Mary Moorman


Mary Moorman (later Mary Krahmer) lived in Dallas, Texas. On 22nd November, 1963, Mary Moorman and her friend, Jean Hill, watched the motorcade of President John F. Kennedy from the grassy knoll facing the Texas School Depository Building. Moorman, who was taking Polaroid pictures of the motorcade, were only a few feet away from President John F. Kennedy when he was shot. Hill and Moorman thought the shots had come from behind her on the grassy knoll and as soon as the firing stopped they ran towards the wooden fence in an attempt to find the gunman. However, they were detained by two secret service men. After searching the two women they confiscated the picture of the assassination.

The photograph taken by Mary Moorman that shows the grassy knoll.
The photograph taken by Mary Moorman that shows the grassy knoll.

Jean Hill gave a statement to the police where she stated: "Mary Moorman started to take a picture. We were looking at the president and Jackie in the back seat... Just as the president looked up two shots rang out and I saw the president grab his chest and fell forward across Jackie's lap... There was an instant pause between two shots and the motorcade seemingly halted for an instant. Three or four more shots rang out and the motorcade sped away."

Some researchers have claimed that another Moorman photograph shows a man on the other side of the wooden picket fence firing a rifle.

Research carried out by Gary Mack, John P. Costella and David W. Mantik for the Discovery Channel in November, 2003, on Moorman's photograph, indicates that the "Zapruder film... which many take to be the closest thing to "absolute truth" in the assassination - has been subject to alteration".

The Zapruder Film film shows the position of Jean Hill (left)and Mary Moorman when John F. Kennedy was shot.
The Zapruder Film film shows the position of Jean Hill (left)
and Mary Moorman when John F. Kennedy was shot.

Primary Sources

(1) Jean Hill, statement made to the Dallas Police Department (22nd November, 1963)

Mary Moorman started to take a picture. We were looking at the president and Jackie in the back seat... Just as the president looked up two shots rang out and I saw the president grab his chest and fell forward across Jackie's lap... There was an instant pause between two shots and the motorcade seemingly halted for an instant. Three or four more shots rang out and the motorcade sped away. I saw some men in plain clothes shooting back but everything was a blur and Mary was pulling on my leg saying "Get down their shooting".

(2) Federal Bureau of Investigation Report (22nd November, 1963)

Mary Ann Moorman, 2832 Ripplewood, telephone number DA 1-9390, advises that she and a friend named Jean Hill, 9402 Bluff Creek, Dallas, Texas, watched the President Kennedy parade from the grassy area in the parkway between Main and Elm Streets, and at approximately 12:25 p.m, as well as she recalls, she took a photograph of the procession as it proceeded toward her. She took this photgraph with a polaroid camera, and the photograph showed the police motorcycle escort preceding the President's car. In the background of this photograph she said the Texas School Book Depository Building was visible.

She took a second photograph of the President as his automobile passed her, and just as she snapped the the picture, she heard what she at first thought was a firecracker and very shortly thereafter heard another similar sound which she later determined to have been gunfire. She knows that she heard two shots and possibly a third shot. She recalls seeing the president "sort of jump" and start to slump sideways in the seat, and seems to recall President Kennedy's wife scream, "My God, he's been shot"!

Mrs. Moorman states that she and her companion fell to the ground, but does not now recall what prompted her to fall unless it was the reports and the commotion in the President's car. She says she must have instictively realized that there was a shooting, but does not recall actually thinking about it. She states that she could not determine where the shots came from, and her next recollection is of people running more or less aimlessly, it seemed to her. She recalls that the President's automobile was moving at the time she took the second picture, and when she heard shots, and has the impression that the car either stopped momentarily or hesitated and then drove off in a hurry.

She stated that as the President's car drove off she started to leave the grassy area and was stopped by a Mr. Featherstone, a newspaper man with the KRLD Radio and TV Station who questioned her concerning her observance of the incident.

