||Pelican Publishing Co.
||April 2, 2013
Barnes & Noble.com
The Girl on the Stairs
The Girl on the Stairs
Was Lee Harvey Oswald on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository? New evidence regarding that question surfaces with the story of Victoria Adams, a significant yet ignored witness to the JFK assassination. Her secrets have been hidden since 1964. She was discredited and branded a liar by her own government, then ignored. Now, you can learn the fascinating truth to her story.
On November 22, 1963, a young Victoria Elizabeth Adams stood behind a fourth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. She watched as John Kennedy was murdered in the streets below. Then, with a co-worker in tow, she ran down the back stairs of the building in order to get outside and determine what had happened.
At that precise moment, her life changed forever.
Unbeknownst to her but certainly in the forefront of the government's thinking was the fact that if Miss Adams was telling the truth, then she had descended those stairs at the same time Lee Oswald would have been on them as he made his escape from the sixth floor sniper's nest.
Yet Miss Adams saw no one.
And even though the stairs were old, wooden, and very creaky under any weight, she heard no one on them.
Her story presented obvious problems for the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Oswald was the sole assassin. When Miss Adams was called to testify before a Commission attorney, she was quickly discredited, humiliated, and eventually branded a liar. Behind closed doors she pleaded with the government to conduct time tests of her actions if she wasn’t believed. She begged the government to question her co-workers, particularly the woman who had accompanied her down the stairs, if she was felt to have been inaccurate.
But she was ignored.
And so, knowing the truth of what she had done and now fearing for her life because of it, she went into hiding and became willing to die with that private knowledge.
Intrigued by what little was available about Miss Adams, the author went in search of her. It took him 35 years to eventually find this elusive witness. Along the way, many of the rumors and speculations surrounding the JFK assassination were finally put to rest. And in the end, the truth of what Miss Adams did was discovered.
This is an important story, unique in this mess surrounding the Kennedy assassination and buried for decades. It is an account the government did not want us to hear, and actually went to the extreme of fabricating evidence in order to prevent us from hearing it.
This is more than just another book on the JFK assassination.
At first she thought it was firecrackers.
But when she saw the chaos and the terror on all the faces below, she knew it was something far worse.
She turned from the window and grabbed the arm of a co-worker.
“Come on,” she whispered. “Let’s find out what’s going on down there.”
In this split second, her innocence—and that of a nation’s—came to an end.
The Hartford Books Examiner
1) Tell us a bit about Victoria Adams and how your discovery of her, after 35 years of searching, inspired you to write THE GIRL ON THE STAIRS…
Actually, “The Girl on the Stairs” was underway before I found Vicki Adams. The idea for it came from Harold Weisberg in 1999. I had stopped at his home on my way back from the National Archives where I had just found a document that proved the truthfulness of Miss Adams, a witness I had been searching for since 1967. Weisberg recognized the significance of the discovery and suggested I write a book about my efforts to find Vicki and what all I had discovered along the way.
My initial reaction was that it wouldn’t be much of a story; after all, the missing witness was still missing. But I started to pull some things together and struggled with some early chapters. Then in 2002 I got lucky and found Vicki.
What she revealed gave me the direction I needed.
As background, when she was 11, Vicki was abandoned by her parents. Much of her early life was spent in foster homes and was influenced by fear. She studied to become a nun after high school and taught at several Catholic schools before ending up in Dallas. At the young age of 22 she was thrown into the nightmare of the JFK assassination.
She was hounded by authorities, yet remained very consistent with what she told them she had seen and done following the assassination. But no one believed her and, despite her pleas for ways to have her story corroborated, no attempts were made to verify her statements. She was automatically disbelieved and discredited, then humiliated and, for lack of a better term, branded a liar. Her fears returned as a result and she basically went underground with her side of the story. Even her best friends were unaware of her involvement.
Not long after I got to know her, she said to me that all she ever wanted in this was for people to know that she had told the truth.
That comment gave me the inspiration.
2)What was your first introduction to the idea of conspiracy in the JFK assassination? To what (or whom) do you credit with sustaining your interest in the case for more than four decades?
I was a firm believer in the Warren Report. One day at college, a classmate in my U.S. History course asked me why? I told him I had read the Report (twice actually) and found it to be a convincing account of how the assassination had occurred. He handed me a copy of that month’s Playboy magazine, the February 1967 issue which had an interview with author and critic Mark Lane. I was curious and read it immediately. Lane raised some points that I had never heard before and, although I was skeptical of his comments, I went out that afternoon and bought his book, “Rush to Judgment,” as well as Edward Epstein’s “Inquest.”
The next thing I knew I was interviewing witnesses in Dallas and rummaging through documents in the National Archives.
Without doubt, the man who sustained my interest throughout these many years was Harold Weisberg. I met him at the National Archives very early in my research efforts. He taught me how to do this the right way — relying on facts and documentation rather than speculation and conjecture — and I have tried to follow his guidance ever since. He used to give me what he called “assignments” to do for him when I went to Dallas or the Archives. Writing “The Girl on the Stairs” ended up being his last assignment for me.
3) If asked to summarize the absolute essential evidence that you believe invalidates the Warren Commission’s findings in one paragraph, how would you respond?
In my opinion, what invalidates the Warren Commission’s findings is the very evidence it used to support those findings. One does not lead to the other. This is a hard concept to accept and it was certainly a hard pill for me to swallow. But if you go beyond just reading the Warren Report — the foundation to all this mess — and you look at the evidence the Commission used ostensibly to uphold its conclusions, you find the opposite. It is unnerving to see that much contradiction in an official publication regarding such a historic event. Smart men like those on the Commission are not supposed to make these kinds of errors.
4) What books, other than your own, would you suggest to students of the assassination? Also, what areas of research do you view as warranting follow-up for future generations?
