The South Knoll Gunman
What follows are the logical conclusions I have reached from the research I have done into the shooting sequence culminating in the mortal wounding of John F. Kennedy on the 22nd November 1963 in Dealey Plaza, Dallas. I do not speculate on shots that were fired from North or East of the Presidential limousine, despite an abundance of evidence suggesting up to four possible locations for those shots. They are the stockade fence atop the "Grassy Knoll" adjacent to the North Pergola to the north of Elm Street, The Texas School Book Depository at the northwest corner of the junction of Elm and Houston, The Dal-Tex building on the northeast corner of same and the County Records building situated on the southeast corner. I give no credence to the possibility of a shot from the storm drain or, as some would have us believe, the presence of shooters in the north pergola behind Zapruder.
As previously stated my interest in what has become known as the "South Knoll" was inspired by Sherry Fiester's book "Enemy of the Truth - Myths, Forensics and the Kennedy Assassination". First published in November 2012 it is the only book to study the crime scene by an expert on the subject. Sherry is a retired Certified Senior Crime Scene Analyst and is court certified as an expert in Crime Scene Investigation, Crime Scene Reconstruction and Bloodstain Pattern Analysis in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. Urged by her sister Debra Conway, a prominent figure in JFK assassination research circles, Sherry practised the skills she had used throughout her law enforcement career and applied them to the evidence in the most famous unsolved murder of all time. Her conclusions were not what those who had studied the subject for four plus decades before her expected.
Thinking she would most probably confirm that JFK was murdered by a shot from in front of the limousine as most clear thinking observers have long since concluded what she did not expect to do was to turn the basis for that widespread belief completely on its head. Sherry conclusively demonstrated that the fatal head shot originated from south of the Triple Underpass, most likely somewhere within the confines of the Terminal Annex building's parking lot. By conclusively, I mean by applying crime scene forensic analytical techniques used daily in the United States and many other countries, many of which were unknown at the time of the assassination itself. Amongst the techniques applied was the analysis of "back spatter", the study of material ejected from a bullet entry wound immediately upon its creation. For this she used key frames from the Zapruder film.
It is this use of the Zapruder film which draws the most criticism from those unwilling or unable to accept her conclusions. For these detractors, the Zapruder film is tainted evidence, ranging from tampered to outright forgery depending on the conviction of the proponent of that particular viewpoint. You will note that this study makes extensive use of the Zapruder film and it does so for the following three reasons.
- Having read the extensive work on the subject by former ARRB analyst Douglas Horne I agree with his conclusion that "In my view, the alterations that were performed were aimed at quickly removing the most egregious evidence of shots from the front (namely, the exit debris leaving the skull toward the left rear, and the gaping exit wound which the Parkland Hospital treatment staff tells us was present in the right-rear of JFK's head)" and that "They did an imperfect job, the best they could in about 12-14 hours, which was all the time they had on Sunday, November 24, 1963, at Hawkeyeworks. Besides, there was no technology available in 1963 that could convincingly remove the head-snap from the Zapruder film; you could not animate JFK's entire body without it being readily detectable as a forgery". This from the man those suggesting the film is unusable as evidence cite as their champion. In their haste to conspiracise the film they ignore what the man who's work is most frequently referenced himself believes - That the film was altered cosmetically but the physics of the event it depicts is accurate and shows what actually happened.
- Having watched and collected the work of Ant Davidson, who has skilfully and ingeniously created panoramic reworkings of the three most important films taken in the Plaza that day, the Zapruder, Nix and Muchmore films, it is obvious to anyone viewing them that at the moment of the head shot they all depict exactly the same thing.
- In "Enemy of the Truth" Sherry explains in great detail that the reason we only see back spatter from the head shots frontal entry for one frame is because its speed and composition is such that one eighteenth of a second is all it will be visible for to a camera lens at that distance. Besides, the phenomenon of back spatter was unknown in 1963 and so the reason it too wasn't obscured or removed is because those who ordered the alteration probably thought its inclusion provided proof of a shot from the rear.
