Men on the 6th floor
- by John Armstrong
For many years I have thought about how one or more men could have fired shots from the 6th floor of the TSBD and then left without being seen or heard. I wondered how the 3 men on the 5th floor, directly below the "sniper's nest," could have heard empty shell casings hit the floor above but yet not hear footsteps or people running across the 6th floor and down the wooden stairs in the NW corner of the building. I wondered the same about Jack Dougherty, Sandra Styles, Victoria Adams, etc. As a contractor I am familiar with building construction, and understand single wall/floor construction (a single layer of plywood/wood on only one side of a wall; floor boards/plywood on only one side of the floor). The 6th floor was "single floor construction," with boards placed side by side and running horizontally from beam to beam (see photo below). The men on the 5th floor talked about dust falling down from the 6th floor (snipers nest) when there was movement overhead. This can only happen with "single floor construction," where either boards or plywood are used. This type of floor construction would allow anyone on the 6th floor to lift, and/or remove, a few boards and have direct access to the 5th floor. The purpose of this essay is not to "show or to prove" how one or more men left the 6th floor following the shooting of President Kennedy. My purpose is to show researchers that there is an alternative "escape route," other than the freight elevators, the NW stairway, or the fire escape on Houston St. By using one plausible "escape route," which is detailed below, we may be able to understand the reasons for a few heretofore misunderstood and unexplained situations that occurred during the minutes before and during the minutes following the assassination. assassination.
Texas School Book Depository building
In 1963 the Texas School Book Depository building (TSBD) was located at the corner of Elm and Houston in Dallas, Texas. There were 7 floors, a basement, two freight elevators in the NW corner of the building, one passenger elevator in the SE corner of the building (1st to 4th floor), an old wooden stairway in the NW corner of the building (basement to 7th floor), stairs near the front entrance to the building (1st floor to 2nd floor), and a set of stairs from the 1st floor to the basement. Each floor in the building was about 10,000 square feet, and 77 people worked inside the building in various offices (2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors).
Witnesses see two men on the 6th floor
Minutes before 12:30 PM, on the morning of November 22, 1963 many people observed two men on the 6th floor as the Presidential motorcade approached Dealey Plaza. Charles L. Bronson was using his home movie camera to film scenes outside of the TSBD. At 12:24 pm, his camera captured the images of two men moving in the south eastern window of the 6th floor (snipers nest).
Carolyn E. Walther was standing on the west side of Houston Street about 50 feet south of Elm. Just before the motorcade arrived she looked up at the TSBD and saw two men in an upper floor window, one of whom was holding a rifle with the barrel pointed downward. She described the rifle as being considerably shorter and fatter than the rifle found by Dallas Police. She said the man carrying the gun was blond or light haired and was wearing a white shirt. The other man was wearing a brown suit coat.
Ruby Henderson was standing across the street from the TSBD and also saw two men on an upper floor of the building. She said one of the men was wearing a white shirt and the other man was wearing a dark shirt. Ruby said, "One of them had dark hair ..... a darker complexion than the other ..... You could see their head and shoulders, but not like they were leaning out."
Ronald B. Fischer was standing (with Robert Edwards) on the southwest corner of Elm and Houston directly across the street from the TSBD. Fischer saw the head and shoulders of a white man in his late 20's, with light hair, wearing an open-neck light colored shirt, staring in the direction of the triple underpass. Following the assassination Fisher was interviewed by the Dallas Police and shown photographs of Harvey Oswald. Fisher said the photos looked like the man he saw at the window that shot at the President, but would not say the photographs were the man he saw on the 6th floor. Fisher said the photographs "looked like him."
Robert Edwin Edwards was standing next to Ronald Fischer at the corner of Elm and Houston facing the TSBD two or three minutes before the motorcade arrived. He saw a white man on the 6th floor wearing a light-colored sports shirt, open at the neck, and said the man had short, light, sandy hair. When shown photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald after the assassination, Edwards said he could not be sure the photographs were the same man.
