JFK Assassination - Dallas Family Saw Bullet Shatter Kennedy's Skull, Never Called to Testify

JFK assassination: Family just yards from president's shooting never called to testify
DailyMirror UK - by Christopher Bucktin - Nov 11, 2013

They were so close that they saw the bullet shatter the President's skull - it's odd that they were never called to testify

For 50 years the piercing cries of Jackie Kennedy have never left Bill Newman.

As her husband lay collapsed in her lap fatally wounded, America’s First Lady screamed desperately: “Oh my God. No. They’ve shot Jack”.

Standing just 10 feet away, Bill could not have heard her words any clearer.

Along with his wife Gayle and their two toddlers, the young family were within yards of becoming casualties themselves when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22 1963.

They dived for cover as one of the shots, which Bill still believes was fired from the grassy knoll, rang out.

He says: “I have never been drawn to the conspiracy theories but I believe one of the bullets was fired from above our heads.

“I remember seeing the bullet impact on the President and his skull shatter.

“It was a horrific sight and one that will never leave me.”

But, despite being so close, bizarrely they were never called to give evidence to the Warren Commission set up to determine who had really killed JFK.

It controversially decided there was no conspiracy and just one shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, who had fired from a building above JFK’s motorcade.

Bill says: “I’ve always found it a little strange why we were not called to testify.

“We were some of the closest people to the President at the time and I remember seeing everything so graphically and hearing the fatal shot.

“It was the visual impact that made me think the shot came down over our heads on the grassy knoll.

“We were so close to them. I remember Mrs Kennedy crying out ‘Oh my God. No. They’ve shot Jack’, as she turned around.

“I thought she was trying to get out of the car but on reflection, I believe that she was actually picking up a fragment of her husband’s skull.

“As we lay on the ground I banged my fist in to the ground saying to Gayle ‘Some son of a b***h has just shot the President’.

“We lay there for two to three minutes before thinking it was safe to get up.”

On that day, the Newmans, who married just four months after meeting in an ice-cream parlour when they were 17, were a struggling couple keen to let their sons, Billy, and Clifton, then four and two, catch a glimpse of the President.

Bill had taken the week off after completing his electrical exams while Gayle was a housewife bringing up their boys.

On the morning the Newmans had driven to Dallas’s Love Field airport to watch the Kennedys step off Air Force One.

As Bill held his eldest son against the chicken wire fence America’s first couple drove to within feet of the excited crowd.

But because Gayle and Clifton were still too far away, they agreed they would head downtown for a second chance to see the President on his historic visit.

It was a decision that would ultimately see them become the closest civilian witnesses to the murder of JFK and reserve themselves a front row seat to history.

“We got there with a few minutes to spare,” explains Gayle. “Bill had hold of Clifton and I had Billy.

“We could see the motorcade approaching and began leaning forward so the boys could see.

"I remember waving to my uncle Steve as he was a police outrider at the head of the convoy.

“As the President came close all of sudden three shots rang out. I was absolutely terrified because of my children.”

Following the first two shots the couple, then both 22, froze but as the third and fatal one came, Bill screamed for the family to get down.

As they stood on the north side of Dealey Plaza they both dropped to the ground, shielding the boys as they did.

“The picture of us covering the kids on the ground created a lot of interest in our story,” says Bill.

“Some people have embellished it over the years but we try to keep it straight and pure.”

About 10 minutes after the shooting, the Newmans were interviewed live on TV about what they had seen.

After appearing on TV that evening, the couple returned to their home alone.

“The enormity of what we had seen hadn’t really sunk in,” adds Gayle.

“We hadn’t had two minutes to stop and think. It was only when the front door closed that it finally began to dawn on us. I was very ­frightened. Terrified even.

“We didn’t know at that point if there was more than one person involved in the shooting and if there would be any repercussions for those who had said or seen anything.

“The four of us weren’t given any police protection we were just free to go.

“Bill and I put the boys in our room as we tried to get some sleep but we hardly slept at all. If such a thing happened today we’d be under police guard for weeks.

“We’d seen everything so clearly it was harrowing to see the bullet hit the President as it did. I can still picture it as though it was like yesterday.

"It is something that will live with me for the rest of my life. I’ve never delved in to conspiracy theories. I have just remained true to what I heard and saw on the day.

“When I am asked ‘do you think it’s a conspiracy?’ I say, ‘If by conspiracy you mean there could have been more than one person involved, yes, that is possible.

"But I just don’t know.’

“The other question always is, ‘do you think our government had anything to do with it?’

"I say it’s possible some individual could have been involved, but I don’t think any government agency was involved.

“I tend to think there was only one shooter, but I really don’t know.”

The Newmans’ accounts have, over the years, led conspiracy theorists to selectively interpret their words to claim it proves that another gunman must have been involved.

Looking back, Gayle says she initially thought it would be hard for one person to plan and carry it out, but after 50 years she believes the truth would have emerged.

Asked if it had affected their lives, the couple, now 72, remain philosophical. “It is impossible to answer,” Bill says. "Who knows what path we would have taken without the events in 1963?

“For years after the assassination we were bombarded, but then it tailed off. After the 25th anniversary it picked back up and hasn’t stopped since.”

Married for 55 years – Gayle’s parents said it would only last six months – the couple are enjoying retirement at their home in Sachse, north east of Dallas.

Their boys are now in their 50s and married with children. But remarkably Billy still recalls the day despite then being only four years old at the time.

Gayle explains: “That night we put the boys in our room. Bill put his loaded shotgun under the bed as we didn’t know who had carried out the assassination and if they were going to be reprisals.

“The day after, Billy sat on my lap and said: ‘Mama, did you see that blood? Why did they shoot that man?’ To this day I still don’t know why. I guess we never will.”