I would suggest the serious student begin with the 888-page Warren Report. Whether you believe what it says or not, it is still the source of everything that has emerged about this subject since 1964. You cannot legitimately discuss the assassination without knowing its foundation.
Then I would pursue books that offer an analysis of both the Report’s conclusions and the evidence that was gathered. “Accessories After the Fact” by Sylvia Meagher, and the “Whitewash” series by Harold Weisberg, are both good choices. “Inquest” by Edward Epstein is also an informative early study of the inner workings of the Commission. There are many books out there, both good and bad, and my philosophy has always been that each one will provide further insight into the subject. Although I read them all, I don’t put much stock in books that offer “solutions” to the crime.
I think two things warrant follow-up by future generations. First, there must be full release of all the documents regarding the assassination. The JFK Records Collection Act of 1992 and the untiring work of the ARRB have made great strides toward getting formerly classified documents out into the public eye. But there are still thousands of pages being kept from us and those are the ones that need to be set free.
And second, I think the acoustics evidence developed by the HSCA needs further work. We have independent acoustics experts in 1979 saying a shot came from the grassy knoll. We have a government-chartered panel disputing that in 1982. Then in 2001, a British scientist criticizes the 1982 tests and reinforces those done for the HSCA in 1979. Unfortunately, that vital issue has been left up in the air. It needs to be resolved.
5) You write that in finding Ms. Adams you also found yourself. In what ways did your investigation mirror a journey of self-discovery? What lessons have you taken with you from your endeavor?
As a youth and much like Vicki, I had this unswerving and unbridled faith that our government could do no wrong. I was a great admirer of John Kennedy and when he was murdered and I was told, this is how it happened, I had no reason to think otherwise. When that college classmate questioned my trust of the Warren Report, I actually started to study the case with the goal of proving him wrong. I never once thought it would end up as it did.
Along the way I met and talked with witnesses in Dallas. I worked my way through hundreds of thousands of documents in the National Archives. I spent hour upon hour invading the homes of noted researchers and authors, asking what I’m sure they thought were very naïve questions. And somewhere in there, things began to change for me. My efforts no longer were just a means to an end; they turned into a rite of passage toward a discovery that things are not always the way they appear. I really wanted to prove that classmate wrong, but in the end, I just couldn’t do it.
As a result, I have become skeptical of everything. That is not to say I distrust everything, but if the subject interests me enough, I find myself looking deeper and studying all sides, some of which I now know are hidden from immediate view. My mentor, Harold Weisberg, once told me you have to look hard in order to find the truth. When I asked him what you do when even that doesn’t seem to work, he said simply, then you have to look harder.
6) In your opinion, what is the solution to this crime—and will we ever know the full truth of what happened that day in Dallas?
The solution to this crime, I feel, is a concerted effort by all of us toward wanting to know the truth. It is important that we know what really happened that day in Dallas. As Americans, we have to join together and collectively go after that knowledge, that understanding. We are talking about America’s history here — what will be taught to future generations of young and impressionable minds. This is far too important an issue to be left unsettled.
The story of Victoria Adams is a prime example of how the truth is out there. You just have to want to find it. A reader once wrote me that Vicki’s tale is simply a microcosm of the Warren Commission’s investigation. Unfortunately, he is correct.
What we have right now are two official versions to this crime: the Warren Commission with its verdict there was no conspiracy, and the House Select Committee, with its decision there most likely was. These are polar opposites being endorsed by two separate bodies of our very own government.
It is tough to be accepted as being honest in a subject that has been replete with so much dishonesty. But what I discovered during my long journey to find Vicki is this: we have not been told the truth about the assassination of our president. That ought to be an embarrassment to us all and it should compel us to do something about it.
Quick Book Reviews
Girl on the Stairs, by Barry Ernest and with a foreword written by David Lifton, is an exploration of one specific aspect of the JFK assassination. More precisely, it looks into what a little girl by the name of Victoria Adams saw on that day while standing in the staircase of the Texas School Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald was supposedly making his escape.
Actually, it is more about what she didn’t see than what she did see. Victoria was on the staircase Oswald supposedly used, at the exact same time he supposedly used it. If he were to be there, even the little girl she was, Victoria would have noticed a nervous man quickly running down the stairs. However, she says that on that day, she was alone there, with nobody to be found, especially Oswald.
Why didn’t the testimony become a crucial part of the investigation? According to her own words, Victoria was, since that day, harassed and badgered by the Warren Commission, to the point where she started fearing for her life, and vanished into obscurity. Thirty-five years later, she finally decides to give her testimony and tell her story to the rest of the world, perhaps even shedding some light on the murder.
While this book certainly does explore a very interesting aspect of the case, especially considering how the Warren Commission marginalized a key witness, there isn’t exactly any solid proof in this... just very interesting and even plausible theories.
In an even such as this one, the events need to be examined on a second-by-second basis, that is, to reconstruct the event precisely as it happened. A testimony which is given thirty-five years later is bound to have some holes or distortions in it. In addition, seeing someone can be considered conclusive, but not seeing someone at a certain place can be chalked up to a number of reasons.
On the other hand, that is not to say that Victoria Adams’ story is not worth looking into. Perhaps she does remember that day well enough, and perhaps she does hold in her memory an important piece of the puzzle. At this point though, all we can do is speculate, and Girl on the Stairs does a very good job at discussing all the aspects of a rarely-discussed subject, perhaps even providing new insight into one of the most infamous assassinations in history. If you are interested in the JFK murder, then I highly recommend you don’t pass up the opportunity
Dr. Stephen Dorril
"Ninety percent of JFK books are simply rubbish. The Girl on the Stairs happens to be brilliant, utterly compelling, very, very dark, and deeply troubling."
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