The subject of Zapruder film alteration is almost as complex as the assassination itself and cannot be covered in any detail here. But the film's use here as a primary source of evidence for this hypothesis does require explanation for that reason. You can see Davison's convincing renditions at the end of this study. With all that said I will now lay out my hypothesis, marrying my own research with that of Sherry Fiester. As you will see, they are mutually supportive. JFK's assassin was stood not on the Grassy (north) Knoll but it's opposite number.. the South Knoll
The Crime Scene.
Below is a recent Google Earth image of Dealey Plaza. It is important to note the following;
- The curve of Elm Street itself, particularly in the area visible in the Zapruder film. As he pans his camera left to right the road curves with him. This gives an illusion we are following a vehicle in a straight line.
- The direction Zapruder is facing. He is stood at the south west corner of the north pergola and is facing the junction of Main Street (which runs horizontally in the lower half of the image) and Houston Street (which runs vertically at the right of the image).
- The direction the limousine would be pointed whilst traversing Elm Street as indicated by the vehicles in the image. Again, the Zapruder film gives a completely different impression of this direction due to the lack of background reference points. Your mind's eye imagines a path more akin to that of main Street, especially when Main Street becomes visible in the film.
Z216 to Z224
Superimposed in red onto the previous image is the area determined previously by tracing lines of perspective onto images of Elm Street itself. This is the section of road traversed by the limousine in the half second it was invisible to Zapruder.
(Note, this area is only sufficiently accurate for the purposes of this particular illustration).
Elm Street viewed from Houston Street.
It is important to realise that Houston Street, the Elm Street spur that runs along the south edge of the School Book Depository Building and the equivalent road that runs along the north edge of the Terminal Annex building (just out of sight at the left of the image) are at the same elevation - 429 feet. Only the the north and south parking lots and the Triple Underpass itself are lower, 424 feet at the northern end, 422 feet at the southern end. Using an online elevation finder the area shaded in red on the previous image is also at 422 feet elevation. So from the spot this photograph was taken to the point at which the throat shot occurred as previously indicated the road surface drops by seven feet.
The Kill Zone.
Just past the overhead street sign, at the furthest edge of the area which appears to have a slightly different road surface, is the area seen in the first image in red. The camera is actually pointed in the general direction of the source of the throat and head shots. By the time the limousine has reached the guy with the backpack on the sidewalk in this photograph the whole thing was over. JFK was mortally wounded.
Site of the Throat Shot on Elm Street.
Shown previously the area between the two red lines marked 3 and 5 is where I have calculated that the Presidential limousine was out of sight to Abraham Zapruder's camera. As I have also demonstrated using still frames from the film, it is without question that the area shown therefore describes my estimate of where the President was struck in the throat by a snipers bullet. Remember, this spot is at 422 feet elevation.
1:43 Scale model of X-100 - The Presidential Lincoln Continental - registration GG300.
This excellent reproduction of the Presidential limousine complete with occupants became an invaluable tool aiding my study of both the throat and head shots. Using just this one cropped overhead photograph of this five and a half inch by two inch model I was able to create photo composites using nothing more than Android Smartphone software which graphically illustrate the trajectory analysis you are about to see.
Incoming angle of bullet.
Altgens 6 alerted us to the location of a bullet hole in the windshield. That bullet hole (and no other) was seen at Parkland, described as frontal entry by Evalea Glanges and verified as such three days later by Ford employee George Whitaker Sr. at Ford's Rouge Plant in Dearborn Michigan. Again using Android Smartphone software I estimated the position of the hole on the windshield of the model. Using JFK in the right rear seat as the vertex the right hand line pointing forwards is direction of travel and the left hand line, passing through my estimate of the windshield hole location forms the trajectory angle of the incoming bullet versus direction of travel. The simple protractor software readout shown gives an angle of 15 degrees. This can only ever be an estimate because even if we could measure the exact point on the windshield that the bullet hole was made, we could only estimate the physical location of JFK's throat within the vehicle. What is important is to determine the direction the bullet was fired from to give an estimate of the location of the person firing it.
