Primary Sources: Autopsy

Primary Sources: Autopsy

When John F. Kennedy was shot on 22nd November, 1963, he was taken to Parkland Hospital and was treated by Dr. Malcolm Perry. He performed a tracheotomy over the small wound in Kennedy's throat, therefore inadvertently destroying crucial evidence concerning the direction of the bullet that hit the president. At the press conference that followed the death of Kennedy, Perry stated that he thought the throat hole looked like an entrance wound.

Charles Crenshaw also treated Kennedy at Parkland Hospital. He later stated: "Two wounds were visible. There was a small, round opening in the front of the midline of the throat. This became the site of Dr. Malcolm Perry's tracheostomy incision. In the occipito-parietal region at the right rear of the head, there was an avulsive wound nearly as large as a fist.... I considered the throat wound to be an entrance wound and the large head wound to be an exit wound. Along with many of my Parkland colleagues, I believed at the time that President Kennedy had been hit twice from the front."

An autopsy on the body of Kennedy was performed during the evening of 22nd November, 1963, at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. This involved Commander Joseph Humes, Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Finck, and Commander James Boswell. When interviewed by the Warren Commission Humes insisted "that the bullet penetrated the rear of the President's head and exited through a large wound on the right side of his head." His testimony gave support to the report's infamous single-bullet theory.

Dr. Malcolm Perry was also interviewed by the Warren Commission. He admitted that he had changed his mind and now thought that a "full jacketed bullet without deformation passing through the skin would leave a similar wound for an exit and entrance wound and with the facts which you have made available and with these assumptions, I believe that it was an exit wound."

As Lee Harvey Oswald could not fire his bolt-action rifle fast enough to wound John F. Kennedy and John Connally with separate shots, the Warren Commission argued that a single bullet hit Kennedy in the back of the neck and exited from the throat just below the Adam's apple. The same bullet entered Connally's back, exited from his chest, went completely through his right wrist, and lodged in his left thigh.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations set up a panel of forensic pathologists to examine the autopsy materials and other medical evidence. Most of the members concluded that two bullets, both fired from the rear, struck Kennedy. However, one member, Cyril H. Wecht, rejected this theory claiming it was medically impossible, and suggested that at least one bullet had been fired from the right front.

During the investigation the committee discovered that the Dallas Police had a recording of the assassination. A microphone, mounted on one of the motorcycles escorting the motorcade, had picked up sounds in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination. Acoustic experts analysed the recording and were able to distinguish four rifle shots. They concluded that there was a 95 per cent probability of the third bullet was fired from the Grassy Knoll. As a result of this acoustic evidence G. Robert Blakey was able to state that there were "four shots, over a total period of 7.91 seconds were fired at the Presidential limousine. The first, second and fourth came from the Depository; the third from the Grassy Knoll."

The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that "scientific acoustical evidence establishes a high probability that two gunmen fired at President John F. Kennedy." It added that on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy."

In the book, Assassination Science, Robert B. Livingston, one of the world's leading experts on the brain, has argued that "something must have burst into the posterior fossa with sufficient force to uproot the cerebellum and blow a substantial hole through the heavy, covering, well-anchored, tentorium, which separates cerebellum from the main chamber of the skull". This has given support to those who believe that Kennedy was hit by a dum-dum bullet from the front.

(F1) According to the Warren Commission this was the pathof the bullet that hit John Connally (right). Drawing taken fromDavid Simkin's book, The Assassination of President Kennedy.
(F1) According to the Warren Commission this was the path
of the bullet that hit John Connally (right). Drawing taken from
David Simkin's book, The Assassination of President Kennedy.

(F2) Tom Wicker, New York Times (23rd November, 1963)

Mr. Kilduff indicated that the President had been shot once. Later medical reports raised the possibility that there had been two wounds. But the death was caused, as far as could be learned, by a massive wound in the brain.

Later in the afternoon, Dr. Malcolm Perry, an attending surgeon, and Dr. Kemp Clark, chief of neurosurgery at Parkland Hospital, gave more details.

Mr. Kennedy was hit by a bullet in the throat, just below the Adam's apple, they said. This wound had the appearance of a bullet's entry.

Mr. Kennedy also had a massive, gaping wound in the back and one on the right side of the head. However, the doctors said it was impossible to determine immediately whether the wounds had been caused by one bullet or two.

