Abraham Zapruder

Abraham Zapruder

Abraham Zapruder was born into a Russian-Jewish family in the city of Kovel in Ukraine on 15th May, 1905. During the turmoil of the Russian Civil War, the family emigrated to the United States and in 1920 settled in Brooklyn, New York.

Zapruder went to night school to learn English. He found work in the Garment District of Manhatten as a clothing pattern maker. He and his wife Lillian married in 1933, and had two children. In 1941 Zapruder moved to Dallas to work for Nardis, a local sportswear company.

According to Gregory Burnham Zapruder worked with Jeanne LeGon at the company: "In 1953 and 1954 a woman named, Jeanne LeGon worked side by side with Abraham Zapruder at a high end clothing design firm called, Nardis of Dallas. Jeanne LeGon designed the clothing and Abraham Zapruder cut the patterns and the material for her." In 1954, Zapruder co-founded Jennifer Juniors, a company that produced two clothing brands, Chalet and Jennifer Juniors. His offices were located in the Dal-Tex Building, just off Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

Gregory Burnham also argues that Zapruder was an "active member of 2 CIA Proprietary Organizations: The Dallas Council On World Affairs and The Crusade For A Free Europe." Other members included George De Mohrenschildt, Clint Murchison, David Byrd, George H. W. Bush, Neil Mallon and Haroldson L. Hunt.

On 22nd November, 1963, Abraham Zapruder filmed the motorcade of President John F. Kennedy. He later explained to Wesley J. Liebelerabout the background to the filming. "I didn't have my camera but my secretary (Lillian Rogers) asked me why I don't have it and I told her I wouldn't have a chance even to see the President and somehow she urged me and I went home and got my camera."

According to Jim Marrs: "Zapruder made a fourteen-mile round trip drive home to pick up his camera.By the time he returned, crowds were already gathering to watch the motorcade." Zapruder told the Warren Commission: "I thought I might take pictures from the window because my building is right next to the building where the alleged assassin was, and it's just across 501 Elm Street, but I figured - I may go down and get better pictures, and I walked down. I believe it was Elm Street and on down to the lower part, closer to the underpass and I was trying to pick a space from where to take those pictures and I tried one place and it was on a narrow ledge and I couldn't balance myself very much. I tried another place and that had some obstruction of signs or whatever it was there and finally I found a place farther down near the underpass that was a square of concrete I don't know what you call it maybe about 4 feet high." Zapruder decided to take his receptionist, Marilyn Sitzman, with him to Dealey Plaza.

Abraham Zapruder went on to tell Wesley J. Liebeler: "I heard the first shot and I saw the President lean over and grab himself like this (holding his left chest area)... I thought I heard two (shots), it could be three, because to my estimation I thought he was hit on the second - I really don't know. The whole thing that has been transpiring - it was very upsetting and as you see I got a little better all the time and this came up again and it to me looked like the second shot, but I don't know. I never even heard a third shot."

On his return to his office he told Lillian Rogers " to call the police or the Secret Service... I just went to my desk and stopped there until the police came and then we were required to get a place to develop the films. I knew I had something, I figured it might be of some help - I didn't know what." Zapruder's colour film shows the entire assassination sequence and became an important part of the evidence looked at by those investigating the assassination.

By 25th November, 1963, Zapuder's film had been sold to Life Magazine. In charge of the purchase was C. D. Jackson, a close friend of Henry Luce, the owner of the magazine. According to Carl Bernstein, Jackson was "Henry Luce's personal emissary to the CIA". When appearing before the Warren Commission, Zapruder claimed he received $25,000 and then gave this money to the Firemen's and Policemen's Benevolence. However, when the contract was eventually published it showed that Zapruder received $150,000 for the eighteen-second film.

Zapruder later testified before the Warren Commission, and the CBS: The Warren Report. The Zapruder Film was also an important part of the evidence used by the Warren Commission.

Abraham Zapruder died of cancer in Dallas on 30th August, 1970.

Primary Sources

(1) Eddie Barker interviewed Abraham Zapruder for the documentary The Warren Report: Part 2, CBS Television (26th June, 1967)

Eddie Barker: Abraham Zapruder, whose film of the assassination was studied at length on last night's program, was standing up on this little wall right at the edge of the grassy knoll. Now, shots from behind that picket fence over there would have almost had to whistle by his ear. Mr. Zapruder, when we interviewed him here, tended to agree that the knoll was not involved.

