On Research

I can remember a time when research into the JFK assassination was fulfilling. That was back when those conducting the research were polite, respectful, level-headed, intelligent—and especially mature.

This was not long after the Dallas horror show, when examiners of the official inquiry were more objective and more careful with the evidence. They routinely shared personal notes and the results of their most recent efforts by way of mail and phone. Some, for instance, often did the leg work for others unable to travel to Dealey Plaza or the National Archives. It was done with trust. It was done with courtesy. It was done that way because everyone had the same goal in mind – discovering truths.

My, how times have changed.

Recently it was announced that one of the better-known and long-standing JFK online forums will be shutting down. Why? “It [has] deteriorated into … bullying and personal abuse,” its administrator said. Not long ago, one of the more prodigious adherents to this group (the A to Z member list runs a whopping 106 pages) was booted for name-calling. Then a moderator charged with controlling such childish acts was kicked out too—for himself verbally attacking the administrator.

What is going on here?

The platform for all this, in my opinion, was ushered in by Vincent Bugliosi. His book, “Reclaiming History,” introduced us in 2007 to a most lamentable lexicon, which unfortunately is now being parroted by his ardent followers. Words like “nut,” “fool,” “crackpot,” “unprincipled,” “fraud,” “silly,” “fantasy-minded,” “uneducated,” “kooky,” “delirious,” and “disturbed” were launched throughout the 1500+ pages to describe critics of the Warren Report. Fueled by such epithets and equally tasteless refrains of ridicule (in an attempt at humor, I suppose, Bugliosi suggested that Vicki Adams was one of JFK’s assassins), this horde of hangers-on now repeat his tirades much like a Hollywood actor reading from a poorly written script.

Face it. There is no reward in arguing with people like this. I found that to be true when, naively thinking another of these online JFK-related forums was open to intelligent discussion, I noticed a Bugliosi supporter who had clearly misrepresented the facts in his attempt to bolster Oswald’s guilt. When I pointed out the actual evidence was contrary to his account and invited him to examine that evidence for himself, I was called a “$*#&!%.” Two days later, I saw the same guy in the same forum making the same errors to an unsuspecting newbie of the subject.

It is difficult to tell whether people who consistently spread untruths are stupid or just pretending to be stupid. They may in fact label themselves as researchers, historians, experts, or, ironically, those deeply concerned over what they perceive as the abuse of facts. But they are none of those. They are instead close-minded and stubborn purveyors of misinformation, non-information and disinformation.

And the kicker is, those kinds of people occupy both sides of the fence. Believers as well as non-believers of the Warren Report often display identical behavior. They may separate themselves by their opinions and stated goals, but the Bugliosi blather and accompanying derision usually embrace all involved. You can easily spot them; their nit-picking arguments and derogatory comments persist post after post after post, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Truth and relevance–even credibility–become lost in the translation.

One who places ego ahead of evidence is just as bad as one who hand picks that evidence to support only his own beliefs. Those who boast of holding “solutions” or “definitive answers” to the crime or any aspect of it are not providing a service. They are simply diminishing what’s left of legitimate research and causing apathy within the general public. That, folks, is the real shame to this.

The resulting damage is inexcusable. It is intolerable. And it has become tiring.

 

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On The Steps

Altgens 6

Was it Lovelady or was it Oswald peeking around the corner from the Depository’s front steps as the victim rode by? Fifty years later, the controversy continues. Here are two more twigs to throw on the embers of a still smoldering fire: a note from Lovelady’s wife, and a picture snapped after the shooting showing Lovelady on the steps in his infamous shirt.

Lovelady

The Shirt

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20/20

20 common reproaches and 20 typical refrains recovered from recent postings on related forums:

1) Lee Harvey Oswald owned the rifle found on the sixth floor of the Depository on 11/22/63.

So? And are you talking about the 7.65 German Mauser, or the 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano that police neglected to swab to determine if it had even been fired that day?

2) Oswald owned the handgun used to kill Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit.

Documented evidence showing ownership of the handgun – much like the rifle – is not as convincing as some presume. The chain of evidence involving the cartridge cases – the only ballistics link to that handgun – is remarkably sloppy if not intentionally misleading. Bullets recovered from Tippit’s body do not conclusively match the handgun – or even the recovered cartridge cases.

