding the window. The end window on the building’s south side was the site used by the slayer.

Cardboard cartons were stacked in a semi-circle in a shield-like manner around the window. Three smaller cartons were stacked directly in front of the window. Lt. Day said the dent on the top carton is where he thought the man rested the gun.

Oswald’s mother, wife and brother spent most of the afternoon at the jail. Oswald said he did not have an attorney and was being denied legal counsel. Wade said he didn’t know if he had legal counsel, but he thought his family was taking care of it.

His wife, a small brown-haired woman, barely speaks English.

She and his mother walked through the crowd of newsmen without commenting on the situation. The wife held a small baby wrapped in a white blanket.

City Detective Ed Hicks said Oswald’s wife lived in Irving, but he did not know if the couple were separated.

TWO MONTHS IN DALLAS

Oswald’s mother lives in Fort Worth and his brother in Denton. He has been in Dallas about two months, Curry said.

He has been living in a rooming house in Oak Cliff.

Mrs. Erlene Roberts, who manages the house Oswald lives in, said he would leave about 7:30 or 8 a.m. returning in the evening. He lived there under an assumed name, O. L. Lee.

“He did not know anybody and didn’t have much to say,” Mrs. Roberts said. “If you got a good grunt out of him, it would be a miracle.”

Oswald is believed to have been originally from New Orleans. He attended Ridlega Elementary School in Fort Worth.

His mother told a Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter that he had always been persecuted. She said he did not have a father and suffered from it. The father died when Oswald was a child.

The grand jury will not convene until next Wednesday.

It is believed he was an expert marksman in the Marines.

Photo Credit: Ploy Buraparate | Daily Texan Staff

Fifty years ago, Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old high school dropout, brought a high-powered rifle up to the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository and with three shots, changed the course of history — at least according to the official story, which only about 30 percent of the population accepts. As we accumulate more evidence and technology to analyze this evidence, the picture zeros in on the unavoidable conclusion that there was no conspiracy, but just one man with a gun.

About 88 percent of the earwitnesses claim to have heard exactly three shots, which would match the findings of the Warren Commission, the group in charge of investigating the President John F. Kennedy’s death. Many of those espousing a conspiracy theory insist that there had to have been more, based on where the victims were shot and in how many places they were shot. Since testimonial evidence is often shaky, investigators looked elsewhere to find something more substantial to support the claim that there were only three shots.

An audio recording of the event would have helped, but the only one we know of was accidentally — some may say conveniently — erased. Additionally, while the famous 8 mm footage taken by Abraham Zapruder features many of the iconic images from the day and provided a wealth of information for the investigation, it doesn’t feature any sound.

We can see exactly when the assassination occurred, but determining the number of shots is still hard. The Warren Report assumed that the first shot fired was the first one that hit and assumed that the shooter missed his second, since witnesses unanimously agreed that the head shot coincided with the final bullet.

This gives a time frame of no more than 5.6 seconds for Oswald to fire three shots with his 6.5 mm Carcano Model 91/38 bolt-action, which many conspiracy theorists claim is impossible. It’s not, but it’s irrelevant because the Warren Commission made a mistake in assuming Oswald landed his first shot.

It is difficult to keep a camera steady, particularly when it has a zoom lens, and if the operator is startled while holding it by something like a gunshot, a hand jerk can affect the image. By analyzing these movements in the Zapruder film, we learned that the first shot did not coincide with any human impact and that there was actually a time difference of eight seconds or so between the first and final shots, leaving more than enough time for Oswald to fire all three.

Could there have been more than three shots? If they came at nearly the same time, absolutely — at least based on this single piece of analysis. But we also have forensic evidence in the form of bullet fragments recovered from the bodies of President Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally.

By bombarding these fragments with neutrons, forensic scientists can create radioactive particles which produce a signal that gives a clear indication of the concentrations of certain elements in the fragments, which can be used as a kind of bullet fingerprint. Since the type of bullets used in the assassination have almost no uniformity from one to another, even among those made in the same production line, these tests confidently determined that there were only two different bullets that struck Kennedy and Connally.

But did they both come from the window of the depository?

The most shocking piece of the Zapruder film, and what most believe is the most compelling evidence that there had to be a second gunman, comes around frame 313. This is when the third bullet struck the president in the skull and Kennedy’s head moves back towards the direction the shot came from. It looks like the only way to induce that kind of movement would be for there to be a second gunman in the grassy knoll facing the front of the automobile.

But gunshots don’t work the same way in real life as they do in the movies. To simulate what a high-powered rifle does to a human head, Nobel Prize winning physicist Luis Alvarez bought a melon, wrapped it in tape and shot it. 

This caused the insides of the fruit to explode and leave the melon by way of the hole the bullet made when it left the fruit. With all that mass leaving in the direction of the bullet, the rest of the melon reacts by falling in the opposite direction. This “Jet Effect” is completely counterintuitive, but it follows from high school-level physics.

We all react differently to tragedies and many are still trying to make sense of the events of Nov. 22, 1963. It’s also natural and patriotic to question the government. The more extreme the claim, though, the better the evidence required. There’s not nearly enough to support the idea that anyone other than Oswald was involved in the death of the 35th president.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo | Daily Texan Staff

“Parkland” is the latest film to examine the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Daily Texan interviewed first-time director Peter Landesman about directing, history and avoiding anything resembling a conspiracy theory.  

The Daily Texan: You began working with Tom Hanks and Playtone by writing a script about Watergate and Deep Throat for them. How did you go from that to writing and directing this film about the Kennedy assassination? 

