JFK Assassination: 50 years later

JFK Assassination: 50 years later

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Lee Harvey Oswald (file) Lee Harvey Oswald (file)
DALLAS -

For those who lived through it, the images are seared into our memory.  For generations that follow, it remains one of the most horrifying chapters in U.S. history.  50 years later, its remarkable how much of that history and where it happened - survives.

We remember it mostly in black and white.  Through history books, photographs and TV coverage, but these are real places.  You can still see, touch and feel a half century later.

The home where Lee Harvey Oswald lived with his wife and two children still stands in Irving.  The bedroom where Oswald slept the night before the assassination.  The bathroom where he got ready that day -- exactly as it was.  What did Oswald think when he saw his reflection in the mirror that morning?  Down the hall, the garage where he kept the rifle used to kill the president.

"It's hard to believe the murder weapon was right there.. yep, it's just standing in place where historic event occurred," said Kevin Kendro, Irving's archives coordinator.

The home largely undisturbed through the years.  It will soon be open for public tours, just like the Texas School Book Depository.

The mere sight of it still evokes such strong emotion.

A museum now occupies the 6th floor where Oswald fired on the motorcade.  The corner window, the sniper's nest -- recreated exactly as it was on November 22nd.  The murder scene, Dealey Plaza -- frozen in time.  The grassy knoll -- people clutching cameras just as they did that day.

Macabre white letter X's mark the spots where the president was first struck and where he was mortally wounded.  Abraham Zapruder stood there that day, capturing perhaps the most gripping footage of the 20th century, the moment President Kennedy was killed."

25 minutes after the assassination, Oswald returned to his rooming house in Oak Cliff. It's still there: 1026 North Beckley Avenue.  Oswald was in a hurry.  He put on a windbreaker and grabbed a .38 revolver.  15 minutes later, less than a mile away, Oswald was stopped by a Dallas police officer.

"Officer J.D. Tippit was shot dead and police say Oswald's pistol killed him," said Walter Cronkite during a news broadcast.

At the spot where J.D. Tippit encountered Lee Harvey Oswald after a brief exchange, Oswald shot him four times, killing him.

At the corner of 10th and Patton where it happened, a memorial honors Officer Tippit, but there are living memorials as well. 

In a rare interview, Officer Tippit's widow said, "Well, it's all very vivid.  It's very vivid in my mind."

Marie Tippit was left to raise three young children on her own.  She has never publicly shown the nameplate her husband wore on his uniform that fateful day.

"J.D. was just doing his job that day when he happened to stop a man that just killed the President of the United States," she said.

After killing Officer Tippit, Oswald fled to the Texas Theater.  It's a historic landmark and has never been changed.

Hearing police sirens, Oswald ducked in without paying, he took a seat inside, but police quickly moved in.  He tried to shoot them, but they grabbed his gun first and dragged him outside.

"The only thing I heard him say is 'I ain't done nothin'.  And that was when we arrested him in the theater," said Ray Hawkins.

Hawkins wrestled with Oswald and eventually handcuffed him.  Ray was 31-years-old in 1963.  Now at 81, time hasn't changed his opinion.  Was there any doubt in his mind that Oswald killed the president and JD Tippit?

"No doubt in my mind, no," he replied.

From the Texas Theater, Oswald was taken to the Dallas Police Department located in Old City Hall.  The building still stands.  The public isn't allowed inside, but we were.  This is where Oswald was booked and fingerprinted.  And in the back corner, Oswald stood for one of the most famous mug shots in history.

Over the next two days, police headquarters was a circus.  Certain they had their man, Dallas police paraded Oswald before a hoard of press and a nation was transfixed.

Oswald was interrogated by Detective Will Fritz on and off for 12.5 hours over two days.  Confronted with overwhelming physical evidence implicating him, Oswald never cracked. He denied killing Officer Tippit and President Kennedy.

When asked if he killed the president, Oswald replied, "No, I have not been charged with that.. in fact, nobody has said that to me yet."

Oswald spent the last two days of his life in between interrogations and police lineups.

With the country reeling from the death of the president, there was yet another shocking chapter to be written.  Three days after the assassination, Oswald was to be transferred to the county jail.  He got on an elevator and descended to the basement.

Oswald was escorted through a door and came right out to the spot where Jack Ruby approached him from the left, then shot and killed him.

The nightclub owner, despondent over the president's death, silenced Oswald.

Ruby ended up in the same cell Oswald had occupied minutes before.

In a simple cemetery in Ft. Worth lie the remains of perhaps the most scrutinized killer in history.

Whatever Lee Harvey Oswald's motivation may have been, whether someone else may have been involved, we'll never know.  The answers lie with Lee Harvey Oswald and he took those answers to the grave.

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