Maybe The ARRB Can Help

That Pesky Remington XP-100

Where does James Files' claim he used a Remington XP-100 and one .222 bullet to assassinate John F. Kennedy originate?

Actually the die was probably cast on May 22, 1990 when the discoverer of the shells, John Rademacher, sent his "To Whom It May Concern" letter. In his opening paragraph he indicated, "This is an update to the letters, diagrams and pictures that I sent to your show in October 1989 on the JFK assassination."

From this we can infer three things 1. His discovery of the shells predated October 1989 - 2. Since the diagram of his "dig" is dated ’90, it may well be a revision of an earlier sketch – 3. The reference to "your show" indicates he was trying to get the attention of the media.

Included in John’s information packet was his five page letter, a diagram of Dealey Plaza detailing the location of the shell casings (included at the end of this article), six pages reproduced from a gun catalog showing various rifles that fire the .222, a picture of an Armalite AR-18 with the printed notation "Shoots Rem. Cal .222 in 1963", a page on the development of the .222 and a page with two photographs of the Remington XP-100. Some of these items will be considered in due course but first we need to read relevant portions of his letter, quoted verbatim below:

"In brief I will now list my accomplishments and findings of my investigation into the assassination of JFK, 1987 to 1990.

1. The discovery of two high powered spent bullet shell casings on the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza. These shells are Remington 222 bullets the shells date back to the year 1963. Dating is through the manufacturer and through the technique called terminus post quem dating. These bullets were found where witnesses saw flashes from gun blasts. One witness Malcolm Sommers (sic) saw an assassin with a gun under a mans coat over his arm, within ten feet of where the second 222 shell was found. All witnesses on the grassy knoll said the shots came from the knoll and the area where I found the shell casings.

2. I’ve matched the Remington 222 bullets to the ‘wounds' on JFK’s body as first seen by the Dallas doctors.

3. I have matched the Remington 222 bullet to a target pistol that was first manufactured in 1963. Through photographic evidence of it in the assassins hand and through eye witnesses who saw the strange gun under the mans arm. I believe this is the gun seen by Malcolm Sommers right after the shooting on the grassy knoll. Malcolm Sommers said the gun looked very strange and different looking. The gun I have matched to the 222 bullets is a Remington XP 100 long range target pistol bolt action with telescopics (sic) sights and a balance weight on the barrell (sic). This (is an) odd looking weapon especially in 1963 the first year it came out. The 222 bullets and XP 100 long range pistol have made many world records for accuracy.

4. I have discovered an assassin in a photo that has not been seen or discovered by any other expert. It is in the Mary Mooreman (sic) photo taken at the moment of the last shot to JFK. The assassin is in the upper right hand corner behind a four foot wall sixteen feet behind and to the right of Zapruder. He is stooped behind a wall with a short gun with sights on it resting on the wall and pointing it at the street where the presidents (sic) limo is. The gun appears to be the Remington XP 100 long range target pistol going by the length and appearance of it in the Mary Mooreman photo the assassin which I have named "The Grassy Knoll Assassin" is clean cut with a suit and tie on. He is clearly visible in my blowup of the Mary Mooreman poloroid (sic) picture of November 22, 1963."

Next we need a time line to determine significant dates and review them in light of John’s letter.




January 17, 1989

The last day of John Rademacher’s dig at Dealey Plaza.

Dallas Morning News 9/1/89

     January 17, 1989 to    May 22, 1990

John Rademacher searches for "strange" gun as described by Malcolm Summers.

Rademacher letter 5/22/90

After March 22, 1992

Joe West informed of the "prisoner" by FBI Agent Zack Shelton.

Beaumont Enterprise 4/11/94

August 17, 1992

Joe West visits the prisoner for the first time.

Vernon letter of 11/26/93

February 13, 1993

Joe West dies ". . . after bouts with heart trouble."

Beaumont Enterprise 4/11/94

Just after February 13, 1993

Bob Vernon takes over the investigation at the request of Joe West’s family.

Vernon letter of 11/26/93

May 3, 1993

Bob Vernon spends three hours with the prisoner. At that time the prisoner confesses he participated in the assassination.

