The Mysterious Black Couple
I am, like many of you, interested in the mysteries still surrounding the JFK Assassination. Of course, my first interest is finding my grandfather; Orville Nix’s missing camera original film. But there’s another, one that I dream about at night. It’s the mystery of the black couple on the bench near the stockade fence. Could one of these people or both be the shadowy figures seen in the Nix film?
For those of you who don’t know, there were very few people on the knoll near the pedestal where Abraham Zapruder and Marilyn Sitzman were standing (see map above). Marilyn Sitzman though, says there was a “colored” couple sitting on the bench. Because the Nix film is so dark, these people cannot be seen, but we know they’re there thanks to the words of Marilyn Sitzman in an interview with Josiah Thompson:
Sitzman: Some ran … I mean … I finally got back up to the alcove. There was bunches of people just swarming back there, and I think almost everybody on that hill ran back up that way. And another thing that I remember this day: there was a colored couple. I figure they were between 18 and 21, a boy and a girl, sitting on a bench, just almost, oh, parallel with me, on my right side, close to the fence.
Thompson: In other words, between you and the fence, there’s a tree right next to the …
Sitzman: There’s a tree, and there’s another part of the marble or concrete, whatever they call it, slab, fence, whatever they call it, between that and the wooden fence.
Thompson: Which direction was the bench facing when you …
Sitzman: It was facing towards the street.
Thompson: Towards the street. Parallel? Downstreet? Facing forward?
Sitzman: And they were eating their lunch, ’cause they had little lunch sacks, and they were drinking coke. The main reason I remember ’em is, after the last shot I recall hearing and the car went down under the triple underpass there, I heard a crash of glass, and I looked over there, and the kids had thrown down their coke bottles, just threw them down and just started running towards the back and I … Of course, I don’t see anything unusual in that because everybody else was running that way, ’cause when I look over on my left side, the people on the hill were all running back the same way too.
Thompson: Uh huh. Uh huh. Did you see any peculiar vehicles or people in the area that’s been called the grassy knoll, in the parking lot area behind the fence or behind the pergola?
Sitzman: Well, there were a lot of cars in the parking lot. There always is. It’s the parking lot for the Texas School Depository.
Thompson: Was it pretty well packed that day with cars?
Sitzman: That day and every day.
Thompson: Uh huh.
Sitzman: It’s always full, because the people … I’m not too sure whose lot it is. If it’s part of the railroad company or the Texas School Depository or what, but it’s always filled.
Thompson: Could I ask you something about your gaze and actions immediately after the head shot? On the trailer of Mr. Zapruder’s film, we noticed that he turned to his right and photographed the general area of the stockade fence, the trees and the stockade fence and that particular area. Did you turn in that direction after the head shot too?
Sitzman: In a way, I have a feeling this: He might have heard the kids throw down the coke bottles and heard that crash or else maybe it was just what he saw could have caused a reaction where he’d jump, but I don’t think it was the sound of bullets, because I didn’t jump.
Sitzman: Because the pop bottle crashing was much louder than the shots were.
This is the mystery. Who is this couple? As we know, Jim Crow laws were alive and well in Dallas during 1963 so if this couple did see anything they may not have wanted to be interviewed. Then again, they may have seen nothing. Why can’t we find them?
