The Storm Drain

I’m one of those people who can remember where he was when President John F Kennedy was shot. And every 10 years or so I get interested in the disputes that surround the event.

Last time I got interested, about 10 years ago, I became pretty much convinced that JFK had indeed been shot from the Texas School Book Depository on Elm Street, rather than from the grassy knoll, as lots of people believe. My reasoning was pretty simple: Firstly, a gunman in the school book depository could have squeezed off  a series of shots while keeping his rifle aimed along more or less the same line as the motorcade moved away from him. But a gunman on the grassy knoll would have had to have been swinging his rifle rightwards as JFK came past him. So the depository shots were easier. Secondly, the depository gunman was in a fairly well concealed position above the street, and would have had time to get away. A gunman on the grassy knoll was in a much more exposed position, and anyone would have seen him if they’d been looking that way.

And then a few days ago I came across a theory that I’d never heard of before. This was that the final fatal bullet had come from a storm drain on the right hand side of Elm Street (near the pergola steps) in front of the presidential limousine. I came across it 12 minutes into a YouTube video about the assassination.

And I immediately thought that this new location was actually a much better one than both the depository and the grassy knoll. Because, just like the depository, the gunman in the storm drain would not have had to swing his rifle much as the motorcade came towards him. Also, he was completely concealed.

jfk-DealeyPlazaIntrigued, I got hold of a map of Dealey Plaza which shows the position of JFK’s car when the fatal shot struck, and drew a (red) line from that point to the storm drain (click to enlarge map). The range was 40 72 feet [see note 1], and the trajectory was at an angle of about 10 degrees to the kerb. I figured that at that range there would be no need for telescopic sights.

jfk-ess5There’s no difficulty for anyone to get into the storm drain because there’s a manhole over it (see right), and a rectangular space inside in which a man can easily crouch (see below right).

I estimated the diameter of the circular manhole cover to be 2 feet, and the length of the roadside opening to be 4 feet, and the height 4 to 6 inches (less these days than in 1963 because the road has been re-jfk-ess4surfaced). It seemed to me to be entirely plausible that somebody could have aimed a rifle out through this opening at a 10 degree angle without much difficulty, and shot Kennedy when he came within 72 feet. And then to escape, he could either have waited until things had calmed down before lifting the manhole cover and getting out, or squeezing his way down a 15 inch sewer pipe.

The idea has been around a long time, and I’m surprised I’ve never come across it before. It is contested, of course.

On the other hand we have the researchers who find this scenario not only ridiculous but improbable. They claim that the President would not have been visible from the storm drain until the limo rolled west another 54 – 56 feet past the fatal head shot location. The proponents of the theory answer back that the layers of asphalt have been added through out the years and the opening was twice as wide then than today.

Critics also claim that nobody could crawl down a 15 inch sewer pipe. But one or two other people seem to think it’s a plausible idea.

But with the 50th anniversary of the assassination less than 3 months away, it’s perhaps a good time to think about it all again.

Note 1: There seems to be a problem with the scale of the map shown. The Texas School Book Depository is said to be 100 feet long and 100 feet deep. But according to this map, it’s only 50 feet long. So JFK wasn’t 40 feet from the storm drain, but more like 80 feet. In fact, I think he was 72 feet away, and the limo wasn’t in the centre of the central lane of Elm Street as shown on the map, but had its left hand tyre almost on the white line marking the lane.

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28 Responses to The Storm Drain

  1. XX And I immediately thought that this new location was actually a much better one than both the depository and the grassy knoll. Because, just like the depository, the gunman in the storm drain would not have had to swing his rifle much as the motorcade came towards him. Also, he was completely concealed.XX

    O.K. I will admit to not knowing the security procedures those days (I was only 3 years old (So… “It was not me, your honour!”), But it is now normal procedure to check and weld shut all storm drains on the route.

    Why?

    Do they know something we do not?

    Or was that common procedure those days as well?

    Lots of open questions there.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      We moved to Dallas in 1965 and my dad took me down to the building JFK was shot from.
      At least when I visited it nothing much had changed physically from the actual day he was shot.

    • It was SOP back then too to weld them shut. For some weird reason it wasn’t done. Also witnesses testified that a group of men were in the plaza the week before the murder, wandering the knoll… AND CHECKING OUT THE DRAIN AT BOTH ENDS.

      Another point – that’s a storm drain that empties into the Trinity River. It isn’t a fifteen inch pipe, it’s quite easy to run along it in a crouch. It isn’t tiny.

      Workers digging into it years later for repairs found a section under the ground that showed obvious signs of having been previously dug out in a section approximately 3 feet by one feet deep. Fancy that.

