November 22, 1963: Will Fritz and the JFK Investigation

by Paula Bosse

jfk_dpd_post-assassination_ebayThe men of the Homicide & Robbery Bureau at work (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

After the unthinkable had happened on the streets of Dallas — the assassination of a U.S. president — the Homicide and Robbery Bureau of the Dallas Police Department, led by Will Fritz, Captain of Detectives, sprang into action and quickly apprehended Lee Harvey Oswald as a suspect in the shooting of President John F. Kennedy. The FBI, the Secret Service, the Texas Rangers, and the whole of the Dallas Police Department worked together, but Fritz was the face of the investigation.

Will Fritz (1895-1984) was born in Dublin, Texas and grew up in New Mexico. He joined the Dallas Police Department in 1921 and remained on the force for 49 years, retiring in 1970 at the age of 74. He was considered one of the top police interrogators in the state and was a dedicated lawman — so dedicated he lived just steps away from police headquarters in the White Plaza Hotel (originally the Hilton Hotel, now the Indigo).

The success rate of Fritz’s detectives was impressive:

The record of Fritz and the Police Department’s Homicide and Robbery Bureau — which he has led since its formation — is a nationally enviable one. Over the past quarter century, he and his aides have solved roughly 98 per cent of the 54 to 98 homicides committed each year. (Dallas Morning News, March 1, 1959)

Fritz served for almost half a century with the DPD, involved in all sorts of colorful cases, but he’ll always be most remembered for the events surrounding the JFK assassination. The photo above shows his detectives at work in the Homicide office in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination; the photo below shows him exiting the Texas School Book Depository with DPD detective Elmer Boyd (carrying rifle).

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Above photo and clippings from the Albuquerque Journal, Nov. 24, 1963

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Sources & Notes

Top photo showing a Dallas police officer standing outside the Homicide and Robbery Bureau is from a 2015 eBay listing. The reverse of the photo is stamped “Paris Match/Marie Claire.”

Photo showing Fritz walking down the steps of the Texas School Book Depository, taken on November 22, 1963 by Dallas Times Herald staff photographer William Allen. It is from the Sixth Floor Museum’s Dallas Times Herald Collection, which is hosted online by the University of North Texas Libraries, via the Portal to Texas History, here (with additional information here).

More about Capt. Will Fritz from the Handbook of Texas History, here.

A really interesting profile of Fritz can be found in the 1959 Dallas Morning News article “Captain Fritz: Stays With the Case” by Don Freeman (DMN, March 1, 1959).

Other Flashback Dallas posts related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy can be found here.

Click on photos and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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