> that he had seen a man rush out of the back door
> of the TSBD and run out of sight.
> old the Commission in 1964, that the man he saw come
> out of the rear door "was fast moving on."
> Worrell said nothing about his observation of the
> "running man" until
I find the above piece hard to match into the conspiracy puzzle, for a
simple reason: professional assassins do not run. That is an important
rule. Do you remember The Godfather? When Michael was given
instructions by Clemenza? ("I sit down, finish my dinner").
The Man in the Dark Sports Coat
by William Weston
A man in a dark sportcoat and light colored pants dashed out of the
back door of the TSBD about three minutes after the shots had been
fired at the motorcade. He was in his late 20's or early 30's, about
5'8" tall, and had dark brown hair. As he ran south on Houston Street,
his coat was flapping backward in the breeze.
Who was this man and why was he running away? Was he a conspirator
escaping from the scene of the crime, or was he just an excited TSBD
employee? Finding an answer to that question is not an easy
undertaking, as there is much conflicting testimony. Nevertheless, a
proper analysis of these eyewitness accounts will demonstrate that the
apparent conflicts are really non-existent ones. In this article, I
shall compare and combine the details of what was seen and heard in
order to obtain a unified picture of what was happening behind the
Let us first examine the matter through the eyes of Jams Worrell, a
senior in high school living with his mother and sister in Farmers
Branch, a Dallas suburb.1 On November 22, he decided to skip school to
see the President, and hitched a ride to Love Field, arriving at 9 am
and then wait-ing for the President's arrival.
When the Presidential party arrived and disembarked, the large airport
crowds prevented Worrell from getting a good view. He considered
alternatives for seeing JFK, and hit upon a bus ride to Dealey Plaza,
the final "slow" point of the motorcade, which would be direct, while
the motorcade itself would take an indirect route at reduced speed to
enhance the President's visibility. Worrell caught his bus and wound
up awaiting the motorcade underneath the "sniper's window" in the
At 12:30 he could see the presidential limousine as it made its
successive slow turns onto Houston and Elm Streets. He could not see
the President well, how-ever, as the press of the crowd again defeated
his purpose. When the limousine had gone 50 to 75 feet past him, he
heard a shot that sounded like it came from above. He looked up and
saw about six inches of a rifle projecting from either the fifth or
sixth floor window--four inches of barrel extending from two inches of
stock. [The Mannlicher-Carcano barrel extends five and one half inches
from the stock.] Worrell looked down the street to see where the rifle
was aiming. A second shot was fired and the President slumped down
into his seat. Worrell again looked up and saw a small discharge of
flash and smoke as the rifle fired again. At that instant he heard
people screaming and others were yelling, "Duck." He sought cover by
going around the corner of the TSBD. Just as he was rounding the
corner, he heard a fourth shot.2 Continuing on towards the rear corner
of the building, he turned right and crossed the street. Stopping to
catch his breath at the s.e. corner of Houston and Pacific, he waited
for perhaps two to three minutes, and then saw the man in the dark
sportcoat come bustling out the back door, and run toward Houston and
Elm, where he disappeared among other bystanders. Worrell watched him
as long as he could, but after losing sight of him, he turned eastward
and walked along Pacific St. Reaching his mother's office at Ross and
Ervay, he took a bus from there to school, and then hitchhiked home.
The next morning as he watched the ongoing television coverage, he saw
Jesse Curry make a plea to anyone who had seen the shooting to notify
the police. Worrell did so and was soon taken to City Hall to make a
statement. Three and a half months later, he testified before the
Warren Commission and his account of the mysterious man running from
the back door of the TSBD was reported in the local papers. One man
who read this story was outraged, for he knew very well that no one
had come out that way.
James Romack, a truck driver for Coordinated Transportation3 had been
watching the**** back door*** from the very moment the shots were
fired. He did not cease watching it until after the police had arrived
to seal off the building. He was angry that some fool could get away
with putting forth such nonsense. To set the record straight, Romack
contacted the authorities and told them exactly what happened.
Testimony is often misleading. For example: Romack's testimony appears
to indicate that he was watching the back door of the TSBD from early
on and before anyone checked the back side of the building. Maybe , he
was , but it had to be later on. He was watching the Houston Street
entrance to the building and the steps to the side door: From Romack's
location, it is unlikely that hr could have seen the rear entrance
door to the loading dock
Well, you heard the shots, and then what did you do?