Tom Dillard, the chief news photographer of the Dallas Morning News, saw two men in the arched windows (6th floor) of the TSBD as the car he was riding in turned the corner from Main onto Houston.
Howard L. Brennan, a construction worker, saw a man sitting sideways on the windowsill prior to the arrival of the motorcade. Brennan said he could practically see his whole body, from the hips up. He said the individual was a white man in his early 30's, was fair complexioned, slender, possibly 5-foot 10, 160 to 170 pounds, and wore light-colored clothing.
Richard Randolph Carr observed a man looking out the top floor of the TSBD moments before the shooting. Carr, like Carolyn Walther, said the man was wearing a light brown coat. He described the man as having an athletic build and wearing horn rim glasses and a hat. Minutes after the assassination Carr saw the same man walking toward him on Houston, constantly looking back over his shoulder. The man turned east on Commerce St, walked one block to
Record St., and got into a 1961 or 1962 light colored Nash Rambler station wagon. The author believes this vehicle drove north on Record St., turned left on Elm, picked up LEE Oswald by the grassy knoll at 12:40 PM, and was last seen by Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig driving under the triple overpass.
Across the street from the TSBD as many as 40 inmates, on the 5th floor of the county jail (see photo below), watched the two men as they "fooled around" with a scope on a rifle about 6 minutes before the shooting. Powell said the two men in the window "looked darker" than whites and were wearing "kind of brownish looking or duller clothes .... .like work clothes."
Seventeen-year-old Johnny L. Powell had been in the county jail for 3 days charged with disturbing the peace. Powell said, "Quite a few of us (jail inmates) saw them (two men in the 6th floor window of the TSBD). Everybody was trying to watch the parade and all that. We were looking across the street (at the TSBD) because it was directly straight across. The first thing I thought is, it was security guards .... I remember the guys."
NOTE: Attorney Stanley M Kaufman, who represented one of the inmates, Willie Mitchell, told WC attorney Leon D. Hubert that numerous inmates witnessed the assassination from the 5th and 6th floors of the county jail. Kaufman said, "I remember that did occur and it sort of concerned me at the time as to why--if they were trying to find out all these facts--why they (the Warren Commission) didn't go up there and talk to these prisoners."
Seven eyewitnesses saw a man wearing a white or light-colored shirt, and five witnesses (and perhaps as many as 40 inmates) saw two men on the six floor of the TSBD moments before the shooting Four witnesses said the second man was wearing dark clothing or a brown coat. Most of the witnesses said the man wearing the white shirt looked like Oswald. The man charged with assassinating President Kennedy was impersonated on many occasions in the months preceding the assassination. The author believes this impersonation continued at the TSBD on 11/22/63, and the impersonators image was captured by Dallas Morning News photographer Tom Dillard in the west end window on the 6th floor, only seconds after the shooting (photo below, on left). Below is the mans image from Dillards film, and he is wearing a light-colored shirt as described by witnesses. The author believes the impersonator was LEE Oswald, who's hairline is very similar to a photo taken by Robert Oswald of his brother (photo below, on right). The impersonator left Dealey Plaza in a Nash Rambler, shot and killed JD Tippit, was in the balcony of the Texas Theater when Harvey Oswald was arrested, was taken out the back of the Texas Theater after HARVEY Oswald was taken out the front of the theater, was seen an hour later driving a 1957 Plymouth (owned by Carl Mather, Tippit's best friend), and was seen boarding a military transport plane near downtown Dallas by Robert Vinson.
How did these two men manage to get to the 6th floor without being noticed, seen, or heard by anyone? Not one person who worked in the TSBD, and was interviewed by the Warren Commission, reported seeing a stranger or strangers in the building before 12:30 PM on November 22. We have to wonder how two or more "unidentified strangers" managed to enter the building and then get to the 6th floor without being seen, recognized, or reported by anyone.
