Credit: Dale K. Myers


Over fifty years worth of conspiracy books and rumors have created a swamp of misinformation about J.D. Tippit and his role in the events of November 22, 1963.

In 1998 (with an expanded update in 2013), I wrote With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit  in an effort to dispell the myths and create a factual resource that future generations could turn to in their quest for answers.

Today, the tool of choice for learning about this controversial subject is the Internet. Unfortunately, this technological marvel has made it easy to perpetuate many of the myths surrounding Tippit and his murder. Undocumented postings in conspiracy-oriented newsgroups, sensationalistic websites, and easy access to long outdated first generation conspiracy books have kept much of the misinformation alive and well.

On this page you'll find real answers to the most frequently asked questions about J.D. Tippit's life and death. Nearly all of this information appears, in much greater detail, in With Malice. If you have a question you'd like answered, please submit it by clicking HERE. Answers to the most frequently asked questions will appear in this forum.
Dale K. Myers

Open All  |  Close All
Q & A

Select a question below to learn the answer:

Do the initials "J.D." stand for "Jefferson Davis" Tippit?
No. This is a common myth begun by some of the earliest conspiracy writers intent on labeling Tippit as a racist and bigot.

The truth is Edgar Lee Tippit named his son after a character in a book which he had read once while on a hunting trip. The initials never stood for anything.

In fact, it was rather common in the south and west, and has been for nearly 250 years, to name offspring using only initials.

Once, J.D. had trouble completing a credit application because the company insisted that a name, not initials, be used on the form. They inserted "John" on J.D.'s behalf in order to fulfill their policy. At least one document in J.D.'s police file also uses this name.

Neither document is evidence of his true name, which by all accounts was simply, J.D.
Why was Tippit ordered to patrol Oak Cliff after the president's assassination?
Dallas police dispatcher Murray Jackson, realizing that numerous squads responding to the president's shooting were draining some of areas adjacent to downtown Dallas of patrol officers, ordered Tippit to move out of his district and into central Oak Cliff where he would be in a better position to respond to any emergency in either his assigned district or the Oak Cliff area.
Why didn't Tippit radio headquarters before leaving his patrol car to question

The Dallas Police Department did not have a policy in 1963 that required officers to radio in when stopping an individual for questioning. Many former police officers reported that it was common practice to stop individuals without notifying the radio dispatcher.
Did Tippit know Jack Ruby?
No. From the moment Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, rumors circulated that Ruby and Oswald were part of a plot to assassinate the president. Speculation soon grew to include J.D. Tippit as a member of the conspiracy team. Conspiracy theorist and author Mark Lane claimed in his 1966 book Rush to Judgment that a secret source told him that a two hour meeting took place on November 14, 1963, at Ruby's Carousel Club in Dallas between Bernard Weissman, Jack Ruby and Officer J.D. Tippit. The allegation, however, has no merit.

Sergeant C.B. Owens, whom Tippit had worked under practically ever since he began working for the Dallas Police, told the FBI that to his knowledge, Officer Tippit had never been assigned to an area which included the known home or business addresses of Jack Ruby. Owens said that Tippit never mentioned Ruby's name, or that he had ever been in one of Ruby's clubs. Owens said that he had known Ruby for ten to twelve years and had spoken with him on numerous occasions. He said that Ruby was a "name dropper" who would often mention one officer while talking to another. Owens said Ruby never mentioned Tippit's name in his presence. Another officer told the FBI the same thing.

Fellow police officers and close friends all agree that J.D. Tippit never discussed politics and didn't spend time in bars, saloons or honky-tonks. Employees of the Carousel Club were shown pictures of Tippit and Weissman by the FBI. No one could recall ever having seen either of the two men inside the club. Considering Tippit's work schedule and personal habits, it's hard to imagine how Tippit would have had the time to attend any kind of meeting without someone knowing about it.