Well, I knew something was wrong. I mean, I could sense that with in
my own self.
Mr. ROMACK. And I looked up and I felt kind of chilly looking down
towards the which I am facing the HOUSTON ENTRANCE, and I looked down
toward where all the people were standing along, the motorcade was
passing by, and just immediately after I heard the shots, I saw a
policeman running north towards me. He was running to look to see if
somebody was running out of the back of this building.
Texas School Book Depository Building. And he didn't stay but just,
oh, he was just there to check and he runs back.
Well, sensing that something is wrong, I automatically take over
watching the building for the man.
What part of the building were you watching?
Could you see that back dock in the back part?
Well, I mean, they got it sealed off. I could see as much as anyone
On the morning of Nov. 22, Romack had been working at the railroad
yard. He had been conversing with co- worker George Rackley at a spot
100-125 yards from the rear side of the TSBD.4 The sirens of
approaching motorcycles drew their attention to the crowds gathered at
Houston and Elm. Shortly thereafter, Romack heard three rifle shots.
Rackley, curiously enough, did not hear the shooting, as he was 60 at
the time and it is possible that his hearing might have been somewhat
impaired. He did, how-ever, notice a large flock of pigeons that rose
up from the roof of the TSBD.5
The pedestrians near the TSBD were either falling to the ground or
scattering. Conspicuous among them was the distinctive blue uniform of
a policeman running along the sidewalk. He was headed towards the back
area of the building. Romack told the FBI that he saw the policeman
"within a minute" after the shooting.6 When he testified before the
WC, he used the words "just immediately after."7 Since the meaning of
the word "immediately" has some elasticity, we can thus conclude that
the policeman was seen during a time period of not more than 60
seconds after the shooting.
This time estimate was confirmed by the officer, W.E.Barnett.8 As he
stood near the front of the Depository, he heard what sounded like
three shots that came from up high. Barnett looked up and scanned the
roof line for a gunman. If he was up there, he might try to make a
getaway down a fire escape, of which there was one on the building's
east side. Was there another one on the rear side? To find out, he
made a dash for the back end of the building.9 No fire escape was on
that side, but there was a back door that no one was guarding. He
decided to position himself at a spot where he could keep an eye on
both the fire escape and the back door. While he stood there, two
young women opened the door and came out.
I ran to the back of the building.
Ran down Houston Street?
There is a door in the back of the Texas School Book Depository. Does
it face on Houston or around the corner?
It is around the corner from Houston Street.
Did you go in the building?
No, sir; I didn't get close to it, because I was watching for a fire
escape. If the man was on top, he would have to come down, and I was
looking for a fire escape, and I didn't pay much attention to the
I was still watching the top of the building, and so far as I could
see, the fire escape on the east side was the only escape down .
Since you surmised that the shots had come from the building, you
looked up and you didn't see any windows open. You thought they had
been fired from the top of the building?
So you ran around here on Houston Street immediately to the east of
the Texas School Book Depository Building and watched the fire escape?
I went 20 foot past the building still on Houston, looking up. I could
see the whole back of the building and also the east side of the
Did you see anybody coming off the fire escape up there, or any
movement on top of the building?
Not a thing.
What did you do after you went around behind the building?
I looked behind the building and I saw officers searching the railroad
cars. I looked around in front towards the front of the building and I
saw officers going west.
Going west down that little street there in front of the School Book
Yes; but there was no sign they were going into the building or
watching the building, so I decided I was the only one watching
the building. So since ,this was the only fire escape and there
was officers down here watching this back door, I returned back around
to the front to watch the front of the building and the fire escape.
Then I decided maybe I had been wrong, so I saw the officers down here
You mean the officers went on down toward No. 5 on our Exhibit No.
When I got to the front, some of the officers were coming back toward
me, started back toward me.
You were still back near the intersection of Elm and Houston?