Peter Landesman: Well, Tom put the book in my hand after that experience, which was really good, and I just became obsessed by all the things I didn’t know, which turned out to be almost everything. I was working on a number of different films at the time and I was still doing journalism, but I was starting to get out of that. The kind of journalism I was doing was dangerous and exhausting, and it was time to find a different way to tell the stories I wanted to tell. I realized we’d been focused on the bullshit for so long, on the controversy and conspiracy and it just seemed like a natural movie to shoot as my directing debut. 

DT: Since the focus of the movie is almost exclusively on the witnesses, did you ever consider not even featuring the major historical figures like Jackie Kennedy or Lee Harvey Oswald and focusing exclusively on the ordinary people that were there?

PL: Well, they’re not really featured; they’re kind of secondary in the movie. Jackie, we had to have because she was in the trauma room, but in the trauma room she was just a woman. She was a wife whose husband had died in her arms. She wasn’t the First Lady, she wasn’t a celebrity, she was specifically a small character. Lee Harvey Oswald is really there to serve the brother’s story. That conversation is really about Robert, not Lee. I humanized Lee because he was a human being. I thought we cast him perfectly. I thought it was just the right amount, not really presentational or distracting. 

DT: Did you let the actors do much research on their characters?

PL: Some did research. Every actor has their own process, but I actually asked them not to do much research because the character they’re playing didn’t do much research. The character they’re playing didn’t know that much. The whole point is that no one knew anything and I wanted them to give a performance that was surprising as the event itself. 

DT: Oswald’s family — his brother Robert and mother Marguerite — end up as some of the most focused-on characters in the film. 

PL: A lot of people didn’t even know he had a brother or that his mother was … bananas. But that’s why the movie works, that’s the role it plays. It’s the power of the everyday reality of it, which is so surprising to people.

DT: The film shows a lot of things that most people didn’t know about the Kennedy assassination. In your research, what piece of information surprised you the most?

PL: What happened in the trauma room was Shakespearean. There was no way to anticipate it. It was incredible. Considering the power of the doctors, what it was like to be a doctor who lost that particular patient. Everything in the movie surprised me. 

DT: There are these shots in the movie, cutaways really, to little things, like a wristwatch someone left on a bench that give this sense of authenticity to it all. The room could have actually looked like that.

PL: We kicked ourselves and killed ourselves to make sure that trauma room was exactly the way it was. We shot it as if it was really happening. The doctor takes off his watch, what does he do with it? He puts it down. He doesn’t give a shit about it right now. What did they do with the roses? There was blood everywhere, and I wanted to create an atmosphere where it was actually happening. Those details happened organically. 

DT: How was it adapting a 1,600-page account of those four days into a 93-minute movie? 

PL: I used the book mostly as an inspiration and launching off point because the book is mainly about data and information and the movie is really about emotion and character. Vince’s book was a great blueprint and a road map. I then went off and did my own research. I always knew that the hospital was going to be the center of the movie. Vince didn’t get in the trauma room much, but if you listen closely to a story, it will tell you how it needs to be told. 

Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo | Daily Texan Staff

“Parkland,” the first film by director Peter Landesman, is not concerned with conspiracies. 

The latest film to focus on the morning of Nov. 22, 1963 ignores the ‘mysteries’ that have spawned in the half century since the national tragedy of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Prior examinations, most notably Oliver Stone’s 1991 thriller “JFK,” tend to involve discussions of multiple shooters and secret autopsies. “Parkland” chooses instead to chronicle the morning of the shooting and the various doctors, lawmen and citizens who were directly affected. This November marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination, and “Parkland” addresses the event not with conjecture but with an emotional tale of shock and grief. 

The film is named for the hospital where Kennedy and, two days later, Lee Harvey Owsald were taken after being shot and it takes place primarily in the trauma room. Zac Efron, Colin Hanks and Marcia Gay Harden play the surgeons and head trauma nurse that tried to save Kennedy’s life when he was brought in. Paul Giamatti plays Abraham Zapruder, the woman’s clothing store owner who captured the footage of the shooting. Finally, James Badge Dale and Jacki Weaver play Robert and Marguerite Oswald, Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother and mother. 

Surprisingly, the film spends a significant amount of its 93-minute runtime on Oswald’s family. Though there is not a single weak point in the sizable cast, Dale and Weaver stand out for their characters’ differing reactions to the crime. Dale is heartbreaking in his portrayal of Robert, a man trying to accept the fact that, because of Lee’s actions, the Oswalds have become the most hated family in America. Weaver is darkly comical as Marguerite, who spent the rest of her life claiming that Lee was actually a spy for the U.S. government. 

The film, which partially adapted Vincent Bugliosi’s 1,600-page tome “Four Days in November,” brings to light a number of little known facts about that fateful day. Dr. Jim Carrico (Efron), the surgeon who was with the president for more than 15 minutes before the chief of surgery arrived, was only the chief resident of Parkland Memorial Hospital. Secret Service had to brawl with Texas Police to get the body onto Air Force One. 

While the movie should attract plenty of history buffs for its authentic restaging of a major historical moment, the real appeal of “Parkland” is as an emotional drama. By wholeheartedly rejecting everything to do with conspiracy and mystery and focusing just on the short period of time following the shooting, the film is able to frame a portrait of raw horror and shock that captures the stunned reaction of an entire nation.

“Parkland” focuses primarily on the witnesses to the crime, but major players including Jackie Kennedy (Kat Steffens) and Oswald (Jeremy Strong) make brief appearances. Refreshingly, they are played as humans rather than the larger-than-life historical characters they’re known as today. The portrayal of Jackie as nothing more than a woman whose husband just died violently is representative of the film as a whole. 

“Parkland” is not about the politics or the history of that November day. It is a character-driven drama about a horrific crime and the fallout of the immediate aftermath. “Parkland” captures the wounded spirit of a shocked nation, and the result is both a new way to view an already heavily analyzed moment in history and one of the best movies of the year so far.