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Tags: jfk | kennedy | assassination | mit | investigation | second gunman

54 Years Later, 2nd Gunman Theory Still Haunts JFK Assassination

54 Years Later, 2nd Gunman Theory Still Haunts JFK Assassination
President John F. Kennedy in 1963 (Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 21 November 2017 11:04 AM EST

Why did one of America's most prestigious universities abruptly close down an investigation that might have uncovered a second assassin of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963?

The question that has troubled me for three decades has been revived by President Trump's recent release of new documents in the case.

In 1982 I was a senior reporter for the National Enquirer. The paper's owner, Generoso Pope Jr, was convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone and was passionate about following up every new lead in the case.

One day I was visited in the Enquirer office in Lantana, Florida, by two of the more credible members of the small army of competing assassination buffs who lived to be the first to discover the "real" answer to the Kennedy murder.

Gary Mack was a local TV producer who years later was well enough regarded to be appointed curator of the now-famous Sixth Floor Museum, located in the former Texas Book Depository, from the window of which Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shot into President Kennedy's head as his motorcade entered Dealey Plaza. His partner was Jack White, a respected photographic expert from the Dallas area and they'd worked together on the case for a considerable time.

Clearly excited, Mack and White explained that they had spent months trying to bring out the background detail of a famous photo taken by bystander Mary Moorman as the Presidential limousine passed her. Comparison with the Zapruder tape proved that it was snapped a fraction of a second after Kennedy was hit. The Grassy Knoll is shown in the background, and the two men explained that when they used new technology to enhance the Grassy Knoll detail they believed they had found something very significant.

Mack opened a manila envelope and showed me the photo. I'd studied the original many times before, but now, in their enhancement, there appeared to be the shape of a man behind the low fence with something shiny reflecting off his chest area. And was that a muzzle flash from a gun?

Questions flew. Could the figure be a Dallas police officer-turned-sniper in a plot to kill Kennedy? Could he have been coordinating with Oswald? Or did it mean he was the lone shooter and Oswald had been framed?

I didn't realize it then, but I was witnessing the birth of "Badge Man" – a figure that would have JFK conspiracy theorists salivating for a generation.

Finally Mack and White confessed their reason for bringing "Badge Man" to us. They were convinced they had found a vital piece of evidence, but they had exhausted the technology available to them to further enhance the picture. It could only be done in a handful of laboratories around the world and they needed the resources of the Enquirer to gain access to them.

I found that the two most likely laboratories with the ability to enhance the picture were at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. In phone calls, I explained our needs to professors at both of them: JPL declined to help, MIT was encouraging and asked to see the picture.

I flew up to Boston, met with the professor in charge of the MIT lab and handed over the Mack/White enhancement. He told me he had already discussed the project with his students and they were enthusiastic about pursuing it. He cautioned that it might take a few days, but he would be in touch.

I checked into a hotel in Cambridge and waited nervously. On the second day, I got a call from the professor. He said they had some preliminary results and invited me to come in and see for myself.

The professor met me in the lobby, obviously enthusiastic about what they'd done so far. I was issued a security badge and he led me through a series of interlocking doors, each one opened by a code, until we reached his lab.

There, on a computer screen, was the "Badge Man" picture, and to my delight it was now a lot clearer -- to the point where I was almost convinced I could see the outlines of a uniform on the man, and an arm that seemed to lead to the muzzle flash.

But the MIT professor said he wasn't finished. He was convinced they could do better, he said: could he have a couple more days to work on the picture?

It was less than 24 hours later, however, that he called and asked me to return to the lab. Again, he met me in the lobby – and without a word handed me the manila envelope I'd given him days earlier. My heart racing, I pulled out the picture – and found myself looking not at the answer to the mystery of "Badge Man," but at the very same picture Gary Mack and Jack White had enhanced to the best of their capabilities. The professor's attitude had changed, though: now he wasn't a bit friendly.

"I'm returning your picture to you," he said. He added chillingly, "And if I'm asked, I will deny ever having seen it." Then he turned abruptly and walked away, leaving me in shock.

What had happened in those 24 hours? Had he and his students actually found an answer to the Kennedy assassination – and gotten cold feet? Had someone higher-up at MIT learned about their investigation and realized that it could endanger the university's government funding?

Whatever the reason, the story was at a dead end. Mack and White, disappointed, eventually went public with their discovery and sparked a huge controversy.

Today there are still those who cling to "Badge Man's" guilt and yearn for even more "super" technology that could prove them right. Among the detractors are some who claim his "badge" is merely sunlight reflecting off a discarded bottle.

Thirty-five years later, I still wonder.

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Why did one of America's most prestigious universities abruptly close down an investigation that might have uncovered a second assassin of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963?
jfk, kennedy, assassination, mit, investigation, second gunman
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 11:04 AM
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