Secrets of a Homicide: Badge Man

Three Figures or Mind Games?

It seems obvious after considerable study that those who see gunman in the shadows of the MOORMAN photograph have succumbed to an age old phenomenon of the human mind - one akin to finding animal shapes in clouds. In a 2001 interview, British photographic expert Geoffrey CRAWLEY, who was hired by The Men Who Killed Kennedy producer Nigel TURNER to analyze the Badge Man image, said that it was his opinion that both Gary MACK and Jack WHITE made a classic mistake in interpreting the MOORMAN photo.

"The eye loves to join things up and make known shapes out of them," CRAWLEY said. "And in this particular instance with the foliage of the trees and so on, this is where Gary MACK and [Jack] WHITE got caught, I think. They wanted to see something and their eyes joined it up." [134]

The Men Who Killed Kennedy program includes two examples of what CRAWLEY is talking about. Take note of the progression that MACK and WHITE follow in explaining how they came to realize that the MOORMAN photograph contained the Badge Man figure:

GARY MACK: "What I was looking at, to a lot of people might have just been like looking at an ink blot or something. And all of a sudden, I started to see eyes and ears and forehead and hair. And little by little, the pieces of this image started to make sense to me...." [135]

JACK WHITE: "I was sitting in my office here one day looking at the picture and I saw what - just all of a sudden what appeared to be another image standing directly behind the Badge Man." [136]

Human Being or Soda Bottle?

If Badge Man and the other figures are not really human beings, one may well ask what is creating the shapes that some see as humans? One thing photography expert Geoffrey CRAWLEY determined from his examination of the original MOORMAN print is that whatever is causing the shapes described as Badge Man, Hard Hat Man and Gordon ARNOLD is part of the photograph.

"I looked at the original and I looked at it very carefully indeed and there is no doubt that, that photograph is genuine and has not be tampered with in any way," CRAWLEY says, eliminating the possibility that someone had deliberately added the shapes to the MOORMAN photograph. [137]

So, what is causing the images? The obvious answer is that the three shapes are nothing more than patterns of foliage and light which seem to be human forms when studied closely - remember that the human mind tends to turn unknown shapes into something recognizable. In the case of the Badge Man figure, this particular shape may be constructed of more than just foliage and light.

A number of films and photographs - including those made by Wilma BOND, Mary Ann MOORMAN, Marie MUCHMORE, and Orville NIX - taken during and immediately after the shooting in Dealey Plaza show a curious spot of light near the corner of the L-shaped concrete retaining wall on the grassy knoll. In the MOORMAN photograph, this light source was claimed by MACK and WHITE to be smoke or a muzzle flash from Badge Man's weapon. In other films and photographs, the light source has been interpreted as light penetrating foliage in the background. Yet, a computer study of these images has produced a simple answer to the mystery.

Exhibit 23 - Enlargements from films and photographs taken by Wilma Bond, Mary Ann MOORMAN, Marie Muchmore, and Orville NIX showing the spot of light near the corner of the concrete wall.

Using epipolar mathematics [138] - the basis for extracting three dimensional positions from two dimensional images like the MOORMAN photo and other still motion picture frames - I took all of the images showing the light source and calibrated them with each other using known fixed points (i.e., the corner of the concrete retaining wall, Zapruder's pedestal, sidewalk, etc.). The resulting calibration allowed me to triangulate the position of the light source in three dimensional space and draw a number of conclusions.

Exhibit 24 - Computer rendering illustrating the triangulation (inset) of a spot of light seen in films and photographs taken by Wilma Bond, Mary Ann MOORMAN, Marie Muchmore, and Orville NIX.

First, I concluded that the spot of light that appears in each of the photographs and films is a single light source, and not multiple light sources seen from different angles. The reason for this conclusion is rather simple. If the light sources were actually several different patches of light shining through the trees in the background, the line-of-sight drawn from each of the photographer's positions through those multiple patches of light would not triangulate to a single point, but rather, would cross each other in an incoherent manner. Likewise, if the light sources were a single patch of light seen from multiple perspectives they would triangulate at the opening in the foliage through which the light was shining (i.e., somewhere in the background, behind the concrete wall). But neither was the case in this instance.

In fact, I found that the light source triangulated to a single point located about six inches above the corner of the L-shaped concrete retaining wall. What is significant is that this light source is emanating from a point in space above the wall - a physical impossibility, unless an object of some kind were creating or reflecting the light. But what kind of an object could be causing such a light? The answer is found in two other images.

