I’m almost finished with my review of the suspicious Warren Commission (WC) testimony of witnesses from within the Dallas Police Department (DPD). Only three Dallas policemen remain: Lieutenant J.C. Day, Detective Richard Sims, and Detective Elmer Boyd. Of these, I find J.C. Day to be the most interesting, so I’ll focus on him now.
Lieutenant John Carl Day (who liked to be called, “J.C.”) had 23 years of experience with the DPD, including 15 years in its Identification Bureau. He had FBI training in latent-fingerprint analysis, as well as State training in crime-scene investigation. For the past 7 years, he said, he had been the Supervisor of the Crime Scene Search Section of the ID Bureau, traveling to the scenes of crimes, taking photos, dusting for fingerprints, bagging relevant evidence and basically controlling the technical aspects of material evidence in homicide cases. He was an expert who knew the rules about the chain of evidence.
So, we wouldn’t expect to see any flaws in his WC testimony, right? Yet, insofar as he reported directly to Captain Will Fritz, I’m not surprised that we find several flaws. Before I criticize, however, let’s briefly summarize his WC testimony:
On the day of the JFK Assassination, about 12:45, Lieutenant J.C. Day was in the City Hall basement, two floors below the office of Captain Fritz. A rumor circulated that JFK had been shot, so Day rushed back to his office on the fourth floor. Shortly before 1 PM he received a call from the police dispatcher to go to the TSBD.
As he climbed into the Crime Lab station wagon with his assistant, Detective Bob Studebaker, he looked at his watch – it was just about 1 PM sharp. They officially arrived at the TSBD at 1:12 PM.
At the front door they were directed to the 6th floor by Inspector Herbert Sawyer, who told them that some empty rifle shells were found in the southeast corner.
Studebaker and Day went there and made multiple photographs of three shells as they found them. Dallas police assured them that nothing was moved before they arrived.
However, WC attorneys asked Day to explain why his photographs (CE 715 and CE 716) failed to match a photo taken from outside the TSBD by the Dallas Morning News chief photographer, Tom Dillard. Dillard took his photo within 1 minute of the JFK shooting. The photo (CE 480) was blown up (CE 481 and CE 482) to reveal in the 6th floor TSBD southeast window, boxes in a different position than the boxes shown in Day’s photos.
Lieutenant Day could not explain this fact, and merely repeated what he had heard from the Deputies at the scene – that they had not touched the scene of the crime whatsoever. That was all he knew, and he had nothing further to say. In any case, Detective Studebaker and Lieutenant Day dusted the three shells and found fingerprints.
At the end of their crime scene work at the sniper’s window, he said, Lieutenant Day put three bullets into an envelope, without marking them with his initials. He wrote on the envelope: "Lieut. J.C. Day. Dallas Police Department, November 22, 1963” and he handed the envelope to Detective Sims, personal aide of Captain Fritz.
Just as Day and Studebaker finished with the shells, Captain Fritz called them to the northwest part of the building to photograph a rifle that Deputy Boone had found. Fritz also wanted fingerprint analysis, and so on.
Day and Studebaker took photographs of the rifle where it lay (CE 717 and CE 718).
Suddenly, Captain Fritz demanded to handle the rifle. Day, a subordinate, obliged him very slowly and carefully, he said. With one hand Day held the rifle, and in the other hand he held a magnifying glass. He would ensure that there were no fingerprints or handprints there, so that it would be “safe” for Captain Fritz to handle it. Day insists, however, that Captain Fritz merely opened the bolt, while Lieutenant Day continued to hold the rifle. The only part that Captain Fritz touched, insisted Day, was the “round nob,” after which a live round fell to the floor.
Lieutenant Day dusted that live round for prints and placed his initials, JD, on that live round at the scene (CE 141).
Captain Fritz took possession of that round (for some inexplicable reason) while Lieutenant Day retained possession of the rifle, taking it back to the Dallas Crime Lab for further research.
