JFK’s Assassination—‘For Your Eyes Only’—Manipulation Of The Evidence By The Dallas Police And Proof Of A Second Gunman


©2003 All Rights Reserved

By Frank A. Cellura, Attorney



      The linchpin of the Warren Commission’s conclusions that a lone assassin was exclusively responsible for the fatal gunshot wounds of President Kennedy and for the critical wounding of Texas Governor Connally was the claimed discovery at the southeast window on the sixth floor Texas School Depository building, two shells of which were directly below the window and a third a bit farther away from the wall and several feet west of the other two. These three cartridge shells supposedly represent three shots fired at the motorcade and comports with the three shot scenario adopted by the Warren Commission as the official version. One shot accounted for Kennedy’s back and neck wound and all of the missile wounds of the Governor resulting from the so-called “magic bullet” under a theory one round transited through both individuals, a second was the separate fatal head shot, and the third was a shot that must have missed the limousine and hit the street pavement or the concrete slab of a sewer which then ricocheted to strike a nearby bystander.[1] My purpose is not to expand upon the controversy over the popular two, three or four shot firing sequences nor the timing of the shots. The limitations of a single gunman theory in this regard have been well covered by other researchers. My focus instead will be on the supposed discovery of three expended 6.5-mm cartridge rounds at the sniper’s lair and then the supposed discovery just a short time later of a single live round that was in the chamber of the rifle. The Mannlicher-Carcano weapon was claimed to have been the one from which all the rounds were fired and was discovered abandoned between book storage boxes in another area on the sixth floor of the Depository.

      One striking anomaly comes from information found on the Dallas Police “Evidence Sheets” of which two variant forms exist. There has been some discussion of the discrepancies in the two reports and one version is not part of the official record.[2] This earlier unofficial version indicated that only two expended rounds and one live shell were forwarded to the F.B.I. by the Dallas Police.[3] There is further confirmation of delivery of only two spent rounds and one live round in an F.B.I. evidence report filed November 23, 1963. However, a second version of the Dallas Police “Evidence Sheets”, a version that was adopted in the official record,[4] indicated that there were three expended 6.5 mm. shells and one live round given over to the F.B.I. found near the window. Researcher Noel Twyman[5] contends the original evidence report was altered to conceal the fact that there were only two rounds discovered on the day of the assassination so as to provide confirmation that two successful shots were fired from the Depository window. However, it is basically unquestioned that while two rounds were transmitted to the F.B.I. by the Dallas Police late in the evening of the day of the assassination, November 22, 1963, to agents Charles Brown, Jr., and Vincent Drain, along with other relevant evidence the police had collected including the Mannlicher-Carcano weapon, there was a decision made by Dallas Police Captain Will Fritz to withhold from the F.B.I. one of the cartridge shells supposedly for “comparison purposes.” This third expended shell, shell no. 543,[6] was only finally relinquished to the F.B.I. on November 27, 1963[7] when the federal officials demanded its transfer. The rifle, cartridge cases and cartridge were picked up by the Dallas F.B.I., sent to Washington for examination, and would be returned to the Dallas Police within about twenty-four hours.



      What struck me about the Evidence Sheet documenting the transfer of several items from the Police to the F.B.I. was not as much the changes made to the report to show three rather than two expended shells being transmitted, as this might have been done to correct the record as the third shell was eventually remitted. What surprised me was the description in both reports concerning the evidence history regarding the single live round. In both reports, the Dallas Police failed to detail the fact the live round had supposedly been ejected from the chamber of the rifle upon the discovery of the hidden weapon upon examination of it by Captain Fritz and other detectives. This seemed strange and inexplicable. Instead, the original report contained an apparent single erroneous notation that the “live round 6.5” and two “ 6.5 spent rounds” were “Recovered by Depy. Sheriff Luke Mooney at 411 Elm, 6th Floor, southeast window” and the official report where the number of expended shells was changed from two to three an additional notation apparently added in changing the number of expended shells that stated “Found by Dep Sheriff Mooney, Picked up by Det. R. H. Sims, See pages I-130 & P-262.” Neither the original report nor the amended gives notice that the live round had to be ejected from the rifle breech by police authorities upon the discovery of the weapon after further scouring of the crime scene that occurred after the shells were found at the Depository window.