Exhibit 25 - Photograph taken by Jim Towner showing a soda bottle (arrow and enlargement) on the concrete wall.

A photograph taken by amateur photographer Jim TOWNER, seconds after the shooting, shows a soda bottle [139] sitting on the concrete retaining wall near the corner - the same location as the light source. An additional photograph made by White House photographer Cecil STOUGHTON, taken at nearly the same time as TOWNER's picture, also seems to show the presence of the bottle.

Exhibit 26 - Photograph taken by White House photographer Cecil Stoughton showing what appears to be a soda bottle (arrow and enlargement) on the concrete wall.

When these two photographs are calibrated to the images previously examined, the soda bottle is found to triangulate at the exact location as the light source. I noted that the sun's position on November 22, 1963 was such that it would have reflected off the side of the soda bottle and back into the camera lenses of the various photographers scattered around the plaza. In the end, I concluded that the mysterious source of light seen in the various images was nothing more than the sun's reflection bouncing off the side of the soda bottle. That conclusion has an important and fascinating impact on the figure known as Badge Man.

Exhibit 27 - Position of the soda bottle as determined by geometric triangulation.

I found that the triangulated position of the bottle on the retaining wall placed it directly along Mary MOORMAN's line of sight to the Badge Man figure. The likely explanation for at least part of the Badge Man image now becomes clear. The bright spot of light that Gary MACK and Jack WHITE have described at various times as a "muzzle flash" or "smoke" is, in my opinion, nothing more than a sun glint caused by the sun reflecting off a soda bottle placed on the wall between MOORMAN and the so-called Badge Man figure.

Exhibit 28 - Comparison of the Moorman photograph (left) and a recreation (right) showing the position of the soda bottle (arrow) as seen from Moorman's location.

It was this white shape that MACK claimed was examined extensively at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by "varying the density and contrast levels." MACK stated that they found that the bright spot of light "has shape, form, and texture whereas the light area over Badge Man's left shoulder was nothing but clear sky through the trees." [140] In 1993, ITEK Corporation personnel used computer technology, including edge detection, to examine the same bright spot of light with the same results. [141] MACK later wrote: "This has all been done repeatedly by some of the sharpest people and equipment around. No one can identify for certain what the image is..." [142]

Indeed, the MIT experts were right. The bright spot of light is between MOORMAN's camera and the background foliage, although it is clearly not a "muzzle flash" or "smoke" as MACK and WHITE believe.

The idea that the "muzzle flash" or "smoke" might be a soda bottle has circulated before and MACK dismisses the notion. In a 2000 Internet message board posting, MACK wrote, "I've long been aware of the Coke bottle theory and the fact of the matter is that regardless what the Badge Man image may be, if not a person, it is not comprised of a pop bottle." MACK's reasoning is four-fold:

(1.) The highlights seen in the NIX and MUCHMORE frames are not reflections off a soda bottle but "could just as easily be sunlight in the background or part of the Badge Man image. [143]

As previously shown, triangulating the highlights seen in the NIX and MUCHMORE frames, as well as several others, proves that the highlights are not spots of sunlight in the background, as MACK contends, but are emanating from a point just above the corner of the concrete wall.

(2.) The bottle seen on the wall in Jim TOWNER's photograph appears to be half full, a photograph taken seconds later by Cecil STOUGHTON seems to show the bottle nearly full. [144]

While the TOWNER photograph does show the soda bottle half full, the STOUGHTON photo is less definitive. The bottle is clearly visible in TOWNER because a man in a dark suit is seen passing behind it, providing good contrast. In the STOUGHTON photograph, the background of the area of the wall where the bottle should be located is busy with branches, foliage, and fence posts surrounding the southeast corner of the stockade fence. The image is also slightly blurred. Consequently, it is difficult to discern the bottle in the STOUGHTON photograph or exactly how full it is. In either case, the TOWNER photo alone proves that a bottle was present on the corner of the wall shortly after the shooting. The computer triangulation of a spot of light seen in various films exposed during the shooting proves that an object (believed to be the same soda bottle) existed at that location earlier.

(3.) When was the bottle placed on the wall? Josiah THOMPSON's interview with Marilyn SITZMAN clearly states that the black couple sitting on the nearby bench ran back into the pergola immediately after the first shot. That means neither could have run forward, left a bottle on the wall, and turned to go into the pergola. [145]

Here, MACK's argument only serves to support the belief that the bottle was placed on the wall before the shooting, not after as MACK contends. But SITZMAN's account is actually a bit different than what MACK says. Here's what SITZMAN told THOMPSON in 1966:

MARILYN SITZMAN: "...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..."

