Of all the books written about the assassination of President Kennedy over
the years, only one so far has been from the point of view of an actual
eyewitness to the tragedy, that being Jean Hill. Her book, Co-authored with
Dallas writer Bill S loan, is entitled, JFK: The last Dissenting Witness
(Pelican: Grema, LA). However, before dealing with the many significant points
in her book, an examination of Jean's own recorded statements and testimony in
the past should be made, which raises the question as to whether or not
"the lady in red" is, in fact, a credible witness.
Within forty minutes of the shooting, Jean Hill and her friend, Mary Moorman, were both interviewed by a local television station (1) as well as by a reporter from the DALLAS TIMES HERALD, which made reference to her in a short article on page 17 entitled "Candid Snapshot Picture of Death":
"The President and his wife were looking at a little dog on the seat between them as I looked down on them...Then the President looked up and just about that time grabbed himself across the chest and looked like he was in pain. He fell towards Jackie across the seat. She said, 'My God! They've shot him.' and fell across him. I would say that the shots rang out and everybody started screaming and falling down." (2)
In a lengthy front-page report, Jean was also quoted as indicating that she
thought she saw "..someone in the motorcade in street clothes shoot back
at a person running up the hill." She also recalled that the motorcade
had momentarily stopped, then "..kept on going at the usual rate of
speed for a second and then sped up." As for the motorcylists (one of
whom she later revealed knowing personally), "..some sped up and some
stopped. I didn't see anyone get in the car with the President,"
presumably responding to a question about the movements of Secret Service agent
Clint Hill. Jean also stated that she "..didn't see anyone else in the
car. I kept looking at the President. I didn't see any blood." (In a
second interview broadcast on NBC ninety minutes later, Jean indicated that she
didn't see anyone shooting, but repeated having heard four to six shots.)
Later that day, both Jean and Mary were interviewed by the Dallas County Sheriff's office, along with many other eyewitnesses, and both of their affidavits were later published in the Warren Commission's volumes (3). Mary stated that she had taken two photos of President Kennedy, hearing a shot "ring out" as she "snapped the picture", followed by a second shot, which prompted her to fall to the ground. Mary stated that altogether, she heard "three or four shots". The photos came out "real light" but nevertheless were turned over to "officers investigating this incident."
Jean's statement, ten typed lines longer, described their efforts to locate a good spot for taking pictures, with reference made to the "little dog" that the Kennedys appeared to be looking down at. Jean recalled hearing two initial shots in rapid order, followed by "three or four more", and mentioned having noticed rifles being drawn and possibly fired by "men in plain clothes." While Mary urged her to get down, Jean described seeing a man run towards "the momument" whom she followed. However, she and others were turned back at the railroad tracks by the police. From there she returned to the scene of the assassination where a reporter named "Mr. Featherstone of the Times Herald had gotten to Mary and ask (sic) her for her picture she had taken of the President, and he brought us to the pressroom down at the Sheriff's office.." (The photo was published in the TIMES HERALD on November 24 on page 3.)
The next recorded interview with Jean Hill was conducted by SA Robert Lish of the FBI on Nov. 23, which surprisingly amounted to only two short paragraphs (4), with far less detail than previously given. She indicated having selected a spot with her friend to take photos, and that "she heard something like a rifle shot and observed President Kennedy crumple in the seat in the automobile. She was standing nearby, as the vehicle was passing the spot where she stood at the time." (It should be noted that Mary Moorman was also interviewed by two other FBI agents that day, providing considerably more information.) (5)
On February 18, 1964, 1500 people packed the Town Hall in New York City to hear both Marguerite Oswald and lawyer Mark Lane speak. As reported in the Feb. 19 edition of the NYT (p.30):
"Lane played a tape recording he said he made yesterday of a conversation he had with a woman Dallas school teacher whom he called 'the closest spectator' to the President's assassination. The woman said she heard 'four to six shots' and these came from a grassy knoll near an overpass in front of the President's car ... She also said she saw a man run from the knoll."
On March 4, 1964 in Washington D.C. Lane testified at length before the
Warren Commission in regard to numerous questions and uncertainties surrounding
the assassination (6). In the course of discussing
the number of shots fired and their source, Lane identified Jean Hill as the
witness near the President who had heard "..some four to six shots
fired-from the grassy knoll." Lane emphasized that Jean believed that "..none..were
fired from the Book Depository Building." Reference was also made to
the man running TOWARDS the grassy knoll and Mary's first photo of the oncoming
motorcade with the TSBD in the background. He stated, somewhat inaacurately,
that when Jean was questioned by the Secret Service, "..they indicated
to her what her testimony should be, and that is that she only heard three
shots," not four to six; they went on to suggest, according to Lane,
that she had heard either "..firecrackers exploding, or..echoes."
Allegedly, Jean had been pressured into accepting the "three wounds,
three shells, three shots" conclusion already established on November
22, 1963. (Lane also mentioned the reactions of several people standing near the
TSBD, who ran towards the railroad tracks, including O.V. Campbell, possibly the
man seen by Jean.)
Following Lane's testimony, agents of the FBI again contacted Jean on March 23, 1964, generating a two and one-half page report (7). Jean again described wanting to take photos and conversing with a policeman near the TSBD entrance. She had noticed a vehicle with "Honest Joe's Pawn Shop" printed on its side, with cardboard windows, "..circling the area," but was told by the policeman that he had been permitted to drive near or through the motorcade route. In regard to the assassination itself, Jean described calling to the President while Mary prepared to take a photo, seemingly not aware that he had already been hit once or possibly twice. She also recalled seeing "..the hair on the back of President Kennedy's head fly up" followed by Mrs. Kennedy crying out that he had been shot as "..the President fell forward in his seat." (Jean did not appear to notice the violent backwards movement of Kennedy as shown in the Zapruder film.) Again she emphasized having heard "..from four to six shots in all and believes they came from a spot just west of the Texas School Book Depository. She thought there was a slight time interval between the first three shots and the remaining shots." Jean went on to describe noticing that "..everyone in the vicinity seemed to be in a trance wondering what had happened" (which in reality was probably her own sensation.) She repeated having observed a man in a raincoat wearing a hat running towards the railroad tracks, whom she decided to follow, nearly getting hit by one of the motorcylists in the process. Jean indicated that she lost sight of the man as she looked down at a red snowcone, but "..did not get a good look at this man, does not know who he was, and never saw him again." She described him merely as being of "..average height and of heavy build."
After returning from the knoll area, she rejoined her friend, but upon leaving the scene, Jean and Mary were "..stopped by Mr. Featherstone, a Dallas newspaper man, who took them to the press room at the Dallas County Sheriff's Office." Jean recalled having been questioned in a confused atmosphere for several hours by both the Secret Service and the FBI, and recalled being asked about a shot that had hit the curb near her feet (which she was not aware of.) After stating that she heard four to six shots, an agent replied that there were "..three shots, three bullets, that's enough for now." However, according to the FBI report, Jean "..advised that at no time did any Federal agent or other law enforcement officer attempt to tell her what she should say in regard to the number of shots fired or to force any other opinions upon her."
Jean mentioned having been phoned by Mark Lane from New York a month earlier, and after reading some of Lane's subsequent statements (presumably his testimony to the Warren Commission to which the press was invited), felt he had "..taken some of her remarks out of context, had not used her full answers to some of the questions, and had misquoted her.." Lane was also pleased to learn that Jean was both a housewife and substitute teacher, adding to her credibility.