The rifle (CE 139) had serial number C-2766, and it never left Day’s possession from the time it was found at the TSBD, he said. He kept it locked in an office lockbox at Captain Fritz’ direction.
At about 3 PM, Studebaker and Day returned to the TSBD. For the next three hours they took more photographs inside and outside of the TSBD. They more carefully dusted like sniper nest boxes and the sniper’s window for fingerprints. Then they returned to Police headquarters around 6:10 PM.
At about 8:30 PM, Lieutenant Day was processing the rifle in his offices when Captain Fritz came to his door and announced that he had Marina Oswald in his own office, and he wanted her to see the rifle. However, Fritz did not want to bring Marina with her babies and her interpreter before the news media. So, Fritz asked Lieutenant Day to carry it down to her, without disturbing any fingerprints.
Lieutenant Day agreed. He held the rifle up very high. He testified that nobody else touched it. After Marina viewed the rifle, Day took it back to his office. Many news reporters who hounded him about it, but Day referred them to Chief Curry.
Under Day’s direction, officers made paraffin casts of LHO’s hands, there in Captain Fritz’ office. Day also directed them to make a paraffin cast on the right side of LHO’s face, to see if there were any nitrates there. The result of the paraffin test on the face was negative, he said.
At about 10 PM, FBI agent Vincent Drain and some others brought a “group of evidence” to Lieutenant Day, to prepare it for immediate release to the FBI in Washington DC. This “group of evidence” included the envelope that Day had given to Sims about 1:15 PM at the TSBD 6th floor southeast window.
When Lieutenant Day opened the envelope, however, he found only two spent bullet hulls in it. Somebody (he doesn’t remember who) told him that Captain Fritz was keeping the 3rd spent hull for his own use. That was when Day put his initials on the two spent hulls that were inside the envelope. Day also added an extra note on the envelope: “two of the three spent hulls.”
So, there are the nineteen main points of Lieutenant Day’s WC testimony, in my reading. In my opinion, his testimony reveals four glaring problems:
In point #5 above, DMN photographer Tom Dillard, from his place on Houston Street in the JFK motorcade, had taken a photo (CE 480) of the 5th and 6th floors of the TSBD, only seconds after the JFK shooting. The FBI then made two close-ups of that photo (CE 481 and CE 482), showing two black TSBD employees, Harold Norman and Bonnie-Ray Williams, watching the aftermath of the JFK shooting. Above them, in the window furthest east on the 6th floor, we see a box on the window ledge. Yet, in Lieutenant Day’s indoor photographs of the sniper’s nest and spent rifle shells (CE 715 and CE 716), there is no box on the window ledge.
In point #6 above, Lieutenant Day had no explanation for the mismatch, and only repeated that Dallas Police and Deputies assured him that nothing was touched – and that settled it for him.
In points #10 and #12 above, Captain Fritz demanded to handle the rifle – though it broke the chain of evidence. Lieutenant Day claims that he himself held the rifle, and allowed Fritz to touch “only the round nob.” Then a live round fell to the floor. I see no purpose at all in ejecting a live round at the crime scene. None. Also, I see no reason why Captain Fritz took possession of that live round instead of giving to Lieutenant Day for technical analysis.
At 1:22 PM, Deputy Boone found the murder rifle, so, Lieutenant Day claims, he gave Detective Sims the 3 spent hulls inside an envelope, with his name on it. Yet about 10 PM, several officers brought Lieutenant Day lots of evidence, including that envelope with only 2 spent hulls. Day (allegedly at that time) wrote upon the envelope, “two of the three spent hulls.” Somebody told Lieutenant Day that Captain Fritz kept the 3rd hull for his own use. Again, this shattered the chain of evidence, and again, I see no reason for a Captain to hold back evidence, pretending to be technician, when his Crime Lab had all the technical equipment necessary for analysis.