Mrs. Moorman advises that the photograph she took showing the police motorcycles preceeding President Kennedy's car and also showing the Texas School Book Depository Building was given by her to Secret Service Agents John Joe Howlett and Bill Patterson shortly before 4:00 p.m. November 22, 1963. The second photograph taken at the time she heard the shots showed the President slumping sideways in the automobile. She furnished this photograph to Bureau Agents.

Mrs. Moorman advised that she saw no one in the area that appeared to have possibly been the assassin, and could furnish no additional information.

(3) Jean Hill interviewed by Arlen Specter for the Warren Commission (24th March, 1964)

Arlen Specter: Now, moving on to the question about Mark Lane, what did you tell him other than that which you have told me here today?

Jean Hill: He asked me where we were taken and I told him in the pressroom, that we didn't know it was the pressroom at the time, and that we didn't know we couldn't leave and because they kept standing across the door and the first time we really - we were getting tired of it, I mean, we had been down there quite a while and we were getting tired of it and we wanted to leave and this is what I told him, and so some man came in and offered Mary a sum, I think - say - $10,000 or something like this for this picture.

We realized that - they said, "Don't sell the picture." He was a representative of either Post or Life, and they said, "Don't sell that picture until our representatives have contacted you or a lawyer or something." Anyway, we realized at that time we didn't have that picture, that it had been taken from us. I mean, we had let Featherstone look at it, you know, but we told no one they could reproduce it. They said, "Would you let us look at it and see if it could be reproduced?" We said, "Yes; you could look at it," we thought it was - you know, it was fuzzy and everything, but we were wanting to keep them and we suddenly realized we didn't have that picture, and that was quite a bit of money and we were getting pretty excited about it, and Mary was getting scared.

Arlen Specter: Did she eventually sell the picture, by the way?

Jean Hill: She sold the rights, the publishing rights of it, not the original picture, but they had already - AP and UP had already picked it up because Featherstone stole it.

Arlen Specter: Do you know what she sold those rights for?

Jean Hill: I think it was $600.

Arlen Specter: What did you tell Mark Lane besides about the picture?

Jean Hill: This is it.

Arlen Specter: Fine, go ahead.

Jean Hill: Anyway, when I realized we didn't have that picture and Mary was getting upset about that - by that time I had realized we were in a pressroom and that he had no right to be holding us and he had no authority and that we could get out of there, and they kept standing in front of the door, and I told him - I said, "Get out." We kept asking him for our picture, and where it was, and he said, We'll get it back - we'll get it back. And so I jerked away and ran out of the door and as I did, there was a Secret Service man. Now, this I was told - that he was a Secret Service man, and he said, "Do you have a red raincoat?" And, I said, "Yes; it's in yonder. Let me go." I was intent on finding someone to get that picture back and I said as I walked out, "I can get someone big enough to get it back for us." He said, "Does your friend have a blue raincoat?" And I said, "Yes; she's in there." He said, "Here they are," to somebody else and they told us that they had been looking for us.

Arlen Specter: Who told you that?

Jean Hill: This man.

Arlen Specter: All this you told Mr. Lane?

Jean Hill: Yes.

Arlen Specter: Go ahead.

Jean Hill: And so, then they took us into the police station. Just about that time Sheriff Decker came out and the man was with us and we were telling him why we were in there, why we had been in the pressroom, you know, and why they hadn't been able to find us, because they had thought that Mary had been hit and they were looking for the two women that were standing right by the car with the camera. At that time they didn't know what we were doing down there and why we were right at the car. So, there followed questioning all afternoon long, and he asked me at one time - well, in fact he asked repeatedly if I was held and I told him, "Yes."

Arlen Specter: Who asked you that?

Jean Hill: Mark Lane.

Arlen Specter: If you were held?

Jean Hill: Yes; you know if I were held, if I had to stay there and I told him, "Yes," but I told him when we were in the pressroom it was just our own ignorance, really, that was keeping us there and letting the man intimidate us that had no authority.

Arlen Specter: That was a newsman as opposed to the police official?

Jean Hill: Yes; and I gave Mark Lane his name several times - clearly. I remember clearly that I gave him his name.

Arlen Specter: And what name did you give him?