      Noel Twyman had claimed the Warren Commission failed to observe in its own photograph of the scene that it showed a live round and only two expended shells at the Depository window.[8] Twyman also postured that another photo of the scene in the Report reflected a crude alteration to change the appearance of the live round to make it appear as an expended shell. [9] However, I proceeded to compare these two photographs to a third photograph in the official record taken at a slightly different angle[10] and there appeared to be an artifact in the floor board near the wall facing where the cartridge case had become stuck that made it merely appear as a live round where that was not the case.

      I began a more thorough search of the evidentiary record in this regard. I found there to be complete and unwavering unanimity regarding the number of expended Mannlicher-Carcano cartridge shells that were discovered along the wall under the pair of windows at the southeastern corner of that warehouse building. Seven officials recall seeing three empty shell casings on the floor below the Depository window.[11] A handful of other law enforcement officers contend that shortly after these expended shells were discovered, a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was located the opposite end of the sixth floor Depository and one live round, the only one loaded in the weapon, was ejected from the breech. The weapon had been found amongst the boxes near the stairwell exit on the opposite end of the same floor where the assassin presumably was situated.

      No less than three different law enforcement officers also recall that there was an ejection of one live round from the rifle that was discovered hidden among boxes of stored books when Captain Fritz gingerly picked up the rifle and worked the bolt action.[12]

      It is critical to note, however, in this analysis that Officer Elmer J. Boyd did note the ejected piece to be a “shell” not a live round.[13]

      Upon first blush, the consistency of seven witnesses that three ejected hulls had been found at the Depository window was seemingly irrefutable. However, while the testimonial evidence regarding the circumstances of the post-assassination discovery of the three shells is seemingly conclusive, careful scrutiny of the record of the handling of the shells and careful study of the “assassin’s lair” photographs indicate that what became the official story of the origination of three shots from the Depository was simultaneously developed along with an alternative preferred two-shot scenario (This latter story would be more suitable in comporting with the physical limitations of time that faced a single sniper firing from a high angle at a moving target coming out of a blocked view of oak tree foliage).

      If there is any doubt from the photos in the official Warren Report or those appearing in Twyman’s book, take a look at the variation of Exhibit 510 that can be found on page 208 of the scarce publication entitled “Investigation of a Homicide” by Judy Whitson Bonner.[14] This photo has been incorporated into this manuscript. It presents compelling indication that the one shell is in fact a live round. Both the Bonner and Warren Commission photos are shown below for your study.



Bonner photo



WC photo


      With respect to the Commission Exhibit 716, this is a photo of the same scene taken at a slightly different angle closer to the outer wall, but of good resolution. Recalling the suspect round had slipped into the cavity between the floorboard and wall facing, the angle of this particular photo caused there to be more interference by the slight protrusion of the floorboard into the wall cavity space. This partially concealed the bullet in the cartridge making it appear as if there was only an empty cartridge with some sort of white artifact in the flooring.

      The clearer and more detailed Bonner photograph appears to be a first generation print. The Bonner photograph shows the seams running through the parallel floorboards, the striations of the wood and the cavity that runs between the wall facing and floorboards into which the live round dropped and got caught up in. Using the floor seams and views from the perimeters of the picture, one can see that the Exhibit 510 and Bonner photos appear to be identical or nearly so, except upon examination of the tip of a box the juts out toward in the foreground scene on the floor in both photos they are slightly different shots or, perhaps, Exhibit 510 represents a re-take of the Bonner print at a slightly less steep angle. It appears there were at least three different shots of the scene at slightly different angles, but Exhibit 510 relative to the Bonner photo lacks in resolution. Why was such a poor resolution photo as Exhibit 510 presented by the F.B.I. as the photo of the bullet cartridges when better resolution photographs were available?