Geneva Hine, "The lights all went out"
As the Presidential limousine turned onto Houston Street Geneva Hines was sitting alone at her desk in the TSBD office. This office, as can be seen in the 2nd floor diagram, was in the middle of the building and had very little natural lighting (only one exterior window, blocked in part by the counter). The light source for office workers was provided by a dozen overhead ceiling lights, as can be seen in the photos below.
WC attorney Joseph Ball asked Hines, "Were you alone then at this time?"Mrs. Hines. Yes.
Mr. Ball. Did you stay at your desk.
Mrs. Hines. Yes, sir. I was alone until the lights all went out and the phones became dead because the motorcade was coming near us and no one was calling so I got up and thought I could see it from the east window in our office.
"All the lights went out and the phones became dead." WHY AND FOR WHAT REASON? The telephone on Mrs. Hines desk had 3 incoming lines and 3 very small lucite buttons which illuminated when a particular line was in use. In 1963 Western Electric was the major supplier of multi line telephones to AT&T, like the phone pictured below. Electricity required for the illumination of the lucite buttons was provided by the local electric company, and not by telephone lines. Lighting in the TSBD office came from a dozen overhead ceiling lights. When Mrs. Hines said "all the lights went out," she was referring to the overhead lights in her office. It appears that someone shut off the electricity moments before President Kennedy was assassinated.
Mr. Ball. Did you go to the window?Mrs. Hines. Yes.
Mr. Ball. Did you look out?
Mrs. Hines. Yes.
Mr. Ball. What did you see?
Mrs. Hines. I saw the escort car come first up the middle of Houston Street.
Mr. Ball. Going north on Houston Street?
Mrs. Hines. Yes, sir. going north on Houston Street. I saw it turn left and I saw the President's car coming and I sasw the President and saw him waving his hand in greeting up in the air and I saw his wife and I saw him turn the corner and after he turned the corner I looked and I saw the next car coming just at the instant I saw the next car coming up was when I heard the shots.
Mrs. Hines wanted to see what had happened so she hurried down the hall to the office of Lyons and Carnahan, a publishing company with an office facing Elm Street (see green line in 2nd floor diagram below). She knocked on the door but nobody answered. She then hurried to the office of Southwest Publishing, another office that faced Elm Street. A young lady was in the office talking on the telephone, but would not answer the door.
Sandra Styles, Victoria Adams, Elsie Dorman, and office supervisor Dorothy Garner worked for the Scott Forseman Company on the 4th floor of the TSBD. They were watching the parade thru an office window when they heard shots. WC attorney Belin asked Adams how long it took her to get from the office window to the bottom of the stairs on the 1st floor. Adams replied, "I would say no longer than a minute at the most." After the last shot office supervisor Dorothy Garner followed Styles and Adams out of the office and watched as the two women hurried to the NW stairway and began walking down the stairs. Neither woman saw nor heard anyone on the stairway.
Officer Marion Baker and Roy Truly
DPD officer Marion Baker was riding his motorcycle in the parade when he heard what he thought were gun shots. Baker parked his motorcycle and ran toward the TSBD. Roy Truly saw the officer and introduced himself as the building manager. Baker and Truly hurried from the SE corner entrance of the building to the NW corner of the building, where the 2 freight elevators and stairway are located. They arrived at the elevators a little more than a minute after the last shot. The elevators were not working, most likely because the electricity was shut off. Warren Commission member Senator Cooper asked Officer Baker, "Did you see anyone else while you were in the building, other than this man you have identified later as Oswald, and Mr. Truly? Baker replied, "On the first floor there were two men. as we came through the main doorway to the elevators, I remember as we tried to get on the elevators I remember two men, one was sitting on this side and another one between 20 or 30 feet away from us looking at us." WHO WERE THESE MEN? AND WHY WERE THEY AT THE BACK OF THE TSBD INSTEAD OF WATCHING THE PRESIDENTIAL PARADE? Below is a diagram of the 1st floor of the TSBD showing the position of Baker and Truly. One of the unknown men ("sitting on this side") may have been near the west freight elevator. The other unknown man ("20 or 30 feet away from us looking at us") could have been at or near the buildings electrical panels. Could these men have been responsible for turning off the electricity only moments before the shooting?