Following her second FBI interview, Jean received a letter from the Warren Commission also dated March 18, 1964 to appear as a witness, with the interview taking place on March 24, 1964 in Dallas (apparently at Parkland Hospital, where Arlen Specter interviewed five doctors and one nurse that day, although it was supposed to take place at the U.S. Attorney's office in downtown Dallas, where twenty-four other interviews were conducted).
At the beginning of the interview (8), Jean repeated her contention that she heard four to six shots, suggesting that several of them occurred after the head shot. As her friend dropped to the ground, Jean recalled being "..too stunned to move, so I didn't get down. I just stood there and gawked around." In fact, she did sit down as verified in at least two photos or film frames published intially in the 1967 book SIX SECONDS IN DALLAS (9), suggesting that Jean was too shocked to recall her immediate reaction. Again Jean described seeing Kennedy slump forward after being struck by the killing shot. After being asked whether she had noticed "..anything of Governor Connally at that exact second," Jean surmised that possibly her recollections might have been "..colored by what I haved heard." She indicated having heard what the Connallys had stated to the press about the sequence of shots, and then replied that she had also "..heard that one shot hit Kennedy and also hit Connally, that the same shot that hit Kennedy hit Connally," but she could not recall where she had heard such a conclusion.
This, of course, became a major part of the Warren Commission's findings months later, but I have not been able to locate any such suggestion at this point in the investigation. The "single-bullet theory" or "magic-bullet theory" turned out to have originated with the very person who was interviewing Mrs. Hill - Arlen Specter - and was first reported by KRLD-TV in Dallas at the end of May (10). Jean went on to state that, in her opinion, Connally was not hit by the same shot that struck Kennedy. However, it should be pointed out that Jean did not seem to be aware that Kennedy and Connally had already been hit when she tried to get JFK to look her way. Although she had stated that all the shots appeared to originate from the knoll, Jean also indicated that as Mary Moorman was urging her to get down, she thought that Secret Service agents were shooting back at the assassin(s).
She was again asked about having seen a man running towards the railroad tracks from the TSBD, whom she seemed to feel "..was the only thing moving up there." Jean described chasing after him, believing that he was "..the man that did it," even though he was running towards the knoll rather than away from it. She reluctantly admitted to Specter having stated publicly that the man looked like Jack Ruby. In the course of describing running up the steps (one of many spectators as shown in a photo published in the Dec. 2, 1967 edition of SATURDAY EVENING POST on p. 29), Jean admitted feeling a need to leave the area, possibly now realizing the enormity of what she had witnessed.
Jean also admitted to Specter having mixed feelings about discussing what she had earlier reported, particularly the references to the man who looked like Jack Ruby, and the little dog that turned out to be flowers. She had been teased by friends and in particular by her husband, whom she was in the process of divorcing.
After leaving the grassy knoll and returning to her friend, Jean described the unpleasant experience with an insistent DALLAS TIMES HERALD reporter, who was urging them both to come with him to the pressroom of the sheriff's office. She had an urgent need to get away from both the press and the police, despite the fact that she was an important witness to the assassination.
Jean also mentioned having been contacted several weeks after the assassination by a reporter named John Coker, whom she had seen in the pressroom. Coker brought a television crew to her home for an interview, but to her knowledge, it was never broadcast. It was her impression from their questions that they also did not believe Oswald was responsible for the shooting. Specter wondered if there were any other reasons why she believed the shots originated from the knoll besides the sound and the reaction of other witnesses whom ran up the hill. It is possible that Specter was expecting Jean to have noticed the backward movement of Kennedy as shown in the Zapruder film, but she made no comment to that effect. (In the frames leading up to 312, Jean looks to her right several times as Kennedy's vehicle approaches and passes her position, although she is looking directly at the car as late as frame 309. At this point, she is no longer visible as Mary Moorman prepares to take another photo, or has already taken it.)
Specter also asked Jean about her contact with Mark Lane which had prompted the FBI to visit her the previous week. She basically felt that Lane's Warren Commission comments were "..taken..out of context" and therefore were inaccurate. In much detail and at times in a confusing manner, Jean described the various points she had discussed on the phone with Lane, including her conversation with a Secret Service agent, who agreed with her that they had heard more than three shots too, but only had evidence of three. The agent had also asked her about the missed shot that hit the curb. In addition, Jean had mentioned to Lane about her difficulties in leaving the sheriff's office, first when she saw friends on the street, and later when she tried to purchase a copy of the DTH; a deputy somewhat forceably made her return, prior to giving her statement (along with at least 25 other witnesses.)(11) While in the pressroom, she had also been pressured by Featherstone to not mention the "running man," who conceivably could have been the reporter himself, if not O.V. Campbell.
Specter concluded the interview by briefly asking Jean about her background and education, and it was also revealed that Mr. Hill was a consultant for Science Research Associates. Jean now realized that she was "..part of history and I was glad I was there, but because I got publicity, because - I think my children will be interested to know that someday I was in it someway." Specter suggested that the Warren Commission might want her to testify in Washington, although not likely, to which Jean replied that she had already told the FBI that she did not want to go, remarking: "I don't think I can take anymore laughing at." Oddly enough, she was not asked to either sign a waiver or be prepared to read and sign the written transcript like others who testified.
Although Jean was never requested to testify further in Washington, at least she was included in the fifteen volumes of testimony, mainly because of Lane's reference to her. Many other important eyewitnesses who were overlooked by the Warren Commission's staff included: Mary Woodward and her three colleagues; Charles Brehm and his son; Carolyn Arnold; Hugh Betzner, Jr.; Jack Bell; John and Marvin Chism; Ruby Henderson; Mary Hollies; Sam Kinney; Glenn Bennett; Mary Ann Moorman; Mr. and Mrs. W. Newman; Orville Nix; J.C. Price; Norman Similas; Marilyn Sitzman; Malcolm Summers; Richard Carr; Marvin Robinson; Carolyn Walthers; and Beverly Oliver (if she was indeed the "Babushka Lady").
Jean's name became well known amongst JFK researchers throughout the sixties as a result of references to her testimony in magazine articles such as Fred Cook's two-part analysis of the Warren Report (12), along with such books as: RUSH TO JUDGMENT, WHITEWASH, ACCESSORIES AFTER THE FACT, INQUEST, SIX SECONDS IN DALLAS, and UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S ASSASSINATION. However, she made it quite clear to Mark Lane that she had no intention of discussing the subject any further as he mentions in both his 1966 book as well as his PLAYBOY interview of February, 1967 (13):
..Jean Hill said that after she had originally spoken with me in February, 1964 'the FBI was here for days. They practically lived here. They just didn't like what I told them I saw and heard when the President was assassinated.' She declined to permit a filmed interview, stating, 'For two years I have told the truth but I have two children to support and I am a public school teacher. My principal said it would be best not to talk about the assassination, and I just can't go through it all again. I can't believe the Warren Report. I know it's all a lie, because I was there when it happened, but I can't talk about it anymore, because I don't want the FBI here constantly and I want to continue to teach here. I hope you don't think I'm a coward, but I cannot talk about the case anymore.'"