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    N.J. Court Rules Senders of Texts to Drivers Could be Liable for an Accident

    A New Jersey appeals court ruled on Tuesday that an individual who knowingly texts the driver of a car could be held liable if the driver should have an accident while texting. The court decided that a person should have a legal duty to avoid texting someone who is operating a motor vehicle.

    The court said that the sender of a text message would be liable only if they had a “special reason” to know that the driver was on the road and would read the message(s). It went on to say that when a sender of a text message is aware that the person they are texting is driving, “the sender has a relationship to the public who use the roadways similar to that of a passenger physically present in the vehicle

    http://www.frequentbusinesstraveler.com/2013/08/n-j-court-rules-senders-of-texts-to-drivers-could-be-liable-for-an-accident/

    I guess the sun coming up blinding a driver will now be liable for an accident too!

    It just shows the extent of INSANITY America is now plagued with.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      This falls under the Leftists so called ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY CLAIMS!

      Ya can blame the man in the moon for anything that happens!

    • rauchen says:

      This sort of crap has to ultimately be declared unconstituional, to say nothing of illogical and unfair. The problem is that before that happens lots of people will have to be charged , go to trial,spend lots of money, etc before common sense prevails.

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    A major figure in the banning of smoking in public places in Scotland retired from his senior post in NHS Tayside on Friday.

    Paul Ballard, 61, deputy director for public health, stepped down after 33 years in the health service.

    He was a leader in the move to ban smoking in public places in Scotland and was instrumental in the introduction of the first ban north of the Border on smoking in NHS grounds, introduced in Tayside.

    He also led the development of the Give It Up for Baby and quit4u cash-for-groceries incentive programmes.

    Mr Ballard joined NHS Tayside as a health education officer in 1980 after five years as a secondary school teacher in Dundee.

    He then moved to NHS Fife as a senior health education officer before joining Sunderland Health Authority as a health education officer.

    Then came a spell in Cambridge and in 2001 he was appointed consultant in health promotion and deputy director of public health for Tayside.

    Mr Ballard said: “One of the things I feel most pleased about is my work in tobacco control.

    “Our work in Tayside contributed towards the smoking ban in Scotland. We were going to introduce byelaws to prohibit smoking in public places in Tayside when this was taken on at national level.”

    http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/health/smoking-ban-architect-paul-ballard-retires-from-nhs-tayside-1.125813

  4. harleyrider1978 says:

    Arsenic also causes lung damage Washington, August 26

    Arsenic also causes lung damage Washington, August 26 : A new study has revealed that exposure to low to moderate amounts of arsenic in drinking water can impair lung function. Doses of about 120 parts per billion of arsenic in well water-about 12 times the dose generally considered safe-produced lung damage comparable to decades of smoking tobacco. Smoking, especially by males, made arsenic-related damage even worse.Study’s senior author, Habibul Ahsan, MD, MMedSc, Director of the Center for Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention at the University of Chicago Medicine, said that restrictive lung defects, such as we saw in those exposed to well-water arsenic, are usually progressive and irreversible. He said that they can lead over time to serious lung disease.The study has added to a growing list of arsenic-related health problems that includes skin, bladder and lung cancers, cardiovascular disease, cognitive deficits and premature death. Less is known about exposure to elevated arsenic levels from well water or foods in other parts of the world, including regions in Mexico and the United States. Researchers have recently begun to re-examine foods, such as rice syrup and apple juice, that contain more arsenic than the 10 parts per billion that is allowed in U.S. drinking water.The study, coordinated by Ahsan and co-author Faruque Parvez, DrPH, of Columbia University, was the next step in the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS), a long-term Bangladesh-based project, begun in 2000 and expanded in 2006.The HEALS team follows about 20,000 people in Araihazar, a region of central Bangladesh, about 20 miles east of the capital, Dhaka, with a wide range of arsenic levels in drinking-water wells. Between 2005 and 2010, the researchers evaluated 950 individuals who reported respiratory symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath to HEALS clinic doctors. The researchers tested each patient’s lung function and documented his or her arsenic levels.They divided the patients into three groups according to arsenic exposure, using two related measures: how much arsenic was in their drinking water and how much was in their urine.Then, local physicians trained by pulmonologist Christopher Olopade, MD, of the University of Chicago, rigorously measured each patient’s lung function using a spirometer with a focus on two standard lung-function tests: forced expiratory flow (FEV1, the amount of air a person can expel in one second) and forced vital capacity (FVC, the total volume of air exhaled after fully filling the lungs). The study has been published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. –ANI (Posted on 27-08-2013 – See more at: http://www.newkerala.com/news/story/59059/arsenic-also-causes-lung-damage.html#.UiHRmb4o7rd

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      18,000 ng is the safe level times 12 = 216,000 ng as Mike has so eloquently written the average cig gives off 32 ng……………216,000/32 = 6750 ciggies!

  5. GC says:

    For another take on JFK… The Jesse Ventura conspiracy theory episode.

