“EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATIONS?: THE VIEW FROM JONESTOWN, THERE WAS NO BOB KICE”

by Laurie Efrein Kahalas

Why Single Out Bob Kice?

 

Why is this one accused assassin so important?  The FBI eyewitness report cited twelve names of potential accused.  Everyone had a different “version.”  So why single out Bob Kice?  This is why:

 

There were two locales, the Port Kaituma airstrip and the community at Jonestown, 5-7 miles apart.  The survivors of the airstrip massacre lined up with “They did it!”  Yet their “eyewitness identifications” corresponded to men seen prior to the attack or after, not during.  We know that because of the glaring mismatches cited in panels 8-11 of “Eyewitness Identifications?:  The FBI Report Versus the On-Site NBC Film Footage.”

 

All the FBI had to do was to show the on-site assassination footage to the survivors of the airstrip massacre (like in any “real” investigation) and ask, “Do you recognize these men?”  Instead they suppressed the film and showed it to no one.

 

That’s how come they wound up with twelve “candidates” for just three actual assassins and never verified ANY of the accused against the on-site NBC film footage.   There was never any conclusion of “these are the three men who committed the airstrip massacre.”

 

Which three of the twelve accused were the real assassins?  Well, there was no reason to “convict” any of the twelve based on the FBI report!  In fact, “Eyewitness Identifications?:  The FBI Report Versus the On-Site NBC Film Footage” discounts them all.

 

Since nothing was investigated, just a hodge-podge of conflicting testimonies called “an investigation,“ we wind up with little more than a subscript of “It must have been them.  Who did you see?  That’s who did it.“  Never mind that twelve isn’t three and that there is no finding re who killed the Congressman at all! 

 

That’s not an “investigation.”  It’s a disgrace.  I repeat:  They had the primary evidence right in their hands, the on-site NBC film footage.  All the FBI had to do was to show it to the survivors of the airstrip massacre and ask, “Do you recognize these men?”  Instead they suppressed the film footage and showed it to no one.

 

Yet more is required here, beyond dissembling the so-called “official investigation” and this is why:

 

There was not just “They did it!“ from Port Kaituma, but at least one “confession” from out of Jonestown“We did it!”  Namely from one Bob Kice.  No, we don’t have an audiotape.  No, it was not put into writing by the “confessor.”  We have the sketchiest account of what might have been said or claimed.  Yet the tragic reality is that he was believed and that that belief was conveyed to Jim Jones as “a certainty,” with the ensuing cataclysmic consequences.  As per the final tape:  “They won’t let us get away with this [namely, the assassination.]  There is no way we can survive.”

 

Nevertheless, this is puzzling — seemingly counterintuitive on its face.  Namely, why would someone confess to something he may well not have done?  Notwithstanding, the role of that “confession” in the lead-up to the deaths at Jonestown was so key, that we need to confirm or discount that one lone “confession” as much as to discount the twelve accused on the FBI list.

 

Again, the primary eyewitness remains the on-site NBC film footage, not what anyone said or claimed.  But we are also into more thorny territory here — not just physical logistics now, but also psychology.

 

But Wasn’t This an “Order”?  “Do It!” and then “Yes Sir, It’s Done”?

 

There was always a tacit assumption that Jim Jones “ordered” the killing of the Congressman and then the men who followed his order (tacit assumption:  “direct order”) reported back to him.

 

Yet to this day we have no idea what Jim Jones did or did not “order.”  He was terminally ill (a visiting doctor from the States, Carlton Goodlett, had told him, “Jim, you‘ll die if you don‘t get to hospital,”) on heavy medication, raving paranoid, furious that the Congressman had come, furious that followers were about to leave.  So let’s say (speculative — I have no first-hand knowledge) that he said something mega-inflammatory like, let‘s say, “Someone needs to take care of that Congressman!”; and after all, he was surrounded by fanatics.

 

But that does not tell us what happened.  Peoples Temple was historically non-violent for a quarter century.  So it’s not like there was any history of you, go pick up a gun and shoot someone.  There wasn’t.  We just know that the community had reached a boiling point when a handful of long-time members opted to leave and that one of the tiniest handful who were entranced with guns, Bob Kice, was the one who “confessed.”