Several individuals close to Jack Ruby claimed that Ruby knew the Officer "Tippit" killed in Oak Cliff. however, investigation shows that Ruby knew another Tippit on the force. In fact, there were three men on the Dallas Police Department who answered to the name Tippit: Gayle M. Tippit, Detective, Special Service Bureau; J.D. Tippit, Patrolman; and W.W. "Woody" Tippett, Traffic Division. It turns out that Gayle M. Tippit - not J.D. Tippit - was the Dallas Police officer who knew Jack Ruby, having met him in the 1950's shortly after joining the force. G.M. Tippit was assigned to the area which included Ruby's Silver Spur Nightclub on South Ervay in Dallas. It was his duty to periodically check the combination dance hall and beer tavern. During this period, Gayle M. Tippit became "very well acquainted with Jack Ruby."

Suffice it to say, there is no credible evidence that J.D. Tippit knew Jack Ruby or was ever at the Carousel Club. The testimony of friends, family members, and colleagues provides considerable evidence that Tippit had never been there and did not know Jack Ruby.

Is the figure known as "Badge Man" really J.D. Tippit?
No. Mary Moorman, an eyewitness to the assassination of President Kennedy, took a photograph of the president at the moment of the fatal head shot. The background of that Polaroid photograph shows the grassy knoll, where many conspiracy theorists believe a gunman was stationed.

Conspiracy theorists Gary Mack and Jack White claimed in the 1988 British television series, The Men Who Killed Kennedy that the Moorman photograph shows a figure wearing a police uniform in the location from which many believe the fatal shot was fired. Mack and White dubbed the figure "Badge Man." Some theorists have since speculated that the "Badge Man" figure is Tippit.

This is nonsense, of course. Tippit's movements both before and after the shooting are well documented and place Tippit in Oak Cliff, some five miles from the assassination scene.

For a complete report on the history of the "Badge Man" figure and a critical analysis of the image itself, click HERE.

Any truth to the claim that Tippit shot a burglar in the back in 1962?
No. Penn Jones, Jr., the legendary conspiracy theorist and former Midlothian, Texas, newspaper editor, wrote in his earliest self-published tome Forgive My Grief, "...Tippit knew how to kill. He is alleged to have killed a seventeen year old Negro burglar suspect about a year before he himself was killed. The burglar was running from the scene when hit in the back by a bullet alleged to be from Tippit's gun..." (pp.1-2) However, despite the unsupported claim, Tippit was never involved in this or any other similar event.
Did Tippit make a cryptic remark to his son Allen the morning of the assassination?
No. This is a well-worn rumor that first began circulating in the mid-seventies. Conspiracy theorists claim that on the morning of the assassination, J.D. hugged his oldest son Allen and said, "No matter what happens today, I want you to know that I love you." Theorists claim that such overt signs of affection toward his son were uncharacteristic of Tippit and that the alleged statement was some sort of cryptic remark that suggested J.D.'s foreknowledge of the events of November 22, 1963.

In fact, Allen Tippit re-affirmed in 2004 that the alleged conversation never took place.
Did Dallas police find Oswald's wallet at the Tippit murder scene?
No. I first wrote about this allegation in my 1998 book With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit. The story has since been distorted by conspiracy theorists peddling the theory that Oswald was framed for the Tippit murder by unseen forces.

While my investigation into the allegation that Oswald's wallet was found at the Tippit murder scene is too detailed to repeat in this limited format (see With Malice(2013), pp.349-368), the essential elements are this:

FBI agent Robert M. Barrett observed Dallas police handling a wallet at the Tippit murder scene shortly before Oswald's arrest. WFAA-TV news footage shot at the scene supports this basic fact. Barrett recalled that Dallas police Captain W.R. Westbrook asked him at the scene whether he knew a "Lee Harvey Oswald" or an "Alek Hidell?" While Barrett assumed the names were taken from identification in the wallet, he never saw the identification or handled the wallet.

Despite Barrett's credibilty, his account runs counter to the documented version of events which show that Oswald's wallet was removed from his pants pocket following his arrest at the Texas Theater. Identification in the names "Oswald" and "Hidell" were discovered at that time.

