Vice President Lyndon Johnson disappeared shortly before his Lincoln convertible turned the corner from Main Street onto Elm Street. An eyewitness to the scene, motorcycle police officer B. J. Martin, testified that he and two other officers saw Johnson begin ducking down 30-40 seconds before the vehicle reached the intersection. The blow-up of the famed motorcade photograph snapped by Ike Altgens affirms that point, as well as the following observations:
- There is absolutely no recognizable indication that Lyndon Johnson is in the photo where he should have been (within the circled area);
- There is also no indication that Secret Service agent Rufus Youngblood was involved in any effort to shield Johnson by holding him down or laying on top of him from above;
- All other faces within the car and background seem unaffected by the gunshot, the first in a “barrage” of shots. The one exception is the face of LBJ, because that is missing in this photograph.
My first book was the first major book on the JFK assassination to examine this point (other than Fred Newcomb’s limited [100 copies] manuscript in the late 1960s). His son, Tyler Newcomb, had it published three years after my book was originally self-published, two years after the 2011 Skyhorse edition was published.
The following excerpt, complete with citations from original sources, from LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination, examines this point in detail, referencing five eyewitnesses and the Altgens Photo #5, all of which corroborate / document LBJ’s strange “disappearance” as fact:
Eyewitness near the Houston / Elm Street Intersection Confirms LBJ’s Absence
Eyewitness Mary Mitchell (who had been standing on the southeast corner of Elm and Houston streets) testified to the Warren Commission on April 1, 1964: “Well, the president’s car passed and, of course, I watched it as long as I could see it but, as I remember, immediately behind it was a car full of men with the top down and quite a few of them were standing, and I assumed they were Secret Service men, so after the car turned the corner and started down the hill, I couldn’t see over the heads of the standing men for very long, so then I turned back to watch the other people in the caravan, whatever you call it, and probably about the time the car in which Senator Yarborough was riding had just passed, I heard some reports. The first one—there were three—the second and third being closer together than the first and second and probably on the first one my thought was that it was a firecracker, and I think on the second one I thought that some police officer was after somebody that wasn’t doing right.” (emphasis added).
It is curious that Mary Mitchell referred to “the car in which Senator Yarborough was riding.” The vice president and his wife Lady Bird were also in the car, and most people would have considered him the “primary” occupant given his office. But she didn’t even mention Vice President Johnson, who should have been more visible, sitting closer to her as the car entered the intersection; after all, he was the primary “notable occupant” of the car. The reason for her curious observation—the only reasonable explanation about why she didn’t remember seeing Johnson—was because he wasn’t visible. He had already started ducking down behind the front seats, as if he knew in advance that danger was lurking there at the corner of Houston and Elm streets. Mrs. Mitchell, curiously, was also never questioned about this point by the Warren Commission’s lawyers.
Between the three motorcycle policemen, Mary Mitchell and Senator Yarborough, we have five people with “no axe to grind” stating that Johnson had begun ducking well before the first shot was taken. At the very moment of the shot, LBJ had already ducked behind the front seat; within 2-3 seconds of that shot, Ike Altgens snapped the shutter of his camera and thereby documented that fact.
Researchers who dispute all of that, saying that they “see him in the photo,” as if that statement should be taken seriously, should be given the same level of disbelief that such unsupported rhetoric warrants, justly extended to everything else they assert.