When Baker and Truly reached the 5th floor, they saw no one, even though the 3 men on the 5th floor said they saw the policeman. After briefly scanning the 5th floor Baker and Truly took a freight elevator to the 7th floor. Within a few minutes after the shooting, somebody had turned the electricity back on, and the freight elevators were working. Who did this, and why? Why was the electricity turned off minutes before the shooting, and turned back on minutes after the shooting?
Ingress, egress from the TSBD
In November 1961 the Sexton Building, in 1963 known as the Texas School Book Depository, was refurbished. Walls and partitions were added to the second, third, and four floors that created office space. Carpeting was installed in some of the offices, along with air conditioning and a new passenger elevator that carried people from the 1st thru the 4th floor.
In 1963 there were three ways for people to get from the 1st to the 5th, 6th, and 7th floor warehouse areas. There were two freight elevators (#1) and an enclosed stairway (#2) in the northwest corner of the building. On the outside of the building, on Houston Street, was an open fire escape (#3). The new passenger elevator, located near the front entrance to the building on Elm and Houston Streets, serviced only the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors.
On November 22, a few minutes before 12:30 PM, two men were seen on the 6th floor. Minutes after the shooting these men were gone. How did they manage to leave the TSBD without being heard or seen by anyone? What follows is an alternate, and secret route, from the 6th to the 1st floor.
A minute after the shooting Officer Marion Baker and building manager Roy Truly were on the first floor, standing by the two freight elevators and looking up the elevator shaft. Both elevators appeared to be stopped in place on the 5th floor, and did not move or respond when Truly pushed the call button for an elevator. It appears the elevators were not working because the electricity was shut off. If the electricity were on, and anyone were to ride one of these slow moving freight elevators from the 6th to the 1st floor, they could not have done so in the time it took Baker and Truly to arrive at the elevators only a minute after the shooting. If someone had ridden one of the elevators from the 6th floor, down to the 1st floor, then that elevator would have to travel back to the 5th floor by the time Truly and Baker arrived (only one minute after the shooting). In other words, one of these slow moving, noisy, freight elevators would have to travel from the 6th floor to the 1st floor, and then return to the 5th floor within one minute,which was impossible. Therefore, two men on the 6th floor did not ride either of the slow moving freight elevators to the 1st floor (exit #1).
East freight elevator
Photo taken while standing inside of the west freight elevator
Baker and Truly hurried up the stairs, stopped on the 2nd floor where they spoke briefly with Harvey Oswald, and continued up the stairs. Office supervisor Dorothy Garner, who was still on the 4th floor near her office, said that after Miss Adams (and Sandra Styles) went downstairs she (Miss Garner) saw Mr. Truly and the policeman (Marion Baker) come up the stairs. Is it possible that when Truly and Baker briefly confronted Oswald in the lunchroom, Adams and Styles arrived on the 2nd floor, and then walked past the lunchroom to the enclosed stairway that lead to the 1st floor?
After Truly told Baker that Oswald was an employee, the two men returned to the stairway. Dorothy Garner, on the 4th floor, saw Baker and Truly as they hurried up the stairs. After arriving on the 5th floor, Baker and Truly rode the east freight elevator to the 7th floor. It appears that while Baker and Truly were climbing the stairs from the 1st to the 5th floor the electricity was turned back on. Neither Adams, Styles, Garner, Truly, Baker, Norman, Williams, Jarman or Dougherty saw or heard anyone hurrying down the NW stairway following the shooting (exit #2).
The last way of getting from the 6th to the 1st floor was by the fire escape on the outside of the building on Houston St. If anyone had been on this fire escape following the shooting, many people would have seen them and they likely would have been photographed. The two men on the 6th floor did not use the fire escap (exit #3).
