I am a communist and a worker, and I have lived in a decadent capitalist society where the workers are slaves.
Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald was an American assassin most notably responsible for the murder of 35th U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. He was arrested the same day and later charged with both the shooting death of a policeman and the assassination, only to be himself murdered by one Jack Ruby, on November 24.

Background

Oswald was born in New Orleans in 1939, the third son of Marguerite and Robert, Sr. The latter died of a heart attack two months before Lee was born, forcing her mother to find employment and place his children in orphanage. When he was four years of age, his family relocated to Dallas, Texas, where Marguerite remarried with Edward Pic, Jr., whom Lee reportedly regarded and loved as a father. However, the couple divorced in 1948, at which point Marguerite and her sons began moving between Dallas and New Orleans. With his mother bouncing from one unskilled job to another to support herself, and his older brothers parting ways with them to enlist in the service, Lee was left alone much of the time, compiling a rather decent and "average" school record (considering his frequent school changes).

That changed in August 1952, when his mother suddenly decided to relocate to New York, where they briefly lived with the oldest son, John, before moving to the Bronx after a scuffle (Oswald allegedly hit his mother and threatened his brother's wife with a knife). Ridiculed by his new classmates for his southern accent and weird mannerisms, he began playing truant, which led to a psychiatric assessment at a local reformatory. After his reluctant return to school in 1953, he became interested in the Rosenberg affair and Marxist literature, basically convincing himself that all of his misfortunes were either directly or undirectly caused by the "capitalist" and "oppressive" system he lived in. In January 1954, Lee and his mother moved back to New Orleans, where he was again regarded by his classmates as an outsider. Despite his attempts at finishing school, Oswald definitively dropped out in October 1956, shortly before joining the U.S. Marines (just like his older brother, Robert, did before him. His half-brother, John Pic, would later claim he did it to get rid of his mother's oppression). In the meanwhile, he had briefly worked as an office clerk and a messenger, and also attended Civil Air Patrol meetings, where he met David Ferrie (an individual who would later pop up in several JFK conspiracy theories).

Time in the U.S. Marines and Soviet Union

Oswald as a U.S. Marine in 1956.

Oswald soon regretted his choice, finding out his fellow Marines were no more tolerant than were his schoolmates. He was given two nicknames during this period: "Ozzie the Rabbit", because of his appearance, and "Oswaldskovich", because of his pro-Soviet beliefs. He was instructed in aircraft surveillance and the use of radar, and stationed in Japan. At the firing range, he qualified as slightly above "sharpshooter" (although reverting to "Marksman" in 1959). He was court-martialed two times, one for accidentally shooting himself with an unauthorized handgun, and one for assaulting a sergeant who had reported him for the first incident. Demoted, after serving some time in a brig he was again punished for shooting his rifle without warning, while in the Philippines. Eventually, he obtained a discharge in September 1959, claiming his mother was disabled and needed care. Just as he had been planning for quite some time, ever since he started studying Russian language, he travelled to the Soviet Union in October.

Marina Prusakova, Oswald's wife.

Shortly after his arrival in Moscow, on October 21, he was told that his citizenship application had been refused, and he was not welcome to remain. Intending to impress both his tourist guide and Soviet authorities with the sincerity of his commitment, he attempted (or simulated to attempt) suicide by a self-inflicted, razor-made minor wound to his left wrist. Briefly kept under psychiatric observation, he was subsequently allowed to stay. His defection was later moderately publicized in the U.S. Even though he hoped to attend Moscow State University, he was assigned to work as a factory lathe operator in Minsk. Soon, Lee became disillusioned with Soviet life. Despite a generous allowance and a comfortable apartment, in January 1961 he wrote in his diary: "I am starting to reconsider my desire about staying. The work is drab, the money I get has nowhere to be spent. No nightclubs or bowling alleys, no places of recreation except the trade union dances. I have had enough". In March, he met Marina Prusakova, marrying her in April and fathering a daughter, June, in May. Shortly thereafter, Oswald, along with his new family, moved back to the United States.