Yes, sir; I was back where No. 8 is then. That was probably 2 1/2
minutes after the last shot was fired. About that time, my sergeant
came up from this way, from the north of Houston Street and asked me
to get the name of that building. I broke and ran to the front and got
the name of it. There were people going in and out at that time. I ran
back and told him the name of it, and about that time a construction
worker ran from this southwest,
Victoria Adams and Sandra Styles had been on the fourth floor,
watching the parade from one of the windows.10 They heard gunfire as
JFK's car disappeared behind a tree. To learn what happened, they ran
down the back stairs and went out the back door. Adams estimated that
she and her friend were going outside about a minute after the
shooting. They were stopped by a policeman. "Get back into the
building," he said.
"But I work here," Adams pleaded.
"That is tough, get back."
"Well, was the president shot?"
"I don't know. Go back."
The two women obeyed, yet they complied not by returning the way they
came, but rather by going all the way around the west side to reenter
the TSBD through the front entrance--talking to people along the way.
Technically, they were disregarding the instructions of a police
officer, and Barnett should have stopped them, but he must have had
too many other things on his mind than to chase two young ladies
determined to satisfy their curiosity. His main worry was the front
entrance. As he looked in that direction, he saw police officers and
sheriff's deputies all running towards the Triple Underpass. No one
seemed to realize that shots came from the building itself, putting
Barnett in a quandary. Should he stay in place and hope that another
officer would do likewise at the front door? Or should he, Barnett, go
to the front door and alert someone to take his vacated back door
spot? He decided on the latter and ran toward the front of the
Before he reached the front entrance, he was stopped by Howard Brennan
in his construction hat, who told him that he had seen a gunman on one
of the upper floors. Then a police sergeant came and ordered him to
find a sign on the building by which it could be identified. He had to
go out into the street to see the words near the rooftop ledge. It was
the Texas School Book Depository. When he finally got to the front
door, he estimated that about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes had passed since he
had heard the final shot.11
When Romack saw the back door being guarded by an officer, he assumed
a suspect might be coming out. (Neither he nor Barnett mentioned the
exit of the two women, apparently attaching little significance to
them.) After the officer left the rear door, Romack decided to take up
the task of guarding the rear door himself. He continued the approach
to the TSBD he began at the time of the shots, reaching a sawhorse
barrier that crossed Houston St., located approximately 25 yards from
the TSBD to block northbound traffic into a road construction zone.12
This barrier, as we shall see, is crucial to this study, for it is the
means by which a reconciliation can be made between Romack's testimony
According to his statement to the FBI, Romack heard from somewhere
behind him the sound of a car bouncing erratically over large chunks
of asphalt. He turned and watched in amazement and disbelief as a
shiny red 1963 Pontiac Catalina station wagon bumped and banged
laboriously over the broken-up street. It followed the curve that
joined Ross to Houston and stopped at the barrier on the other side of
the railroad tracks.13 Painted on the side of the car was "KBOX Radio
News." Two occupants were in the front seat. To give the news- men a
helping hand, Romack walked in front of the barrier, and helped remove
it to aid the car's access. In performing this task, Romack had tuned
his back to the Depository.14 The car passed the barrier and parked
about 15 yards from the n.e. corner of the building. (See map showing
positions at 12:34 pm.)
Romack said that the news vehicle arrived on the scene about 3 minutes
after the shooting.15 His time estimate was confirmed by Sam Pate, one
of the car's occupants. He said that the car came to a stop near the
Depository about 4 minutes after the shooting.16 We can thus pinpoint
its arrival between 12:33 and 12:34. The importance of this cannot be
overstated, for this was also the same moment when Worrell saw the man
in the dark sportcoat coming out the back door. The time span when
Romack had turned his back to the building could not have been more
than a couple of minutes, yet it only takes a few seconds for someone
to dash out of a building and run down the street.
What about other witnesses in the area, who had the door within their
field of view? One man who said that no one came out was George
Rackley.17 He did not close in as Romack had, but remained in his
original location, over 100 yards from the TSBD. Although he would
indicate he saw no one emerge, that does not necessarily prove that he
had the rear door in focus the entire time. An indication of his
distractibility is that fact that he missed the arrival, at a distance
of 25 yards, of the KBOX news vehicle, accord-ing to his WC testimony.