Jean Hill: Featherstone of the Times Herald, and so after we got out of there and I talked with a man.

Arlen Specter: Now, you are continuing to tell me everything you told Mark Lane?

Jean Hill: That's right, and I talked with this man, a Secret Service man, and I said, "Am I a kook or what's wrong with me?" I said, "They keep saying three shots - three shots," and I said, "I know I heard more. I heard from four to six shots anyway." He said, "Mrs. Hill, we were standing at the window and we heard more shots also, but we have three wounds and we have three bullets, three shots is all that we are willing to say right now."

(4) Jim Featherston worked for the Dallas Times Herald in November, 1963. He later wrote about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the book, Secrets from the Sixth Floor Window (1994)

I ran to Dealey Plaza, a few yards away, and this is where I first learned the president had been shot. I found two young women, Mary Moorman and Jean Lollis Hill, near the curb on Dealey Plaza. Both had been within a few feet of the spot where Kennedy was shot, and Mary Moorman had taken a Polaroid picture of Jackie Kennedy cradling the president's head in her arms. It was a poorly focused and snowy picture, but, as far as I knew then, it was the only such picture in existence. I wanted the picture and I also wanted the two women's eyewitness accounts of the shooting.

I told Mrs. Moorman I wanted the picture for the Times Herald and she agreed. I then told both of them I would like for them to come with me to the courthouse pressroom so I could get their stories and both agreed... I called the city desk and told Tom LePere, an assistant city editor, that the president had been shot. "Really? Let me switch you to rewrite," LePere said, unruffled as if it were a routine story. I briefly told the rewrite man what had happened and then put Mary Moorman and Jean Lollis Hill on the phone so they could tell what they had seen in their own words. Mrs. Moorman, in effect, said was so busy taking the picture that she really didn't see anything. Mrs. Hill, however, gave a graphic account of seeing Kennedy shot a few feet in front of her eyes.

Before long, the pressroom became filled with other newsmen. Mrs. Hill told her story over and over again for television and radio. Each time, she would embellish it a bit until her version began to sound like Dodge City at high noon. She told of a man running up toward the now famed grassy knoll pursued by other men she believed to be policemen. In the meantime, I had talked to other witnesses and at one point I told Mrs. Hill she shouldn't be saying some of the things she was telling television and radio reporters. I was merely trying to save her later embarrassment but she apparently attached intrigue to my warning.

As the afternoon wore on, a deputy sheriff found out that I had two eyewitnesses in the pressroom, and he told me to ask them not to leave the courthouse until they could be questioned by law enforcement people. I relayed the information to Mrs. Moorman and Mrs. Hill.

All this time, I was wearing a lapel card identifying myself as a member of the press. It was also evident we were in the pressroom and the room was so designated by a sign on the door.

I am mentioning all this because a few months later Mrs. Hill told the Warren Commission bad things about me. She told the commission that I had grabbed Mrs. Moorman and her camera down on Dealey Plaza and that I wouldn't let her go even though she was crying. She added that I "stole" the picture from Mrs. Moorman. Mrs. Hill then said I had forced them to come with me to a strange room and then wouldn't let them leave. She also said I had told her what she could and couldn't say. Her testimony defaming me is all in Vol. VI of the Hearings Before the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, the Warren Report.

Why Mrs. Hill said all this has never been clear to me - I later theorized she got swept up in the excitement of having the cameras and lights on her and microphones shoved into her face. She was suffering from a sort of star-is-born syndrome, I later figured.

(5) Mark Lane, Rush to Judgment (1966)

Mary Ann Moorman, an eyewitness to the assassination equipped with a Polaroid camera, was positioned in a strategic location in Dealey Plaza. She was standing with her friend, Jean Hill, across the street from and southwest of the Depository. Consequently, as she took a picture of the approaching motorcade the Book Depository formed the backdrop. Her camera was aimed, providentially, a trifle higher than the occasion demanded, and her photograph therefore contained a view of the sixth-floor of the building, including the alleged assassination window.