Attempt on the life of Edwin Walker

After his return, Oswald and his family settled in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where they befriended several anti-Communist Russian and East European émigrés, such as 51-year-old geologist George de Mohrenschildt. Meanwhile, Marina became acquainted with Ruth Paine, a Quaker, and her husband. Now resentful of both the American and Soviet ways of life, at some point Lee wrote: "No man, having known, having lived, under the Russian Communist and American capitalist system, could possibly make a choice between them. There is no choice, one offers oppression the other poverty". He began to alienate himself from others, taking out his frustrations on his wife, whom he physically and sexually abused. Briefly employed at a local welding company, he quit after only three months.

Oswald in one of the infamous "backyard photos".

Edwin Walker.

In March 1963, a newfound political interest towards another nation he had long idolized and regarded as a revolutionary mecca, Fidel Castro's Cuba, relieved him of his depression. He began to see Cuba as a possible alternative to the American and Soviet systems, but first, he decided, he had to prove his commitment and revolutionary credentials to the Cuban government (much like he had earlier done with his suicide attempt). That very same month, he resolved targeting a former U.S. Army Major General who had been thrown out of the military because of his far-right views and proselytism, and was now residing in Dallas: Edwin Walker. Soon, Lee began preparing himself to assassinate Walker, whom he considered the "leader of a fascist organization" (the John Birch Society, a radical right-wing political advocacy group). Utilizing an alias, "Alek J. Hidell", he ordered a 6.5 millimeter Mannlicher-Carcano rifle with a telescopic sight from a Chicago mail-order company. He also ordered a .38 revolver with the same method. It was during this period that he posed for the infamous pictures of himself holding the rifle and copies of two Marxist newspapers, his holstered revolver on his hip. He also prepared written instructions for his wife on what to do if he was caught or killed. On April 6, Oswald was fired from his latest work at a graphic-arts firm, which he blamed on FBI harassment. Four days later, on April 10, he went to Walker's house, aimed his rifle (which he had buried on place on April 7), and shot the latter while he was working at a desk in his study. He barely missed his target, which was slightly injured by bullet fragments. Lee subsequently abandoned his weapon (which he later retrieved) and fled by bus, mingling with a crowd of Mormon parishioners. He was not connected to the shooting until after his arrest on November 22, and reportedly laughed at Dallas police's "incompetence" on the case. Despite his confidence not to be caught, Marina was later able to convince him into moving to New Orleans on April 24, as precaution.

Pro-Castro Activities, Frustration, and Return to Dallas

Oswald (looking into the camera) handing out pro-Castro leaflets in New Orleans.

In his hometown, Oswald found work as a machine greaser at a coffee processing plant, only to be again fired later in July. His interest for Cuba grown up even more, he contacted the New York Fair Play for Cuba Committee (a pro-Castro activist organization) headquarters, in May, hoping to establish an FPCC chapter in New Orleans. Although the organization replied to him they were not interested, he nonetheless ordered application forms, leaflets with the heading "Hands Off Cuba", and membership cards signed "Alek J. Hidell", his alias, as chapter president. During the course of this period, Oswald handed out his leaflets on sidewalks and approached several anti-Castro groups and individuals (including (possibly) David Ferrie, whom Oswald knew from the Civil Air Patrol meetings he attended while in his teenage years), hoping to gather information on their activities. When anti-Castrist Cuban exile Carlos Bringuier eventually found out what Oswald was up to, a scuffle ensued which brought to the arrest of Oswald, Bringuier, and three other exiles on August 9. Bringuier and Oswald were later invited to take part to a radio debate.

In September, while his wife and daughter moved to Irving, Texas, to live with the Paines, Oswald travelled to Mexico City to visit the Cuban embassy, confident that his record of pro-Castro activities would have secured him a Cuban visa. However, his well-established pattern of disillusionment repeated himself when he failed to obtain immediate cooperation from both Cuban and Russian authorities in getting the visa. Angry and tearful, Oswald was shattered by what he thought was poor consideration of all that he had done for the revolutionary cause (according to witness accounts, during this outrage Oswald made threatening remarks about President Kennedy). Eventually, Lee left the embassy after the Cuban consul in person claimed the revolution "Didn't need friends like him", and threatened to throw him out (when he was finally granted his visa in October, he had given up his plan to visit Cuba).

