David Keck has been a teacher for more than 30 years, a Johnstown resident for four years, a village council member for three years. But for longer than the sum of those years, he's been captivated by the mystery - if indeed there is a mystery - of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

David Keck has been a teacher for more than 30 years, a Johnstown resident for four years, a village council member for three years. But for longer than the sum of those years, he's been captivated by the mystery - if indeed there is a mystery - of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Keck is, in fact, an expert on the Kennedy assassination. When eminent Kennedy assassination historian Harold Weisberg died and donated his document collection to Hood College in Maryland, Keck donated copies of his own archive in support of it.

Hood College established the Harold Weisberg Archive, a collection of more than 250,000 pages of Warren Commission, FBI and CIA records.

Among the documents donated by Keck were two decades of correspondence with Weisberg, as well as with most authors of Kennedy assassination books.

He also corresponded with the "Lady in Red," Jean Hill, visible in the Zapruder tape; and Charles Harrelson, father of actor Woody Harrelson, who was convicted of assassinating a federal judge and who is theorized to be one of "three tramps" who might have been the true killers of President Kennedy.

Keck was a junior in high school when Kennedy was killed. A year and a half later, as a freshman at Ohio University, he was taken with "Rush to Judgment" by attorney Mark Lane, the first of what would be many books challenging the official Warren Commission judgment that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin.

"In retrospect, I don't agree with a lot of his conclusions," Keck said. "But at the time he raised a lot of questions about forensics that fascinated me, as a murder mystery. His was one of the first books on the subject."

Although Keck has changed his mind over the course of developing his work on Kennedy's death, today his "fallback" position is that Oswald acted alone.

"So far, I have not found anything that's provable to indicate than anyone other than Oswald did it," Keck said. "And on other hand, there is evidence that Oswald had motive to do it - that he wanted to impress Castro."

Even so, Keck said, the Warren Commission itself lacks credibility.

"The Warren Commission report was sloppy and not a good historical document," Keck said. "It even contradicts itself. They were biased, not because (Lyndon) Johnson wanted to cover things up, but because what they didn't need was everybody in the country thinking the government was falling apart.

"The purpose of it wasn't to prove who did it or didn't do it," he said. "The purpose was to calm the public. They were biased that way."

Keck has made several presentations to the National Council for Social Studies, including one during the 30th anniversary of the assassination. Among the exhibits Keck has used is a rifle owned by another Westerville teacher.

"My approach to research is, I wanted to see for myself," Keck said. "I had a colleague from Westerville who owned a Mannlicher Carcano that he purchased about three months before Oswald purchased his at the same store.

"This was before they fired you for this kind of thing, but I used to take that gun into classes to speak.

"There are some key points in conspiracy theorists arguments, one of which is he could not possibly have shot that many times. Well, you can. I was able to do it. As far as shooting three times and throwing the bolt, it wasn't that hard.

"Now that doesn't mean I can hit anything, but that's not what I was trying to prove."

The thing that most animates Keck is shoddy work, he said.

Despite Keck's own belief that Oswald acted alone, his closest friends and fellow students of the period, including Weisberg, have concluded that Oswald did not do it.

Keck himself criticizes Kennedy assassination author Gerald Posner, author of "Case Closed," as doing sloppy work. He praises Weisberg's response, "Case Open."

"I hate it when people go off on their own tangents for their own self-interest," Keck said. "It's hard to put the genie back in the bottle when you do that."