The Coke Incident, Fritz’s Notes and the Limo Stop
by Pete Engwall & Staffan H. Westerberg
We look for scenes that never were. Seemingly innocent scenes that have made the research effort to always follow the same path and never venture outside the box. Most of us researchers believe there are lots of traps and pitfalls surrounding the Kennedy assassination, many with the sole purpose of leading us astray. But it is too seldom we manage to identify them.
In this article we will look for innocent facts that have become navigational aides, and also those small things that primarily mean very little but somehow lock up the story and place Lee Harvey Oswald near the needed scene. For instance, did “the Coke incident” with Oswald in the second floor lunchroom ever really happen? What has that scene ultimately given us?
Well, not only does it establish that Oswald was inside the building, it also undermines the possibility of him having been outside the School Book Depository. It then shows what time he was seen in the building, and where in the building he was seen and by whom. The question undoubtedly becomes: Could Oswald have done it? Could he have made it in time? It also paints a picture of Oswald as a loner–not outside with his co-workers to watch the President–something that points to sullen indifference, maybe even arrogance and guilt.
Many researchers believe in this scene with Oswald in the lunchroom. And some of them will confirm this by investigating the possibilities or non-possibilities of Oswald being able to accomplish or not accomplish the feat of getting to the lunchroom in 60-90 seconds. On top of that – did he drink a Coke or not? Or was it a Dr Pepper?
He did like Dr Pepper best, right?
Officer Baker Runs the Other Way
We think the purpose of Officer Baker meeting Oswald in the lunchroom is not about Oswald running down the stairs in time or not. It is about firmly placing Oswald at the scene of the crime, or close to it, and thus making it all possible. This way an officer of the law places him in the building at the right time, while the Coke incident becomes a diversion.
We have joined the ranks of those that doubt that the event ever occurred. There is at least one ally in this line of thinking – researcher Jim DiEugenio. As he pointed out on Black Op Radio, show no 673: When Officer Marrion Baker was questioned by the Dallas Police later that afternoon he sat across the hall from the newly arrested Lee Harvey Oswald. But there is no mention in Baker’s affidavit on the 22nd of November 1963 of him ever encountering Oswald in the lunchroom. How could he possibly recount the events of the day and forget to mention a meeting with the man accused of killing Tippit and Kennedy? Especially when he must have been questioned about it by fellow officers and his superiors, do we think those superiors would have pointed out his forgetfulness and asked him to include the incident?
Yes we do.
In his first affidavit Officer Baker surprisingly gave the description of the man he allegedly encountered on the third or fourth floor at 12:31pm as being “approximately 30 years old, 5’9”, 165 pounds, dark hair and wearing a light brown jacket.” Why should he be so lucky to remember the description of the man and put it in the affidavit when the foreman Roy Truly had asked Baker to disregard him “because he was one of the workers in the building”? It gets more intriguing when we understand that Baker’s description is very near the description that would go out over the police radio 12-13 minutes later: “White slender male, dark hair, in his 30s, weight 165 pounds, height 5’10”.
Still, none of these descriptions really portrayed Oswald, who was indeed 5’9” tall, but weighed only 131 pounds, was only 24 years old and did not have dark hair, but light brown, receding hair, and was wearing a brown-orange shirt.
In spite of this peculiar similarity, Baker was not the source of the description going out at 12:45. However, the height and weight given in both descriptions was strangely enough almost an exact match to the measurements attributed to Lee Harvey Oswald in Oswald’s FBI file as well as in CIA documents about him. It becomes a case of two wrongs don’t make a right; on the contrary it could be viewed as a hint of planted information.
Officer Baker’s actions on the day in question are quite interesting. At a time when nearly all witnesses on Elm Street ran towards the picket fence up on the grassy knoll – because that’s where they thought the shots had come from – Baker quickly made his way to the Book Depository. In that pursuit the policeman was practically alone.
Would it not be reasonable to assume that when he parked his motorcycle, Officer Baker must have seen, heard or understood the situation of shooters on the knoll? Apparently he ignored that and scurried to the Depository building because he had heard three shots and allegedly seen a flock of pigeons take off from the roof.
We find it suspicious that Officer Baker, in deciding where to focus his attention, placed more trust in pigeons rather than people. As a cop he should have been able to make a better judgment call and possibly have aimed to protect the people running into danger – because, how would he know the shooting had stopped?
