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Saturday, 17 April 2021 17:50

Fred Litwin on the Facts of the JFK Case

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Matt Douthit reviews Fred Litwin’s book, I Was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak, chapter-by-chapter with respect to the facts of the case as they stand today.


This is a relatively concise review of Fred Litwin’s first book on the John Kennedy assassination, I Was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak. It will be by chapters—excepting Litwin’s discussion of the Jim Garrison inquiry. Jim DiEugenio has reviewed Litwin’s work on that issue at length and in depth. (Click here and here)

Chapter 1

Litwin says first generation critics “started finding small inconsistencies” in the case. But they were actually big inconsistencies (e.g. the dubious provenance of CE 399). (Click here for details) He also avows: “The motorcade had to turn onto Elm Street so it could take an exit to the Stemmons Freeway which would have taken them to the Dallas Trade Mart for Kennedy’s speech.”

Like his previous statement, this one is also false. The motorcade could have taken Main St. to Industrial Blvd. What is so odd about this error is that the correct information is in the House Select Committee volumes, which, on other occasions, Litwin values highly. (HSCA Vol. 11, p. 522) He incorrectly says there are “20,000 pages” in the Warren Commission’s 26 volumes of testimony and evidence. There are really 17,816 pages. Shockingly, before even going into the actual evidence at all, Litwin casually says: “The authors of the Warren Report were honorable men who conducted an honest investigation and reached the right answer.” As many have pointed out, in this day and age, for anyone to call people like Allen Dulles, John McCloy, and Jerry Ford honorable men is wildly archaic. He incorrectly says John Connally’s “lapel” flipped as an indication of a bullet transit—yet his chest wound was not near the lapel! (Click here for details)

The Canadian author then goes through the “overwhelming evidence” against Oswald. He claims Oswald had “a long…package”—but the two witnesses to it said it was not long. (WC Vol. 2, pp. 239–240, 249) Litwin claims that “after the assassination, Oswald was the only warehouseman missing”—but Charles Givens was also missing. (WC Vol. 3, pp.183, 208) Litwin nonchalantly says Oswald “killed police officer J.D. Tippit,” which, with the accumulation of evidence we have on that case today, is a quite dubious statement. (Click here for details)

But Litwin marches on. He also claims that “many witnesses identified Oswald“—but those “identifications” were based on rigged lineups and some were made months after he was dead and nationally known. One of the best examinations of the line ups was made by the late British police inspector Ian Griggs. To name just two problems: Griggs noted that in the British model, there should be 7 other people in a line up and they should be of similar age, height and appearance. (Ian Griggs, No Case to Answer, p. 81) After a seventeen-page analysis, Griggs concluded that, to put it mildly, these guidelines were not adhered to with Oswald. For example, there were only three other people in the Oswald line ups. As per similar physical appearances, Homicide Detective Elmer Boyd said, well “Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.” (Griggs, p. 83) As per age, Oswald was 24. Two of the stand-ins were 18 years old. Further, Oswald was the only one with bruises on his face. And although the others made up their names and occupations, Oswald did not. Even though, by the time of most of the line ups, his name and place of work had been broadcast on radio and TV. (Ibid, pp. 85–86)

But further, one of the witnesses, Helen Markham, was so weak and faint that the police had to administer her ammonia. Or as Captain Fritz testified to the Commission:

We were trying to get that show up as soon as we could, because she was beginning to faint and getting sick. In fact, I had to leave the office and carry some ammonia across the hall, they were about to send her to the hospital or something and we needed that identification real quickly, and she got to feeling all right after using this ammonia. (WC Vol 4, p. 212)

Line-up witness Cecil McWatters, a bus driver, later admitted that Oswald was not even the man he recalled from his bus ride. He was trying to identify Roy Milton Jones. (Griggs, p. 87) Then, of course, there was the testimony of cab driver Bill Whaley. Whaley said that anyone could have identified Oswald, because he was carrying on and yelling at the policemen. He said it was not right for him to be placed in a line-up with teenagers. If Litwin had been in Oswald’s place, would he not have done the same? (Griggs, p. 90)

