Josiah Thompson explains the six seconds in Dallas

In this video Josiah (“Tink”) Thompson, author of “Six Seconds in Dallas,” who went on to a long career as private investigator, explains how a sound recording from Dealey Plaza matches up with the Zapruder film.

Thompson does not address serious questions that have arisen about the validity of the acoustical evidence. We will explain and explore these questions in future posts.






22 thoughts on “Josiah Thompson explains the six seconds in Dallas”

  1. I’m confused.
    Based on acoustical “dictaphone” recordings from a police motorcycle microphone that had been left on, the HSCA’s chief counsel concluded that there were “four shots, over a total period of 7.91 seconds fired at the Presidential limousine. They closed their investigation by saying that a conspiracy was responsible for Kennedy’s death, and therefore, the Warren Report’s conclusions were wrong. However, the acoustical evidence that this conclusion was based on however, was later disputed and found to be in error. It had actually come from a motorcycle patrolman at the Dallas Trade Mart.
    Roger Stone also references the dicta belt recordings in his book 2013 book, The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. Are these two different recordings?

    1. As of now, I haven’t seen the science behind the refutation of the HSCA’s acoustical evidence. Don Thomas answered the early refutations, and concluded that there was an even greater probability that the sounds were gunshots than that stated by the HSCA. His conclusions were peer reviewed and found to be correct. Dr G. Paul Chambers wrote a book entitled HEAD SHOT where he supports Thomas’s conclusions. Since then there is supposedly some state of the art acoustical testing that refutes all of the above. I haven’t seen the scientific method used, I haven’t heard of it being peer reviewed. Maybe those things have been published and I’ve missed them. The refutation will have to explain the extraordinarily close correlation between the sounds on the dictabelt and the gunshots recorded in the testing. The odds against a coincidence there are astronomical.

    2. The HSCA said that there was probably a 95% chance for conspiracy, not that Oswald was not a gunman (IOW, a 4th shot from the GK missed).

      Their acoustical conclusion was challenged by the National Academy of Science (NAS) based on cross-talk heard by percussionist Steven Barber (he argued words spoken around the key shot impulse occurred AFTER the known time of the fatal shot, so that the HSCA’ acoustic evidence was wrong).

      D.B. Thomas rebutted with his own analysis (the misplaced words was due to an overdub). He also argued that Hugh McLain was the motorcycle cop with the stuck mike.

      Then Dale Myers analyzed photos with H.B. McLain and using his animations, concluded McLain was not in the right position required by the HSCA`s own test mike for that sound impulse.

      Then D.B. Thomas wrote an excellent book called Hear No Evil, and presented a rebuttal at last November`s Lancer Conference-In-Dallas (CID), showing with photos that it was McLain.

      Here`s an article by Michael T. Griffith on the subject with his own links to D.B. Thomas’ article for added reading.

  2. Pingback: JFK, Tink Thompson, and “Six Seconds in Dallas” (2) « Photocritic International

  3. I am including a link to the Itek report which Josiah Thompson references in his video. I highly recommend that you read it.

    I am also including a link to an animated gif file which compares the head movement between frames 312 and 313 to the head movement between frames 313 and 314. (Black vs Cyan). The Presidents head maintains the same relative position to the back of the seat in frame 314 as it had in frame 313.

    Itek Report


  4. I am including a link to an animated gif which displays frames 312 and 313.

    It appears that the limo is moving backwards as the animation cycles between 312 and 313. I think this is caused by Zapruder moving his camera abruptly to the right which caused the image to be shifted to the left. I think this would be termed a panning error.

    As you watch this animation please do the following experiment….

    Place your mouse cursor on different points in the image on frame 312 and observe the shift of the point on frame 313. Please do this for many points to convince yourself of the leftward movement of all points in the image.

    Now place your cursor on the presidents head. You will see that the presidents head does not move to the left, as it should. That, I believe, is the anomaly. The presidents head did not move to the left as all other points did. The backward movement of the entire frame has hidden the forward movement of the head.