      With regard to the particularly unique photo shown in the Bonner book, famed assassination researcher Jack White in his 1993 manuscript explained how Ms. Bonner secured evidence and photos that no one else was able to produce[15] White discovered that “Bonner’s book is full of photos not seen elsewhere, all apparently obtained from her friend Sgt. Gerald Hill, from whose viewpoint the story is told.”

      As previously mentioned, the reason given for the withholding of this one piece of evidence even though the F.B.I. had directed the submission by the Dallas Police of all evidence was so that the Dallas Police could have one shell for ballistic comparison purposes. This withholding of the particular cartridge appears to me to become more sinister as this other evidence was developed. I decided to look at the record of the testimony of Investigator J.C. Day who was a key player in the handling of the shells in evidence. As you will note, Day’s recollection was constantly changing over time and he developed three or four different stories regarding his handling and marking of the three empty cartridges and their transfer to the F.B.I. Here are the salient aspects in the stories related by him in succession during the investigation:


1.      (WR IV, p. 253). When interviewed by F.B.I., three weeks before he gave his F.B.I. testimony, Day acknowledged that he indicated that he had said he had marked the three spent shells that were recovered near the window with his name.

2.      (WR IV, p. 253, 4/24/64) Day testified that three shells were placed in a marked envelope and given to Detective Sims. The shells were not marked prior to placement in envelope but two of the shells were marked by him upon their return to him later on the day of the assassination to be forwarded to the F.B.I. Day claims that shells with evidence numbers 544 and 545, because they G.D. (Dhority) markings were the two returned and forwarded to F.B.I. and that he, Day, could not find his initials marked on hull 543, and that must have been because it was not returned with other two by Captain Fritz later that evening. At this same point in his testimony upon questioning by Counsel David Belin, Day says it was bullet 543 that was flattened with a crimp. …Day indicated that he did mark the live shell immediately when it was ejected by Fritz from the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. Day also says Captain Fritz kept the rifle.

3.      (WR VII, p. 401-02 Affidavit 5/7/64)…Day now indicates in this later statement that Dhority brought three expended shells for dusting and left him two to send to F.B.I., returning one to Fritz. Day says he scratched his name on the two of them before releasing them to Drain.

4.      (WR VII, p. 402, Affidavit 6/23/64). In this testimony, Day submits that the three shells were found at the window. These he says were turned into Fritz and then were returned to him late in the evening of the assassination by Detective Dhority in the original evidence envelope. He stated that Fritz retained shell 545 and he forwarded shells 543 and 544 to the F.B.I. Day strains to explain error that he made in his Warren Commission testimony given two months previously on April 22, 1964. He indicated that because he had not found his markings on shell 543 at that time, he related that it was that shell 543 that he returned to Fritz per Fritz’s request to hold one back, when in actuality it was shell 545 that the police kept. Day submits that Captain Doughty had since examined all three hulls and reported that his (Day’s) initials are on all three hulls and that Dhority’s markings of “GD” were on two of them. Day reiterated that shells 543 and 544 must have been the two sent to the F.B.I. He does not recall if the time of making his identifying marks on the hulls was when they were found or when they were given back to him later that same night. He indicated that Detective Studebaker and Sims have recalled that he marked them when they were picked up at the window on the Sixth Floor of the Depository. [Caveat: Are Day’s markings be found missing from shell 545Or could they really be missing from shell 543,the one with the crimped neck that Fritz strangely held back from the FBI? Does the evidence in the Archives need to be checked again on this?].

5.      (No More Silence, Interview, p. 232). Three shells were found by Day near window which he dusted…He turned one over to Fritz and RETAINED the other two…… Live round found by Fritz in rifle…. Fritz found caliber on shell.


