Finally, here is my own theory about the WC testimony of Captain William Westbrook. His place in American history is secure. He appeared at the TSDB about 1:10 PM, where Dallas Deputies had found the sniper’s nest, and three spent shells. Then, he rushed to Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas upon news of the killing of J.D. Tippit. He appears there at about 1:20 PM where he supervised the manhunt for Lee Harvey Oswald (LHO), which turned up LHO’s jacket around 1:25 PM. Around 1:30 PM he was filmed by WFAA-TV holding LHO’s wallet at the Tippit scene. Finally, at about 1:45 PM he arrived at the Texas Theater to supervise the arrest of LHO.
All this dramatic history – yet his testimony is only nine pages long. We must piece together aspects of his day from other witnesses. Along with the WFAA-TV videotape, we have already cited FBI agents Farris Rockstool, Bob Barrett, James Hosty and police Sergeant Kenneth Croy, all confirming the WFAA-TV film as authentic. To be certain that the reader knows James Hosty’s story, I will quote directly from his book, Assignment Oswald. Hosty writes:
Agent Bob Barrett also related his encounters with Oswald on Friday afternoon. When the report came over the radio that an “officer was down” in the Oak Cliff neighborhood, Barrett had sped to the scene. When he got there, the ambulance crew had already removed Tippit’s body. Captain Westbrook and the Dallas Police were in charge, but Barrett set about inspecting the crime scene. Near the puddle of blood where Tippit’s body had lain, Westbrook had found a man’s leather wallet. In it, he discovered identification for Lee Oswald, as well as other identification for Alek J. Hidell. Westbrook called Barrett over and showed him the wallet and identifications. Westbrook asked Barrett if the FBI knew anything about Oswald or Hidell. Barrett shook his head. Westbrook took the wallet into his custody so that it could be placed into Police Property later.
Barrett told me that if I had been at the scene with Westbrook, I would have immediately known who Oswald was. Although official police reports would later state that Oswald’s wallet and identification were found on Oswald’s person when he was arrested in the movie theater, Barrett insists that Westbrook found them near where Tippit was slain. I have to speculate that at the theater, Westbrook had handed the wallet to a lower-ranking officer, and in the confusion, it was assumed that the wallet had been retrieved from Oswald’s person. The FBI decided to go with the official police version, even though Barrett’s version was further proof that Oswald had in fact gunned Officer Tippit down. As Barrett said, the case against Oswald for killing Tippit was a “slam-dunk.” (James Hosty, Assignment Oswald, 1996, p. 62)
Yet, for some strange reason, Captain Westbrook remained completely silent about this in his WC testimony. He made no police report about it. Why would he withhold key testimony while under oath to the Warren Commission (WC)? This makes me feel justified in doubting his WC testimony about every single aspect of the JFK assassination.
So, I construct the following theory of the WC testimony of Captain William Westbrook.
1. Captain Westbrook was a member of a Radical Right political group in Dallas, namely, the “Friends of Walker.” This was an offshoot of the John Birch Society and of the Minutemen armed militia as led by resigned US Army General Edwin Walker (the only US General to resign during the 20th century). This Radical Right group sincerely believed that JFK was a Communist. (Well, they even held that former President Dwight Eisenhower was a Communist.) Other members of this radical group in Dallas included Sheriff Bill Decker, Captain Will Fritz, Chief Jesse Curry, FBI agent James Hosty, Postal Inspector Harry Holmes, Sergeant Gerald Hill, Officer J.D. Tippit, Officer Roscoe White, and many others.
2. Captain Westbrook was well-aware that Dallas Deputies were already building a one-ton sniper’s nest on the 6th floor of the TSDB, starting at around 12:45 PM, and planting bullet shells and LHO’s rifle at the scene.
3. In a few more minutes, Captain Westbrook decided to stroll from City Hall to the TSBD, eleven blocks away. He expected to see the bullet shells and the rifle there, and he also expected to hear the good news that J.D. Tippit had shot LHO in the streets of Dallas. LHO was framed by the Minutemen during the summer of 1963, as a New Orleans Communist. So, the JFK assassination could be blamed on the Communists, and more political power would flow to the Radical Right. That was the carefully laid out plot.
4. Westbrook arrived at the 6th floor of the TSDB, a little after 1:10 PM, to hear that the JFK assassination bullets had been found. That was the good news.
5. Westbrook did not expect to hear the bad news, however. Westbrook and all the plotters (and non-plotters) were shocked to hear at about 1:18 PM, that LHO had just killed J.D. Tippit – instead of the reverse.
6. Captain Westbrook suddenly sprang into action. He nabbed a team of police and rushed to Oak Cliff, sirens blazing. (Sergeant Gerald Hill would take a separate team.) Westbrook took charge of this unexpected turn of events. He arrived in Oak Cliff in perhaps two minutes.