Litwin then says that “one expert concluded that one of the four bullets recovered from Tippit’s body matched the revolver found in Oswald’s possession”—but 8 other experts disagreed with him, and moreover that bullet did not appear for a quarter of a year! (WC Vol. 3, p.474) Litwin says “the expended [Tippit] cartridge cases matched Oswald’s gun to the exclusion of all other weapons”—but those cases did not appear for a week (WC Vol. 24, pp. 253, 332) and four officers’ initials disappeared from them. (WC Vol. 7, pp. 251, 275–276; Vol. 24, p. 415) They could not be identified by the three witnesses as the ones they found that day. (WC Vol. 24, pp. 414–415) And as most of us know, two of the cases were from Winchester Western and two were from Remington-Peters. While three bullets were from Winchester and one was from Remington. (Henry Hurt, Reasonable Doubt, p. 152)

Litwin says “Oswald’s right palm print was found on the rifle barrel”—but the only person to see this print said it was an old print. (Gary Savage, First Day Evidence, p. 108) Litwin then says “his fingerprints were found on the bag used to carry the rifle to work.” Yet, when FBI expert Sebastian LaTona initially examined the bag on 11/23, he could find no latent prints on it. (WC Vol 4, p. 3) Litwin then declares: “Faced with this massive amount of incriminating evidence, the critics could only chip away at the margins.” But as the reader can clearly see above, this author did not “chip away at the margins.” I simply debunked Litwin’s claims with original evidence.

Litwin then proceeds to speak in paragraphs to derail witness Lee Bowers’ account, but he never gets to the meat and potatoes. So I will spell it out here…Bowers told Mark Lane on camera on March 31, 1966:

There were, at the time of the shooting, 2 men standing at the top of the incline. And one of them, from time-to-time as he walked back-and-forth, uh—disappeared behind a wooden fence, which also is—uh—slightly to the west of that. At the time of the shooting, in the vicinity of where the 2 men were, there was a flash of light. The area was sealed off by at least 50 police within 3 to 5 minutes. I was there only to tell ’em what they asked, and—uh—so that when they seemed to want to cut off the conversation. (Click here to watch the video)

Litwin also apparently doesn’t know that subsequently two of Bowers’ friends independently came forward and confirmed that, yes, he did see more than he told the Warren Commission, but he was afraid. He didn’t want his life threatened or ruined, being one of the key witnesses against Lee Oswald as the lone shooter. (Josiah Thompson, Last Second in Dallas, pp. 66—67)

Litwin avows that “Dealey Plaza was an echo chamber which made it hard for witnesses to determine the direction of the shots.” This is not accurate. As Josiah Thompson points out in Last Second in Dallas, “The knoll is covered with trees and grass and a wooden fence, all sound-absorbing materials.” (Thompson, p. 38) And further, the flash of light, smoke, fresh footprints, cigarette butts, and an anomalous shape in the Moorman photo all confirm the 58 grassy knoll ear witnesses! (See Thompson, Chapter 5) All of which are JFK 101 and never mentioned in Litwin’s book. Litwin declares “there were absolutely no witnesses to gunmen on the grassy knoll or behind the picket fence.” Well, of course, everyone was looking at the President, not at some random fence in the corner! Snipers are trained to not be seen. But, as we shall see, we do have physical and photographic evidence left behind which indicates such.

Litwin claims “the Dallas doctors did not see the [rear skull] entrance wound because they didn’t turn Kennedy’s body over”—but they did lift the head up and this wound was seen by Drs. Jenkins and Grossman. Litwin says “Virginia and Barbara Davis saw Oswald run across their lawn after the [Tippit] murder.” But remember, they pointed him out of a rigged lineup. Also, the Davis sisters were really confused witnesses. For instance, Barbara claimed she saw the killer again “a few minutes later” after the shooting! (CD 630e, p. 1) And Virginia claimed she heard the second gunshot “a few minutes later” after the first one! (CD 630f, p. 1) So they were confused witnesses.

Chapter 3

Litwin incorrectly says the Zapruder film is “27 seconds” when, of course, it is 26 seconds. He says the parade route “never changed”—but Secret Service agent Gerald Behn confirmed to Vince Palamara the route was changed for the Dallas trip! (Survivor’s Guilt, p. 104) Palamara’s book is the best there is on this issue. He brings in not just Behn, but three other DPD witnesses to back him up.