In the course of the HSCA's in-depth investigation of the assassination, an
attempt was made to contact numerous witnesses to the events in Dealey Plaza,
including Jean Hill, whose statements to the Dallas Sheriff's office, the FBI
and/or Secret Service, and the Warren Commission's counsel, were summarized in
volume XII under the sub-heading "Accounts of Persons Fleeing Dealey
Plaza" (such as the man seen by Jean). According to the summary, an attempt
was made to locate Mrs. Hill without success (who has lived at the same address
all these years, or whose whereabouts would undoubtedly have been known by
However, British author Anthony Summers had no such difficulty it seems, having interviewed Jean in 1978 for his landmark book, CONSPIRACY (Victor Gollancs: London), published in 1980. In addition to referring to Jean's testimony regarding shots coming from the knoll, he had also learned that "..she was paying special attention to the motorcade because one of the police outriders was her boyfriend of the moment. She was sure there were more than three shots." (15) Summers quoted her as adding: "'I heard four to six shots, and I'm pretty used to guns. They weren't echoes or anything like that. They were different guns that were being fired.'" Jean also informed Summers during the interview that "'The President was killed and then, of course, pandemonium reigned..and I looked up, and at the time I looked up across the street I saw smoke like from a gun coming from the parapet, that built-up part on the knoll.'" Summers later described Jean running "..impetuously across the road, dodging between the cars, while the motorcade was still going by. She was ahead of the field in the parking lot, and there she says, she met a 'tall and slender man.' Today she tells of an experience much like that of Officer Smith - of a man who whipped out Secret Service identification, and how she then gave up her chase..Jean Hill insists she gave her account to the Warren staff."
She further informed Summers that "..beyond and behind him she caught sight of a man running. Like the man Price saw, she lost sight of him by the railway lines some twenty yards away." Summers appeared to corroborate Jean's description by citing the fanciful story of Dallas policeman Tom Tilson (referred to mistakenly as John Tilson), whose allegations do not hold up when examined closely. (16)
In November, 1986, the cable network "Showtime" broadcast a 5 1/2 hour, edited version of a London Weekend Television production entitled, "On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald," which has since been rebroadcast in 1988 as a "GERALDO" special and in 1992 on the Arts and Entertainment network (although with the testimony of HSCA researcher Edwin Lopez suspiciously removed). The mock trial featured 21 actual witnesses, along with jurors from Dallas County, a Texas judge, and two famous American lawyers, namely Vincent Bugliosi for the prosecution and Gerry Spence for the defense. Surprisingly, the only witnesses testifying that had been along the motorcade route were Charles Brehm and Bill Newman, although Jean Hill had been flown to London for the taping.
According to Paul Hoch in his "Echoes of Conspiracy" newsletter (17), he had been told that "..the taped testimony included three additional witnesses, and that three more were flown to London but not used," but Paul did not know the names of those witnesses. According to a recent reply from Mark Redhead of LWT, he "dimly" recalled that "..the defense attorney..felt that her story and its variations made her a weak witness who would be harmful to his case in the hands of his opponent, and consequently it was decided not to call her. The decision, like all the decisions relating to the programme, was based on what would stand up in court." (18) On the other hand, Spence did not hesitate to include the questionable allegations of Tom Tilson. (19)
On the 25th anniversary of the assassination, Geraldo Rivera hosted a two-part discussion featuring some notable personalities with varying points of view, including Jean Hill as his lead-off guest. During his introduction, Geraldo described Jean and Mary Moorman taking up positions near the motorcade on the south side of Elm St. "..just a few feet from the presidential limousine when the fatal shot was fired. After the shots (Jean) fell to the ground and then ran in the direction of the grassy knoll." (20) Geraldo asked Jean why she had run up the knoll to which she replied: "As the series of shots rang out, I thought I saw someone firing from the grassy knoll, from the fence behind there." After Geraldo's reminder of what the Warren Commission had concluded, Jean elaborated: "I heard the shots ringing out. I looked -of course - I was looking around. My friend Mary got down on the ground and said 'Get down, they're shooting.' But I was too caught up in the moment and all this is taking place so quickly. And there was a rifle blast from behind the fence on the grassy knoll." It should be noted that although Jean had testified in 1964 to believing the shots came from the knoll because of the sound, she had never stated having seen a gunman behind the picket fence. By 1988, however, she had become certain she had actually seen the assassin.
Jean again described chasing after a man running towards the tracks from the TSBD, seemingly the only thing moving. (No mention is made of any other spectators heading in the same direction.) Jean indicated to Geraldo that she began looking for "the running man," whom she believed was heading for the area where she had noticed the gunman. At this point she was stopped by a "Secret Service man" who demanded that she come with him and turn over the photos in her pocket. When she replied that she had to catch the man she was pursuing, the alleged agent "put some sort of hold" on Jean's neck which was "extremely painful." At this point she was forceably escorted to the courthouse and told to "smile" as though nothing was wrong (even though the President had just been killed). Before Geraldo moved on to his next guest (Jim Tague), Jean briefly described being questioned by the Secret Service in regard to the number of shots fired, which she insisted was between four and six.
An excellent three-part series on the assassination by Edward Oxford appeared in AMERICAN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY beginning in November, 1988, also featuring Jean's revised version of events:
"..'There was a flash of light from the grassy knoll. I thought it was the good guys and the bad guys. Shots from the back. Then..shooting from the front. I believe I heard four to six shots in all.
"Mary tried to pull me to the ground. I stood there. I wanted to find out what was happening. People seemed frozen at first. Then I noticed one man, though, moving from the front of the Depository building, hurrying towards that parking lot behind the grassy knoll. He had on a hat and an overcoat.
"I went back there looking for him. Then a guy in plain clothes came up to me and flashed some I.D. on me. He said he was with the Secret Service. He said, 'You need to come with me' - and took me over to the Sheriff's office to question me." (21)
Despite new twists in Jean's account on both Geraldo's show and in the Oxford
piece, she at least no longer suggested that the "running man"
looked like Jack Ruby.
Jean also appeared on a two-hour Jack Anderson Fox Network special in early November, 1988, revealing that her children had been threatened in the past. Later in the program Jean described the man "..moving towards the tracks..rather quickly d something said to me: 'Go get him!'" However, she made no reference to seeing an assassin behind the fence, or smoke and a flash of light.
The most complete summary of Jean's revised recollections which Oliver Stone drew from in the making of JFK can be found in Jim Marrs' 1989 book, CROSSFIRE (both Jean and Jim were active members of a research group in the Dallas area which met on a monthly basis). According to Marrs (22), who had interviewed Jean at length, the primary motivation for Jean and Mary being in Dealey Plaza that fateful day was not to see the President, but to take pictures "..of a Dallas police motorcycle officer. Hill had just moved to Dallas from Oklahoma and Moorman was showing her the city, as well as trying to get her a date with the policeman, who was escorting the motorcade." A police officer allowed them to stand on the south side of Elm "..after some flirting," as Jean hoped to date the motorcylist, who had put her in a "..cops and robbers frame of mind." Reference was made to the "Honest Joe's Pawn Shop" van, which allegedly was allowed to drive in front of the TSBD to the parking lot. Jean was so suspicious that she commented to her friend jokingly about the possibility of "murderers" being aboard.
As the motorcade approached, Jean recalled Kennedy being hit as he began "..turning toward us.." - as opposed to turning towards his wife, which the Zapruder film clearly shows to be the case.
Then suddenly "..a bullet hit his head and took the top off." Again, Jean repeated having ignored Mary's plea to get down, contrary to evidence, as she:
"'..tried to see where the shots came from. Everything seemed frozen. I saw a man fire from behind the wooden fence. I saw a puff of smoke and some sort of movement on the Grassy Knoll where he was..Then I saw a man walking briskly in front of the Texas School Book Depository. He was the only person moving. Everybody else seemed to be frozen with shock. Because of my earlier thoughts, I became suspicious of this man and thought he might be connected with that truck I saw.'"