If his awareness of his surroundings was so limited that he failed to
notice a wild feat of rugged-terrain driving only 25 yards away, how
could his testimony be used to settle a controversy involving a
relatively inconspicuous event over 100 yards away? No doubt the
awesome panorama of crowds surging into the railroad yards was an
overwhelming spectacle to Rackley, and it would be understandable if
he did not notice such peripheral circumstances as the arrival of a
news vehicle or the brief appearance of a solitary figure coming out
of a building.
Another witness who had the back door within his view was news
reporter Sam Pate.18 From his vantage point inside the station wagon,
he would have had an unobstructed view of the TSBD during that crucial
moment when Romack had dropped his guard. Yet Pate did not have the
same awareness of the TSBD as the source of the shots that Romack had.
Pate's main concern then was finding out where the action was, and at
12:33 his attention would have been riveted on the onslaught of
humanity into the parking lot and the railroad yards. Any latecomer to
the scene would naturally assume that whoever fired the shots was not
inside the building. (This consideration would also apply to the other
occupant in the car, Josh Dowdell, who apparently made no statement
about his observations.)
The sum total of these considerations leads to the conclusion that
there is no testimony strong enough which could effectively refute
Worrell's contention that a suspect ran out the back door.
The evident existence of this man is corroborated by the statements
made by Carolyn Walther.19 She had been stand-ing on Houston in front
of the County Records Building. Less than a minute before she saw the
motorcade, she happened to look up at he Depository and said she saw
two men at a fifth floor window in the far east corner. One of them
was kneeling at the lower open half of the window and he had a short
gun or rifle in his hands. Standing beside him was a man wearing a
brown suit coat. His clothing could be seen through the open window,
but his face was obscured by the glass. this was the extent of her
observations, for at that instant she turned her attention to the
approaching motorcade. Going by the detail of the suit coat, we can
suspect that the man whom Walther saw could be the same one that
Worrell saw a little over three minutes later. It is relevant to
mention here that this interval of time correlates exactly with the
three minute passage of time between the firing of the shots at 12:30
to the use of an elevator by someone on the fifth floor going down to
the ground floor at 12:33.20
Still another sighting of this man was made by an unemployed steel
worker, Richard R. Carr.21 Shortly after noon, he was looking for work
at the site of the new courthouse on Houston St. He was seek-ing out
the foreman on the ninth floor, and as he ascended, he stopped at the
sixth floor, from which he could view the top floor of the Depository.
He noted a heavy-set man looking out a window next to the one on the
far east end. This man was wearing a hat, glasses, and, according to
Carr, a tan sportcoat.22 For a short time, Carr studied the man, and
then he continued his ascent.
About a minute or two later, he heard a loud noise that sounded like a
firecracker. The was a slight pause and then he heard two more reports
in rapid succession. He turned his eyes toward the triple under-pass,
which was where he thought the shots came from. In the grassy area
between Elm and Main he could see several individuals falling to the
ground. To learn more, he immediately began to descend the stairs.
After Carr reached the ground, he again saw the man whom he had
previously seen on the seventh floor of the Book Depository. He was
rapidly approaching Carr at a very fast walking pace. When he got to
the corner of Commerce, he turned left. On the next street over was a
1961 or 1962 Nash Rambler station wagon, parked facing north. It had a
luggage rack on top and Texas plates. In the driver's seat was a young
Black. The heavy-set man opened the rear door and got in. The car was
last seen heading north on Record Street. This momentary sighting
dovetails with the observation of sheriff's deputy Roger Craig, who
also saw a Nash Rambler station wagon, also driven by a dark-
complected man, about fifteen minutes after the shooting, heading west
on Elm. It stopped in front of the TSBD and a man later identified by
Craig as Lee Harvey Oswald got inside. The car was last seen going
under the triple under-pass in a direction that could have taken it
toward Oak Cliff.
In the course of this study, we have looked at a good number of
incidents that occurred within a very short period of time -- about
fifteen to twenty minutes. To show how these wide-ranging
circumstances can be combined into a logical sequence, the following
chronology is presented:
12:28 A man in a tan sportcoat is seen by Carr on the seventh floor of
12:29 A man in a brown suit coat is seen by Walther on the fifth floor
of the TSBD, standing next to a gunman.
12:30 Worrell sees a gun firing at the President from a window on the
fifth or sixth floor. Romack starts walking toward TSBD, keeping back
door within his view.