3) Yes, fool. Oswald WAS positively identified by witness Howard Brennan as the person firing a rifle on 11/22/63.

Positively? Are you kidding me or do you think I’m as stupid as you? And just so we’re clear, is this the same Howard Brennan who said the man he observed in the window was STANDING when he fired the weapon? The same witness that even staff members of the Warren Commission had serious reservations about? The same witness who, despite seeing pictures of the arrested Oswald prior to a police lineup, STILL could not positively identify him in that lineup? This is, of course, assuming he even attended that lineup, since that claim is in serious dispute as well.

4) Marina Oswald admitted to taking pictures of Lee with his weapons.

So? Let’s cut the mumbo-jumbo here and say those pictures ARE legitimate. Do those pictures indicate in any way that Oswald, to the exclusion of all other people, fired those weapons on 11/22/63…or any other day for that matter?

5) Buell Wesley Frazier observed Oswald take a package into the Depository Building on 11/22/63.

Where is the evidence showing us what was INSIDE that package? An FBI analyst said there was nothing to indicate it contained a rifle. Witnesses said the package was too short to hold the rifle, even disassembled. The FBI is on record as verifying that shorter length. Since evidence is so dubious in support of its contents being a weapon, is it possible the package contained something else?

6) Are you an idiot? Oswald was a liar because he said the package he carried that morning contained curtain rods and it didn’t.

You must be an uneducated bloke. There is absolutely no evidence that Oswald made this claim. It was actually Frazier who said that Oswald said that. A smart person can see that as being hearsay.

7) Oswald was seen working on the Depository’s sixth floor that morning.

Good lord, man! So were William Shelley, Charles Givens, Danny Arce, Billy Lovelady, Harold Norman, and Bonnie Ray Williams, to name a few. Oswald’s normal duties involved his presence on that floor during the workday.

8) Oswald’s palm print was found on his rifle after the assassination.

Are we talking about that who-knows-how-old print found on the underside of the barrel and only visible when the rifle was disassembled?

9) No other bullets, fragments, or shells other than those from Oswald’s gun were found.

The 30.06 shell, configured for a “sabot,” discovered on the roof of the County Records Building? The bullet nick on the curb that cannot conclusively be tied to Oswald’s rifle? The empty FBI evidence envelope uncovered by the ARRB labeled as once containing a 7.65 German Mauser shell found in Dealey Plaza? And what were police looking for in the grass 10 minutes after the assassination? Since other evidence has been altered, flushed down a toilet, burned, or reported missing (including, for example, some of those bullet fragments), who’s to say what was found and what wasn’t?

10) The majority of witnesses said shots came from behind the President in the direction of the Depository.

The HSCA found 47 percent of the witnesses felt the shots came from the Depository. The other 53 percent said they came from the knoll, somewhere else, or from two different directions. Statistics, however, can be made to say whatever you want.

11) You must be a fantasy-minded kook because Oswald made an unusual trip to Irving on 11/21/63. His rifle was found missing from Ruth Paine’s garage the following day.

That trip to Irving on a Thursday evening was not unique. Mr. Stooge. The trip on THAT particular Thursday evening was not sinister, if you weren’t so unprincipled and looked at the explanations for it. Evidence supporting the rifle being stored in the Paine garage is simply nonexistent.

12) On the morning of the assassination, Oswald left behind $170. Logic dictates that he felt he may not return.

What are you mumbling about now? Logic might also dictate that a man planning to shoot the president, and then attempt his escape, would NOT leave that sum of money behind.

13) Oh yeah? Well, Oswald was the only Depository employee to miss a roll call after the assassination.

This is simply not true, as documented evidence proves. But it does show the lengths you LN morons will go to in order to support your stubborn beliefs.

14) Oswald, in flight, shoots and kills Officer Tippit. Multiple witnesses confirm it was Oswald.

The only thing those multiple witnesses were able to confirm was their fallibility in describing the incident, describing the shooter, and determining what time it had occurred. Several, for instance, cast very serious doubts on the police lineup procedures used to pick out Oswald as the culprit.

