Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lee Harvey Oswald & Possible Motives


Lee Harvey Oswald's Motives
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Lee Harvey Oswald – And Possible Motives in the Assassination of President Kennedy

By William Kelly

In the classic textbook The Detection of Murder – A Handbook for Police Officers, Detectives, Coroners, Judges, and Attorneys (Greenberg, 1953), Paul B. Weston and William F. Kessler, M.D.write, “There are four causes of death – 1) natural, 2) self-inflicted, 3) accidental and 4) murder.”

“It is the duty of the police to investigate the circumstances attending the death by examination of the scene and questioning witnesses. His object is to explore the events that led up to it and seek a reconstruction of the last hours spent on earth of the deceased. From this portion of the initial investigation, it is expected that a reasonable conclusion as to the possible mechanism of death can be made.”

The Corpus Delicti they say, “is the essential elements of a crime and the criminal agency. In homicide, it is divided into two component parts, the first of which is the death of the person, and the second is that the death is produced through a criminal agency.”

Quoting the New York Penal Law, they note that, “No person can be convicted of murder or manslaughter unless the death of the person alleged to have been killed and the fact that the killing by the defendant as alleged, are each established as independent facts; the former by direct proof, and the latter beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Convicting someone on the basis of circumstantial evidence, two general rules are to be observed, the first that “the hypothesis of guilt should flow naturally from the facts and be consistent with them all, and the evidence must be such as to exclude, to a moral certainty, every hypothesis but that of guilt…The facts proved must be all consistent with and point to guilt, and must be inconsistent with innocence.”

As everyone who has ever watched a cop show on TV or read a pulp paperback detective novel knows, in order to convict someone of murder in a court of law it is necessary to establish means, motive and opportunity to commit the crime. In the case of Lee Harvey Oswald being a suspect in the shooting at Dealey Plaza, he apparently had both the means, having been trained to shoot in the Marines and owning the rifle found at the scene, as well as the opportunity, since he worked in the building from which the crime was committed.

But with Oswald, no motive was determined, and while there were many mass speculations of possible motives, those who investigated Oswald’s background were perplexed by this.

As this [Commission Document 107 FBI Sup. Investigation of Assass. Pres. Kennedy,]
dated 13, January 1964 notes:

“Investigation has (1) developed detailed background information concerning Oswald from his birth to his death; (2) strengthened the evidence that Oswald was the assassin of the President although no clear-cut motive has been established; and (3) despite numerous allegations which have been investigated, developed no sound evidence indicating that he received any financial assistance or that any other person, group, or foreign government inspired or directed the assassination or was cognizant of his plan to assassinate President Kennedy. On the contrary, the data developed strongly indicates that he acted on his own initiative or impulse with little advance planning.”

According to The Detection of Murder Handbook by Weston and Kessler, motive is defined as, “that which stems from within the individual, rather than from without. It is that which incites an individual to certain actions. Motive is the ‘why’ of the act, the reason for it.”

Intent on the other hand, “is the result of the motive, and is the bridge between motive and action. Without intent, no action would be taken. When plans are made to do some act then an intent to do that act has been made as the result of some motivation. The intent in murder is to kill. The motive might be anything.”

“In securing convictions for first degree murder it is imperative that the correct motive be shown to the jury,” Weston and Kessler write in their Handbook.“Conviction for ‘Murder One’ must be supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the homicide was committed by the accused from a premeditated and deliberate design to affect the death of the person killed. It must be shown that there was a deliberate premeditated intention to kill, and that the killing followed. Proof of premeditation and deliberation requires proof of some reflection preceding the actual murder. If a killer thinks about the killing and makes a choice as a result of such mental action, then there is sufficient deliberation within the law.”

Most importantly, the Handbook on The Detection of Murder says, “Motive or its absence may be of considerable importance in determining the intent of the defendant. Murderous intent may be inferred from motive clearly established, while the absence of motive is more than pertinent to the question of intent where it is an issue.”

