The two Oswalds theory

Photographic Evidence of Two Oswalds?

The following is from Volume 6 of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. The Committee's panel of forensic anthropologists was charged with determining whether they was any evidence of "two Oswalds" in extant photos.

(f) The "Second Oswald" Theory Comparison of Oswald Facial Photographs


(732) Various conspiracy theories have centered around the hypothesis that a double of Lee Harvey Oswald played a part in the assassination of President Kennedy. The theorists themselves appear to disagree on the origin and role of this "Second Oswald." Nevertheless, all agree that in at least one stage of his career between the time Oswald defected to the Soviet Union and the assassination, he was impersonated by a double. (232) To investigate this possibility, the anthropology consultants examined a series of Oswald photographs ranging in time from his Marine Corps enlistment to his arrest in Dallas after the assassination.


(733)Is there any photographic evidence of an Oswald imposter?


(734) The collection of photographs pertaining to the. Kennedy assassination and Warren Commission investigation includes several dozen of Oswald (or, possibly, his double). As one might expect, they vary widely in pose, facial expression, lens-subject distance, and image quality. From these, it was possible to select nine in which (1) the facial features were fairly well defined, (2) the pose was either nearly full-face or true profile, and (3) represented the subject during various key episodes of his life from the time he was a Marine until the assassination. (See figs. IV-60, IV-61, JFK exhibits 556 557.)

In addition, two photographs of definitely poorer quality were selected for analysis. These were two of the controversial "backyard photographs;" they differ from the others in that the direction of lighting was from almost directly overhead and the facial image was somewhat more poorly defined. (See figs. IV-18 and IV--20

In addition to the Oswald photographs, data were included from three photographs of Billy Lovelady, taken in the early 1960's. Lovelady was a fellow employee of Oswald's at the Texas School Book Depository and his strong physical resemblance to Oswald was a source of controversy and confusion regarding the "man in the door way" photograph. The inclusion of Lovelady's facial indices in our analysis provides a convenient control or yardstick to measure the variation observed in the facial indices derived from the Oswald photographs.

Similar analysis methods were used by House Select Committee experts to authenticate the autopsy photos. This chart shows the "metric characteristics" used to establish identities in photographics. It is rather large, so you might wish to download and print it, rather than view it on the screen.


(736) This analysis is based on 15 indices derived from 16 measurements of the head and face. The measurements were taken to the nearest 1 millimeter from 8-by-lO-inch, black-and-white enlargements of the subject's face. The indices for both Oswald and Lovelady are given in table I. There are some missing values for the three profile views of Oswald. This is because certain measurements necessary for calculating these indices cannot be obtained from a profile photograph. Also, a few indices could not be calculated for the full-face photographs because lighting, image clarity, or other factors would not permit the necessary measurements to be made with sufficient accuracy.

(737). In order to reduce this complex set of individual values to more meaningful statistics, one of the methods long employed by anthropologists was used to compare both living and fossil populations. The method selected was Penrose's distance statistic, which has an advantage over more sophisticated multivariate methods in that it is fairly simple to compute, but still gives an acceptable approximation of the morphological differences between the groups. (233) The use of more elaborate methods did not seem justified in view of the small sample sizes involved.

(738)This method reduces a set of complex variables that characterize two or more groups to a pair of coefficients that reflect the groups' overall difference in size and shape.

(739) To apply this method to the present problem, the index data was grouped chronologically to represent Oswald at various significant periods of his life:

  1. Marine Corps.
  2. Russia.
  3. Backyard (Dallas).
  4. New Orleans.
  5. Arrest (Dallas).
(740) The data were then studied to determine whether the face of the individual shown in the Oswald photographs, taken during any one of the first four of these periods (Marine Corps, Russia, backyard, New Orleans), differed morphologically from the face of the man who was arrested in Dallas after the assassination. If such a difference was found, it might suggest that a double was involved.


(741) There are no biological inconsistencies in the Oswald photographs examined that would support the theory that a second person, or double, was involved. The variation observed is that expected in an array of photographs taken by different cameras with varying lens, camera angles, lighting, and other technical differences.