15) Why does Oswald kill Tippit if he’s innocent of killing Kennedy?

A very provocative question. Think about it, genius.

16) Oswald was a nut case. Anyone can see that, except kooks like you. For instance, he attempted to shoot retired General Edwin Walker in Dallas on April 10, 1963.

Let’s keep this civil, jackass. And the evidence for Oswald shooting at Walker is what now? Even the intended victim said it wasn’t Oswald. Walker is on record too as saying the 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcanno slug (Oswald’s supposed ammunition) shown to him later was NOT the same as the missed bullet recovered from his wall. All the HSCA was capable of saying, even after sophisticated neutron activation analysis, was that the missed slug was “similar” to bullets from Oswald’s rifle and that it “probably” came from Oswald’s rifle. As did most investigators, we’ll forget those who saw more than one man flee from the scene.

17) It was proven, no matter what anybody wants to believe to the contrary, that three shots could be fired in the allotted timeframe from Oswald’s rifle (and with good accuracy).

Are you for real? Seriously, are you? Was it proven Oswald had the capability of doing that? Evidence indicates a big fat no. And hasn’t this “proof” come from tests performed by sniper-grade, Olympics-level, top-of-the-class NRA deadeyes who fired at stationary or straight-track-gliding silhouettes whose heads were depicted by oversized pieces of wood or watermelons or coconuts? Perhaps we’re talking about the techno-tests involving animated cartoon-headed characters shot by computer-generated laser beams? You’ve been playing video games too long, kiddo!

18) You must be delirious because the single-bullet theory has still not been proven to be an impossibility.

Nor has it been proven to be a probability, dunce boy. The autopsy doctors and medical evidence indicate otherwise.

19) In 50 years, there has been absolutely no evidence of conspiracy. Why can’t conspiracy nuts accept that?

I suppose because “conspiracy nuts,” as you call them, are more inquisitive. And actually, there IS plenty to indicate that we have not been told the full truth, for those willing to look below the surface. History has shown that it is easier to accept a fantasy than it is to explore the facts behind it. That has been the pattern, and blanket statements such as what you just made will do nothing but duplicate that template.

20) It was also proven that Oswald could have travelled, in 90 seconds or less, the distance to the second-floor lunchroom in advance of policeman Marrion Baker’s arrival there.

Whoop-de-doo to you! It has been “proven” (your word) that the trip could have been made in as little as 48 seconds. But that doesn’t mean Oswald made it. Nor does it explain why critical evidence disputing his presence on the stairs at that particular moment was never factored into the equation.

And the beat will go on and on and on….

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Vincent Salandria

I first met Vince Salandria in August 1968. He was wary of others back then, as were most of the first-generation researchers. After all, many of them, in particular Salandria, were vocal in accusing elements of the US Government of being complicit in the assassination of its president. You just couldn’t be too careful, he told me.

But after a get-acquainted walk through his neighborhood, we settled into his book-lined den for the evening to discuss our mutual concerns. He asked pointed questions about my work, about those I had interviewed in Dallas, and about my pursuit of Victoria Adams. He was dogged in his own beliefs, having already concluded that there was no shortage of evidence indicating Kennedy had been the victim of a domestic conspiracy. Our discussion lasted hours and when I left, Salandria presented me with copies of all the articles he had written about this subject.

I was trying to close a few circles for “The Girl on the Stairs” when I wrote back to Salandria in September 2000. He had never left Philadelphia. He had never changed his convictions. But he had ceased further research due to several things, foremost of which was that he saw no point in it.

“I don’t think that there is any mystery in the killing of Kennedy,” he replied. “Therefore, I do not wish to participate in new efforts which purport to suggest that the Kennedy assassination has not been fully and adequately explained in all but the naming of names of the mechanics who pulled the triggers. I have no interest in these low-level mechanics.”

Included with his letter was a transcript of a lengthy speech he gave at the November 1998 COPA Conference in Dallas. The title was, “The JFK Assassination – A False Mystery Concealing State Crimes,” and he said his remarks before that group explained his reasoning.

(http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/Unspeakable/COPA1998VJS.html)

Of more current interest, however, is a series of articles about Salandria appearing recently in Philadelphia magazine. Take a look at one of the most well-respected, thought-provoking, and significant researchers of the JFK assassination genre.

