EXAMINING THE WARREN COMMISSION TESTIMONY OF JACK DOUGHERTY:
If anyone wants several good-sized laughs, I'd like to recommend
reading the official April 8, 1964, Warren Commission testimony of 40-
year-old Jack Edwin Dougherty, who was one of the employees who was
working at the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963:
TESTIMONY OF JACK E. DOUGHERTY
In addition to the many laughs, Mr. Dougherty's above-linked testimony
is bound to give anyone reading it a bit of a headache as well (anyone
who is trying to use Dougherty's testimony as a vehicle to prop up anything
"definitive" or "conspiratorial" in nature when it comes to the events
that occurred inside the Book Depository Building on 11/22/63, that is).
Dougherty's WC session is just one great-big mess. I can only imagine
the thoughts that were going through the mind of WC questioner Joe
Ball after he took Dougherty's testimony that spring day in 1964. Joe
probably felt like rolling his eyes every few seconds while listening
to Dougherty's hither-and-yon answers to the questions he was being
But, in Dougherty's defense, I'll have to add this -- Jack was
probably very nervous when he gave his WC testimony; and possibly his
answers didn't always come out just exactly as he meant them to come
out. This same thing probably happened with a lot of the 552 witnesses
who were questioned by the Warren Commission in relation to the JFK
If it were me, I'd certainly have been scared to death. And when
you're scared to death, your words might have a tendency to become
unclear and maybe even incoherent at times. I think this occurred with
several of the witnesses who appeared in front of the WC in '64.
[EDIT --- Whether or not Jack Dougherty was mentally disabled in some
way, I have not been able to confirm. But I have heard that he was a
little "slow". If he did suffer from a mental handicap, it would certainly
help explain some of the strange things Mr. Dougherty told the Warren
Commission in 1964.]
Let's examine a few of Mr. Dougherty's hilarious and semi-hilarious
statements made to the Warren Commission:
JOSEPH BALL - Did you ever leave the United States during the War?
JACK E. DOUGHERTY - Oh, yes.
Mr. BALL - Where did you go?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, I was stationed, oh, for about a year up in
Indiana up there--Seymour, Indiana.
[DVP: This is the first "LOL" moment in Jack's testimony. As a native
of the great state of Indiana, I had no idea I was living outside the
Mr. BALL - And how long do you take for lunch?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, from 12 to 12:45.
Mr. BALL - Forty-five minutes?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Yes.
Mr. BALL - Do you always take a full hour?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Yes, I usually do.
[DVP: The above testimony had me doing TWO double-takes (due to the
fact that the above words spoken by BOTH Dougherty and Joseph Ball are
seemingly so incredibly silly).
First, Dougherty confirms he takes only 45 minutes for his regular
lunch break each day at the Depository. But then Ball feels compelled
to ask the odd follow-up question, "Do you always take a full
hour?" (even though Dougherty just one second earlier confirmed his
lunch break was only 45 minutes long).
And then Dougherty goes with the flow (evidently) and completely
changes his lunch-break time to a "full hour" by answering "Yes, I
usually do" to Ball's follow-up question.
Perhaps the two men, when talking about a "full hour", were referring
to the time it took to physically eat lunch plus some added time
milling around the TSBD after lunch, playing dominoes, etc. ~shrug~
Anyway, the above exchange struck me as humorous (and not just
Dougherty's part). ;)]
Mr. BALL - Now, is that a very definite impression that you saw him
[LHO] that morning when he came to work?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, oh--it's like this--I'll try to explain it to
you this way--- you see, I was sitting on the wrapping table and when
he came in the door, I just caught him out of the corner of my eye---
that's the reason why I said it that way. ....
Mr. BALL - In other words, you would say positively he had nothing in
Mr. DOUGHERTY - I would say that---yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - Or, are you guessing?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - I don't think so.
[DVP: So, we have JD admitting to the WC that he only saw Oswald "out
of the corner of my eye" as LHO entered the back door of the TSBD on
November 22nd....and yet we also have Dougherty being certain that
Oswald had nothing in his hands at all (even though he admitted just
seconds earlier that he only saw LHO "out of the corner of my eye";
i.e., he saw LHO via his peripheral vision as Lee came in the back
I'll leave it up to the individual readers of JD's testimony to decide
whether or not Mr. Dougherty is entirely believable when he said he
was not "guessing" when he claimed that Lee Oswald entered the Book
Depository empty-handed on the morning of the assassination.]
Mr. BALL - Did you know that the President was going to pass in a
motorcade that noon?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, they said something about it.
Mr. BALL - Did you intend to go out and watch him?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, I would have loved to have went out and watched
him, but the steps were so crowded---there was no way in the world I
could get out there.
of the TSBD around 12:30, he was physically prohibited from exiting
the Depository VIA ANY OF THE OTHER DOORS IN THE BUILDING at
approximately the time when the President was driving by the building.