Some other strangeness regarding the black couple and broken bottles of Red Strawberry soda: maybe it wasn’t red soda at all. Blood is mentioned in the book entitled, “Unsolved Texas Mysteries” by Wallace O. Chariton. John Simkin’s summary of the book:
On the morning of the assassination, Jerry Coley, who worked in the advertising department of the Dallas Morning News, spent some time drinking coffee with Jack Ruby, who had arrived at the office to place his weekly advert in the newspaper. Ruby spent far longer than usual in the office. He also seemed interested in looking at the Texas School Book Depository (the Dallas Morning News office provided a good view of the building). Coley and another worker from the building, Charlie Mulkey, decided to go and watch the JFK motorcade. Ruby said he was not interested in seeing JFK and remained in the office. Coley and Mulkey stood on Houston Street near the entrance of the old county jail. They therefore did not see or hear the shooting, however, when news spread to them they went to Dealey Plaza. While walking down the steps on the grassy knoll, they discovered a pool of blood (Mulkey actually tasted it to make sure it was blood). The two men estimated that there must have been a pint of blood on the steps close to the fence on the grassy knoll. When the two men returned to the office they told photographer, Jim Hood, about the blood. He visited the scene and took a photograph of it. Later that day, Coley showed the photograph to Hugh Aynesworth, an investigative journalist who worked for the Dallas Morning News. Aynesworth seemed interested in the story but it never appeared in the newspaper. On 25th November, 1963, Coley began receiving anonymous phone calls. The calls suggested that Coley was in some way involved in the plot to kill JFK. However, the real intention was to intimidate Coley into silence about the the blood on the steps. Threats were made against Coley’s children. The couple understandably decided to keep quiet about the story. In fact, Coley’s wife and their children went into hiding. When Coley returned to the steps on the grassy knoll, the blood had been cleaned away. On 27th November, 1963, a Time Magazine reporter arrived at the office. He wanted to interview Coley about the story but frightened about the consequences, he refused to speak to him. The following week, two FBI agents arrived at the office and asked to speak to Coley and Jim Hood. They asked to see the photograph. They took this away plus the negative. The FBI told the two men: “For your benefit, it never happened… Just forget the entire incident; it never happened.” The men took this advice. However, in 1988, a film crew from Los Angeles contacted Coley and asked him if he would be willing to be interviewed for a documentary they were making on Jack Ruby. Coley agreed and during the interview he told them the story of the blood on the steps. The reporter was fascinated with the story and he was filmed at the spot where the blood was found. It was assumed by the reporter, that someone had been hit in the crossfire and therefore confirmed the view that there must have been two gunman involved in the killing of JFK. Three days later the reporter phoned to say that the director of the documentary had decided not to use the section on the pool of blood. Coley was relieved as his wife had complained when she heard that he had told the reporter the story. In 1990 Coley told the story to Wallace O. Chariton. He was convinced that Coley was telling the truth (by this time Hood and Mulkey were dead). Aynesworth was interviewed and he confirmed the story but claims that he was convinced that it was some sort of dark drink had been spilt on the steps. Coley was working on the Henry Marshall case at the time. He therefore asked Clint Peoples about the story of the blood on the steps. Peoples, who was carrying out his own investigation into the JFK assassination at the time, admitted that he already knew about the story. What is more, he believed it was an important factor in explaining the mystery of the assassination. What Chariton does not say in the article, is that Peoples claimed that he was on the verge of solving the case. He told several friends this at this time. Clint Peoples was killed shortly after Chariton’s book was published in 1991. His manuscript on the JFK assassination has never been found. [i]
Was there blood on the steps? Or was it Red Nehi Soda Pop? Jean Hill reported it was blood…then in later interviews recanted and called it a “red snow cone.”
Mr. SPECTER – You just had the general impression that shots were coming from the knoll?
Mrs. HILL – Yes.
Mr. SPECTER – And you had the general impression that the Secret Service was firing the second group of shots at the man who fired the first group of shots?
Mrs. HILL – That’s right.
Mr. SPECTER – But you had no specific impression as to the source of those shots?
Mrs. HILL – No.
Mr. SPECTER – Did you get a very good look at that man, who you say was starting to run?
Mrs. HILL – Well, as I said, when I looked down at this red stuff on the ground, I said, “Oh,” you know, to myself, “they hit him.” You know, I was going to follow that, and when I looked up again, I looked all around and I couldn’t see him anywhere and I kept running toward the train tracks and I looked all around out there and I couldn’t see him—I looked everywhere and I heard someone yelling something about—it was just this voice that was yelling, “It looks like he got. away,” or something—I thought I had been right, you know, that he had really gone up there and he had gotten away some way in the tracks or had gone around behind the Depository, and so, I didn’t know where he had gone. By that time I saw policemen—where he had gone. By that time I saw policemen—some were coming off of their motorcycles just around the curb here just at the underpass here, and of course, the motorcade sped away and. the policemen were coming from all sorts of different directions, people were closing in, and all I could think of was, “I want to get out of here fast. I don’t want to be caught by anybody. I don’t want to be in on anything,” and every-time anybody would come toward me I would go another way until I got off of that hill back up there where the tracks were.