(http://www.phillymag.com/articles/vince-salandria-jfk-conspiracy-theorist/)

One can certainly describe him as being consistent.

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Another Search for Vicki

Mr. Belin: Were you graduated from high school?
Miss Adams: In San Francisco, that’s correct.

That brief exchange, made in 1964 as part of the Warren Commission’s investigation, ultimately ended my search for Victoria Adams – but not until 2002, the year of my entry into the wonders of modern technology.

Since she was not specific in stating what school she attended, it forced me to begin an online look through the alumni pages of every listed high school in the San Francisco Bay area. Saying there were quite a few would be quite an understatement. Beginning with the letter “A,” it didn’t take long (actually, it did but that’s a sore spot these days) before I arrived at “P” and Presentation High School. I found on the pages of the many former students the name “Victoria Adams,” with a graduating year of “1959.” Both fit. But subsequent inquires produced no replies from the school.

A friend – a state police investigator we’ll call Larry Roberge – took over and somehow quickly ferreted out this lady’s email address. He wrote her to say he was a former Presentation classmate and wanted to know if she was the Victoria Adams who had at one time worked for the Scott Foresman Co. in Dallas. This naturally intrigued the normally cautious Miss Adams, for Presentation was an all-girls school. Nevertheless, she wrote back to Larry that yes, she was that woman. He then turned the matter over to me, and the rest became my history.

Former students and the alumni association of Presentation High School had by now been conducting somewhat of a search of their own. For quite a few years they had wondered whatever had become of Vicki and why they could not get in contact with her when their annual class reunions were held. Ironically, when “The Girl on the Stairs” appeared and the story of my journey to find Vicki was read by a former classmate of hers, another search came to an end.

This April, Presentation will be holding its 55th reunion. Once again, Vicki will not be in attendance. This time, however, her absence is for a different reason. But her presence will still be recognized, perhaps as much now as when she once walked the school’s halls in saddle shoes, a formalized dress, and wavy hair. This year there will be a special commemoration for this once very popular and now very noteworthy schoolgirl whose past remained such a mystery for all those many years. Those who knew her will be supplying related pictures and anecdotes and memories for others to see and hear and remember. “A fun-loving Vicki” is how one former classmate already described her to me, suggesting that this mirthful girl was keeping secret the consuming inner turmoil she harbored after her parents abandoned her at the age of 11. The comment seems as well to befit a high school yearbook that labeled Vicki as “jovial” and “blue-eyed,” one who wrote for her school’s newspaper, found studying to be “relaxing,” and maintained the youthful hopes of one day becoming a “teacher or social worker.”

Captured here are two images of a somewhat pensive and innocent girl who lived with a constant fear of instability, and sought refuge in the Catholic teachings as she was shuffled from one foster home to another. She believed in God and her government back then.

That would change soon enough.

My thanks to Joanne Macarthy Smith, Class of 1959, for providing a new chapter to the life of Victoria Adams.

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Harold Weisberg

It was May 23, 1999, and I was chatting with my mentor, Harold Weisberg.

I had known the man since 1968 and our conversations routinely took place in his book- and newspaper-cluttered living room, he in his comfortable easy chair and me bent over a legal pad on a nearby hassock. Occasionally we’d amble the few steps to his office where he’d ease himself into a padded seat behind an equally jumbled desk, guiding me as I rummaged through his neighboring “Subject Index Files.” Those files were his main source, the most-often used records, the ones he would initially direct most visiting researchers to, and he kept them here because they were easily accessible, for everyone. By far, though, most of his records were stored in the basement. As the years progressed, however, he stopped venturing there. Admittance to that massive collection was only by way of old, wooden, not-well-lit stairs more risky to descend than those at the Depository.

Today was different, though. And I didn’t like it. I found him propped up in a bed at the Frederick Health Care Center, another name for a nursing facility, not too far from his home. He was there recovering from his most recent battle with illnesses that would soon claim his life.

He had called a week earlier to ask that I bring along my tape recorder on this visit. He said he had something to say. I thought that rather odd of him since, in my opinion, he always had something to say. It was a rambling conversation—not as detailed on this go around due to his weakened voice—and it slowly weaved in and out from one piece of the puzzle to another. And then another. It lasted more than three hours.

