DC: How long have you been working on this project?
CC: Literally, since late 1990. I was to present my first public lecture
in November of that year, and I realized that there wasn’t a readily
available, adequate map of Dealey Plaza that could be used as a visual
aid for such purposes. I had an architect friend of mind create a computer-generated
rendering of the plaza and, given the time constraints, plotted only
the location of the Presidential limousine on Elm Street and a handful
of the closest eyewitnesses to the assassination. I then had the schematic
blown up to an outlandish size—I think approximately 5’ x 10’, which had
to be printed out in three sections—and while it was an extremely effective
visual aid, it wasn’t exactly practical. So I decided to limit the size
to the more reasonable poster size of 24” x 36”, and began the process
of plotting the rest of the known witnesses and the motorcade procession.
So, this project was begun in earnest and has been evolving since 1991.
DC: What of your findings surprised you the most?
CC: You know—I don’t think I can pinpoint any one “holy s*@#!” kind
of surprise. Because much of this work has been a gradual recovery process—sifting
through record groups and previous published research—there are very few
accounts that I didn’t know about or didn’t expect. However, each time a
new account has been uncovered, such as the one you had the fortune of being
entrusted with (Toni Foster), or the six postal employees cited in Gerald
Posner’s book (Case Closed), or the recently surrendered photos
and story of Jay Skaggs, there is an immense satisfaction, almost victorious,
like—“Yes! One more piece of the puzzle, one more detail that didn’t have
to go with someone to their grave.”
Of course, there is something to be said for “no good deed ever goes
unpunished,” especially in the examples I just referenced. While Toni Foster
was generous and brave enough to come forward, she was in the company of
her husband, Stephen, who hasn’t yet been interviewed; of the six new postal
employees cited by Posner, only four of them were mentioned by name; and
Jay Skaggs was with his wife and one of his two daughters in Dealey Plaza,
but which daughter hasn’t been determined. There’s nothing sinister about
these unresolved issues; it’s more a matter of proof that there’s still a
lot of work to be done as far as eyewitness location and identification.
More surprising to me has been the lack of consensus regarding eyewitness
placement in Dealey Plaza and establishing positive photographic identification;
the lack of consensus regarding the presence of questionable witnesses, such
as Beverly Oliver and Norman Similas; and the fact that the oral histories
of no less than 23 eyewitnesses in Dealey Plaza have been sitting—un-transcribed—at
the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.
As I said, there’s still a lot of work to be done…just with the documentation
we already have.