“Just as they reached the edge of the ramp, I caught the movement of a man, and my first thought was, as I started moving, that somebody had jumped out of the crowd, maybe to take a sock at him….And as I moved forward I saw the man reach Oswald, raise up, and then the shot was fired. As he fired, Ruby yelled, ‘You killed my President, you rat!'”
– Dallas Policeman Don Archer
“After Oswald had moved about ten feet from the door of the jail office, Jack Ruby passed between a newsman and a detective at the edge of the straining crowd on the Main Street ramp. With his right hand extended and holding a .38 caliber revolver, Ruby stepped quickly forward and fired a single fatal bullet into Oswald’s abdomen.”
– The Warren Report.
“I am Jack Ruby. You all know me.”
On today’s date, November 24, 50 years ago in 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who was accused of murdering our President, John F. Kennedy was himself killed by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby (above) in the basement of a Dallas police station. The killing happened in full view of television cameras while Oswald was being escorted by Dallas police officers for transfer to another police facility. The shot was fatal. Officers quickly tackled the assailant. “The next thing, I was down on the floor,” as Ruby later remembered. “I said ‘I am Jack Ruby. You all know me.'”
Public Doubts About the Warren Commission
As discussed in the “Today in History” for November 22, ever since the national tragedy that occurred during that awful weekend in Dallas over forty years ago, conspiracy theories have abounded. As concluded by the Warren Commission, Oswald and Ruby both were acting on their own impulse and there was no conspiracy behind either crime, either foreign or domestic. And again as discussed, after the experience of Vietnam and Watergate, the willingness of the American people to just accept the government’s word on this or any matter was at an all time low. And polls taken at the time of the murders, as well as polls taken today show that a strong majority of the American people still believe in the likelihood of a conspiracy being behind the crimes. A film made by Oliver Stone “JFK” (1994) raised further doubts as to the truth of the Warren Commission’s findings.
Oswald Acted ALONE
Nevertheless, facts are facts. Recent probes into the murders – the 1993 book “Case Closed” by Gerald Posner (above), as well as the 2003 Television Documentary “The Kennedy Assassination – Beyond Conspiracy” show that as improbable as it may seem on the face of it, the Commission’s basic conclusion was correct. The evidence of a second shooter firing from the “grassy knoll” remains fragmentary at best. In fact, when filming the scene wherein the “puff of smoke” that some claim to have seen coming from this direction, was to be shown, the film makers found that no gun shot could produce a suitable facsimile of this “puff” and it had to be produced artificially. The famous Zapruder film – a film of the assassination taken by citizen Abraham Zapruder with a home movie camera,which shows the President’s head appearing to jerk backward after the second shot tore into his skull does indeed seem to support this second gunman theory. That is until the location of the entry wound of this shot is taken into account. The entry wound is in the back of the President’s skull at an angle from which it would be impossible to hit from the grassy knoll.
Oliver Stone’s Film Fantasy “J.F.K.”
Further, the moment in Mr. Stone’s film in which it would seem to require the second bullet – the famous “magic bullet” – to go through impossible contortions of trajectory to hit both the President and Governor Connally, is based on a false premise. In the Stone film, Kevin Costner portraying District Attorney Jim Garrison shows the bullet hitting two actors portraying the President and Governor Connally who are seated directly in line
with each other, and at the same height. But in actual fact, Governor Connally was seated several inches lower than the President, and several inches in board. AND he was turned sharply to his right at the moment that the bullet struck. As shown by a computer simulation (above) by investigator Dale Myers in the documentary, when these facts of the President’s and the Governor’s realtive positions are taken into account, then a straight line can be drawn from the exit and entrance wound suffered by both men back to the sniper’s nest occupied by Oswald.
Despite these and many other facts which point inescapably to the conclusion of Oswald and Ruby being the LONE gunmen behind the murder of our President, the ravings of the conspiracy theorists still continue to hold onto the public’s fascination. Why? It could be that, as suggested by the late historian William Manchester (below) and others
that the public cannot accept that a crime of such magnitude and far-reaching consequences could possibly have been committed by one disgruntled loser who was striving to become the center of attention. If you take the holocaust, goes the analogy, you have a rough balance. The greatest crime on one side, and the greatest criminals on the other – the Nazis. But THIS – the murder of the U.S. President, his replacement by Lyndon Johnson and all of the consequences that flowed from that, both good and ill, on one side and on the other “that wretched waif Oswald” as Manchester calls him on the other.. it just doesn’t seem at all right. One wants to add some weight to the other side. It would invest the President’s death with greater meaning. The citizen and the reader of history can only guess at the reasons behind such attitudes.
Ruby Acted Alone
As for the subjects of this date’s entry – Oswald suffered severe internal injuries from Ruby’s shot and died a short time later. Despite having been interrogated by police several times before his death, he never confessed to having murdered the President. In
what can only be considered one of the supreme ironies of history, at the sublime moment of his life – when at long last Oswald achieved his life’s ambition to be the center of everyone’s attention – he was robbed of his moment in the sun by another man who was acting for the same reasons. Jack Ruby was tried and convicted of murdering Oswald. Despite exhaustive efforts on the part of legions of conspiracy theorists to link Ruby to a mafia plot to murder JFK – Oswald killing JFK and then Ruby killing Oswald to silence him – no definitive evidence to such a link has ever been produced. Ruby’s behavior in the hours between the murder of JFK and his subsequent shooting of Oswald, as well as his statements to friends that he believed that he would be viewed as a hero make it clear that he too wanted to make a mark on the public’s consciousness. Just as did Oswald, Ruby longed to be the center of attention. His conviction was later overturned on a technicality, and a new trial was ordered. But before the new trial could take place, Ruby died of a blood clot in 1967. He maintained to the end of his life that he had acted entirely on his own in killing Oswald.
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“The Warren Report” – published by the Associated Press Western Printing and Lithograph Co., 1964.
“Past Imperfect, History According to the Movies” Gen. Ed., Mark C. Carnes “JFK”, by Stanley Karnow. Henry Holt Inc., New York, 1995. pp. 270 – 273.
“The Kennedy Assassination, Beyond Conspiracy” Dir. by Mark Obenhaus, Springs Media Inc., 2004
“Case Closed, Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of J.F.K.” By Gerald Posner. Doubleday Publ. Co., New York, 1993.