Back in Texas, he reunited with his daughter and pregnant wife, with whom he decided it would be best for them to remain with the Paines while he would stay in Dallas and find employment. On October 14, at the suggestion of Ruth Paine, he accepted a job as a shipping clerk at the Texas School Book Depository, on the corner of Houston and Elm Street, near Dealey Plaza. Four days later, his second daughter, Audrey, was born. During this period, he would commute between Dallas and Irving to visit his family, although Marina progressively distanced herself and her daughters from him, considering him a failure both in their sexual and everyday life. He again alienated himself from everyone and everything, living alone inside a rooming house he had rented using the alias "O.H. Lee". On November 1, James Hosty, a federal agent, presented himself to the Paines home in Irving, to question Marina over her husband's whereabouts. Ever since his defection and return from the Soviet Union, the FBI had kept a file on Oswald, whose activities in Mexico City had attracted the attention of the Bureau even more. Upon learning of the interview from his wife, Lee went mad and rushed to the Dallas FBI office to talk to Hosty. When he was told he was not present, he left a warning note for him to the receptionist, the content of which is currently debated: the receptionist claimed it was a threat that if Hosty hadn't stayed away from his family, he would have "blown up the FBI and the Dallas Police Department". On the other hand, Hosty himself (who was later ordered to burn the note shortly after Oswald was named as a suspect in the Kennedy assassination) claimed it simply threatened to report him to "the proper authorities". Shortly afterwards, Lee got into an argument with his wife when she discovered he was using another alias, which definitively brought their relationship at a breaking point.

Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Zapruder_film_Zoomed_in_plus_SUPER_SLOW_MOTION_(HIGH_QUALITY)

Zapruder film Zoomed in plus SUPER SLOW MOTION (HIGH QUALITY)

View of Dealey Plaza from above.

The TSBD building at the time of the assassination. The window from which Oswald shot President Kennedy is the first from the right at the sixth floor.

In the summer of 1963, the 35th United States President, democrat John Fitzgerald Kennedy, planned an official visit to Texas with three specific goals in mind: raise fund contributions for the Democratic Party presidential campaign, prepare for his own 1964 reelection campaign, and secure votes from the state, where the Kennedy-Johnson ticket had barely won in 1960, by mending a divide among several local leading Democratic Party members, including conservative Governor of Texas John Connally and liberal Senator Ralph Yarborough.

It was presumably during the days when Dallas newspapers carried articles announcing President Kennedy's visit and scheduled program on November 22, including the presidential motorcade turn at the corner of Houston and Elm (on November 19), that Oswald developed his proposal to kill the President. He had no personal animosity towards Kennedy, after all, he was a moderate and democratic politician, a far cry from the far-right extremism of Walker. However, his administration had proved hostile to the Cuban government ever since the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Assassinating him would have been his last chance to prove himself in front of the ones that had rejected and humiliated him: the revolutionary cause and his wife. Furthermore, by assassinating the President under their nose, he would have settled scores with the FBI. The plan he concocted was very similar to the one he had earlier employed when targeting Walker: he would have left his rifle at the scene and fled by bus. On the evening of November 21, perhaps hoping she could keep him from going all the way, he attempted one last reconciliation with his wife, to which she reacted indifferently. Determined to go on, the following morning he left his wedding ring and all the money he had to Marina.

On November 22, at 7:15 a.m., he went to work with a colleague, Wesley Frazier, who was a neighbor of the Paines and always accompanied Lee to the TSDB, since the latter didn't have a car. He brought his rifle, concealed in a long paper package (which, he told Frazier, contained "curtain rods"), to the sixth floor of the Depository building, waiting for the motorcade to arrive. When it did, at 12:30 p.m., Oswald (according to the majority of the witnesses and the Warren Commission) fired three shots at the presidential limousine: the first missed, the second entered the President's upper back, exiting his throat and repeatedly injuring Governor Connally (who was sitting in front of him), the third hit Kennedy in the upper right portion of his head, killing him instantly. The limousine immediately rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, but it was too late, the President was pronounced dead at 1:00 p.m. A civilian, James Tague, was also slightly injured by a piece of curbstone that had fragmented after it was struck by the first bullet, wounding his cheek.

Arrest and Death

The infamous photo showing Jack Ruby while he shoots Oswald. Detective Leavelle is the man in the tan suit on the left.