After running up the knoll she had no success in locating either man "..but
she claimed that on the following Sunday morning she recognized TV photos of
Jack Ruby as the man she had seen in the front of the Depository."
Shortly after her experience on the knoll, Jean claims "..she was taken
into custody by two men who identified themselves as Secret Service
agents." In this 1989 account, Jean was reunited with Mary Moorman at
the sheriff's office; contrary to her 1964 testimony, the Dallas reporter had
only brought Mary to the pressroom.
Later in Marrs' book, he returns to his lengthy interview with Jean, as she describes the altercation which supposedly occurred west of the TSBD with the alleged Secret Service agents (23). After being told to come with them, Jean insisted that she had to find her friend Mary (as opposed to finding the "running man" as she stated on GERALDO), but was forceably escorted to a small room at the sheriff's office as though she was a suspect. Jean felt that she had been observed by agents from the building who had "..then sent those two guys to come and get me. I mean, I wasn't too hard to find that day - wearing a red raincoat." She also told Marrs that when Mary's photos were finally returned to her (six in all) after several weeks, two of them "..had the backgrounds mutilated." (No such comment was made by Mary when she appeared on part III of "THE MEN WHO KILLED KENNEDY" broadcast by A&E in June, 1992; Jean did not make an appearance on the program. I asked her about this at the Sudbury conference in August, 1993 and she simply indicated having had some kind of disagreement with the producer, Nigel Turner.)
With the release of Oliver Stone's film JFK in December, 1991, Jean's account of what she supposedly experienced and saw on November 22, 1963 was dramatically re-enacted, based on a combination of Warren Commission documents, earlier cited references in CROSSFIRE, and an interview with Jean by Oliver Stone himself. (24)
Mixing fact with fiction (as he does throughout the film), Stone includes a scene on the south side of Elm featuring New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, along with assistant Lou Ivon and Jean Hill (25), who describes her experience four years earlier:
"I...and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this flash of light in the bushes and that last shot..I looked up and saw smoke from the Knoll..everything was frozen..except this one guy..running from the Depository towards the railroad tracks. And that was the same guy on TV two days later shooting Oswald. That was Jack Ruby. No question about it."(26)
While the assassination scene is shown in dramatic flashes, Jean continues her commentary:
"It was him I was chasing up the grassy knoll, thinking our guys had shot back, and maybe we got one of them. I don't know what I would have done if I had caught him, but I knew something terrible had happened and somebody had to do something. I never did catch him. All I saw in the parking area were railroad workers and Dallas' finest."
As she had described to Jim Marrs, two Secret Service agents appear and force
Jean to go with them rather than allowing her to continue looking for the "running
man," demanding that she turn over her pictures. (Reference is again
made to two of them being mutilated.)
Jean describes being interrogated by two men who refuse to accept her belief that four to six shots were fired, insisting she heard echoes. It is also emphasized by Jean in her conversation with Garrison that the agents' knowledge of three bullets seems suspicious so early in the investigation, a point that had been made in BEST EVIDENCE (27). (However, they could have been referring to the empty shells found on the sixth floor.) Contrary to Jean's description to Arlen Specter in 1964, her character in JFK is ordered not to talk to anyone about hearing more than three shots (Jean told me in 1987 that her testimony had been altered, but if so, why was the reference to "four to six shots" left intact?).
Shortly before release of JFK, Jean made her first appearance at an assassination conference at the first annual Assassination Symposium on John F. Kennedy (A.S.K.) held in Dallas (28), as part of the "Eyewitnesses" panel (29). Reporter Todd Copilevitz of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS provided the following summary (with a large photo of "the lady in red" signing autographs):
The truth be told, Jean Hill went to Dealey Plaza trying to attract the attention of a cute police officer. But that alone probably wouldn't have drawn 300 people to listen intently to her every word 28 years later.
No, Ms. Hill was the center of attention Friday morning because for the first time she was describing publicly what she saw in Dealey Plaza the day that President John F. Kennedy was killed.
And for the assassination buffs gathered in Dallas for the three-day Assassination Symposium..her account was captivating..
..For many of the people attending the conference, this was why they made the trip from 30 states and five countries. Seven eyewitnesses to either the shooting or the handling of the president's body were there to tell their tales and take questions..
..Ms. Hill, a third-grade teacher from H.S. Thompson Learning Center, told of persuading a police officer to let her and a friend stand in the median so they could get a better look at the president. 'Well, actually there were a couple cute motorcycle officers that we were interested in, and they couldn't see us if we were in a crowd,' she said.
The two women were looking at the book depository and the grassy knoll on Elm Street west of the depository - where conspiracy theorists believe the fatal shot came from -when the shots started to ring out. Ms. Hill insists that she saw two gunmen, including one who was firing from behind a picket fence on the knoll.
She decided to chase one of the men as he ran, but two men in trench coats grabbed her by the shoulder and instead took her to the Dallas County Records Building. There, she said they disputed her account off hearing four to six shots, and then issued a stern warning:
'You would be very wise to keep your mouth shut,' she recalled one of the men telling her. 'I never have been that wise, I guess.'
Through the years Ms. Hill has never made a secret of what she saw. Although she has answered questions from some authors she has been hesitant to discuss it with people investigating the conspiracy.
Then this spring, movie director Oliver Stone came to visit. He was working on JFK, his soon-to-be-released movie..'Oliver had dinner with me and really was the one who gave me the courage to tell my story' she said.
So she has collaborated with Dallas author Bill Sloan for JFK: THE LAST DISSENTING WITNESS, which is due out next year. In the meantime, she saw her experience recreated in the Dealey Plaza scenes of Mr. Stone's movie.
The combination of the movie and her book is likely to lead to more speaking engagements, Ms. Hill conceded. Her appearance Friday already brought a request to appear on THE MAURY POVICH SHOW.
It's all rather overwhelming for a woman who's real motivation that infamous day was landing a date. Which begs the question about the success of her romantic endeavour. 'Yeah, I definitely caught his eye,' she said. But that's one of the secrets she is keeping."(30)
Jean's appearance on the Povich talk show (along with Dr. Cyril Wecht, a
veteran assassination guest) was one of several she was to make in the coming
months, being introduced as not only an eyewitness but as a JFK technical
advisor to boot. Reference again was made to the unidentified policeman who was
of primary interest to both Jean and Mary. Jean described seeing Kennedy's hand
go up as though he was preparing to wave as shots rang out, not realizing that
he and Connally had already been struck. At this point, she "..saw a
flash of light and a puff of smoke from the knoll in front" (31),
realizing that shots were being fired from that direction. In response to a
question as to how far she was from the car, Jean now claimed to be close enough
to have actually touched it (the Altgens photo shows otherwise.) She also
mentioned that Kennedy's "..blood and everything splattered my
boyfriend's motorcycle, and it was just horrible..Everything was so still. We
were all in shock; it was such a traumatic event."
We hear once more about "the running man," "the search for the man on the knoll," "the Secret Service men with the painful grips demanding her photos," "the 'Kafka-like' interrogation," and "the alterations made in Arlen Specter's interview." Povich also asked Jean about the lengthy list of dead witnesses which caused her to decline a request to testify at the Shaw trial. She had allegedly been told by a Garrison aide (Bethell or Oser) that she was only "..one of three witnesses left alive," which Povich actually seemed to believe.
