Oswald’s Backyard Photos
Linkedin Long-Form Post Submission #4
of the Sherlock / JFK Series
James Francis Smith
Upon his return, Watson changed the topic by asking, “Sherlock, has it ever been proven that Oswald owned the rifle alleged to have killed Kennedy?”
Sorting through the growing pile of paper, it took several minutes before Sherlock removed some which were stapled together. He glanced through them, then said, “His wife supposedly took photos of him holding a rifle in the backyard of their house.”
“Why do you say ‘supposedly’?”
“According to a conversation I had with Cowley, while you were meeting with Cunningham, there’s a good deal of controversy surrounding the authenticity of the photographs. I’ll cover them while enjoying my pipe.”
The two made their way to the backyard before uttering a word. Sherlock instantly lit his calabash pipe, watched the smoke rise for a few moments before sharing his thoughts on the subject.
“What the press christened as the ‘Backyard Photos’ represent the only solid evidence that links Oswald to a rifle and pistol. Marina Nikolaevna Prussakova Oswald, his wife, initially stated she took a single photograph of her husband holding a rifle and wearing a pistol in a holster in the backyard of their home at 2515 West Fifth in Irving, Texas at the end of February 1963.”
Sherlock allowed that bit of information to settle before continuing, and before Watson could question the use of the word ‘initially.’
“This was among the first of almost fifty interviews she endured before testifying to the Warren Commission. Her comments and consistency in these interviews varied greatly. Whether it was due to a language problem, I can’t say. Marina’s usage of English was poor at best. During the Warren Commission, when asked by Mr. Rankin, … ‘Do you know of anything that is not true in those interviews that you would like to correct … ?’ She replied, ‘It is not just that it wasn’t true, just not exact.’”
Watson interjected, “Obviously her lawyer had been busy coaching her.”
Sherlock smiled then continued. “Let’s us skip ahead to her first discussion about the rifle photo. Rankin asked, ‘Was it a day off you took the picture?’
‘“It was on a Sunday.’
‘“And he was dressed up with a pistol … was he?’
‘“… noticed that the telescope lens was on … ?’
“‘Now I paid attention to it. I had even forgotten that I had taken two pictures. I thought there was only one. I thought they were two identical pictures, but they turned out to be two different poses. Lee gave me one photograph, and asked me to keep it for June.’”
Paying close attention, Watson murmured, “And I suppose that became the first opening for the doubters. However, did she seem to you as though she couldn’t understand where the additional photo came from?”
“After she originally testified to have taken two pictures of the same pose, but now after being presented with two poses, she agreed there must have been two different poses.”
Thinking about his recent conversation with Cunningham, Watson smiled, “Obviously, she never considered that the authorities, for purposes yet unknown, may have created a fake picture with a different pose.”
“What brings you to that conclusion?”
“I’ve been studying the shadows caused by the sun. If these were taken seconds apart, wouldn’t the shadows be similar. In pose two, there is light where there’s shadow in the other photograph.”
“Numerous doubters have brought up the same concerns. However, a computer scientist at Dartmouth College, Hany Farid, claims he built a virtual reality image. Which, according to him, proves the backyard photos had not been doctored.”
“What’s a computer?”
“It’s the next generation of Miss Kelly’s tabulator. These Yanks have surpassed us in that type of technology.”
“How did he do it?”
Sherlock smiled, knowing he was about to babble about something he knew nothing about. “Farid developed a 3-D morphable model, which enables more finite facial measurement. More importantly the missing cleft, Farid insists the widening of the chin is due to the shading along the chin and jaw, and ‘not to nefarious photo manipulation.’
“I have compared a later photo of Oswald to a blown-up version of the backyard face and have to admit that Farid may be right. His study doesn’t prove the photos weren’t doctored, just that they might not have been.
“We know Oswald had a rifle, which he used to fire at General Walker, therefore, additional concentration on this point will not bring us closer to determining Kennedy’s killer. Whether Oswald had possession of the actual rifle that killed Kennedy is what you and I must determine.”
During the remainder of their smoke walk, neither man expressed any further opinions.
MY purpose in writing in this style is to first gather facts, then convince myself who was guilty. Have issues with the above excerpt? Let me know. Send your verifiable comments or concerns to email@example.com – subject “Sherlock”. Let’s work to get this right once and for all.