THE KENNEDY FILES
Copyright 1992 by Mark D. Turner
THE AUDIO RECORDING
Many people are familiar with the Zapruder film and some even know of
the other photographic evidence in the Kennedy assassination. These
will be covered in future issues. A lesser known item is an audio
recording of the shots.
Behind and to the left of Kennedy's car was a policeman riding a
motorcycle. Apparently, his microphone's "push-to-talk" button was
stuck in the on position and a recording machine at Dallas police
headquarters taped the entire assassination. The Warren Commission
turned the recording over to the FBI who claimed to find nothing
which resembled gunshots. Then it was given to Dr. Lawrence Kersta
of Bell Telephone Acoustics & Speech Research Laboratory who said
there were "six nonvoiced noises." The Warren Report did not reveal
his test results. Interestingly, the original tape has disappeared
from the National Archives.
THE 1978 ANALYSIS
In May, 1978, The House Select Committee on Assassinations turned
the recording over to Dr. James Barger of Bolt, Beranek and Newman
who had previously examined the infamous Watergate tapes. The firm
had only a short time to analyze the sounds as the Committee was
entering its final months. The tape was filtered and digitized so
that repetitive noises such as engines could be removed and wave-
forms could be produced. They found at least six impulses (and
possibly as many as nine) which could have been gunshots.
The Committee, based on the Zapruder film, set a certain time frame
that the shots had to fit within. All six impulses occurred at the
at the correct time. The sounds also matched patterns of gunfire
recorded through a radio system similar to the Dallas police depart-
ments. The former Chief Counsel of the Assassinations Committee,
Robert Blakey, has said on several occasions "There were six or seven
shots on the tape." Of course, Oswald could not have fired near this
many shots in the 5.6 second period that most experts agree on (based
on the Zapruder film). Also, only three empty cartridges were found
at Oswald's supposed firing spot.
Next, BBN recommended firing test shots in Dealey Plaza to see if they
matched any of the six impulses. By setting up microphones at various
positions and firing from different places, unique acoustic finger-
prints could be taken. Each combination of positions would result in
a unique spacing of the shot's noise and echoes.
One thing that made the measurements more difficult was the use of
stationary microphones rather than moving ones such as the one which
originally recorded the shots. When the scientists studied the 26
echoes for each shot and computed the location of the original micro-
phone, it resulted in an accuracy within one foot. One set of data
matched better than 95% as the position of the open mike and it was
the location of motorcycle policeman H.B. McLain.
McLain was then interviewed and estimated that he was "about 150 feet"
behind Kennedy. The acoustic evidence showed the open mike was 154
behind the car when the third shot was fired. Photographs also show
McLain to be in this position at the time. The sound experts also
stated that the mike was on the left side of the motorcycle and
pointed toward the ground. McLain confirmed this along with the fact
that he frequently had open mike problems. The tape also contained
the sounds of the motorcycle quickly accelerating about 30 seconds
after the last shot, then slowing, idling, and disappearing. This
matches what is known to have happened following the shooting, with
the recording ending as McLain flipped on his siren and thereby
closed the microphone.
THE SNIPERS' NESTS
A major mistake with the reenactment was that shots were only fired
from two locations: the Texas School Book Depository and the grassy
knoll. Other locations were ignored although there has been much
evidence that three or more gunmen may have participated. The first
and sixth impulses did not match gunfire from either of the two
tested locations and so were dismissed by the Committee. They did
carefully word the report to state that they did not match the two
tested firing spots rather than stating that they were not gunshots.
They could have been gunshots fired from other positions. The first
impulse is 1/2 second before the second. The sixth is 7/10 of a
second after the fifth. If the two are indeed shots, then there were
at least 3 and possibly 4 gunmen! Interestingly, there is very
possibly a seventh shot on the tape. At one point another mike was
keyed and caused a heterodyning on the tape. This is at the point
that the Zapruder film shows Kennedy react to a possible hit to his
Of the four impulses that the Committee accepted as gunshots, the
third matched gunfire from the grassy knoll. Because of the echo
patterns, it had to come from the grassy knoll and not from elsewhere,
such as an engine backfiring. The grassy knoll shot was also pre-
ceeded by an N-wave (supersonic shock wave) which proved it was a
gunshot (bullets are supersonic). Experts stated that there was
better than a 95 percent chance that there was a shot from the
Although Chairman Stokes privately admitted that they knew the head
shot came from the front, no one on the Committee was willing to admit
publically that the fatal shot had been fired by someone other than
Oswald. They decided to claim that the third shot (the grassy knoll
shot) was a miss and that Oswald had fired the fatal head shot. When
the recording was synchronized with the Zapruder film, though, this
claim did not match perfectly with the other shots. When the grassy
knoll shot was synchronized with the head shot everything fell into
place. Still, the Committee would not admit that the third shot was
the head shot.