Jean made a brief appearance on the TODAY show along with Judge Burt Griffin, a former Warren Commission lawyer, and others, during a week of ten-minute reports and interviews. Jean was asked what she saw, and replied that she saw "..someone shooting from the knoll, from back behind the fence..a flash of light and a puff of smoke." Footage of the television interview from Nov. 22, 1963 was also shown in which Jean had described her immediate recollections:
"..just as Mary started to take the picture and the President became right even with us, two shots rang out and he grabbed his chest, and there was a pain on his face and fell across towards Jackie, and she fell over on him and said, 'My God! He's shot."' (32)
Jean also told the host that after the shooting she was "..taken into
custody" and was "..also interviewed by the Warren
Commission" (actually by Specter on their behalf), who kept telling her
that she didn't "..hear but three shots," while she insisted
she heard more. Jean managed to give a brief plug for her soon-to-be-published
book, followed by a comment from Griffin, who indicated having read Jean's
testimony. He pointed out that "..no one told her how many shots were
fired," remarking that he recalled Jean having stated that she saw "..a
white, fluffy dog (in the car)" to which Jean replied: "I knew
that would come back to haunt me today." The host promptly came to
Jean's defense by mentioning that "..it was confused with some
flowers." Jean pointed out that "..when you are looking at
something, you are not seeing with your peripheral vision" - and yet,
that would have been necessary in order to notice anything on the knoll, while
at the same time looking at Kennedy's head.
Jean made yet another appearance on OPRAH WINFREY, preceding a staunch supporter, director Oliver Stone. Prior to introducing Jean, a scene from JFK featuring Jean, Garrison (Costner) and his assistant was shown to the receptive audience. Jean certainly was pleased with Stone's film, having seen it seven times, and thought that Ellen McElduff had done "..an admirable job.." in portraying her. She also praised Stone for his "..meticulous attention to detail.." (which has become a very debatable point), letting Oprah know that he had, in fact, "..inspired (her) to be more than you can be.." - that led her to co-write her book, which, of course, she deftly slipped into the conversation.
Oprah asked Jean if the dialogue involving her character was accurate to which Jean agreed was the case:
..the motorcade comes around, I did see the flash of light, the puff of smoke, at the moment the President's head was ripped off..on the grassy knoll, which I, by the way, named it..but, it was horrible; it was a very traumatic time.."
In response to how she reacted to the news that Oswald was the assassin, Jean
stated that "..he couldn't have..I seen (sic) one gunman.." As
to the final report by the Warren Commission, Jean felt that from the way she
had been treated, "..they were trying to perpetuate a coverup..They
tried to distort my testimony, twist my words, and threaten me not to
talk." Oprah wondered why Jean was still alive unlike other witnesses,
which she suggested was, in part, from "..dating a policeman at the
time," who was able to provide protection (no reference was made to the
FBI providing that kind of protection). Also, Jean indicated that she also "..hushed..for
twenty-three years..I really believed them whey they said 'hush', so I
did." (But what about her interview with Summers in 1978, with Geraldo
in 1988 and Marrs in 1989?)
Shortly after Stone's appearance, he made a point of mentioning that the man who had interviewed Jean in 1964 was the same man who interrogated Anita Hill, namely Arlen Specter, as a slight gasp was heard from the audience.
In the spring of 1992, Jean appeared on another Fox Network special entitled "JFK CONSPIRACY: FINAL ANALYSIS" hosted by James Earl Jones. She was introduced as "..a grade school teacher (who) has feared for her life for the last 29 years.. and just last week she received another death threat on the telephone." Reference was also made to her new book. Jones asked Jean what the caller had said to which she replied:
"Well, he thought that I'd learned my lesson and had learned to shut up, but..they found out I had a book coming out and if I said anything in the book I would not live to enjoy it."
In regard to Jones' next question about the assassination, Jean gave the following response:
"I went down there to take a picture of the President and also a good-looking motorcycle cop..(I was) looking for a good place to be seen and wearing a red raincoat so I could be seen. Just as my friend started to take a Polaroid picture of the President as his car started coming abreast, the shots rang out..I jumped out on the street to yell at him to look this way and shots rang out. He grabbed his coat and that was the horrible head shot."
Jones asked how many shots she heard to which she replied: "Four to six." He also asked her if she had seen a gunman:
"I saw smoke, a puff of smoke and a flash of light, where someone was shooting from behind the fence."
Jones also made reference to "..two men claiming to be Secret Service agents (who) interrogated you after the assassination. What were you asked?" Jean replied:
"Well, they picked me up and took me to the Courts building and shoved me in a room where there were two other men I assumed to be Secret Service also, and they asked me what I had seen (and) I told them that I had seen the President hit, that I saw a shooter from the knoll and that I'd heard four to six shots. Three bullets is all they had, three bullets was all they were willing to say right then.'
Jones wondered if Jean had gone "..to Washington to speak to Commission" leading to her next response:
"No, because my boyfriend who was a policeman got word that possibly I would be killed on that trip and so I did not go, but not long after the Warren Commission came to Dallas and they came out after me to Parkland Hospital and I was the only non-medical person interviewed at Parkland.."
Continuing on the same theme, Jones wondered if Jean was "..ever interviewed by the Warren Commission?":
"Oh, yes. I was interviewed by Arlen Specter who was very, very..well, he tried very hard to discredit everything I said. He accused me of all kinds of things from..a shabby marital affair to seeking publicity to just down right lying."
At this point in the program, a telephone caller directed a question to Jean about the Watergate break-in which, of course, only produced a puzzled look, followed by a second call asking her if she was sorry for having spoken up:
"No, I've never been sorry I spoke up..a little bit scared that I spoke up, but I wish I had told the truth then, but I don't think I'd be alive to tell the truth today had I spoke up so completely then."
Jones informed his audience that "..later on in the show Mrs. Hill
will tell us about one of the attempts on her life," although she was
not questioned again as it turned out. (As a lead-in to the next topic, Jones
mentioned that "..as many as 177 people involved in this case died
Despite the fact that Jean allegedly was now being threatened for coming forward, she continued to describe her recollections, providing an "on the scene" account for the 1992 Warner Home Video entitled BEYOND JFK: THE QUESTION OF CONSPIRACY. While standing on the south side of Elm St. in a red dress, she recalled jumping off the curb and yelling to the President to "..look this way" so that her friend could take a picture (Mary Moorman was not interviewed for the documentary). At that moment, "..the shots rang out." Jean also stated that as the president's car "..got approximately towards me, it came over into this lane" - a point not made previously, and not correct. "I jumped back on the curb and his head was blown off right in front of me." (Had she not jumped back she would have been run over by the motorcyclists.)
Jean pointed up to the grassy knoll and the area from which Zapruder had taken his famous home movie, stating quite emphatically that "..the man was shooting from..just this side of the tree, that large tree, and that's where I saw the shots come from." Jean made no such statement back on November 22, 1963. In addition, witness Ed Hoffman was shown behind the picket fence further down from the large tree (and consistent with the findings of the HSCA's acoustics panel), which certainly failed to corroborate Jean's account. Curiously, Jean failed to mention having seen a flash of light and smoke from the trees, along with the running man, and Secret Service agents.
Whether or not there is any reason for Jean to fear for her life is a debatable point, but it certainly is a major theme of JFK: THE LAST DISSENTING WITNESS (Pelican: Grema, La.) by Bill Sloan (with Jean Hill), published midway through 1992. One might even suggest that referring to death threats was a marketing strategy. The obvious problem in accepting the many allegations made in the book is the fact that absolutely no documentation is provided.