Mrs Moorman thus became a most important witness and her photograph an essential part of the evidence. Her presence at the scene and the fact that she did take the picture were vouched for by Mrs Hill when she testified before a Commission attorney. An FBI report filed by two agents discloses that they both interviewed Mrs Moorman on November 22.15 On that same day she signed an affidavit for the Dallas Sheriff's office. Deputy Sheriff John Wiseman submitted a report in which he said that he talked with Mrs Moorman that afternoon and that he took the picture from her. Wiseman stated that in examining the picture he could see the sixth-floor window from which the shots purportedly were fired."I took this picture to Chief Criminal Deputy Sheriff, Allan Sweatt, who later turned it over to Secret Service Officer Patterson," Wiseman said. A report submitted by Sweatt reveals that he also questioned Mrs Moorman and Mrs Hill on November 22 and that he received and examined the photograph. Sweatt said that "this picture was turned over to Secret Service Agent Patterson".

Since Mrs Moorman had used a Polaroid camera, the consequences were twofold: she was able to see the picture before it was taken from her by the police; she was not able to retain a negative. She told the FBI that the picture showed the Book Depository in the background, a fact confirmed by the two deputy sheriffs who also saw it.

Mrs Moorman was a witness with inordinately pertinent evidence to offer. Pictures of her in the act of photographing the motorcade appear in the volumes of evidence published by the Commission and in the Warren Commission Report itself. Yet the Report makes no mention of her or of her photograph; her name does not appear in the index to the Report. Although the Commission published many photographs, some of doubtful petinency it refused to publish the picture that possibility constituted the single most important item of evidence in establishing Oswald's innocence or guilt.

(6) John Costella, Mary Moorman and Her Polaroids, included in The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (edited by James H. Fetzer).

Jean (Hill) calls to JFK - looking down into the middle of the seat - as he approaches them. He turns, and perhaps starts to wave. Mary (Moorman) snaps a photo and then the first shot hits him. He jumps, and starts to slump forward. Jackie then responds, and cries out, as Jean and Mary reported. The limo stops somewhere down past the steps. There are then anywhere from two to seven further shots, that inflict the remaining wounds to JFK and Connally Jean sees the hair on the back of JFK's head flap up as his skull is blasted out. The limo speeds off. Mary is quickly intercepted and asked for her photos. She and Jean undergo hours of interrogation, after which they finally turn over the Polaroids. And the cover-up begins.

(7) Mary Moorman gave evidence in the court case against Clay Shaw (15th February, 1969)

Q: Now, Mrs. Moorman, I show you what for purposes of identification I have marked State 52, however prior to showing you this exhibit I would ask you what happened if anything to your photograph after you took it.

A: Immediately after taking this photograph there was a matter of confusion and I did cross the street and a man came up to me and asked me if to remove... I removed the picture out of the camera.

Q: What did you do then with the picture?

A: I looked at it.

Q: Did this photograph remain in your possession from the time you took it until today?

A: No, it did not.

Q: Whose possession other than yourself has this photograph been?

A: A reporter and the Secret Service and the FBI that I know of.

(8) James H. Fetzer, JFK Assassination Film Faked (20th November, 2003)

A Polaroid photograph taken by Dallas resident Mary Ann Moorman on Elm Street in Dealey Plaza, Dallas on November 22, 1963 shows the President slumping in reaction to a gunshot, as well as the infamous "grassy knoll" in the background.

Moorman had driven to Dealey Plaza with her friend, Jean Lollis Hill, to see the presidential motorcade. They chose a location on the south side of Elm Street, down the hill from the Texas School Book Depository, where there were few spectators to block their view...

The Dallas Times-Herald, published on the day of the assassination, reported that Mary Moorman and Jean Hill were standing in the street when Mary took her photograph. Moorman herself repeated the claim when interviewed by Charley Jones on News Radio 1080 KRLD, broadcast live from The Sixth Floor Museum in 1997.

