by Larry Rivera and Jim Fetzer
Among the most disputed issues in JFK research is whether or not the presidential limousine came to a halt after bullets began to be fired.
New information about what happened during this crucial interval has now been made available in “The JFK Horsemen”, an article included in a new CD-ROM, “The Man with the Mona Lisa Smile”, by Richard Hooke and Larry Rivera (with special contributions by Jim Fetzer).
As Jim has explained in many places, including several presentations on the assassination that are accessible on YouTube, such as “What happened to JFK–and why it matters today” (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 22 November 2011),
there are more than 60 witnesses who reported seeing the limo either slow dramatically or come to a complete halt, where it slowed dramatically as it came to a complete halt, which has been confirmed by a half-dozen others who have seen a more complete film. For a summary of lines of proof that support this conclusion, see “The JFK War: The Challenging Case of Robert Groden”.
Remarkably enough, interviews of the four JFK motorcycle escort patrolmen conducted in 1971 by Fred Newcomb for his book, Murder from Within (2011), reveal significant details about the duration of the event and the multiple activities that occurred when it stopped on Elm Street. The officers were Billy Joe Martin on the outside/left (#7), Robert Weldon Hargis the inside/left (#6),James M. Chaney on the inside/right (#9) and Douglas L. Jackson the outside/right (#10). In these excerpts, which are transcribed from the Newcomb interviews, all four of them claimed that it stopped or almost stopped after the “first” shot, which was actually the second or third, since JFK had already been hit in the back by a shot fired from the top of the County Records Building.
The sound of a firecracker
The reason many reported the second or third as “the first shot” is that it made the sound of a firecracker as it passed through the windshield en route to JFK’s throat, where, according to Bob Livingston, M.D., a world authority on the human brain and expert on wound ballistics, it hit bone and fragmented, part going downward into his right lung, the other upward into his brain. In these transcripts, “Whitney” on behalf of Fred Newcomb is questioning Officers Hargis and Martin. When Hargis refers to “that first shot”, therefore, he is speaking of what happened after the sound of a firecracker, not the actual first shot. He has told Whitney that the limo stop lasted for “about 5 or 6 seconds”. Office Martin is troubled the Zapruder film does not show a limo stop:
What is also significant about Martin’s replies is that he is describing an agent–presumably, Clint Hill–who was trying to get up on the limo during the stop. Jackie is out on the trunk and, Martin believes, was reaching out to help him get up on the back of the vehicle, where she had gone after a chunk of JFK’s skull and brains and which she would hold in her hand all the way to Parkland.
Hargis runs between the limos
This one with James Chaney offers further proof that the limo stopped on Elm Street for quite some time. Chaney describes how Bobby Hargis, after dismounting from his cycle and leaving it on the left lane of Elm Street, ran in front of him–and in between the two limos–on his way up the grassy knoll and up to the pedestal, where Zapruder had been standing (WC6H 295):
For Bobby Hargis to have had enough time to park his motorcycle and then pass in between the two vehicles in front of Chaney means that both limos stopped for a substantial amount of time, perhaps at least as long as 5 or 6 seconds, as Hargis himself had observed above. The only problem with this is that none of the films that exist today show Bobby Hargis doing any of that.
The Bell film tracks Hargis
The Bell film initially tracks Hargis as he stands by the lamp post on the north curb, then shows him turning around and crossing Elm Street to get back on his motorcycle, after which he rides underneath the Triple Underpass and then back on the other side to help search the railroad yard, but it does not show him moving between the two vehicles to get to the north side of Elm Street.
The absence of Bobby Hargis’ initial movements across Elm Street and in between the limos after he dismounted his motorcycle, therefore, indicates that the Bell film has been edited and revised, like so much of the rest of the JFK photo and film record. Since frame 374 shows the blow-out at the back of the head but earlier frames do not,the Zapruder film itself is internally inconsistent.
Since the Nix film shows Jackie moving further back on the trunk and Clint Hill further forward than they do in the Zapruder, the Nix and Zapruder films are mutually inconsistent. These are among the simplest proofs that these films have been altered, where the altered Zapruder appears to have been used as a guide in fixing the others–except that it was done with only mixed success.
Who climbed on the limo?
The extant Zapruder and Nix films show a smooth rolling limousine cruising around 12-15 miles an hour, which slows down slightly when Clint Hill boards the vehicle via the back, by climbing over the trunk, who according to Bobby Hargis, did so in order to prevent Jackie Kennedy from climbing out of the back seat of the car. Was Clint Hill the only Secret Service Agent to climb into the limousine? Hargis was emphatic about a second agent boarding and entering the back seat:
The Miller Photograph
The Miller photograph, which was widely circulated in The Saturday Evening Post (14 December 1963) shows a left foot sticking out which has always been assumed belonged either to Agent Clint Hill–who was bent in an unusual, contorted position–or else to JFK, mortally wounded with half his brain blasted out, but who had somehow lifted his left foot over the side quarter-panel of the Continental (CD87, p. 418). So who’s left foot does this really belong to?