What does Dr. Malcolm Perry account tell us about the position of the gunman that fired at President John F. Kennedy?

(F3) J. Edgar Hoover made a telephone call to President Lyndon B. Johnson on 29th November, 1963.

Lyndon Johnson: How many shots were fired? Three?

J. Edgar Hoover: Three.

Lyndon Johnson: Any of them fired at me?

J. Edgar Hoover: No.

Lyndon Johnson: All three at the President?

J. Edgar Hoover: All three at the President and we have them. Two of the shots fired at the President were splintered but they had characteristics on them so that our ballistics expert was able to prove that they were fired by this gun... The President - he was hit by the first and third. The second shot hit the Governor. The third shot is a complete bullet and that rolled out of the President's head. It tore a large part of the President's head off and, in trying to massage his heart at the

hospital on the way to the hospital, they apparently loosened that and it fell off onto the stretcher. And we recovered that... And we have the gun here also.

Lyndon Johnson: Were they aiming at the President?

J. Edgar Hoover: They were aiming directly at the President. There is no question about that. This telescopic lens, which I've looked through - it brings a person as close to you as if they were sitting right beside you.

According to this telephone conversation, how many gunmen were involved in the assassination of President Kennedy?

(F4) Michael Kurtz, Crime of the Century (1982)

About four o'clock Saturday morning, Doctor James Humes felt relieved as the hearse bearing John Kennedy's embalmed body and reconstructed head departed from Bethesda Naval Hospital. It had been a grueling night for Commander Humes, made all the more demanding on his professional skills by the prestigious nature of his autopsy victim and by all the high-ranking military and naval brass present to witness and supervise his work. Now that it was all over, Humes could relax. He had just one minor detail to complete before he could go home. He telephoned Dr. Malcolm Perry in Dallas, since Dr. Perry had been the surgeon in charge of President Kennedy's emergency treatment at Parkland Hospital.

Dr. Perry's revelation that the president had a bullet hole in his throat must have astounded Dr. Humes. At the autopsy, the three pathologists observed only the large tracheotomy incision in the neck. The reason was simple. Dr. Perry had sliced right through the bullet hole as he made the tracheotomy. Thus, no bullet hole was visible by the time the autopsy began. But now, James Humes faced a serious dilemma. He and his colleagues had failed to include one of Kennedy's wounds in their autopsy findings. Dr. Perry's description of the wound as very small and round sounded like the description of an entrance wound. But with no exit wounds anywhere in the body and no bullets found still in the body, Humes was puzzled. It appeared that both the bullet that entered the president's back and the one that entered his throat had not exited, yet had somehow disappeared.

After thinking about this, Dr. Humes telephoned Dr. Perry again to obtain a more precise description of the throat wound. During their conversation, Humes had a sudden inspiration and shouted, "so that's it!" He went home, attended a school function with his son, and slept for several hours. Then he took his original autopsy notes, stained with John Kennedy's blood, and burned them in his fireplace. Then he drew up a new autopsy protocol based on the new information he had gleaned from Dr. Perry The new report stated that a bullet had entered Kennedy's neck and exited from his throat. Even though there was only slight medical evidence to confirm this, Dr. Humes concluded that it provided the only reasonable explanation for the wounds in Kennedy's body.

Why did Doctor James Humes destroy his original autopsy notes?

(F5) The Warren Report: Part 2, CBS Television (26th June, 1967)

Walter Cronkite: The most persuasive critic of the single-bullet theory is the man who might be expected to know best, the victim himself, Texas Governor John Connally. Although he accepts the Warren Report's conclusion, that Oswald did all the shooting, he has never believed that the first bullet could have hit both the President and himself.

John Connally: The only way that I could ever reconcile my memory of what happened and what occurred, with respect to the one bullet theory, is that it had to be the second bullet that might have hit us both.

Eddie Barker: Do you believe, Governor Connally, that the first bullet could have missed, the second one hit both of you, and the third one hit President Kennedy?

John Connally: That's possible. That's possible. Now, the best witness I know doesn't believe that.

Eddie Barker: Who is the best witness you know?

John Connally: Nellie (Connally) was there, and she saw it. She believes the first bullet hit him, because she saw him after he was hit. She thinks the second bullet hit me, and the third bullet hit him.