When we finished, Weisberg said it had been his most lengthy, wide-spanning and revealing interview ever. Perhaps that is why he had wanted it taped. Perhaps deep down he felt this one just might be his last.

Since publication of my book—its origins coming from one of Weisberg’s patented “assignments” to me—many readers have inquired about that conversation. For what it’s worth then, a transcript of it can now be found under the “Interviews” tab. Some will no doubt favor his remarks; some I’m quite sure will strongly disagree. But in either case, these were his words back when.

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Key Persons

JFK researchers need to be aware of a recently added and very valuable digital resource that has become available at the website for the National Archives and Records Administration.

“Entry 9: Records Relating to ‘Key Persons’” is a large file (the actual paperwork occupies 30 feet of shelf space) relating to the 552 witnesses who testified before the Warren Commission, gave depositions, or made affidavits. Entry 9 also contains records of other persons who were significantly involved in the investigation. Every name has a folder of its own, and some individuals have multiple folders. In all, there are nearly 1,000 such folders that formerly were accessible only through an in-person search at the NARA’s College Park facility.

Each name folder – from John Abt to Abraham Zapruder – now can be examined, enlarged, and copied online. Simply go to the name you are searching for and click on the “National Archives Identifier” number to the left of it. Clicking on that will bring up that person’s folder, which you can then scroll through to read the documents held there. The NARA could not tell me how many total pages are involved here, but a brief look at several names indicates that putting a shortcut on your desk top will keep you salivating for a long time.

The feature was introduced on November 22, 2013, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the assassination.

Happy searching at: http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/finding-aids/jfk-key-persons.html

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About Face!

There was a time when the name Victoria Adams was only associated with the goings-on of a lead singer for the Spice Girls. But much like the theory of two Oswalds, we are now witnessing the emergence of a second Victoria Adams. She is the girl of “The Girl on the Stairs” and it’s reassuring to see that finally, after all these years, her truthfulness is getting the recognition it deserves. Researchers are citing her; radio shows discuss her; other book authors write about her.

It is also interesting to see the turnaround taking place by those—usually Warren Commission supporters—who are now trying to explain away why, coming down the stairs when she said she did, Miss Adams failed to see or hear Lee Oswald.

To set the stage, the Commission determined that Oswald fired three shots from the Depository’s sixth floor, then quickly descended the back stairway to a second-floor lunchroom. There, he was confronted by Dallas policeman Marrion Baker and building manager Roy Truly, who had run up from the first floor. The encounter took place within 90 seconds of the final shot. Moments afterward, Baker and Truly continued up the stairs to the roof while Oswald walked out the front door.

Victoria Adams testified she came down those same stairs from the fourth floor to the first floor immediately after the shooting. Most will agree that under those circumstances, her actions were critical and the timing of those actions deserved further investigation. In fact, that was the initial reaction of the Commission, which is on record as saying the story of Miss Adams was important and needed to be resolved. Yet without further exploration, the Commission concluded in 1964 that Miss Adams was simply wrong and had come down the stairs later than she thought.

Commission attorney David Belin, interrogator of Miss Adams, used the exact same logic in dismissing Miss Adams, this time in his book written 10 years after the Warren Report was released. The Gerald Posners and the Vincent Bugliosis have reinforced that conclusion in their own volumes, the latter going so far as to make the witty suggestion that Miss Adams was perhaps an assassin. Thinking this childish smear to not be enough, other authors have arbitrarily increased the amount of time it took Miss Adams to either leave her office, go down the stairs, or both without a shred of evidence other than their own opinion to bolster such bloating.

Incontrovertible proof now exists that Miss Adams did go down the stairs as quickly as she said she did. What has been the response of those Commission supporters? Well, here are a few samples I’ve pulled from emails dripping with sarcasm or derision:

“I guess all that means now is that she came down the stairs ahead of Oswald, doesn’t it, huh?” Or this one, “She was obviously much faster than Oswald, right on!” Or how about, “She was so fast she beat him in the race. Good girl!” Or the fitness reasoning, “She was obviously young and therefore in such good health it doesn’t surprise me she could run faster than the assassin. Maybe she should have been in the Olympics.”

