Martin Shackelford

Martin Shackelford

Martin Shackelford obtained a B.A. degree in history from the University of Michigan, followed by some graduate work in the field. After leaving university he became a delinquency social worker in Michigan. He is currently retired from that position.

Shackelford has investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy for over 30 years. His primary focus has been on the photographic evidence. He has a large collection of books, slides, documents, videotapes, DVDs and audio recordings relating to the case.

He has also written a large number of articles on the case and for many years was a major contributor to Fair Play Magazine. His JFK work has also appeared in The Continuing Inquiry, The Third Decade, The Fourth Decade, The Assassination Chronicles, The Investigator, Real Crime Book Digest and Review Magazine. His articles appear on the websites The Assassination Web, JFK Place, JFK Lancer and JFK Assassination Research.

He has contributed to books by other researchers, including Ian MacFarlane, Harrison Livingstone and Michael Benson, and has attended many JFK research conferences, including those in Fredonia New York, Providence Rhode Island, Washington DC, Dallas Texas, Chicago Illinois, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor Michigan, and Sudbury Ontario, presenting papers at some of these.

Primary Sources

(1) Martin Shackelford, Fair Play Magazine, Toward A JFK Assassination Theory (May, 1996)

I'm not sure I have a specific theory, as I'm trying to keep as open a mind as I can as new evidence comes out. Some things which look possible, given what I've seen so far:

1. Some intelligence people (David Atlee Phillips, George DeMohrenschildt, etc.) were involved at some stage with Oswald; whether they were involved with the assassination remains obscure.

2. Lyndon Johnson appears to have had some degree of advanced knowledge of the assassination, according to his mistress; his former crony, Billy Sol Estes, says LBJ, his aide Cliff Carter and their "machine" assassin Mac Wallace were involved (Wallace murdered Agriculture Dept. inspector Henry Marshall in 1962; Marshall was investigating Billy Sol Estes; political maneuvers got the death declared a suicide).

3. Anti-Castro activists may have played a role; attention has focused on the DRE, a group with ties in Miami (including to E. Howard Hunt), New Orleans (Carlos Bringuier and INCA, which was involved in publicizing Oswald's activities there) and Dallas (Sarita Odio, a group that met on Harlandale, etc.); Guy Banister, who employed Oswald in New Orleans, was involved in anti-Castro gun-running.

4. Mob figures appear to have played some role (Jack Ruby obviously included); advance knowledge of the assassination was circulating in Mob circles (Santos Trafficante, Carlos Marcello), including at lower levels where it blended with anti-Castroites (Rose Cheramie, a prostitute traveling with an anti-Castro leader, almost gave the plot away two days before the assassination when arrested in rural Louisiana).

5. There is much evidence pointing to the involvement of Texas oil: (the gathering held the night before the assassination by oilman Clint Murchison, which included LBJ, J. Edgar Hoover, John McCloy--later of the Warren Commission, and others, and after which LBJ told his mistress the Kennedy's wouldn't be bothering him after Nov. 22; the involvement of oil industry people throughout (George DeMohrenchildt was an oil geologist with high-level oil industry ties, who worked for a top LBJ backer in 1963; many of the Dallas White Russians who befriended the Oswalds were oil-connected, or tied to defense industry-- like the Paines, where Oswald's wife lived; DeMohrenschildt told friends that oilman H.L. Hunt was behind it).

The confusion enters in because many of these groups blend together:

Oil man Hunt had ties to the Chicago Mob; Murchison had joint business ventures in Louisiana with Carlos Marcello. Oilman DeMohrenschildt worked with the CIA.

The Mob guys and the oil guys put much money into the anti-Castro cause.

The CIA used oil industry jobs as cover, worked with the Mob, and heavily supported anti-Castro groups like the DRE (and worked hard to keep it a secret, even later).

Even with all this, however, this trend toward a blended theory of the assassination is much more coherent than the literally dozens of exclusive theories of past years.

(2) Martin Shackelford, Fair Play Magazine, Confessions of an Assassin (November, 1996)

Files said he first met Lee Harvey Oswald in early 1963, in connection with gun-running, in Clinton, Louisiana, via David Atlee Phillips. Both were doing CIA work at the time. There was obviously some government involvement in the assassination, as otherwise they wouldn't have gotten the Secret Service identifications Ruby gave them. Phillips had given him the Remington Fireball for an earlier job.