Nellie Connally: The first sound, the first shot, I heard, and turned and looked right into the President's face. He was clutching his throat, and just slumped down. He Just had a - a look of nothingness on his face. He didn't say anything. But that was the first shot.

The second shot, that hit John - well, of course, I could see him covered with - with blood, and his - his reaction to a second shot. The third shot, even though I didn't see the President, I felt the matter all over me, and I could see it all over the car.

So I'll just have to say that I think there were three shots, and that I had a reaction to three shots. And - that's just what I


John Connally: Beyond any question, and I'll never change my opinion, the first bullet did not hit me. The second bullet did hit me. The third bullet did not hit me.

Now, so far as I'm concerned, all I can say with any finality is that if there is - if the single-bullet theory is correct, then it had to be the second bullet that hit President Kennedy and me.

What does Nellie Connally have to say about the three bullets that were fired at the presidential limousine?

(F6) The Houston Chronicle (15th November, 1998)

Nellie Connally, the last surviving passenger of the car in which President Kennedy was assassinated, is reasserting her belief that the Warren Commission was wrong about one bullet striking both JFK and her husband, former Governor John Connally.

"I will fight anybody that argues with me about those three shots," she told Newsweek magazine in its Nov. 23 issue. "I do know what happened in that car. Fight me if you want to."

The Warren Commission concluded in 1964 that one bullet passed through Kennedy's body and wounded Connally, and that a second bullet struck Kennedy's head, killing him. It concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman.

The Connallys maintained that two bullets struck the president in Dealey Plaza 35 years ago and a third hit the governor. John Connally died in 1993 at age 75.

The Warren Commission concluded there also was a bullet that missed the car entirely. Some conspiracy theorists argue that if three bullets struck the men, as the Connallys insisted, and a fourth missed, then there must have been a second gunman because no one person could have fired four rounds from Oswald's bolt-action rifle so quickly.

Why does Nellie Connally's evidence provide problems for those who believe the lone gunman theory?

(F7) Autopsy of Body of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was produced by two Secret Service agents, Francis X. O’Neill and James W. Sibert on 26 November 1963.

Upon completion of X-Rays and photographs, the first incision was made at 8:15 p.m. X-Rays of the brain area which were developed and returned to the autopsy room disclosed a path of a missile which appeared to enter the back of the skull and the path of disintegrated fragments could be observed along the right side of the skull. The largest section of this missile as portrayed by X-Ray appeared to be behind the right frontal sinus. The next largest fragment appeared to be at the rear of the skull at the juncture of the skull bone.

The Chief Pathologist advised approximately 40 particles of disintegrated bullet and smudges indicated that the projectile had fragmentized while passing through the skull region.

During the autopsy inspection of the area of the brain, two fragments of metal were removed by Dr. Humes, namely, one fragment measuring 7 x 2 millimeters, which was removed from the right side of the brain. An additional fragment of metal measuring 1 x 3 millimeters was also removed from this area, both of which were placed in a glass jar containing a black metal top which were thereafter marked for identification and following the signing of a proper receipt were transported by Bureau agents to the FBI Laboratory.

During the latter stages of this autopsy, Dr. Humes located an opening which appeared to be a bullet hole which was below the shoulders and two inches to the right of the middle line of the spinal column.

This opening was probed by Dr. Humes with the finger, at which time it was determined that the trajectory of the missile entering at this point had entered at a downward position of 45 to 60 degrees. Further probing determined that the distance traveled by this missile was a short distance inasmuch as the end of the opening could be felt with the finger.

Inasmuch as no complete bullet of any size could be located in the brain area and likewise no bullet could be located in the back or any other area of the body as determined by total body X-Rays and inspection revealing there was no point of exit, the individuals performing the autopsy were at a loss to explain why they could find no bullets.

A call was made by Bureau agents to the Firearms Section of the FBI Laboratory, at which time SA Charles L. Killion advised that the Laboratory had received through Secret Service Agent Richard Johnson a bullet which had reportedly been found on a stretcher in the emergency room of Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Texas. This stretcher had also contained a stethoscope and pair of rubber gloves. Agent Johnson had advised the Laboratory that it had not been ascertained whether or not this was the stretcher which had been used to transport the body of President Kennedy. Agent Killion further described this bullet as pertaining to a 6.5 millimeter rifle which would be approximately a 25 caliber rifle and that this bullet consisted of a copper alloy full jacket.