As it was, Baker made some sort of perfect mistake. He didn’t go to where the shots most likely had originated. Instead he went where the shots officially had come from. When the Warren Commission questioned Marrion Baker in 1964 there were several interruptions while going off the record. DiEugenio suggests the scene with Baker encountering Oswald in the second floor lunchroom is at the very least suspicious.
So what particular role did the Coke scene play in light of the overall impression of Oswald’s actions and his whereabouts after the shots? As we have said, we believe it was strictly created to place Oswald inside the building at the critical time. It certainly made him out to look like a loner, one that was not together with his co-workers outside the Book Depository looking at the Presidents motorcade. No, this rather strange guy chose to sit by himself and enjoy a Coke in the second floor lunchroom, instead of stepping outside to watch the most famous couple in the world. Is that really believable? The scene has more or less grown to become one of the sacred cows in the history of the JFK assassination. If it was a made up scene for the purpose of making sure all discussions and arguments would be about the wrong thing, then they certainly have succeeded. For 50 years now we have had the impression of a real scene and argued over Coke versus Dr Pepper, while we perhaps should have been directing the attention at the most logical spot where Oswald could have been, namely out front with Bill Shelley, Buell Wesley Frazier and Billy Lovelady.
There are no other witnesses than Dallas Police Officer Marrion Baker and foreman Roy Truly that have been given the task of confirming the whereabouts of Lee Harvey Oswald the minutes after the shooting took place. This way the planners not only have a witness, but a police officer who is a witness; that is about as good a witness as one can have here. The other thing it does is to cut the timing so close that all focusing goes to the question of time; could he have done it? Did he have enough time? All it had to do was to firmly establish that Oswald was a possible killer and that it did do. Now all they had to do was to show a plausible way for it to have happened; remember that Oswald did not have any competition for being named JFK’s assassin.
In 1997 the ARRB managed to declassify Captain Will Fritz notes, supposedly taken a week or two after the heinous event in Dallas. Many researchers think those few scribbled pages are legitimate and some even use them as proof of Oswald being outside the Book Depository at the time of the shooting. We wonder why the Chief of Homicide would take down notes a few weeks after he had spoken to the suspect, who was dead by then? Why he did that has never been clarified.
When you do some form of light analysis of the notes one can’t help but get stuck on the phrase allegedly coming from Oswald: “Claims 2nd floor Coke when off came in”. We guess this would mean that during the interrogation, Oswald told Captain Fritz that he had a Coke when the officer came in, meaning Marrion Baker. So, the notes tell us about the Coke incident and also that at some time Oswald was out with Bill Shelley. But we don’t know what questions he was answering. It becomes a guessing game. What question would precede Oswald’s claims of having had a Coke when an officer came in?
- What did you do after the shooting?
- After the shots you went back into the building, where did you go, did you meet anyone?
From the looks of the notes, after Oswald allegedly had met the officer (60-90 seconds after the shooting) he then went “to 1st floor had lunch”, and after that he was “out with Bill Shelley in front”.
The question of where Oswald was when the shots were fired may not have been asked of him at all. Or are we supposed to read Fritz’s notes backwards?
In 1964 Will Fritz told Joseph Ball of the Warren Commission “the questions may be in the wrong place” – which makes the notes even harder to translate.
The way we read the notes is: Oswald was never asked what he did when the shots were fired, and after the shots he went to the second floor lunchroom to buy a Coke, then he went down stairs to the first floor to have lunch, and after lunch he went outside with Bill Shelley. If you follow that chronology, this is what he said. But, as Fritz sort of told Ball, it could have been the other way around. Oswald could have been asked where he was during the shooting, and told Fritz he was out with Bill Shelley in front.
Consequently many researchers have used the “out with Bill Shelley in front” as proof of Oswald being outside when the shots occurred. This could be true, but it could also be totally false. We simply don’t know what the question was.
However, one gets the impression that Fritz’ notes try to hide something. It might be the fact that they were written some time later, or much later, yet Fritz still retained the look of notes being taken during the interrogation; using abbreviations and a “quick and dirty” manner in appearance. Even if they were written a week later, would they not be written with the idea of wanting to communicate the information given to him by Oswald? Why does it look like Fritz was running out of space when writing the notes?
Why abbreviate when you should try to clarify?
Why make it barely legible?