Maybe I shouldn't be laughing at JD's above silly-sounding testimony
after all, huh? Because by doing so, perhaps I'm playing right into
the hands of the conspiracy-happy kooks who probably have a desire to
paint Mr. Dougherty as one of the conspirators in the plot to kill
After all, the above testimony about JD definitely WANTING to go outside
to see the President, but not being able to do so because of the people
blocking the entrance to the building is certainly testimony that could
be looked at sideways and with a wary eye by the conspiracy kooks of
the world (if it hasn't been looked at in that fashion heretofore).
Evidently, it never occurred to Dougherty to go out the back door and
then walk around the building in order to catch a glimpse of President
Kennedy driving by.
And apparently it also never occurred to Jack to simply go upstairs to
the fifth or sixth floor (the warehouse floors) in order to get himself a
great bird's-eye view of the President passing by from one of the many
windows that he could have had all to himself on the upper floors of
the building at 12:30 PM, just as some of his fellow employees did
Mr. Dougherty doesn't seem to be the brightest bulb in the chandelier,
I must say. (Sorry, Jack, just an honest observation.) ~wink~]
Mr. BALL - When you left your lunch, did you go to the fifth floor or
the sixth floor to go back to work?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - I went on the fifth floor when I was getting ready to
go down to eat lunch.
Mr. BALL - Yes; and then what happened?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, at that time--I was about 10 feet away---
Mr. BALL - Wait a minute---did you hear the shots before or after you
had your lunch?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Before---before I ate my lunch.
Mr. BALL - You heard shots before you ate your lunch?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Let's see---yes, I believe I did.
[DVP: So, via the above testimony, Mr. Dougherty is, in effect, saying
I HEARD THE SHOOTING BEFORE I ATE MY LUNCH, BUT THEN AFTER HEARING THE
SHOOTING AND THE COMMOTION I WENT AHEAD AND ATE MY LUNCH ANYWAY AND
THEN WENT *BACK* TO WORK AFTER FINISHING MY LUNCH, WHICH, AS
MENTIONED, WAS EATEN *AFTER* THE SHOOTING TOOK PLACE AND *AFTER* THE
BUILDING WAS BEING INUNDATED BY THE POLICE.
I think only one other comment is really in order here, which is ---
EDIT --- Incredibly, another Depository employee, Buell Wesley Frazier,
also said he ate his lunch almost immediately after the assassination.
And Wesley went down into the BASEMENT of the Depository Building
to consume his noontime meal on November 22! A little bit more on that
can be found HERE.]
Mr. BALL - And while you were on the fifth floor, you heard a loud
Mr. DOUGHERTY - That's right---it sounded like a car backfiring.
Mr. BALL - And did you hear more than one loud explosion or noise?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - No; that was the only one I heard.
Mr. BALL - You only heard one?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Yes.
Mr. BALL - And where did it sound like it came from?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - It sounded like it came from overhead somewhere.
Mr. BALL - From overhead?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Yes.
Mr. BALL - How did you get to the fifth floor?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Elevator.
Mr. BALL - You were on the fifth floor when you heard this, were you?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Yes.
Mr. BALL - Which elevator did you take?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, you see, there's one on this side and one on
this side the one on this side is the one I took.
Mr. BALL - Well, now, "The one on this side and the one on this side,"
doesn't mean much when it's written down.
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, I know it.
[DVP: Oh, my bladder! I wonder how Mr. Ball kept his own laughter in
check during this session with Mr. Dougherty? It must have been a
Mr. BALL - Then what did you do?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, when I got through getting stock off of the
sixth floor, I came back down to the fifth floor.
Mr. BALL - What did you do on the fifth floor?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, I got some stock.
Mr. BALL - Then what happened then?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, then immediately I heard a loud noise---it
sounded like a car backfiring, and I came back down to the first
floor, and I asked Eddie Piper, I said, "Piper, what was that?" I
says, "Has the President been shot?". He said, "Yes."
Mr. BALL - You didn't say--did you say, "Has the President been
shot?"---you told the FBI agent that you went down to the first floor
and you saw a man named Eddie Piper and asked him if he heard a loud
Mr. DOUGHERTY - I asked him that too.
Mr. BALL - And Piper said he had heard three loud noises and told you
that somebody had just shot the President; is that right?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - That's right.
Mr. BALL - Who mentioned the fact that the President had been shot
first -- you or Eddie Piper?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Eddie Piper.
Mr. BALL - Did you say anything to Piper about the President being
Mr. DOUGHERTY - No, sir.
Mr. BALL - On the day that this happened, on the 22nd of November, you
told the FBI agents Ellington and Anderson that you heard "a loud
explosion which sounded like a rifle shot coming from the next floor
above me." Now, did you tell them that it sounded like a rifle shot,
coming from the next floor above you, or didn't you?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, I believe I told them it sounded like a car
Mr. BALL - Well, did you tell them it sounded like it was from the
floor above you, or didn't you tell them that?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - No.
Mr. BALL - You did not tell them that?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - No.
