Texas School Book Depository

Texas School Book Depository

Oliver Stone has nothing on this drama-– and it’s all because of eBay. It turns out that who killed Kennedy isn’t the only issue surrounding the assassination that is still being debated today. This week, a Texas judge delayed the trial which will determine who owns the window from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot President John F. Kennedy in 1963. It will be at least three more weeks before either Caruth Byrd’s southwest corner window on the sixth floor of the building that housed the Book Depository, or Aubrey Mayhew’s southeast corner window, is declared the real “sniper’s perch.”

Byrd inherited the southwest window from his father, who had it removed from the building six weeks after Kennedy’s assassination, believing that the southwest window was the one from which Oswald shot Kennedy. Mayhew, who bought the building from Byrd, owned it for three years, then defaulted on his loan and returned it to Byrd, removed the southeast corner window during the time he owned the building. Mayhew claims that the Book Depository’s owner told him that Byrd had removed the wrong window years before, as the true sniper’s perch was the southeast corner window.

This dispute came to light two years ago when Mr. Byrd offered his window for auction on eBay. The bids for his supposedly real McCoy exceeded $3 million, but the eventual winner was unable to pay up and Byrd re-listed the window. Byrd, however, had some competition the second time around. At about the same time that Byrd re-listed his prized possession, Mayhew set up his own eBay auction for the southeast corner window (as well as listing it on his own web site for sale for a whopping $20 million). The competition obviously didn’t please Byrd, who then filed suit in a Texas state court. Byrd claimed Mayhew’s auction affected his ability to collect fair market value for his window. Byrd asked the court to order Mayhew to return the southeast corner window, arguing that he never had the right to remove it in the first place, and to declare the southwest corner window the real sniper’s perch. Mayhew, on the other hand, says he owns that southeast corner window fair and square, and that it’s the one from which Kennedy was shot.

Now it’s up to the court to decide. Each side will present evidence to show that the window that each possesses is the real sniper’s perch. Mayhew will introduce two handwritten letters into evidence that show that Mayhew’s window is indeed the genuine article. One is from 1992, in which the Book Depository’s owner stated that Byrd’s window is not the window from which Oswald shot Kennedy, and that Mayhew owns the real sniper’s perch. The other is from 1971, in which the carpenters who removed Mayhew’s window stated that the one they removed is the one from which Kennedy was assassinated. The evidence Byrd has is unclear. However, experts indicate that the window Byrd has differs in some ways from the window in the photos taken right after Kennedy’s assassination. Mayhew has never allowed experts to examine his window, but he notes that he’ll come armed to the trial with plenty of photos.

I have no doubt that conspiracy theories abound on this issue, and will even once it’s settled, but the Texas court will have the last word. If only we knew whether Oswald really did it….

–Lauren Solberg

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