Litwin likes to make a big deal that in 1972 Drs. John Lattimer and Cyril Wecht, after viewing the autopsy materials, concluded JFK was only hit from the rear. But the fact is that we have come very far since 1972 and, because of this, Wecht has since changed his mind. But Litwin doesn’t explain this context. He cites Lattimer’s old myth of Connally having an “elongated wound in the back”—but Connally’s doctor testified it was elongated only after he removed damaged skin. (WC Vol. 6, p. 88) He says “Kennedy’s head moved forward before it moved back and to the left”—but this has since been shown to likely be an optional illusion due to camera movement. (Thompson, Last Second in Dallas, pp. 197–205) Litwin says the back and to the left “was probably caused by a neuromuscular spasm”—but as another reviewer has pointed out, “no expert in neuroscience has ever supported this hypothesis.” Moreover, neuromuscular spasms only occur when the nerve centers—at the bottom of the brain—are inflicted and JFK’s were not. Litwin also says “there might also have been some minor movement due to something called the ‘jet effect’”—but the fact of the matter is that this theory met a timely end in 2014 (Click here for details)

Litwin: “The autopsy materials…totally refuted a shot from the front.” This is false. The lateral X-ray (assuming it’s authentic) clearly shows a trail of bullet fragments going from front to back. Due to the new work by Dr. Michael Chesser, we know it goes from front to back, because the largest fragments are in the back. That means a shot from the front. (Click here for a long version of Chesser’s work)

Chapter 5

Litwin touches a bit on the acoustics evidence, but ignored the recent work that has been done on it. His argument seems very dated. He avows that “the autopsy X-rays and photographs…showed a small wound in the back of Kennedy’s head”—this would be news to the autopsy doctor James Humes, who couldn’t find one when shown the materials during his ARRB deposition. Litwin says “the Zapruder film shows the back of Kennedy’s head to be intact after the fatal shot”—but (assuming the film is authentic) the back of the head is unfortunately in shadow in the Zapruder film. What Litwin also doesn’t say is that actually a few frames are not in shadow and they do in fact show the rear of the head blown out! (Frames 335, 337, 374)

He says “you can see a visible exit wound in the right front”—but that is actually a flap of scalp hanging down. Litwin ignores the following facts: Press secretary Malcolm Kilduff indicated in public that a shot hit Kennedy in the right temple. Or that Chet Huntley of NBC News announced this same description on TV that day and gave as the source Dr. George Burkley, Kennedy’s physician. Finally, Bill and Gayle Newman, two of the closest witnesses to the shooting, both said the bullet came from behind them—i.e. the stockade fence—and hit Kennedy in the right temple. (Thompson, Last Second in Dallas, p. 32) Is it only a coincidence that the Newmans did not testify before the Commission and neither did Burkley?

He says “his [Harrison Livingstone’s] witnesses all disagreed with each other.” I’m not sure what Litwin means here. All the witnesses Livingstone interviewed were unanimous that the back of the head was gone. Litwin (like Gerald Posner) misconstrues a 1990 quote by autopsy technician Paul O’Connor—“It has been so many years and so much has happened, I kind of doubt my own ability to remember fine details.”—Posner attributes this to O’Connor’s overall memory, but actually it was attributed to the specific question as to whether JFK was wrapped in a mattress cover! (High Treason 2, p. 272) This is simply literary hackery and Litwin just copied it from Posner’s book. (See Posner, Case Closed, p. 300)

Litwin always makes a big deal that “every forensic pathologist who had viewed the autopsy evidence had concluded that Kennedy was shot from behind.” What Litwin leaves out is that these forensic pathologists—Ramsey Clark Panel, the HSCA—never had the body in front of them. And none of them ever saw Kennedy’s brain, since it disappeared from the National Archives. But here’s the thing, none of their reports ever mention the words “grassy knoll,” “knoll,” or “fence”. They didn’t even take that into consideration. So that talking point is simply not valid. But further, Litwin also ignores this: Dr. Michael Baden conservatively acknowledged a grassy knoll headshot was possible. (HSCA Final Report, pp. 80–81)