      Why should we find Day’s shifting and confusing testimony to be disturbing and suspicious? For one thing, he was an experienced member of the investigation section team. It seems unlikely he would not mark the shells when discovered or would not remember if he had done so. It would really be suspicious that he marked only two of the three unless there were only two found at the original scene. Officer Dhority also inexplicably only had his marks on two of the three although Fritz supposedly was in possession of all three until they were returned for transfer to the F.B.I. Yet Dhority recalls all three were re-dusted by Day and then the third shell was returned to Fritz. Day seemingly had the opportunity to uniformly mark the three cartridges on two occasions and he finally claimed that all three did show mark while also relating at one point he only marked two of the three he had received. What could be going on here?

      To explain the duplicity and variance of which shells were kept in custody or remitted to the FBI, we must return to the remarkable yet seemingly confirmed postulation that there was a live round to be found with only two expended cartridges at the Depository window and there was not three expended cartridges (Again See Bonner photo or to a less clear version Warren Commission Exhibit 510) What is suspected not only to be a unaltered photograph “first day” evidence but “first hours” evidence. The finding of the live round at the window comports with the visual and recorded documentary evidence, but not with the testimonial evidence.

      It is my conclusion that the investigative unit held only two spent shells and one live round and the third shell Fritz ordered held for comparison was likely false evidence created to prop up when needed the alternative three shot scenario. Day got trapped in his only lies when describing the particular shells he had and had not marked. Furthermore, one must ask “Why was the third expended shell kept within the Dallas Police crime investigative unit at all?” The answer is that one shell was either not produced as ostensible evidence collected at the scene, a false story, so that it could be produced at a later time to substantiate a three shot scenario. The FBI had to demand the production of the third shell which was only turned over to Washington several days later. Furthermore, Captain Fritz of the Dallas Police gave some bogus info on the production of third shell. In his affidavit of June 1964, he stated the empty shell that was delivered five days after the assassination after the F.B.I. called and stated the Warren Commission wanted the third hull. However, the Commission was not appointed until November 29, two days later.[16]

      Since one of the three shells at the window was a live round, the official photograph record was later altered or there two different records being created with one showing three spent shells. Shell 543, the spent shell with the one with the indented lip, was likely not marked by Day and the one supposedly Fritz had ordered to be held back from the FBI for comparison purposes. Forensic Dr. E. Forrest Chapman indicated that 543 was “dry loaded” into the rifle, the trigger pulled and the bolt operated and discovered this through his own experiments.[17] There is also the testimony of Officer Elmer Boyd that indicates a shell was ejected from the Mannlicher-Carcano weapon by Captain Fritz. Day’s prevarications and confusion, trying to explain and re-explain which expended cartridge was not marked and which shell was withheld from the F.B.I., smacks of a cover-up. Shell 543 has suspicious origin and a suspicious forensic history. There is now ample reason to believe the Depository sixth floor window gunman did fire only two shots. This puts in grave doubt the official Warren Report theory of a single assassin as evidence exists that more than two bullets were fired, at least three and maybe more, meaning there had to be a second shooter and other co-conspirators.

      Still how does one explain the consistency in the stories of the several law enforcement officers to their each observing three expended hulls at the window and no live round. Each shell obviously was to represent a shot fired at the motorcade. These misrepresentative observations could be attributed to the lack of proper attention of some of the officers due to the excitement and stress of the moment but certainly some degree of contrivance by Deputy Sheriff Mooney and Detectives Sims, Day and Captain Fritz also came into play. These individuals were not only witnesses to the scene but catalogued and handled the evidence. It seems strange that Detective Sims’ name was added to the revised on the Evidence Report that also adopted a three shell inventory from a two shell inventory. He was a significant figure in the investigation needed to corroborate the findings of three empty cartridges once that course of explanation of the assassination became necessary.

      Expended cartridge 545 comes back into play as necessary. Recall that there is substantial indication that this cartridge was not damaged during the investigation but had been damaged from the outset to such an extent it could not hold a bullet.

      Perhaps, this was the third missing cartridge produced for the evidentiary record that might allow the government to revert to a shot scenario and this hull could be explained away as not providing basis to believe a third shot had been fired even upon its supposed discovery with the other two hulls. Keep in mind there was no resolution on the “magic bullet” theory until the Spring of 1964 as Arlen Specter became spokesman for that line of thought. Finally, as if there is not enough food for thought on these issues, ponder why the third round had been withheld by Fritz[18] for several days and was produced only when the F.B.I. demanded it be produced.