 

We also need to consider that Kice was not, never “inner circle.”  In fact in the States, both he and his cousin Tom Kice were considered suspect for the likes of NRA membership, way outside the Temple norm.  So if Kice picked up a gun with intent to kill the Congressman and then went to the airstrip and in fact did it himself, it wasn’t like Jim Jones said, “Bring me our enforcer Bob Kice,” some direct “order” is given to Kice, Kice goes and kills the Congressman, then arrives back at Jim Jones’ side saluting with “Yes sir, I followed your order.”

 

      Most unlikely it happened that way.  Nor did anyone claim that it did.

 

We don’t even know who told Kice what, if anything, or what he interpreted or mis-interpreted it to mean.  Or what the person who told him whatever, had heard from whomever, who had said whatever, what that earlier person interpreted or mis-interpreted it to mean, what the later person interpreted or mis-interpreted it to mean, or if any “order“ came from them either.

 

We do know that said “confession” was conveyed privately, not publicly and that it was apparently taken at face value with no probing, no questioning, no doubt.  It also took an indirect route to Jim Jones.

 

This is the route taken by said “confession”:

 

There are two ways we know that Jonestown “claimed credit for” the assassination:  1) the final tape with Jim Jones saying “our people” did it; which was 2) preceded by a private briefing conducted by Temple member Harriet Tropp who died at Jonestown, as recalled by a survivor who left the community at the last.

 

The briefing came first, upon return of Temple men to the community.  Jim Jones did not conduct the briefing himself; he was told the conclusion of Tropp, one of said “fanatics surrounding Jim Jones” and took it as fact.

 

The confessor at that briefing named by a survivor was Bob Kice, one of the tiniest handful who were entranced with guns.  Quote from the survivor:  “He did it.  This is a FACT.”

 

This is not to dispute the survivor’s recollection, notwithstanding that we have no audiotape nor written confession nor has the survivor provided details or responded to questions.  It is not even to dispute that the community believed it.  They did.

 

With ghastly ramifications.  Jim Jones put the mass death pact into motion upon confirming that “our people” killed the Congressman — no one disputes that — that this was the trigger.  And Jones was 100% responsible for the mass death pact and its implementation, however it happened.  But that is not what is at issue here.

 

What is at issue is that if we are relying on a second-hand rendition to a third party about what might have been committed by a fourth party at a removed locale as “a fact,” then should we not at least see if that “fact” matches the on-site film footage from NBC?  If Kice was the only allegedly “certain” assassin in the hodge-podge mix of “I saw this one, I saw that one…” which is the FBI eyewitness report, shouldn’t we at least look?  After all, this was a filmed crime scene!

 

Bad enough that the FBI report names twelve “assassins” barreling in on the attack vehicle when the NBC film footage shows only six, and only three of them poised to shoot in a forward charge, obviously the blast that killed the Congressman.  With not even a clue as to which three if any.

 

But one, at least, was alleged by a survivor to be “certain.”  Namely, BOB KICE.  The dead man whom no one ever got to question.

 

So should we prove that THERE WAS NO BOB KICE, then whatever the recall of “the confession,“ or that it was believed, isn’t it fair to say that the so-called “confession” may fall apart?  And how would that impact the story as a whole?

 

What Was the Nature of “the Confession”?

 

The fact is that we don’t even have all the facts.  We do not know what other alleged Peoples Temple gunmen were at that briefing, if any, what they claimed to have done or seen, if they also “confessed” or if they implicated others.

 

Nor have I been able to ascertain whether Kice said “I did it” or “We did it.”  That can be like night and day.  “I did it” is a confession, claiming the person did it himself.  “We did it” can be a presumption:  likethe “eyewitnesses” at the airstrip saying Peoples Temple must have done it even though the film footage belies their testimony!

 

For all we know, “We did it!” was like a fanatical Yankees fan pumped with adrenalin from a World Series win running through the streets with “We did it!!”  After all, this was a remote locale, tempers flaring, and with no outsiders known to be there.  “We did it!” must have seemed like a certainty.