  6. garyk30 says:

    Storm drain is a nice theory; but, not very probable.

    1. Shooting from ground level means that most of your target will be obscured by the car and the flanking security of motorcycles and people.

    2. Handling a long gun inside such a confined space is a problem. This limits your field of fire.

    3. While the field of view with your eye near the opening is good, the field of fire when your eye is a couple of feet away is very limited. Having your eye close to the opening would mean having most of the weapon exposed to view.
    (See the picture above.)

    • Frank Davis says:

      1. At 40 feet, and JFK’s head 5 feet above the road, the angle of elevation of the rifle is just 7 degrees. No trouble getting over the side of the car. And the motorcycles were behind the limo next to the following car with the Secret Service in it.

      2. The length of, for example, a Lee Enfield rifle is 44 inches. The side length of the chamber was 48 inches or greater. So no problem.

      3. It would probably only be possible to fire just one shot. This would be at the approaching limo 40 feet up the road. The gunman’s eye would be close to the opening at one end of it, and the rifle would extend along the length of the opening, with just the muzzle showing outside. This would be the only shot, because 2.2 seconds later the limo would have been 10 feet away as it passed, and the top of JFK’s head would probably be invisible, with the rifle elevation at 22 degrees. Theoretically, the back of JFK’s head would become visible 2.2 seconds later, with the limo 40 feet past the storm drain. But the gunman would have had to move to the other end of the opening, and turn his rifle through 170 degree in 4.4 seconds to get a shot off. And would have found his view blocked by the motorcycle outriders next to the following car.

      This is the principal disadvantage of this position: it only gives the shooter one shot at very short range at someone sitting in the right hand rear seat. From the School Book Depository, a gunman could have kept on shooting at the car as it moved along the entire length of Elm Street.

      • garyk30 says:

        “And the motorcycles were behind the limo next to the following car with the Secret Service in it.”

        Indeed, it seems the flanking security was called off just before the shooting.

        “the principal disadvantage of this position: it only gives the shooter one shot at very short range”

        The obvious weapon to use is a 12 gauge auto shotgun firing single aught buckshot.
        This shell carries 10 shot of 7.6mm.
        You could get off 2 shots in a very short period of time and have a much higher chance of a lethal hit.

  7. jaxthefirst says:

    Wasn’t there more than one shot fired? Two? Maybe three? Didn’t one hit the car/road, one hit the president in the shoulder/back(?), and then the third hit him in the head? In which case, could there not have been more than one shooter – one in the bookstore, one on the famed “grassy knoll” and one in the storm drain? Maybe the fact is that all of these versions of the event are just a part of the whole truth – with one, the bookstore one, being presented as the whole story, and the others conveniently dismissed as “conspiracy theories” so as to (hopefully) distract attention from them.

  8. DP says:

    Dear Mr Davis

    There is a webcam at the 6th (US) floor window (5th floor in UK counting) of the depository at:

    http://www.earthcam.com/usa/texas/dallas/dealeyplaza/

    When the camera is pointing down Elm Street at the right angle (it moves either under someone’s control or on a set pattern), a white cross is visible presumably showing the position of President Kennedy at one of the shots, probably the one assumed to have killed him.

    The cross is visible on Google Maps satellite view and the street view camera car can be positioned more or less on top of the cross, with the 6th floor window clearly visible from there.

    There is a white mark on the curb and a small plaque in the grass at the edge of the pavement, both visible from the satellite and street views. The storm drain can be seen clearly from the streetview camera. The location does not look promising as a firing point for the assassination.

    I would have thought that the direction an impacting bullet came from was ascertainable from the wound (I may be wrong on this), in which case it ought to be clearly established from the injuries suffered by the President whether the shots that struck him came from in front or behind.

    I suspect that reports of extra shots may be due to echoes of each shot.

    DP

    • Frank Davis says:

      Thanks for the webcam address. Last time I got interested in this business 10 years back, Dealey Plaza had a webcam, but not nearly as good as the current one.

      The storm drain I’m referring (on the right hand kerb, obscured by trees) to isn’t visible from the book depository webcam, although other storm drains are.

      dealey plaza

      The Google street view from above JFK (click on image to enlarge)

      This shows the storm drain I’m talking about on the kerb near the person walking on the sidewalk.

  9. misfit120 says:

    Obviously you will get a lot of flack from your storm drain theory. I’ve suspected this theory for quite a long time based on SS agent Clint Hill’s statement that, “the shots sounded different, as if one had an echo effect like someone firing into a barrel.” Storm drain echo effect? Might want to research author Jim Marrs comments on this as well.
    For the record, I also wrote a piece of fiction on the storm drain theory entitled, “The Job” which is on Amazon’s Kindle.