Immediately following receipt of this information, this was made available to Dr. Humes who advised that in his opinion this accounted for no bullet being located which had entered the back region and that since external cardiac massage had been performed at Parkland Hospital, it was entirely possible that through such movement the bullet had worked its way back out of the point of entry and had fallen on the stretcher.

Also during the latter stages of the autopsy, a piece of the skull measuring 10 x 6.5 centimeters was brought to Dr. Humes who was instructed that this had been removed from the President’s skull. Immediately this section of skull was X-Rayed, at which time it was determined by Dr. Humes that one corner of this section revealed minute metal particles and inspection of this same area disclosed a chipping of the top portion of this piece, both of which indicated that this had been the point of exit of the bullet entering the skull region.

On the basis of the latter two developments, Dr. Humes stated that the pattern was clear that the one bullet had entered the President’s back and had worked its way out of the body during external cardiac massage and that a second high velocity bullet had entered the rear of the skull and had fragmentized prior to exit through the top of the skull. He further pointed out that X-Rays had disclosed numerous fractures in the cranial area which he attributed to the force generated by the impact of the bullet in its passage through the brain area. He attributed the death of the President to a gunshot wound in the head.

Why does this report suggest that President Kennedy was hit by bullets from two different weapons?

(F8) Warren Commission Report (1964)

Colonel Finck testified: "President Kennedy was, in my opinion, shot from the rear. The bullet entered in the back of the head and went out on the right side of his skull. He was shot from above and behind." Commander James J. Humes, senior pathologist and director of laboratories at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, who acted as chief autopsy surgeon, concurred in Colonel Finck's analysis. He compared the beveling or coning effect to that caused by a shot which strikes a pane of glass, causing a round or oval defect on the side of the glass where the missile strikes and a belled-out or coned-out surface on the opposite side of the glass. Referring to the bullet hole on the back of President Kennedy's head. Commander Humes testified: "The wound on the inner table, however, was larger and had what in the field of wound ballistics is described as a shelving or coning effect."After studying the other hole in the President's skull, Commander Humes stated: "we concluded that the large defect to the upper right side of the skull, in fact, would represent a wound of exit." Those characteristics led Commander Humes and Commander J. Thomton Boswell, chief of pathology at Bethesda Naval Hospital, who assisted in the autopsy, to conclude that the bullet penetrated the rear of the President's head and exited through a large wound on the right side of his head.

According to the testimony of Commander Joseph Humes, Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Finck, and Commander James Boswell, was President Kennedy shot from in front or behind?

(F9) Malcolm Perry, interviewed by Arlen Specter for the Warren Commission (1964)

Arlen Specter: Will you continue, then, Dr. Perry, as to what you observed of his condition?

Malcolm Perry: Yes, there was blood noted on the carriage and a large avulsive wound on the right posterior cranium.

I cannot state the size, I did not examine it at all. I just noted the presence of lacerated brain tissue. In the lower part of the neck below the Adams apple was a small, roughly circular wound of perhaps 5 mm. in diameter from which blood was exuding slowly. I did not see any other wounds. I examined the chest briefly, and from the anterior portion did not see any thing. I pushed up the brace on the left side very briefly to feel for his femoral pulse, but did not obtain any. I did no further examination because it was obvious that if any treatment were to be carried out with any success a secure effective airway must be obtained immediately. I asked Dr. Carrico if the wound on the neck was actually a wound or had he begun a tracheotomy and he replied in the negative, that it was a wound, and at that point... I asked someone to secure a tracheotomy tray but there was one already there. Apparently Dr. Carrico had already asked them to set up the tray...

Arlen Specter: Why did you elect to make the tracheotomy incision through the wound in the neck, Dr. Perry?

Malcolm Perry: The area of the wound, as pointed out to you in the lower third of the neck anteriorly is customarily the spot one would electively perform the tracheotomy. This is one of the safest and easiest spots to reach the trachea. In addition the presence of the wound indicated to me there was possibly an underlaying wound to the neck muscles in the neck, the carotid artery or the jugular vein. If you are going to control these it is necessary that the incision be as low, that is toward the heart or lungs as the wound if you are going to obtain adequate control. Therefore, for expediency's sake I went directly to that level to obtain control of the airway.

