LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A UALR professor spent two years investigating the records and evidence linked to the death of the late John F. Kennedy.
The words of former CBS legend Walter Cronkite are etched into the memory of those alive in the early sixties.
"President Kennedy died at one p.m. central standard time, two o'clock eastern standard time some thirty eight minutes ago," Cronkite told the nation the tragic news in 1963.
On November 22, 1963 the nation stood still after hearing that President John F. Kennedy was struck down while driving through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas.
"If there was just one guy how come there's so much secrecy? That's what bothers a lot of people," says Gary Mack, Curator 6th Floor Museum.
Two investigations and more than 30 years later, congress establishes the Assassination Records Review Board to de-classify evidence linked to President Kennedy's death
"They weren't investigating the assassination; they were investigating the records of the assassination."
In 1995 a then 28-year-old investigator was called to be part of the nationwide search to track down evidence.
"I felt as though a great deal of responsibility had been placed on me and that I had better take it seriously," says David Montague, a criminal justice professor at UALR.
Montague served on the Assassination Records Review Board from 1995 until 1997 as a senior investigator.
"The president was killed in '63 and so I had no take when I was hired. I think that's one of the reason they hired me, because I wasn't single bullet theory person, I wasn't conspiracy theory person, I had no view," says Montague.
After congress passed the JFK Act in 1992, Montague and the review board gained all-access to evidence, documents and classified information, linked to the assassination.
"...Finding people, arranging interviews, you know that's a rewarding feeling when no one's heard from the person in twenty, thirty years. Then because of the training that I received I was able to track that person down. It's a lot easier nowadays, but we're talking mid nineties here," says Montague.
Montague's evidence search landed in the thick of JFK evidence. He literally rolled out the actual Zapruder film, looked at the president's clothes from the day of the shooting and searched the belongings of Lee Harvey Oswald. For Montague every break was an opportunity to truth.
"My belief was I should keep the net wide open. If anyone made any allegation or something, rather than simply saying that doesn't make sense on the surface next project," says Montague.
PART TWO: An eyewitness to the shooting
Nearly 50 years later many still wonder how JFK was killed. Former senior investigator on Assassination Records Review Board, Dr. David Montague was granted all access to Kennedy evidence at the National Archives.
"We also saw the pink outfit that Jackie Kennedy wore and we saw the President's suit and so forth...we were right there with it. The rifle, the magic bullet, CE-39, commission exhibit 39 all of those different types of artifacts really do something that no text book can do," says Montague.
Montague studied the actual footage shot by Abraham Zapruder the day of the assassination. And experts say Zapruder's secretary actually held his feet to stabilize his legs while he stood on a small column on top of the grassy knoll.
"We rolled it out on the table and all took turns looking, we were very careful not to actually physically touch, I did not touch the film," says Montague.
During his investigation Montague followed the intriguing story line of Jim Tague, a Dallas man who claimed he was struck by a concrete fragment caused by a bullet. Tague recalls the moments leading up to the shooting as he stood near the triple underpass.
"And I'm standing there and thoughts going through my mind, what kind of idiot and why is there a firecracker? Then the crack, crack of two riffle shots right after themselves," Tague tells THV.
According to Tague, he then quickly took cover and then moments later in midst of chaos when Dallas County sheriff's deputy, Buddy Walthers walks up to him.
"He looked up at me and he says you got blood on your cheek and I reached up and I did have...He said where were you standing? I said back over there on the other side of main between main and commerce," says Tague.
During Montague's interview of Tague the now 76-year-old shared his grief after naysayers discredited his story.
"This is somebody that was very, very upset. He was excited to be there that day in Dealey Plaza as anybody would be just seeing the most public figure in the world. Then for something, for someone to make up a statement like that; he just never understood why people gave him a hard time," says Montague.
In 1998, Dr. Montague and the review board published a report of more than 200 pages and submitted it to President Clinton. The report presents evidence, interviews and law enforcement records. Despite the tremendous effort by the board, Montague questions why portions of evidence remain hidden from the public, another unclear turn in a murky investigation.
After two years of investigation Montague shares his "walk away" feeling.
"I just wonder how one person could have done that by themselves? I just don't know. I know other people would disagree with me...there's some people that might even say that I'm biased," says Montague.
No matter the opinion, idea, conspiracy, or thought its clear JFK left a legacy. On this day, 49 years ago the country lost its president and a man many call a hero.
Dr. Montague is currently working on a book recalling his time on the review board. He says many times it's hard for him to fathom being a small part of the story that shook the nation.