Vernon letter of 11/26/93

August 9, 1993

The FBI interviews James Files.

JFK ACT Release 89A-DL-60/65

March 22, 1994

Bob Vernon video tapes James Files "confession."

MPI Home Video introduction


It would seem that upon discovery of the two-.222 casings, John started a search for weaponry capable of firing the bullets in question. Actually, he found at least thirteen such firearms. He photocopied pages from gun catalogs, as mentioned above, picturing guns such as the Remington Model 722, Winchester Model 70, Savage Model 340, Sako Vixen Sporter, BSA Majestic Deluxe and Marlin Model 322 Varmint to name but a few. In each case he carefully underlined the number .222 that appeared as a bullet caliber that the rifle could fire.

Then John heard about and probably spoke to Malcolm Summers. I say probably, because John continually misspells his last name. In Summers he found a witness that "said the gun looked very strange and different looking." At this point, for better or worse, using Summers unverified "testimony" John wrote, "The gun I have matched to the 222 bullets is a Remington XP 100 long range target pistol." I have to wonder if John, at the time of his revelation, knew the exotic weapon he had selected didn’t fire the .222. It was designed exclusively for the .221. I know this because Remington Arms’ staff expert on the XP-100, when contacted on April 1, 1998, flatly denied the pistol was ever chambered for the .222. Additionally, Files (if you believe him) indicated he had to modify the pistol to accept the .222. Someone at some time prior to May 22, 1990 modified a number appearing next to the picture of the XP-100 taken from a gun catalog. The number in question was changed from .221 to .222. Therefore since both Remington’s expert and Files claim the pistol was developed to fire the .221, the only conclusion I can reach is someone faked the exhibit! (See below)

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When John wrote his "To Whom It May Concern" letter he was convinced Summers had seen the XP-100. Interestingly enough the "update to the letters, diagrams and pictures that I sent to your show in October 1989" mentions nothing about a dented shell casing. Additionally, he made a mistake, when he claimed, "The 222 bullets and XP 100 long range pistol have made many world records for accuracy." John included another photocopied page describing how accurate the .222 was. "The introduction of the .222 Remington on March 1, 1950 provided the mainstay of Benchrest shooters for the next twenty five years." There is no mention of the XP-100. Why? Because, as mentioned earlier, the XP-100 was chambered to fire only the .221. Not important to you or me, but certainly important to the best shooters, or possibly professional assassins, in the world.

At one point, Bob Vernon remembered a Joe West report which mentioned ". . . a young Dallas-Ft. Worth man who had discovered .222 casings under the soil in Dealey Plaza." This shows West had knowledge of Rademacher’s find well before Vernon entered the case. It is also quite clear West interviewed Files at least once, probably more, before Vernon arrived on the scene.

Thanks to John’s inaccurate matching of the XP-100 to the .222 shell casings, there are several problems to overcome if the Files story is to pass muster.

  • Files made two claims about the XP-100: 1) The barrels had a habit of blowing up and 2) The XP-100 had to be rebored to accept the .222 shell. The problem with this scenario is the rebore further WEAKENS the barrel of a pistol whose barrel, according to Files, already has a habit of exploding because it is not strong enough!

  • To prove he was there, Files alleged he bit the .222 shell casing before he left it on the picket fence atop the grassy knoll. There are additional problems with this claim:

