A Critique Of Mark Zaid And Dennis Ford's TTD Paper On Jean Hill's Memory

W. Anthony Marsh
Somerville, MA

      I have several criticisms of Mark Zaid and Dennis Ford's paper presented at the Third Decade conference in Providence, RI. While I agree with their premise that eyewitness testimony is often unreliable, I must object to some of the ways in which they distorted Jean Hill's statements. Please understand that I have never met her and have no vested interests in her reliability, which I also question. But, I do not believe we should win our argument by deception.
For example, they state that "Mrs. Hill mistakenly identifies the flowers Mrs. Kennedy had been given earlier as a little dog." That is their interpretation, not hers, and I believe incorrect. The roses given to Mrs. Kennedy were red, while Jean Hill's imagined dog was white. I think it is more likely that Jean Hill mistook Jackie's white gloves as a small white dog. I don't think that Jean Hill was ever able to correctly identify what the object was which she had mistaken for a small white dog.
In several places in their paper they refer to Jean Hill or others having seen Secret Service "agents", plural. That is incorrect. In her testimony and almost every other there is only one man mentioned who flashed Secret Service ID. There is scant testimony of others who saw more than that one Secret Service "agent." We have the testimony of Patrolman Smith that he challenged one person who claimed to be a Secret Service agent. They stated that Smith encountered "agents", plural. This is incorrect. So, it doesn't make Jean Hill crazy to claim that one person on the grassy knoll claimed to be a Secret Service agent. Only if one misquotes her and makes it appear that there were several false Secret Service agents does it make her look crazy.
Several people have questioned whether it was a normal thing for a young lady to rush up the grassy knoll to catch an assassin. but if you look closely at the films such as Bell's and read the testimony of other witnesses, many people, including women and children, rushed up the grassy knoll in search of the assassin. She does not have to justify why she ran towards the knoll, any more than all the other people who ran towards the knoll.
They attempt to show that Hill's memory underwent transformation by pointing out that she originally said the men on the grassy knoll were policemen and later that they were Secret Service agents. In her book she clearly states that she saw one uniformed policeman and then a man came up from behind her and claimed to be a Secret Service agent, quickly joined by another man who detained her. These are 3 distinctly different individuals. Likewise, the running man was not the same as the grassy knoll gunman. I believe she wanted to catch the grassy knoll gunman, not the running man. Perhaps she thought that the running man was trying to catch the grassy knoll gunman.
This is a minor point, but I don't think we should blame Hill for the culmination of her story noted in footnote 61. It was probably written by her co-author Bill Sloan.
As for their speculation about rehearsal, I would go even further and suspect that she was coached by some Dallas-based researcher. Instead of transformation, I believe her accounts show signs of event insertion. She claims to have seen things which she could not possibly have seen, but which other researchers claimed happened.
They did not cite some examples from her book which clearly show that she could not have seen what she claimed to have seen. The most egregious is her identification of her boyfriend policeman J.B. Marshall riding at the left rear of the President's limousine. That motorcycle escort was B.J. Martin, not J.B. Marshall. Then she has that cyclist turning his motorcycle around and around in tight circles, shortly after the head shot. There are numerous films and photos which show Elm Street for almost every second of several minutes after the head shot and in no picture is there any indication of a police cyclist turning his motorcycle around and around in tight circles. And we know from photographic evidence and testimony that Martin continued on and accompanied the limo to Parkland Hospital.
Hill's version of Bobby Hargis's movements is a clear example of the type of event insertion and coaching I mentioned. She states that Hargis jumped off his cycle and stumbled up the hill in a crouch. In fact, many researchers believed for many years that it was Hargis who ran up the grassy knoll, when it was actually Haygood. Hargis got back on his cycle and rode around to the other side of the triple underpass.
In later portions of her book "J.B." seems to be the person who proposes the theories of who is behind the conspiracy. I submit that "J.B." is just a make-believe character to hide the true identity of the person who fed her all these theories. I believe that "J.B." is really a Dallas area researcher whose theory is that LBJ was the mastermind of the JFK assassination. "J.B."'s ridiculous story about Johnson ducking down even before the car turned onto Houston Street is typical of the same type of researcher who never bothers to check facts, but invents events which seem to implicate an individual whom he suspects. There is no photographic or eyewitness testimony that LBJ ducked down and in fact he had to be ordered to duck down after his Secret Service agent realized that shots had been fired.
Another example is "J.B."'s assertion that Johnson's Secret Service agents changed the motorcade route at the last minute to make the little jog onto Houston and cut over to Elm. Some researches mistakenly believed that the turn onto Houston was a last-minute decision. We can narrow that down a little further by the fact that "J.B." claimed that it was Johnson's agents who were responsible.
For these reasons I believe that Jean Hill's mistakes are not the result of altered memory, but instead represent event insertion by a researcher. This same problem may be responsible for the stories of Gordon Arnold and other "witnesses", so this is a problem which all researchers should understand and try to avoid.