Even when the third shot is considered to be a miss and that the other
three were hits, then another problem arises: the first and second
shots are only 1.66 seconds apart. Therefore, Oswald couldn't have
fired the first two because of the speed required. Of course, much
evidence shows that Oswald wasn't even on the sixth floor of the
Depository and various guns seem to have been spotted by people that
day. Was another man firing a quicker rifle from the sixth floor?
A very strange and suspicious sound also appears just before the end
of the tape: an electronic beeping in Morse code for "victory."
Where did this originate? We'll probably never know for sure but Jim
Hicks appears in Dealey Plaza photos with a radio and admitted his
role in the assassination to Jim Garrison. Possibly he was the com-
munications man for the snipers as some researchers believe. He
certainly resembles the man who the CIA supposedly photographed at
the Soviet embassy in Mexico City two months BEFORE the murder using
Oswald's name. Not long after talking to Garrison, Hicks was locked
away in a military hospital for the insane.
Evaluations of the tape show that more than one microphone was open
during the shooting. Actually, four may have been keyed which leads
one to wonder if there was an attempt to disrupt police communications
at the crucial time.
PROBLEMS WITH THE RECORDING
Dr. Barger's examination of the tape found two 60 hertz hums on the
recording. The original copy should have had one hum. Two hums show
that it is a copy of the original. Where did the original recording
disappear to? Researchers believe the tape was tampered with which
unfortunately gives critics reason to question the authenticity of
the recording. There is a second police department recording of a
second channel. A policeman's voice can be heard on both tapes saying
the same thing. On the second tape it is apparent that he didn't say
it until about one minute after the shooting. On the first (and im-
portant tape) it appears just after the shooting. Critics claim this
proves the tape is not a recording of shots at all but of some other
noise. The problem with this is that the shots scientifically match
the shots fired for the Committee's test. They can be nothing but
shots and can not have been fired from anywhere except the Depository
and grassy knoll. They also can not have been recorded anywhere but
the motorcycle following the president' car.
Why does the statement appear at the wrong place on the tape? The
secret probably lies in the two 60 hertz hums. In the CIA's cover-up,
the tape was taken and something was removed that was incriminating.
A new copy was made which resulted in the second hum and the timing
descrepancy. The CIA didn't realize that the tape contained the shots
since they apparently don't stand out if you're not looking for them.
They most likely edited out a policeman saying something about one of
the other gunmen.
Critics have also been quick to point out the sound of a carillon bell
on the recording about seven seconds after the final shot. When the
Committee looked for such a bell in 1978 they couldn't find one. The
FBI even pointed this out in a report. Of course, just because the
bell couldn't be found in 1978 doesn't mean it wasn't there in 1963.
A news broadcast from Dealey Plaza on the first anniversary of the
murder picked up the bell. Also, a tape still exists of a carillon
bell which a bank twelve blocks from Dealey Plaza was using to play
"Hail to the Chief" as Kennedy was driven through Dallas. The bell
could be heard all over Dallas, including at Dealey Plaza.
So, in the end we are left with four impulses that are definitely
shots. In addition there are possibly three more. The four proven
shots breakdown as follows:
Shot 1 - School Book Depository
Shot 2 - School Book Depository
Shot 3 - Grassy Knoll
Shot 4 - School Book Depository
Although it is still not known by the average man on the street, the
Assassinations Committee decided that there was a second gunman and
that he did indeed fire from the grassy knoll. It's apparent that
this unknown gunman fired the fatal head shot which the government
still wants us to believe Oswald fired. Of course, Oswald may have
been involved, but then again maybe he was just a patsy like he
claimed. Whatever his role was, it's time for the government to help
track down the others that were involved.