Well Oswald’s motives and intentions are clearly an issue when none can be identified, so it is an issue that must be addressed, even though it is ignored by the Warren Commission and pretty much everyone who accuses Oswald of being a murderer.

As for possible motives, Weston and Kessler say there are seven specific motives – 1) profit, 2) elimination, 3) revenge, 4) jealousy, 5) conviction, 6) sadism, 7) sex, along with 8) insanity, in which the motive is without reason.

As for Oswald, sex has been suggested by some who espouse him as Kennedy’s killer, like Warren Commissioner Gerald Ford, who wrote a book Portrait of the Assassin that promotes the ideas that Oswald was impotent and beat his wife, even though she had a baby, Oswald’s daughter, less than a month before the assassination, and he was a proud and considerate father.

Others say Oswald killed the President because his wife spurned him the night before, though this possible motive fails to consider the fact he would have had to take the brown paper bag from work to Irving with him in order to return with the rifle, something he had to decide to do before he went to the Paine home in Irving the night before.

They also tried to fly the idea that revenge was the motive, putting forth the notion that Oswald accidently shot JFK while trying to kill Governor Connally, the former Secretary of the Navy when Oswald’s Marine Corps discharge was changed from honorable to undesirable, which Oswald unsuccessfully tried to rectify in a letter to Connally. Thus the motive of retribution and revenge, but his brother Robert, also an ex-Marine, said his brother talked to him about that problem and didn’t seem to hold a grudge against Connally at all.

For many Oswald appeared to be motivated by conviction, also often referred to as ideology, because of his defection to the Soviet Union, his Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) activities, and the alleged trip to Mexico City to visit the Cuban and Russian embassies to get a visa to Cuba and Russia. He was a diehard, leftist, Commie defector, or so they say, with the Warren Report concluding, “Oswald was moved by an overriding hostility to his environment. He does not appear to have been able to establish meaningful relationships with other people. He was perpetually disconnected with the world around him….” Or so they would have us believe.

Conviction is the fixed conviction that anything, including murder, is necessary to carry out a plan, whether it’s religious, political or personal, but it was clearly established that Oswald actually liked President Kennedy and never said anything detrimental about him. Many of his actions were ideologically motivated however.

The Warren Commission pushed conviction as the most likely motive for Oswald to kill the President, but they also give us a choice, noting also that “He sought for himself a place in history,” though that motive is hard to swallow since Oswald himself denied having committed the crime and claimed to be “a patsy.”

There was a point in time where it looked like we would get to the bottom of all this when former prosecutor Richard Sprague was named the chief counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), and began to undertake a serous investigation into the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

When asked about Oswald’s motive, Sprague is said to have responded, “I am not interested in whether Oswald was fed at his mother’s breast or not, my approach to motive is more direct.” Although he is reported to have been the son of two psychiatrists, Sprague successfully prosecuted the killers of the president of the United Mine Workers, and knew how to investigate and prosecute those responsible for a political assassination.

But then the powers that be in Washington were quite taken aback that there would be a serious investigation into the murder of the President and had Sprague removed and replaced by G. Robert Blakey, the university professor, author of the RICO statutes and promoter of the conspiracy theory that the Mafia was behind JFK’s assassination.

Most of those who continue to promote the idea that the Mafia was behind Oswald, say that he was promised money, and that profit was his motive, though no one who actually knew Oswald or studied him believes that Oswald ever did anything for money. Making a lot of money was never the reason Oswald did anything.

Some of those who claim Oswald killed JFK alone say that he did so because he was just plain crazy, and therefore we’ll never know why he did it, but the psychologically deranged motive can be consider and rejected for a number of reasons.


Those who claim Oswald was just plain crazy, a homicidal maniac who snapped or was a psycho killer in disguise, list a number of things to support this theory, though after closer analysis, none of them are really convincing.

“It is the psychoses that give us the individuals that kill without a motive, without reason. Many of them are legally insane, suffering from such defect of reason as not to know right from wrong, but many are legally sane and criminally responsible for their acts. It is the duty of the investigator,” writes Kessler and Weston, “to determine from the circumstances of the case whether the killer acted without reason.”

