Stephen King, 11.22.63, and the Oswald Presumption Part II

The Warren Commission did not just overlook material that suggested a conspiracy in JFK's assassination. It also actively suppressed or altered evidence. While these efforts to cover up may seem indefensible today, they are also like highlighters, pointing to the information that most disrupts the commission's Lone Assassin theory. A prime example is the testimony of Victoria Elizabeth Adams. In November 1963, she was Lee Harvey Oswald’s co-worker at the Texas School Book Depository. According to the Warren Commission, Oswald -- and Oswald alone -- shot at JFK's motorcade from a window on the sixth floor of the depository. But if Adams is correct in her account of what happened in the moments before and after the assassination, then there is no way Oswald was even on the sixth floor when the shooting began. She was literally in a position to know because she was looking out the window on the fourth floor as JFK’s motorcade was making its way through Dealey Plaza. Immediately upon hearing gunfire, she and her two friends ran down the stairs to see what happened. This same narrow stairway was the only one that Oswald could have used to make his exit. He would have had no time to hide the rifle and dash down before her and he did not squeeze past her. It’s also certain that he didn’t wait for her to leave, because he was already in the building’s lunchroom on the second floor by the time she passed it. Moments later Oswald would be challenged there by police officer Marrion Baker and was still holding a Coke bottle that he had bought from the lunchroom vending machine. The building superintendent told Baker that Oswald worked there and he was quickly released.

The implications of what Adams told investigators cannot be overstated. Her story exonerated Oswald as a shooter which would have meant that there was a much wider conspiracy to kill the president. Such an ideal witness should have been welcomed by Warren Commission investigators. Instead, she infuriated them. Over the course of several interviews she was berated and belittled by Commission counsel and Dallas detectives who kept insisting that she had her timing wrong. But she stuck to her story. If her interrogators truly doubted what she had to say, they could have questioned the two friends who were with her at the window during the assassination, but they never even bothered to contact them. Instead, they rewrote Adams’s testimony to discredit her. At the end of her affidavit, they grafted on one more sentence which had her seeing two other co-workers at the bottom of the stairs. Both men had testified that they returned to the building five to ten minutes after the shooting. If she had really seen them, then her chronology would have been flawed, but in fact, she had never mentioned their names.

Adams did not see what was done to twist her testimony until thirty-five years later when she was shown the official documents by reporter Barry Ernest. He had spent three decades tracking her down and then wrote about her story in his 2011 book, The Girl on the Stairs: The Search for a Missing Witness to the JFK Assassination. Besides learning what Adam really told investigators, Ernest also found more evidence to bolster it. While looking through Warren Commission files in the National Archives he discovered a letter from her employer which confirmed Adams’s timeline before and after the shooting. For good measure, Ernest also located one of the friends who was at the window with her and she, too, corroborated Adams’s story.

Of course, as Assassination Theater shows, there is plenty of other evidence which proves that Oswald was not the Lone Assassin, and the play is about who was really responsible. But if anyone still presumes that only Oswald was at fault, I would recommend The Girl On the Stairs to entirely disabuse him or her of that notion. It’s too bad that no one put the book on Stephen King’s reading list while he prepared to write about the assassination. As mentioned in my previous post, Hulu is showing a movie based on his book 11.22.63. The premise is that his hero goes back in time to stop Lee Harvey Oswald on that fateful day and thus saves the life of John F. Kennedy. Of course, you may say, there is no reason to get worked up about a work of fiction. But I would argue that fiction has more influence on popular culture than non-fiction and can be quite effective in distorting the public’s perception of history (case in point: Gone with the Wind). At a time when we should finally be waking up to the fallacy of the Lone Assassin theory, King’s fable puts the matter to rest.