Why did the tracheotomy operation performed by Dr. Perry on President Kennedy create confusion for those responsible for the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital?

(F10) Robert Livingston, letter to David Lifton (2nd May, 1992)

Inasmuch as I was Scientific Director of two of the institutes at the NIH - and both institutes were pertinent to the matter of the President's assassination and brain injury - the Navy Hospital operator and the Officer on Duty put me through to speak directly with Dr Humes who was waiting to perform the autopsy. After introductions, we began a pleasant conversation. He told me that he had not heard much about the reporting from Dallas and from the Parkland Hospital. I told him that the reason for my making such an importuning call was to stress that the Parkland Hospital physicians' examination of President Kennedy revealed what they reported to be a small wound in the neck, closely adjacent to and to the right of the trachea. I explained that I had knowledge from the literature on high-velocity wound ballistics research, in addition to considerable personal combat experience examining and repairing bullet and shrapnel wounds. I was confident that a small wound of that sort had to be a wound of entrance and that if it were a wound of exit, it would almost certainly be widely blown out, with cruciate or otherwise wide, tearing outward ruptures of the underlying tissues and skin.

I stressed to Dr. Humes how important it was that the autopsy pathologists carefully examine the President's neck to characterize that particular wound and to distinguish it from the neighbouring tracheotomy wound.

I went on to presume, further, that the neck wound would probably not have anything to do with the main cause of death-massive, disruptive, brain injury - because of the angle of bullet trajectory and the generally upright position of the President's body, sitting up in the limousine. Yet, I said, carefully, if that wound were confirmed as a wound of entry, it would prove beyond peradventure of doubt that that shot had been fired from in front-hence that if there were shots from behind, there had to have been more than one gunman. Just at that moment, there was an interruption in our conversation. Dr. Humes returned after a pause of a few seconds to say that "the FBI will not let me talk any further." I wished him good luck, and the conversation was ended. My wife can be good witness to that conversation because we shared our mutual distress over the terrible events, and she shared with me my considerations weighing the decision to call over to the Bethesda Navy Hospital. The call originated in the kitchen of our home on Burning Tree Road in Bethesda with her being present throughout. After the telephone call, I exclaimed to her my dismay over the abrupt termination of my conversation with Dr. Humes, through the intervention of the FBI. I wondered aloud why they would want to interfere with a discussion between physicians relative to the problem of how best to investigate and interpret the autopsy. Now, with knowledge of the apparently prompt and massive control of information that was imposed on assignment of responsibility for the assassination of President Kennedy, I can appreciate that the interruption may have been far more pointed than I had presumed at that time.

I conclude, therefore, on the basis of personal experience, that Dr. Humes did have his attention drawn to the specifics and significance of President Kennedy's neck wound prior to his beginning the autopsy. His testimony that he only learned about the neck wound on the day after completion of the autopsy, after he had communicated with Doctor Perry in Dallas by telephone, means that he either forgot what I told him (although he appeared to be interested and attentive at the time) or that the autopsy was already under explicit non-medical control.

What does Robert Livingston mean when he say that the autopsy carried out by Dr. Humes might have been under "non-medical control"?

(F11) Joseph Humes, interviewed by Gary Cornwell for the House Select Committee on Assassinations on 9th July, 1978.

Gary Cornwell: You may have heard part of the testimony which reflected that the panel reviewed your report of the autopsy and, of course, as you know, the panel also spoke with you on one prior occasion. With respect to the ultimate findings that this committee will, of course, need to wrestle with, there is apparently, from the testimony today. One possible major area of disagreement, respect to the location of a bullet wound in the back of the President's head or possibly, depending upon the total body of the evidence, whether there was one or more than one bullet holes in the back of the Presidents head. That is principally what we wish to discuss with you at this time. Let me ask you first, your autopsy report reflected that there was one and only one bullet wound to the back of the President's head, that it did enter in the rear, exited the front. Is that report accurate on those three points, to the best of your knowledge?

James Humes: Absolutely.

Why did Gary Cornwall ask Joseph Humes about the wound in the head of President Kennedy?