Captain Fritz broke the chain of evidence twice: (a) when he handled the murder weapon at the crime scene; and (b) when he chose to keep one of the “spent hulls” for himself. Lieutenant Day did not challenge that, and it is interesting that no WC attorneys challenged that, either.
Everything began at about 1 PM when Deputy Mooney found the alleged sniper’s nest and bullets. At that same time, Captain Will Fritz and Sheriff Bill Decker arrived outside the TSBD entrance. At that same time the police dispatcher called Lieutenant Day to come to the TSBD.
Lieutenant Day admitted that his photographs failed to match the box positions in photographs taken at about 12:30 PM by a newspaper photographer. The WC attorneys did not belabor this problem – but we should, because it is material evidence that Dallas law enforcement officers moved those boxes sometime between 12:30 PM and 1 PM. With this fact alone, we have good reason to doubt that Lieutenant Day told us “the whole truth.”
Lieutenant Day bluntly sided with Dallas officers who had assured him that they touched nothing at the crime scene. The implication is that the newspaper photographer made a mistake or was untrustworthy, while we should never doubt Dallas law-enforcement officers. Aside from this assurance and implication, Day refused to comment. Here is another good reason to doubt Lieutenant Day.
Lieutenant Day said that he carefully held the murder weapon so that Captain Fritz touched only the “round nob” to eject a live round. Yet I see absolutely no reason to eject a round there – except theatrics. Also, it sounds theatrical that Lieutenant Day held the rifle as Captain Fritz touched only “the round nob.” So, let’s hear from another eyewitness, Detective Richard Sims. Here’s his WC testimony:
Mr. BALL. Did you see anyone pick the rifle up off the floor?
Mr. SIMS. Yes, sir; I believe Lieutenant Day – he dusted the rifle there for fingerprints.
Mr. BALL. And did you see Fritz do anything?
Mr. SIMS. Yes, sir; Yes, sir; he took it and ejected a live round of ammunition out of the rifle
There Sims says that Captain Fritz “took it and ejected a live round.” That sure sounds like Captain Fritz took the rifle into his own hands. But it might be ambiguous, so, let’s hear from another witness, Deputy Eugene Boone, the officer who found the assassination rifle. Here’s his WC testimony:
Mr. BALL. What did you do after you got up to the sixth floor?
Mr. BOONE. ... I caught a glimpse of the rifle...And I hollered that the rifle was here.
Mr. BALL. What happened then?
Mr. BOONE. Some of the other officers came over to look at it. I told them to stand back, not to get around close, they might want to take prints of some of the boxes, and not touch the rifle. And at that time Captain Fritz and an ID man came over...and the weapon was photographed as it lay. And at that time Captain Fritz picked it up by the strap, and it was removed from the place where it was.
This is clear and unambiguous. Boone says that Captain Fritz not only took the rifle, but he actually “picked it up by the strap.” Was that only a figure of speech? Let’s dig once more into Boone’s WC testimony:
Senator COOPER. Did you notice whether the rifle that you discovered had a telescopic sight?
Mr. BOONE. Yes, it did.
Senator COOPER. Did it have a sling?
Mr. BOONE. Yes, it did. Because Captain Fritz picked it up by the sling when he removed it from its resting place.
That is clear: “Captain Fritz picked it up by the sling.” The words “strap” and “sling” are often interchangeable when speaking of rifles. Deputy Boone added that it was Captain Fritz who “removed it from its resting place.” Now, Boone was standing right there – he testified that Captain Fritz, not Lieutenant Day, picked up the rifle from the floor.
Thus, we have legitimate doubts about Lieutenant Day’s WC testimony.
Furthermore, Deputy Boone, standing right there, said nothing about Captain Fritz ejecting a live round from the rifle. Captain Fritz claimed that he did, and three others confirmed his story, but not Deputies Boone, Weitzman, Craig or Detective Boyd, all of whom were standing right there. Finally, only Fritz and Day testified that Fritz kept possession of the live round – and neither offered a reason for this violation of evidence.
