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The grave of Lee Harvey Oswald was opened Sunday...

By
DAN CARMICHAEL

DALLAS -- The grave of Lee Harvey Oswald was opened Sunday and a team of pathologists conclusively identified the remains, disproving a theory that a Russian agent replaced Oswald and assassinated President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

'We hope this puts the matter to rest without further questions as to the identity of the body,' said pathologist Dr. Linda Norton, formerly of the Dallas County Medical Examiners office and now an assistant medical examiner in Birmingham, Ala.

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The most critical pieces of evidence, she said, were dental records dating to Oswald's Marine Corps career in the mid-1950s and a 'bone depression' behind the left ear consistent with a 'mastoid operation' such as Oswald had in 1945 at age 6.

Asked if earlier Oswald dental records could have been faked, pathologist Dr. Irving Sopher of West Virginia said, 'There is no way in my opinion; there is no reason to doubt. We have very meticulously examined the records.'

British author Michael Eddowes had theorized that Oswald was replaced by a Russian agent when Oswald defected to the Soviet Union in 1959. He said evidence 'indicated' it was the agent who returned to the United States, killed Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 and then was shot and killed on national television by Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby and buried at Rose Hill Burial Park in Fort Worth.

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Marina Oswald Porter, who joined Eddowes in the battle for permission to exhume and identify the body, believed strongly that no body would be found, that it had been tampered with after the burial, probably by U.S. government agents.

Eddowes, who spent between $10,000 and $12,000 on the exhumation, said his motive was 'to finally ascertain the truth in this matter in hopes that it would comfort all members of the Oswald family. Although surprised, I am not dissappointed.' He said he had accomplished his goal, which was 'to discover the truth of the matter.'

After the results were delivered to the family, Mrs. Porter said: 'I always intended for this to be a private matter, but it became public because of circumstances beyond my control. It's very unfortunate it became such a public event. Now I have my answers, and from now on I only want to be Mrs. Porter.'

Mrs. Porter's husband, Kenneth, said, 'If there are any questions in the future, I hope they are directed at someone other than Marina. We've done all we can do.'

Dr. Vincent DiMaio, chief medical examiner for San Antonio, Texas, said the body was 'in an advanced state of decomposition with partial skeletalization.' He confirmed the two rings placed on the left pinky finger of the corpse in 1963 by Mrs. Porter were positively identified Sunday by Mrs. Porter. The rings were reburied with the body.

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Dr. Norton said 'the best medical guesstimate' as to the height of the corpse was 5 feet 9 inches, consistent with Oswald's height. 'In all medical probability,' she added, 'this body has not been exhumed since it was put in the ground.'

She said the medical team would write a detailed medical report to be published in a scientific journal in several months.

The remains were placed in a black, zippered body bag following the autopsy and the bag and fragments of the original wooden coffin were put in a new metal casket and driven back to Rose Hill for a private reburial. The metal casket was to be surrounded in the ground by a steel vault.

Paul Groody, the mortician who embalmed Oswald in 1963 and participated in Sunday's autopsy, said although the body might not be exhumed again 'in our lifetime,' he felt the historical need to preserve it in metal.

The complicated and secret scheme to exhume the body began late last week when Oswald's older brother, Robert Oswald of Wichita Falls, Texas, decided to end his opposition to the exhumation. Prime among the reasons for his reversal was an adverse decision by the Texas Court of Appeals which indicated strongly that the court would give Mrs. Porter permission to open the grave.

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Since Eddowes first advanced his theory in the mid-1970s and then began pressing through the courts for the exhumation order in 1979, it had been Robert who fiercely opposed it.

Last summer, Mrs. Porter gave Eddowes permission to open the grave and the group was two days away from its planned exhumation when Robert Oswald found out about it and obtained a temporary injunction.

Mrs. Porter, who in 1980 became convinced of the possibility her husband was not the real Lee Harvey Oswald, took over the legal fight several months ago. She withdrew her permission from Eddowes, and sought the exhumation order herself.

