In his book “The Zapruder Film: Reframing the JFK Assassination” David Wrone, retired University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point professor emeritus of American History, cites a multitude of official documents, eye-witness testimonies and fact-based deductions that debunk the lone gunman theory.
The book was originally published in 1983 but was re-issued this October.
Wrone –a nationally respected authority on the John F. Kennedy (JFK) assassination – has published numerous scholarly articles and journals on the assassination, including a 700-page bibliography of the books, articles and other published works.
He said there were two starts to his years of research on the JFK assassination.
“The first start was the day he was assassinated, I was in the library of the University of Illinois and someone phoned in and said he had been shot. So we went to the student union to watch the news on television,” Wrone said.
While they were watching the news coverage they announced that two policemen had ran toward a fence – an area now known as the grass knoll – but no mention was made of it again.
“I thought ‘well what could that be about?’ So I started looking and reading everything that was coming out,” he said.
Wrone went on to read as many books as he could, including the entire 10,000 page Warren Commission report.
The Warren Commission was a group of seven senators, CIA directors, attorneys and Chief Justice Earl Warren who were tasked with the investigation into the murder of JFK, but Wrone submits in his book the investigation was incompetent at best.
“Gradually I came to an understanding of the problem,” he said. “The overarching factor was that the president of the United States was not an ordinary man to murder and it completely changed history.”
During his research, Wrone discovered that the initial police investigation was rushed, sloppy and overlooked key facts about the case.
“In the moments following the shooting, police rushed in to a six-story building known as Deale Plaza and found an open window with a rifle that they thought was the murder weapon, and declared within an hour the assassination had come from there,” he said.
Within two hours the police had declared a bookkeeper in the building was the culprit and was “trapped” in a theater across town.
“They made that decision within two hours, and that was done without knowing how many bullets were in John Kennedy, where they were located. They had not interviewed any other witnesses to the assassination and there had not been an autopsy yet and no forensic tests had been conducted,” he said.
“What kind of conclusion was that?”
The window that Lee Harvey Oswald had allegedly shot JKF though did not physically open far enough to fit the rifle through and hit his target 61 feet below at the appropriate angle the notorious and iconic “Zapruder film” illustrated he was shot from.
Additionally, during ballistic tests of the rifle it was discovered it was a “hunk of junk,” Wrone said.
Two investigating bodies – the FBI and the United States Military – had to repair the firearm twice to be able to shoot it.
The Warren Commission had a large number of eye witnesses to the incident but chose to use only Howard Leslie Brennan’s testimony – a “self-important” man on his lunch break across from the building – who said he saw Oswald standing in the window, Wrone said.
“But, his physical description was all amiss, you cannot stand in the window the way he said Oswald was and you cannot shoot through it without going through two panes of glass,” Wrone said.
“Plus he was near-sighted. He could not see the depository except in a blur. More than that, the Zapruder film shows him not looking at the window but looking behind him at buildings across the street,” Wrone said
Brennan, the Warren Commission’s primary eye-witness, also denied Lee Harvey Oswald as the shooter in a lineup, but then changed his story during second lineup after he had seen his face on the television.
The physical evidence also did not support Oswald as the shooter. The three shell casings the police found on the floor near the window were determined to have come from a different rifle.
“Which would raise the question of a conspiracy, would it not?” Wrone said.
More than that, he said, it was proven through the hot wax paraffin test – which detects the gunpowder from firearm blowback on the skin and clothes – that Lee Harvey Oswald did not discharge a firearm at any point that day.
“They did three tests on him, and they all showed he didn’t do it,” he said. “Memorandums in the FBI file, which they thought would be secret their whole lives, said he did not shoot Kennedy. It said, ‘we know Oswald had nothing to do with it, the paraffin test cleared him.’”
“The list goes on,” he said.
But the Dallas police – in their haste to take credit for the capture of the president’s killer – had named him to the press as the assassin and declared the book depository as the assassination site, sealing Oswald’s fate.
In his book, Wrone said he feels he has convincingly shown through the piles of supporting evidence and diligent fact-checking that Oswald had nothing to do with the crime. But the book also doesn’t cover theories of who might have.
“What we need to do is ask why they did not do a proper job investigating the assassination,” he said.
For example, the massive Warren report was filled with periphery information that had no factual bearing on the JFK assassination, such as factoids that President John Quincy Adams liked to skinny dip the Potomac River in 1828, Oswald’s aunt was a clerk in New Orleans, that Oswald had a dog named Sunshine and numerous pictures of Dallas strippers.
“It’s full of fluff,” Wrone said. “If you cut out all the chapter summaries and peripheral stuff – of which there is an amazing amount – there are only 90 pages on the assassination of Kennedy. It was by design; all sorts of things were deliberately left out.”
“At one point I had 16 theories on who shot him, but we should be concerned with not who shot him but what happened,” he said. “And you can’t say who shot him until you know what really happened, right?”