(F12) Charles Crenshaw, Let's Set the Record Straight, included in Assassination Science (1998)

Just after 12:40 p.m. on Friday, 22 November, I entered Trauma Room at Parkland Hospital with Dr. Bob McClelland. Several other Parkland doctors were already there. President Kennedy lay, mortally wounded, on a stretcher. For the next several minutes, I helped administrate emergency treatment to the President and I observed both his throat wound and the wound at the right rear of his head.

I helped to remove President Kennedy's trousers and Dr. Ken Salyer and I performed a cutdown and inserted an IV catheter which fed Ringer's solution into Kennedy's right leg. At the same time, other Parkland doctors were performing a tracheotomy, inserting chest tubes, and doing a similar cutdown on the left leg.

Two wounds were visible. There was a small, round opening in the front of the midline of the throat. This became the site of Dr. Malcolm Perry's tracheotomy incision. In the occipito-parietal region at the right rear of the head, there was an avulsive wound nearly as large as a fist. Bone, scalp, and hair were missing in the region, and brain tissue, including much of the cerebellum, was hanging from the opening. I considered the throat wound to be an entrance wound and the large head wound to be an exit wound. Along with many of my Parkland colleagues, I believed at the time that President Kennedy had been hit twice from the front.

How does Dr. Charles Crenshaw's evidence contradict that given by Commander Joseph Humes, Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Finck, and Commander James Boswell to the Warren Commission (F7)?

(F13) David Mantik, The JFK Assassination: Cause for Doubt, included in Assassination Science (1998)

One of the most amazing and serious oversights was the pathologists' failure to coronally section the brain. The brain was examined nearly two weeks later, thus giving Humes ample time to review standard protocols for this. With this much time to prepare, ignorance can hardly be the explanation. Is it conceivable that Humes would have undertaken such a momentous task without reviewing in detail standard protocols, especially since, by his own admission, he was not experienced in gunshot autopsies?

On one occasion Humes stated that the shot to the head came from above and on another he claimed that the anatomic data could not answer this question. The critics naturally wonder how the evidence could possibly have changed during this interval, or if Humes' memory were defective, how it could fail him on such a major question....

Dr. Michael Baden, who chaired the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel, described the autopsy as "woefully inadequate" and noted that neither Humes nor Finck had ever done an autopsy involving a gunshot before! Although Finck was the designated expert, he had only sat in an office and reviewed records of US military personnel who had died of gunshot wounds. In view of the judgment required to reconstruct the reported two skull wounds, the pathologists' lack of actual experience with gunshot wounds seems germane.

Why does Dr. David Mantik criticise the autopsy carried out by Commander Joseph Humes, Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Finck, and Commander James Boswell? What was Dr. Michael Baden's view of this autopsy?

(F14) Dan Rather interviewed Charles Wyckoff for the documentary The Warren Report: Part 2, CBS Television (26th June, 1967)

Dan Rather: From a physicist's point of view, from a photographic analysis point of view, what can you tell about the direction of the bullet?

Charles Wyckoff: Well, the - in frame 313, the - there was an apparent explosion at this point, which would be on the front side of-of-the head. Now, characteristically, this would indicate to me that the bullet came from behind, and this is what's called spalling. It's a minor explosion where pieces of material have - have left and go generally in the direction of the bullet.

Dan Rather: But now, the explosion, this minor explosion, occurs forward of the President. Now, wouldn't that indicate the bullet coming from the front?

Charles Wyckoff: No, quite contrary. It does indicate that the bullet was coming from behind.

Dan Rather: Well, you're aware that some critics say that by the very fact that in the picture you can clearly see the explosion of the bullet on the front side of the President, that that certainly indicates the bullet came from the front.

Charles Wyckoff: Well, I don't believe any physicist has ever said that. This picture might explain the principle that we've been talking about just a little bit more clearly. It's a picture taken in a millionth of a second, of a thirty calibre bullet being shot through an electric light-bulb The bullet was traveling from this direction, entered the light-bulb here, passed through and caused a rather violent explosion to occur on the exiting side, and it's very similar to the situation in the Zapruder Kennedy assassination films.

Why does Charles Wyckoff believe that the bullet that hit President Kennedy's head "came from behind".