Files said he saw Frank Sturgis among the crowd of people on Elm Street. He also saw Eugene Brading, whom he had seen at the Cabana with Nicoletti and Rosselli. Files knew Sturgis from anti-Castro activities, as did Rosselli. Files didn't see Oswald at all that day. He and Oswald never discussed the assassination plan.

He would not comment on the murder of J.D. Tippit, except to say that Oswald didn't kill Tippit, and the man who did was still alive at the time of the interview (a later reference possibly referring to the same man indicated he is now in his '80s), and had originally been assigned to kill Oswald. The man came to see Files in Mesquite after the assassination, saying there was a screwup and he had killed a cop...

Problems with the James Files "Confession":

(1) David Atlee Phillips, CIA propaganda expert, would seem an unlikely case officer for a Mob driver and hit man on No Name Key. This seems to be an attempt to tie Files credibly in with Oswald (the Veciana sighting in Dallas of Oswald and Phillips, as Bishop, together), but is doubtful. Also, although John Rosselli was active in Florida preparations for the Bay of Pigs, it is likely that someone other than Phillips introduced him to Files, if Files was at No Name Key. The only thing that sounds much like the real Phillips is the quote near the end about the power of the typewriter.

(2) Lee Harvey Oswald as tour guide.

(3) The plaid reversible coat and the bitten shell casing seem, on the surface, to provide confirmation, but both were details known prior to Files telling his story to anyone. I had heard about the shell well before Files says the fact that it was bitten was discovered (he says 1994). Some people seem to have confused the bitten casing found in the Plaza with the dented casing found in the Depository - these are two separate shell casings.

(4) In connection with Oswald, Clinton and gun-running, David Atlee Phillips again seems inserted artificially into the story here. Oswald and Ruby were both connected to New Orleans people involved in gun-running, but inserting Phillips into the Clinton story is, again, highly doubtful. This is not to say Phillips' role was an innocent one, just that Files seems to be inventing things, or perhaps he was fed inventions.

(5) Files overlooks the fact that the Elm Street crowd was well-photographed. Frank Sturgis was not among the crowd; nor at that point was Eugene Brading in that area; nor was Jack Ruby on the sidewalk below the knoll. None of this is difficult to check. All the relevant photos are in Groden and Trask.

(6) The Secret Service man on the knoll now becomes two men in suits turning people away. There were men turning people away in the area BEFORE the assassination, but not after. It sounds as though Files flubbed some of his borrowed details.

(7) He had documentary evidence, but he destroyed most of it. How convenient.

(8) My guess is that Files was, indeed, Charles Nicoletti's driver, and was involved in the preparations for the Bay of Pigs, but that he is also a good con artist, skillled at blending fact and fiction, which is what I believe he has done here.

(3) Martin Shackelford, Assassination of JFK Forum (20th April, 2004)

The Zapruder film was viewed on the day of the assassination by lab employees after it was processed. It wasn't sold to LIFE until the following day, after being viewed by Secret Service agents and media representatives.

Although Time-LIFE didn't allow public showings of the film, it was available for viewing at the National Archives following the Warren Commission Report's publication, and many researchers viewed it there.

The film was also repeatedly publicly shown in 1969 at the Clay Shaw trial in New Orleans, after which bootleg copies circulated widely. The film was also shown at JFK conferences beginning in 1973.

The idea that anyone had 12 years to "work on" the film is, of course, untenable. No one who saw in on November 22 or 23, 1963 has alleged alteration, and the film was readily viewable by researchers by late 1964, which would be a maximum of 12 months, not 12 years. Many of us had seen the film before it was shown on television in March 1975.

I have examined the arguments alleging alteration of the film, and have found nothing convincing in them. I have also examined the Zavada Report, which seems to firmly establish the film at the Archives is the camera original. The two Secret Service copies of the film are also at the Archives (no missing frames).

Although the limousine slowed considerably, it didn't stop. Witnesses alongside the limousine mostly support this - and most witnesses who report a stop were viewing the limo from behind. I don't recall any early statement by Moorman, Hill or the motorcycle officers that the limo stopped. Some confusion has resulted from the fact that the Warren Commission used an average speed, when the limo went both faster and slower than the average at various points.