Abraham Zapruder: I'm not a ballistics expert, but I believe that if there were shots that come from my right ear, I would hear a different sound. I heard shots coming from - I wouldn't know which direction to say-but they was driven from the Texas Book Depository and they all sounded alike. There was no difference in sound at all.

(2) Gregory Burnham, Amazing Web Of Abraham Zapruder: The Man Who Filmed JFK's Assassination (undated)

The following may be of interest to those who would seek a glimpse at the beginning, even though it tends to raise questions about the only piece of evidence that we know is real, intact, unaltered, and 100% without blemish. Qualities that are curiously absent from the character of the one who filmed it...

Consider:

Abraham Zapruder-White Russian affiliation, 32nd degree Mason, active member of 2 CIA Proprietary Organizations: The Dallas Council On World Affairs and The Crusade For A Free Europe;

These two organizations were CIA (backed) Domestic Operations in Dallas whose membership included:

Abraham Zapruder, Clint Murchison (owner of the Dallas Cowboys at that time) , Mr. Byrd, (owner of the Texas School Book Depository), Sarah Hughes, who swore LBJ in as the 36th President while Air Force One was still on the ground in Dallas, George DeMohrenschildt, (CIA contract agent AND best friend of LHO), George Bush (also close friend of George DeMohrenschildt), Neil Mallon, (mentor that Bush named his son, Neil, after), H.L. Hunt, & Demitri Von Mohrenschildt (George D's brother).

In 1953 and 1954 a woman named, Jeanne LeGon worked side by side with Abraham Zapruder at a high end clothing design firm called, Nardis of Dallas. Jeanne LeGon designed the clothing and Abraham Zapruder cut the patterns and the material for her.

Incidentally, Abraham Zapruder's obituary mis-states the date/year that he departed Nardis of Dallas, incorrectly citing 1949. The correct year was 1959, [the same year that his "partner in design" Jeanne LeGon became known as, Jean LeGon DeMohrenschildt... She had married Lee Oswald's BEST FRIEND (to be), CIA Contract Agent, George DeMohrenschildt!].

(3) Abraham Zapruder was interviewed by Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the Warren Commission on 22nd July, 1964.

I didn't have my camera but my secretary asked me why I don't have it and I told her I wouldn't have a chance even to see the President and somehow she urged me and I went home and got my camera and came back and first I thought I might take pictures from the window because my building is right next to the building where the alleged assassin was, and it's just across 501 Elm Street, but I figured - I may go down and get better pictures, and I walked down. I believe it was Elm Street and on down to the lower part, closer to the underpass and I was trying to pick a space from where to take those pictures and I tried one place and it was on a narrow ledge and I couldn't balance myself very much. I tried another place and that had some obstruction of signs or whatever it was there and finally I found a place farther down near the underpass that was a square of concrete I don't know what you call it maybe about 4 feet high.

After the first shot - I saw him leaning over and after the second shot - it's possible after what I saw, you know, then I started yelling, "They killed him, they killed him," and I just felt that somebody had ganged up on him and I was still shooting the pictures until he got under the underpass - I don't even know how I did it. And then, I didn't even remember how I got down from that abutment there, but there I was, I guess, and I was walking toward - back toward my office and screaming, "They killed him, they killed him," and the people that I met on the way didn't even know what happened and they kept yelling, "What happened, what happened, what happened?" It seemed that they had heard a shot but they didn't know exactly what had happened as the car sped away, and I kept on just yelling, "They killed him, they killed him, they killed him," and finally got to my office and my secretary - I told her to call the police or the Secret Service - I don't know what she was doing, and that's about all. I was very much upset. Naturally, I couldn't imagine such a thing being done. I just went to my desk and stopped there until the police came and then we were required to get a place to develop the films. I knew I had something, I figured it might be of some help - I didn't know what.

(4) Abraham Zapruder, interviewed by Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the Warren Commission (22nd July, 1964).

Mr. LIEBELER - Are you in business here in Dallas, Mr. Zapruder?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - Yes.