      It is my sincere hope that that this work along with the work of other researchers who have paved the way for the opening up the record in this regard can become a major component in definitively establishing the fact of multiple gunmen were involved the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and in while helping to narrow the focus to the origination of two rearward shots from the sixth floor Depository window, a conclusion that is well consistent with numerous other broader conspiracy theories.


[1] James T. Tague was grazed on the cheek by a bullet fragment or piece of concrete as he stood as a spectator near the Main Street entrance to the railroad overpass facing the motorcade in a direction looking back to the Depository building. James Tague is author of a recent publication “Truth Withheld: A Survivors’ Story”.

[2] “Cover-Up” Gary Shaw and Larry Harris, p. 159

[3] Commission Exhibit 2003, page 132

[4] Warren Commission Exhibit 2003, WC Vol. XXIV, p. 260

[5] Twyman, Noel, “Bloody Treason—The Assassination of John F. Kennedy”, Laurel Publishing, Rancho Santa Fe, California 1997.

 [6] Shell No. 543 is particularly controversial in its own right. It had a dent in its lip that indicated it could not have been loaded with a bullet and while having the follower marks from the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle found on the sixth floor it also had “three sets of marks on the base of the this cartridge case which were not found [on the others]” and did lack the chambering marks indicating it had specifically been fired from Oswald’s weapon. Letter from Hoover to Rankin, 2 June 1964; FBI Ballistics Report, 25 Dec 1964.

[7] Warren Commission Vol. XXVI, pp. 449-450; Commission Exhibit 2003, p. 292

[8] Commission Exhibit 510

[9] Commission Exhibit 512

[10] Commission Exhibit 716

11 The testimony of these law enforcement officers was either received in the form of sworn affidavits or in the form of live interrogation by the Warren Commission counsel that was transcribed. This evidentiary record includes: Lieutenant J.C. Day of the Investigative Unit ( Vol. III WR P. 402, “No More Silence, Sneed, p. 232) who testified he dusted the three spent cartridges for fingerprints and placed them in an envelope; Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney of the County Writ and Execution Unit (Vol. III WR p. 281) who testified he delivered the envelope to Captain Fritz; Captain Will Fritz (Vol. IV WR p. 202); Robert Lee Studebaker (Vol VII WR, p. 139); Richard Sims (Vol VII WR 183); Gerald Lynn Hill (Vo. VII WR p. 43); Officer A. D. McCurley (Decker, Jim Gatewood, Mullaney Corp. 1999).

[12]The witnesses to the ejection of the live round were Constable Seymour Weitzman (Vol. VII WR); Richard Sims (Vol VIII WR 183) and Captain Will Fritz (Vol IV WR P. 205).

13 L. Boyd (Vol VII WR p.121).

[14] This publication presents the clearest view of the live cartridge in the cavity along the wall facing. It is published by Droke House, Anderson, S.C. 1969. Other smaller scale revealing photos can be found in “JFK—First Day Evidence” by Gary Savage, The Shoppe Press, 1993, pp. 153-54

15 “Oswald ID Card is Major Link to Assassination Conspiracy” Jack White, The Third Decade Journal 1/93, p 29.

[16] Cited from Cover-Up by J. Gary Shaw and Larry Harris, self-published 1976, p. 161

[17] Alan Stang, “They Killed the President: Lee Harvey Oswald Wasn’t Alone,” American Opinion 19 (Feb. 1976), 5-9 cited in Michael L. Kurtz, “Crime of the Century: The Kennedy Assassination From A Historian’s Perspective”, p.51, 1982, The Harvester’s Press Ltd.

[18] Another coincidence? A letter from Fritz to the Warren Commission dated June 6, 1964, concerning  “spent shells found in the Texas School Book Depository” is missing. “High Treason” by Robert J. Groden and Harrison Edward Livingstone, Berkley Books paperback edition, 1990, p.123.