These notes actually look like an attempt at making a recreation of a note that would or could have been taken, which of course serves no evidentiary value at all. And when you combine the fact that Baker ran straight to the building because of pigeons when all witnesses to the shooting went towards the knoll; and when Baker pointed his revolver to the man he later would see as the arrested man, but still failed to remember he had met him in the second floor lunchroom by the Coke machine; and the fact that Baker gave out almost the same wrong description of Oswald as was published in the radio message at 12:45! On top of that, Fritz wrote the notes a week or more later and made them look like real notes taken during the interrogation. The many questionable circumstances are enough to doubt the validity of Baker’s actions, the Coke incident and Captain Fritz’ notes – actually it’s enough to question the entire scene.
Mannlicher Carcano or Mauser
Another scene that appears to be full of contradictions is the finding of the weapon on the sixth floor. Was it a Mauser or a Mannlicher Carcano? There are hoards of researchers that have invested hours, if not days, investigating this seemingly impossible task. And what does it matter? We can argue over this endlessly and still never get an inch closer to the truth. What “the men behind the plot” get away with here is that very few researchers seems to look at the simple fact that by the time they found the weapon, there were actually TWO reported weapons: One in the description going out at 12:45 and the official Mannlicher Carcano (Mauser). Obviously the person that was the alleged source to the description saw a man running out of the building with a weapon in his hands. Now, if the suspect was running out from the building, the source surely didn’t see him up on the sixth floor with the weapon. (And by now most of us think Howard Brennan was a bought and fake witness.) We know all this because J Edgar Hoover wrote to J Lee Rankin about a man that had been seen (by an unknown source) running out from the Book Depository with a 30 Caliber weapon in his hands. But “they” got us to dwell on what type of weapon they found on the sixth floor. Still this makes it two weapons.
And Officer Herbert Sawyer made a claim that he talked to someone whom he forgot to identify; a man who allegedly was the source to the description. But how likely is it that a police officer with many years of experience wouldn’t know to secure an ID on a crucial witness, or that the officer wouldn’t know an unknown source would count for nothing in a court of law? Of course we believe there never was a real source. Most of us think all this was planted information and key people within the Dallas Police just trying to follow a script.
Oswald in Mexico City
Did Lee Harvey Oswald go to Mexico City or not? That’s another question that divides many researchers on the CT side of the JFK assassination. But is it an important question. What significance does it have whether he was there or not? Well, many would say it shows the Governments complicity. And that is, of course, true. But we tend to think it’s just another “object” to get stuck on. It seems to us the real question should be what was this story possibly used for?
Perhaps the best possible way to use the information, as far as we can tell, is the “40 million dead Americans” argument, used by Lyndon B. Johnson to get people to help cover up the conspiracy. We know that was a success; Johnson used it to exit from Parkland Hospital a few minutes after the President had been declared dead. Johnson said something to the effect: “I better get out of here, we don’t know if this is a worldwide conspiracy, maybe I am a target too.”
Did this argument lead to beefed up security around the new Commander in Chief? No, nothing. There were no extra security measures taken whatsoever. Johnson stayed on Air Force One a long time exposing himself to an attack and he continued to expose himself getting off at Andrews Air Force Base when he gave the speech in full view of all the press and the military that was present.
Still Lyndon Johnson used the “40 million dead Americans” argument [paraphrased] when he confronted potential board members, Earl Warren and Richard Russell:
“There is talk of a conspiracy involving the Soviets and/or Fidel Castro, and if the American people catch wind of this, World War III could break out” – meaning Oswald was their sniper – “and you better help out or we will all be in a shit-pile of trouble.”
If this was the way to get innocent people onboard to help cover up the crime, it was a very smart scheme. This way, all evidence of a conspiracy would be eagerly and efficiently covered up and all planted and bogus evidence that pointed to a lone gunman – Lee Harvey Oswald – would be enhanced and used as evidence.
The way it looks to us is that Oswald in Mexico City was sort of a bridgehead to this scenario: It was the secret proof of a connection between the shooter and the commie bastards who wanted Jack Kennedy dead. So, not to cause an all-out nuclear war, many people in the Government and the establishment helped out for the love of country and the pursuit of peace, while the Oswald in Mexico City became an argument amongst researchers so that sharp minds were focused on something totally inconsequential.