Of equal importance is that although only a model the image clearly shows that the bullet would not have struck other occupants in the limousine. Superimposition of the shot trajectory onto a composite image of both Google Earth and the Sprague diagram shows that the bullet would have passed very close to Ike Altgens. Even though the limousine has travelled a short distance by the time Altgens took his photograph, that photograph shows a clear line of sight through the vehicle and its passengers from the bullet hole to JFK in the rear.
Trajectory Angle Superimposed on Google Street View.
Using Google Street View I was able to create an image in which the viewer is positioned on Elm Street on a spot equivalent to that I have estimated the limousine to be at when the incoming bullet struck. I was careful to orient the viewer so that they are facing direction of travel at that point on Elm Street. This was done using the lane markings ahead of our viewpoint. Employing the simple protractor software used on the model of the limousine I was able to project the trajectory angle of 15 degrees onto the Google Street View image. I confess I was only experimenting at this point. Because of perspective I didn't expect the trajectory to match those using either my overhead views of Elm Street or those I obtained myself by physically standing on Elm Street with a camera, tripod and an angle measuring tripod head in November 2016. Probably because of the type of lens used by Google, as you are about to see, this projection is nevertheless accurate.
Major Phillip Willis, standing on the south of Elm Street at the junction with Houston. After the presidential limousine had passed him he ran a little further west before taking this photograph. Willis himself said he took this photograph as a startle reaction to a "very loud" shot. It is commonly believed that a shot struck the road behind the limousine fractionally before any struck the President. As you have seen from the Zapruder Film run at normal speed, JFK reacts as he emerges from behind the sign. The manner and speed of that reaction is such that is difficult to believe it took half a second for his body to involuntarily produce that reaction. Although not a moving picture, Willis 5 is still a snapshot of the Presidential Limousine on Elm Street. From JFK's posture it would appear to have been taken just as he disappears from Zapruder's camera view, if not a little before. If you also bear in mind the fact that if Willis heard a gunshot fired from in front of the limousine, then reacted and squeezed the camera trigger, all this would have happened after the bullet had already struck the President, the sound of course travelling slower than the bullet. The photograph is included here simply to show the relationship of Zapruder, the Stemmons Freeway Sign and the Presidential Limousine at virtually the moment the throat shot occurred. If you look at the Sprague Survey Map on the page "Altgens 6", the spot "Willis 5" is marked.
Shot Trajectory Projection.
As described earlier, the 15 degree angle versus direction of travel must be projected outward to determine the origin of the shot. Anywhere along the path of that trajectory could be the location of the person firing it, however elevation, line of sight and other factors determine that the line produced can only be of finite length. For reasons which will become apparent, I have drawn the trajectory as far as the tree line bordering the northern edge of the Terminal Annex building parking lot situated adjacent to the southern end of the road triple underpass as it crosses Commerce Street.
Irrespective of the scale of the vehicle you will note the blue trajectory passes remarkably close to Altgens.
With the bullet travelling at supersonic speed, so too would the resultant sonic shock wave.
On site measurement - Throat Shot - Vehicle Direction of Travel.
This photograph was taken at approximately 07:30 on the morning of November 20th 2016. With the help of several volunteers from the JFK Assassination Conference being held at the nearby Crowne Plaza on Elm Street I was able to stand in the position seen in the earlier composite images determining the shot zone on Elm Street. Volunteer helpers were keeping watch on the traffic signals behind me. My friend Scott Reid directed me into position on the street from where Zapruder had stood using visual cues (as depicted and derived from earlier photo composites). It took several attempts because of interrupting traffic (had we attempted this any later or on any other day it would not have been possible) but eventually we were jointly able to position my camera to enable me to take a photograph from a point on Elm Street which (at that time) I believed was the spot the throat shot had struck. The centre of the photograph depicts the direction of travel at that spot. The tripod I used had a fluid head which allowed measurement by increments of 9 degrees. In the centre of the road ahead you can just make out the "X" painted regularly by Robert Groden which marks the spot depicted in Zapruder frame 313 where JFK's life ended. If you can believe it, people actually stand smiling and grinning on that spot having their photograph taken...I will make no further comment.
On site measurement - Throat Shot - Estimated origin.
