JFK: The conspiracy
Basehor-Linwood teacher specializes in president’s assassination
Without a word, Basehor-Linwood social studies teacher Casey Quinlan put the lyrics to Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" up on a large screen in the auditorium and played the song.
Some visitors sang along with the recording as it rattled off 20th century events, but one of the events in particular stood out to most of the people there -- JFK.
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, was not only a marked event in history, but a controversial one as well. Discrepancies on how and why Kennedy was killed have been swirling since the assassination. And these discrepancies are something Quinlan has studied for more than 40 years.
He is a Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorist and he along with his colleague, Brian Edwards, presented, "The Killing of a President: A Photographic Investigation of the Assassination of President John Kennedy," to a small group of students, parents, teachers and other members of the public Tuesday evening.
"I've been teaching for 30 years and doing research on this for well over 40 years," Quinlan said. "People say, wow man, you're possessed. You're obsessed, but as a history major with two or three masters degrees in the subject, that is my job."
Both men also teach in the criminal justice department of Washburn University and in the continuing education department at Ottawa University. Quinlan said he teaches a course called "Assassinations in America" at the college level, which focuses directly on the murder of JFK. He also always finds a way to fit it into the curriculum of his high school classes as well. The main purpose of the presentation, he said, was to give parents an idea of what he was teaching, get people to ask questions and make them think.
"We're not here to convince you either way," he said to the group. "But we both believe it was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy."
Edwards started off with a story from the day of the assassination. He said he remembered being in school when the principal announced the president had been shot. He said his teacher cried, they were sent home for the day and he just could not understand what kind of an impact it would have on the country.
"I didn't know what a president was," he said. "My life revolved around cartoons and eating macaroni and cheese."
A few days later, he said he remembered seeing Lee Harvey Oswald, the man accused of shooting Kennedy, on television. He said all of a sudden the screen changed and somebody said he had been shot. The man suspected of killing the president was killed before he got a chance to go to trial, he said.
"Have you ever had one of those things that just goes 'ding' in the back of your head?" He asked. "Well, that was the 'ding' for me."
The pair put the definition of a conspiracy on the screen. It is an agreement between two or more people to accomplish an unlawful act. The actual completion of the unlawful act is not required to be considered a conspiracy.
Then, the duo discussed details about the day of the assassination.
Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a convertible limousine during a parade going through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. The street the car was traveling when the president was shot was called Elm Street. One of the things, Edwards covered was that the map of the parade route was published in several newspapers, however, Elm Street was not included in these maps until after the fact.
"At the last moment when they came into Dealey Plaza, they stopped and made a right-hand turn," Edwards said. "That was not even the route they were supposed to travel. Why would they even turn down this street? I can't get an answer to that."
The group was then shown the Abraham Zapruder film, which captures the assassination and is now a historical document. The film does not have any audio, but the group was asked by a show of hands how many gunshots they saw. Hands went up for one shot, two, three, four and more than four shots.
"What I'm going to try to do for my students is give them the opportunity to think," Quinlan said. "This is what eyewitnesses saw that day. The assassination happened within six seconds. By the show of hands, I have to ask, are you all watching the same movie? This is why you can't always count on eyewitnesses."
The film was viewed several more times, frame by frame, slowed down and magnified. The group was asked to observe the other people in the film, where the shots came from as well as several other factors.
The public was told the president was shot from behind by gunman Lee Harvey Oswald, who sat in the sixth-story window of the Texas School Book Depository building, Quinlan said.
However, he said, the film shows that the shots clearly came from the front. The public did not see the film until 1975, but Quinlan said the Warren Commission, the group of officials formed to investigate the assassination, saw it just two months after the murder on Jan. 27, 1964.
While that secret meeting of the Warren Commission was buried for many years in national archives, Quinlan said this along with many other things regarding the assassination are starting to come to the surface. The audio of the meeting reveals that Warren Commission members also saw the shots came from the front.
"Guys, we've been lied to for 43 years," Quinlan said. "The United States government doesn't care. January 27th they knew. They covered it up."
The discussion continued for several hours and reviewed Warren Commission documents, splices in the Zapruder film, the single-bullet theory, an analysis of Kennedy's wounds as well as Gov. John Connelly's, possible positions of multiple assassins, the man that was Lee Harvey Oswald and discrepancies between the type of gun used, the number of guns found and the number of shells found.
Quinlan said the discussion could go on for a long time. In every class he teaches, he said something new comes out that he has not seen before. Each passing year brings more information and a new theory on what actually happened on that day 43 years ago.
"I can't prove a conspiracy, but all the fingerprints of this are there," he said. "There is more to this story than you even want to go into and it is so deep."