Within ten minutes of the shooting, Oswald hid his rifle under some boxes, had a brief encounter at second floor with his supervisor, Roy Truly, and a policeman, drank a Coca-Cola, exited the Depository building, and boarded a city bus. Due to heavy traffic, he switched to a cab and finally got to his Oak Cliff rooming house, where he took his revolver and left. In the meanwhile, police had found his rifle at the sixth floor of the TSBD, along with three shell casings. Howard Brennan, a witness who had spotted the sniper, gave the authorities a description of the man, which was immediately circulated to all units. Eventually, patrol officer J.D. Tippit stopped Oswald, who matched the description, and exited his vehicle, only to be shot four times by the latter, in front of seven witnesses. Slipping into the nearby Texas Theatre without buying a ticket, he was reported by a store manager who got suspicious of his behavior. Shortly afterwards, police entered the building and arrested Oswald just as he drew his gun.

At Dallas Police Headquarters, Oswald was identified as the only missing employee from the TSBD, who was already considered as a suspect in the assassination. From November 22 to 24, he was charged with the Tippit and Kennedy shootings, and was repeatedly interrogated by both homicide detectives and an FBI agent he knew quite well: James Hosty. Lee vehemently denied being responsible for the murders or possessing a rifle, and claimed that the package he brought with himself on the morning of November 22 contained his lunch (despite the fact that he had previously told his co-worker it contained curtain rods). When presented with his backyard photos, in which he fiercely held his rifle, he claimed they were fakes (which has been repeatedly refuted by experts of all times).

On Sunday, November 24, while being escorted through the basement of the DPD Headquarters, on his way to be transferred to the county jail, Oswald was shot on live television by Jack Ruby. Despite an attempt by Dallas Police detective Jim Leavelle to shield him, the single bullet fired by Ruby damaged several of Lee's internal organs, which brought to his eventual death, pronounced at 1:07 p.m., at Parkland Memorial Hospital, the same where doctors tried saving President Kennedy's life two days earlier. His remains were buried in Fort Worth.

Jack Ruby

Jack Ruby.

When asked his motive for shooting Oswald, Jack Ruby (born Jacob Leon Rubinstein), a Chicago native, failed nightclub owner, and police informant, claimed he did it in a spur-of-the-moment act of sheer patriotism, in order to "redeem the city of Dallas" and spare Jacqueline Kennedy the grief of coming to trial, as well as to show the world "Jews had guts". According to his family and acquaintances, Ruby had been distraught upon knowing of President Kennedy's death (despite the fact that, by his own admission, he didn't vote him and didn't go to see his motorcade on November 22), to the point that he kept his club, the Carousel Club, closed in mourning. Ruby himself claimed he was taking a stimulant to deal with his grieving. He also became paranoid over Jews being blamed for the assassination. Soon after the news broke out that Kennedy had been shot, he injected himself in the investigation: he was reportedly seen (although he wasn't identified for sure) at Parkland Hospital, and was present at the press conference held soon after Oswald's arrest.

Ruby's purported connections with organized crime, the degrees of which have been debated over time, gave free rein to conspiracy theories concerning mob involvement in the Kennedy affair. Nonetheless, people who knew him well claimed he was too unreliable and talkative for the mob, let alone a complicated conspiracy to kill the President of the United States. They were also quite convinced that he didn't really kill Oswald for patriotism (which was eventually revealed as a legal ploy), since all Jack Ruby cared for were money and publicity (which could explain his hints at being part of something bigger than himself). Both the Warren Commission and the 1976 House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded Ruby acted alone in killing Oswald. Specifically, the HSCA declared that while he might have had both direct and undirect contacts with underworld figures (such as Sam Giancana, Joseph Campisi (a lieutenant of New Orleans boss Carlos Marcello), and possibly Santo Trafficante, Jr. All named as possible conspirators in the JFK assassination), he was not a "member" of the organized crime in any sense. Moreover, Ruby's initial claim that he acted alone, and on impulse, seems to find support in the fact that he left his beloved dachshund, Shiba, in his car, shortly before heading to the Dallas Police Headquarters. Last but not least, Oswald's transfer was repeatedly and unexpectedly delayed, thus, had Ruby been part of a conspiracy, he would presumably have been on the scene earlier.

Ruby was arrested immediately after the shooting, tried, and later sentenced to death. Soon after being granted a new trial, he was diagnosed with cancer in his liver, lungs, and brain. He died on January 3, 1967, at Parkland Memorial Hospital, just like President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald before him.