First, she was said to have been too slow and came down later. Now, she has suddenly become a world-class sprinter, her three-inch heels on old, not-well-lighted stairs notwithstanding. Neglected through all of this has been the Commission’s own words: “If her estimate of time is correct, she reached the bottom of the stairs before Truly and Baker started up, and she must have run down the stairs ahead of Oswald and would probably have seen or heard him.”

Her estimate of time has been shown to be correct.

Ignored too is most current analysis is Dorothy Garner. In a position to see exactly when Vicki went down those stairs, Mrs. Garner told me she definitely did not see Oswald on those stairs after Vicki started her descent. Perhaps that is why she was never officially questioned by the Warren Commission and why the document containing her observations was suppressed for 35 years.

What seems clear is that the Warren Commission never wanted to examine much less verify Vicki’s statements. It simply brushed her aside. Therefore, the question still remains: if Victoria Adams did not see or hear Lee Oswald when she went down the stairs, and Dorothy Garner did not observe Oswald coming down the stairs after Vicki left, how did he get to the second floor lunchroom?

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The Sixth Floor Escape

Let’s kick this blog off with the most common question I’m asked:

“The theory you advocate says that because Victoria Adams saw and heard no one when she came down the stairway, then Oswald was not on the sixth floor and therefore did not shoot the president. But how do you explain her not seeing the other assassin or assassins, since it is obvious someone was up there?”

First, I do not advocate any theory in the book. The conclusion I draw regarding this point is that Miss Adams told the truth and therefore, that truth now adds a critical element to what we have been fed regarding Oswald’s movements in the two minutes following the assassination.

As background, and in contrast to the implication that the Depository was secure and immune from interlopers, we have manager William Shelley saying in 1964, “Any one of a thousand different people could have entered or left the building and nobody would have known it.”

We have employee James Jarman telling the HSCA that a stranger could “very easily” have entered the rear of the Depository and made his way to the sixth floor because “…that day the dock door was up and the side door was open.” This ease of access or escape was also observed by the Secret Service when an agent arrived and noticed the same open doors — nearly a half hour after the shooting.

Consider as well the testimony of Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney who stated that only minutes after the shooting, he was climbing the back stairs and, “I met some other officers coming down, plainclothes, and I believe they were deputy sheriffs.” Moments later, on the way down the stairs from the seventh floor, Mooney said he saw “…some news reporter, or press, I don’t know who he was…” coming up.

It is clear, then, that security was lax at the Depository and an unauthorized individual had the means to enter the building unnoticed and make his way to a higher floor. Let’s say someone did. How then could he have escaped?

The Stairs

Defenders of the Warren Report are quick to point out that if Vicki Adams didn’t hear Oswald on the stairs, then why didn’t she hear the assassin(s) who replaced him?

The error in their logic is glaringly obvious, for the question presupposes that any other shooter would have made his escape down the stairs at the exact same time Oswald was to have done so. But this person would not necessarily have had to come down the stairs when Oswald supposedly did.

The timing of Oswald’s escape from the sixth floor was based on a speed that would get him to the second-floor lunchroom in advance of when Marrion Baker and Roy Truly saw him there. That time frame was established at under 90 seconds, a figure resulting from on-site tests duplicating the actions of both Baker and Truly. Oswald had to get to the lunchroom before they did, which therefore put him on the stairs at a specific time.

The fact Victoria Adams would have been on those stairs at the same moment is what posed the problem.

But if someone other than Oswald was on the sixth floor, his escape would not have been governed by any such time constraints. He could have come down later, since the sixth floor remained vacant and was not discovered as the sniper’s “man cave” for some 35 minutes after the assassination. (This, oddly enough, even though that floor was pointed out almost immediately as the source of the shots.)

By then, uniformed cops, plain-clothes cops, the news media, workers and others were swarming throughout the Depository. The delay in searching the sixth floor would have provided plenty of opportunity for someone to depart in the confusion. This person might even have remained on the sixth floor and then blended in with those who eventually arrived there.

In other words, alternatives exist. What are your thoughts?

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