Lee Harvey Oswald killed J.D. Tippit - the how, and the why.
By Steve Gerlach (Copyright June 1999)
Divider Scroll

Lee Harvey Oswald killed Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit on that sunny afternoon in Dallas in 1963. Of that there is no doubt...

What is in doubt is why he killed him.

Let's put aside the theories and the lies, the changes in testimony, and government (and police) mis-handling of the evidence in this case, and purely look just at the events of that day. There can be no doubt that Oswald did indeed kill Tippit.

I don't intend to go into the event step by step - I don't need to. Dale K. Myers has just published a book, With Malice - Lee Harvey Oswald and the shooting of J.D. Tippit , and I recommend you get a copy ASAP. Never before has the Tippit killing been so richly detailed. Most of the usual crop of JFK Assassination material focus on JFK, OSWALD or Conspirator X, Y or Z.

Thankfully, Myers has finally "done a Lifton" on the Tippit side of the case. Finally we have everything laid out bare, step by step, in chronological order. It's taken 36 years, but finally someone has studied this murky side of the JFK Assassination case and has given us the evidence unadulterated and in its...er... "pristine" form.

Needless to say, with a title like that one, Myers fingers Oswald for the murder of Tippit and infers he whacked JFK too.

Unfortunately, this is where his case falls down.

I have always argued, "Oswald shooting Tippit doesn't prove he shot JFK!" Just in the same way that the Oswald backyard photos don't prove Oswald shot the President - they only prove he stood in the backyard with a pistol, rifle and Commie newspapers.

Oswald did shoot Tippit but that doesn't mean he was fleeing from shooting Kennedy.

Oswald's FBI psychological profile paints him as a meticulously organised planner who bought the rifle months early, practiced on a firing range (allegedly), smuggled the rifle into the Texas School Book Depository (allegedly) and laid in wait for his moment of glory. However, the moment after gunshots were fired in Dealey Plaza, Oswald's "supposed" psychological "organised" profile goes to the dogs.

Oswald flees the TSBD: an organised Oswald (according to the psychological profile) would have stayed.

Oswald grabs the first transport available which happened to be a bus travelling back towards the scene of the crime: Oswald would have (if he met his psychological profile) already had an escape route of vehicle ready in the off-chance that he would have fled the TSBD.

He gets off the bus and grabs a cab and rushes back home to change his clothes and grab a handgun: a meticulous Oswald (at least according to the psychological profile) would already have had the handgun on him!

Oswald flees his boarding room and heads off...to destination unknown.

What we do know is that DPD Officer J.D. Tippit met him along the way, at the corner of Tenth & Patton.

According to witnesses, Oswald was walking east and, seeing the patrol car, quickly reversed and started walking west. This is what caught Tippit's attention. This is the sign of a man in flight, but not from shooting the president.

This is where Myers makes his big mistake in With Malice - he sees this action (as with all of Oswald' s actions from leaving the TSBD) as a sign of guilt and, hence, proof he shot Kennedy.

Myers is wrong.

These actions show the flight of a man who is in fear for his life. These actions fit perfectly for a man who knows he is being framed for something he didn't commit. These are the last desperate actions of a patsy.

Make no mistake about it, Oswald knew of some sort of event that would happen against Kennedy that day, but he didn't know the full repercussions. He didn't know he was going to be fingered with shooting the Prez. In fact, Oswald followed his orders to a T - even carrying the two versions of I.D. card with him, one showing he was Lee Harvey Oswald and the other stating he was Alek Hidell.

In every way, Oswald had followed his orders. He'd purchased the rifle and handgun through the post and created a paper-trail under the name Hidell. He had them sent to a traceable PO box. He'd even sat in the depository at the right time - waiting for his next orders.

A soldier always waits for orders.

And then it went down.

And it went down all wrong.

At least, in Oswald's eyes it did. And all the pieces came together and he knew what he was.

A patsy.

He fled the building and grabbed any kind of transport - even a bus going the wrong way! He grabbed a cab and had the driver drop him a few blocks from where he really lived. He raced back to his boarding room and changed clothes and grabbed his handgun. (Remember, he would have had it with him if he'd killed the President according to the old psychological profile...) Then he sprinted for freedom.

Where was he going? We have no idea. To a safehouse? Maybe. To meet someone else? Possibly.

Who he did meet was the "poor dumb cop" J.D. Tippit.

When he saw the patrol car coming, he panicked and changed direction, which made Tippit suspicious. Tippit pulled over and questioned him...

And the rest is history.

After shooting Tippit, and making sure he really was dead by shooting him in the temple after he'd fallen, Oswald sprinted towards the Texas Theatre, spilling bullets and bullet casings as he runs, and shedding his jacket a few blocks later. (Gees, the old psychological profile wouldn't have him making such a mess either! Remember the words, "organised killer"?)

This is the sign of a scared, frightened man, knowing the world is about to close in on him and not able to suitably handle the situation. This is not the sign of a cold calculating President-killer who would soon be villified in the press around the world.

Yes, Oswald killed Tippit but not for the reasons Myers gives. And not for any other reason found in government or presidential investigations.

Oswald was fleeing to save himself.

Little did he know that fate would deal him J.D. Tippit.

If Tippit hadn't pulled by the curb and stopped to talk to Oswald, maybe, 36 years later, we'd be blaming an unknown Alek Hidell for killing Kennedy and Officer J.D. Tippit would be a grandfather.

Maybe, maybe.