A comparison of the wallet filmed at the Tippit murder scene by WFAA-TV and the wallet removed from Oswald's pocket shows the two wallets to be similar in style, but not identical. The only thing connecting Oswald to the wallet filmed by WFAA-TV is Barrett's recollection that Captain Westbrook asked him about the names "Oswald" and "Hidell" while at the shooting scene. Yet the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the Oswald/Hidell identification suggests that Barrett was asked the questions at City Hall, long after Oswald's arrest, not at the shooting scene. (See With Malice)

Conspiracy critics have since taken the facts I presented in With Malice and spun them into a series of distortions and half-truths that have transformed the wallet filmed by WFAA-TV as a "plant," designed to frame Oswald for Tippit's murder. The suggestion is preposterous and flies in the face of an avalanche of indisputable facts that prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Oswald murdered Tippit.

Did police find a spare uniform hanging in Tippit's squad car?
No. This is a myth created by conspiracy theorists who claim that Tippit was supposed to use the "spare uniform" to help spirit Oswald out of the country, enable a fellow conspirator to pose as a policeman, or any one of a number of other suggestions that imply that Tippit was part of the plot to kill Kennedy.

Actually, there was no "spare uniform" found in Tippit's car. What police did find was an Eisenhower-style police jacket hanging from a hook on the right-side, backseat of Tippit's squad car. The Warren Commission questioned crime lab Sergeant W.E. "Pete" Barnes about it (7H275) because the jacket appears in several crime scene photographs taken by Barnes of Tippit's car.

One conspiracy theorist recently complained that the pictures offered by the Commission were of such poor quality that it was impossible to determine whether the item seen in the photographs was a police jacket, as Barnes testified, or a police uniform (presumably the Commission's poor offerings were part of the continuing cover-up).

In fact, high-quality original prints of the Dallas police photographic series have been available through the Texas State Archives (and more recently the Dallas Municipal Archives and Records Center) for years and were reproduced in With Malice in 1998. All of the photographs show the item on the hanger to be a jacket, not a uniform as conspiracy theorists allege. In addition, three photographs taken by Dallas Times Herald news photographer Darryl Heikes, which also appear in With Malice, show the item to be a jacket.

Did police ever read what was on the dash-mounted clipboard in Tippit's
       squad car?

Yes. Conspiracy theorists have bitterly complained about the apparent lack of interest that the Dallas police had in Tippit's dash-mounted clipboard, citing Dallas police crime lab sergeant W.E. "Pete" Barnes' comment to the Warren Commission in 1964, "We never read his clipboard." (7H274). Traditionally, the clipboard held a spiral notebook which officers could use to write notes on. Theorists speculated that Tippit wrote something on that clipboard that police didn't want the public to know, or perhaps something that contradicted the Warren Commission's conclusion about the murder.

But, in 1983, former homicide detective Jim Leavelle, who led the investigation into the Tippit shooting, told me that he did check Tippit's spiral notebook.

"I looked at some of the stuff that Tippit had in the car but, to my knowledge, there was nothing ever found - that was written - in regards to the man he stopped," Leavelle told me. "There was no reference as to why he stopped to talk to him. From my own experience, I doubt very seriously that he would have written anything on the clipboard about the man he was stopping. From the way the witnesses described it, Tippit was very nonchalant. It wasn't as though he was expecting anything. He probably figured he'd do a routine check, talk to him, look at his identification, and send him on his way. I know, from my own experience, that I have done that thousands of times - talked to people, maybe look at their identification, and then, send them on their way, and never think another thing about it. I'm sure that's what he had in mind."

The Warren Commission was also curious about one crime scene photograph taken of Tippit's car that seemed to show the photograph of a man mounted on Tippit's clipboard. An enlargement of the crime photo referred to by the Commission, however, reveals that the "photograph of a man" is actually the spring, metal clip clutching Tippit's open spiral notebook.

Did Tippit attempt to contact the dispatcher at 1:08 p.m.?
No. This false claim, revived by Vincent Bugliosi's 2007 book Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, stems from an early Dallas police department transcript produced in March 1964 [see 17H406], in which two transmissions made at approximately 1:08 p.m. were attributed to Tippit.