Had the book been written four years earlier, it might have been possible to speak to Billy Joe Martin, the motorcyclist whom Jean was allegedly involved with (referred to as "J.B. Marshall"). According to the co-authors, he had died in 1989 prior to granting an interview with a national magazine. It should be noted that "B.J." was, indeed, interviewed by journalist Edward Oxford for his three-part series in AMERICAN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY. According to Oxford, "..B.J. Martin..today works for a sheriff's office"(33), with no indications that he had gone into farming in 1974 as stated by Sloan.
A second possible source of support for Jean's allegations about both the assassination and its aftermath would be her friend, Mary Moorman. In fact, early in the book Bill Sloan points out that "It should be noted, and Jean readily admits, that Mary's recollections of the period immediately after the shooting do not necessarily coincide with Jean's own. Differences exist in their recollections of when and where they were reunited following Jean's run to the knoll." (34) It could very well be that Mary has agreed not to comment any further on Jean's account given the legal-sounding qualifications included early in the book. (It is also noted that Mary did not see a shooter on the knoll, nor the running man, and that Jean had supposedly signed a blank affidavit with Mary's statement merely repeated, thus explaining away the absence of Jean's allegations from her official statement.) (35)
Jean also makes frequent reference to Gordon Shanklin, who was in charge of the Dallas FBI office, and who had allegedly ordered Jim Hosty to destroy the "Oswald note." If her account is true, the number of FBI interviews conducted with Jean were far more than the two cited earlier in this report, and were for the purpose of harassing Jean into accepting the official verdict that a lone assassin killed Kennedy. Unfortunately, Shanklin is not alive to respond to this charge.
Another possible source of confirmation for some of the events described might be Jean's ex-husband, referred to as "Bill Hill," or their two children, one of whom is a lawyer today and the other married to a lawyer. However, Mr. Hill was not interviewed by Sloan, and it's not likely her children would make any critical remarks.
Senator Arlen Specter, of course, is the object of considerable contempt (which Mrs. Burt Griffin assured me by phone was totally unjustified). He is accused of "purposely set(ting) out to humiliate and intimidate her (Jean) in every way possible." Jean claims that Specter reprimanded her for being uncooperative with federal officials, for being unreliable as a witness, for trying to obtain publicity and notoriety, for conducting a "shabby extramarital affair," and for having an "overactive imagination."(36) Supposedly Jean's interview was "heavily edited, completely distorted, and shamelessly fabricated," while the "meaning of-her remarks were altered and her actual words changed" (37) in order to make her look crazy. The fact that the interview with Specter actually took place at Parkland Hospital rather than the U.S. Attorney's office is played up, as is the use of a public stenographer rather than a court reporter.
As a result of her treatment at the hands of Specter, Jean supposedly became convinced that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving the highest levels of government, a conviction that not even Jim Garrison reached until several years later.
Certainly Jean had some contact with a number of writers and investigators in the early years, who could provide some possible support as well. David Lifton, for instance, had spoken to her in November, 1965, as pointed out in his book, BEST EVIDENCE (although today he does not recall having phoned); he made the following remark:
"..She was not specific, but she hinted, melodramatically, that something was being hidden. She stuck by her story that shots came from across the street from where she was standing and characterized the Warren Report as a fraud and a hoax." (38)
It seems surprising that Jean would be willing to make such a comment to an
unknown researcher over the phone if she feared for her life. Mark Lane, of
course, also had some contact with her, but was unable to convince Jean to be
interviewed for his documentary (RUSH TO JUDGMENT). However, given her role as a
teacher at a time when being outspoken was associated with the anti-war movement
and the drug subculture, it is not surprising that a "radical" like
Lane was unpersuasive (his own February, 1967 interview with PLAYBOY magazine
didn't enhance his image either).
Writers such as Fred Cook, Josiah Thompson, Sylvia Meagher, and Harold Weisberg all made reference to Jean, but seemed content to simply quote from the record, and presumably made no effort to contact her directly. Later on, British writer Anthony Summers was able to interview Jean as mentioned earlier, but oddly enough this is not mentioned in the book; of course, such an admission would conflict with the theme of being too fearful to speak up.
It is true, as she describes, that Garrison wanted Jean to testify in New Orleans, but again her decision not to get involved might have been primarily due to her role in the community as a teacher and not out of fear of reprisal. I did confirm with Tom Bethell that he and Alvin Oser visited her home, as assistants to Garrison, but the only thing that Bethell remembers from the experience was her behaviour at the time, which he described to me over the phone as "strange."
Given her involvement with a married man and the fact that she had earlier gone through a divorce, in addition to the trauma of witnessing the assassination, it is probably fair to say that Jean Hill was not emotionally stable at the time, nor was she for some time to come, as she readily admits. Garrison had more than enough witnesses from Dallas to convince the jury that the Warren Report was a whitewash, and might have had mixed feelings about putting Jean on the stand anyway (as Gerry Spence did years later).
A final source of possible confirmation for what Jean has claimed would be the researchers in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, who have been investigating the case for many years, including Jim Marrs, Larry Harris, Mary Ferrell, Gary Shaw, Gary Mack, Jack White, Penn Jones Jr., and until his death in early 1994, Larry Howard. However, to a certain extent, as reflected in the book, a "mutual admiration society" has developed amongst some of those mentioned above, to the point where Jean is allowed to make totally unsubstantiated statements without at all being challenged (such as her claim to have stood throughout the assassination, or to have been escorted by agents to the courthouse). It could be in part because some of Jean's allegations complement the "Badgeman" theory or the belief that the FBI and Secret Service were involved in the assassination (or at least the cover-up.)
Jean's credibility was greatly enhanced by the whole-hearted support she received from both Oliver Stone and Kevin Costner, as well as an aging Jim Garrison (who had barely mentioned her in his 1988 book). On the other hand, some of the most glaring contradictions in her statements between 1963 and the present were emphasized in the November 19, 1993 CBS special (which featured an "on the scene" description by Jean followed by FBI employee Ferris Rookstool's critical analysis). In addition, author Gerald Posner tore into Jean's recollections in his 1993 bestseller, CASE CLOSED (Random House: NY), which was earlier one of several excerpts highlighted in U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT (August 30-Sept. 6, 1993 issue).