They also note that if this the case, “An act done by a person who is an idiot, imbecile, lunatic or insane is not a crime…A person is not excused from criminal liability as an idiot, imbecile, lunatic, or insane person, except upon proof that, at the time of committing the alleged criminal act, he was laboring under such a defect of reason as (1) Not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or (2) Not to know the act was wrong.” Neither of these could possibly apply to Oswald.

Those who claim Oswald was crazy often point to the fact that he threatened his step-sister with a knife in New York City, where he was sent for psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Hartogs, who later said he diagnosed young Oswald as violent. Volkmar Schmidt also later claim that he recognized Oswald’s homicidal psychosis when they first met, and talked about political assassination. Schmidt even suggested the assassination of General Walker would be a good thing, similar to the failed assassination attempt on Hitler, the Valkyrie plot. But he never warned anyone of Oswald's homicidal tendencies that he claims to have recognized until after the assassination.

Others also point to Oswald beating his wife as proof of his propensity for violence, but he did that only at one period in their lives, when they first arrived from Russia and Oswald suspected his wife of sleeping around, and apparently justifiably so. And not every husband who has such domestic problems decides to kill the President in revenge. In fact, almost every case in which a spurned husband turns to violence, it is usually against his wife or family and not against a stranger or power figure.

In almost every other Spree Killer case – as Oswald was not only a political assassin, he was technically a Spree Killer whose acts transcend more than one crime scene, the motive of the killer is apparent and quickly or eventually determined, especially if they truly were insane.

Both Dr. Hartogs, who was later accused of sexual assault by some of his patients, and Volkmar Schmidt, a very educated man, say they recognized Oswald as an insane, violent psycho, but only said so after the assassination, and in Hartog’s case, profited by it in writing The Two Assassins his analysis of the psychosis of Oswald and his killer Jack Ruby.

Oswald’s brother Robert also took exception to Herzog’s analysis in his book Lee – Portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald by His Brother Robert L. Oswald (Coward-McCann, NY, 1967, p.58), when he wrote: “...After these preliminary reports had been assembled, they were sent to the chief psychiatrist at Youth House, Dr. Renatus Hartogs, who studied them and then interviewed Lee. Some of Dr. Hartogs’ comments have been widely quoted in newspapers and magazines, making it seem that he considered Lee potentially dangerous when he was thirteen years old. In his book about Lee and Jack Ruby, The Two Assassins, published in 1965, Dr. Hartogs says that he realized at once that Lee was “choked with silent rage.”

Robert: “Dr. Hartogs wrote in 1953: ‘Lee has vivid fantasy life, turning around topics omnipotence and power, through which he tries to compensate for his present shortcomings and frustrations. He did not enjoy being together with other children and when we asked him whether he prefers the company of boys to that of girls, he answered – ‘I dislike everybody.’ His occupational goal is to join the Army.’”

“If Dr. Hartogs considered Lee dangerous when he wrote his report,” Robert Oswald wrote, “that feeling does not come through to me when I read the psychiatrist’s words…… ‘Strongly resistive and negativistic features were thus noticed – but psychotic mental content was denied and no indication of psychotic mental changes was arrived at.’…. Actually the psychiatrist found him ‘a youngster with superior mental endowment functioning presently on the bright normal range of mental efficiency.’…For the few weeks left in the school year, Lee seems to have been a model pupil….He even joined a model airplane club....”

If Oswald was a psychologically deranged killer, like Ted Bundy, he certainly kept it to himself.

Indeed, even Mrs. Paine wrote to her father a month before the assassination reporting that Oswald was a good father “after all,” and it’s impossible to believe that she would allow a homicidal maniac into her house if she recognized such symptoms in a person. There are also reports that Mrs. Paine confided in FBI Agent Hosty, who visited the Paine home in Irving on occasion and knew that Oswald worked at the TSBD because Mrs. Paine told him.