7. Captain Westbrook arrived at the Tippit murder scene along with a half-dozen more police cars and several news reporters. Tippit’s body had been taken away at 1:19 PM, So, it was around 1:20 at the earliest. An unknown male had already handed over LHO’s wallet to Sergeant Kenneth Croy, who now handed it over to Sergeant Bud Owens. Croy did his best to be helpful.
8. Perhaps a minute later, Westbrook and his team received a DPD radio broadcast of a suspect at a nearby library, so they sped there, but it was a false alarm (that is, a boy had run to the library to tell his friends about JFK, and alarmed neighbors thought that he was the fleeing Tippit murderer, so they told police).
9. At this point, Captain Westbrook firmly established himself as the Command Center, by ordering all Dallas Police in the area to report to him.
10. Westbrook then led a manhunt down an alley, then at the Texaco station, then at a nearby parking lot.
11. Westbrook ordered photographs of the area for Dallas Police Records.
12. Westbrook’s men found the suspect’s light-colored jacket under a car. They photographed it, and they radioed that fact to the Dallas Police. It was exactly 1:25 PM, going by Dallas Police Radio Log.
13. Westbrook’s men returned to the Tippit murder scene. At around 1:30 PM, Sergeant Bud Owens handed LHO’s wallet to Captain Westbrook, and we know this because WFAA TV filmed Captain Westbrook holding it. FBI agent Bob Barrett, who accompanied Westbrook, said that Westbrook filed through LHO’s wallet, and asked Barrett – have you ever heard of Lee Harvey Oswald? ‘No.’ What about Alek J. Hidell? ‘No.’ Finally, at about 1:45 PM they got a police radio broadcast for help at the Texas Theater. Westbrook knew he was looking for LHO (as he had known the name, face and background of LHO since September, through his Radical Right co-conspirators).
14. They sped to the Texas Theater, and Westbrook supervised more than a dozen Dallas Police there as they arrested Oswald at 1:51 PM.
15. Westbrook ordered his men to immediately speed LHO to City Hall, letting nobody talk with him until he arrived. The time was 1:52 PM. Officer Gerald Hill called Dallas Radio to report the arrest of Oswald.
16. Here is where the official WC account of LHO’s wallet begins. Officer Gerald Hill testified to the WC that, during that patrol car ride to City Hall, officer Paul Bentley pulled LHO’s wallet out of LHO’s back pocket and began to question LHO, right there in the car, about LHO’s double identity. LHO refused to answer.
17. At 2:02 PM, LHO arrived at the 3rd floor of City Hall, and was handed over to the staff of Captain Will Fritz. Guy Rose and Richard Stovall didn’t remember where they got LHO’s wallet – except that “somebody searched him before.” Likely, then, they got LHO’s wallet from Paul Bentley and they also questioned LHO about his double identity. LHO refused to answer.
There is an obvious contradiction between the testimony of TEAM-A: (Gerald Hill, Paul Bentley, Guy Rose and Richard Stovall) and TEAM-B: (WFAA-TV, FBI agent Bill Barrett, FBI agent James Hosty, FBI agent Farris Rockstool, Sergeant Kenneth Croy).
TEAM-A claimed that they found LHO’s wallet in LHO’s pants pocket.
TEAM-B claimed that they found LHO’s wallet at the Tippit murder scene.
They cannot both be right. Nor is there any mistake, since Gerald Hill and Paul Bentley gave so much detail about their side of the story. So, somebody must be lying.
Here's my reading. The ranking member of TEAM-A was Sergeant Gerald Hill, who reported directly to Captain Westbrook. They are co-conspirators. James Hosty tried to explain how Oswald’s wallet went from the possession of Captain Westbrook into the back pocket of LHO. He wrote: “Westbrook had handed the wallet to a lower-ranking officer.” As we have seen in the past month, the likely officer would have been Sergeant Gerald Hill.
James Hosty was mistaken, however, to conclude that, “in the confusion, it was assumed that the wallet had been retrieved from Oswald’s person.” We know that’s a mistake, because Paul Bentley gave explicit detail to WFAA-TV on the day of the JFK assassination. He said: "I removed his wallet from his back pocket and obtained his identification." I find Paul Bentley believable. I also believe Gus Rose and Richard Stovall when they related that “somebody searched Oswald” before LHO was brought to them. Bentley did, and Bentley handed over LHO’s wallet to them when he handed over LHO to them.
That leaves only two people in doubt: Sergeant Gerald Hill and Captain William Westbrook. Now, Gerald Hill gave explicit detail to WC counsel David Belin:
Mr. Hill. About the time I got through with the radio transmission, I asked Paul Bentley, “Why don’t you see if he has any identification?” Paul was sitting sort of sideways in the seat, and with his right hand he reached down and felt of the suspect’s left hip pocket and said, “Yes, he has a billfold,” and took it out. I never did have the billfold in my possession…
There is no “confusion” or “assumption” at all. Gerald Hill plainly asked Paul Bentley, “Why don’t you see if he has any identification?” Hill clearly recalls exactly how Bentley was sitting: “Paul was sitting sort of sideways in the seat.” Hill remembered exactly which hand Bentley used: “With his right hand he reached down.” Hill remembered the exact pocket that Bentley searched: “And felt of the suspect’s left hip pocket.” There is no “confusion” or “assumption” there.