Mr. LIEBELER - What business are you in?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - Manufacturing ladies dresses.

Mr. LIEBELER - The manufacture of ladies dresses?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - Yes.

Mr. LIEBELER - I understand that you took some motion pictures at the time assassination?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - That's correct..

Mr. LIEBELER - As you stood there on this abutment with your camera, the motorcade came down Houston Street and turned left on Elm Street, did it not?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - That's right.

Mr. LIEBELER - And it proceeded then down Elm Street toward the triple underpass; is that correct?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - That's correct. I started shooting - when the motorcade started coming in, I believe I started and wanted to get it coming in from Houston Street.

Mr. LIEBELER - Tell us what happened as you took these pictures.

Mr. ZAPRUDER - Well, as the car came in line almost - I believe it was almost in line. I was standing up here and I was shooting through a telephoto lens, which is a zoom lens and as it reached about - I imagine it was around here - I heard the first shot and I saw the President lean over and grab himself like this (holding his left chest area).

Mr. LIEBELER - Grab himself on the front of his chest?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - Right - something like that. In other words, he was sitting like this and waving and then after the shot he just went like that.

Mr. LIEBELER - He was sitting upright in the car and you heard the shot and you saw the President slump over?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - Leaning - leaning toward the side of Jacqueline. For a moment I thought it was, you know, like you say, "Oh, he got me," when you hear a shot - you've heard these expressions and then I saw - I don't believe the President is going to make jokes like this, but before I had a chance to organize my mind, I heard a second shot and then I saw his head opened up and the blood and everything came out and I started - I can hardly talk about it [the witness crying].

Mr. LIEBELER - That's all right, Mr. Zapruder, would you like a drink of water? Why don't you step out and have a drink of water?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - I'm sorry - I'm ashamed of myself really, but I couldn't help it.

Mr. LIEBELER - Nobody should ever be ashamed of feeling that way, Mr. Zapruder. I feel the same way myself. It was a terrible thing. Let me go back now for just a moment and ask you how many shots you heard altogether.

Mr. ZAPRUDER - I thought I heard two, it could be three, because to my estimation I thought he was hit on the second - I really don't know. The whole thing that has been transpiring - it was very upsetting and as you see I got a little better all the time and this came up again and it to me looked like the second shot, but I don't know. I never even heard a third shot.

Mr. LIEBELER - You didn't hear any shot after you saw him hit?

Mr. ZAPRUDER - I heard the second - after the first shot - I saw him leaning over and after the second shot - it's possible after what I saw, you know, then I started yelling, "They killed him, they killed him," and I just felt that somebody had ganged up on him and I was still shooting the pictures until he got under the underpass - I don't even know how I did it. And then, I didn't even remember how I got down from that abutment there, but there I was, I guess, and I was walking toward - back toward my office and screaming, "They killed him, they killed him," and the people that I met on the way didn't even know what happened and they kept yelling, "What happened, what happened, what happened?" It seemed that they had heard a shot but they didn't know exactly what had happened as the car sped away, and I kept on just yelling, "They killed him, they killed him, they killed him," and finally got to my office and my secretary - I told her to call the police or the Secret Service - I don't know what she was doing, and that's about all. I was very much upset. Naturally, I couldn't imagine such a thing being done. I just went to my desk and stopped there until the police came and then we were required to get a place to develop the films. I knew I had something, I figured it might be of some help - I didn't know what.

(5) Cyril H. Wecht was interviewed by Donald A. Purdy for the Select Committee on Assassinations about the Abraham Zapruder film (8th September, 1978)

Donald Purdy: What is it about the normal paths of bullets which leads you to the conclusion that these diagrams illustrating the photographs, permit you to conclude that the bullet did not pass through both men?

Cyril Wecht: The inescapable fact that unless a bullet, especially one fired from a high speed weapon, reasonably high speed, approximately 2,000 feet per second muzzle velocity - unless it strikes something of firm substance, such as bone or something else, that that bullet will travel in a straight line.

Donald Purdy: Mr. Chairman, I would ask at this time that the item marked JFK exhibit F-245, which is a blowup of frame 230 of the Zapruder film, be entered into the record... Dr. Wecht, in your opinion, could Governor Connally have incurred the damage to his wrist which is described in the medical reports and still be holding the hat as shown in this photograph?

