The first lineup was convened less than three and a half hours after the murder of Patrolman J D Tippit. Its purpose was to give 47-year old Dallas waitress Mrs Helen Louise Markham the opportunity to pick out the man she claimed to have seen shoot the officer. I will point out here that there are problems establishing the exact times of all these lineups. In each case, I will use the time given in the official DPD investigation file 15. According to that document, this lineup was held at 4.35pm.
As on all three lineups on Friday 22nd, Oswald selected the no. 2 position in the four-man lineup and was handcuffed to the man on either side of him. His companions were Acting Detective Perry (no.1), Detective Clark (no. 3) and Jail Clerk Don Ables (no.4).
When Mrs Markham had been brought in and was in position on the other side of the one-way nylon screen, each man was asked to step forward and state his name and place of employment. Perhaps significantly, only Oswald was truthful here. The three DPD employees (by their own admission in their later sworn testimony), each gave fictitious answers. Oswald was the only one of the four with facial injuries; he had been named and shown on TV that afternoon and it had also been broadcast that his place of employment was believed to be the source of the attack on Kennedy. In view of those facts, it cannot be claimed that everything was being arranged with scrupulous fairness to the suspect!
As for the witness, she was hardly in a fit state to undertake the responsible task of identifying (or not identifying, as the case may be) the killer of Patrolman Tippit. Homicide Detective L. C. Graves, one of those organising the lineup, said that she was "quite hysterical" and "crying and upset" 16 and there was even talk of her being sent to hospital. In his testimony, Captain Fritz stated: "We were trying to get that showup as soon as we could because she was beginning to faint and getting sick. In fact I had to leave the office and carry some ammonia across the hall, they were about to send her to the hospital or something and we needed that identification real quickly, and she got to feeling all right after using this ammonia." 17.
According to the Warren Report, Mrs Markham "identified Lee Harvey Oswald as the man who shot the policeman" 18. The Report also stated that "in testimony before the Commission, Mrs Markham confirmed her positive identification of Lee Harvey Oswald as the man she saw kill Officer Tippit" 19.
Sylvia Meagher, in Accessories After the Fact, argued that the testimony of this alleged eyewitness to the shooting of Tippit by Oswald, lacks any semblance of credibility 20. Several members of the Warren Commission staff have subsequently voiced their opinions of Mrs Markham's value as a witness. Assistant Counsel Liebeler has described her testimony as "contradictory and worthless" 21, whilst Assistant Counsel Ball described her as "an utter screwball" 22.
Norman Redlich, another Warren Commission staff member, is quoted as saying "The Commission wants to believe Mrs Markham and that's all there is to it." 23. I think this remark is very important since Mrs Markham was the only witness who ever claimed to have actually seen Tippit being shot. Like it or not, the investigators were stuck with her! If she had announced that the Earth was flat, they would have been hard-pressed not to believe her!