WFAA-TV cameraman Ron Reiland took some film footage of a wallet being examined by police officers on 10th Street in Oak Cliff shortly after the murder of Patrolman J.D. Tippit. Many conspiracy theorists over the years have insisted that the wallet seen in Reiland's film must have been Lee Harvey Oswald's. (The entire Reiland film can be seen in the above video.)
I, however, have written multiple posts in the past stating my firm belief that the wallet in Reiland's film belonged to the slain police officer, J.D. Tippit. And, in fact, Reiland himself said that the wallet was Tippit's when he narrated his film very shortly after the film was developed and broadcast on the air at WFAA-TV.
But, of course, a grain of salt must be placed beside Reiland's comment about the wallet being Tippit's, since Reiland also said that the gun which can be seen in the hands of Sergeant Bud Owens of the Dallas Police Department in Reiland's film was the gun that was used to kill Officer Tippit, which we know is not correct. The revolver seen in Reiland's film is Tippit's own service revolver.
But here's a theory regarding the "mystery wallet" that I think makes quite a bit of sense:
I think it's possible (but far from "provable", I will readily admit) that the wallet that can be seen in Ron Reiland's WFAA-TV footage belonged to eyewitness Ted Callaway.
In my opinion, the Dallas police would have had every reason to want to check out Callaway's identification (and hence, look inside his wallet), due to the fact that it was Callaway who had taken Tippit's gun and went to hunt for Tippit's killer in William Scoggins' cab. And at that time, there was just one police officer at the scene of the crime, Kenneth Croy, who later told the Warren Commission that he thought Callaway was a "private detective".
If I had been a police officer at the scene of Tippit's murder, and a man had just returned to that scene carrying the murdered policeman's gun, I think I might want to ask "Who the heck are you? And why did you take it upon yourself to take the dead officer's revolver and search for the killer, instead of letting the police handle this matter?"
I don't think that asking to see Callaway's identification (and hence, his wallet) would have been out of line at all, considering the circumstances regarding Callaway running off with Tippit's revolver on 11/22/63.
We know from the available evidence that Ted Callaway returned to the scene of the murder after searching for Tippit's killer for a brief period of time. And we also know that he turned over Tippit's revolver to police officer Kenneth Croy.
Croy, at some point shortly thereafter, then gave the revolver to Sergeant Bud Owens, who was then photographed holding the gun in his left hand by WFAA cameraman Ron Reiland. [CD735, Page 263; An FBI interview of Ted Callaway, dated 2/25/64.]
Croy also said this during his Warren Commission testimony:
"There was a report that a cab driver had picked up Tippit's gun and had left, presumably. They don't know whether he was the one that had shot Tippit, or whether the man, I think it was he, brought someone out there, something. Anyway, he saw it and he picked up Tippit's gun and attempted to give chase or something like that. .... He brought the taxi driver back to the scene. .... I took Tippit's gun and several other officers came up, and I turned him over to them and they questioned him."
Croy, who was somewhat confused about who had actually picked up Tippit's gun, was obviously talking about Ted Callaway in his above testimony. And it was obviously Callaway (not the "taxi driver", William Scoggins) whom Croy had "turned over" to the "other officers" for questioning.
My contention is that after Croy had retrieved Tippit's revolver from Callaway and had "turned over" Callaway to the other policemen at the scene (one of which was Bud Owens), it's quite possible that Owens then asked Callaway for more information and also asked him to produce some identification.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Ron Reiland could have filmed Sergeant Owens holding both Tippit's revolver (after having just received it from Croy) and Ted Callaway's wallet.
Quoting from Dale Myers' 1998 book:
"The opening sequence [of Ron Reiland's film] shows police gathered around Tippit's squad car questioning eyewitness Helen Markham. The officers depicted include Patrolman Joe M. Poe and Leonard E. Jez, Reserve Sergeant Kenneth Croy, and Sergeant Calvin "Bud" Owens.