On the 2nd floor, after knocking on a few office doors that faced Elm Street, TSBD employee Geneva Hines returned to her office. She noticed the lights were now blinking on her 3-line telephone. It appears that "someone" turned the electricity back on a few minutes after the shooting. Was this "someone" the man seen by James Richard Worrell hurrying out the back of the TSBD, onto the loading dock, and then running south on Houston St? Who turned the electricity off, and then back on a few minutes later? Why, and for what purpose?
Two men on the 6th floor
What happened to the two men seen by many people on the 6th floor only a few minutes earlier? How did these men get from the 6th floor to the 1st floor and then out of the building? How did they get past James Jarman, Bonnie Ray Williams, and Harold Norman who were on the 5th floor and past Jack Dougherty, who was also on the 5th floor, without being seen or heard? How did they get past Sandra Styles and Victoria Adams who were on the 4th floor at the time of the shooting and quickly hurried down the NW stairway and neither saw nor heard anyone? Why were these two men not seen by Officer Baker and building manager Roy Truly as they ran up the only stairway to the 5th floor? How did these men "escape" from the 6th floor without being seen by anyone? PERHAPS THEY USED THE PASSENGER ELEVATOR.
The recently installed passenger elevator was in the SE corner of the building, close to the main entrance of the building. This elevator carried passengers from the 1st to the 4th floor (4 different levels/floors). The mechanical equipment, including cables, pulley's, gears, etc. were at the top of the elevator shaft which extended to the ceiling of the 5th floor (see 5th floor diagram). The bottom of the elevator shaft extended into the basement. When the passenger elevator stopped on the 4th floor the mechanical equipment was only a few feet above the roof of the elevator cabin (the 5th floor).
Below is a diagram that shows the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of a typical cable operated elevator. The elevator is stopped on the 4th floor, with the mechanical equipment directly overhead, on the 5th floor. The Warren Commission published diagrams of all floors of the TSBD. The passenger elevator is shown on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor diagrams. Diagrams for the basement and 5th floors show only the elevator shaft (no opening to these levels).
Building codes in the 1970's (found on-line) required elevators that serviced 4 or more floors to be vented (see #22 below), due to the large volume of air displaced as the elevator moved between floors. Vents were typically placed at the top and bottom of the elevator shaft (see diagram below). And building codes in many localities required that elevator shafts have wall mounted ladders, used by workers for maintenance.
All floors in the TSBD were constructed with solid, thick, wooden floor boards (single floor construction). The photo on the right (NW stairway) shows the size and shape of the floor boards laying side by side. The photo below (left) shows the wooden floor boards extending from girder to girder. It is important to understand that in the TSBD the ceiling boards on one floor are the floor boards for the next level. In other words the boards used for the ceiling of the 5th floor are the floor boards of the 6th floor. If a vent were installed in the ceiling of the 5th floor elevator shaft, it would allow air flow from the elevator shaft directly into the 6th floor (see diagram below)
The passenger elevator is located on the Houston Street side of the TSBD, in front of the 2nd set of windows (see photo above on left; the 2nd set of windows can be seen in the upper left side of the photo). Looking at the floor it appears there are no boxes on the floor in front of the 2nd set of windows (see green lines), which is directly over the elevator shaft. If an air vent for the elevator shaft was installed in this location, there would be direct access to the 5th floor and to the top of the elevator cabin (when stopped on the 4th flooor)
6th floor ingress
If one or more people ("shooters") wanted to get to the 6th floor, quietly and without being seen, access (ingress) could be accomplished easily and quickly by riding the passenger elevator, with an accomplice, to the 4th floor. By alerting accomplices on the 1st floor, who could switch off the electricity in the building, the elevator would remain in place on the 4th floor. By lifting the emergency trap door (see below) one or more "shooters" could climb onto the top of the elevator cabin, and step onto the 5th floor of the elevator shaft (used for elevator controls, traction machine). Directly overhead is the 5th floor ceiling, which are the floor boards of the 6th floor. Use the wall mounted ladder in the elevator shaft, and climb a few feet to the ceiling. Lift the elevator shaft ventilation panel or, if there is no vent panel, simply lift a few loose floor boards and climb onto the 6th floor. After the "shooters" were on the 6th floor their accomplice, who rode with the shooters to the 4th floor, could then alert accomplices on the 1st floor to turn on the electricity. The passenger elevator could then be returned to service .