Mr. SPECTER – Did you run up toward the hill?
Mrs. HILL – Yes; I ran up toward the railroad tracks.
Mr. SPECTER – Let me draw the triple underpass there, and you ran up to what point-where? About the point of “D” here?
Mrs. HILL – Yes.
Mr. SPECTER – Why did you run up there after the man?
Mrs. HILL – I was still looking for him. I didn’t know where he had gone. I heard lots of people yelling, “Did he get away, did he get away, and which way did he go.”
Mr. SPECTER – You were trying to catch him?
Mrs. HILL – Yes.
Mr. SPECTER – But you couldn’t find him any more?
Mrs. HILL – No; I just couldn’t find him again. When I stopped to look down at the grass, at this red stuff and when I looked back up, by that time everyone was screaming and moving around.
Mr. SPECTER – And where were you when you looked down at the ground? Point it-out to me on the diagram.
Mrs. HILL – The steps that go up to this colonnade thing right there and I saw it right about here.
Mr. SPECTER – Well, mark it with the letter “E” there.
Mrs. HILL – All right.[ii]
In the Jimmy Darnell video footage, a 5 second snippet of film for WBAP-TV which later became KXAS TV, a pool of red liquid is seen at the top of the knoll steps. He also films officer James Foster on the sidewalk at the top of the steps near the red liquid, the stockade fence behind him.[iii] Whether Red Nehi pop, blood or snowcone, still others have portended this couple to be a sister and brother who attended SMU by the last name of Rivers. I have been unable to find any records of a “Rivers” attending SMU at the time that were black.
Here’s what we know from the evidence:
A man and a woman, both African American and both lived in Dallas or the greater Dallas area.? (It seems unlikely that someone would have traveled a long distance)
They were described as being “young” and “20′s” – This puts their dates of birth sometime between the mid 1930′s and early 1940′s
They had a child who was probably born in early 1963 or 1962? It’s possible the child was born in 1960-1961 (although the child does appear a bit small for a two or three year old)
As there are no other children seen and given their age – this was probably their first child? Thus we’re seeking a couple who had their first child in the early 1960′s.
They were most probably married (given the social consequences of having a child out of wedlock in the early 1960′s – most couples who stayed together would be married if they had a child and likely were married before)
They probably owned a car and were likely fairly middle class.
Possibly the best clue:? The man on the steps with Emmet Hudson worked “On Industrial” – a reference to Industrial Blvd in Dallas.? This man was likely the one seen with the woman on the bench behind the retaining wall.? However, even if he was not, he would still be an important witness
There is a high probability that this couple would have mentioned seeing the assassination to friends or family? If the topic came up they may have said something like “You know, I was there when it happened, it was a real shocking thing to see” or something of that nature.? It’s also possible that their child would have mentioned it, stating that he or she was in Dealey Plaza when the assassination happened, but was only a baby and either could not remember it or had only a very vague memory of it.? Today he or she would be around the age of 48, give or take a year or so.
Do you know anyone who matches this description?? An elderly black man or woman (or both) who lived in Dallas in the early 1960s, had their first child in the early 1960′s, was born in the 1930′s or 1940′s, owned a car, worked on Industrial Blvd?? Perhaps it’s an uncle or aunt? A friend of the family? A co-worker or former co-worker, a neighbor? If you went to school in the area in the early 1970′s, perhaps there was an African American classmate who mentioned being a baby at the time and being at the location?[iv]
There is much, much more to this story. There are even rumors that a French Journalist with links to the Mafia (incognito?) Lucien Sarti, was stabbed and rumors of a Secret Service man’s death on the knoll. Those are just rumors as they’ve never been verified.
I think it is of the utmost importance that we find this couple. If they’re alive, they would most likely be in their 70’s at this writing and possibly still in the Dallas area. Maybe a relative will read this and contact us here at 22novembernetwork. It is worthy of research. Their stories could be quite telling. Let’s Do This!
[iii] Trask, Richard. National Nightmare on Six Feet of Film: Mr. Zapruder’s Home Movie and the Murder of President Kennedy, page 91.
Lucien Sarti: http://spartacus-educational.com/JFKsarti.htm