Photograph taken from the same spot on Elm Street as the last, but with the camera turned approximately 15 degrees using the fluid head joint. As I explained previously this had to approximate because each mark on the fluid head equated to 9 degrees.
Using a grid superimposed on the previous photograph. I was able to determine the centre of the image at the height a shooter would be on the Terminal Annex parking lot. It is marked by the yellow spot. Having determined angle of trajectory and location of target you are looking at where the shooter would have to have stood if the shot fired through the windshield was responsible for the throat wound. It is important to remember the elevation at the treeline is 422 feet - exactly the same as the position the photograph is taken.
You will note that thus far I have assumed that the bullet responsible for the windshield hole must have been responsible for the throat wound. The reason for that is simple. There is one bullet hole and one wounded person. In reality there are only two possible locations for the person who fired that bullet, the north or south knoll. The only other possible location in-between is the Triple Underpass. If that were the case the shooter was both invisible and inaudible to the railroad workers stood on that bridge.
If the shooter was behind the stockade fence on the more famous "grassy knoll" then the resultant shot would not and could not have struck John Kennedy but would instead have hit one of the three occupants on the left side of the limousine.
An even simpler logic stipulates that for JFK to be struck by a bullet in the throat without it passing through the windshield leaves again only the Triple Underpass, bystanders to the immediate right or left of the limousine or one of the occupants. None of those alternatives deserve serious consideration.
This is the view today from behind the tree on which the yellow spot in the previous image falls. Many, myself included, believe that it is no coincidence that the foliage on this side of the plaza has been allowed to overhang to this degree. Dealey Plaza is after all an area of city parkland of historic significance and as such should be properly maintained.
This is the view from street level in a direct line following the trajectory described earlier.
This is a view of the area the previous photograph was taken from. It shows just how far the tree foliage has been allowed to overhang. It is hardly conspiratorial thinking to wonder why it has been allowed to almost reach the heads of passers by on the adjoining sidewalk. This photograph (taken near midday) also illustrates how bright the sun is looking in that direction. From further away it only gets worse. It is impossible to look at the South Knoll from the north side of Elm Street without having to shield ones eyes.
This image speaks for itself. The 15 degree angle into the limousine (from direction of travel) doesn't even require a vehicle to demonstrate it.
A view looking west toward the Triple Underpass taken from the same point as image 015 above - behind the tree.
This photograph of the site of the throat shot is taken from the east end of the south pergola. As explained earlier, its elevation is 424 feet. The parking lot in the previous image is 2 feet lower 422 feet - the same elevation as the area I have calculated the shot to the throat struck. This explains the flat trajectory from windshield hole to JFK within the vehicle, allowing of course for the downward deflection caused by the bullet striking the windshield. The red tour bus is a little further west than the impact point itself.
This photograph was taken immediately after image 020 above to illustrate the gradient on Elm. This time the red tour bus is at the spot depicted in Z313 - the head shot. You can see that the front of the bus is more than the bus' own height lower than it was in the previous photograph. The street elevation at the impact point of the head shot is 417 feet - five feet lower than the edge of the Terminal Annex parking lot at the treeline.
This composite image was produced by Sherry Fiester. It shows an oversized skull to represent JFK's line of sight at the moment he was struck in the head as seen in Zapruder frame 313. The line drawn from the skull is at 25 degrees to profile and represents the direction he was facing - not bullet trajectory. Because of the military and political influence imposed upon the Naval personnel conducting the autopsy it is worthless as a means of honestly determining the actual bullet wounds. Sherry's analysis skilfully uses the flawed autopsy report to prove where the wounds had to to have been on the head and uses blood spatter and many other measures such as skull fracture patterns to determine direction. Adding these two factors together still gives us, even with the carefully contrived official report, an entry point that had to be in the front right quadrant of the president's head and an exit point in the right rear quadrant.