A later transcript, produced by the FBI in July, 1964 [see 23H855], correctly attributed the transmissions to two separate police units - identified as Unit 58 and Unit 488. Bootlegged copies of the actual Dallas police radio recordings, which became available in the early 1970's, confirmed that the FBI transcript was correct - the two 1:08 p.m. transmissions did not originate from Tippit's squad car, Unit 78, but rather originated from two entirely different police squads - Unit 58 (or possibly 68) and Unit 488.

Unit 58 (or 68) was one of 107 squad cars assigned to the Radio Patrol Unit. Unit 488 was one of the squads assigned to supervisors or detectives in the Special Service Bureau. [17H492-93]

Bugliosi' book Reclaiming History claims that the 1:08 p.m. transmissions originated from Tippit's squad car (Unit 78) and cites a conversation with former Dallas police radio dispatch supervisor James C. Bowles as supportive of that claim. Bowles told Bugliosi that he was the person responsible for transcribing the original police recordings in March, 1964, and that he could clearly hear the words "seventy-eight" (Tippit's call sign) twice at about 1:08 p.m. Bugliosi wrote that in 2004 Bowles played a clear copy of the channel one recording to him over the telephone and Bugliosi could hear ("though not completely clearly") the second "seventy-eight," but could not make out the first transmission. Bowles insisted that his original reel-to-reel magnetic taped copies of the original recordings, which he had listened to many years before, contained the words "seventy-eight" (Tippit's call sign) twice very clearly. In fact, Bowles claimed, he recognized Tippits voice - the "inflection, tone, and cadence in the four syllables of the words 'seventy-eight.'" Bugliosi noted that "not all people who have listened to the Dallas police tapes agree with Bowles about what was heard at 1:08 p.m."

Despite the Bugliosi/Bowles claim, the original police recordings that Bowles refers to reveal that the two 1:08 p.m. transmissions did not originate from Tippit's squad (Unit 78), but did in fact originate from two separate units - Unit 58 (or 68) and 488 - as transcribed by the FBI in July, 1964. I obtained a copy of Bowles' original reel-to-reel magnetic master recordings of Channels One and Two during the course of my research into the Tippit shooting. These recordings, made from the original dictabelts, are the best copies in the world and clearer than those in the public domain. Comparing both 1:08 p.m. transmissions to those known to have been made by Tippit in the hours prior to his murder prove convincingly that Tippit made neither 1:08 p.m. transmission. The first transmission, made by Unit 58 (or 68), is more nasal in tone than Tippit's resonant drawl. The second transmission, made by Unit 488, has a tone similar to Tippit's, however, the words being spoken are clearly "four-eighty-eight" not "seventy-eight" as reported by Bugliosi/Bowles.

Why did Tippit stop Oswald?
No one can be one hundred percent certain of the exact reason. The Warren Commission speculated that the description of the suspect wanted in connection with Kennedy's murder, which was put out over the police radio, led to Tippit stopping Oswald. Conspiracy theorists questioned whether such a meager description ("white male, approximately 30, slender build, height five feet, ten inches, weight 165 pounds") could have caused Tippit to focus on Oswald rather on the hundreds of other white males who fit that description.

In my 1998 book With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit I considered the possibility that Oswald had been walking west on Tenth Street, and upon seeing Tippit's approaching police car, spun around and began walking east. Such an overtly suspicious action could easily have caused Tippit to stop Oswald and investigate.

In With Malice I offered the detailed accounts of Jimmy Burt, William A. Smith, Jack R. Tatum, Helen Markham, and William Scoggins as supportive of the theory that Oswald changed his direction of travel leading to the confrontation with Tippit. A sixth witness to Oswald's direction of travel, William Lawrence Smith, was discovered among FBI files after publication of my book.