6th floor egress
Leaving the 6th floor (egress) is similar, and the passenger elevator would need to be used a second time. The "snipers nest" (6th floor) is only about 15 feet from the top of the elevator shaft, which is the 5th floor ceiling (see diagram on left). As the Presidential motorcade was approaching Dealey Plaza an accomplice could ride the passenger elevator to the 4th floor, and then alert accomplices on the first floor to turn off the electricity. The elevator would remain in place, waiting for the "shooters." After shots were fired at the President the shooters on the 6th floor could either lift the elevator ventilation panel, or lift a few loose floor boards (if no vent panel), and enter the elevator shaft. Use the wall mounted ladder to access the 5th floor landing, and the top of the elevator cabin. Lift the emergency trap door, enter the elevator cabin, and alert accomplices on the 1st floor to turn on the electricity (alert accomplices by pushing the "emergency" button, powered by battery backup in case of a power failure).
MORE SPECULATION. The "shooters," and the accomplice operating the elevator,could then ride the elevator down to either the 2nd floor or to the 1st floor. If the two "shooters" rode the elevator to the 2nd floor, they could then separate. One of the men (wearing the brown coat) could walk down the front stairs, exit the building, and walk south on Houston St while passing by Richard Carr (who moments before saw the same man on the 6th floor). The second "shooter," whose photographic image was captured on the 6th floor, could walk thru the hallway, enter the TSBD office, and be seen by Mrs. Reid as he walked toward the front of the building.
The 3rd man (accomplice operating the passenger elevator) could have ridden the elevator to the 1st floor. This could have been the man who Dallas Police Inspector Herbert Sawyer ran into when he got onto the passenger elevator within minutes of the shooting.Mr. BELIN. Now you took an elevator up, is that correct?
Mr. SAWYER. That's right.
Mr. BELIN. The route that you took to the elevator, you went to the front door?
Mr. SAWYER. Right.
Mr. BELIN. Then what did you do?
Mr. SAWYER. We got into the elevator. We run into this man.
Mr. BELIN. Well, when you say you got into the elevator, where was the elevator as you walked in the front door?
Mr. SAWYER. It was to the right.
Mr. BELIN. To the right?
Mr. SAWYER. Yes, sir.
Mr. BELIN. Was it a freight elevator or a passenger elevator?
Mr. SAWYER. The best of my recollection, it was a passenger elevator.
Using the passenger elevator to access the 6th floor would require two accomplices on the 1st floor (off/on electricity) and an accomplice in the passenger elevator (to stop elevator on 4th floor), in addition to the "shooters" who rode the elevator. Two of the accomplices may have been the unidentified men seen by Officer Baker on the first floor near the NW stairway and the electrical panels. A third accomplice may have been the man Inspector Sawyer ran into when he accessed the passenger elevator minutes after the shooting. Who were these three men...businessmen? TSBD employees...? office workers...? tramps?
It is, and probably always will be, impossible to prove how one or two men managed to enter and then leave the 6th floor without being seen or heard by anyone. But escaping from the 6th floor thru the elevator shaft, with accomplices, is quite easy and could explain why the electricity was briefly turned off minutes before the assassination and turned on minutes after the assassination. Escaping thru the elevator shaft could explain why Jarman, Norman, Williams, Styles, Adams, Garner, Dougherty, Baker, and Truly neither saw nor heard anyone leaving via the stairway or freight elevators. Escaping thru the elevator shaft could also explain the two unidentified men seen on the first floor at the back of the building about one minute after the shooting, next to the stairs and near the electrical panels.