(742) It is not, however, possible totally to dismiss the "second Oswald" hypothesis on the basis of this negative finding. For example, it is possible that a double--if one existed--may not have been included in the series of photographs examined. There is also a possibility, however remote, that such a double was such a perfect twin of Oswald that no detectable metric or morphological differences are discernible in the photographic record.


(743) The results of the analysis are shown in the accompanying graph. (See fig. IV-62.) The origin of the graph represents the facial indices of the Dallas arrestee. The various points on the graph represent the other Oswald photographic sets as well as that of Billy Lovelady. The points were determined by plotting the Penrose size coefficient against the shape coefficient. The closer a point falls to the origin, the greater the similarity in facial morphology between the individual represented in a particular set of photographs and the person arrested in Dallas. As might be expected, the point representing Billy Lovelady lies much farther from the origin than those representing Oswald. Of the latter, the backyard photographs are the most divergent.

(744) Compared to Lovelady, who strongly resembles Oswald, the Marine, Russia, backyard, and New Orleans photographs cluster rather closely to the origin. It seems highly probable that the relatively small deviation observed in the Oswald data can be attributed to inevitable error involved in locating landmarks and making measurements from the photographs rather than to the existence of an Oswald double.

(745) In addition to the analysis of facial indices described above, other facial features were compared. For example, in the three profile views, the angle of the nasal bridge in relation to the face was 37° in all three cases and the angle between the nasal septum and the facial plane varied by less than 1°. The ears are relatively distinctive in shape and are strikingly similar in all photographs where they can be examined. The hairline, if one makes allowance for the passage of time, is quite compatible in all photographs examined. Also, there was no evidence of any incompatible anomalies, scars or other characteristic features suggesting different individuals in the various photographs.



TABLE Ill.--Measurements used to derive indices of comparison of Oswald photographs

1. Total head height
Vertical distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin(vertex to menton.) N.B.: some allowance for hair must be made in taking this measurement from a photograph.
2. Physiognomic face height
Distance from the midpoint of the hairline to the most anterior point on the lower forehead just above the nasal root depression (trichion to glabella).
3. Forehead height
Distance from the midpoint of the hairline to the most anterior point on the lower forehead just above the nasal root depression (trichion to glabella).
4. Nose length
Distance from the deepest point of the nasal root depression to the junction point between the nasal septum and the upper lip(subnasion to subnasale).
5. Total face height
Distance between the most anterior point on the helix of ear and the lowermost point on the chin (glabella to menton).
6. Ear length
Distance between the uppermost point on the helix of ear and the lowermost point on the earlobe (superaurale to subaurale).
7. Lobe length
Distance between the lowest point in the intertragic notch and lowest point on the earlobe (inter-tragion to subaurale)
8. Mouth height
Distance from the point of contact between the upper and lower lip and lowest point on the chin (stomion to menton).
9. Maximum head breadth
Horizontal distance across the broadest portion of the head. N.B.: Some allowance for hair must be made in taking this measurement from a photograph.
10. Interpalpebral breadth
Horizontal distance between the inner corners of the eyes (biendocanthion breadth).
11. Facial breadth
Maximum horizontal distance across the face (bizygomatic breadth).
12. Mandibular breadth
Horizontal distance between the angles of the jaws (bigonal breadth).
13. Chin width
Horizontal distance across the eminence of the chin.
14. Chin eminence height
Distance from the point of deepest depression between the lower lip and chin and the lowest point on the chin (supramentale to menton)
15. Nasal breadth
Maximum horizontal breadth across the nasal wings (bialar breadth).
16. Lateral ear projection
Horizontal distance from the lateral-most point on the outside margin of the ear to the junction of the ear with the face.

Penrose Statistic Scattergram

FIGURE IV-62.--Penrose Size and Shape coefficients Calculated From Facial Indices of Lee Harvey Oswald and Lovelady Photographs. Origin of the Graph Represents Dallas Arrest Photographs.

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