Questions surround JFK ambulance claim

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by CRAIG CIVALE

WFAA

Posted on January 22, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Updated Sunday, Jan 23 at 1:41 AM

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 continues to fascinate the world.

Collectors still go after little pieces of that fateful day in Dallas, like the coffin of accused gunman Lee Harvey Oswald; the Texas Theatre seat Oswald was sitting in when he was arrested; and now, the military ambulance that may or may not have borne President Kennedy's body to the U.S. Capitol.

That gray 1963 Pontiac Bonneville ambulance went on the auction block in Scottsdale, Arizona this weekend, despite new and compelling evidence that it is a fake.

The vehicle had been expected to bring in nearly a million dollars at Saturday's auction until some history buffs got involved, including Allan Goodrich, a long-time archivist for the Kennedy Library in Boston.

He said the actual ambulance was destroyed 25 years ago. "We got the authorization to dispose of it in '85, and we took it to the junkyard in June of '86 and had it crushed," Goodrich told News 8 in a telephone interview.

Goodrich documented the destruction himself with a series of photographs. He said they show the ambulance at the junkyard, then being crushed. He even signed a document at the time to verify that he witnessed what happened.

"Took two-and-a-half rolls of film that day, because we knew somebody would question if we destroyed it," Goodrich said.

On Friday, Barrett-Jackson Auction Company scaled down its promotion of the "JFK ambulance," saying it could not confirm nor deny its authenticity.

On Saturday, the auction firm said it had applied a heightened level of scrutiny to the ambulance, and — that as with many other facts related to the Kennedy assassination — the particular details surrounding the history of this 1963 Pontiac Bonneville ambulance will remain shrouded in mystery for years to come.

In a statement, the car's owner, John Jenson, stood by his claim, but added: "I'm not trying to say this is the truth or that is the truth because no one is actually going to know ... really, in the end, it is what you make of it."

When it finally went up for bids Saturday night, the ambulance fetched $120,000 — far short of its million-dollar hype.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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