Investigations

The Warren Commission and the HSCA

The Warren Commission. From left to right: Gerald Ford, Hale Boggs, Richard Russell, Jr., Earl Warren, John Sherman Cooper, John J. McCloy, Allen Dulles, and J. Lee Rankin.

On November 29, Lyndon Johnson, who was sworn in as President of the United States two hours after Kennedy was pronounced dead, established The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, in order to investigate the events of November 22. As of today, the commission is unofficially known as "The Warren Commission", named after its committee head, Chief Justice Earl Warren. Other members of the committee included: Allen Dulles, who headed the CIA until 1961; John J. McCloy, the former president of the World Bank; two Senators, Richard Russell, Jr. (D-Georgia) and John Sherman Cooper (R-Kentucky); and two Representatives, Hale Boggs (D-Louisiana) and future President Gerald Ford (R-Michigan). Its results were handed to Johnson in an 888-page report in September 1964, and made public three days later. In summary, it concluded that Oswald was the sole perpetrator of the attempt on Edwin Walker, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the murder of J.D. Tippit. It also concluded Jack Ruby acted alone in killing Oswald.

Four other major investigations of the Kennedy affair were conducted within the next few decades alone: a 1968 panel formed by Attorney General Ramsey Clark; the 1975 Rockefeller Commission and Church Committee, which examined CIA activities in general; and, most notably, the 1976 United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), which took a close look at the JFK assassination, as well as the assassination of Martin Luther King and the attempted assassination of Alabama Governor George Wallace.

Concerning the Kennedy case, the HSCA, in a rather controversial turn, came to the conclusion that although Oswald fired the fatal shots, the President's death was the result of a conspiracy, the nature of which could not be properly identified (suspects included the Cuban and Soviet governments, as well as the Italian-American mob). The Committee also accused the Warren Commission and the FBI of not doing their jobs adequately while investigating the case, and blamed the President's detail for the flawed security which eventually brought to the latter's death. The HSCA investigation's outcome was strongly influenced by (if not solely based on) a Dictabelt tape from a motorcycle's police officer radio microphone, which purportedly recorded a fourth shot. Based on several witness reports (the minority, when compared with the number of people who claimed to have heard the shots coming from the TSBD), the Committee concluded the shot came from the grassy knoll by the side of Elm Street, and that it was likely the first shot that missed (which is rather strange, considering the fact that the grassy knoll was far closer to the President than it was the Texas School Book Depository's sixth floor). The fact that the HSCA's conclusions were largely based on the tape was later heavily criticized by many of the same members of the Committee. In 1982, after the FBI disputed the validity of the tape, the Justice Department paid for a review of the latter by experts of the National Academy of Sciences, which later rebuffed the HSCA's results, claiming the tape was recorded after the assassination actually occurred.

Jim Garrison and the Trial of Clay Shaw

Jim Garrison.

Clay Shaw.

Another investigation was carried out by Jim Garrison, at the time district attorney of New Orleans. His office's inquiry began in 1966, three years after the assassination, after he received a tip that David Ferrie, a staunch anti-Communist who knew Oswald from the latter's teenage years, had been involved in planning the murder. In 1967, shortly after Ferrie died of an aneurysm, Garrison had Clay Shaw, a New Orleans businessman, CIA informer, and alleged associate of Ferrie (who, like Shaw, was homosexual), arrested for conspiracy to commit the murder. He brought Shaw to trial in 1969, the only occasion on which anyone was tried for the Kennedy assassination. Journalist David Phelan later wrote that Garrison had told him in an interview that the conspiracy was a "homosexual thrill killing" done for the excitement of getting away with murder (although he would later say the plot also involved the CIA, FBI, and the anti-Castrists). During the trial, Garrison's main witness, a 25-year-old insurance salesman named Perry Russo, identified Shaw as "Clay Bertrand", a man he had supposedly overheard planning the assassination with Ferrie and Oswald at a party. The testimony has been criticized by some historians due to having been produced through hypnotism and use of the "truth serum", sodium pentothal. In the end, the jury found Shaw not guilty after less than an hour of deliberation due to a lack of a real motive and evidence tying him to the crime. Garrison later wrote a book about his investigation and the trial, titled On the Trail of the Assassins, which was one of the two books that served as the basis for Oliver Stone's controversial and criticized film JFK, starring Kevin Costner as Garrison.