(F15) Walter Cronkite, The Warren Report: Part 2, CBS Television (26th June, 1967)

It is claimed that the bullet was planted on the governor's stretcher as part of a plot to link Oswald to the assassination. And that claim can never be disproved. The bullet is almost intact, only slightly flattened, with a little cone of lead missing from the rear end. Could such a bullet have penetrated successively, a human neck, a human torso, a wrist, and a thigh, and emerged in this condition? The Commission used animal carcasses and blocks of gelatin to test the bullet's penetrating power, firing repeated shots from Oswald's rifle. Now, this is standard technique. But, because of the difficulty of lining up such a shot, the Commission experts fired their bullets separately through the various simulators. Each time they measured how much speed the bullet had lost from its initial two thousand feet per second, and in the end, concluded that the bullet would have retained enough velocity to penetrate the Governor's thigh.

How did the Warren Commission attempt to prove that the bullet found on Governor Connaly's stretcher had "penetrated successively, a human neck, a human torso, a wrist, and a thigh"?

(F16) Walter Cronkite, The Warren Report: Part 2, CBS Television (26th June, 1967)

The Warren Report's contention that there was only one assassin rests on the conviction that all the wounds suffered by both men were inflicted by no more than three shots, fired from behind and above them. We have heard Captain Humes, as well as other doctors and experts. We have looked hard at the single-bullet theory. The case is a strong one.

There is not a single item of hard evidence for a second assassin. No wound that can be attributed to him. No one who saw him, although he would have been in full view of a crowded plaza. No bullets. No cartridge cases. Nothing tangible.

Why does Walter Cronkite believe that only one gunman fired at President Kennedy?

(F17) William Turner, The Warren Report: Part 3, CBS Television (27th June, 1967)

Now, what happened there was that the Kennedy motorcade coming down there, the Kennedy limousine - there were shots from the rear, from either the Dallas School Book Depository building, or the Dell Mart, or the courthouse; and there were shots from the grassy knoll. This is triangulation. There is no escape from it, if it's properly executed.

I think that the massive head wound, where the President's head was literally blown apart, came from a quartering angle on the grassy knoll. The bullet was a low velocity dumdum mercury fulminate hollow-nose, which were outlawed by The Hague Convention, but which are used by paramilitary groups. And that the whole reaction is very consistent to this kind of weapon. That he was struck and his head - doesn't go directly back this way but it goes back and over this way, which would be consistent with the shot from that direction, and Newton's Law of Motion.

Now, I feel also that the escape was very simple. Number one using a revolver or a pistol, the shells do not eject, they don't even have to bother to pick up their discharged shells. Number two, they can slip - put the gun under their coat, and when everybody comes surging up there they can just say, "He went that-a-away". Very simple. In fact, it's so simple that it probably happened that way.

Does William Turner agree with Walter Cronkite (F12) about the assassination?

(F18) Mark Lane, The Warren Report: Part 4, CBS Television (28th June, 1967)

There was one conclusion, one basic conclusion that the Commission reached, I think, which can be supported by the

facts, and that was the Commission's conclusion that Ruby killed Oswald. But, of course, that took place on television. It would have been very difficult to deny that. But, outside of that there's not an important conclusion which can be supported by the facts and - and this is the problem.

And what the Commission was thinking and what they were doing is still hidden from us, of course. The minutes of the Commission meetings are locked up in the National Archives, and no one can see them. A vast amount of the evidence, FBI reports, CIA reports, which may be directly related to the information we should have, are also locked up in the Archives. No one can see that.

The photographs and X-rays of the President's body, taken at the autopsy in Bethesda, Maryland, taken just before the autopsy was begun, taken by Naval technicians, which in and of themselves might resolve the whole question as to whether or not there was a conspiracy, cannot be seen by anyone today, and in fact, not one member of the Warren Commission ever saw the most important documents in the case, the photographs and the X-rays. And not one lawyer for the Commission ever saw - was curious enough to examine the most important evidence.

Why does Mark Lane argue that it was difficult in 1967 to discover if more than one gunman was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy?

(F19) Walter Cronkite, The Warren Report: Part 4, CBS Television (28th June, 1967)

Almost from the day the Warren Commission published its report, its decision to omit those vital X-rays and photographs has been under attack. Only that physical evidence, say the critics, can finally resolve the debate over how many bullets struck the President, where they came from, and where they went - the central questions in the argument over how many assassins opened fire in Dealey Plaza.

More than one critic has charged that the autopsy record in the Warren Report is not the original autopsy, but has been changed to conform with the Commission's theories...