Gerald Hill then added a remark: “I never did have the billfold in my possession.” But nobody said that he did! Except, I do now.
James Hosty was partly right in his guesswork – Westbrook did hand LHO’s wallet to a lower ranking officer at the Texas Theater. What Hosty missed, however, was that after LHO was handcuffed, that lower-ranking officer, Gerald Hill, deliberately placed LHO’s wallet into LHO’s “left hip pocket.” Paul Bentley was fooled. As far as I can see today, Gus Rose and Richard Stovall were also fooled.
The only ones who knew the truth were Gerald Hill and Captain Westbrook. We not only have three FBI agents with the same story, we also have videotape. So, we are on solid ground. Still, several questions remain. But first, a review.
(i) LHO really did drop his wallet at the Tippit murder scene;
(ii) some unknown man picked it up quickly;
(iii) within two minutes, he handed it to uniformed officer Kenneth Croy, who was the first police officer to arrive at the scene – just as the ambulance attendants were loading Tippit’s body into their ambulance (about 1:19 PM) at the scene;
(iv) Croy handed it to Bud Owens about 1:21 PM;
(v) Owens handed it to Captain Westbrook when he returned to the Tippit murder scene about 1:30 PM;
(vi) WFAA-TV filmed Westbrook holding the wallet around 1:35 PM;
(vii) Westbrook filtered through LHO’s wallet and spoke with FBI agent Bob Barrett about its contents;
(viii) about 1:50 PM, at the Texas Theater, Westbrook handed it to Sergeant Gerald Hill, telling him to return it quietly to LHO;
(ix) while LHO was handcuffed, Gerald Hill slipped LHO’s wallet into LHO's left hip pocket;
(x) Hill then manipulated Detective Paul Bentley into “finding” LHO's wallet. Bentley believed he actually found it.
Here's the problem – if Captain Westbrook and Sergeant Hill had obtained LHO’s wallet from the Tippit murder scene in this innocent manner, then why would they lie about it later? Why would Westbrook tell Hill to quietly return it to LHO’s pocket, and why would Gerald Hill fool Paul Bentley into “finding” it? Yet that is the most economical explanation of all the evidence we have about LHO’s wallet on the day of the JFK assassination.
So, here's my theory:
There was nothing in LHO’s wallet that was new to Westbrook and Hil, since the Dallas plotters had long worked with the New Orleans plotters (Guy Banister, Clay Shaw, David Ferrie, Gerry Patrick Hemming, etc.) through the summer of 1963.
They had known since September 1963 that Alek J. Hidell was LHO’s alias, and that LHO had lived in Russia for three years and had returned to his Dallas-Fort Worth home with a Russian bride. They knew that Guy Banister in New Orleans had perfectly framed LHO as a friend to Fidel Castro in a fake FPCC chapter, and they knew that LHO had gone to Mexico City’s Embassy compound with a fake Commie resumé.
(Harry Holmes, as we saw, was the only WC witness to claim that LHO himself had personally revealed all this during his interviews in Captain Fritz’s office. Holmes let it slip, and the WC let it slide, but it really proves that this story was well-known among the Dallas plotters.)
All the Dallas plotters had been tracking LHO for months, including the post office paper trail from LHO to his Manlicher-Carcano rifle, as the FBI and Harry Holmes had been spying on LHO since before March, 1963.
LHO was supposed to be shot in the streets of Dallas, and the “evidence” that the Dallas police and deputies already had against LHO was supposed to be conclusive. The story was so solid that parts of it still stand today in the minds of millions.
When LHO killed Tippit, however, the plot began to unravel. So, a dragnet of Dallas police arrested LHO within 30 minutes, and handed him over to Dallas plotters Captain Will Fritz, Chief Jesse Curry and their subordinates.
Fritz held onto LHO far longer than normal, as Jesse Curry made preparations through his subordinates in the Dallas police to pressure mafia figure Jack Ruby to hit LHO.
IN CONCLUSION: The mystery of LHO’s wallet, in my reading – is a minor problem in the JFK assassination saga. It has been useful in order to highlight the secrecy of two individuals: Sergeant Gerald Hill of the Dallas Police Personnel Department, and his boss, Captain William Westbrook.
In my opinion, the reason that Westbrook and Hill secretly returned LHO's wallet to LHO was because they didn’t want the publicity. They had many secrets, and they wanted to keep a lower profile. They didn't want to be a larger part of the LHO story than they already were. They had already been at every place that LHO had been on 11/22/1963, because they knew exactly what was supposed to happen, and when it was supposed to happen. Any more visibility would have been risky.
The value of the two contradictory stories about LHO's wallet on 11/22/1963 has been to pinpoint the duplicity and high secrecy of Gerald Hill and Captain Westbrook. Their secrecy reveals a consciousness of guilt.