JOSIAH THOMPSON: "Which direction was the bench facing when you..?"

MARILYN SITZMAN: "It was facing towards the street... 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...Either in the gap [between the stockade fence and the pergola] there or back in the alcove. I don't recall which way they went...I heard the bottles crash, and of course I looked that way, to my right, right away, and they were getting up and running towards the back..." [146]

So, in fact, the young, black couple did not run back toward the alcove of the pergola until after the presidential limousine passed under the triple underpass, long after the last shot. In any case, SITZMAN didn't think they had left the bench, though she couldn't be sure that one or both of them hadn't been standing at the wall earlier.

JOSIAH THOMPSON: "Well, did you notice at any point whether either of these two moved up to the end of the, to the point of the wall?"

MARILYN SITZMAN: "No. They may have. I don't know."

JOSIAH THOMPSON: "Of course, you were looking at the parade at that point, and you wouldn't have seen what they did."

MARILYN SITZMAN: "Yeah. I always have the feeling that they were still sitting on the bench, because when I looked over there, they were getting up from the bench." [147]

Even if the young, black couple remained seated on the bench throughout the shooting, no one can be sure that they didn't place one of their Coke bottles on the wall earlier. Nor can anyone be sure that a completely different individual was responsible for placing the soda bottle on the wall. You'll recall that photographs and films show a black man joining two other men on the stairway landing just as the president's car approaches. This individual may be the same one identified as 'Black Dog Man,' who is seen near the corner of the wall, where the bottle was later photographed, just as the shooting began. Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine just who was responsible for putting the bottle on the wall. But one thing is certain. Epipolar mathematics proves that an object like the soda bottle was present on the corner of the wall during and immediately after the shooting.

(4.) The MOORMAN picture does not show a bottle. The area is in sharp focus and would have revealed a bottle clearly if it had been there. [148]

Not true. In fact, Abraham ZAPRUDER, who is at least eleven times larger than the soda bottle appears neither clear nor sharp in the MOORMAN photograph. ZAPRUDER also has the advantage of being photographed in a dark suit against the light backdrop of the pergola, a fact that should make Zapruder easier to discern. Yet, ZAPRUDER's image is indistinct and unclear.

A glass soda bottle photographed against the relatively dark, patchy background of foliage in shadow would, by comparison, be nearly impossible to discern. What might be easier to spot would be the interaction of any strong light source playing off the curved glass surfaces of the bottle. This fact is demonstrated through the use of other still photographs and film frames which, like the MOORMAN photograph, also fail to show a glass bottle sitting on the wall, but do show a spot of light emanating from that location. As I described earlier, triangulating this spot of light shows the source to be a point in space six inches above the top of the wall. Although no specific object can be seen in any of these images, it is reasonable to conclude that an object capable of reflecting or transmitting light exists at that location, regardless of the fact that the object itself is not evident.



  1. Interview of Geoffrey Crawley, 11-29-01, p.19, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  2. The Men Who Killed Kennedy, "Part 2: Forces of Darkness," British Central Television broadcast, 10/25/88 [RETURN]
  3. Ibid [RETURN]
  4. Interview of Geoffrey Crawley, 11-29-01, p.12, Dale K. Myers Collection [RETURN]
  5. Epipolar mathematics is a subset of projective geometry. This branch of mathematics is used to describe the geometric relationship between two optical systems viewing the same subject and can be used to locate points in space. [RETURN]
  6. [NOTE: Eyewitness Barbara Rowland testified that shortly after the shooting she saw a policeman examining a Coke bottle in the area of the pergola. (6H184, bottom)] [RETURN]
  7. Internet posting by Gary Mack, 4-19-00, alt.conspiracy.jfk; Internet posting by Gary Mack, 8-3-00, alt.conspiracy.jfk [RETURN]
  8. Message board posting by Gary Mack, 7-17-00, [RETURN]
  9. Ibid [RETURN]
  10. Ibid [RETURN]
  11. Ibid [RETURN]
  12. Ibid [RETURN]
  13. Interview of Marilyn Sitzman by Josiah Thompson, 11-29-66, Zapruder File, Assassination Research Center, Washington D.C. [RETURN]
  14. Ibid [RETURN]
  15. Message board posting by Gary Mack, 7-17-00, [RETURN]

Secrets of a Homicide: JFK Assassination © 1995-2008 Dale K. Myers. All Rights Reserved.
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