    • Frank Davis says:

      It’s not my theory. It’s been around a long, long time. I only heard about it a few months ago. Before that I’d only heard about the grassy knoll and picket fence ideas.

      The storm drain theory seems to have few takers though. People seem to think that it’s inherently unlikely. It’s just not the sort of place they’d think of. And I would never have thought of it myself.

      A few weeks back I did some maths on it, and figured that the back right of JFK’s head would have become visible from the storm drain at just about the point where the head shot was made. It would have been seen just above the side of the limo, and just back of the partition structure behind the driver – in the angle between the two.

  10. Pat Jack says:

    I’m a hunter, (since age 5, I’m 50 years of age now). I’ve shot many different rifles and many pistols. I reload. I pour my own lead. I love ballistics MATH, and I’m good at it. In all of these comments, I don’t hear any shooters, I hear guesses, maybes, and wanna be “I am great”.

    I gunsmith. I MAKE guns in my shop. Any person who cannot understand that the PERFECT sniper lay for an assassin is that STORM DRAIN, is full of shit. A rifle was not used in the storm drain. At 40 feet, the slow moving target is 13 meters away. 10 yards, 30 feet, that’s a standard distance for target pistol shooting. Professional assassins put 5 bullets in a quarter, OFFHAND, without using a rest in FAST FIRE mode. That’s done every day by many shooters around the nation. Boy scouts, Cub scouts, little boys, shoot moving squirrels with pistols at 40 feet. Little boys, like when I was a little boy. A squirrels head is very, very, very small. You starting to get the picture? And now, I’m a much, much better shot. Come on folks, the storm drain is the PERFECT sniper lay and anybody that says any different, just wants to be “great” and is full of shit, totally out of touch with reality.

    • Frank Davis says:

      There’s a bit of a problem with the map I’m showing: the scale seems to be wrong. The Texas School Book Depository is said to be 100 feet long and 100 feet deep. But on this map, according to the scale, it’s about 50 feet long. So I think the scale has to be doubled, so that what is shown as 10 feet on the scale is actually 20 feet.

      Using the adjusted scale, I make it that JFK was about 72 feet from the storm drain when the fatal shot was fired. If, as you say, 30 feet is a standard distance for target pistol shooting, then how easy is a 72 foot shot?

      This is why I tend to think that a storm drain shot needed a rifle. But probably not a rifle with telescopic sights.

      Addition: A US quarter’s diameter is 0.955 inches, and at 30 feet subtends an angle of 0.152 degrees. Seen from the earth the sun’s angular diameter is 0.5 deg.

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  12. mreagan88 says:

    Yes I do believe that’s where one of the head shots came from it’s been urban legend in Dallas for 50 years (My grandmother was present in (Dealey Plaza). Of course there was more than one shooter in place but the FATAL HEAD SHOT came from the storm drain and that shooter was Johnny Roselli.
    Read: Sam Giancana book The Double Cross
    & Nemesis Aristotle Onassis and the Triangle that took down the Kennedys by Peter Evans

  13. Storm Drain Cowboy says:

    I think it’s more likely that the fatal shot came from the north-facing storm drain on Main St, shown on the far left of the screencap posted by a commenter above: https://cfrankdavis.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/dealey-plaza2.png?w=640

    This would have provided a much longer look at the president, and could have feasibly been done with a rifle. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone discuss this possibility.

  14. Frank Davis says:

    Here’s another map adapted to show the 72 foot shot from the storm drain.

    Pat Jack above wrote that it was possible for a sharpshooter to hit a US quarter coin from 30 feet with a target pistol. A US quarter has a diameter of 0.955 inches, and at 30 feet has an angular diameter of 0.152 degrees.

    Taking a human head to have a diameter of 5 inches, at 72 feet it would have an angular diameter of 0.331 degrees. This is over twice the angular diameter of the US quarter.

    For reference, the angular diameter of the sun is about 0.5 degrees.

    I reckon that if a sharpshooter with a target pistol can hit a quarter from 30 feet, he should be able to hit a 5 inch diameter head at 72 feet, even if the head is moving gradually from left to right. Very little of the target pistol would be visible from outside.

    In addition, it may have been possible for the shooter to have fitted the storm drain with some kind of rest to improve accuracy.

  15. Tornado says:

    The way i see it, the storm drain makes the most sense for a second shooter.

    A shot from the grassy knoll is the wrong elevation to force JFK head up, back and left as seen in the film. The same holds true for a shot from the 6th floor window.

    Anyone shooting from the fence line would be too open a view for anyone behind the fence area on the hill. A shot from there would be at a downward angle, causing the head to move down and left, with a exit wound on the left side or left rear of the head.

    However, a shot from the drain makes complete sense, and would be consistant with the alledged wounds inflicted in the film. A small entry wound in the front of the neck. And a entry wound in the right temple and exiting a large wound in the right rear of the head.

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