On December 4, 1963, just two weeks after President Kennedy's assassination, a suspicious package was discovered in the Irving post office. It may very well have been mailed as part of an effort to frame Oswald ahead of time for the assassination.  The undeliverable package was addressed to "Lee Oswald."  It was found in the dead-letter section of the Irving post office (Irving is a suburb of Dallas).  No one at the post office knew how long it had been there. The package contained a brown paper bag made of fairly heavy brown paper. The bag was open at both ends and measured about 18 inches in length. It was addressed to Oswald at a non-existent address in Dallas, with no postage on the wrapper.  The finding of this package was not revealed until May 1967, when an incomplete FBI report on the package and its discovery surfaced at the National Archives.  Why is the package suspicious?  Was it, in fact, part of an effort to frame Oswald ahead of time?  Anthony Summers comments on the package as follows:

On December 4, 1963, an undeliverable package addressed to "Lee Oswald" was retrieved from the dead-letter section to a post office in a Dallas suburb.  It was wrongly addressed to 601 W. Nassaus Street, which could approximate to Neches Street, which was near where Oswald had lived. When opened, it turned out to contain a "brown paper bag. . . ."  Since no postal worker is likely to have tossed aside a package addressed to "Lee Oswald" AFTER the name became world famous on November 22, it is reasonable to assume the parcel arrived before the assassination.  Who sent it to Oswald, and why, are questions which appear especially pertinent with the knowledge that another paper bag became key evidence. But the Warren Report did not even mention the mystery parcel, and there is no sign that it was forensically tested or further investigated. (CONSPIRACY, Paragon House Edition, pp. 71-72, original emphasis)

The Warren Commission (WC) claimed that a brown paper bag was found in the so-called "sniper's nest" on the sixth floor of the Book Depository within an hour after the assassination. This bag, said the Commission, was used as a make-shift, homemade "gun case." Yet, critics have rightly voiced considerable skepticism about the WC's claims concerning the bag.  The bag does not appear in any of the crime scene photos taken of the sniper's nest after the assassination.  What's more, the police officers who said they saw the bag gave confused, contradictory testimony about the bag's location, size, and condition.  Some of the policemen who searched or saw the sniper's nest after the shooting did NOT see a brown bag there. Critics suspect the bag was manufactured by the police at the Book Depository Building, or that it was made prior to the shooting and then brought to the building to be later produced as "evidence" against Oswald.  Skeptics point to the fact that, for some reason, the bag was not removed from the building until three hours after it was allegedly found.  These are some of the problems associated with the Commission's claims about the bag (see also Sylvia Meagher, ACCESSORIES AFTER THE FACT, pp. 58-61).

Was the brown bag in the mysterious undelivered package intended to be used as part of an effort to frame Oswald for the shooting?  Was it mailed with the intent that it would be delivered to Oswald and then moved to the TSBD so that it could be "found" after the shooting, presumably with Oswald's prints all over it?  Why wasn't the bag in the undelivered package forensically tested?  Why was no effort made to determine who mailed the package (at least by checking it and the bag for fingerprints)? Why didn't the Commission even mention the package and its contents?  Why was the FBI report on the bag incomplete? Sylvia Meagher's insightful analysis of this matter warrants consideration:

The FBI report does not indicate whether the parcel was addressed by hand or by typewriter.  There is no sign that any effort was made by the FBI or the Warren Commission to identify the sender, or to compare the paper bag or the outer wrapper with materials in the Book Depository or the Paine residence.

How did this paper bag find its way into the Irving post office?  Since it had no postage or sender's name, it was probably dropped into a mailbox, presumably with the postage to be collected from the addressee upon delivery. Was this done before or after the assassination?  It seems certain that if it had come into the hands of the postal authorities after November 22, 1963 it would have been reported immediately to the investigative agencies, for even the lowliest mail clerk could not have failed to recognize the name "Lee Oswald" on that day or subsequently.

Assuming, as it seems reasonable to do, that the parcel was dispatched before the assassination, it must still be determined WHO sent it.  Did Oswald send the paper bag to himself?  Surely not, since he had no demonstrable opportunity to make either the other paper bag or this one, and since he undoubtedly knew his own correct address.  (If the address on the parcel was handwritten, the FBI report does not suggest that it was Oswald's writing.)  In all probability, then, the paper bag was mailed to Oswald by an unknown person who did not wish to indicate his identity and whose reasons seem indisputably questionable.  No one not implicated in the assassination could have known before the event that a homemade paper bag would become a piece of key evidence against a suspect who was said to have acted alone.  The sender was implicated, either as Oswald's co-conspirator or as a member of a plot NOT ONLY to assassinate the President but also to frame an innocent man, in advance, for the crime.

These inferences seem logical, even inevitable, although there may be some other combination of circumstances that might account for the mysterious parcel found in the dead-letter section of the post office.  The same inferences must have suggested themselves to the members of the Commission and/or its staff who processed the FBI report.  The implications did not lead to further investigation but the [FBI] report was merely put aside without further ado or mention in the [Warren] Report or the Exhibits. (ACCESSORIES AFTER THE FACT, pp. 63-64, original emphasis)

Meagher's point about the motives of the person(s) who mailed the suspicious package is well taken.  Since it seems certain that the package was mailed before the assassination, and that Oswald did not mail it to himself, one is immediately led to ask, WHO COULD HAVE KNOWN THAT A HOMEMADE BROWN PAPER BAG WOULD BECOME A KEY PIECE OF EVIDENCE IN THE CASE AGAINST OSWALD?  Who else but someone who was involved in an effort to frame Oswald in advance for the murder could have known that a homemade paper bag would be cited as part of the supposed "evidence" of Oswald's alleged guilt? Why else would someone have anonymously mailed Oswald a brown paper bag?  Why didn't the sender reveal his identity?

In my opinion, the most logical conclusion is that the suspicious package was mailed to Oswald by those who were involved in an effort to frame him ahead of time for the assassination. I believe the FBI and the WC staffers who processed the FBI report on the package came to the same conclusion, and therefore decided to suppress the memo rather than deal with the clear, disturbing implications presented by the package.


Michael T. Griffith, 1996

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