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Updated: 09/21/2013 11:43 AM
Created: 09/20/2013 3:08 PM KSTP.com | Print |  Email
By: Stephen Tellier

Minn. Judge Sheds Light on JFK Assassination

It's been nearly 50 years since the President John F. Kennedy assassination stunned the country and the world. We sat down with the judge who was instrumental in making millions of documents public, all of them related to one of the most shocking events in American history.
 
The questions surrounding his death have lasted longer than his life.
 
"The shock of it was just unbelievable," said U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim.
 
JFK was 46-years-old when he was gunned down in Dallas. Half a century later, Tunheim is one of the foremost experts on that day in November 1963.
 
On Thursday night, he spoke to the Washington County Historical Society about his work on the Assassination Records Review Board, the agency that declassified documents related to the assassination in the 1990's.
 
"The government was hiding information from them about an event that was deeply impactful on this country," Tunheim said.
 
The crime was pinned on Lee Harvey Oswald -- and him alone. But ever since, many Americans have questioned that conclusion. Lingering doubts sparked Tunheim's mission to shed light on what happened.
 
"It was not our job to decide what happened. It was our job to find every shred of record that we could that hadn't been released and get it released as quickly as possible," Tunheim said.
 
It took four years to put five to six million pages before the public. And on Thursday, he boiled it all down -- walking dozens through what happened, showing the famous Zapruder film, and outlining each piece of pertinent evidence.
 
His conclusion?
 
"The real evidence overwhelmingly supports the fact that Oswald did the shooting alone," Tunheim said.
 
But he admits a shoddy initial investigation -- and many other missteps -- left plenty of room for conspiracy theories to blossom.
     
"You've got what I like to describe as a giant jigsaw puzzle that had a lot of pieces missing," Tunheim said.
     
Several in attendance peppered the judge with questions about minute details. Clearly, to this day, the man who spent one thousand days as president has left one thousand theories swirling around his death.
 
"What we did, I think, filled in some of those pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. But there are many that are lost to history," Tunheim said.
 
Tunheim said he encourages the conspiracy theorists to pursue all avenues and continue to dig up new evidence. But he urges them to consult the actual documents -- available to the public -- instead of relying on often inaccurate information on the internet.

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