William Lawrence Smith, a brick mason foreman working at an apartment complex one block east of the Tippit shooting scene, walked to lunch and passed a man he believed was Oswald heading west on Tenth. Jimmy Burt and William A. Smith were standing across the street from the apartment complex around the same time. Burt said that he saw Oswald walking west across the street. Smith couldn't confirm that Burt saw Oswald (Smith himself didn't see the man walking prior to the shooting), but wouldn't discount it either. Jack R. Tatum was driving westbound on Tenth Street when he saw Tippit stopping a man walking east along the sidewalk. Helen Markham also saw Tippit stopping a man walking east.

The record shows two groups of witnesses claiming that Oswald was walking in two different directions prior to the shooting - one group says he was walking west; another group says he was walking east.

The testimony of William Scoggins, a cabdriver parked and eating lunch at the corner of Tenth and Patton, is the key to resolving the conflict. According to Scoggins, Tippit drove slowly passed the front of his cab heading eastbound on Tenth Street. As Scoggins watched, he saw Tippit's squad car pull to the curb and then he noticed Oswald standing on the sidewalk facing west. Scoggins told the Warren Commission that he couldn't be certain of Oswald's direction of travel because when he first saw him he was standing still on the sidewalk, facing west. This raises an interesting - and very important - question. If Oswald was walking east prior to the shooting, as the Warren Commission claimed, why didn't Scoggins see him pass his cab?

Scoggins' cab was parked at the corner of Tenth and Patton - 150 feet west of the shooting scene. The front bumper of the cab was nearly blocking the crosswalk along the path that Oswald would have taken had he been walking east. That means that Oswald's pant leg would have nearly brushed up against Scoggin's front bumper as he passed in front of the cab. How could Scoggins have missed such an event if Oswald had indeed passed his cab heading east? By Scoggins own account, he was sitting in his cab eating lunch and looking around. The scenario of an eastbound Oswald defies logical given Scoggins unmistakable testimony.

Once it is realized that the two witnesses - Tatum and Markham - who claimed Oswald was walking east only observed Oswald after noticing Tippit's squad car pulling to the curb 150 feet east of the corner of Tenth and Patton where Scoggins was parked, it seems abundantly clear what happened. Oswald was walking west on Tenth, as William Lawrence Smith and Jimmy Burt observed, but changed direction and began walking east before he reached Scoggins' cab. And based upon the speed of Tippit's squad car (an estimated 10 mph, according to Scoggins) and the point at which Tippit stopped Oswald, who was then walking east; we know that the change in direction happened between the point at which he was stopped and the corner of Tenth and Patton, when Oswald would have been visible to Tippit's approaching squad car. Was this change in direction, an obvious and overtly suspicious act, the reason that Tippit stopped Oswald? Perhaps. Of course, no one can be one hundred percent certain of why Tippit stopped Oswald. However, the idea that Oswald changed directions reconciles the testimony of two groups of seemingly conflicted eyewitnesses accounts, explains why Scoggins didn't see Oswald pass his cab, and provides a reason for Tippit to stop and approach Oswald.

In Vincent Bugliosi's book Reclaiming History, the former Los Angeles prosecutor discounts the idea that Oswald changed direction writing, "Myers may very well be right, but there isn't too much evidentiary support for his position, his three sources being somewhat weak." Bugliosi dismisses Jimmy Burt's account of seeing Oswald walking west because he did not mention it in his 1963 FBI interview. Bugliosi writes, "The new story the twenty-year-old Burt came up with five years later obviously cannot be given too much credence, though Myers speculates that Burt may not have told the truth to the FBI out of fear of becoming involved." Bugliosi fails to mention that Jimmy Burt was AWOL from the U.S. Army and his friend William A. Smith was on probation for grand theft auto at the time of Tippit shooting and that both men (which Smith confirmed) withheld their eyewitness accounts from the Dallas police for that very reason. Burt's conflicting accounts, given over a five year period, were a product of Burt's fear sprinkled with a dose of imagination. My personal interviews with William A. Smith (Burt died in 1983) helped separate fantasy from fact. In the end, it was clear Burt and Smith were on Tenth Street and witnessed the shooting, although Burt's 1968 account of seeing Oswald walking west prior to the shooting could not be confirmed. Had Burt been the only witness to claim Oswald was walking west, the whole story might have died right there. However, brick Mason William Lawrence Smith also saw Oswald walking westbound and, more importantly, there remains that nagging problem about Scoggins not seeing Oswald pass his cab if he indeed was heading eastbound.

