JFK Breakthrough?

Text by John Kelin; photograph Copyright © 1998 by Mike Blackwell

A Texas-based assassination research group has publicly named a man believed to have left a previously unidentified fingerprint on a box making up the so-called "sniper's nest" on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.

At a May 29 press conference in Dallas, researcher and author Walt Brown said that the fingerprints belong to Malcolm E. "Mac" Wallace, a convicted killer with ties to Lyndon Baines Johnson. The fingerprints have been officially unidentified since President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

Walt Brown presenting fingerprint data; Malcom Wallace (inset)

Brown presented data showing a 14-point match between Wallace's fingerprint card, obtained from the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the previously unidentified print, a copy of which was kept in the National Archives. The match was made by A. Nathan Darby, an expert with certification by the International Association of Identifiers.

The Texas researchers forwarded their findings to the Dallas Police Department, who passed it on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Copies have also gone to Assassination Records Review Board, the federal panel created to oversee the identification and release of records relating to the JFK assassination.

DPD print (left) matched by Darby to unidentified print from TSBD (right)

Malcolm Wallace, convicted in a 1951 murder and suspected in others, has been linked to the 1961 death of U.S. Department of Agriculture investigator Henry Marshall. Marshall was reportedly close to connecting Lyndon Johnson to fraudulent activities involving businessman and convicted swindler Billy Sol Estes.

Estes alleged in 1984 that LBJ ordered the killings of Marshall, President Kennedy, and half a dozen others, and that Wallace carried them out. A grand jury decided that same year that Henry Marshall was murdered as a result of a conspiracy involving then-Vice President Johnson, his aide Clifton Carter, and Wallace. No charges were possible since all three men were by then deceased.

Wallace was killed in a single car automobile accident in January 1971.

Barr McClellan, a Houston attorney and part of the Texas research team, told Fair Play that he began to focus on Wallace during his work as attorney-partner with Ed Clark, whom he described as an Austin power broker and one of those behind the assassination. "John Cofer, Wallace's attorney from the start, was our partner specializing in criminal cases," McClellan said. "From that position of insight, I knew Wallace played a key role in the assassination."

In the petition filed with the ARRB, McClellan wrote: "My direct involvement with Clark as his law partner and sole attorney occurred when he sought an additional payoff for the assassination." Negotiations for the payoff, McClellan told Fair Play, were "in May 1974 in a secret meeting with two members of the Railroad Commission."

The Wallace fingerprint match by Darby has been disputed by Glen Sample, who represents California-based researchers whose investigation parallels the Texas research. While Sample says the California group still believes Wallace "was one of the shooters" of President Kennedy, they do not believe his fingerprints are those from the TSBD box.

In support of this, Sample offers fingerprint experts of his own. "Both of our experts are working police I.D. officers," he wrote on his web page. "They go to court on a regular basis, testifying as expert witnesses. They said that the print was CLEARLY not a match. But what about the 14 points? They said that it is NOT uncommon to have a set of prints that have many matching points, but when they find points that DO NOT match, these negate the matching points." Sample characterized this finding by his experts as "bad news."

Walt Brown countered by saying that Sample's experts "were local i.d. bureau guys from San Bernadino, and not in the category of either Nathan Darby or the people that it was hoped would examine the originals within the law enforcement communities charged with the proper investigation."

The California researchers, nevertheless, call Wallace "the key figure in the Kennedy assassination." They quote sources who say that in addition to being a Dealey Plaza gunman, Wallace also recruited Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby into the plot. The Californians' work, entirely separate from that of the Texas group, resulted in a 1995 book called The Men on the Sixth Floor, by Sample and Mark Collum.

Darby is a Certified Latent Print Examiner with many years experience. He affirmed in a notarized affidavit that he found 14 matches between a National Archives "unknown" print, taken from what the Warren Commission designated Box A in the Texas School Book Depository, and a fingerprint card submitted "blindly" for comparison, which bore the fingerprints of Malcolm Wallace. That card was obtained from the Texas Department of Public Safety in July of 1996.

The findings of the Texas group were given to the Assassination Records Review Board last spring. In a cover letter dated May 28, attorney McClellan told the Board that "this hard evidence establishes a conspiracy was behind the assassination and suggests important new areas for your review." An accompanying eight page petition cites the Wallace fingerprint match; 1984 Texas grand jury action linking Wallace, LBJ, and Carter to Henry Marshall's death; McClellan's personal knowledge of the case; and other evidence in support of the Texas group's allegations.

Left unanswered by the Wallace revelations are details such as Lee Oswald's true role, the placement of other Dealey Plaza shooters, and the identity of who financed the assassination.

There are suggestions that Wallace had ties to the world of Intelligence. The Texas researchers are formally urging the Review Board to highlight areas for further investigation, including disclosure of Wallace's employment records, and records of investigations of Wallace by the Office of Naval Intelligence and the Department of Defense.

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