 

“Who else could have done it?” was not even posed.  Just “we did it” and “this is what we did.”  Because (as demonstrated in panel 7 of “Eyewitness Identifications?:  The FBI Report Versus the On-Site NBC Film Footage,”) the men on the Temple vehicles had no line of vision to any shooter’s face.  The attack was so sudden, brutal and swift (to be blunt, so professional,) that even the victims, every last one, with their attackers charging head-on, missed (as detailed in panel 11 of same,) a seven foot tall giant dressed in solid military green!

 

So what of Temple men in a tractor-trailer parked at a distance and at right angles to the attacking assassins, not able to see their faces at all?  If someone other than Peoples Temple had done it, how would they have even known?  Conversely, if all twelve of the accused were at the airstrip , why would any of the Temple men (like Bob Kice for instance) not assume that “We did it!”?  After all, no one was looking for strangers.

 

(Ironically, as detailed on panel 14 of “Eyewitness Identifications?:  The FBI Report Versus the On-Site NBC Film Footage,” one of the newsmen did see strangers coming off an unidentified tractor-trailer “covered with canvas,” but his testimony was buried and ignored.)

 

Moreover, whatever a long-since-dead gunhappy wannabe (Bob Kice) told a long-since-dead fanatic (Harriet Tropp) who then conveyed it to a long-since-dead madman (Jim Jones) is not “evidence.”  It’s a story to be investigated.

 

But what if it was “I did it!“?  Why would anyone want to take credit for a bad thing they didn’t do?  Lots of possible reasons:

 

Maybe he didn’t think it was a bad thing.  Maybe he thought it was heroic.  Maybe he thought it was expected of him.  Maybe someone said something to someone who said something to someone else that he took as an “order.“  Maybe it was wrong-headed bravado.  Maybe it was mob mentality.  Maybe with all the panic, pandemonium and mixed signals, a psychotic adrenalin rush served as some kind of substitute for “I didn‘t actually see who did it.  Maybe it wasn‘t us.”

 

And why did the fanatic believe the gunhappy wannabe without challenge and then pass that “certainty” on to the madman?  Well, maybe she thought killing was good too.  This was a woman who wanted to go fight violent revolutions in Africa.  This was someone who thought that mass suicide was a great and glorious end.  After all, she was the one chosen to deliver the speech ending with, ”We would rather die than be harassed from continent to continent.  We are confident that people of principle will understand our position” to the press regarding a previous mass suicide threat.

 

And why did the madman believe it without question?  Maybe he wrongly trusted his fanatical deputy.  Maybe he was too medically ill to think straight.  Maybe he was paranoid out of his mind.  Maybe he thought an imminent invasion forced their hand.  Maybe he was so certain that they had to die, that he embraced any push over the cliff.

 

But it’s not like the gunhappy wannabe “confessing” to the pro-violence, pro-suicide fanatic who in turn informed the deranged madman with “certainty“ that “We did it!” adds up to “evidence.”  It may have just added up to a dangerously bad chain of command, in reverse and gone amok!

 

We must also consider that “confession” carries an onus that may not apply here.  One may be forced to confess; or confess with shame and guilt, expecting disapproval, even punishment.  We don’t know that that was the case here.  It might have rather been a “claim of credit.”  That would be done willingly, not reluctantly, and perhaps in expectation of approval, even adulation.

 

In any case, if we were not there at said “confession,“ have no audiotape or even exact quotes of what was said, we just plain don’t know.

 

So shy of examining real, available, physical evidence, maybe that was all just a… presumption.  Yes, something horrendous, explosive, irreversible had already happened:  the killing of the Congressman and others in his party.  But why would we think that the wannabe, the fanatic and the madman, all panicked, facing death, branding the Congressman as “the enemy,” were people with the time, the opportunity, the clarity to investigate, not presume?  Maybe they presumed everything in sight.