At about 1:22 PM CST, when Deputy Boone found the murder weapon, Captain Fritz immediately wanted Crime Lab photographs. So, Lieutenant Day gave Detective Sims an envelope with the three shells found near the window, with his name on the envelope, and quickly went over to Captain Fritz. The first official report about the bullets found by Deputy Mooney at the 6th floor window, said: “Two spent hulls and one live round.” This was very likely what was inside that envelope.
That very evening, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover decided that the FBI must lead the investigation into the JFK Assassination, and he ordered the FBI to take all evidence from the Dallas Police. So, at about 10 PM, Dallas officers brought Lieutenant Day lots of evidence to quickly send to the FBI, including that envelope with only two spent hulls and a live round. Allegedly, Lieutenant Day wrote on the envelope, “two of the three spent hulls.”
Really? Where was that 3rd spent hull? Lieutenant Day testified that Captain Fritz kept the 3rd hull for his own use. But there’s no plausible reason for a Captain to analyze evidence. The Crime Lab has the technical skills and equipment.
Why would any Captain choose to interfere with the chain of evidence? The most likely reason is that the Captain was tampering with the evidence. Further, he would need to coordinate this with his Crime Lab – with Lieutenant J.C. Day.
Let me get right to the point: in my opinion, Captain Fritz never ejected a live round from the murder weapon. Nor did Captain Fritz retain a bullet from Day’s inventory of shells found at the TSBD. Fritz invented both stories to explain the fact that J.C. Day had sent a live round to the FBI on 11/22/1963, along with only 2 spent hulls.
Day should have sent only 3 spent hulls and no live rounds – but now it was too late. The original Evidence Report by Deputy Mooney would have to change. They had to explain absence of the 3rd spent hull in the evidence that they sent to the FBI. They also had to explain the existence of a live round in the evidence that they sent to the FBI.
The solution, in my opinion, was that Fritz took three steps: (1) he invented a story that he ejected a live round from the murder weapon at the scene; (2) he invented a story that he held back one spent hull from the inventory that Day sent to the FBI; and (3) he arranged for Deputy Mooney to modify his Evidence Report about his TSBD findings on 11/22/1963.
He was absolutely confident that his men would back him up in these stories.
The next morning, Mooney submitted a new Evidence Report, which stated that he really found 3 spent hulls under that window, and no live round. The live round that J.C. Day had sent to the FBI was obtained from Detective Sims. (This new Evidence Report said nothing about Fritz ejecting the live round from the murder weapon at the crime scene. However, Sims reported directly to Fritz, and would very likely do anything for Fritz. This new version of the story was assured.)
FBI protocols refused to accept this change without a physical receipt for that 3rd hull. Where was it? Well, Captain Fritz claimed that he was still holding it for “comparison” purposes. Comparison with what? The FBI told Fritz to “compare” the hull later, because the FBI needed that 3rd hull right now. Yet, Fritz stalled for four more days before he sent it to the FBI. That was on 11/27/1963.
Why would Fritz stall? Theatrics aside, I believe that Fritz and his men needed a few days to fabricate the so-called 3rd spent hull, by using technical experts like J.C. Day and others, before they sent it to the FBI.
The story is wobbly by almost any account – and yet three Dallas policemen corroborated these claims by Captain Fritz. Our Lieutenant J.C. Day was one of the key coordinators of these changes in the original story.
My next blog post will flesh out the details of my opinion, by relying heavily (with permission) on the excellent article written in 2003 by Attorney Frank Cellura. It is entitled, “For Your Eyes Only — Manipulation of the Evidence by the Dallas Police and Proof of a Second Gunman.”
Although I won’t need further proof of more gunmen in the JFK Assassination, I’m very impressed by Cellura’s careful research in exposing how several members of the Dallas Police worked as unit to manipulate crucial evidence in the JFK assassination. Cellura pays special attention to J.C. Day. This article by Cellura will supply the lion’s share of research for my next blog post on Lieutenant Day.