Conspiracy Theories and Dissenting Opinions

The Kennedy assassination has become one of the most fertile growing grounds for conspiracy theories in recent history, although none of the latters was found to realistically contradict the official conclusions that Lee Oswald, and he alone, killed the President on November 22, 1963. Here are the most famous ones:

Some theorists accuse Lyndon B. Johnson of having been involved in the crime and possibly even masterminding it, because he was afraid of being dropped from the Democratic ticket in the next presidential election. Other theories make similar accusations against the then-Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, because of his difficult relationship with the Kennedys, especially with Kennedy's brother, Robert, who had ordered the FBI to change its focus from Communism to organized crime, which Hoover thought was a less serious threat. Other theories implicate Fidel Castro, who, the theories claim, somehow arranged the assassination in retaliation for the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, which was approved by Kennedy and was meant to overthrow Castro's government. Further theories claim that the assassination was carried out by members of organized crime. One theory, asserted in Oliver Stone's JFK, claim that the conspiracy was between a group of civilian far-right wingers, elements of the military-industrial complex, the mob, law enforcement, and the CIA.

The so-called "magic bullet theory".

One of the most popular aspects of the assassination that conspiracy theorists go after is the assertion that Oswald was the sole shooter, which is popularly known as the "lone gunman theory". Some critics of that conclusion assert that in order for the bullet that went through both Kennedy and Connally to have hit the parts of their bodies that were damaged, it would have had to have gone through Kennedy's chest and then taken a complicated and physically impossible trajectory which would have involved it making curves both vertically and horizontally and pausing in midair; when recited that way, the theory is derisively called "the magic bullet theory". This portrayal of the Warren Commission's conclusion is usually countered by the fact that the supposed trajectory is based on the assumption that Connally was seated right in front of Kennedy, which is not entirely accurate; Not only Connally was turning back when he was shot, but he was also actually seated on the jumper seat, which was located a bit to the left of Kennedy's seat and was a few inches lower. In that seating positions, it is fully possible for the bullet to have gone through the two of them in a straight line.

Another subject conspiracy theorists take issue with is the fact that Kennedy's head, when hit by the fatal bullet, goes backwards and not forwards as one might expect it to go if hit from the back. Theorists also point to the large number of doctors and nurses at Parkland Memorial Hospital, as well as others, who reported that a major portion of the back of the President's head was blown out, strongly suggesting that he had been hit from the front. The usual explanation for this movement is dubbed the "jet effect", which would cause the bullet to expel a lot of brain matter on its way out, propelling the skull backwards. The effect has been tested successfully on taped melons, but the tests have been criticized on the grounds that melons are not nearly as dense as a human skull and a shot directed towards one wouldn't produce the same reaction. Conspiracy theorists usually adduce this as evidence that there was a second sniper located on the grassy knoll on the north side of Elm Street, from which the hypothetical gunman would have fired the fatal head-shot at Kennedy from the front, as the motorcade came up the road (some theories claim that shots were also/actually fired from the nearby Dal-Tex Building, the Dallas County Records Building, a nearby railroad overpass, and locations near the grassy knoll). This claim was in fact tested by the Discovery Channel in 2008, using modern body surrogates and forensic technology such as blood-spatter analysis and 3D computer simulations. They concluded that, based on the location of the injuries on Kennedy's skull and the direction and angle of the blood spatter from the fatal head-shot, it was likely fired from the Book Depository, as the Warren Commission asserted.

On July 29, 2013, details of a documentary titled JFK: The Smoking Gun were revealed, along with suggestions made by the latter that Kennedy was shot once by Oswald, while the second shot was fired by Secret Service agent George Hickey, who was riding in a car behind Kennedy's limousine on that day. According to the documentary, Hickey tried to fire back at Oswald with his issued AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, but, due to inexperience with the firearm, he fired the shot prematurely and the bullet hit Kennedy in the neck, not fatally, before Kennedy was shot in the head by Oswald. The documentary was based on the work made by Australian crime-writer and retired undercover police detective Colin McLaren, as well as the 1992 book Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK by Bonar Menninger, both of which had also made such suggestions.

Modus Operandi

Oswald's Carcano.