    Here is the link to the the animated gif.

  5. Most murders are solved in a simple way because there isn’t massive planning by good number of people. When one looks at all the films, they are not typical films, they are disjointed in that an earlier segement jumps to a later segement with a lot of middle’s left out. Zapruder doesn’t seem that way until people say they saw the whole film, earlier than z133, and a lead car going through. What? That would snip quite a bit. Then there is no meeting of officers Ellis and Chaney with Curry. That means a lot more snipped. The middle is snipped because of 1) the ‘accident’ with the film at 207-210z, the BIG Stemmons side, with the people waiting for a motorcade to come instead of being in one. When you cover up brazenly, other areas are suspect as well. Good researchers caught on. CJ

  6. It’s unbelievable, they still work on a altered film, sure you can see what happens in the copy that Time Life has had all this time, i would like to know where is all the blood, based on the wound’s both men received, a 4 inch hole in connleys chest & the wrist wound, jfk’s head, brain matter & blood.
    Also the 2 chrome Vent’s on the back of GG-300 you never see, all the other part’s on top of the car, which R chrome you can see from the sunshine, but even the chrome mould /strip on jfk’s side of the car, you don’t see it in the current MPI/LMH copy, he never mentions the turn into the other elm st, which is the side road alone the DSBD, the car stop, the Stemmon’s sign hitting it, also how the people in the film, still R looking up the road, re: elm st, yet only a couple of people move, yet over 8/10 shot’s were fired, also the missed shot’s, what i seen in the Z film, is not what i have ever seen, i seen blood all over people in the car & the trunk & people in elm st, r moving & clapping as the car moves in Elm st, i don’t believe you can make a correct assessment of what happened with what MPI/LMH Z film shows.

    PS: The current X mark is in the wrong spot as well, it’s about 4 to 6ft forward more. Thanks 🙂


  7. Very interesting. But Josiah did not make the mistake he is admitting to. JFK’s head DID move forward, and it was indeed by the impact of a shot from behind. Josiah dos not realize there are two shots at the same time, one from behind and one from the grassy knoll.

    What Josiah measured is the back of the head where it meets the neck. That is a mistake. The top of the head moves a lot more forward than the base of the head. The head pivots forward and down from the neck. So there is not only a forward movement, but also a downward movement. He is getting hit from behind and immediately after from the right front. Those are the simultaneous shots that evrybody heard and are also on the dictabelt. See below:

    1. If he was hit from both behind (in the head) and in front, what the Dallas doctors overwhelmingly saw (if you believe their initial testimony and in some cases, like Crenshaw’s, later testimony too), then the back of the head shot must have been obliterated by the front (right temple entry) shot, because the doctors described a large gaping exit wound in the back of Kennedy’s head, and a clean entrance wound in his right temple, in the front of his head.

    2. I first heard of an explanation, such as the one by Mr. Dankbaar, while reading a transcipt of the James Files interviews of 1994 at the Illinois State Prison. He(Files)states he was on the Grassy Knoll behind the fence. He claimed that he was not supposed to fire unless there had been no head shot, and not to hurt Mrs. Kennedy. He states that he fired at the President’s right eye, but a split second before the impact of his shot, the head went forward, as a result of a hit from behind fired by his boss, Johnny Roselli, from the Dal-Tex Building, causing his (Files) shot to hit in the right temple. Files states he used a Remington Fireball XP-100, .221 or .222 cal, bolt-action, handgun sized weapon, with a scope, using a hollow-point, mercury filled round. The XP-100 is still noted for great accuracy. This seems to fit with the newly analyzed and interpreted photographic evidence. Google “James Files.”