The Autopsy Photographs and X-Rays
The same pattern can be seen when it comes to JFK’s autopsy photographs and x-rays. The photographers who took the photographs say that the ones stored in the National Archives don’t show what they saw when they took the photographs. Also, they are on the wrong type of film. Furthermore, the x-rays and autopsy photographs are not even compatible with each other. All of us can see that.
The story behind the photographs is almost something out of the “twilight zone”. After viewing them, Earl Warren allegedly decided that they were much too awful to be used or published in the Warren Report; this of course out of consideration for the Kennedy family. Actually, no one was to view them – officially that is. It was then decided that the Commission only was to view sketches or drawings of the president’s wounds. The pathologists Humes and Boswell would therefore explain and dictate to a sketch artist by the name of Harold Rydberg what the wounds looked like – and that’s what was to be served as evidence to the American people. When we see the result of this apparent criminal chain of evidence it becomes beyond absurd, because the wound in the back of JFK’s head was to have no less than four different appearances: A baseball size wound in the back of the head at Parkland Hospital would then become a gigantic size (5 times larger) before the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital, only for nearly all of it to completely disappear in the autopsy photographs taken of the back of JFK’s head! Finally, Rydberg’s sketch shows a wound on the top of Kennedy’s head, looking like a star; a wound absolutely no one had seen.
So, how would they have used these fake photographs?
Perhaps like this:
Those that needed to play a role in the cover-up, or be convinced, one way or the other secretly and in confidence be shown the photographs, and they’d see that there was no hole in the back of Kennedy’s head. Then they would “know” the Dallas doctors were wrong in their findings, followed by the famous argument: “Well, they didn’t really have the task of checking the wounds out, they were more focused on trying to save the president’s life, and they were mistaken.” This most speculative MO, on our behalf, would only work if the photographs were never presented to the Dallas doctors and personnel, which of course they weren’t. Finally, when innocent Americans, who participated in covering up the crime, understood that they had been served a bunch of lies. In that horrible moment they would most likely also realize who killed Kennedy – and if they didn’t keep quiet they knew they could be next in line.
Purpose of the Zapruder Film
On the very day of John F. Kennedy’s funeral a young reporter by the name of Dan Rather was one of a few who got the incredible opportunity to view an 8mm film taken by white Russian dress manufacturer Abraham Zapruder. The so-called Zapruder film has become one of the most famous homemade films in history and it shows when Kennedy was shot to death coming down in the limousine on Elm Street. During the weekend after the assassination Abraham Zapruder sold the film to CIA friend Henry Luce’s company Time Life Incorporated for the neat sum of $150,000 dollars. When Dan Rather got back from the screening of the film he sat down in front of a TV camera to extemporize live to America what he had just seen in the film.
In the middle of his report Dan Rather suddenly said:
The car never stopped, it never paused…
Now, wait a minute. Why would Dan Rather say a thing like that? It was only three days after the terrible shots on Elm Street and this eager reporter felt the need to inform America of what didn’t happen. He might as well have said: The driver didn’t hit the curb, people didn’t run in front of the car, other cars didn’t pass by the limo and Bob Hope was nowhere to be seen.
Today we know that about 60 witnesses said the limo came to either a near or a complete stop. Anybody who has followed John Costella’s work and understands the physics behind the created faults in the movie; or has read Doug Horne’s vast work in Inside the ARRB; or who has heard or seen interviews with Dino Brugioni, Homer McMahon, Rich DellaRosa, Don Adams or Wesley Swearingen, not to mention Greg Burnham; anybody who has done that would understand there is something very wrong with the extant film. The so-called Zapruder film simply has to be seriously altered, or as Costella indicates – the film is a fabrication and most possibly part of a plan. Together with other research, such as Vince Palamara’s endeavor into the mysterious behavior of the Secret Service from Love Field to Dealey Plaza, or that of the late Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty in many enlightening interviews with Len Osanic, we pretty much get that there is no good reason why the “men behind the coup” would alter everything else but the Zapruder film (and the Nix film etc.). Why would the film depict the truth when nothing else in this case will?
Back to Dan Rather. On the 25th of November 1963, he should have known nothing of any limo stop – unless of course he had seen it in the film that day and been told not to mention it – or worse, someone had given him a manuscript to read from. Anybody who offered information of that sort without having been asked the question of a limo stop would be considered suspicious. Well, Rather was not alone. Curiously enough, photographer James “Ike” Altgens did a similar thing on the 22nd of July 1964, when assistant counsel Wesley Liebeler of the Warren Commission questioned him. Without getting a specific question about the actions of the limo, Altgens still offered to tell Liebeler that the limo didn’t stop, just like Dan Rather had.