Litwin incorrectly accuses critics of “ignoring the HSCA test results.” But these two tests—the NAA and Tom Canning’s trajectory analysis—have been through discredited by, for one, Don Thomas. (Hear No Evil, Chapters 12, 13 respectively.) He jumps on critics for using “faulty diagrams” of the single-bullet theory. He then shows a still from Dale Myers’ animation and declares: “They were in perfect alignment for a shot to hit both men.” But of course, Myers’ dishonest animation only works if you move JFK’s back wound up, stretch his neck, lean his neck way forward, shrink Connally, and slide his seat in 6 inches when it was actually 2.5 inches. (patspeer.com, Chapter 12c; click here for details) Litwin discusses the unreliable “Badgeman” image in the Moorman photo, but completely ignores the more reliable anomalous shape that Josiah Thompson points out in Six Seconds in Dallas. What is notable about this aspect of the Mary Moorman photo is that it contains two figures behind the stockade fence atop the grassy knoll. One is a fixed point, a signal tower. But the other figure disappears—it is not there in later photos, so that, very likely, was a person. (Six Seconds in Dallas, p. 127) Coincidently, the flash of light and smoke was seen there, and the fresh footprints and cigarette butts were found there. Again, none of this is mentioned in Litwin’s book. He incorrectly calls Robert Groden’s 1993 book The Death of a President—it’s actually The Killing of a President.

Chapter 6

Litwin nonchalantly mentioned Thomas Canning’s HSCA trajectory analysis—but none of the wound locations in Canning’s analysis are the same as the locations that were reported in the HSCA’s Forensic Pathology Report. Canning chose them. Yes, he chose his own wound locations! (HSCA Vol. 6, p. 33, see especially the footnote at bottom) All trying to confirm a bias—aka a lone assassin. Moreover, Canning’s trajectory analysis for the single-bullet theory is at Zapruder frame 190, and Litwin believes it happened at frame 224. (ibid, p. 34)

Litwin says “Oswald qualified as a sharpshooter in the U.S. Marines,” but ignores Commission lawyer Wesley Liebeler’s own memorandum which states that the FBI could not duplicate the shooting feat that the Commission attributed to Oswald. But in addition, all of the FBI shots were high and to the right of the target “due to an uncorrectable mechanical deficiency in the telescopic sight.” (Edward Epstein, The Assassination Chronicles, p. 148) In his famous internal memorandum—famous to anyone but Litwin—Liebeler complained that it was “simply dishonest” for the Commission not to mention this serious problem with the rifle in their chapter on the subject. But further, the military test Litwin refers to was the first shooting test Oswald took. In his second test, later on in his service, he scored considerably lower and that score was considered a “rather poor shot.” (WR, p. 191) So by the time he left the Marine Corps, that was his status. As Liebeler went on to explain, there is no evidence that he improved while in the USSR. In 1962 and 1963, the only evidence of any “practice” was that he went hunting with his brother once.

Liebeler said that the chapter glossed over the evidence that Oswald was a poor shot and had accomplished a difficult feat; and created a ‘fairy tale’ that Oswald was a good shot and had accomplished an ‘easy shot.’ (Epstein, p. 152)

Litwin incorrectly claims “there were numerous witnesses who heard a shot before Kennedy was hit in the neck”—there were only three. (patspeer.com, Chapter 9) Litwin claims “four of the Dallas doctors involved in treating Kennedy went to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., in 1988 to view the autopsy X-Rays and photographs. They all went on the record to confirm the authenticity of the autopsy materials.” This is nonsense and sleight of hand. First of all, this goes directly against what these four doctors said in the past when originally shown the back of the head photo (showing it intact).

Dr. Peters—“I don’t think it’s consistent with what I saw. There was a large hole in the back of the head through which one could see the brain. But that hole does not appear in the photograph.” (The Continuing Inquiry newsletter, 11/22/81)

Dr. Dulany—"There's a definite conflict. That's not the way I remember it." (“Dispute on JFK Assassination Evidence Persists”, The Boston Globe, 6/21/81)

Dr. Jenkins—“No, not like that. Not like that...No...That picture doesn’t look like it from the back.” (The Continuing Inquiry newsletter, 10/22/80)

Dr. McClelland—“He firmly rejected the autopsy photos.” (The Continuing Inquiry newsletter, 11/22/81)

And likewise all the other Dallas treating staff have denounced the photo. Now, concerning what those four doctors said in 1988 to NOVA, they said that if the pathologist’s hand in the photo is holding up a flap of loose skin to cover the defect in the back of the head, then the photo would be accurate. But as Dr. Michael Baden has said: “There is no flap of skin there.” (Case Closed, p. 310) So therefore, the photo is in all probability inaccurate.