 

IT REMAINS THE ON-SITE FILM THAT IS THE EVIDENCE.  AND THAT REVEALS NO BOB KICE:

 

1.  The Squad Diamond

 

If Kice was indeed a shooter, we know where to find him on the NBC film footage.  Kice would have been one of the group of three shooters emerging from the back of the trailer (position 1-3 on panel 2.)  This is why:

 

This was a standard military formation called a squad diamond, executed in perfect sequence, precision and speed.  (The reader is referred to “Logistics: Military Execution” for frame-by frame demonstration of the footwork using the NBC on-site film footage.)

 

Look at the schematic (panel 1) to see what the completed formation looks like.  Panel 2 will show the actual placement of the soldiers on the field — here “the field” being the attack vehicle at its staging point on the airstrip.

 

When a New York network showed the entirety of the assassination film on November 17, 1979, well, aside from the horror of it, all that registered in terms of a schematic was a symmetry and a fanning out.  I have no military training and didn’t know what I was looking at.  But I had an Army veteran by my side saying, “I know what that is.  It’s a squad diamond.  You learn that in basic training.” 

 

Well, upon viewing the scant first seconds of the attack so many years later on, my first thought was that the footage is probably lopped off too soon.  How can you see a formation? 

 

The simple answer is that the lead triangle of the formation (positions 1, 2 & 3 in the Squad Diamond schematic) was already almost fully formed in the seconds of disembarkation that were preserved; and it is those lead shooters who fire at the victims.  The back three shooters of this formation protect the terrain.

 

That’s the obvious part, in that if the back three shooters were firing ahead, they would be firing right into the backs of their fellow soldiers!

 

So it’s certain, not speculative, that if Bob Kice (“We did it!”) was himself one of the shooters, you would have to locate him in that lead triangle of shooters.

 

We should also clarify that although I was put at a deficit by having abbreviated footage, that was not the case in 1979.  The original un-cut film footage did have to be longer, as I’ve always said, allowing my military friend to spot the squad diamond as it fully unfolded.

 

How can we know?  Well, the reporter standing right next to NBC cameraman, Bob Brown, namely Ron Javers, reported to the Associated Press:

 

“The firing erupted from guns close by.  I was hit first.  I was knocked to the ground by a slug in the left shoulder, apparently from a .33-caliber weapon.  I crawled behind the right wheel of the plane.

            “Bob Brown stayed on his feet, and kept filming what was happening, even as the attackers advanced on him with their guns.  He was incredibly tenacious.”

 

I.e., Javers was already shot and crawling away while Brown was continuing to film!  Yet what we are left with (unless the remaining footage was preserved elsewhere) is a film lopped off before the first shot is even fired.  Meaning that this film being prematurely lopped off is a certainty.

 

Yet remarkably, we are left with enough to verify the squad diamond.  A slow-down of the disembarkation reveals the exact footwork, even just the right number of men (namely, 6.)  The front triangle of the formation is already in tact in those first few seconds.

 

      It’s just that no one has ever slowed it down.  No one looked.  It’s right there in plain sight.  (See “Logistics:  Military Execution.“)

 

We also know the direction in which they will charge because we know where they were positioned in relation to the plane — opposite the NBC cameraman directly facing the staging point for the attack.  There was only one direction to head and the triangle of shooters falling into position.  It’s like when a baseball player hits the ball into the outfield, you know what direction it’s going as soon as the bat makes contact; and you know that with a home run, he will be running around bases 1, 2, 3, and home.

 

      Those few seconds of film are like an instruction manual on how this formation is done.  Even with the awkward deficit of having to make a right angle turn off the back of the trailer to then face and charge towards the victims.

 

2.  Now Let’s See Where the Six Positions of the Squad Diamond Were Placed on the Attack Vehicle Using the NBC On-Site Film Footage

 

Again, it is soldiers 1-3 that are the shooting part of the formation, with soldiers 4-6 folding in as the rear guard.  By the end of this several seconds of film footage, the lead assassin is already face front with his right and left flank soldiers folding in from each side.

 

And what of soldiers 4-6?  With this horrifying ambush, the formation had to advance at warp drive speed before the victims could scatter, so any soldier filmed holding back those first few seconds had a different function.

