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Erik Lehnsherr (Earth-10005) from The Bent Bullet Report

Cover of the Bent Bullet Report, featuring Erik Lehnsherr's mugshot. Photo taken February 2, 1964.

The Bent Bullet Report is a newspaper article written by journalist Harper Simmons for the Daily Globe in November 2013. The report looks back at the November 22, 1963 assassination of United States President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the events that proceeded and followed it, as well as new evidence about the assassination revealed in a second report from the Warren Commission, which Simmons' article takes its name from, that was declassified in 2012.

The article covers government allegations that Kennedy's assassination was the work of Mutant elements, namely Erik Lehnsherr, and further suggests that the Warren Commission convicted an possibly innocent Lehnsherr in hast, with prejudice, and with slim evidence.

Pre-Assassination

The 1961 election of Kennedy, a proponent of the Civil Rights Movement, to the office of the Presidency was met with opposition in the American South. After the culmination of the confrontation later dubbed the Cuban Missile Crisis on October 28, 1962, rumors of beings with fantastic and dangerous superpowers, fueled by eyewitness accounts from American and Russian Naval personnel present that day, began to slowly spread throughout the country.[1] While these rumors were largely dismissed as delusion or fantasy, a small segment of the population, many of which resided in the South, believed them as fact.

One of these believers was Edwin Partridge. Partridge, a retired Major General of the United States Army, was active in the Dallas, Texas political scene, often speaking at rallies in support of right-wing political movements and segregation, as well as speaking out against both Communism and the Kennedy administration. According to now-declassified investigations by Project: Wideawake, a task force of the CIA created by Kennedy, Partridge began subtly alluding to mutants in his speeches as early as 1961. These statements, according to the Warren Commission, made Partridge a target.

As alleged by the Warren Commission, Lehnsherr approached and recruited 24-year-old former Marine Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate Partridge. On April 10, 1963, Partridge was shot in the head by Oswald with a recently purchased Carcano-produced Fucile di Fanteria Model 91/38 bolt-action rifle as he sat at his dinning room table. Partridge was killed instantly; his death was the catalyst that lead to the creation of the Project: Wideawake task force by Kennedy.

Partridge's death only strengthened the fervor of his supporters, who rallied behind his rhetoric. His death also preceded the creation of a number of Mutant hate groups, including the Friends of Humanity and the Purifiers, and what mutant historians would later dub the "Summer of Hate". During the Summer of 1963, at least a dozen suspected or confirmed X-Gene Mutants were murdered, including 19-year-old exotic dancer Arleen Adams, whose death gained substantial media attention.[2] The Summer of Hate was capped by the July deaths of two Brotherhood of Mutants members, Azazel and Tempest. Government records state that the pair attacked operatives of Project: Wideawake and were killed in the subsequent shootout.

Kennedy's Assassination

When President Kennedy arrived in Dallas on November 22, 1963, tensions were already high. In the weeks leading up to the President's visit, the Friends of Humanity had lobbied locally for Kennedy's impeachment, and taken out newspaper ads accusing Kennedy of covering up the existence of "Unholy genetic horrors". On the day of his arrival, the group handed out fliers demanding Kennedy's impeachment for several acts of treason, including "Mutant love", and "conspiracy to dilute the human race with ungodly blood".

The Warren Commission's report upholds the accepted timeline of that day: The President and First Lady Jackie Kennedy arrived at Love Field airport at around 11:40 a.m. The Kennedys, along with Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie, entered the President's limousine, and started along the motorcade route. Shortly before 12:30, the motorcade entered Dealey Plaza, and passed the Texas School Book Depository.

Kennedy Assassination from The Bent Bullet Report (Earth-10005)

Diagram from the Warren Commission's report showing the trajectory of the infamous "Bent Bullet"

According to the Warren Commission's report, as the motorcade passed the Book Depository, Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots from his Model 91/38 rifle. The first shot veered away from the limousine and failed to hit anyone. The second shot, now commonly referred to as "the Bent Bullet", had its trajectory altered by the mutant powers of Erik Lehnsherr, the Commission concluded; this bullet followed a physically impossible trajectory that struck and wounded both President Kennedy and Governor Connally. The third bullet struck President Kennedy directly in the head. Kennedy was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, but did not survive.