12:31 Barnett runs to the back area of the TSBD. He encounters Adams
and Styles coming out the back door.
12:32 Barnett returns to the front of TSBD
12:33 The KBOX news car arrives on the scene. Romack removes a portion
of a barrier, allowing the vehicle to pass. Meanwhile, the man in the
dark sportcoat dashes out the back door.
12:34 The KBOX car is parked near TSBD. The man in the tan sportcoat
is seen by Carr walking south on Houston. He gets into a Nash Rambler
driven by a Black man.
12:45 Deputy Roger Craig sees "Oswald" escaping in a Nash Rambler
driven by a dark-complected man.
The chronology shows that there is a common thread of truth that ties
widely disparate points of view into a unified whole. Each person on
the scene corroborates the others and demonstrates the value and
trustworthiness of the eye-witness testimony. While it is equally true
that the best evidence in a homicide would be tangible items such as
documents, photographs, bullet fragments, and autopsy specimens, in
the case of the Kennedy assassination, where so much of that evidence
has been grossly mishandled or falsified, the best source of data
often turns out to be the inter-connecting memories of ordinary
1. 2H 191-201 (Worrell)
2. Worrell had estimated that about four to six seconds had elapsed
during the shooting. When he was told later that all the firing came
from one bolt-action rifle, he could not understand how it could have
been fired so rapidly.
3. 6H 279-283 (Romack)
4. 6H 280 (Romack)
5. 6H 275 (Rackley)
6. FBI report, March 13, 1964, p.2.
7. 6H 281 (Romack)
8. 7H 539-544 (Barnett)
9. It should be noted here that Barnett was running exactly the same
way along the east side of the building as Worrell. Worrell had a head
start, however, for he began running before the shot sequence ended,
whereas Barnett did not start until it was over. By the time Barnett
was on the move, Worrell must have already been crossing the street.
10. 6H 388-393 (Adams)
11. 7H 543 (Barnett)
12. FBI report, March 13, 1964, p. 5
13. Dennis Ford, "North of Elm on Houston," Fourth Decade, July, 1995,
14. 6H 281 (Romack)
15. FBI report, March 13, 1964, p. 2
16. Ibid., p. 6.
17. 6H 274-277 (Rackley)
18. FBI report, March 13, 1964, p.6
19. 24H 522 (FBI report, Carolyn Walther)
20. For more information on the circumstances inside the TSBD, see
"The Fifth Floor Sniper," The Third Decade, May, 1993.
21. Commission Document 385. Reprinted in Josiah Thompson, Six Seconds
in Dallas , (NY: B. Geis, 1976), pp. 308-309.
22. The time when Carr saw the man in a tan sportcoat on the seventh
floor was within a minute or two when Carolyn Walther saw a man in a
brown suit coat on the fifth floor. What probably happened was that
the man whom Carr had seen had immediately gone down to the fifth
floor where he was seen by Walther, just before the appearance of the
23. This statement was given to the FBI on Feb. 4,1 964. Five years
later, he gave a different story at the Clay Shaw trial. The Nash
Rambler was not parked on Record Street, as stated in 1964, but rather
it was parked on Houston, next to the TSBD, facing north. After the
shooting, two or three men came out of the Depository and got into the
Rambler. The car was last seen speeding north on Houston. With some
variations, this story was repeated to J. Gary Shaw in 1975 in Cover
Up, (p. 13.). unfortunately for Carr's credibility, the second version
contains one significant difficulty: it is impossible to see this part
of Houston Street from the new courthouse building, as the old
structure would have completely blocked the view. This considerations
leads us to the troubling conclusion that Carr had given a partially
fictitious story at the trial. While arguably this assessment of his
testimony is serious enough to warrant a complete rejection of
everything he has said on the matter, I think that before we take this
step, it is only fair to consider the severity of assassination-
related persecution that he was suffering at the time of the trial,
including at least two demonstrable attempts on his life (see Cover
Up, pp. 13-14.) Given these circumstances, Carr's self-destructive
credibility becomes more easily understandable as a matter of
survival. When seen in this light, his early statements in 1964
actually gain in value--an account so important that the plotters of
the assassination could not afford to leave it unsuppressed.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. JFk/DPQ PO Box 174 Hillsdale,