      1. Beat me to it gjones…

        I have a DVD of the Files interviews (sure seems credible but I haven’t heard anything to back up his story), and he says Roselli accused him of jumping the gun (literally) when they met in a parked car (behind the Dal Tech building… where Roselli was shooting from) to leave the scene together. As you say, he was a backup and fired only because he saw no head shot at that point… the two shots were less than a second apart… something several witnesses reported but of course was ignored by the WC.

  8. Sherry Fiester contends in her recent book that modern forensics proves that people shot in the head often first move slightly in to the bullet before recoiling in the direction of the shot. She also makes a pretty interesting argument about blood spatter – i.e., you see a small amount of spatter in front direction, but a greater amount of spatter in the rearward direction, indicating a shot from the front. You can see this clearly in the video.

    In any case, I still don’t see how a journalist watching that video in real time within a few days after the assassination wouldn’t have real questions about the developing official story. Any person watching that in real time (i.e. without having time to dissect it frame by frame as we have now) would conclude that the final headshot was from the front. If this video had come out immediately, absolutely no one would have believed the official story.

    1. That’s right, no one would have believed it. You’d think the official position of the FBI would have been: “This was a heinous crime and we’re going to do everything in our power to apprehend everyone and anyone who had anything to do with it. We ask anyone with any useful information to come forward.” Instead they issued a statement to convince the public (and announce their position to others who might have evidence to the contrary) that Oswald was the lone assassin with no accomplices. Right there anyone with common sense will be suspicious and the especially since the FBI had access to the film.

  9. I’m curious as to why Dr. Thompson presents a 4 shot scenario here and, therefore, ignores the acoustics analysis of Don Thomas which establishes a likelihood that there were, in fact, 5 shots on the dictabelt. And we know Thompson has read Thomas’s work because he wrote a blurb for his book! Mr. Morley notes “serious questions…have arisen about the validity of the acoustical evidence” but Thomas has addressed them in detail. And the fact of the matter is that none of the challenges to the acoustics deals with what Thomas calls the “order in the data”. I’ll explain for those who are new to the subject.

    Experts for the House Select Committee on Assassinations found that 5 impulses on the dictabelt acoustically matched 5 test shots fired in Dealey Plaza (the 4th to a shot from the grassy knoll recorded on an array of microphones lined up along Houston & Elm Streets. The fact that the suspect sounds had matched to some of the 423 test patterns is not, by itself, amazingly significant. However, the order and spacing of the matching microphone positions followed the same order as the sounds on the police tape. If the sounds on the dictabelt were not truly the sounds of the assassination gunfire and instead represented some type of random static, a match would be as likely to occur at at the first microphone as the last and would most likely fall in some random order—there being, of course, 125 different ways to sequence five events. But far from being random, the matches fell in the exact same 1-2-3-4-5 topographic order as the impulses appear on the dictabelt recording.

    * The first impulse matched to a test shot recorded on a microphone on Houston Street near the intersection with Elm.

    * The second to a microphone 18 ft north on Houston.

    * The third to a microphone at the intersection.

    * The fourth to a microphone on Elm.

    * And the fifth to the next microphone to the west.

    Additionally, the distance from the first matching microphone to the last was 143 feet and the time between the first and last suspect impulse on the tape was 8.3 seconds. In order for the motorcycle with the stuck microphone to cover 143 feet in 8.3 seconds it would need to be travelling at a speed of approximately 11.7 mph which fits almost perfectly with the FBI’s conclusion that the Presidential limousine was averaging 11.3 mph on Elm Street.

    Finally, the gunshots on the dictabelt synchronize perfectly with the visual evidence of the other all-important record of the shooting, the Zapruder film. There are two visible reactions to gunshots on the Zapruder film. One of these occurs at Z-frame 313 with the blatantly obvious explosion of President Kennedy’s head. The other occurs between fames 225 and 230 when the Stetson hat in Connally’s hand flips up and down, presumably as a result of the missile passing through his wrist. This is preceded at Z-225 by the flipping of Connally’s lapel which has been cited by many as pinpointing the exact moment the bullet passed through his chest. When the fourth shot on the dictabelt, the grassy knoll shot, is aligned with Z-frame 313, the third shot falls at – yes, you guessed it – precisely Z-225. This means that the exact same 4.8 second gap between shots is found on both the audio and visual evidence. These perfect correlations between the acoustics and all other known data provide the most convincing reasons to believe that the dictabelt is a genuine recording of the assassination gunfire.

