Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig is one of the greatest unsung heroes who sought justice after JFK’s murder in Dallas. Craig arrived at Dealey Plaza seconds after the shooting and raced to the picket fence at the top of the knoll, closely following the motorcycle cop who’d ditched his bike to run up the hill. The scene behind the fence was chaotic because a large number of people had already gathered. There were footprints and cigarette butts near where many witnesses saw a plume of smoke appear as the shots rang out.
Craig noticed a woman attempting to drive out of the parking lot and stopped her, taking her into custody for questioning. Deputy Sheriff Lewis appeared and took her off his hands.
Craig then crossed Elm Street and began interviewing witnesses. Arnold Rowland and his wife said they saw a man with a rifle in a Texas School Book Depository window overlooking the plaza before the presidential limo arrived. They hadn’t said anything because they assumed he was a secret service agent. Deputy Lewis appeared again and took the Rowlands off his hands.
Suddenly, a shrill whistle sounded and Craig noticed a man in his twenties run down the knoll from the direction of the depository. A green Rambler station wagon slowed and the man jumped inside. Craig wanted to detain this vehicle, but traffic was intense and he failed to cross in time. When he did make it across, Craig went to the depository steps and was greeted by a man claiming to be a Secret Service agent. Craig began talking about the suspicious Rambler, but the agent seemed little interested. Craig’s boss, Sheriff Decker appeared and told Craig the suspect had left the scene and someone should search inside the depository.
Upon arriving at the sixth floor, Craig quickly located three spent cartridges by the southeast corner window, all lined up as if carefully set in place, something he found highly suspicious. One cartridge had a strange crimp. A rifle was soon located stashed in a pile of cardboard boxes. Stamped on the barrel was “7.65 Mauser.” Captain Fritz, chief of homicide for Dallas, arrived and took possession. That night the murder weapon used to kill JFK was described on all three networks as a German Mauser.
By the way, the Mauser is a short-barrel carbine invented for use by cavalry officers. Carbines are not typically a weapon of choice among professional snipers due to limited range and low bullet velocity. They are, however, slightly easier to conceal than long barrel rifles. The Italians made a cheap imitation of the Mauser, the 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano.
Problem is the cartridges on the floor were 6.5 Carcanos, which meant the rifle and cartridges didn’t match.
“I arrived at Capt. Fritz office shortly after 4:30 PM,” wrote Craig later. “I was met by Agent Bookhout from the F.B.I., who took my name and place of employment. The door to Capt. Fritz‘ personal office was open and the blinds on the windows were closed, so that one had to look through the doorway in order to see into the room. I looked through the open door at the request of Capt. Fritz and identified the man who I saw running down the grassy knoll and enter the Rambler station wagon—and it WAS Lee Harvey Oswald. Fritz and I entered his private office together. He told Oswald, this man (pointing to me) saw you leave. At which time the suspect replied, I told you people I did. Fritz, apparently trying to console Oswald, said, take it easy, son—we‘re just trying to find out what happened. Fritz then said, what about the car? Oswald replied, leaning forward on Fritz’ desk, that station wagon belongs to Mrs. Paine—don’t try to drag her into this. Sitting back in his chair, Oswald said very disgustedly and very low, everybody will know who I am now.”
Because he was a Dallas police officer, it was impossible for the Warren Commission to completely ignore Craig. However, when the Commission report was released significant changes were made to his testimony. Meanwhile, Craig was ordered never to talk about the case with anyone in the media. After being caught talking to someone, he was fired.
Like other important witnesses, Craig was shot at, driven off the road, and hounded at almost every twist and turn of his remaining short life. As a key witness to the assassination, he’d assumed he’d become famous someday, but instead was quickly flushed down a rabbit hole.
Many early gatekeepers like Mary Ferrell worked hard to discredit him, which, in hindsight is probably the best indication of how important he really was. Mary Ferrell was a lawyer for Mobile who made the assassination her life’s obsession. She never really managed to connect the dots on the case, even though the most obvious trail led straight into JM/Wave, William Harvey, Ted Shackley and David Morales.
Craig sadly died of a gunshot to the chest in 1975. Self-inflicted so they say and it could be true because he was a completely broken man whose autobiography had been universally rejected by the publishing world.
(Excerpted from Killing Kennedy: The Real Story.)