  1. Rademacher’s discovery of the shell casings occurred during a "dig" which was allegedly verified by an anthropologist not an archeologist, as would be deemed proper. Furthermore, there is reason to believe the said anthropologist was, in fact, not what Rademacher claimed.
  2. If the dented casing was left as a "calling card" what were Files expectations of when, where and how it would be found?
  3. Bite marks are considered somewhat unique, like fingerprints. However, no impression is normally left when biting a metal object. How could Files ever conclusively prove the shell was his and how much force would be necessary to dent the metal before one's tooth shattered?
  4. Why refer to the casing as a "calling card" when it is subject to such random, chance discovery?
  5. Isn't it curious the dented shell casing isn’t mentioned until Vernon’s letter of November 26, 1993, over four years after its discovery and well after West had visited Files in prison?
  6. Files was interviewed in prison by the FBI on August 9, 1993 (JFK ACT Release 89A-DL-60/65). The following appears on page seven: "SA ZYDRON then read in verbatim to FILES the following excerpt of the report previously furnished to the FBI by attorney IRVIN." Files statement to Irvin includes much detail about his actions before, during and after the assassination, but he makes no mention of the XP-100 or the dented shell casing. Can anyone explain why there is no reference to the "modified" XP-100 or the "calling card" in a report Files gave to the very attorney representing him? Yes, Irvin was representing Files. The corroboration appears in the FBI report, "At the onset of the interview, FILES stated that through conversation with Attorney DON IRVIN, he understood he was to be interviewed by the FBI but that the interview would be conducted in the presence of IRVIN."
  7. Rademacher’s asserts Summers ". . . saw an assassin with a gun under a mans coat over his arm, within ten feet of where the second 222 shell was found." Files denies he was ever near the spot where Summers saw someone and Rademacher confirms the "assassin" was located.
  8. Supporters of the Files scenario have never offered proof that the shell with the dent was found in the grassy knoll area.
  9. In John’s letter he references, "All witnesses on the grassy knoll said the shots came from the knoll and the area where I found the shell casings." Only one shell was discovered in this area. If there were actually witnesses on the grassy knoll who said the shots came from the knoll, they would merely turn around when they heard the report and see Files some twenty to thirty feet away. No such witness is known to exist.
  10. Why have we never been allowed to see report by the Forensic Odontologist, who I believe is Dr. Paul Stimpson, verifying the bitemark as human in origin?
  11. If the alleged bite mark really appears on the shell discovered near the knoll there are other considerations:
  • Could the dent be an ejector mark?
  • Could the dent could be caused by the bite of an animal?
  • The XP-100 is a bolt action pistol. As an expert shootist (Note I avoid the word assassin as Files claims he was recruited just before the killing.) why would Files bother to eject the shell at all? Under the circumstances he could simply return the gun to the carrying case and walk away.
  • After Files shoots Kennedy, he ejects the shell, no matter which hand he uses he must hold the pistol with one hand while working the bolt with the other. The shell is ejected and flies out. How well does he know the ejection pattern? How does he manage to catch the shell? What if the shell flew out of his hand and over the picket fence near the spot where it was found? Can you imagine Files dashing around to grab the casing up so he could bite it to leave it as a calling card?

In my opinion, all parties at interest were painted into a corner back on May 22, 1990. John Rademacher coupled his finding of two .222 shell casings and the statement of Malcolm Summers into his personal assessment that the weapon had, absolutely had, to be the Remington XP-100. Of course, we now know the weapon couldn't handle the casing(s) he discovered. How John’s erroneous conclusion ended up as part of the Files story will be left up to the reader but there were, as the timeline shows, opportunities for Files to be coached.

Once revealed, the XP-100 problems had to be minimized. The pistol had to be rebored. The bullets had to be special mercury loads. A shell casing had to have a bite mark. And to what end? I quote from an article by Richard Johnson that appeared on page six in the July 27, 1994 New York Post entitled "Call this JFK tale knoll and void." "The convict recounted this outlandish tale in two* videotaped interviews to Bob Vernon, a Houston producer who is trying to sell the yarn as a TV special for $2 million."

* That's right two video tapes. Mr. Vernon has always insisted the single video tape Confession of an Assassin is unedited and uninterrupted. What do we make of this?

** In a recent internet post, Jack White has provided valuable insight into this and similar situations. "It is reasonable to assume that JFK disinformationalists are at work; we can reasonably assume that disinformationalists infest the internet; to be effective, they must be convincing and seem like one of us; however, some are openly obvious, figuring that novices will not notice; some, however, assume the role of respected researchers; genuine JFK researchers have a motive...a desire for truth, justice and history to prevail." (emphasis mine)

Which would you prefer, the truth or a $2 million dollar TV special? In my opinion that's the one question for which Mr. Vernon has already provided an answer.

Dave Perry ~ April 23, 1998                           

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Below ~ John Rademacher's Dealey Plaza "Anthropological" Map

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