    1. Brian LeCloux

      Glad to see you posting here. What do you think about Thomas’ assertion that the first shot was fired at Z-175? Weisberg had located it at 188-190, based on the movements/testimony of Phil Willis and the HSCA later agreed with that timing.

      1. Thank you, Brian.

        At first I found it hard to believe a shot was fired from the TSBD at that point because the trees would have blocked the gunman’s view. But Dr. Thomas explained that there was a loud noise on the dictabelt shortly before the first gunshot(I forget the exact frame number)that may have startled the sixth floor gunman and caused him to squeeze off an early missed shot. This seems reasonable to me.

        Before I studied the acoustics issue, I subscribed to Weisberg’s view that the first shot came around 188-190. It could be said that his analysis actually fits pretty well with the acoustics. After all the time between 175 and 188 is less than a second.

        At the end of the day, there are many little reasons to think shots were fired at other points but they all fall short of proof. If we could get a new, independent analysis of the dictabelt that finally resolves the issue once and for all, we may have actual scientific proof of the number, order, and origin of the shots that killed Kennedy. I’m amazed that so many JFK researchers so readily dismiss the relevance of the acoustics when it could be the piece of evidence that proves conspiracy once and for all. To me, this is the only piece of evidence we have that has the potential to change history. It baffles me that there isn’t somebody doing something about it.

        I wonder if it would be possible to use the intenet to raise money to fund a new analysis? If indie filmmakers can do it for entertainment purposes surely people would donate money to something that actually matters?

  10. I believe what Josiah Thompson is telling his audience in essence is that the HSCA issued a report to a global audience that 2 people were shooting at President Kennedy and the report found the previous WC report not credible. Not said but implied is any disagreement with the HSCA report demonstrates lack of faith in the US government.
    It’s common in the military to receive conflicting directives. The one that supersedes the earlier directive is the one that must be followed to avoid court martial, punishment & possible imprisonment. Thompson is saying follow the later report & forget about the 1st (WC) but there are those on the Internet that refuse to do so & instead of taking their problem to the government they lash out at the public that believes the HSCA got it right.
    I personally don’t see how Thompson can look at the Zapruder images and not see obvious film artwork (censorship & deception)and a multitude of amateurishly made composite images but then again some people wouldn’t see the ocean if they fell into it face first.
    I did a book report in high school on Six Seconds in Dallas shortly after it was published that earned me an after class lecture on communist propaganda in journalism and schools. The fact he was a former college professor didn’t help. The experience taught me that not everyone appreciates what he has to say.

  11. The best point Thompson makes in his presentation is that in a murder investigation, the first thing to determine is what happened. As he says, we don’t know what happened in the JFK assassination. Amazingly.

    In the 1960s everyone was told prying into the gory details of the assassination would upset the Kennedys. That was the excuse for not prying. I believe RFK, Jr., his sister, and even Caroline have signaled that the Kennedys no longer object to such prying.

  12. Thompson’s presentation is lucid and interesting.

    The question mark overhanging Thompson’s work, for me, is his unquestioning reliance on the extant Z-film.

    We know the film was developed in Dallas on November 22. We also know one of the developed copies was couriered to the CIA photographic facility in Rochester, New York, on the night of November 22. There is no way (via chain of custody) to establish that “Life’s” copy or anyone else’s copy of the Z-film is (a) a camera original film, or (b) a true copy of the camera original film.

    I like the way Thompson interprets what he believes is a true copy and synchronizes the gunshot sounds from the dictabelt. The problem for me is the unquestioned premise of his presentation.

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