For decades, conspiracy theorists have claimed the famous “backyard photo” of Lee Harvey Oswald, which shows him holding the same type of rifle used to assassinate JFK, is a fake—a claim that Oswald himself made when he was arrested.
But thanks to a scientist who has studied this photo before and stated previously it was “highly improbable that anyone could have created such a perfect forgery with the technology available in 1963,” that claim has now been debunked.
A new study out of Dartmouth, published in the Journal of Digital Forensics, Security, and Law, used sophisticated 3D imaging technology to analyze key details of the photo, including Oswald’s pose, and found that the photo is indeed authentic, a press release notes.
“Our detailed analysis of Oswald’s pose, the lighting and shadows, and the rifle in his hands refutes the argument of photo tampering,” Hany Farid, the study’s senior author, says.
Both the Warren Commission and a special House committee on assassinations had already found photo tampering hadn’t taken place, and Farid had done studies in 2009 and 2010 that determined the photo’s lighting and shadows were indeed feasible, per Phys.org.
But some said that Oswald’s pose in the photo, in which he appears to be standing somewhat off-balance, was a physical impossibility, so this time around Farid and his team put the photo through a rigorous 3D stability analysis.
By adding appropriate mass little by little to each section of a 3D model of Oswald, they were able to examine Oswald’s balance to show he certainly could have stood that way.
The study also found, once again, that the lighting, shadows, and rifle length were also plausible. “With a simple adjustment to the height and weight, the 3D human model that we created can be used to forensically analyze the pose, stability, and shadows in any image of people,” Farid says in the release.
(The CIA has admitted to covering up JFK’s assassination, though.)