Cyril Wecht: No; absolutely not. In F-245, which is a blowup of Zapruder frame 230, we are told under the single bullet theory that Gov. John Connally, for a period of approximately one and a half seconds, has already been shot through the right chest with the right lung pierced and collapsed, through the right wrist, with the distal end of the radius comminuted and the radial nerve partially severed. I heard some vague reference to a nerve in the prior testimony, but I didn't hear the followthrough discussion that I was waiting for about nerve damage. There was nerve damage, yes, to the radial nerve. And the thumb which holds this large Texas white Stetson that is required for it to be in apposition with the index or index and middle fingers to hold that hat is innervated by the radial nerve. Note in F-245 that the hat is still being held and Governor Connally is not reacting. This is again a very alert individual, under a very special circumstance, and I do not believe or accept for one moment the story that we must accept under the single bullet theory that this gentlemen, at this point, one and a half seconds previously, has already been shot through his chest, through his wrist, and into his left thigh.

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, is it your opinion based on this exhibit, JFK exhibit F-245, that Governor Connally is not yet injured in any way?

Cyril Wecht: Yes; that is my opinion.

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, Is it possible that he had been injured prior to this frame but has not yet manifested a reaction?

Cyril Wecht: NO; I do not believe so, not given the nature and extents of his wounds, the multiplicity and the areas damaged, I do not believe that.

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, given the nature of his wounds, how much prior to the time that he manifests a reaction is the earliest he could have been struck?

Cyril Wecht: Well, a fraction of a second, again, an infinitesimal moment. It is possible that a fraction of a second earlier he could have been shot, although I do not believe that. Please keep in mind that now we must correlate that with the Governor's own version, and remembering that this bullet was traveling 2,000 feet per second muzzle velocity, much faster than the speed of sound. Please keep in mind that it does not seem at all likely. I doubt that it is possible that he had already been struck. The panel (of experts assembled by the House Select Committee on Assassinations), to the best of my recollection, was in unanimous agreement that there was a slight upward trajectory the bullet through President John F. Kennedy, that is to say, that the-bullet wound of entrance on the President's back, lined up with the bullet wound of exit in the front of the President's neck drawing a straight line, showed that vertically the bullet had moved slightly upward, slightly, but upward. That is extremely important for two reasons. One, under the single bullet theory - with Oswald as the sole assassin, or anybody else, in the sixth floor window, southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository Building, you have the bullet coming down at a downward angle of around 20-25 degrees, something like that, maybe a little bit less. It had originally been postulated, I think, by the autopsy team, and the initial investigators, at considerably more. How in the world can a bullet be fired from the sixth floor window, strike the President in the back, and yet have a slightly upward direction? There was nothing there to cause it to change its course. And then with the slightly upward direction, outside the President's neck, that bullet then embarked upon a rollercoaster ride with a major dip, because it then proceeded; under the single bullet theory, through Gov. John Connally at a 25 degree angle of declination. To my knowledge, there has never been any disagreement among the proponents and defenders of the Warren Commission report or the critics, about the angle of declination in John Connally - maybe a degree or two. We have that bullet going through the Governor at about 25 degrees downward. How does a bullet that is moving slightly upward in the President proceed then to move downward 25 degrees in John Connally. This is what I cannot understand. My colleagues on the panel are aware of this. We discussed it, and what we keep coming back to is, "well, don't know how the two men were seated in relationship to each other." I don't care what happened behind the Stemmons freeway sign, there is no way in the world that they can put that together, and likewise on the horizontal plane, the bullet, please keep in mind, entered in the President's right back, I agree, exited in the anterior midline of the President's neck, I agree, and was moving thence by definition, by known facts, on a straight line from entrance to exit, from right to left. And so with that bullet moving in a leftward fashion, it then somehow made an acute angular turn, came back almost two feet, stopped, made a second turn, and slammed into Gov. John Connally behind the right armpit, referred to medically as the right posterior axillary area. The vertical and horizontal trajectory of this bullet, 399, under the single bullet theory is absolutely unfathomable, indefensible, and incredible.