 

Soldiers marked 5 & 6 in this formation were not yet needed and remain in the trailer by the end of this abbreviated film footage.  Soldier 4 is being deployed as a diversion:

 

As broken down in “Logistics:  Military Execution,” the gunman who has emerged in front of the vehicle (position 4) is not shooting at the victims at all, but rather up into the air in the direction of the back of the vehicle.  He has stationed himself up front to divert the victims’ attention away from the attackers disembarking from the back, his shot timed to the leap-down of the lead assassin to the ground.  He is moving to his right, away from the vehicle but in a sideways step, with his rifle still facing in the direction of the soldiers 1-3.  He will be headed that way himself once they have disembarked and begun their forward charge.

 

Why is he moving to his right if he will wind up moving back left to complete the rear guard of squad diamond?  Well, that vehicle was long and he did need enough clearance to see!  He doesn’t go far though, just a couple of more steps.  Then he just stands there with rifle ready to again shoot!

 

Meanwhile, the two soldiers in positions 5 and 6, respectively, are just sitting there waiting in the trailer.  As they would be.  They are not part of that first, fatal wave of shootings.  They can hop over the trailer rim when the shooting is underway.  The front triangle of shooters had to advance before the back triangle, the rear guard, could locate their exact spots to fall into formation.

 

Again, we can see visually why only positions 1-3 were labeled “assassins” in the schematic of the squad diamond on panel 1.  If positions 4-6 also had guns blazing, they would be shooting into the three assassins’ backs!!

 

Panel 2 is the actual NBC on-site film footage, matching the soldiers to the six positions of the squad diamond.

 

Also note that a formation is not just a schematic.  The schematic is what the formation will look like once all the soldiers are in place.  Panel 2, however, shows where all the participants were located on the attack vehicle, positions 1-6.  The participants are numbered as such so they can be patched against the schematic.

 

“Logistics: Military Execution” demonstrates the disembarkation into formation step-by-step visually, using the actual film footage.  All we need to grasp now regarding whether Bob Kice was an assassin or not, is that we need to locate him amongst the three gunmen disembarking in the back, positions 1-3. 

 

O.k.  Let’s look for Kice.  We need to determine for each gunman:  yes, maybe, unlikely or impossible that it was Bob Kice.  If we are claiming that he was not there (as this researcher is doing unequivocally), then let’s prove it:

 

3.  Ok.  Let’s See If We Can Spot Bob Kice.

 

Photo of Robert Edward (Bob) Kice.  Physical descriptions and background of both Bob and Tom Kice.  (Tom was a somewhat older relative, an uncle or cousin.)  Emphasis on posture and height, key factors in assessing the photos of the assassins from the NBC film footage.

 

4.  Assassin 1:  Was this man Bob Kice?  Answer:  No.

 

Assassin 1 was too way short to possibly be Bob Kice, also ruling out the other white accused, Tom Kice.

 

5.  Assassin 2:  Was this man Bob Kice?  Answer:  No. Assassin 3:  Was this man Bob Kice?  Answer:  No.

 

Assassin 2 was way too tall to possibly be Bob Kice, also ruling out the other two main accuseds, Tom Kice and Joe Wilson.

 

Assassin 3, another white man, had marked curvature of the spine, ruling out both of the main white accused assassins, Bob Kice and Tom Kice.

 

6.  Follow-Up Questions 

 

Did no one at Jonestown equal the height of assassin 2?

But weren’t there other Temple men that survivors were “sure” were assassins?

What of the other three on the scene, rear guard 4, 5 & 6?

 

7.  What Can We Conclude?: 

 

None of the assassins were Bob Kice.  Physical characteristics of the assassins rule him out.

None of the assassins were any of the three main accuseds, Bob Kice, Tom Kice, or Joe Wilson.

It was impossible that the lead assassin was from Jonestown at all due to excessive height as well as an inexplicable height discrepancy between the assassins.

The lead assassin was a giant-sized brute dressed in solid green military camouflage that no eyewitness even mentioned seeing!

The so-called “confession” from Bob Kice, heard second-hand at another locale, must be discounted as macho bravado; the only primary evidence, the film footage itself, definitively rules him out.

 

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on August 21st, 2014.
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