One of the highlights of writing a book distributed world-wide is the opportunity of dealing with the many readers from all walks of life who contact me in one way or the other.
Especially stirring is the correspondence from people who once knew the heroine of my book, Vicki Adams, on a more personal level: friends, high-school classmates, teachers, foster parents, coworkers. To the letter, they all confirm the type of character Vicki was: cautious yet generous, careful with words, intelligent, and above all else, a stickler for principles and truths.
Then came the day her sister wrote me.
Here was a relationship like no other: a blood relative who had shared an apartment with young Vicki in Dallas; a woman who Vicki trusted and had confided in shortly after the assassination; a woman who was in the same room that weekend when FBI agents first questioned Vicki.
In her email, Judi recalled a few key moments from that November.
A excited Vicki had called Judi at her work. Vicki wanted to relate an extraordinary experience: she had just witnessed the assassination of a U.S. president from the fourth-floor window of her office. She would go on to say she had noted three shots which she felt seemed to come from below and to the right side of her building. Vicki also said that immediately after the shooting, she and a coworker ran to the back stairs and had gone down them in order to get outside.
This is no doubt the earliest record of what Victoria Adams had seen, heard, and done that afternoon. Judi said Vicki repeated that narrative, identical in its details, during subsequent telephone conversations with her later that day.
Two days afterwards, on November 24, Judi said she was in the same room with Vicki while FBI agents Edmond Hardin and Paul Scott sat in their apartment and asked her sister questions. At the time, Vicki, Judi, and one other girl were sharing expenses at 3651 Fontana Street in Dallas.
“I do remember her telling them exactly what she had told me over the telephone that afternoon and evening [of November 22],” Judi wrote. “Pretty much that she ran down the stairs either directly before Oswald or after him. What they seemed to be looking for was an eyewitness.”
In other words, had she seen Oswald escaping from above?
Judi’s memories of what Vicki told her in those early phone calls — impromptu as they were and made at such a nonpartisan hour — support word-for-word what Vicki said about when she used the stairway to the Dallas Police, again to the FBI, and then ultimately to the Warren Commission. But on November 24, while Vicki sat nervously in front of those two agents, the thorny problem surrounding exactly when she had made her descent hadn’t yet surfaced.
And because she had replied that she didn’t see anyone on those back stairs while she was on them, Vicki Adams was not the kind of eyewitness the FBI was seeking.
Little did they know.