Cyril Wecht: Yes; I believe F-246, which is a blowup of Zapruder frame 237, demonstrates that Gov. John Connally has now been struck.

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, what is it about his movements that leads you to the conclusion that he has been struck?

Cyril Wecht: The body is turning, the cheeks are puffing out, there is a noticeable grimace on his face, in contrast, for instance, to F-245, Z-frame 230, and there seems to be some dishevelment of his hair. These features can be seen very dramatically also one frame later, F-247, or Zapruder frame 238, which I remind you is one eighteenth of a second interval away, and you can see the hair movement, the twisting of the body. There is no question in my mind that the Governor has now been hit.

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, referring again to the JFK exhibits F-229, F-272 and F-244, which are the frames immediately before and the frames after the sign, you discussed the fact that the men did not line up in a horizontal trajectory?

Cyril Wecht: Yes. The panel, to the best of my recollection, was in unanimous agreement that there was a slight upward trajectory the bullet through President John F. Kennedy, that is to say, that the-bullet wound of entrance on the President's back, lined up with the bullet wound of exit in the front of the President's neck drawing a straight line, showed that vertically the bullet had moved slightly upward, slightly, but upward. That is extremely important for two reasons. One, under the single bullet theory - with Oswald as the sole assassin, or anybody else, in the sixth floor window, southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository Building, you have the bullet coming down at a downward angle of around 20-25 degrees, something like that, maybe a little bit less. It had originally been postulated, I think, by the autopsy team, and the initial investigators, at considerably more. How in the world can a bullet be fired from the sixth floor window, strike the President in the back, and yet have a slightly upward direction? There was nothing there to cause it to change its course. And then with the slightly upward direction, outside the President's neck, that bullet then embarked upon a rollercoaster ride with a major dip, because it then proceeded; under the single bullet theory, through Gov. John Connally at a 25 degree angle of declination. To my knowledge, there has never been any disagreement among the proponents and defenders of the Warren Commission report or the critics, about the angle of declination in John Connally - maybe a degree or two. We have that bullet going through the Governor at about 25 degrees downward. How does a bullet that is moving slightly upward in the President proceed then to move downward 25 degrees in John Connally. This is what I cannot understand. My colleagues on the panel are aware of this. We discussed it, and what we keep coming back to is, "well, don't know how the two men were seated in relationship to each other." I don't care what happened behind the Stemmons freeway sign, there is no way in the world that they can put that together, and likewise on the horizontal plane, the bullet, please keep in mind, entered in the President's right back, I agree, exited in the anterior midline of the President's neck, I agree, and was moving thence by definition, by known facts, on a straight line from entrance to exit, from right to left. And so with that bullet moving in a leftward fashion, it then somehow made an acute angular turn, came back almost two feet, stopped, made a second turn, and slammed into Gov. John Connally behind the right armpit, referred to medically as the right posterior axillary area. The vertical and horizontal trajectory of this bullet, 399, under the single bullet theory is absolutely unfathomable, indefensible, and incredible.

(6) William Turner, The Rebel, 13th February, 1984)

Garment manufacturer Abraham Zapruder was a spectator at Dealey Plaza who captured the entire shooting sequence with his cheap movie camera. Life magazine immediately snapped up the film for an untold sum. Although Life ran several frames in its cover story on the Warren Commission Report, the motion picture itself had never been shown in public. (Not even members of the Commission had seen it.) Now it had surfaced, courtesy of La Bell France.

The Zapruder film is horrifyingly graphic. It shows Kennedy clutching his throat as a shot from the rear goes through his neck. There are agonizing moments as he slowly slumps forward in the limousine. Then his head literally explodes, sending up a blood-mist halo. The force of the hit rocks him back so violently into the rear seat cushion that it is compressed. He bounces forward as Jackie grabs for him. There is no mistaking that he was killed by a shot from the front. Suspect Lee Harvey Oswald was at the rear.

I rushed to Hollywood with the film to have it analyzed by experts. They pronounced it authentic, probably a second or third generation copy. I then understood why Life, which had taken a stand in support of the Warren Report and featured Gerald Ford's rendition of how the no-conspiracy conclusion was arrived at, had kept the film sequestered. In fact an anonymous caption writer at the magazine had described the head-shot frame as a shot from the front, and a number of subscribers received copies with that caption. But the press run was quickly stopped at tremendous expense, and the offending plate broken and replaced by one whose caption was in conformity with the official position.