Mrs. Paine later said she wondered how a person such as Oswald could live in her home and hide from her the fact that he was going to shoot the Presiden. And it does seem odd that those who claim Oswald killed the President because he was crazy also say that the evidence he was crazy is the fact that he killed the President and a policemen and shot at Gen. Walker, things only a crazy person would do. It’s a circular reasoning that, if you take out the facts that make you believe he killed the President and a policeman and took a pot shot at Walker, then there’s really no reason to consider him crazy at all. Which is also reason to believe that he wasn’t the killer of the President or the policeman, and question the motive for shooting Gen. Walker.

And what would be the motive of the Patsy? That would be conviction, while the motive for the killing of the President would be elimination.


In the end, after all of the other motives can be considered and eliminated, it is clear that regardless of whether Oswald was the lone assassin or the framed patsy as he claimed to be, elimination was the most likely motive for the murder of the President.

With all other possible motives considered and discounted, elimination as a motive shifts the attention and focus of the investigation from the suspect and possible defendant to the victim of the crime. It is the victim who provides the best evidence in a murder where elimination is the motive.

“Removal of the person who happens to be ‘in the way’ is the determining factor in a great number of murders,” write Weston and Kessler. “In the true elimination murder the continued existence of the victim is inconvenient or dangerous to the killer.”

When elimination is the motive, according The Handbook on the Detection of Murder, “One of the most important factors in an initial investigation is to reconstruct the last hours, even the last days, of the deceased. Who saw him last? With whom did he eat his last meal? Who spoke to him over the telephone in his last hours? Where he went and what he did in the period preceding death are what must be reconstructed. And it is the reconstruction of this period that most often reveals the true facts surrounding unexplained and unexpected death.”

Former FBI agent Bill Turner, who has been investigating the assassination since it occurred has said: “We know to a fair good degree of certitude what happened. First of all the motives were piling up – JFK had supposedly withdrawn air cover during the Bay of Pigs, JFK failed to invade Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962, and JFK proceeded to withdraw from Vietnam. Reason four; JFK was assassinated as he was on a second track to Cuba, which was to secretly carry on negotiations with Castro to bring about a détente. The motives were piling up to the point whey had to assassinate him, and I think it’s pretty obvious, with the compilations of the information that we have today, that the whole thing, the mechanism of it came out of the allegiance between the CIA and the web of Cuban exiles and the Mafia. They already had an assassination apparatus set up for killing Castro, and they just switched targets, and they killed Kenned instead.”

Indeed, JFK had bungled the Bay of Pigs, primarily because of the air cover, which was attributed to his miscommunications with Air Force Col. Charles Cabell, the brother of the mayor of Dallas, and he certainly ignored all of the advice of his cabinet and the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he sought and obtained a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

And he certainly did have supposedly secret backchannel negotiations going on with Cuban Premier Fidel Castro through their diplomats at the United Nations.

The last thing that JFK dealt with in the Oval Office of the White House before leaving for Texas was a briefing on a report of Cuban arms found on a beach in Venezuela, evidence that Castro was exporting his revolution, and an excuse for the Organization of American States (OAS) to establish an economic blockade of Cuba. That report however, was totally false, and if he had returned from the trip to Texas alive, he would have also learned that the Venezuelan arms cache was part of a black propaganda campaign to implicate Castro that was over a year old and previously discredited. In addition, as Bill Turner points out, if JFK would return to Washington from Texas alive he would also have gotten updated reports from William Attwood on the status of the backchannel negotiations with Castro at the UN.

But if President Kennedy was killed by a lone nut case, none of these motives would have actually had a bearing on his murder, and he was murdered, and elimination is the most likely of motives for his removal.

Such elimination killings, the Handbook on Detection of Murder says, are truly difficult to unravel. “A body is found and police know of several people who would profit from the elimination of the dead man, others who may have threatened to ‘get him,’ and some who may have thought of him as a man that ‘has to go.’ However, in over 90percent of these killings, the person who have the motive for the killing never handle the gun that fires the fatal shot, nor drive a car that may be used in the killing. They are involved in the conspiracy and are guilty of murder because they procured the ‘trigger men’ who did the actual killing, but they have an alibi to prove they were many miles away from the scene of death at the time of the homicide.”