Mr. BALL - Did it sound like it came from the floor above you?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, at the time it did--yes.
[DVP: I guess Dougherty must have thought there was a '62 Chevy Impala
"backfiring" up on the sixth floor, huh?
At this point in this incoherent mess, Joe Ball is probably
desperately wanting to ask Dougherty how many hits off of that
marijuana joint he had taken just prior to testifying on April 8th.]
Mr. BALL - When you went up to the sixth floor, it was after they
found the shotgun and shells?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Yes, sir.
[DVP: So, Dougherty is now saying he was on the sixth floor AFTER 1:22
PM CST on November 22nd. Mr. Ball is now probably getting ready to put
in a call for Nurse Ratched and the white-coated technicians from the
Mr. BALL - Did you ever see Lee Oswald carry any sort of large
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, I didn't, but some of the fellows said they did.
Mr. BALL - Who said that?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, Bill Shelley, he told me that he thought he saw
him carrying a fairly good-sized package.
Mr. BALL - When did Shelley tell you that?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, it was--the day after it happened.
[DVP: Although Dougherty, via the above testimony, didn't specifically
claim that Shelley said he (Shelley) saw LHO carrying a "fairly good-
sized package" ON NOVEMBER 22ND, I think that such an inference could
be implied by Dougherty's above words. Which, of course, is total
nonsense. Shelley didn't see any such thing.
Perhaps Dougherty meant to say "Wes Frazier" instead of "Bill Shelley"
above. If so, it would make much more sense...except for the fact that
"the day after it happened" was a Saturday, i.e., a day when the
regular stock workers of the TSBD didn't report to work. So, once
again, it's a jumbled-up mess that JD's providing us here.]
Mr. BALL - Are you sure you were on the fifth floor when you heard the
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Yes, I'm positive.
Mr. BALL - Did you see any other employee on the fifth floor?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - No, sir; I didn't see nobody. There wasn't nobody on
the fifth floor at all. It was just myself.
[DVP: The above quote isn't so much hilarious as it is just plain
wrong. Norman, Jarman, and Williams, of course, were all on the south
side of the 5th Floor at the time of the shooting.
But, to be totally fair to Dougherty in this instance, it's quite
possible (what with the obstructions of boxes and other things that
might have blocked his view) that JD just simply couldn't see the
south side of the building (by the windows) during the time he might
have been on the fifth floor on November 22nd.]
Mr. BALL - Now, did you hear this shot either before or after lunch?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - It was before lunch; it was before lunch.
Mr. BALL - You think it was before lunch you heard the shot?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - I believe it was--yes, sir.
Mr. BALL - And you were alone, were you?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Yes.
[DVP: Here we have a replay of the previous humorous moment
regarding JD's "before lunch" declaration. How could anyone
POSSIBLY believe Dougherty's "Before Lunch" testimony above?
Especially when we also find this exchange within the very same
day's WC testimony:
Mr. DOUGHERTY - I went back downstairs to eat lunch.
Mr. BALL - What time?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Oh, it was 12 o'clock.
I guess the assassination must have really taken place prior to 12:00
Noon then (per JD's morass of distorted lunch-eating timelines).
So, in order for JD's "I heard a shot before lunch" testimony to be
true (in conjunction with all of his other testimony, if we're to
believe portions of it as well), Dougherty would have had to have
heard the gunshot or "backfire" many minutes prior to 12:30 (unless JD
waited a half-hour after his 45-minute lunch break started to begin
eating his lunch that day)....and then after hearing the shot, he
descends to the first floor to talk with Eddie Piper.
And then, per JD, after being told by Piper that the President had
just been shot right in front of the building, Dougherty went ahead
and ate his lunch, as if it was an ordinary lunch break and as if
nothing unusual had just occurred in front of the building on Elm
And then, sometime after eating his lunch and while searching for Roy
Truly, Dougherty was allowed back up on the sixth floor at a time (per
JD) which was AFTER the police had already discovered Oswald's rifle
(which would have been 52 minutes after the shooting itself).
Holy smoke, what a mess this testimony is!]
Mr. BALL - That's all I have to ask you, and this will be written up
and if you would like to come down and read it and sign it, you can,
or you can waive your signature. What do you want to do?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, whatever you want to do---it doesn't make any
Mr. BALL - Would you like to come down and read it over and sign it?
Mr. DOUGHERTY - Well, if you've got time, I'll sign it now.
http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/WC Testimony/Jack Dougherty
For some additional confusion, contradictions, and laughs, have a look
at Jack Dougherty's November 22, 1963, affidavit (linked HERE).
In that affidavit, JD claims to have seen several TSBD employees on
the sixth floor AFTER the assassination took place (at least that's
how it comes out via his affidavit; but he undoubtedly was actually
talking about seeing the TSBD workers, including Oswald, on the sixth
floor sometime BEFORE the actual shooting took place; but that's not
how it appears on JD's very strangely-written affidavit).
David Von Pein
LINK TO ORIGINAL POST (MARCH 22, 2008)