Litwin mentions ARRB chairman John R. Tunheim telling Vincent Bugliosi that “there’s no smoking gun” in the remaining sealed files—as if conspirators would leave behind a trace for all the world to see! He incorrectly says Doug Horne “wrote a series of books”—it was actually one book with five volumes.

Chapter 7

Litwin avows: “Over the years, more and more documents and records have been released but no major revelation on the assassination has emerged.” This is simply not true. For instance, in 1993 the sealed HSCA testimony of JFK’s mortician Tom Robinson was declassified and it was a bombshell. For years, Warren Commission defenders have demanded to know, “Where’s the grassy knoll bullet?!” The answer came when Robinson’s testimony was released. He said:

They were literally picked out, little pieces of this bullet from all over his head…They had the little pieces. They picked them out…I watched them pick the little pieces out. They had something like a test tube or a little vial or something that they put the pieces in…Fairly many pieces…They were all small that could be picked up with forceps…The largest piece that I saw [was] maybe a quarter of an inch. (RIF#180-10089-10178)

Robinson said “that the total number would be close to 10 fragments.” (ARRB MD 180)

These numerous fragments have to be from the knoll headshot (Z–313). Why? Because they disappeared. They were removed and disappeared. The FBI never examined them. (They would’ve had to have been removed from the head early in the autopsy, for the six autopsy technicians don’t remember them.) In the end, the only fragments from the autopsy turned over to the Warren Commission were two from the Depository headshot (Z–328) that matched Oswald’s rifle. (Thompson, pp. 222–28)

When I asked Litwin if he knows who Tom Robinson is, his response to me was: “The terrific British rocker…I have several of his CDs.” (4/6/21 Facebook message)

Litwin’s Postscript

Litwin writes: “Oliver Stone is locked in for life his with conspiracy theories—there’s nothing that could ever change his mind.” I simply turn the question around on Litwin: is there anything that could ever change YOUR mind? He simply replied: “Evidence.” (ibid)

Well, I’ve spent countless hours both in person and online TRYING to patiently tell Fred Litwin the evidence, but it’s always the same—excuses, arguments from authority, and stubbornness. I was (and am still) truly shocked by his blatant denial and ignorance. It’s actually mind-torturing. At this point, I can only shake my head. As someone once said, “You can pile up all the evidence in the world and they don’t wanna listen.”

My Postscript

Litwin relayed a story to me:

It’s a story that should be in my Teenage Conspiracy Freak book, but isn’t. It goes like this. As I was slowly changing my opinion, I decided it was time to read Posner's book. I bought it…but I couldn't open it. It sat there for days…until I decided to read the medical evidence chapter. I thought it was a great chapter—in fact, I wish I had written it…and I knew then that there was no conspiracy…and I put the book down…a changed man. (1/15/21 Facebook message)

I was taken aback by this. First of all, in his book, he says what turned him around on the JFK case was the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979. Now that is moved forward to 1993? And he still cannot provide any evidence of anything he wrote while he was in the critical community camp? Second, Gary Aguilar interviewed two Kennedy autopsy doctors, Dr. Boswell and Dr. Humes, who both denied the words Posner put in their mouths. Boswell went even further: he said he never talked to Posner. (Click here for details) The truth of the matter is that Gerald Posner’s book Case Closed has been debunked 7 ways to Sunday ever since it was first published in 1993. (Click here for details)

I reminded Litwin of this and he just said: “It has not been debunked.” I then proposed, “If I could prove it has been debunked, what would you say?” Litwin retorted: “If you could prove the earth is flat, what would I say?” (ibid.) When I told him “Baden says it’s possible a shot from the knoll”, Litwin retorted: “It’s possible we are being visited by flying saucers; and it is possible that Bigfoot exists.” (4/5/21 Facebook message)

Folks, that’s Fred Litwin for you.

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 May 2021 18:55
Matt Douthit

Matt Douthit became interested in Kennedy's assassination and history in 2008 at the age of 12. He is the author of the upcoming book "JFK: The Missing Witnesses", and runs the largest JFK assassination group on Facebook. He is an audio-visual specialist, and resides in Dallas, Texas.

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