UPI learned that more than 150 X-rays and pictures were taken of the body from all angles during the autopsy, and that that evidence could be used in the future.

The exhumation began Sunday in darkness and in extreme secrecy with the arrival of security guards at the Rose Hill Burial Park in Fort Worth at 5 a.m. CDT. Within an hour, workmen with backhoes had pushed through a concrete vault to the coffin and in another half-hour had lifted the rotted coffin to the surface.

Mrs. Porter and her husband sat in a silver-colored car, watching the men work.

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William C. Dear, who handled part of the security for the operation, said the vault had cracked and water had seeped into the coffin, reducing the body to skeletal remains.

'It (the body) was badly decomposed, but I could see hair on the scalp,' Dear said. 'The body was falling apart.'

The body was taken from the original coffin, placed in a white cardboard box and taken in a 15-car motorcade on the 45-minute trip to the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas for the autopsy. Pathologists worked on the body for over four hours, spending most of their time on the minute comparison of the body's teeth with Oswald's dental records from the Marine Corps.

In addition, doctors looked for the 'mastoid' scars.

A spokesman for Mrs. Porter said rings which she had placed on the corpse just prior to its burial in 1963, including an intricate ring made in Russia, also were found.

'I always intended for this to be a private matter, but it became public because of circumstances beyond my control,' Mrs. Porter said after the results of the autopsy were reported to the family. 'It's very unfortunate it became such a public event. Now I have my answers, and from now on I only want to be Mrs. Porter.'

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Mrs. Porter's chief attorney, Jerry Pittman, said he would conduct a news conference within an hour. Eddowes also said he would issue a statement later.

Mrs. Porter's husband, Kenneth, said, 'If there are any questions in the future, I hope they are directed at someone other than Marina. We've done all we can do.'

The complicated and secret scheme to exhume the body began late last week when Oswald's older brother, Robert Oswald of Wichita Falls, Texas, decided to end his opposition to the exhumation. Prime among the reasons for his reversal was an adverse decision by the Texas Court of Appeals which indicated strongly that the court would give Mrs. Porter permission to open the grave.

Since Eddowes first advanced his theory in the mid-1970s and then began pressing through the courts for the exhumation order in 1979, it had been Robert who fiercely opposed it.

Last summer, Mrs. Porter gave Eddowes permission to open the grave and the group was two days away from its planned exhumation when Robert Oswald found out about it and obtained a temporary injunction.

Mrs. Porter, who in 1980 became convinced of the possibility her husband was not the real Lee Harvey Oswald, took over the legal fight several months ago. She withdrew her permission from Eddowes, and sought the exhumation order herself.

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UPI learned prior to the news conference that more than 150 x-rays and pictures were taken of the body from all angles during the autopsy, and that that evidence could be used in the future.

The exhumation began Sunday in darkness and in extreme secrecy with the arrival of security guards at the Rose Hill Burial Park in Fort Worth at 5 a.m. CDT. Within an hour, workmen with backhoes had pushed through a concrete vault to the coffin and in another half-hour had lifted the rotted coffin to the surface.

William C. Dear, who handled part of the security for the operation, said the vault had cracked and water had seeped into the coffin, reducing the body to skeletal remains.

'It (the body) was badly decomposed, but I could see hair on the scalp,' Dear said. 'The body was falling apart.'

The body was taken from the original coffin and placed in a white cardboard box, which resembled a coffin, and taken in a 15-car motorcade on the 45-minute trip to the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas for the autopsy. Pathologists worked on the body for over four hours, spending most of their time on the minute comparison of the body's teeth with Oswald's dental records from the Marine Corps in the mid-1950s.

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In addition, doctors looked for scars from a 'mastoid' operation on the skull just behind the ear, done in 1945 when Oswald was 6 years old. A spokesman for Mrs. Porter said rings which she had placed on the corpse just prior to its burial in 1963, including an intricate ring made in Russia, also were found.

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