It seems to me that, although we all want to solve the JFK assassination riddle, we have to always be on guard against blindly accepting "evidence" that would not hold up in a courtroom, especially "revised evidence," as in the case of Jean Hill. For those readers eager to accept everything that is stated in JFK: THE LAST DISSENTING WITNESS, consider the following points:
1) Jean and Mary were not the only bystanders on the south
side of Elm St. (see p. 19);
2) Jean could not have almost touched Kennedy's car by merely stepping momentarily off the curb as the Altgens' photo confirms (p. 22);
3) Jean did not see the President "driven backwards and sideways", according to her previous testimony (p. 22);
4) Jean did sit down along with Mary Moorman contrary to what she now recalls (p. 23);
5) Jean was not necessarily in a good position to see a shooter on the knoll, describing looking "down" on Nov. 22, 1963 (p. 23);
6) Jean claims to have seen a single policeman with a rifle behind the knoll who looked suspicious, but referred to seeing many policemen there on Nov. 22 1963 (p. 24);
7) Jeans claims she went back to the south side of Elm to get Mary after being forced to go with agents to the courthouse, contrary to her earlier statements (p. 27);
8) Jean's affidavit was not identical to Mary's but ten lines longer, contrary to what she now states (p. 32);
9) Mary's photo did not appear in the Nov. 22, 1963 DTH, only reference to it; it appeared on Nov. 24 (p. 33);
10) Suspicious reference is made to Herbert Philbrick, who wrote I LED THREE LIVES, but no reference is made to it being Oswald's favourite TV show as a child (p. 39);
11) Even though Jean quotes from her letters to "J.B.", none are provided as documentation (p. 42 and 51);
12) Jean is supposedly threatened over the phone with reference to her claim of having seen a second assassin, which, of course, she did not refer to at that time (p. 43);
13) Jean refers to an interview with both an agent of the FBI and one from the CIA, which is not documented (p. 61);
14) Jean is asked about seeing a second gunman, but had not made such a claim at that time (p. 63);
15) J.B. claims to Jean that her notes to him were taken by the FBI from his locker, and yet she quotes from them (p. 66);
16) J.B. makes Jean sound like a much more important witness than she really was, but we have no idea if B.J. Martin actually felt that way (p. 69);
17) J.B. tells Jean that the FBI is using their relationship to discredit her, but it would appear that Jean's own behaviour wasn't helping her "image" (p. 75);
18) J.B. and Jean's early suspicion of a "monstrous coverup" is not documented by notes or diary entries (p. 84);
19) J.B.'s post-assassination hunting trip seems to suggest that he wasn't as suspicious as he is made out to be (p. 85);
20) Jean's claim of receiving a subpoena to appear in Washington DC is not verified in any way (p. 90);
21) Jean indicates having been phoned by Mark Lane while he was in Dallas, although in her testimony she states that he called from New York (p. 95);
22) Jean was interviewed by the FBI to verify what Lane had claimed during his Warren Commission appearance and not because of his phone call to her (p. 98);
23) Jean was supposedly booked on the same flight to Washington as Marina Oswald in mid-March, but Marina testified in early February (p. 99);
24) Jean's interview at Parkland Hospital likely was due to the fact that Specter found it more convenient (p. 100);
25) Jean had stated that she didn't know who Connally was, being new to Dallas, when, in fact, she had moved there in 1962 and was a teacher (p. 103);
26) A letter from Hoover to Rankin is displayed, which really is an attempt to discredit Mark Lane, not Jean (p. 106);
27) Jean seemed to feel she was the only person who had heard more than three shots, which was not the case (p. 107);
28) There is no evidence that Lyndon Johnson ducked down during the motorcade prior to the shots being heard (p. 112);
29) A Secret Service car was always behind the President's, contrary to the statement made by J.B. (p. 114);
30) Reference to Nixon's suggestion that Kennedy might "dump" LBJ in a November 22 press conference was obviously a political move on Nixon's part to weaken the Democrats and fan the flames of discord over the Bobby Baker scandal (p. 116);
31) Jean and J.B. are convinced that Johnson knew that there was a conspiracy, which is possibly true, since there had been earlier threats on Kennedy's life by extreme right-wingers, and because Johnson also knew about ongoing attempts to kill Castro (p. 117);
32) Jean's comment to J.B. that they know things "that nobody else in the world knows" sounds like a cheap imitation of Woodward & Bernstein (p. 121);
33) Jean's reference to Shanklin trying to get her to retract what she had stated because the "American people need reassurance now, not alarm and confusion" would suggest that her allegations were both significant and well known, both debatable points (p. 123);
34) Jean claims to have discovered three cameras missing from her home, which reappear two days later, suggesting that she didn't need to rely on Mary Moorman to take the pictures (p. 125);
35) Despite another crank call, Jean states that she could not get an unlisted phone number, because her principal wanted teachers to be available for parents to call, even though they could easily call her at school (which is the proper procedure anyway) (p. 133);
36) J.B. claims that there is a "contract" out on Jean's life; for all we know, his job was to make Jean become paranoid to discredit her (p. 136);
37) Even though Jean felt threatened, she never moved back to Oklahoma or elsewhere, or even changed her name (p. 140);
38) A call from a reporter referring to a list of suspicious deaths came well before Penn Jones first made it an issue in 1966 (p. 145);
39) Jean provides no documentation to support her contention that her car was tampered with (p. 150);
40) Jean's willingness to speak to David Lifton on the phone in 1965 suggests she wasn't that fearful (p. 162);
41) Reference is made to Jean becoming upset at seeing herself on the cover of SATURDAY EVENING POST (December 2, 1967). In fact, it is a black and white photo showing a woman with dark hair taken from the Nix film (who can also be seen in the Zapruder film and has since been identified), and is not Jean (although several photos inside show her, including one where she is sitting down) (p. 166);
42) Jean claims that Josiah Thompson contacted her, but he makes no such comment in his book (p. 167);
43) Jean's suicide attempt was not necessarily related to the assassination controversy (p. 169-72);
44) Jean claims that Alvin Oser suspected that her testimony had been altered, which Garrison does not refer to in either of his books (p. 176);
45) Jean's refusal to testify in New Orleans could have been due to pressure from her principal (p. 183);
46) Jean's involvement with B.J. Martin (referred to as (J.B. Marshall) was not as extensive as depicted in the book according to Mary Ferrell (p. 189-95);
47) Jean's unstable personal life from the late sixties on possibly could be related to the assassination, but was more likely due to personal problems, given her parent's divorce when she was a child, her early marriage and subsequent divorce, difficulties related to teaching and other professions she tried, and the demands of being a single parent (p. 195-202);
48) Jean was suspicious towards events surrounding Watergate and Ford becoming president, and yet, on the Fox special referred to earlier, Jean had no comment to make and seemed puzzled, when a caller brought up the subject of Watergate (p. 204);
49) Reference is made to Jean's serious illness in 1978 which possibly accounts for the HSCA not being able to contact her (p. 207);
50) Her vow to never talk about the assassination conflicts with having agreed to be interviewed by Summers for his 1980 book (p. 207);
51) Jean's attempt to bury herself in romance novels in 1983 possibly is a reflection of her real interests at that time and since, more than a determination to block out the assassination (p. 207);
52) Even though Jean believed no one was interested in the subject any longer, books like BEST EVIDENCE, CONSPIRACY, and "THEY'VE KILLED THE PRESIDENT!'' were all successful (p. 207);
53) Jean's pleasure in not being doubted by the assassination research group despite the revisions in her account would suggest that the group wasn't being critical enough, leading to later acceptance of the Ricky White story (p. 212);
54) Jean's account of being rebuffed by London Weekend Television is in complete conflict with Mark Redhead's recollections as discussed earlier (p. 214);
55) The statement that the LWT's mock trial was a flop and critically attacked is not true (see reviews in "Echoes of Conspiracy" newsletter); it has been shown four times in the U.S. (p. 216);
56) Penn Jones' praise towards Jean for sticking to her story suggests that he might not be aware of her revisions (p. 217);
57) Jean wondered why J.B. never mentioned Tom Tilson, which was possibly because he knew that his story was a hoax; (p. 218);
58) Jean accuses Specter of having tried to intimidate her, but the published interview doesn't give that impression at all (p. 219);
59) Jean's description of a confrontation with David Belin on "Geraldo" in Nov. 1988 must have occurred during a commercial break, because it does not appear in the transcript, nor do I recall such an incident when I watched the program (p. 220);
60) No reference is made to Mary Moorman's appearance on THE MEN WHO KILLED KENNEDY, or the fact that she was not included in the program;
61) No reference is made to Jane Rusconi, who was in charge of research for the film JFK, and Jean, surprisingly had never heard of Oliver Stone prior to his contact with her (p. 223);
62) Beverly Oliver's identity was alleged much earlier than is stated in the book (p. 228);
63) Reference is not made to the arrest records of the so-called "three tramps";
64) Despite the suggestion that Garrison had difficulty getting his book distributed, I had no problem obtaining it from our library in 1988 (p. 244);
65) Sloan states that Jean is "the most important surviving witness to the assassination" but, given the inconsistency of her testimony over the years and her absence on both the LWT mock trial as well as Nigel Turner's documentary, that point is debatable (p. 247);
66) Sloan seems to feel that far more Warren Commission documents are still classified than is the case, as I pointed out in my THIRD DECADE article (p. 248);
67) As pointed out earlier, B.J. Martin died after being interviewed for AMERICAN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, not before; the deaths of two other Dallas policemen ("Len McGuire" and Patrick Dean) in recent years couldn't possibly be considered suspicious; I spoke to Dean shortly before he died of cancer in 1988 by phone (p. 251);
68) Jean admits to having the occasional nightmare, which probably relates to some kind of childhood trauma, and not the assassination (p. 253).
