The March 1958 "Santa Ana" X-ray--Not So

Newsgroup Post by David Lifton-10/30/1998

Revised by David Lifton-10/30/1998


In this post, I'd like to address the matter of the supposed dental X-ray of Oswald, taken on March 27, 1958 in Santa Ana, California, when according to military records, Oswald was in Japan---indeed, the records show he arrived at Yokosuka on 18 March 1958.

I first learned about this chronological conflict---i.e., Oswald is in Japan, yet his X-ray is taken in California---some five years ago, when perusing ALIAS OSWALD, by Cutler.

The information that the dental X-ray was taken in California seemed solid---it came from an article written by Dr. Linda Norton, who did the exhumation autopsy on LHO. And the article makes clear that she---Dr. Norton---got the X- rays from Oswald's military file kept at the St. Louis records center.

When I first saw that, I reasoned that the X-ray sent Dr. Norton by the military had some sort of metal block in the field of view, or was in some manner authoritatively marked to indicate that it was taken in Santa Ana, California on March 27 1958, just as she had written was the case.

In a recent post, Art Swanson wrote: "the whole megilla about two oswalds cannot be disputed until someone explains why the skull examined after exhumation had all its normal complement of upper front teeth....and dr norton says that this agrees with the xrays taken in calif. feb. 1958...of lee harvey oswald..... "

And he added: "how was that xray taken in calif in feb 1958 ...and the pay records in the wc vols show that lho was in the far east all the spring of 1958......???????"

Of course, to the "two Oswald" crowd, this piece of evidence was a godsend; their "jewel in the crown."

Well, I was also intrigued by this matter---not because I thought that it indicated "two Oswalds" ---I did not believe that at all. Rather, I thought the March 1958 dental X-ray "taken in California" would be excellent documentary evidence that in the middle of his Marine tour, and when he was supposed to be in Japan, Oswald had made some sort of secret "off the record" trip to the continental U.S.; moreover, that he must have gotten a tooth ache or something while on that trip (and so had to see a dentist) and so the dental X-ray was an accidentally created footprint, a piece of evidence which definitively placed Oswald, who was supposed to be in Japan, back in the U.S.---at least on Mar 27, 1958, the day that X-ray was taken.

Now that is a very interesting hypothesis, but before going forward with it---and particularly, before putting it into a book---I sought a way to determine just what the X-ray Dr. Norton was looking at showed. In short, did it actually contain markings which said, "Taken at El Toro" and with a date?

Pursuing this matter, I arranged to speak to Dr. Linda Norton about it, and we ended up speaking about it for hours, as a matter of fact.

The first telephone meeting was arranged by someone who knew Dr. Norton quite well, and after hearing my statement of the problem, Dr. Norton brought to her desk all the key materials sent to her by the St. Louis Records Center and also other records that she used to prepare her article.

During the second phone call, I learned the full story behind why Dr Norton wrote that the March, 1958 X-ray was taken in California; and, to my considerable disappointment, learned that the whole thing was an error.

To begin with, the x-ray from the military did not contain any markings on it that said it was taken in California. That was my supposition, and it was simply incorrect.

What did happen was that Dr. Norton, in reading various Warren Commission documents---and specifically, documents that were actually published in the 26 volumes, misread---that's right, she MISread and misunderstood---a key document giving Oswald's location during different periods when he was in the Marine.

The mistake Dr. Norton made was a mistake that I, or Paul Hoch, or Peter Dale Scott, would immediately have spotted. But she didn't. And so she went ahead and, in writing the article, and in writing what seemed to be a perfectly routine sentence, MISstated the facts, and wrote the sentence in the footnote that has been the focus of so much attention and which has led numerous researchers to accept as solid fact that the March 1958 X-ray was taken in California.

In short, the information did NOT come from the X-ray itself. It came from Dr. Norton's misunderstanding; and incorrect inferences based on documents in the 26 volumes.

During our call, I told her that, for the sake of completeness, there should be some sort of correction made. She agreed, but pointed out that she was a very busy person. After the call, I think I called or fax'd Jeremy Gunn, but I'm not sure.

In any event, I watched with some sadness as my "evidence" for a "secret trip" to the US, while Oswald was in Japan, went down the drain.

I haven't posted on this before, and apparently word hasn't reached many of the "two-Oswald" researchers that this is the explanation for the March 1958 X-ray, supposedly taken in California, while Oswald was in Japan.

Well, now the secret is out..

But here's a question I have to ask many of them---Jack White, Jim Hargrove, John Armstrong, etc: instead of postulating something like that, and basing your whole outlook on it---did it ever occur to any of you to call Dr. Norton, and do what I did? i.e., ask her to explain why she wrote that footnote in the article about the LHO Oswald exhumation autopsy?

Apparently not.

Indeed, what has always amazed me about this was that everyone was taking for granted a "best case scenario" with the x-ray---that because this information appeared in the footnote of the Norton article, why it just had to be true.

But if this matter had come up a trial, no attorney would behave that way. Any attorney would know to go back to the source and ask, "Why did you write that?"

Apparently, the two-Oswald" researchers don't function that way. And so the idea is continually promoted that this X-ray "proves" two Oswald's and no one has bothered to question the source of the statement.

Let me conclude by saying that when you take away the March 1958 "California X-ray" (which in fact was actually taken in Japan, which is where Oswald was at the time) and when you take away the arguments based on the supposed forging of the W-2 forms (another Armstrong error, this based on two incorrect letters sent him by someone in the IRS) ---what's left of the Armstrong theory?

Very little, I'm afraid.

As I said above, and this is my opinion, its one big Nothingburger.

Now pardon me while I take an alka seltzer.

David Lifton

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