How does Bugliosi address Scoggin's testimony? While Bugliosi acknowledges that Scoggins testimony is the "only credible evidence (though not that strong) that Oswald may have been walking west on Tenth" (a point he mistakenly attributes to assassination researcher Bill Drenas; in fact, it is the heart of the argument I presented for the first time in With Malice), he writes "Scoggins had just returned to his cab parked on Patton at Tenth (after leaving it to get a Coke and watch TV at a nearby place) when the shooting occurred, saying he had only 'taken one or two bites of my sandwich and drank a couple of swallows out of my Coke', and it's possible that Oswald had crossed Patton on Tenth going east before Scoggins returned to his cab." Of course, this is silly on its face. Simple grade school math shows that Oswald, walking at an average human rate of four mph (5.9 feet-per-second), would have covered the 150 foot distance between Scoggin's cab and the point at which Tippit stopped Oswald in 25 seconds. Tippit's squad car, moving at Scoggin's estimated speed of 10 mph (14.7 feet-per-second) would have covered that same distance in 10 seconds. That means that Oswald, in the Bugliosi scenario, was 91 feet east of Scoggin's cab when Tippit passed in front of Scoggins. If Oswald had indeed been walking east he would have been passing Scoggin's cab just 15 seconds earlier. Does Bugliosi really believe that in less than 15 seconds Scoggins had returned to his cab, climbed inside, got out his lunch, taken one or two bites out of his sandwich and drank a couple swallows of Coke? Not to belabor the point, but Scoggins returned to his cab by walking from the Gentleman's Club, a popular domino parlor, a block south of Tenth and Patton. During the trip back to his cab, the entire intersection of Tenth and Patton would have been visible to him as would the area to his east, where Oswald was later stopped. Yet, despite the fact that Oswald allegedly crossed Patton at Tenth during the time period that Scoggins was returning to his cab (and by Bugliosi's own account couldn't have been more than one city-sized lot away), in plain view of Scoggins field-of-vision, Scoggins failed to notice him. Does that sound reasonable?

According to Bugliosi, the biggest problem with the argument that Oswald was originally walking west on Tenth Street is the distance he would have to cover to be traveling westbound. Bugliosi cites researcher Bill Drenas who claimed he walked the shortest route between Oswald's rooming house and the Tippit murder scene which allowed him to be traveling westbound on Tenth. Drenas identified that route as "south on Beckley to Davis, east to Crawford, southeast on Crawford to Ninth, northeast on Ninth to Marsalis, then south on Marsalis to Tenth, and then west on Tenth to the scene of the murder at 404 East Tenth." Drenas told Bugliosi that it took him sixteen minutes and thirty-five seconds to cover that route and that assuming Oswald left his rooming house at 1:00 p.m. he couldn't have made it to the Tippit scene in time to commit the murder. Many conspiracy theorists have used the same argument to exonerate Oswald, claiming he couldn't have reached the murder scene in time to kill Tippit and therefore couldn't have been Tippit's killer. Of course, the physical evidence coupled with the eyewitness testimony shows Oswald to be the killer beyond all doubt. Hence, Bugliosi argues that since Oswald was obviously the Tippit's murderer, the timing of the shooting is a strong reason to reject the notion that Oswald was traveling westbound on Tenth prior to the shooting.

However, Bugliosi and Drenas, as well as many other researchers before them, have failed to realize that the shortest route between the Beckley rooming house and the Tippit murder scene is not one that has Oswald circling the area of the shooting scene (as the Drenas route does). The shortest route would be the one that has Oswald walk right passed the scene where he would kill Tippit, then, double-back on his route. The shortest route which ends with Oswald headed westbound on Tenth would have Oswald leaving his rooming house headed south on Beckley to Davis, east to Patton, southeast on Patton to Tenth, east on Tenth to near Marsalis (at which point, Oswald begins doubling back), and west on Tenth to 404 East Tenth - scene of the Tippit shooting. The total time for the trip would be about 13.5 minutes - which fits the time period available.