"Within seconds, crime scene search Officer W.E. "Pete" Barnes and Detective Paul Bentley arrive at the scene. The arrival of Barnes and Bentley pins the time frame of these sequences to 1:42 p.m.--about eight minutes before Oswald's arrest at the Texas Theater." -- Page 292 of "With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald And The Murder Of Officer J.D. Tippit"
Vincent Bugliosi wrote this in his 2007 book:
"No one other than [FBI agent Robert M.] Barrett ever mentioned Oswald’s wallet, or any wallet, being found at the Tippit murder scene. The only item mentioned by anyone as being found near Tippit’s body was his service revolver. Indeed, every civilian and police witness whom [Dale] Myers questioned said they saw no wallet at the murder scene. For instance, Ted Callaway said, “I’ll tell you one thing, there was no billfold at that scene. If there was, there would have been too many people who would have seen it” (Myers, 'With Malice', p.300)." -- Page 453 of "Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy" (Endnotes)
Now, granted, the "no billfold at that scene" quote from the lips of Ted Callaway could conceivably throw a monkey wrench into my theory about the wallet possibly being Callaway's, because since Callaway said those words to "With Malice" author Dale K. Myers in an interview on April 9, 1996, the argument could be made that Callaway's memory would certainly have been refreshed and revitalized concerning the issue of wallets and/or "billfold[s]" being on display at the scene of Officer Tippit's murder. And, therefore, Callaway would probably have remembered handing his own wallet over to Sergeant Owens on Tenth Street.
But, then too, Callaway's comment to Myers in 1996 about there being "no billfold" found on the ground at the Tippit murder scene is really not inconsistent with my theory about the wallet possibly belonging to Callaway himself. After all, Callaway was talking to Myers about a billfold/wallet being found on the ground AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME.
Obviously, the theory about the wallet possibly being Callaway's is far from conclusive. The "wallet mystery" remains a mystery, and probably will never be completely resolved. I merely wanted to add one additional possibility to the list of theories regarding this wallet issue.
The theory about the wallet being Callaway's is even mentioned in Dale Myers' book:
"The suggestion is that Callaway's free use of Tippit's revolver might have sparked police to check his identification upon his return to the murder scene. Yet, Callaway says it never happened. [In a 1996 interview, Callaway said this:] "When I got out of the cab, I didn't hesitate a bit like a lot of guys would. I walked straight to this plainclothes officer [wearing hat and glasses] and I said, 'Here's the officer's pistol.' He said, 'Okay, thank you very much.' After that I walked right back to the lot [the nearby used-car lot on Jefferson Boulevard where Callaway was employed]."" -- Page 303 of "With Malice"
However, the above comments made by Ted Callaway in 1996 conflict with the testimony of Kenneth Croy of the DPD, who said: "I took Tippit's gun and several other officers came up, and I turned him over to them and they questioned him."
In the final analysis, like Vincent Bugliosi, I think the most likely answer is that the wallet being examined by the Dallas police on 10th Street belonged to J.D. Tippit. But after thinking about this wallet topic some more, I think the theory about Callaway makes a great deal of sense as well.
Here are some more excerpts from Bugliosi's book concerning this topic:
"One thing we can be reasonably certain about: the wallet was not Oswald’s. Myers closely compared a close-up photo of Oswald’s arrest wallet with the wallet found at the murder scene and found definite physical differences, causing him to conclude that “the Oswald arrest wallet is not the same billfold seen in the WFAA newsfilm” (Myers, 'With Malice', pp.298–299).
"Furthermore, a Dallas police officer had just been slain. It is inconceivable that members of the Dallas Police Department like Captains Westbrook and Doughty and Sergeant Hill would suppress and keep secret the fact that Tippit’s killer had left his calling card at the murder scene. That simply would not, could not, have happened.
"If Oswald’s wallet had been found at the murder scene, it is inconceivable that nowhere in the testimony or the reports of Westbrook, Hill, Doughty, Poe, and so on, would they bother to mention this extremely important fact. ....
"If I had to wager, I’d conclude it was Tippit’s wallet, and the reason Reiland stated, on WFAA film, that it was Tippit’s wallet is that the police had informed him at the scene that it was.* Quite apart from Barrett, it makes no sense to me that the Dallas police and detectives, several of whom were Tippit’s friends, would keep from the world that his killer’s wallet was found near his body." -- Vincent Bugliosi; Pages 454 and 456 of "Reclaiming History" (Endnotes)(c.2007)
* = Also see THIS ADDENDUM regarding Ron Reiland and the wallet.
David Von Pein