Sargent Stavis Ellis, who was in very close contact with all of the patrolmen who were under his supervision, had this to say:
This information, if accurate, is devastating to the official version, because it confirms not only that the limo did stop on Elm Street, but that it stopped, as Hargis said, perhaps for as long as 5 to 6 seconds, giving not just one agent time to get in, but a second agent time to get in and cover the President and First Lady. This would have been in line with protocol established by the Secret Service, where each one was assigned a personal shield in case of an emergency such as this one.
3-4 seconds is a long time, but 5-6 seconds is an eternity when the President of the United States is being murdered in a triangulated crossfire in broad daylight in the streets of Dallas. But the person seen in the Miller photograph is not wearing any sunglasses! The hair pattern seems fair, the hairline is entirely different from Hill’s, and he seems to be wearing a bullet proof vest of some kind. Notice also how Hill’s undershirt extends well below and into the chest area.
As the motorcade advanced on Stemmons Freeway, note this closeup of a photo credited to the Dallas Times Herald, and published in former Dallas Chief of Police Jesse Curry’s book, his JFK Assassination File (1969) on page 31, which shows “Agent Hill” still straddling the back seat of the limousine. All of a sudden, “Agent Hill” is wearing sunglasses again! But a careful comparison of Clint Hill’s sunglasses with the person in the image reveals the sunglasses have been painted in, in crude fashion. Notice the real Agent Hill’s shades with a discernible and well-defined bridge.
The simple examination of these images indicates something is not right about the back seat limo rider. The inconsistencies are pretty obvious. But wait, the story does not end here. Sargent Ellis revealed what was reported to him by the motorcycle officers under his command that the limo stopped for as long as 5-6 seconds, where evidence is mounting that two agents climbed upon it:
Based upon a reconstruction of the two head shots JFK sustained during the limo stop, where he slumped forward after having been hit in the back of the head, Jackie eased him back up and was looking right in his face when he was hit in the right temple and then slumped to the left, where she would have been left in the street when she climbed out onto the back of the trunk after a chunk of his skull and brains, Jim Fetzer has suggested it might have been as long as 14 seconds. Reports that Hargis passed between the cars supports a stop of this longer duration.
The Chunk of Skull
Apparently a large chunk of JFK’s skull was blown to the left and onto the the inner grass beyond the south curb of Elm Street. Since the motorcade was at a standstill, an unidentified boy picked up the piece of skull and a Secret Service Agent snatched it from him and threw it into the back seat of the limo. As far fetched as it may seem, Sargent Stavis Ellis was quite sure this happened:
While he is equivocal about whether the limousine came to a complete stop or not, he is entirely unambiguous that “a kid” picked up a large piece of JFK’s skull, which one of the agents–either Chaney or Jackson–took from him and “threw it back in there” (into the rear seat of the limo), where Whitney mistakenly presumed that this event had happened later at Parkland Hospital:
Richard Hooke has proposed the possibility that this same piece of skull might have been placed or planted much further down Elm Street, in line with the southeast window of the 6th floor of the depository, which was later found by Billy Harper the following Saturday evening, more than 24 hours after the assassination (5:30 PM, Saturday, 23 November 1963, see HSCA Vol 7, p. 122).
The Harper Fragment
The discovery of the Harper Fragment and its location had never made any sense at all, given the fact that Dealey Plaza was cordoned off and thoroughly combed and searched that Friday after the assassination for evidence. It may have been moved to make it look more like the result of a shot from behind. Here’s the approximate location of where it was officially found (map inverted):
The significance of the interviews conducted by Fred Newcomb of these policemen back in 1971 are only now being understood. After discussing this with Richard Hooke and Ted Coeyman, the possibility has been raised that the boy who seems to have been closest to the point where the piece of skull landed was Charles Brehm’s son, Joseph. Coeyman has reported that Brehm was immediately sequestered after the shots, which may have been to intimidate him from talking about it.
The information gleaned from these recordings tends to confirm what researchers have long suspected and why the investigative bodies involved wanted no part of their testimony. The escort officers’ supervisor, Sergeant Stavis Ellis, had been ordered not to allow them to disperse and to report to the second floor of City Hall as soon as they were done at Parkland Hospital and Love Field with the new President aboard Air Force One. The reasons are becoming obvious.
Larry Rivera, the son of a career military man who served as CID officer in the Army and a Certified Network Engineer, has made a lifelong study of the JFK assassination. He has given interviews on the assassination to Spanish media and has the most complete dossier on Billy Nolan Lovelady ever done.
Jim Fetzer is a former Marine Corps officer and McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth. [NOTE: This is one in a series of articles being republished since veterans today.com deleted them in a dispute with its Senior Editor, Gordon Duff, about which I have since written several articles.]