Lehnsherr's Involvement

Numerous eyewitness reports, as well as amateur photography, depict a man matching Lehnsherr's description on the grassy knoll near the parade route on the day of the assassination. The most damning evidence of Lehnsherr's presence came from the testimony and photography of then-12-year-old Marie Ellen Dodge. According to Dodge, she had noticed Lehnsherr starring off at the Book Depository, and began to take pictures of him. As described by Dodge, when the gunshots rang out, she looked toward Lehnsherr and saw the second bullet stop in midair for a moment's time, before facing towards the limousine and continuing on a new path. Dodge states that for some time, her story was dismissed by everyone.

Lehnsherr's involvement in the assassination, as well as his true identity and his role in 'bending the bullet', where not confirmed in the Warren Commission's investigation until January 1964, when CIA director John Cobb authorized the release of Lehnsherr's files. Prior to this point, the CIA withheld information on Lehnsherr's time with Division X on a "need-to-know" basis, citing the possibility of leaking sensitive information.

After learning of Lehnsherr's powers of metal manipulation, the Warren Commission concluded that the unnatural path taken by the second bullet had to have been manipulated by Lehnsherr's hand. While not confirmed, the Commission also stated that Lehnsherr manipulating the third bullet was not out of the question.[3]

Immediate Aftermath and Oswald's Arrest

Even prior to the official announcement that Kennedy had died, Parkland Memorial was flooded with phone calls. The majority of these were crank calls, but one of the them, initially dismissed as a crank, was later attributed to Lehnsherr himself. In the recording of the call, Lehnsherr's voice can be heard telling the operator, "You cannot elude the natural evolution of your species. No law passed, nor force rallied, can stay Mother Nature's perfect and unmerciful hand."

Oswald had also fled the scene. After taking a bus to his home, Oswald immediately left again. He was soon spotted near East 10th Street and North Patton Avenue, where numerous witnesses saw Oswald shoot and kill Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit. Oswald fled, and was soon spotted ducking into the Texas Theatre. When police entered the building and confronted Oswald, he was unarmed, and appeared confused as to what was happening.

In the following days, Oswald was interviewed by a slew of government agencies, including the CIA, Secret Service, and future members of the Federal Council on Mutant Activities and the Homeland Mutant Response Division. In a surprising move, Oswald would confess to the murder of Edwin Partridge, but denied even knowing about the Kennedy and Tippit murders, proclaiming that there was a secret double impersonating him.

The Warren Commission's report would eventually concede that the evidence against Oswald was circumstantial. The bullets that killed Kennedy were matched to the rifle left at the Book Depository, and a partial palm-print matching Oswald was found on the rifle as well, but the rifle was also covered with fingerprints from an unidentified individual, and prints that annalists said did not appear human. Additionally, while eye witnesses identified Oswald as the killer at Tippit's murder, the bullets from the crime could not be linked to the revolver owned by Oswald.

Despite the inconsistent evidence, Dallas authorities moved forward with charging Oswald. However, Oswald would never see trial; on November 24, Oswald was shot and killed during a jail transfer by strip club owner Jack Ruby. Ruby confessed almost immediately, claiming he acted to spare the First Lady the pain of returning to Dallas for a trial.

The Oswald Double

One of the more popular and lasting conspiracy theories to come from the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination is the theory of an "Oswald double". Spurred from Oswald's claims that a double of himself was responsible for Kennedy and Tippit's deaths, conspiracy Enthusiasts maintain that on numerous occasions in November 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was seen in two different Dallas locales at the same time. Oswald's wife Marina has also claimed that in the weeks leading up to the assassination, he husband had been acting like a completely different person.

Ruby's Trial and Death

Despite his earlier confession, Ruby soon recanted, and claimed to have no recollection of the day of the murder, or the weeks before or after the 24th. In a December 11, 1963 interview with Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and Commission member Gerald R. Ford, then a US representative, Ruby claimed that a nurse working at the prison had injected him for "a cold".[4] Ruby then claimed that he was injected with cancer cells, which Warren and Ford dismissed as nonsense.

