Mary Moorman

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Assassination witnesses Mary Moorman (center right) and Jean Hill (center left), as seen in Frame 298 of the Zapruder film

Mary Ann Moorman (born (1932-08-05)August 5, 1932) was a witness to the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. She is best known for her photograph capturing the presidential limousine a fraction of a second after the fatal shot.

Biography[edit]

Mary Moorman was born Mary Ann Boshart. She married Donald G. Moorman in 1952 and divorced him in 1973.[1] She later married Gary Krahmer in 1980.

Assassination witness[edit]

Polaroid photo by Mary Moorman taken a fraction of a second after the fatal shot (detail)

On November 22, 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

Moorman was standing on grass about 2 feet (61 cm) south of the south curb of Elm Street in Dealey Plaza, directly across from the grassy knoll and the North Pergola concrete structure that Abraham Zapruder and his assistant Marilyn Sitzman were standing on, during the assassination. Moorman stated that she stepped off the grass onto the street to take her Polaroid photo. Zapruder is seen standing on the pergola in the Moorman photograph, with the presidential limousine already having passed through the line of sight between Zapruder and Moorman.

She and her friend, Jean Hill, can be clearly seen in many frames of the Zapruder film.[2] Between Zapruder film frames Z-315 and 316, Moorman took a Polaroid photograph, her fifth that day, showing the presidential limousine with the grassy knoll area in the background.

Moorman's photograph captured the fatal head shot which killed President Kennedy. When she took it – approximately one sixth of a second after President Kennedy was struck in the head at frame Z-313 – Moorman was standing behind and to the left of President Kennedy, about 15 feet (5 m) from the presidential limousine.[3] She later stated in a 2013 PBS documentary "Kennedy Half Century" that she was close enough to hear Jackie Kennedy exclaim that John had been shot.

Moorman sold her original photograph of the assassination for $175,000 in an eBay live auction in January 2008.[citation needed]

Moorman attempted to auction her photo through Cowan's Auctions in Cincinnati in November 2013.[4] The auction house expected the photo to sell for $50,000-$75,000, but the bidding failed to meet Moorman's reserve and the photo did not sell.[5]

Controversy[edit]

Polaroid Highlander Model 80A

What was captured in the background of the photo has been a matter of contentious debate. On the grassy knoll, some claim to have identified as many as four different figures, while others dismiss these indistinct images as trees or shadows. Most often a figure is identified as the "Badge Man" because it supposedly resembles a uniformed police officer. Others[who?] claim to see Gordon Arnold, a man who claimed to have filmed the assassination from that area, a man in a construction hard hat, and a hatted man behind the picket fence.

Moorman stated she heard a shot as the limousine passed her, then heard another shot or two after the president's head first exploded. She stated that she could not determine where the shots came from, and that she saw no one in the area that appeared to have possibly been the assassin.[6] Moorman was interviewed by the Dallas County Sheriff's Department and the FBI. She was called by the Warren Commission to testify, but due to a sprained ankle, she was unable to be questioned. She was never contacted by them again.

Photo of Texas Book Depository[edit]

Moorman also took a photo of the Presidential limousine which shows the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository in the background, moments before the shots were fired. Developed on the scene, Dallas deputy sheriff John Wiseman asked for the photo from Moorman. Wiseman told the Dallas sheriff's department that he had looked at the picture, but he was not asked what the image on the photo showed. Lawyer and investigator Mark Lane told Playboy magazine that Moorman's picture was turned over by Wiseman to agents of the United States Secret Service. In the February 1967, Playboy interview, Lane states that the photo has never been published. No one will say where it is, nor is it available in the National Archives. Lane assumed the United States Government was keeping the photo at an undisclosed place. However, he said no one would say where it is. Lane elaborated, saying that Moorman's photo probably showed Lee Harvey Oswald or anyone who may have been shooting at the President's car, because it was taken just seconds prior to shots being fired, Lane speculated that it might have been published on the cover of the Warren Report. The Polaroid image would possibly have shown whether Oswald was the shooter. It may have indicated the origin of some of the shots fired at the Presidential limousine, as well. Lane left it open for readers to determine their conclusions as to what Moorman's picture did or did not show.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ancestry.com. Texas Divorce Index, 1968-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
  2. ^ Moorman is visible in Zapruder frames 290 through 316. Zapruder Frames: Costella Combined Edit.
  3. ^ Bugliosi, Vincent (2007). Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. New York: W.W. Norton. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-393-04525-3. 
  4. ^ "Historic Kennedy assassination photo to be auctioned" USA Today, October 17, 2013
  5. ^ "JFK 'grassy knoll' photo fails to sell at auction" Today.com, November 15, 2013
  6. ^ FBI interview of Mary Moorman, taken 1963-11-22, CE 1426, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 22, pp. 838-839.
  7. ^ Playboy Magazine, February 1967; p. 47.

External links[edit]