In the course of my contact with Jean Hill beginning in the fall of 1987 (by means of a series of letters and the occasional phone call), I gradually began to question her credibility, and have come to the conclusion that she is no longer a reliable witness to the assassination and its aftermath. After meeting her at the initial A.S.K. conference, I sent Jean a number of critical questions, but in response, only received a friendly note (with her red business card enclosed), wondering what I thought of her book, which I have tried to answer by writing this report. Clearly, author Bill Sloan has made no attempt to corroborate what he has been told by "the lady in red." Hopefully, the reader will now be better able to make the distinction between fact and fiction in the course of reading JFK: THE LAST DISSENTING WITNESS.
1. Jean's initial interview
was broadcast by WBAP-TV, a Ft. Worth/Dallas NBC affiliate at 1:11 C.S.T. over
the phone; "As It Happened"-, PBS, Nov. 22, 1993.
2. DALLAS TIMES HERALD, Nov. 22, 1963, p. 17, included in THE ASSASSINATION STORY, compiled by Robert Surrey (American Eagle Publishers), 1964; thanks to Prof. Jerry Rose.
3. WARREN COMMISSION HEARINGS AND EXHIBITS, Volume 19, p. 479 and 487. Reference to this source cited hereafter as 19H479 and 19H487.
4. Volume XII of HSCA hearings and exhibits, p. 10, hereafter in format: XIIHSCA10. Note: In a letter from Hoover to Rankin dated April 2, 1964, he makes reference to an FBI report of SA Gemberling dated Nov. 30, 1963, presumably the same brief reference noted by the HSCA. In the same letter, Hoover also points out that Mark Lane had referred to Jean's claim of hearing four to six shots in his NATIONAL GUARDIAN article Feb. 18, 1964 (XXVH853).
9. Thompson, Josiah. SIX SECONDS IN DALLAS (Berkley: N.Y.). 1967, 1976 (paperback). pp. 129, 282.
10. NEW YORK TIMES, May 30, 1964, p. 5.
11. See Decker Exhibit in Volume 19 of W.C. Hearings & Exhibits.
12. "Some Unanswered Questions" by Fred Cook, THE NATION, June 13, 1966, pp. 705-715 and "Testimony of the Eyewitnesses" by Fred Cook, THE NATION, June 26, 1966, pp. 737-746.
13. PLAYBOY magazine, Feb. 1967, p. 67; Note: Lane commented that there was "..definitely an atmosphere of fear in Dallas surrounding the whole question of the assassination."
14. XXIIIHSCA12; Note: I raised this point to Jean during the question and answer segment following the "Eyewitnesses" panel at the 1991 ASK conference in Dallas, and she assured me and the audience that the HSCA would have been able to contact her quite easily. However, she did not mention having been hospitalized that year as pointed out in her book.
15. Summers, Anthony. CONSPIRACY (Fontana Paperbacks: London). 1980. p. 52.
16. Ibid, pp. 82-3; Note: see "Is Tom Tilson a Credible Witness?", BACK CHANNELS, Vol. 3, No. 1 & 2, p. 22.
17. ECHOES OF CONSPIRACY (newsletter) by Paul Hoch, Vol. 8, No. 4, Dec. 8, 1980.
18. Letter from Mark Redhead to Peter Whitmey, no date (postmarked Oct. 9, 1992.)
19. See "Is Tom Tilson a Credible Witness?", BACK CHANNELS.
20. JOURNAL GRAPHICS transcript, Nov. 22, 1988 (GERALDO).
21. "Destiny in Dallas" by Edward Oxford, AMERICAN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, Nov. 1988, p. 16.
22. Marrs, Jim. CROSSFIRE (Carroll and Graf: N.Y.). 1989. pp. 37-39, 56.
23. Ibid, pp. 322-324.
24. See footnote on p. 122 of JFK: THE BOOK OF THE FILM (Applause Books: N.Y.), 1992, edited by Jane Rusconi.
25. Ibid, pp. 122-23.
27. Lifton, David. BEST EVIDENCE (Dell Books: N.Y.), 1980, 1982. p. 477n.
28. Held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Dallas, Nov. 14-16, 1991.
29. Along with Edna and Wayne Hartman, Ed Hoffman, Paul O'Connor, Aubrey Rike and Malcolm Summers; for some reason the Willis family, Dr. Crenshaw and Beverly Oliver failed to make scheduled appearances.
30. "Intriguing Tale", DALLAS MORNING NEWS by Todd Copilevitz, pp. 33 and 38A.
31. Derived from audio tape of broadcast in Dec. 1991.
32. Ibid; note: an excerpt of Jean's first statement to the media was shown.
33. AMERICAN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, Nov. 1988, p. 17.
34. Sloan, Bill (with Jean Hill). JFK: THE LAST DISSENTING WITNESS (Pelican: Grema, La.). 1992. p. 30.
35. Ibid, p. 31.
36. Ibid, p. 101.
38. BEST EVIDENCE, p. 55.
Note: Reference to Jean's testimony is also made by
Henry Hurt in his 1985 book REASONABLE DOUBT (Henry Holt & Co.:N.Y.).
Note: In a brochure written by Ms. Conover Hunt available at the entrance to the "Sixth Floor Exhibit" at the former TSBD in Dallas, 23 witnesses are listed including Mary Moorman but not Jean Hill, which she believes was "deliberate" in her case (letter from Jean Hill to Peter Whitmey, Jan. 8, 1992). Ms. Hunt insists this was not the case, but the list was related to an "exhibit panel" which includes Mary's photo (letter from Conover Hunt to Peter Whitmey, Aug. 24, 1992.)
Note: Although Jean was not the person shown on the cover of SATURDAY EVENING POST (Dec. 2, 1967) as she claims, she and Mary Moorman are shown on the cover of the 1964 book THE WITNESSES (Bantam: N.Y.) edited by the NYT (although neither her testimony nor her affidavit are included.)
Note: Recently, a digitized version of the Zapruder film has been released by MPI Home Video ("Image of an Assassination...") in both DVD and VHS formats - which show 64% more frame image information that previously available. In 1994, I was only able to confirm that Jean Hill was looking directly at President Kennedy as late as Frame 309, but the MPI versions of Zapruder's home movie clearly show her continuing to look at JFK at Frames 312-313 - the moment of the head shot. [01/99]