Ruby's testimonies were ultimately not admitted into the final report of the Warren Commission. His trial moved quickly, and Ruby was found guilty of Oswald's murder on January 20, 1964, and given a death sentence. Two days after his conviction, prison staff diagnosed Ruby with pneumonia; staff at Parkland Memorial Hospital examined Ruby and found cancer spread across his lungs, liver and brain. Two days after being admitted to Parkland Memorial, Ruby died of a pulmonary embolism associated with his lung cancer.

The Trial of Erik Lehnsherr

In declassified documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, it was revealed that the CIA deployed Project: Wideawake operatives to find Lehnsherr nearly two weeks before the Warren Commission's report was finished. On February 4, 1964, Erik Lehnsherr turned himself over to operatives of Project: Wideawake in a rural section of New York without incident. The Warren Commission report was turned over to the President the following day.

In a closed-door trial that began the following week, court documents show that Lehnsherr made little effort to defend himself against the claims of and onslaught of evidence and testimony brought on by prosecutor Brian M. Wein. Lehnsherr's own public defender, Thomas Jarvis called the trial a "circus", and claimed due process was thrown out the window, as the nation was "out for blood".

While on the stand, Lehnsherr made the claim that he was not trying to assassinate Kennedy, but was in fact trying to stop the bullets to save Kennedy. Wein challenged Lehnsherr to demonstrate his power, claiming that it would prove Magneto could change the path of a bullet to save the President. When Lehnsherr used his mind to twist and bend a crowbar provided by the prosecutor, the courtroom built into an uproar. Once the court was finally settled, Lehnsherr claimed that Oswald was innocent, and that the true killer was still at large, likely never to be caught. Lehnsherr refused to talk about the claim any further when cross-examined.

Lehnsherr made his own closing statement, reminding the jury that there was no physical evidence that linked him to any crime. He finished out his statement by telling the jury "I did not shoot your president. But I know who did, and you'll never find her. She has a way of hiding in plain sight." Despite his statements, Lehnsherr was found guilty of first degree murder and conspiracy to assassinate, and was given two consecutive life sentences.

Aftermath

Lehnsherr proved himself difficult to contain in the following years, breaking out of at least three prison cells in the 1960s. In 1971, Trask Industries was contracted to build a prison to house Lehnsherr, which the company managed to accomplish using polymers and concrete. Trask Industries maintains upkeep on Lehnsherr's cell to this day.

Lehnsherr, now approaching 80-years-old, still maintains that he and Oswald were both innocent, and that the true killer, who he strongly hints is a woman, is still on the loose. His brief interview with Simmons, Lehnsherr's first since his conviction, repeats the sentiment of his and Oswald's innocence, and shows a still dismissive attitude towards humans, before he turns Simmons away with many questions left unanswered.

Notes/Trivia

  • The report infers that Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto has been locked in prison for 50 straight years. This contradicts events from a number of previous entries in the X-Men series.
  • The mysterious culprit the newspaper article, eyewitnesses and even Magneto allude to as directly or partially responsible for the deaths of President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby and J. D. Tippit is Mystique.
  • The article suggests that aspects of mutant oppression have already taken hold, including X-Gene suppressing collars and interment camps for Mutants.
  • Among the books noted in Erik Lehnsherr's prison are T. H. White's The Once and Future King and Trish Tilby's District X.
  • Experts, eyewitnesses and other individuals interviewed by Simmons for this article, or whose experiences are retold, include:

Footnotes

  1. Documents declassified by the CIA and the Homeland Mutant Response Division in 2012 confirm that the Cuban Missile Crisis was entirely orchestrated by mutant Sebastian Shaw, with his goal being worldwide homo sapien extermination.
  2. Common theory is that the mutant deaths during the Summer of Hate were connected in some way to these newly-formed hate groups, but no substantial evidence has ever been produced.
  3. Modern scientists have stated that the Commission's claims of bullet manipulation are indeed possible, but cannot be confirmed, as the true extent of Lehnsherr's powers are unknown to the scientific community or the government.
  4. Jail records state Ruby was given a flu vaccine.

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