Fred Newcomb, Harold Weisberg, and Photographic Tomfoolery in the Garrison Investigation (Part 00002)

Caught in the Crossfire:
Kerry Thornley,
Lee Oswald and
the Garrison Investigation

Order The Chaos Now!

In the first part of this series, I recounted how Harold Weisberg (working on behalf of Jim Garrison’s investigation) hired a California artist named Fred T. Newcomb to touch-up photos of Kerry Thornley to make him more resemble Lee Harvey Oswald. The apparent intent behind this photographic skullduggery was to bolster Garrison’s contention that Thornley was one of the notorious Oswald doubles.

Fred Newcomb’s May 8, 1968 letter to Harold Weisberg addressing his concerns
about the Kerry Thornley touch-up job. From the Harold Weisberg Archives.

Prior to my research for Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation (Amazon), I was unfamiliar with Fred Newcomb, but as I recently discovered he was a long-time Warren Report critic and active player in the early days of the JFK assassination research scene. In fact, Newcomb was one of the early investigators to analyze the backyard photos of “Oswald” (holding his trusty Mannlicher Carcano rifle) and produced the first report detailing how those photos had apparently been doctored. (Later, Jim Garrison would even go so far as to suggest that it was Kerry Thornley who staged these photos!) Due to his association with the Garrison Investigation, Newcomb was among the handful of JFK assassination researchers who obtained a copy of the film Farewell America (Amazon).

Although it was never commercially released in the U.S., Farewell America had been passed on to Garrison investigator Jim Rose (aka E. Carl McNabb), who then supplied boot-legged copies to the likes of Fred Newcomb, as mentioned in this letter.

December 5, 1968 Los Angeles Free Press article on Farewell America.

Farewell America included Zapruder film footage that’d been purportedly liberated from Time-Life who owned the rights to the film at the time, as well as possession of the physical copy. Over the years, rumors have circulated that French Intelligence was somehow involved in the heist of the film then later returned it to the Time-Life vaults after making duplicates. French Intelligence, in turn, shared this footage with the producers of Farewell America who incorporated it into their film. On account of this bootlegged version of Farewell America, the Zapruder film had now began (circa 1968) to circulate within the JFK assassination research community.

French Intelligence notwithstanding, a more likely source of the Zapruder footage (featured in Farewell America) was Jim Garrison, who subpoenaed the film from Time-Life in 1967 and received a copy that was several generations removed from the original. Unsatisfied with the low quality of this multi-generational version, Garrison subpoenaed Time-Life again in early 1968 in an attempt to obtain an original copy of the film but was denied this request.

March 15, 1968 newspaper article, Zapruder Film Subpenaed.

At some point, Mark Lane borrowed Garrison’s copy of the Zapruder film and had several copies reproduced at a lab in New Orleans, which he then distributed to his network of cronies across the JFK assassination landscape.

One recipient of Lane’s largesse was Penn Jones, Jr, editor of a small town Texas newspaper called the Midlothian Mirror, whose major claim to fame was a death chart he compiled listing every dead person he could think of who could’ve possibly been associated with the Kennedy assassination. In 1970, Jones arranged the first television broadcast of the Zapruder film on a late night television show that aired in Chicago called Underground News with Chuck Collins.

Meanwhile, a firm called EFX Unlimited was awarded a contract by Time-Life in 1969 to work on a Zapruder film related project, which is where part time JFK assassination sleuth and photo-optics technician Robert Groden enters the story. Groden—as the story goes—was working as a subcontractor for EFX Unlimited during this period and was “granted access” to an unauthorized version of the Zapruder film provided to him by EFX’s owner, Moses Weitzman.

Over the next few years, Groden enhanced this unauthorized (and much higher quality) version of the Z-film, basically slowing down the significant frames and making the footage less shaky and easier to view. In 1973—on the tenth anniversary of the JFK assassination—Groden presented his Zapruder footage at a symposium hosted by Georgetown University, an event attended by comedian activist Dick Gregory who met with Groden afterwards and encouraged him to take the film to a larger audience. This ultimately resulted in the first national airing of the Zapruder film in 1975 on Geraldo Rivera’s Good Night America.

Fred Newcomb, circa 1995.

In 1974, Fred Newcomb—in collaboration with fellow researcher Perry Adams—self-published one hundred copies of their JFK assassination tome, Murder From Within, which they distributed to members of the Senate, Congress, FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Murder From Within presented the theory that JFK’s assassination was an inside job orchestrated by LBJ and executed by Secret Service agents. Newcomb and Perry based their conclusions on an eight year investigation that included over fifty witness interviews as well as their analysis of the Zapruder film.

During the course of their analysis, Newcomb and Perry discovered in a couple of the Zapruder frames—just before and after the fatal headshot—that JFK’s limo driver turns around and appears to be holding a pistol at the exact instant that the President’s head went supernova. Newcomb and Perry were later called to share their findings before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).

At first blush, Murder From Within might seem just one in a slew of many “crackpot” JFK assassination books that emerged over the years, mainly due to its controversial assertion that the triggerman of the operation was the aforementioned limo driver, and secret service agent, William Greer. But when one delves into the material presented in the book, it soon becomes evident that the authors went deep into their research and produced a well documented account, which included the theory that JFK’s wounds had been altered during his autopsy, a theme later explored in greater depth in David Lifton’s Best Evidence (Amazon).

In the early-80s, Newcomb and Perry started shopping around Murder From Within and over the next several years apparently struck deals, at one time or another, with three different publishers all of whom eventually decided against publishing the book because, according to Newcomb, “they were scared.”

In the late 1980s, the Greer-shot-Kennedy theory gained renewed traction when Perry Adams joined forces with researchers David Evans with Lars Hansson and the trio—using Zapruder film footage—produced what Hansson later described as a “rough, preliminary videotape” entitled The Truth Betrayed: Dallas Revisited. In Lars Hansson’s Lear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the videotape was “to serve only as a preliminary research tool to spur potential investors to underwrite a thorough professional investigation into the theory that the driver of the presidential limousine, William Greer, actually turned around and fired the fatal shot at JFK with a handgun… It was never intended at any time to be considered a final statement on the issue, much less to be shown publicly and/or distributed as such.”

During the Dallas Revisited period, Lars Hansson was part of the UFOlogical-conspiratorial scene then erupting out of Las Vegas, Nevada that included such “patriots” as James “Bo” Gritz, John Lear and William “Bill” Cooper, all of whom were often featured on The Billy Goodman Happening radio show in their mission to bust to the New World Order’s chops and expose not only the JFK Assassination Conspiracy, but also reveal the reality of reverse-engineered alien technology being developed at Areas 51, not to mention the shocking existence of a certain secret underground alien base in Dulce, New Mexico where all sorts of sinister doings have supposedly transpired over the last several decades.

John Lear was the son of the Lear Jet inventor, Bill Lear, and so Lars Hansson—figuring Lear had deep family pockets—shared a copy of Dallas Revisited with him in the prospect that he could get Lear to invest in his research. Little did Hansson know, but by this time Lear had fallen out of favor with his father, thus losing access to those deep family pockets.

Meanwhile, Lear was beginning to make a splash in UFOlogy and was responsible for setting up the first televised interview with Area 51 whistle blower Robert Lazar, who allegedly worked on reverse-engineered craft at the facility. Lear was also on the forefront of promoting the Dulce Base story and presenting this material at public lectures for the UFO faithful. After getting his paws on Dallas Revisited, Lear began showing the film at his lectures, little to the knowledge of Lars Hansson, who had never intended the film for public consumption. Lear then shared a copy of Dallas Revisited with Bill Cooper, who not only trotted it out and presented it like his own baby, but also started selling videotape copies.

When Lars Hansson caught wind of these developments, a shit-storm soon started brewing between he and Bill Cooper. According to Hansson:

“Cooper’s supporters told me a couple of months after my visit to his home that Cooper had a copy of the tape and was showing it publicly. At that time, in late October 1989, I confronted him over the phone about his dishonesty regarding his use and sale of the videotape, and have since done so publicly in print, on television, and on the radio. When he chickened out of appearing on the TV program INSIDE REPORT, which was taped in April and aired in May 1990, after learning that I would also be appearing to counter him, the producers deliberately left out half of my statement. I had made it clear on their videotape that at the time I threw the rough video together I believed that there was sufficient supporting evidence to warrant a complete investigation; however, after seeing a much clearer version of the Zapruder film, discussing the issue with a number of other respected researchers, and combing through the evidence at hand more closely, I had decided by November 1988 the theory was no longer tenable…”

Below is a YoutTube vid from the above-mentioned episode of Inside Report, featuring not only Lars Hansson, but also Fred Newcomb, Perry Adams, Robert Groden and Harold Weisberg.

And here is the startling evidence of what is either Roy Kellerman’s hair glare or, as Bill Cooper termed it in the video, William Greer firing an “electrically operated, gas powered assassination pistol built by the CIA” containing a shell fish toxin dart!

As for Murder From Within (Amazon), it was finally published in 2011 by Fred Newcomb’s son, Tyler. In the book’s introduction, Tyler Newcomb makes these comments about the Zapruder film:

“The ‘optical illusion’ on the film of the Driver turning, aiming, firing and turning back to drive at the moment Kennedy’s head explodes is mind shattering. What are the odds such a thing could actually happen at that exact instant on the most important amateur film ever made? The ‘gun’ however upon close frame inspection appears to be part of Roy Kellerman’s hair. But is it? No one can prove it either way because the film was in possession of the Secret Service and if Dad’s theory is correct they were busy altering the film itself creating a new original obliterating their complicity in the killing.”

More on the sordid history of the Zapruder film here.

This entry was posted in book, jfk, jim garrison, kerry thornley, lee harvey oswald, photo, video, warren commission. Bookmark the permalink.

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