On Friday, November 22, 1963 (the day of President Kennedy's
assassination), a group of Texas School Book Depository employees
(who were working on the sixth floor of that Dallas textbook warehouse
before lunchtime) "raced" the two freight elevators to the first floor
shortly before noon, with 24-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald being the only
employee who decided not to join his co-workers downstairs for lunch.
Oswald, instead, stayed on the sixth floor when the other employees
took the elevators downstairs. Oswald even asked for one of the two
elevators to be sent back up to him.
I can't quite figure out, however (via the witness testimony), if an
elevator actually WAS sent back up to Oswald or not. Charles Givens'
testimony doesn't say one way or the other; and Bonnie Ray Williams'
Warren Commission testimony verifies that Oswald yelled for one of
the boys (Williams says he probably yelled at Givens specifically) to
send an elevator back up to him by closing the gate when the elevator
reached the first floor, but Williams never verified whether an elevator
did, in fact, go back up after the boys raced them both to the bottom
But if an elevator was sent back up, Oswald probably left the gate
open after it was sent back up to him; by doing this, the elevator
would have been stuck on the sixth floor.
The overall evidence indicates that no employees (other than Oswald)
were on the sixth floor at the exact time of the President's
assassination (12:30 PM).
Depository employee Bonnie Ray Williams was on the 6th Floor for a
short time just after 12:00, eating his chicken-sandwich lunch (with
Oswald more than likely hiding in his "Nest" the whole time, without
Williams realizing he was there).
Before he joined James Jarman and Harold Norman on the 5th Floor
around 12:15, Williams left his empty lunch sack and Dr. Pepper soda
bottle near a hand cart ("two-wheeler truck") in the middle of the sixth
Here's Warren Commission Exhibit No. 484, showing the cart/truck
and soda bottle:
The picture below shows another view of the Dr. Pepper bottle on the
sixth floor, taken from a different angle. A portion of the "two-wheeler
truck", as Bonnie Ray Williams called it, can be seen in the upper
left-hand part of the photograph:
Early news reports just after the assassination erroneously were
reporting that the assassin had been "snacking on a chicken lunch"
just before shooting President Kennedy, with some reporters going so
far as assuming the assassin had been camped out for "several days"
in the Sniper's Nest prior to performing the evil deed on November 22.
(That one always makes me laugh a tad bit.)
How both elevators came to be stuck on the FIFTH floor
just after the shooting:
Bonnie Ray Williams, after eating his lunch on the 6th Floor, took the
east elevator down one floor to the 5th Floor to join Jarman and Norman
(although when he started down, Williams said he didn't know if anyone
was on that floor or not, but he thought there might have been, because
he heard someone "walking" around and the windows were "moving or
something" [3 H 171]).
Harold Norman testified that he and James Jarman took the west elevator
to the fifth floor (from the first floor) a short time before the motorcade
arrived in Dealey Plaza.
This is perfectly consistent with Depository Superintendent Roy Truly's
testimony....when Truly said that both freight elevators were on the fifth
floor when he and police officer Marrion Baker were trying to retrieve one
of them around 12:31 to 12:32.
Those stuck elevators on the fifth floor were indirectly responsible
for Oswald almost getting caught coming down the stairs. Because if
one of the elevators had been available to Truly and Baker, they would
not have needed to take the stairs and would have, instead, gone
straight to the seventh floor by elevator (seeing as how Baker thought
the shots had come from the roof of the building...via the pigeons
flying off the roof).
When all available evidence is weighed and considered, it can be
reasonably determined that nobody (except Lee Harvey Oswald) occupied
the sixth floor of the Book Depository at the exact time of JFK's murder.
SOME FOLLOW-UP (CLARIFYING)
By all accounts, it appears that Lee Oswald's request for an elevator
to be sent back up to him on the 6th Floor of the TSBD around 12:00
Noon on November 22nd was not granted.
Several TSBD employees raced the Book Depository's two freight elevators
from the 6th Floor to the 1st Floor at noontime on 11/22/63, with Lee
Oswald being the lone employee up on the sixth floor to not join this
group of four.
The employees were: Billy Lovelady, Charles Givens, Bonnie Ray Williams,
and Danny Arce.
Three of those four employees--Lovelady, Williams, and Arce--acknowledged
the fact that Oswald yelled down to the boys for an elevator to be sent
back up, but none of the employees actually verified that an elevator
WAS sent back up to Oswald.
Williams, in his Warren Commission testimony, said "I don't know what
happened after that", indicating that he didn't know if an elevator was
sent back up or not.