The Zapruder film, however, shows her standing still on the grass at the time she snapped the Polaroid. Jean Hill told authorities after the assassination that she had called to the President to get his attention, a claim repeated by Mary Moorman herself in the Discovery Channel special. In a 1965 letter to historian Richard B. Trask, Hill stated that she had "jumped into the street and yelled, 'Mr. President, we want to take your picture!'" This is rather striking, because the Zapruder film shows Hill standing completely still on the grass, with hands clasped, and only snapping her head toward the President at the last moment. It constitutes a proof that the film has been faked on its own.

Mary Moorman stated that she stepped into the street to take her photograph. Jean Hill stated that she stepped into the street with her to get the President's attention. The reconstruction photograph confirms that Mary was standing in the street when she took her photograph. As the Zapruder film shows the women standing only on the grass, this proves that, at the very least, frames have been removed from the film. And that, in turn, is more than enough evidence to prove the lack of authenticity of the Zapruder film...

Since the Zapruder film shows Mary standing on the grass at the very instant that she took her photograph, it also proves that this 27-second home movie - which many take to be the closest thing to "absolute truth" in the assassination - has been subject to alteration.

Experts continue to debate the reasons for altering the film, the most important of which may have been that the driver brought the limo to a halt after bullets began to be fired. The purpose appears to have been to make sure that the shooters would have an easier target.

Vincent Palamara, the leading expert on the Secret Service, has collated the reports of some fifty-nine spectators who said that the limousine had either slowed dramatically or come to a halt in Dealey Plaza, including all four motorcycle patrolmen accompanying the President. They were published in the book Murder in Dealey Plaza.

These reports suggest that the limousine slowed dramatically as it came to a halt. The Zapruder film, however, does not show the limousine stopping or slowing dramatically. There is a slight loss of speed - imperceptible to the naked eye - that is gradual enough that the occupants of the limousine are not jostled...

Before this latest discovery, the simplest yet most powerful proof that the Zapruder film was fabricated has been the lack of any "blurring" in Frame 232 of the film, which was published in Life magazine just weeks after the assassination.

Because the limousine was moving, and the shutter speed of the Zapruder camera was only 1/40 of a second, either the limousine or the entire background should be blurred by the same amount (or some combination of the two). They are not.

Another powerful proof has been the inconsistent behavior of a road traffic sign seen in the film. When the optical properties of the Zapruder camera are carefully accounted for, and two different frames of the film are precisely overlaid, the sign appears to "twitch."

"This is one of the few technical mistakes made in the fabrication of the film," explains Costella. "The optical properties of the Zapruder camera were mimicked extremely well. However, some poor-quality images published on the weekend of the assassination showed the sign as it would look through a perfect camera. Unfortunately for those who faked the film, the Zapruder camera was not perfect. Once published, the mistake could not be retracted. The toothpaste was out of the tube."

The proven falsification of the photographic evidence, however, leaves them little room to maneuver: only these agencies had custody of the evidence and the means to alter or change it. It has been speculated that, in turn, the complicity of key members of these agencies in the planning of the assassination supplies a powerful motive for a cover-up.

Despite these discoveries, any official Watergate-style admission of wrongdoing by agencies of the U.S. government looks as unlikely today as it did nearly 40 years ago. With the ABC network planning to broadcast a special on November 20 claiming to prove Oswald acted alone on the basis of computer animations that take for granted the authenticity of the Zapruder film, observers can only wonder how historians of the future will regard this Orwellian "doublethink."

(9) Jack White, Was Mary Standing in the Street?, included in The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (2003)

In 1982 JFK researcher Gary Mack noticed what he thought to be the image of a gunman behind the fence on the knoll in a Moorman slide copy given to him by Robert Groden. Mack asked whether I could copy the image, enlarge and enhance it. By copying the slide at great enlargement and using a wide range of exposure stops, I was able to derive a number of optimum exposures which show in clear detail the face of a man whose chin is obscured by a puff of smoke, in a rifle-firing, pose. He seems to be wearing a Dallas police uniform, complete with shoulder patch and badge. Considering the original image is smaller than an eighth-inch square, the image is extremely sharp. This image was later confirmed by computer photoanalysts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Jet Propulsion Lab, but neither would go public because of political considerations.