Dark Corners Menu

"Sniper's Nest" Menu


by Allan Eaglesham

2.2. Official "Sniper's Nest"
Figure 7. Same view as Figure 2.
Figure 8. Cropped
from Figure 7.
Figure 9.
Protruding box.
Figure 7 shows the same view as in Figure 2, without annotations. The box nearest to the camera is the same as that marked with an asterisk in Figure 3, as revealed by the distinctive pattern of the shipping tape on the west surface (Figure 8). In Figure 7, the box marked "BOOKS" protrudes to the south by a couple of inches (Figure 9); in contrast, in Figure 4 the second-top carton in the middle stack protrudes. Clearly, the highest box in Figures 1 and 3 is not present in Figure 7. Furthermore, comparison of Figure 7 with Figures 3 and 4 reveals that the stack to the east (shaded in Figures 5 and 6) is missing from Figure 7. Likewise, the stack to the east is missing in other official views of the "sniper's nest," such as Commission Exhibits (CEs) 733 and 734 (Figures 10 and 11).
Figure 10. Commission Exhibit 733.
Figure 11. Commission Exhibit 734.
Figures 12 and 13 are sketches of the official "sniper's nest."

Figure 12. Official "sniper's nest," elevation view.

Figure 13. Official "sniper's nest," plan view.

In his testimony to the Warren Commission, crime-laboratory Detective Robert Lee Studebaker stated that three empty hulls (cartridge cases) were found in the southeast corner of the sixth floor of the TSBD shortly after he arrived there [3]:

Q: Then, were you directed to some place on the sixth floor, as soon as you arrived there?
A: No; they hadn't found anything when we got there*.
Q: After you were there a little while, did somebody find something?
A: They found three empty hulls in the southeast corner of the building-they found three empty hulls and we went there and took photographs of that.

(*Presumably, Detective Studebaker was mistaken. Until the discovery of cartridge cases, there was no physical evidence that the TSBD was a crime scene.)

The first photograph taken at the "sniper's nest" was labeled Studebaker Exhibit A (Figure 14a). Commission Exhibit 716 (Figure 14b) shows a similar view, but with a solitary carton more visible on the floor at the top of the picture. This carton, also in Figure 15a in the lower right corner, is included in the sketches (Figures 5, 6, 12 and 13).

Figure 14a. Studebaker Exhibit A.
Figure 14b. Commission Exhibit 716.

In the upper right of Figure 14a, the protruding box (cf. Figure 9) is visible (marked with an asterisk), as is a stack of boxes to its east.
Figure 15a. Studebaker Exhibit B.
Figure 15b. Commission Exhibit 715.
Studebaker's Exhibit B (Figure 15a) -- a similar view as in CE 715 (Figure 15b) -- was taken in order to show the location on the floor of two of three spent cartridges (although they are not easily seen in either picture); the shadow angles and pedestrians crowding the sidewalk on Houston Street verify that it was taken on the afternoon of 11/22/63. (Because the view through the east side of the double-casement window is black, it has been suggested that this photograph was taken at night and the view through the west side of the window "pasted" in. I believe that the blackness is an artifact of (a) flash photography and the (b) the fact that the north side of the Dallas County Records Building, across Houston Street, was in deep shadow.) Until recently, this was the best view available of the box on the windowsill at the time of the assassination. Detective Studebaker did not take a photograph of the "rifle rest" per se</>I until after he had moved the boxes to dust them for fingerprints (Figure 16, Studebaker Exhibit D). He explained in his testimony to the Warren Commission [4]:

Q: (Referring to the "rifle-rest" boxes in Studebaker Exhibits A and B, Figures 14 and 15) Do you have any pictures of the boxes before they were moved other than those you have showed [sic] me?
A: Just these two.
Q: Then you don't have any pictures taken of the boxes before they were moved?
A: No.
Q: Now, I will show you another picture which we will mark "Exhibit D*" (i.e. Figure 16), was that taken by you?
A: Yes.
Q: Does that show the position of the boxes before or after they were moved?
A: That's after they were dusted -- there's finger print dust on every box.
Q: And they were not in that position then when you first saw them?
A: No.

(*The arrangement of the "rifle-rest" boxes in Studebaker Exhibit D (Figure 16) is similar to that recorded by Jack Beers (Figure 4), but not exactly the same.)

Later in the testimony, referring to Studebaker Exhibit J (Figure 17):

Q: The picture of the boxes; this is after they were moved?
A: Yes, they were moved there. This is exactly the position they were in.
Q: It is?
A: Yes -- not -- this was after they were moved, but I put them back in the exact same position.

Figure 16. Studebaker Exhibit D.
Figure 17. Studebaker Exhibit J.
Detective Studebaker offered no further information on when the "rifle-rest" boxes were replaced "in the exact same position." Neither was he asked. Presumably, it was after Jack Beers and colleagues had visited, made their observations, and taken photographs. In fact, it was long afterward. Here is Warren-Commission testimony from Mr. Studebaker's superior officer, Lieutenant Carl Day [5]:

Q: I am going to hand you what has been marked as Commission Exhibit 733 (i.e. Figure 10) and ask you to state if you know what this is.
A: This is the southeast corner of the sixth floor at the window where the shooting apparently occurred. The boxes in front of the window, to the best of our knowledge, (are) in the position they were in when we arrived there on November 22, 1963.
Q: So 733 represents a reconstruction in that sense, is that correct?
A: Yes sir.
Q: What about Exhibit--
A: This, by the way was taken on November 25, 1963.

The three-day time lapse -- described in the caption for CE 1301 (Figure 2) in the Warren Report [6] as "shortly after the shots were fired" -- raises a fundamentally important question: to what extent does the photographic record accurately depict the putative scene of the crime at the time of the assassination?

3. 7H139.
4. 7H141.
5. 4H269.
6. Warren Report p. 138 (WR138).

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