And this testimony from Charles Givens leads to the conclusion that an
elevator was never sent back up to Oswald:
CHARLES GIVENS -- "I was getting ready on the elevator, and I say, 'Boy, are you going downstairs?'"
DAVID BELIN -- "What did he say to you?"
GIVENS -- "I say, 'It's near lunch time'. He said, 'No, sir. When you get downstairs, close the gate to the elevator'. That meant the elevator on the west side, you can pull both gates down and it will come up by itself."
BELIN -- "What else did he say?"
GIVENS -- "That is all."
BELIN -- "What did you say to that? Did you say you would close the elevator gate, or not say anything?"
GIVENS -- "I said, 'Okay', and got on the elevator."
BELIN -- "Do you know whether or not when you got down to the first floor, the west elevator was there?"
GIVENS -- "No, sir, it wasn't; because I looked over there to close the gate and it wasn't there."
BELIN -- "It wasn't there when you got down to the first floor?"
GIVENS -- "No, sir; it wasn't."
BELIN -- "Do you know where it was?"
GIVENS -- "No, sir; I don't."
What is interesting about Givens' testimony shown above (in a
"confusing" fashion) is that Givens says all of the above occurred
only AFTER Givens went back up to the sixth floor to retrieve his
jacket and cigarettes (which he had forgotten on his first trip
downstairs on the elevators with the other employees).
So, either Oswald TWICE asked Givens (or the other employees) to
send an elevator back up to him (which is certainly quite possible) --
or Givens is mistaken about exactly when Oswald made his elevator
But, either way, it would seem that Oswald never did get that elevator
sent back up to him....an elevator that Oswald probably wanted to
freeze on his sixth floor so that he'd have a quick escape route off
of the Death Floor just after shooting at the President.
But, instead, Lee was forced to take the stairs, because he obviously
wasn't going to just wait around for an elevator to arrive on his floor
just after he had fired a series of bullets at the President of the
United States from that very same sixth floor.
But I always had the impression that an elevator WAS sent back up to
Oswald. (However, perhaps this is merely an "impression", similar to
many of the "conspiracy myths" that have been foisted upon the public
Interestingly, however, the excellent 1964 David L. Wolper-produced
documentary film on the JFK assassination ("Four Days In November")
implies that an elevator was sent back up to Oswald on the sixth
The exact words spoken in the movie by narrator Richard Basehart
are .... "As other employees go downstairs to see the President,
Oswald stays on the sixth floor. He asks a fellow worker to arrange
to send the elevator back up." [See the video below, at the 9:15 mark.]
Although, to be perfectly technical, that verbiage from the "Four Days"
film doesn't really verify that an elevator WAS, in fact, sent back up.
Those words merely indicate that Oswald took measures to "arrange"
for a fellow worker to send an elevator back up to him. Whether that
"arrangement" materialized or not, the film stops short of saying.
I put a lot of trust in a Wolper documentary for accuracy. Mr. Wolper's
films are normally well-researched and historically accurate (at least
the ones I have seen). And "Four Days In November" is very accurate
and factual, in my opinion. I've watched the film countless times (and
have yet to tire of it), and I think I have found only one factual error,
and it was a very minor one.
Another very good film that was made the same year as "Four Days" (1964)
is Wolper's haunting and poignant documentary on Marilyn Monroe,
"The Legend Of Marilyn Monroe".
I recommend those two David Wolper films highly. Excellent music scores
accompany each of those motion pictures as well.
David Von Pein
PAT SPEER SAID:
>>> "David, you're going down with the ship on this one, and making a big splash. The effect of Givens' lie was not to put Oswald on the sixth floor, it was to put Oswald on the sixth floor AFTER Shelley and Piper had seen him on the first floor." <<<
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
Charles Givens' trip back up to the sixth floor doesn't put Oswald on
the sixth floor AFTER Eddie Piper's timeline at all. Piper said he
last saw Oswald "just at 12 o'clock" [6 H 383].
Givens said he last saw Oswald "about 5 minutes to 12" [6 H 351]. (I'm
guessing that CTers want to make David Belin out to be a liar and a
schemer by the fact that he seems to cut off Givens right after Givens
says "5 minutes to 12". I'm sure that some conspiracists think Belin
was stopping Givens from saying something like this: "...because it
was right before I saw Malcolm Wallace in the building; Wallace had a
rifle and some spent shells in his hand; as I was going back down in
the elevator, he told me that he needed to get back up to the sixth
floor to start planting a bunch of stuff; I really didn't understand
what Mac was talking about though, Mr. Belin, so I just came on back
down and ate my lunch.")
Bill Shelley said he last saw Oswald on November 22 on the first floor
"10 or 15 minutes before 12" [7 H 390].