Other researchers have failed to consider this most direct and shortest route between Oswald's rooming house and the killing scene because the route takes Oswald right passed the positions where several eyewitnesses were located at the time of the Tippit murder, including Helen Markham, William Scoggins, Jimmy Burt and William A. Smith, and brick mason William Lawrence Smith. Surely, these researchers contend, these eyewitnesses would have seen Oswald had he used this route. But that notion is patently false. None of the eyewitnesses mentioned were positioned to view the murder at the time that Oswald passed those locations. For instance, when Oswald was traveling south on Patton he wouldn't have passed Helen Markham because she hadn't left her home at Ninth and Patton yet. Nor would Oswald have encountered cab driver William Scoggins, who was still at the Gentlemen's Club watching television. Likewise, Jimmy Burt and William A. Smith hadn't left Burt's brother's home at Ninth and Denver at the time Oswald was headed eastbound on Tenth. And brick mason William Lawrence Smith hadn't stopped his work to go to lunch at a Marsalis Avenue cafe yet. It was only on Oswald's return trip westbound on Tenth that the eyewitnesses had moved into position - William Lawrence Smith had started east on Tenth to go to lunch, Jimmy Burt and William A. Smith had walked from Ninth and Denver to Burt's home on Tenth Street, William Scoggins had walked back to his cab at Patton and Tenth, and Helen Markham had left her home and had walked south on Patton to the corner of Tenth.

Finally, with regard to the consistency of Oswald's actions after the assassination, Bugliosi writes " would seem that Oswald's seeing Tippit and suddenly turning around and walking in the opposite direction would be inconsistent with Oswald's conduct that day. In the lunchroom of the Book Depository Building with Officer Baker just forty-five minutes earlier, we know that Oswald acted perfectly innocent. And even a child would know that turning around and walking in a different direction when seeing a police officer makes one look guilty of something. Though the possibility cannot be dismissed, it seems unlikely to me that Oswald would have changed directions..."

Conspiracy theorists have made the same claim over the years, rejecting the idea that Oswald would have been stupid enough to act so suspicious, especially in light of his calm demeanor in the Depository lunchroom ninety-seconds after the JFK assassination. However, one thing they haven't considered is that Oswald's state-of-mind was not frozen during the forty-five minutes that elapsed between Oswald's calm lunchroom demeanor and his encounter with Tippit on Tenth Street. Certainly, in the ninety-seconds between the assassination and his lunchroom encounter with Officer Baker, Oswald had little time to think about the consequence of his actions. Yet, by the time of his encounter with Officer Tippit, Oswald had forty-five minutes to ponder his fate. Had anyone seen him in the sixth floor window? (Howard Brennan had, and a description had been broadcast based on Brennan's observation.) Had anyone noticed that he was missing from the building? (His supervisor Roy Truly had.) Were police aware of his room in Oak Cliff? (They weren't, not yet.) Were police already looking for him? (He couldn't be sure.) Considering the amount of time that had elapsed and Oswald's own knowledge of what he had done, I don't believe we can safely assume that Oswald would have acted calm and cool in the presence of any Dallas police car. In fact, we know in the wake of the Tippit shooting Oswald's actions were completely suspicious and without caution - ditching his jacket, acting suspicious in front of Hardy's Shoe store, and slipping into the Texas Theater without buying a ticket. To think that Oswald might have spun around when he spotted Tippit's squad car 150 feet away and approaching seems hardly a stretch of logic under the circumstances.

While it should be emphasized that only Officer Tippit knows why he stopped Oswald, my best guess based on thirty-years of research and the preponderance of evidence is that Oswald was walking west, spun around, and began walking east immediately before reaching Scoggin's cab. This act would have been more than enough to raise a suspicion in Tippit's mind and lead to his confrontation with Oswald.