So if Costella, Horne, Burnham and many others are right about the Zapruder film not showing what really happened when Kennedy was assassinated, and if Costella is right about the film, it had been planned before the event. But why?
We see the same old MO being used even for the film. Maybe they tucked it away in Time Life’s archives for 12 years because of the back-and-to-the-left-movement? Maybe that was the big mistake in an otherwise perfect film (for 1963)? Many other frames they could handle with using the same frame over and over again. For instance, the “chicken dance”, when Kennedy flapped his elbows up and down to the sides. No witnesses reported having seen that. It could mean he did that for just a brief moment, but they copied that image and used it in many frames to cover up the many hits; Kennedy was possibly hit with five bullets, according to David Mantik – one in the back, one in the lower part in the back of the head, one in the front part of the neck, one in the hairline above his right eye and finally one just above his right ear, which was the bullet that caused the blowout in the back of the head. So maybe the reason to use the “chicken dance” was to cover up the many shots at Kennedy. However, the President falling down into Jackie’s lap would be hard to change and cover up, since he only fell down once, in only one way and in only one direction.
Back to the purpose of the film. The Warren Commission didn’t allow the film in its report. The FBI ignored it in its investigation. But we bet a lot of people in the establishment got to see the extant film, if nothing else for the need to perhaps suppress rumors of Secret Service complicity. Apparently more than a few individuals from both inside and outside of the Government have reported viewing an “other” film, which may or may not be from an earlier unaltered copy of the Zapruder film. They include people such as FBI agents Don Adams and Wes Swearingen, military men such as Rich DellaRosa, and civilians such as Milicent Cranor and Greg Burnham, among others.
Therefore the back-and-to-the-left-movement perhaps stopped the film to be used as the best evidence against all the witnesses in Dealey Plaza. There is ample evidence of many shooters around Elm Street that day; they knew there would be shots from the front, shots that they must be able to hide and made to disappear.
The film could essentially have been planned and thought to be used for showing “a reality” the men behind the coup wanted the world to see. That’s the most likely MO of the film, in our opinion. And it is perhaps more than suspicious that of all the hundreds of thousands of citizen’s of Dallas, the one who would make the most important film of the Century would also have ties to Oswald’s alleged handler George de Mohrenschildt and be a member of the Dallas Petroleum Club together with people such as CIA’s David Atlee Phillips and George Bush. Why would Abraham Zapruder get to keep his film and be rich off of it, when other spectators who took pictures and/or filmed the event lost theirs and never got them back? Several film experts and JFK researchers will also say the extant film is made up of perhaps several films.
Maybe Abraham Zapruder was all a hoax? Anything is possible.
Staffan H Westerberg: I am a 53 year old journalist from Stockholm, Sweden, who used to live in the States in the 80s – lived in LA and have a lot of relatives in the Chicago area since the 1930s. I have been an investigative journalist since the mid 90s and did mostly crime investigations/reportage. Have been deeply into the JFK assassination (as a hobby) since the 80s, when the first episodes of The Men Who Killed Kennedy aired. Then of course more in dept after Oliver Stone’s film JFK. I even got a Swedish regiment (and myself with 11B background in both the Swedish Army and the US Army) to do a reconstruction of “Oswald’s shooting” with Swedish snipers. Do I need to say we all failed; the third shot was impossible to get a hit – and we used all kinds of weapons, not a Mannlicher Carcano.
Pete Engwall is another kind of creature. He is actually an inventor, from a long line of inventors. He is related to Jonas Engwall, one of John Erikssons apprentices, (J Engwall actually invented the propeller). Pete is also related to Wilhelm von Scheele, who discovered 7 basic elements, among them Oxygen. Pete used to live in California, worked as a building inspector and builder among many things. He stayed in the US for nearly 30 years.
During the last three years we have been researching the JFK assassination intensively, it became a book (in Swedish) which is sort of a report of the murder in Dealey Plaza. It’s an easy read, a sort of compilation under the title “They All Knew – What the rest of the world never knew about the JFK assassination”, (not published yet). The title is a quote from Fletcher Prouty (to Len Osanic).
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