Oswald employed an Italian Carcano (also known as "Mannlicher-Carcano") M91/38 bolt-action rifle to shoot Edwin Walker and President Kennedy. The latter was hit once in the back and once in the head. When he killed J.D. Tippit, he employed his snub-nosed Smith & Wesson Model 10 "Victory" .38-caliber revolver to shoot him four times in the chest, stomach, and right temple.

In both the assassination attempt on Edwin Walker and the assassination of President Kennedy, Oswald followed a pre-established pattern: he would scout the scene for days before the actual shooting (in Kennedy's case, he already knew the place since he worked there), bring the rifle on the scene during the scouting, abandon it immediately after the shootings, and flee by mingling with crowds and using public transportation.

Profile

Oswald was diagnosed in his youth as displaying schizoid features and passive-aggressive tendencies, as well as being immersed in a "vivid fantasy life, turning around the topics of omnipotence and power, through which he tries to compensate for his present shortcomings and frustrations". The latter seems to fit the profile of a Type II assassin, who rationalize his own personal problems and grievances in terms of larger political agendas (in Oswald's case, his Marxist revolutionary crusade against the "oppressive capitalist system"). Such assassins, by means of their acts, seek to make their mark on history, at the same time placing a burden on those who had rejected them in the past (the Soviets, his wife, the Cuban government, and the revolutionary cause as a whole). He fit the assassin personality type quite well: white male paranoid loner in his twenties, troubled childhood, self-esteem problems, expressed himself through writing, a fondness for weapons, and an overall tendency to rationalize his personal motives in terms of political ones, seeing violent acts as a solution to his problems.

FBI profiler John Douglas sustained in his book, The Anatomy of Motive, that it was virtually impossible for a conspiracy of any sort, in the 60s, to select a so well-defined assassin personality as that of Oswald for their purposes. He also argued that since assassin personalities (like Oswald and Jack Ruby) tend to be extremely paranoid and unstable, they are too unreliable to be involved in large and convoluted plots, even if just as "fall guys". After all, Oswald's activities shortly before the assassination seem to imply that a mere reconciliation with his family could have avoided the events of November 22.

Known Victims

  • Unspecified date in 1958: Unnamed sergeant (assaulted only)
  • 1963:
    • April 10: Edwin Walker (slightly injured in the arm by bullet fragments; survived)
    • November 22:
      • 12:30 p.m. circa: One killed and two injured in the Dealey Plaza shooting:
        • James Tague (slightly wounded in the cheek by curbstone fragments; survived)
        • John Fitzgerald Kennedy (shot once in the upper back and once in the head)
        • John Connally (accidentally hit in the upper right back; survived)
      • 1:15 p.m. circa:
        • J.D. Tippit (shot four times in the chest, stomach, and right temple)

On Criminal Minds

  • Intro: Oswald is among the many criminals whose mugshot is shown during the show's intro.
  • Season One
    • "Won't Get Fooled Again" - Oswald's mugshot was seen alongside several other infamous criminals.
    • "L.D.S.K." - Oswald's mugshot was seen alongside those of several other infamous assassins.
  • Season Three
    • "A Higher Power" - The assassination of Kennedy was brought up alongside the 9/11 attacks as examples of tragedies that caused people to come together during public coping.
  • Season Four
    • "Brothers in Arms" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Oswald appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, "Animal" - Both were killers and cop killers who used firearms (including revolvers, while Oswald also used a rifle) in their crimes, had surviving victims, killed at least one member of the law enforcement who had pulled him over, and were both shot once and killed by someone outside of the law as retribution for their murders.
  • Season Nine
    • "Final Shot" - Oswald was frequently referenced (though not by name) when it was assumed that the unsub was an extremist and a conspiracy theorist who was sending a message through his killing spree. It should also be noted that the surname of Eric Carcani, another prominent unsub of the episode, may have been a reference to the Carcano rifle used by Oswald to kill Kennedy, since both names sound and are spelled extremely similarly. Carcani himself shares some similarities with Oswald - both enrolled in their respective nations' armies, physically and sexually abused their wives (who were foreign women), and were linked to at least one sniper shooting in some way. They are also similar in appearance.
  • Season Thirteen
    • "False Flag" - Oswald was mentioned along with other assassins that were fans of the book The Catcher in the Rye. The Kennedy assassination and the conspiracy theories surrounding it were also referenced several times in the same episode, which deals with a murderer in a conspirationist group.

On Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders

Sources

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