But the Warren Commission and its counsel were smart enough to know
that ALL of these times for the various "Last Sightings Of Oswald" are
only approximate times. They are, of course, just guesses on the part
of the people who supplied the information -- from Givens, to Shelley,
to Piper, and all the other TSBD witnesses too.
At the time of their "I Saw Oswald" observations on November 22nd,
none of these people had any reason at all to take notice of the EXACT
time they saw another employee walking around the building. They were
later asked to reconstruct (as best they could) the timing of certain
And the timing of seeing Oswald in the building is an event that was
undoubtedly so completely insignificant and unimportant to each one of
those witnesses at the time it was occurring that they had no way to
reconstruct with precision the times at which they saw Oswald.
It was, however, around lunchtime for these employees (around
noontime). So that fact ("lunch") helps out when it comes to the
times. But as some of the witnesses also said--they apparently broke
for lunch a little earlier than their normal time on November 22 (to
see the President).
But, overall, the "timing" issue is far from being exact. And, as I
said, the Warren Commission knew that this was the case in the first
place. They HAD to know it. They were asking a group of people to
search their memories for the time of an event (seeing Lee Harvey
Oswald) that meant absolutely NOTHING to each one of those people at
the time when it occurred.
And while Charles Givens' cigarette trip back up to the sixth floor
does, indeed, put Oswald on the sixth floor after Bill Shelley's
stated time of having last seen Oswald that day--we're still only
talking about a matter of about five minutes (in approximated time).
Givens could easily have been off in his time by 5 or 10 minutes.
Maybe more. We can never know for certain. And the same thing applies
to Eddie Piper and William Shelley and Bonnie Ray Williams and all the
rest of the TSBD witnesses.
But to think that a bunch of random estimated times supplied by the
Depository employees is enough to exonerate Lee Oswald for shooting
JFK is just not a reasonable position to take.
The bottom line is this -- We know that Lee Harvey Oswald was on an
upper floor of the TSBD at some point in time that was shortly before
12:00 noon on 11/22/63, because the four men in the elevator race
(Williams, Givens, Arce, and Lovelady) all corroborate that single
event -- Oswald being on an upper floor of the building at the time
when those four men were descending to the first floor FOR THEIR LUNCH
BREAK, WHICH WAS OBVIOUSLY PRETTY CLOSE TO NOONTIME ON NOVEMBER 22.
David Von Pein
September 7, 2010
PAT SPEER SAID:
>>> "Here's an explanation. Givens DID see Oswald on the sixth floor before going down for lunch, and was later convinced to say this happened after going down for lunch." <<<
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
That's ridiculous, since we're only talking about a very few minutes
in real time here (probably less than 3 minutes in actual time).
Plus, Givens' account of seeing Oswald on the sixth floor at about 11:55
doesn't put LHO on the sixth floor (or inside the Sniper's Nest) when the
shooting occurred at 12:30. It only puts him on the sixth floor of the
building at about 11:55.
And here's a very important point that I think conspiracy theorists
overlook [which I talked about earlier in this post]:
Charlie Givens is not even needed when it comes to putting Oswald on
an upper floor of the TSBD at about lunchtime on 11/22/63. And that's
because there were multiple OTHER employees who testified that Oswald
yelled down the elevator shaft (from either the fifth or sixth floor)
when the other employees raced the elevators downstairs.
So Givens making up a lie about seeing Oswald is not even needed to
put Oswald on an upper floor of the Book Depository about 45 minutes
before the assassination.
And surely there aren't too many conspiracists who want to call all
three of the following TSBD employees liars when it comes to their
testimony about hearing Lee Oswald shout down the elevator shaft from
an upper floor shortly before noon on November 22 --- Bonnie Ray
Williams, Billy Lovelady, and Danny Arce.
All three of the above employees testified they heard Oswald's voice
coming from an upper (fifth or sixth) floor. Therefore, why would
Charles Givens lie about anything relating to Lee Harvey Oswald's
whereabouts around noontime on November 22, 1963?
I suppose the conspiracy theorists will insist that the police and FBI
desperately HAD to have a witness say that he physically saw Lee
Oswald on the SIXTH floor shortly before the assassination (vs. the
inconclusive testimony of Arce, Williams, and Lovelady concerning the
exact floor that Oswald was on when he yelled down the elevator
But that type of speculation regarding the authorities in this case
(although it's speculation that has become commonplace and routine
among CTers, of course) is something I do not buy at all, particularly
when there are so many other people who could (and did) testify to the
fact that Oswald was, indeed, on an upper TSBD floor around lunchtime.
(Plus there's Howard Brennan as well, who saw Oswald actually murder JFK.)
David Von Pein
February 10, 2012