(7) John Kelin, review of Noel Twyman's book, Bloody Treason (1998)

One of the central premises of Bloody Treason is that the Zapruder film was altered by members of the cabal that murdered President Kennedy, as part of an effort to at least partly conceal the plot and the plotters. This notion has gained increasing credibility in recent years, but I must concede it is an idea that part of me wants to reject outright, because I just don't get it. The Zapruder film as it has been known since the 1970s is convincing evidence of a front shooter and thus a conspiracy. To dwell on alleged alteration strikes me as counterproductive, missing the forest for the trees.

As I understand the overall argument, frames were deleted from the film in order to hide evidence that Kennedy was shot from the front, which of course would destroy the lone nut scenario. The original film was seized by the conspirators and altered using what was, in 1963, sophisticated yet rather commonplace equipment. Traces of the forgery inevitably remained, but were not ferreted out for many years.

There are undeniable problems in the film, such as whether the Presidential limousine came to a stop during the fusillade. In the conventional Z-film it plainly does not, but numerous eyewitnesses gave sworn testimony that it did, or at least that it slowed down (also not observed).

Another issue that Twyman focuses on is the speed with which limousine driver William Greer turns his head at two points in the shooting sequence. According to Twyman, the speed of this head turn is a physical impossibility, and further proof that key frames were deleted from the film. There are filmed recreations of the head turn (no subject could do it the way Greer supposedly did) and discussions of calculations intended to show it couldn't be done.

These may be Twyman's most powerful demonstrations. But at this stage I am still sitting on the fence on the question of film alteration. Suffice it to say that proving the allegation the Zapruder film was tampered with is not a simple task. Respected researchers have staked claims on both sides of the question; this is not an issue that will be resolved any time soon - if ever.

(8) Julian Borger, The Guardian (4th August, 1999)

A US arbitration panel put a price on the world's most famous home movie yesterday when it agreed to award $16m in compensation to the family of Abraham Zapruder, whose 26-second film of the assassination of President Kennedy has become a national relic. Lawyers for the Zapruder family had been asking for $30m in return for surrendering the film to the national archives, but they called yesterday's ruling "thorough and thoughtful". However, a dissenting member of the three-member arbitration board argued the award was too large for a damaged strip of 8mm celluloid.

Abraham Zapruder, a dress manufacturer, was standing by the route taken by the presidential motorcade through Dallas on November 22, 1963, and was filming the event when the fatal shots rang out. The colour film shows the president grab his chest after the first shot, before his head disintegrates under the force of the second bullet.

Just after the assassination he sold the footage for $150,000 to Time-Life magazine, which published individual frames but did not allow the film to be screened in its entirety. Meanwhile, it became the iconic focus of the ceaseless controversy over whether the shooting was part of a conspiracy. Time-Life gave the film back to the Zapruder family in 1975 for a nominal $1.

Arbitrators were called in when lawyers for Mr Zapruder's heirs and the government failed to agree on fair compensation following the decision by the Assassination Records Review Board ruling in 1997 that the film should be declared the permanent possession of the US people.

Government experts pointed out that even an original manuscript of a President Lincoln speech had only raised $1.5 million at auction, and that the US should not pay much more for the film, especially as the Zapruder family would retain the copyright.

The Zapruder lawyers argued it was a unique artefact like a Vincent Van Gogh painting or an Andy Warhol print, and should be valued accordingly. The panel ruled by 2 votes to 1 that: "The Zapruder film is one of a kind".

(9) Jefferson Morley, The Man Who Did Not Talk (November, 2007)

There have also been interesting developments from the crime scene, perhaps the most important of which may seem like a no-brainer: The famous 26-second Zapruder home movie of JFK's murder contains original undoctored photographic imagery of the assassination. This authentication was deemed necessary by the Assassination Records Review Board, created by Congress to oversee the release of JFK records, because a vocal faction of JFK conspiracy theorists in the 1990s started claiming that the film had been surreptitiously altered to hide evidence of a conspiracy. (Their theory refuted, these conspiracy theorists abandoned the JFK field for greener pastures of 9/11 speculation.) However, this isn't to say that there aren't some legitimate and uncomfortable questions about assassination-related photographs.