What was said between Tippit and Oswald on Tenth Street?
No one knows. The conversation was short, about twenty seconds or so. Eyewitness Helen Markham thought it was a friendly conversation, but wasn't close enough to hear what was being said. When eyewitness Jack Tatum rolled by in his car he could see Officer Tippit was either attempting to roll down the passenger window or was going to talk to Oswald through the open vent window. Suddenly, Oswald straightened up and stepped back as Officer Tippit climbed out of the squad car. What caused Tippit to emerge from the car? Was it something that was said? Possibly. But one thing that hasn't been considered is what Oswald looked like. He was wearing a zipper jacket, presumably to conceal the .38 revolver he was carrying in his waistband. It was sunny and 68-degrees. Oswald had been walking briskly for about 14 minutes. No doubt, his hair and forehead were wet with sweat. Perhaps, Officer Tippit wondered why a man who was obviously sweating hadn't taken off his jacket. Good police work hinges on observations just like that.

Did Officer Tippit make a phone call from the Top Ten Record Shop minutes before
       his death?

Unlikely. Eighteen years after the assassination, J.W. "Dub" Stark, the owner of the Top Ten Record Shop on Jefferson at Bishop, and his clerk, Louis Cortinas, told Dallas Morning News reporter Earl Golz that Tippit came into the shop and used the counter telephone to place a call. Cortinas said that Tippit stood at the counter long enough for the telephone to ring seven or eight times then hung up and left quickly. Cortinas told Golz, "Maybe 10, no more than 10 minutes after Tippit had left is when I heard he had been shot on the radio." Both Stark and Cortinas felt they were the last to see Tippit alive.

I pointed out in With Malice that both Dallas homicide detective James R. Leavelle and dispatcher Murray J. Jackson thought it highly unlikely that Tippit would have left his patrol car during a police emergency to use a telephone that afforded no privacy, especially when fire station phones were readily available (one was at 2100 West Tenth). I also noted that twelve days after the assassination, John D. Whitten told the FBI that he "heard" that Oswald was in the Top Ten Record shop the morning of the assassination to buy a concert ticket, that he returned later to get a second ticket, and that Officer Tippit was in the store although it was apparently a coincidence. The FBI dismissed the story because Oswald was known to be at work. Stark told me in 1997 that Whitten's story was essentially true - that Oswald was indeed waiting for him to open the store the morning of the assassination and bought a ticket, leaving by bus, but that Tippit wasn't there at that time. Of course, Oswald couldn't possibly have been at the Top Ten Record shop as Stark claimed, having ridden to work from Irving with Buell Wesley Frazier at the time Stark claimed he was in Oak Cliff.

More importantly, Louis Cortinas originally stated that not more than ten minutes elapsed between the time "Tippit" left the shop and Cortinas heard that he had been shot over the radio. Tippit was shot at about 1:14-15 p.m. The shooting was reported over the police radio at 1:18 p.m. But, by all accounts, the Tippit shooting wasn't reported over commercial radio stations until 1:35 p.m. If Cortinas is correct that not more than ten minutes elapsed between the time Tippit left the shop and the time the shooting was reported over the radio, then Tippit couldn't possibly have made a hurried phone call as Cortinas described since the call would have been made ten minutes after Tippit was shot dead.

Cortinas also said that after hearing the radio report he drove down to the Tenth Street murder scene (less than a five minute drive), circled the block and drove back, passing the Texas Theater just as Oswald was being brought out under arrest - a trip that could easily have been accomplished during the sixteen minutes between the announcement of the Tippit shooting on commercial radio (1:35 p.m.) and Oswald's arrest (1:51 p.m.). However, this again suggests that the alleged phone call was made sometime after Tippit's death.

Some people prefer to believe that Cortinas got the timing wrong - that more than ten minutes elapsed between the alleged phone call and the broadcast of the shooting.However, there is nothing in the record to suggest that Cortinas got the timing wrong. The only thing keeping this story alive is the wishful thinking of those eager to believe that in the minutes before his death Officer Tippit attempted a phone call to an unknown party for unknown reasons.

Next: Explore other web links about the JFK assassination...