When They Kill A President
By Roger Craig
Roger Craig was a deputy Sheriff in Dallas at the time of the assassination of President Kennedy. He was a member of a group of men from Dallas County Sheriff James Eric "Bill" Decker's office that was directed to stand out in front of the Sheriff's office on Main Street (at the corner of Houston) and "take no part whatsoever in the security of that motorcade." Once he heard the first shot, Roger Craig immediately bolted towards Houston Street. His participation in the formative hours of the investigation during the rest of that day and into the evening included observations and experiences that would have singlehandedly destroyed the Warren Commission fairy tale before a grand jury or a Congressional investigation.
Roger Craig was named the Dallas Sheriff's Department "Officer of the Year" in 1960 by the Dallas Traffic Commission. He received four promotions while he was deputy Sheriff. Among the most important events he witnessed:
* at approximately 12:40 p.m., deputy Craig was standing on the south side of Elm Street when he heard a shrill whistle coming from the north side of Elm and turned to see a man--wearing faded blue trousers and a long sleeved work shirt made of some type of grainy material-- come running down the grassy knoll from the direction of the TSBD. He saw a light green Rambler station wagon coming slowly west on Elm Street, pull over to the north curb and pick up the man coming down the hill. By this time the traffic was too heavy for him to be able to reach them before the car drove away going west on Elm.
* after witnessing the above scene, deputy Craig ran to the command post at Elm and Houston to report the incident to the authorities. When he got there and asked who was involved in the investigation, a man turned to him and said "I'm with the Secret Service." Craig recounted what he had just seen. This "Secret Service" man showed little interest in Craig's description of the people leaving, but seemed extremely interested in the description of the Rambler to the degree this was the only part of the recounting that he wrote down. (On 12/22/67, Roger Craig learned from Jim Garrison that this man's name was Edgar Eugene Bradley, a right wing preacher from North Hollywood, California and part-time assistant to Carl McIntire, the fundamentalist minister who had founded the American Counsel of Christian Churches. Then-governor Ronald Reagan refused to grant the extradition request from Garrison for the indictment of Bradley during the New Orleans Probe.)
* immediately after this Craig was told by Sheriff Decker to help the police search the TSBD. Deputy Craig was one of the two people to find the three rifle cartridges on the floor beneath the window on the southeast corner of the sixth floor. All three were no more than an inch apart and all were lined up in the same direction. One of the three shells was crimped on the end which would have held the slug. It had not been stepped on but merely crimped over on one small portion of the rim. The rest of that end was perfectly round.
* he was present at when the rifle was found, and, along with Deputy Eugene Boone who had first spotted the weapon, was immediately joined by police Lt. Day, Homicide Capt. Fritz, and deputy constable Seymour Weitzman, an expert on weapons who had been in the sporting goods business for many years and was familiar with all domestic and foreign makes. Lt. Day briefly inspected the rifle and handed it to Capt. Fritz who asked if anyone knew what kind of rifle it was. After a close examination, Weitzman declared it to be a 7.65 German Mauser. Capt. Fritz agreed with him.
* at the moment when Capt. Fritz concurred with Weitzman's identification of the rifle, an unknown Dallas police officer came running up the stairs and advised Capt. Fritz that a Dallas policeman had been shot in the Oak Cliff area. Craig instinctively looked at his watch. The time was 1:06 p.m. (The Warren Commission attempted to move this time back beyond 1:15 to plausible claim Oswald had reached the Tippit murder scene in a more humanly possible time-frame than would be the case if Tippit had the encounter with his murderer any earlier.)
* Later in the afternoon Craig received word of Oswald's arrest and that he was suspected of being involved in the Kennedy's murder. He immediately thought of the man running down the grassy knoll and made a telephone call to Capt. Will Fritz to gave him the description of the man he had seen. Fritz said Craig's description sounded like the man they had and asked him to come take a look. When he saw Oswald in Fritz's personal office Deputy Craig confirmed that this was indeed the man, dressed in the same way, that he had seen running down the knoll and into the Rambler. They went into the office together and Fritz told Oswald,
"This man (pointing to me) saw you leave." At which time the suspect replied, "I told you people I did." Fritz, apparently trying to console Oswald, said, "Take it easy, son--we're just trying to find out what happened." Fritz then said, "What about the car?" Oswald replied, leaning forward on Fritz' desk, "That station wagon belongs to Mrs. Paine--don't try to drag her into this." Sitting back in his chair, Oswald said very disgustedly and very low, "Everybody will know who I am now."
The fact that Fritz said "car" and this elicited Oswald's outburst about a "station wagon"--that no one else had mentioned--confirms the veracity of Roger Craig's story.
* junior counsel for the Warren Commission Dave Belin, was the man who interview Roger Craig in April of 1964. After the being questioned in what Craig recounts as a very manipulative and selective way, Belin asked "Do you want to follow or waive your signature or sign now?" Craig noted, "Since there was nothing but a tape recording and a stenographer's note book, there was obviously nothing to sign. All other testimony which I have read (a considerable amount) included an explanation that the person could waive his signature then or his statement would be typed and he would be notified when it was ready for signature. Belin did not say this to me." After Craig first saw the transcript in January of 1968 he discoverd that the testimony he gave had been changed in fourteen different places.
Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig never changed his account of what he witnessed and experienced on Friday, November 22, 1963. (The passage where he describes the methodology employed by David Belin in selectively recording his testimony is highly illuminating and provides us with a glimpse of how the "W.C." interviewed witnesses in a very controlled way.) He remained convinced, for the rest of this life, that the man entering the Rambler station wagon was Lee Harvey Oswald. He was fired from the Sheriff's office on July 4, 1967, and from that day forward he never again could find steady work. Multiple attempts were made on his life, his wife finally left him, and in the end, he was alleged to have shot himself to death on May 15, 1975.
The following is an unpublished manuscript written by the late Roger Craig: