Roger Craig

Roger Craig

The Rambler Man

Dallas County Sheriff's Deputy Roger Craig had quite a lot of interesting stories to tell. And in good storyteller fashion, his stories got better over time.

Craig was one of the conspiracy witnesses that the Warren Commission called to testify. He was given featured treatment in early conspiracy works such as Mark Lane's Rush to Judgment. More recently, his testimony is treated as credible in most conspiracy books. You can see him in the video "Two Men in Dallas."

The essay, "The Rambler Man" is David Perry's investigation into the Craig story. It's excellent — indeed indispensible — background reading.

The table below summarizes key elements of Craig's testimony, and what the evidence is on each.

The Testimony of Roger Craig
StatementWas he saying this in 1963-64?Evaluation
Was standing on Main Street near Dealey Plaza at time of shooting — heard three shotsYesEntirely plausible.
Saw officer running up Grassy KnollYesSupported by photographic evidence
Talked to Arnold Rowland who saw second man on 6th floor of DepositoryYesAlmost certainly true. Consistent with Rowland's testimony to Warren Commission.
Saw .45 slug in Dealey Plaza — with piece of Kennedy's headNoAbsolutely zero supporting evidence. Claim contradicts his own Warren Commission testimony, and the testimony of everyone else in the area..
Heard shrill whistle, saw Oswald run from direction of Depository and get into Rambler station wagon on Elm Street with dark complected manYesImplies absurd escape scenario — both reliable testimony and a transfer found in Oswald's pocket show him to have been on a bus at this time.
Saw three hulls in Sniper's Nest — lined up an inch apart, all pointing in the same direction. Click here for illustration from video "Two Men in Dallas"NoFlatly contradicted by officers who discovered Sniper's Nest. Hulls were photographed in place, and Deputy Luke Mooney marked photograph showing their locations.
Was with Luke Mooney when he and Mooney both discovered the spent cartridges.NoFlatly contradicts Craig's own Warren Commission testimony.
Looked at his watch upon hearing of the Tippit shooting, and saw the time was 1:06 p.m., too early for the shooter to have been OswaldNoContradicted by other evidence, and by Craig's own 1968 interview.
Saw inscription "7.65 Mauser" on recovered rifleNoContradicted by testimony of all officers present — newsfilm at scene shot by Tom Alyea shows rifle to be Mannlicher-Carcano. Here is one frame from his 16 mm. film, and here is another. In 1968, Craig gave a contradictory account.
Confronted Oswald in Fritz' office — Oswald said Rambler was Mrs. Paine's station wagon YesContradicted by officers present in Fritz' office. Dallas Police and FBI documents show that Mrs. Paine's station wagon was a Chevrolet.
There were attempts on his lifeNoNo supporting evidence has been produced. If attempts described were real, they were extremely lame.

The Station Wagon that Changed Color

The following is from David Perry's essay, "The Rambler Man."

It was one thing for Mrs. Paine to own a station wagon with a luggage rack but was the vehicle a Nash Rambler? Was it green? Why did Buddy Walthers bring the subject up? Why was Craig not positive but only believed someone went by the house? Who was the "they" that went to the Paine home to check on the car?

Craig's autobiographical declaration that "Mrs. Ruth Paine, the woman Marina Oswald lived with in Irving, Texas, owned a Rambler station wagon, at that time, of this same color." was on the verge of collapse. What is more important, Fritz challenged not only Craig's story but his credibility as well. . . .

What about the color of the station wagon? Craig made it a point to claim his testimony was changed with respect to the color of the car. "I said the Rambler station wagon was light green. The Warren Commission: Changed [it] to a white station wagon . . ."

Curious, I went back to Craig's deposition of November 25, 1963. I concluded the Warren Commission could alter the testimony but would have to go to extreme lengths to change a document obtained three days after the assassination. FBI Special Agent Benjamin O. Keutzer took Craig's statement. It appears in Commission Exhibit No. 1993, [CE 1993].

"He stated he also noticed an automobile traveling west on Elm, which he feels was a white Nash Rambler station wagon with a luggage rack on top."

This seemed to confirm that Craig originally thought the car was white. I still couldn't understand why color was so important. Why was it necessary for the station wagon to be green rather than white? A little more research resolved the issue. In Warren Commission Volume II, pg. 506, [2H506] the following exchange takes place.
Mr. Jenner: "Describe your automobile, will you please?"

Mrs. Paine: "It is a 1955 Chevrolet station wagon, green, needing paint, which we bought secondhand. It is in my name."

I thought I was seeing things! Ruth Paine owned a green Chevrolet not a Nash Rambler?

. . . One can almost picture Roger Craig, trying to stir the assassination conspiracy pot. Failing to verify facts, depending upon memories inactive for four years, assuming "they" whoever "they" were checked the automobile at the Paine house, relying on Buddy Walthers spotty remarks, accusing the Warren Commission of altering testimony so the color of the vehicles matched . . . . To what purpose? To implicate Ruth Paine in the plot? If not, why the great charade?

The Bullet Not Seen

The following is from the Warren Commission testimony of Craig:
Mr. CRAIG. Well, I looked around for a little bit, you know, just observing the people and things. . . . And then it was either Lemmy Lewis or Buddy Walthers-(spelling) W-a-l-t-h-e-r-s, one of our other criminal investigators, said that one of the bullets had ricocheted off the south curb of Elm Street. So, Officer Lewis and I crossed-walked down the hill and crossed Elm Street to look for the place where the bullet might have hit.

Mr. BELIN. Did he say why he believed one of the bullets ricocheted off the south curb of Elm?

Mr. CRAIG. No; he just said that someone said that one of them had. So we checked it.

Mr. BELIN. So, you searched the south curb of Elm?

Mr. CRAIG. Right.

Mr. BELIN. Did you find anything there to indicate the ricocheted bullet?

Mr. CRAIG. No; we didn't find anything at that time. (6H265)

So Craig originally said he saw no bullet near the south curb of Elm Street. But by the 1970s (when he recorded the interview found in "Two Men in Dallas") he was giving a vivid description of the discovery of the supposed .45 slug.

The "Mauser"

Early reports said the rifle recovered on the 6th floor of the Depository was a Mauser, but this was quickly corrected when the Dallas police had sufficient time to examine the rifle. Craig's early account, as given to the Los Angeles Free Press (March 1968), provides an interesting variation on the "Mauser" story. In the following, "FP" is "Free Press," "RC" is "Roger Craig," and "PJ" is conspiracist newspaperman "Penn Jones."
FP: Did you handle that rifle?

RC: Yes, I did. I couldn't give its name because I don't know foreign rifles, I know it was foreign made, and you loaded it downward into a built-in clip. The ID man took it and ejected one live round from it. The scope was facing north, the bolt facing upwards and the trigger south.

But there was another rifle, a Mauser, found up on the roof of the depository that afternoon.

FP: A Mauser on the roof? Who found it?

PJ: I don't know who found it, but I do know that a police officer verified its existence.

In later years, however, Craig's account changed and he adopted the orthodox conspiracy version that has the Mauser found on the 6th floor. In his memoir When They Kill a President Craig claims:
Lt. Day inspected the rifle briefly, then handed it to Capt. Fritz who had a puzzled look on his face. Seymour Weitzman, a deputy constable, was standing beside me at the time. Weitzman was an expert on weapons. He had been in the sporting goods business for many years and was familiar with all domestic and foreign weapons. Capt. Fritz asked if anyone knew what kind of rifle it was. Weitzman asked to see it. After a close examination (much longer than Fritz or Day's examination) Weitzman declared that it was a 7.65 German Mauser. Fritz agreed with him. Apparently, someone at the Dallas Police Department also loses things but, at least, they are more conscientious. They did replace it — even if the replacement was made in a different country. (See Warren Report for Italian Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5 Caliber).
It now seems that the Mauser on the roof, which Craig didn't claim to have seen, has become the Mauser on the 6th floor. A few years later, when he was interviewed for "Two Men in Dallas," Craig claimed to have viewed the rifle close-up and seen the notation "7.65 Mauser."

Tippit Shot by 1:06?

The time of the Tippit shooting is an important issue, since the Warren Commission placed it at about 1:15 p.m. If Tippit was shot substantially earlier than this, it could not have been Lee Oswald who did it, since Oswald would not have had time to walk from his rooming house at 1026 North Beckley to the corner of 10th and Patton where the shooting happened.

In When They Kill a President Craig claims that Tippit had to have been shot before 1:06.

At that exact moment [of the discovery of the rifle] an unknown Dallas police officer came running up the stairs and advised Capt. Fritz that a Dallas policeman had been shot in the Oak Cliff area. I instinctively looked at my watch. The time was 1:06 p.m. A token force of uniformed officers was left to keep the sixth floor secure and Fritz, Day, Boone, Mooney, Weitzman and I left the building.
The first problem with this is that the rifle was in fact discovered about 1:22 p.m. (7H109). Yet Craig describes the officer announcing the death of Tippit after the discovery of the rifle.

But another problem is the fact that this "1:06 p.m." account seems to be a late addition to his story. In the March 1968 Los Angeles Free Press is an interview with Craig and Penn Jones:

RC: Tippit went to Oak Cliff, and subsequently was killed. Why he went to Oak Cliff I can't tell you; I can only make an observation. He was going to meet somebody.

FP: Do you know what time he was killed?

RC: It was about 1:40 —

PJ: No, I think it was a little before 1:15.

RC: Was it?

PJ: Yes, Bill Alexander —

RC: Oh, that's right. The broadcast was put out shortly after 1:15 on Tippit's killer, and it had not been put out yet on Oswald as the assassin of President Kennedy.

So Craig, rather than saying that he knew that Tippit had been killed before 1:06, estimates it was at 1:40 — and then accepts Penn Jones' correction that it was "a little before 1:15."

Was Craig With Luke Mooney When He Discovered the Hulls?

The video clip to the right, from Craig's 1974 video "Two Men in Dallas," has Craig saying that he and Sheriff's Deputy Luke Mooney together discovered the spent cartridges in the Sniper's Nest. Compare the 1974 interview with Craig's testimony before the Warren Commission.
Mr. BELIN - Why did you go up on the sixth floor?

Mr. CRAIG - Well, someone said that’s where the shots came from. One of the city officers, if I’m not mistaken.

Mr. BELIN - All right.

Mr. CRAIG - So, we went to the sixth floor where – uh – some empty cartridges were found.

Mr. BELIN - Did you see the empty cartridges when they were found?

Mr. CRAIG - I didn’t see them when they were found. I saw them laying on the floor.

Mr. BELIN - About how soon after they were found did you see them, laying on the floor?

Mr. CRAIG - Oh, a couple of minutes. I went right on over there. I was at the far north end of the building. The cartridges were on the southeast corner.

Mr. BELIN - Well, how did you know they had been found there? Did someone yell – or what?

Mr. CRAIG - Yes; someone yelled across the room that “here’s the shells.”

Mr. BELIN - Do you remember who that was?

Mr. CRAIG - No; I couldn’t recognize the voice.

Some Conspiracists Didn't Believe Craig

Mary Ferrell was an icon among conspiracy-oriented researchers (and highly respected among people who didn't believe in a conspiracy. She had considerable personal interaction with Craig, an in an early 1990s post on the old Prodigy discussion board, explained the man.
TIME: 8/24 1:25 PM

I knew Roger Craig for several years before his death. It is my belief that Roger was a very sick young man. He had made a name for himself as a very promising young law enforcement officer. When he came forward with some of the "stories" he told following the events of that November weekend, he believed that he would be offered a great deal of money and, possibly, speaking engagements. I am very sorry to say that I am one of the few conspiracy nuts who never believed Roger Craig.

When Roger made a number of speeches about the fact that "they" prevented him from getting a job, I talked my husband into giving him a job. Roger did not want to work. He wanted people to give him money because he had "seen something or other."

I have made enemies because I have continued to say that I have never really believed him.

Mary Ferrell

Roger Craig also charged that his Warren Commission testimony had been altered or tampered with. While most conspiracists will readily believe such charges, another icon among conspiracy researchers, Harold Weisberg, strongly rejected his claims.
“Roger Craig may be a brave guy and all of that, but he is also full of what is generally reserved for toilets. I have gone over his annotation of his testimony, as printed, and his account of the changes is utterly impossible. I spent too many years working with court reporters, particularly, the firm the Commission used, to find it possible to credit this in any way. More, have traced that testimony all the way from Dallas to the Government Printing Office, and it is printed as it was taken down, I have copies of the typescript sent to the GPO, and I have the letter of transmittal to DC the bills for taking it, the whole story. Roger is, despite Penn's [Penn Jones] great love for him, at best simply wrong, in the newer areas, what he embellished his original testimony with. Now I have met Roger, and he is a finelooking, clean-cut kind of guy who appears to be truthful, serious and all that-just like dozens of guys I once guarded in an Army locked ward in a large mental institution. He does not impress me as the kind of guy who is out to make trouble. But he is.”

You might want to read Craig's unpublished biography, When They Kill a President. It details his claims of Warren Commission distortion of his testimony, his firing from the Dallas County Sheriff's office, and the Garrison investigation.

A Mysterious Death?

Given the "interesting" stories that Roger Craig was telling, it might seem quite logical that a conspiracy would want to silence him. So Craig's death at age 39 in 1975 by suicide (conspiracy books usually put quotes around "suicide") might seem suspicious. But do the details of his death actually seem suspicious?
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