"The only caution I have in the photographic record concerns the JFK autopsy material," says Richard Trask, a photo archivist in Danvers, Massachusetts who has the world's biggest collection of JFK assassination imagery, and has written two books on the subject. "That is an area that always makes me pause. What was happening during the autopsy if there was a cover-up or just incompetence, I don't know. It is the only area of the JFK story that I have some doubts about."

As well he should. The JFK medical evidence is worse than a mess -- it is a documented national scandal that awaits decent news coverage. The new evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the photographic record of Kennedy's autopsy has been tampered with by persons unknown. The sworn testimony and records developed by the Assassination Records Review Board in the late 1990s allow no other conclusion.

Among the key post-Stone revelations in the JFK medical evidence:

Autopsy photographs of Kennedy's body are missing from government archives, according to sworn testimony from doctors and medical technicians involved in the autopsy. The origins of other autopsy photos in the collection cannot be determined.

Two FBI agents who took notes during the autopsy gave detailed sworn testimonies rejecting the so-called single bullet theory which girds the official story that Oswald alone killed Kennedy.

Dr. James Humes, the chief pathologist at JFK's autopsy, admitted under oath that he destroyed a first draft of his autopsy report. Humes had previously only admitted to destroying his original notes.

Dr. Gary Aguilar, a San Francisco ophthalmologist who has written about the autopsy, is emphatic. "The medical evidence is really stark evidence of a cover-up in my view," he says. "The story is so extraordinary that it is hard for some people, especially in mainstream media organizations, to come to grips with it. There's just no doubt that there were very strange things going on around the president's body that weekend."

Sounds like a paranoid fantasy? More than a few of the people who participated in the JFK autopsy have sworn to it.

Saundra Kay Spencer was a technician at the Navy's photographic laboratory in Washington. She developed the JFK autopsy photos on the weekend after Kennedy's death. She kept her oath of secrecy for 34 years. When she spoke to the ARRB in 1997, Spencer displayed the efficiency of a career military woman. She was well prepared with a sharp memory for the details of her involvement in the amazing events of November 22-24, 1963. Her testimony, after reviewing all the JFK autopsy photographs in the National Archives, was unequivocal. "The views [of JFK's body] we produced at the [Naval] Photographic Center are not included [in the current autopsy collection]," she said. "Between those photographs and the ones we did, there had to be some massive cosmetic things done to the President's body."

FBI agent Francis O'Neill was present during the autopsy and took notes. In 1997, he also viewed the photographs. Referring to an autopsy photograph showing the wound in the back of Kennedy's head, O'Neill said, "This looks like it's been doctored in some way. I specifically do not recall those -- I mean, being that clean or that fixed up. To me, it looks like these pictures have been. . . . It would appear to me that there was a -- more of a massive wound. . ." O'Neill emphasized he was not saying the autopsy photographs themselves had been doctored but that the wounds themselves had been cleaned up before the photograph was taken.

James Sibert, another FBI agent present at the autopsy, had a similar reaction to the photos. "I don't recall anything like this at all during the autopsy," he said under oath. "There was much -- well, the wound was more pronounced. And it looks like it could have been reconstructed or something, as compared with what my recollection was."

What both men were objecting to was the lack of a big hole in the back of JFK's head which would be somewhat indicative of a so-called blowout wound caused by a shot from the front.

The retired FBI agents were especially scathing about the single bullet theory positing that one bullet caused seven non-fatal wounds in Kennedy and [Texas] Governor Connally and emerged largely undamaged on a hospital stretcher.

They took notes on the autopsy as Dr. Humes examined Kennedy's body. Both said the autopsies concluded the bullet that hit Kennedy in his back had not transited his body. But chief pathologist Humes took another view in his autopsy report, writing that the bullet had emerged from Kennedy's throat and gone on to strike Governor Connally. But Humes's credibility is undermined by the ARRB's discovery that he destroyed not only his notes, but also his first draft of the autopsy report without ever revealing its contents or even existence.

Sibert later told a JFK researcher of the single bullet theory: "It's magic, not medicine."