I produced this composite image by using a freeze frame of my own video footage taken from the small concrete abutment upon which Zapruder stood and superimposing the horrific frame 313 from his film over the place it happened. That spot is represented by an "X" regularly painted and repainted by veteran researcher Robert Groden. In simple terms, the original film has no visible points of reference. Without them a wholly different impression of the shot to the head and it's point of origin is given. It is for that reason alone that the undisputed shot from behind the stockade fence has been assumed to be the origin of that fatal shot for half a century. The simple inclusion of background buildings shows that Zapruder was facing the junction of Houston and Commerce Streets. Because JFK was obviously tilted away from him in the still image (some 15 degrees) and facing 25 degrees from profile, a bullet entry and exit in the right quadrant of the head from an area which is in fact behind us and to our right in this image is demonstrably impossible.
Also note that this composite demonstrates the incline down which the limousine was travelling. This allows you to see how the fatal shot could have cleared the metal frame behind Kellerman and Greer. I urge you to watch "A Coup in Camelot" which has computer graphics illustrating how the shot could also have passed under that metal frame. It must be remembered how audacious and accurate our marksman had already proved himself with the throat shot.
This image uses the same technique as image 007 above to demonstrate the direction JFK was estimated to be facing at the point of bullet impact to his skull in Zapruder frame 313. Because the bullet entered and exited in the right half of JFK's skull this estimated angle is going to be almost the same as the bullet trajectory. I have used the figure of 25.7 degrees from profile calculated by Dale Myers in his computer animation which supports the single bullet theory. The single bullet theory is a construct forced on the Warren Commission by its own insistence of only three bullets, all fired from the rear and as such is a nonsense.
Using Myers' calculation for the position of JFK relative to Zapruder does not invalidate an anti single bullet (ie conspiracy) conclusion any more than showing a plane fly into tower one of the World Trade Center invalidates the argument that there were no Muslim Terrorists aboard that plane. Besides, the HSCA concluded that JFK was facing 25 degrees from profile so we are talking fractions of a degree. The use of Myers' calculation still results in a shooter on the South Knoll.
Of greater importance is what the angle shows within the vehicle itself. The only person in this image in the path of the incoming bullet is Nellie Connally. In Zapruder Frame 313 both Nellie and John Connally, whom she has pulled toward her but downward are much lower in the vehicle than they were when sitting upright. If the trajectory shown reflects the actual shot fired this leaves us with two possibilities. Either the elevation of the shooter versus the elevation of the metal bar behind the Driver, Secret Service Man Bill Greer, was sufficient to give a clear sight of Kennedy or the shooter fired to Greer's left and under the metal bar (used for the removable roof). One difference from image 007 is that the vertex - the point at which the angle is measured, in this case representing JFK's head rather than throat you will note that I have estimated a position between that shown on the model and the figure of Jackie to illustrate that the President was leaning toward her at this point.
The idea of such an intricate bullet path is not as far fetched as it first appears when you consider that at the vehicle had come to a rolling stop and was either momentarily stationary or near stationary at the moment of impact. It must also be remembered that if my hypothesis that the throat and head shots were made by the same gunman, that gunman had already demonstrated the ability to fire an audacious shot through the car windshield from a distance of over 100 yards.
As image 024 uses the same technique as image 007 so image 025 uses the same technique as image 008 - with the same result. Despite it being projected onto a forward facing two dimensional image the distortion produced by the lens used in the google Street View image still results in a trajectory path identical to that produced in the next image (026) using an overhead view.
This is the moment my hypothesis becomes apparent. Using my own figures to estimate the origin of the throat shot and those used by Sherry Fiester to estimate the origin of the head shot you will note that in all trajectory projections there are only a few feet separating the results. This can be explained by any combination of the following; For the Throat Shot:
- I have estimated the position of the bullet hole in the windshield using a model of the vehicle. a slight difference in location results in a slightly different angle.
- The model may not accurately represent the position of the President in the vehicle.
- I have estimated the direction of travel against which I have calculated the trajectory.
- The position of the point on Elm Street used is the earliest the shot could have occurred. If it occurred slightly later the trajectory would differ accordingly.
- This latter point is exacerbated by the curvature of Elm Street
The same is true for the Head Shot:
- I have used Dale Myers' calculation for JFK's line of sight. Using that of the HSCA would alter the outcome. Both are themselves estimates.