As for witnesses in elimination killings, “There are few witnesses, fewer that are willing to testify, and even this number is reduced by murder when it becomes known they are willing to ‘finger’ a killer.”

If you are interested in learning the identity of the ‘triggermen’ in most murders where elimination is the motive, the Handbook tells us that they are probably not ‘local’ boys. “More likely they are imported from some other town to do the killing and return home as soon as the ‘job’ is completed. Cars are sometimes observed leaving the scene of the killing, but later investigation shows the car to be stolen in one section of town and the registration plates stolen from still another neighborhood.”

Instead of trying to identify and get the ‘triggermen,’ consider the level of responsibility, from the ‘hit men’ or ‘triggermen’ and the ‘get-a-way’ driver, the ‘buttonman’ who eliminates the ‘stool pigeon,’ and the ‘bagman’ who pays off everybody involved in cash, and the ‘buffers’ who insulates them all from the ‘inside man,’ who ‘puts in the fix’ with the ‘coppers.’ But who is the actual murderer and masterminds of the conspiracy to eliminate the victim in the first place? And how does the law and Justice catch up to and reach them?

Welcome to the Underworld of Secret Covert Operations.

Just because a conspiracy is designed to be secret and hidden from public view doesn’t mean that it has to be or always will be. When Richard Sprague was a prosecutor in Pennsylvania, he followed the chain up the ranks, determined how the President of the United Mine Workers Union was murdered, and then obtained the cooperation of some of the small fries who were let off the hook and given short jail terms in exchange for their testimony against those who really ordered the murder. So such covert conspiracies, although designed to be secret forever, have been unraveled and can be, if the proper procedures are followed.

One such procedure is establishing the MO - that of determining the Modus Operandi.


Modus Operandi means a method of operation, and the Modus Operandi (MO) file consists of records that describe the manner, means and style in which a criminal operates. These records are classified and filed in such a way as to assist in identifying a crime as one committed by a known criminal or as one of series of crimes committed by an unidentified criminal or criminals.

Modus Operandi was developed early in the last century by Major General Sir Llewelyn W. Atcherley of Yorkshire, England, and according to the handbook, “the success of the MO system depends on the ability of the investigating officers and the operators of the file. The investigating officers must be able to discover and report methods and facts essential to the proper identification of the crime. The operator of the file must be able to classify the data secured and to make searches for data already available.”

Of course the MO system is not used at all by those who quickly establish that the perpetrator is a lone nut case with no identifiable motive or reason for committing the crime, but it can be very useful if the victim is the President of the United States, the motive for his murder is elimination, and the Modus Operandi system is used by investigators to help identify the suspects in the crime.

If Bill Turner is correct, and President Kennedy was indeed killed by those whose motive was elimination, and that the instrument used in the execution of the crime was a previously planned operation designed to assassinate Cuban premier Fidel Castro, then the MO is that of a Covert Intelligence Operation, standard covert intelligence operational procedures and techniques were used, and the suspects are limited to those we know were previously trained in such procedures and actually involved in those efforts to kill Castro.



cclark112263 said...

lho did NOT fire a rifle that day, was urda terrible shot, and was probably working for the fbi and the ag to investigate the alpha 66 conspiracy to murder the president. also the shots did NOT all originate from behind the president, so of course did NOT all originate from the tsbd. i found the title of this article absurd.

Unknown said...

Even crazy people have motives for doing crazy things. If Oswald really did carry out the murder of JFK alone, he must have had in his mind, a dream or plan of what could or would happen afterwards. If so, then getting caught was obviously not first up on that plan, after shooting the 1st police officer that approached him, then running off to hide in a picture theatre. Then again, leaving his own murder weapon at the crime scene, where he worked and could easily be tracked down, sounds a bit careless. But then, he was probably a bit of a novice at being a hitman. Still it would be interesting to know what Oswald was dreaming of, as his ultimate reward for killing JFK, given that he did it, and acted alone.