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 table below summarizes key elements of Craig's testimony, and what the evidence is on each.
|Statement||Was he saying this in 1963-64?||Evaluation|
|Was standing on Main Street near Dealey Plaza at time of shooting heard three shots||Yes||Entirely plausible.|
|Saw officer running up Grassy Knoll||Yes||Supported by photographic evidence|
|Talked to Arnold Rowland who saw second man on 6th floor of Depository||Yes||Almost certainly true. Consistent with Rowland's testimony to Warren Commission.|
|Saw .45 slug in Dealey Plaza with piece of Kennedy's head||No||Absolutely 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 man||Yes||Implies 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"||No||Flatly contradicted by officers who discovered Sniper's Nest. Hulls were photographed in place, and Deputy Luke Mooney marked photograph showing their locations.|
|Looked at his watch upon hearing of the Tippit shooting, and saw the time was 1:06 p.m.||No||Contradicted by other evidence, and by Craig's own 1968 interview.|
|Saw inscription "7.65 Mauser" on recovered rifle||No||Contradicted 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||Yes||Contradicted 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 life||No||No supporting evidence has been produced. If attempts described were real, they were extremely lame.|
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].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.
"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."
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?
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.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.
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)
FP: Did you handle that rifle?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:
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.
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."
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.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."
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.
|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.|