- I have not corrected for the angle the bullet passed through the president's skull. That need not match the direction he was facing, in fact it is unlikely it did. No matter how small the difference, projected over 100 yards the result is feet not inches.
- Again, I have estimated the direction of travel against which I have calculated the trajectory.
- It is possible the vehicle veered slightly at this point, as some have testified.
And in all instances using calculated estimates there is of course a margin for error.
What is most important is that the trajectory estimates all point to a very limited area - an area within the confines of the Terminal Annex parking lot.
On site measurement - Head Shot - Vehicle Direction of Travel.
As with image 012 I took an image facing direction of travel as zero this time standing on the "Groden X" marked in the centre lane of Elm Street. Again because of the 9 degree gradations on the tripod's fluid head I could not easily replicate either 25 or 25.7 degrees from zero. However I could exactly measure 27 degrees and my logic for doing so runs like this. If 25.7 degrees was the direction JFK's head was pointed from direction of travel (profile) at the instant he was shot, and the bullet entered his right temple (or right forehead as several witnesses reported) and exited the right occiput this means that the bullet itself traversed an angle, however small, versus the centre line of the skull. By erring on the larger of my alternative, accurate measurement choices I was likely to be closer than if I erred lower. As before, the differences involved are sufficiently minimal to fall within acceptable margins of error.
On site measurement - Head Shot - Estimated origin.
Using the same method as image 014 I placed the yellow spot at the dead centre of the photograph, at the level a shooter would most likely be. I say "most likely" as we will probably never know if the shooter lay, knelt, stood or was in or on a vehicle. But logically, the angle suggested has a determinate point which in the case of a photograph is the centre of the image.
This final image was was most probably taken from Houston Street looking toward the Triple Underpass during filming for the Discovery Channel misinformation documentary featuring the late Lawrence Dunkel, AKA Gary Mack which pseudo-scientifically "proved" the head shot as having been fired from the TSBD. In the real world the Discovery Channel provided an opportunity rarely afforded researchers. A replica Lincoln Continental in place on the "Groden X". Using nothing more than your own eyes and common sense this photograph tells you two things.
- The limousine is pointing toward the southeast abutment of the Triple Underpass. If it's right rear seat occupant is facing 25 degrees left of the angle seen the limousine is facing, that occupant is facing the South Knoll.
- There is no conceivable way the recorded damage to the President's skull could be inflicted by a shot from the treeline not even visible to the right of the vehicle..that treeline being the Grassy Knoll and stockade fence.
Thank you Discovery Channel.
Whilst it is possible that this whole hypothesis is in error it's strength lies in the fact that it ties several disparate pieces of evidence. It's weakness is that it challenges half a century of received wisdom. Because of this it has been resisted by many.
Some of that resistance is factually based, but none of it is backed by solid research such as is presented here. For example, it has been suggested that the neat entry wound in JFK's throat is inconsistent with a ragged frangible bullet shard. Whilst that is in itself a reasonable objection it is incomplete. If true, and if the wound was indeed from a bullet fired not from the south knoll but elsewhere then any alternative explanation would of necessity need to explain two things.
Firstly, how did a bullet fired unimpeded into the President's throat produce only a shallow wound and did not, like those of Connally, traverse in and out of the lesser obstruction presented by a thorax as opposed to a muscular chest cavity?
And secondly it fails to account for the actual trajectory of the bullet that made the windshield hole, including how and why it missed the other occupants and where the shooter was located.
It must be remembered, the intended victim of this attack was undoubtedly the President (Connally too may also have been a target, either in his own right or mistaken for Yarborough).
Taken as a whole, the existence of a frontal entry bullet hole, photographed a mere 1.6 seconds after the President is seen to suffer a wound to his throat (ie frontal, at the same height) at the exact same time what many thought were either firecrackers or gunfire was heard with as yet no injury to other occupants and, crucially, eyewitness accounts of debris seen flying inside the vehicle is very compelling.
How compelling only the reader can decide. But if they decide it is not, I insist they be as specific as I have been in explaining how and why.