One of the pieces of evidence that is used in debates about the location of Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of the assassination is Captain Will Fritz’s handwritten notes about the interrogation of Lee Harvey Oswald. An argument that has been around since the assassination is that Lee Oswald was on the steps in the famous Altgens-6 photograph. One thing that is not debatable is that Cpt. Fritz’s notes do not support this argument.
What is important to understand is that there were two FBI Agents in the room at the time of the interrogation. They filed reports as well as Fritz who filed his own report. When examining these reports, you can clearly see that Lee Harvey Oswald did not claim to be “out with Bill Shelley in front” at the time of the assassination as some would have you believe.
The order of the questions he asked Lee Harvey Oswald is very important. It is consistent with the FBI report and Fritz’s reporting of the interrogation. Fritz’s report reads like this:
“I asked him what part of the building he was in at the time the President was shot, and he said that he was having his lunch about that time on the first floor. Mr. Truly had told me that one of the police officers had stopped this man immediately after the shooting somewhere near the back stairway, so I asked Oswald where he was when the police officer stopped him. He said he was on the second floor drinking a coca cola when the officer came in. I asked him why he left the building, and he said there was so much excitement he didn’t think there would be any more work done that day, and that as this company wasn’t particular about their hours, that they did not punch a clock, and that he thought it would be just as well that he left for the rest of the afternoon.”
In examining this, one can say that Fritz omitted that Oswald said he was out front with Shelley. Some might even draw the conclusion that this is evidence that Fritz was in on it and ignored Oswald’s claims to have been out front. This does not hold water. FBI agent James W. Bookout was also in the room and present during the interrogation of Oswald. His report reads, interestingly enough, closer to Fritz’s notes than Fritz’s report does.
Fritz’s notes, like Bookout’s report, reads strikingly similar in the following order; 2nd floor coke when officer came in; to 1st floor had lunch; out front with Bill Shelley; left work. All in the exact same order as Fritz’s notes. It is important to note that during this interrogation, Oswald had not made reference to eating lunch with two other employees in the depository which comes into play in another questioning session, quite different from the order he expressed here.
Further substantiating that Oswald did not claim to be outside during the assassination is Bill Shelley’s testimony when questioned by Mr. Ball in during his Warren Commission Testimony. The questions are strikingly similar to Frtiz’s handwritten notes. Oswald made claims about seeing weapons in the Book Depository, and Mr. Ball questioned him about it. In reference to the claim that Oswald was outside at the time of the assassination Shelley is asked the following questions:
Mr. BALL. On November 22, 1963, the day the President was shot, when is the last time you saw Oswald?
Mr. SHELLEY. It was 10 or 15 minutes before 12.
Mr. BALL. Where?
Mr. SHELLEY. On the first floor over near the telephone.
Mr. BALL. Did you ever see him again?
Mr. SHELLEY. At the police station when they brought him in.
Mr. BALL. Did you see him in the building at any time after 12?
Mr. SHELLEY. No.
Mr. BALL. Did you at anytime after the President was shot see Oswald in the building?
Mr. SHELLEY. No, sir.
Mr. BALL. Did you at anytime after the President was shot tell Oswald to go home?
Mr. SHELLEY. No, sir.
Mr. BALL. Did you tell anybody to go home?
Mr. SHELLEY. No.
Mr. BALL. You didn’t tell anybody to leave the building at all?
Mr. SHELLEY. No, sir.
It is very clear, that Mr. Shelley was not with Lee Harvey Oswald on the steps of the School Book Depository Building before, during or after the assassination of President Kennedy. The line of questioning would be consistent with the story that Oswald was trying to spin to the investigators. That he went outside after the assassination, met with Will Shelley outside of the building and decided to go home because Shelley had told him there would be no work for the rest of the day.
Usually, when confronted with testimony that refutes that Oswald was on the steps, accusations arise that witnesses were intimidated into saying things at the time of their testimony before the Warren Commission. Thankfully, we have eyewitness testimony given by Mr. Shelley, and many other witnesses within hours of the assassination through depositions. Please consider that there are no witnesses in any deposition that place Oswald outside at the time of the shooting. Not a single one. But let’s focus on Mr. Shelley and his statements to the police.
The police had two statements taken by Mr. Shelley. The first statement was about his location at the time of the assassination and his actions in that time period. Based on his Warren Commission testimony he was in the police station when Oswald was brought in. It appears to me based on the affidavit, that they were questioning Oswald and he had attempted to indicate that Shelley had sent him home. Since I do not have access to who was present when Shelley gave his statement, I am making the assumption that the discrepancy between Captain Fritz’s report and FBI Agent Bookout is simply explained by the fact that Fritz determined Shelley had not interacted with Oswald because he had this affidavit. I have not found any evidence that Bookout was present for Shelley’s interview or affidavit, so his report contains the information that Oswald claimed to have gone outside with Shelley after the assassination. In neither affidavit does Shelley place Oswald outside with him at any point in time.
It is abundantly clear that in the second affidavit the focus of the investigation had changed. They had begun investigating Lee Harvey Oswald’s story that started in the first interrogation and the claim that Oswald made about being sent home by Shelley, when he went outside after the assassination. It is clear from his statement that Lee Harvey Oswald was not with him after noon. It is also clear that he did not send him home.
Sadly, when it comes to researching the Kennedy Assassination, many researchers find a piece of evidence without researching it completely. This appears to be the case with Cpt. Frtiz’s handwritten notes on the interrogation of Lee Harvey Oswald. When looking at the document, in context, with other primary sources, it does not hold water that Lee Harvey Oswald claimed to have been outside during the assassination. Too much misinformation is being spread in people’s zeal to promote Oswald’s innocence, and other such theories, without checking the context of the information. It is making it more challenging than ever to find the truth with so many outlandish incompletely researched claims circulating on the internet.
Matt “The Hitman” Scheufele