The question posed by Val from Romania was a common one: If it wasn’t Oswald on the sixth floor, then how did the person who was up there escape?
What was uncommon about his inquiry was the method he used to send it.
Most of the correspondence I receive from readers comes predominately by email, occasionally by telephone, and only rarely by postal carrier. Val’s arrived by way of the 15-meter band, specifically 21.270 MHz at 16:10 hours Zulu.
Wait! It gets better.
As an avid amateur radio operator (aka ham radio), I enjoy dialing through the various HF (high frequency) bands. When I heard his CQ DX transmission (meaning he was searching for long-distance stations), I responded. The normal procedure for each operator is to then check an online call-sign database (every operator world-wide must be licensed) to get details about who it is who answered the CQ. Val was surprised to read my bio, since he had only recently finished my book while sitting in his villa outside Bucharest.
We had a rather nice QSO (conversation), even though there was a lot of QRM (atmospheric interference) between our QTHs (station locations). In the end, his name and other radio-related information joined the list of contacts penciled into my logbook.
Oh yeah. Back to his question. Not wanting to keep the frequency tied up (and risk possible FCC sanctions), my answer to Val’s question about a fleeing assassin was succinct. But in general, my response was this:
Those who dispute the idea that someone other than Lee Oswald was on the sixth floor often cite for support a collection of statements made by Depository employees saying that no strangers were observed in the building on the morning of the assassination. These statements, amassed by the FBI from 73 men and women who were at work there on November 22, can be found in Commission Exhibit 1381.
Each employee was asked the same handful of rudimentary questions such as, What is your name and age?; Where were you when the shots were fired?; What did you see and do?; and a self-revealing query, Did you see Lee Oswald at the time of the shooting? A final question asked whether the employee had noticed any strangers in the building that day.
All who responded to that last one replied, no.
We must first assume those employees, working away in their enclosed offices or work spaces on multiple floors, were capable of noticing such trespassers, not to mention separating them from the normal business traffic that routinely entered the Depository on any given day.
It also seems obvious from an objective reading of the statements that the overall intent of the FBI agents was not to conduct further investigation, but simply to complete a routine assignment given them by J. Edgar Hoover, who was in turn responding to a request for such information made earlier by the Warren Commission. To Hoover, the ho-hum effort was like everything else in this regard since, in the director’s eyes, the case already had been solved by his agency.
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 same easy access was observed by the Secret Service when an agent arrived there nearly a half hour after the shooting.
It is clear, then, that 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?
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 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 an Oswald stand-in, and 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 was on those stairs at the same time was the thorn in the Commission’s side.
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 searched 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.)
Uniformed cops, plain-clothes cops, the news media, workers and others were swarming throughout the Depository in the meantime. The delay in searching the sixth floor would have provided plenty of opportunity for someone to depart in the confusion. Unlikely as it sounds, this person might even have remained on the sixth floor and then blended in with those who eventually arrived there.
The point is, alternatives exist and should not be readily dismissed.
73 (best regards)!