It seems to CBS News that one of the most serious errors made by the Warren Commission was its decision not to

look at those photographs and X-rays, an error now compounded. For the Kennedy family, which had possession of the autopsy pictures, agreed last year to donate them to the National Archives, but only with the stipulation that the pictures be locked away for five years - with only certain authorized government personnel allowed to see them.

According to Walter Cronkite, what was one of the most important errors made by the Warren Commission?

(F20) G. Robert Blakey was interviewed by ABC News in 2003.

ABC News: Let me ask you: 40 years after the fact and 25 years after your investigation, who killed John F. Kennedy?

Blakey: Lee Harvey Oswald killed John Kennedy. Two shots from behind. The evidence is simply overwhelming. You have to be lacking in judgment and experience in dealing with the evidence to think that Lee Harvey Oswald did not kill President Kennedy. That's really not the problem. The problem is: Was there something beyond Lee Harvey Oswald? And now what you do is you look at the evidence.

ABC News: How many shots were fired at Dealey Plaza?

Blakey: What we did is determine that there were in fact four shots. Our scientists looked at a tape we found, and they did a scientific analysis of it, and it indicated four shots in the plaza, three from the depository and one from the grassy knoll. That meant there were two shooters in the plaza, two shooters in the plaza equal a conspiracy.

The first shot from the depository by Lee Harvey Oswald missed. The second shot about 1.6 seconds later, hit the president in the back of the neck. (The bullet exited Kennedy and) hit John Connally. It hit his wrist, hit his leg. Now six seconds from the second shot, we think a shot came from the grassy knoll. It missed the president. The shot from the grassy knoll missed. The X-rays, the autopsy, all of that indicates the president was not hit by a shot from any other direction. Seven-tenths of a second after that, the third shot, fourth in the row, third shot from the depository, hits the president right in the back of the head.

The shot from the grassy knoll is not only supported by the acoustics, which is a tape that we found of a police motorcycle broadcast back to the district station. It is corroborated by eyewitness testimony in the plaza. There were 20 people, at least, who heard a shot from the grassy knoll.

What evidence does G. Robert Blakey provide to support his theory that there were at least two gunman firing at President Kennedy?

(F21) James H. Fetzer, Arlen Specter (2000)

During an interview about his new book, Passion for Truth, on 4 March 2001 with Paul Alexander and John Batchelor on WABC, which lasted seven minutes, Arlen Specter asserted seven claims about the assassination of JFK and the "magic" bullet theory that are not simply false but actually provably false. His assertions and the grounds on which we know they are false are as follows: (1) that JFK was standing when he was hit: provably false. We have more than 200 Dealey Plaza witnesses and 500 photographic records - counting the Zapruder film as one - that prove he was sitting, not standing, when he was killed; (2) that a bullet entered at the back of JFK's neck: provably false in six different ways: (a) Boswell's diagram; (b) Jack's shirt; (c) Jack's jacket; (d) Berkley's death certificate; (e) Sibert and O'Neill's report on the autopsy; plus (f) ARRB release showing that Gerald Ford had the final report changed to make it appear as if the bullet had entered the base of his neck when it had not; (3) that the bullet hit nothing solid: provably false. David Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., has drawn a line through a CAT scan that demonstrates that a bullet entering where this is alleged to have entered and exiting where this is alleged to have exited would have had to impact with cervical vertebra, which means that the single bullet theory is not just false but actually anatomically impossible; (4) that he has "looked" at the X-rays and they support the conclusions of the Warren Commission: provably false. Specter is not an expert on the interpretation of X-rays, so even if he has taken a look (which I doubt), it would mean nothing. Someone who is an expert has studied them repeatedly and has discovered that they have been fabricated in at least two different ways: (a) the right lateral cranial X-ray has been fabricated by imposing a patch to conceal a massive blow-out to the back of the head; and, (b) the anterior-posterior X-ray has been fabricated by adding a 6.5 mm metal-like object to implicate a 6.5 mm weapon; (5) he claims there is no evidence of conspiracy: provably false. That the magic bullet theory is anatomically impossible and that the X-rays have been altered implicates the government in a conspiracy to conceal the truth about the assassination, where the most reasonable explanation for government complicity in the cover-up is government complicity in the crime. (6) he says that we now know that Humes burned his notes: but what is new is not that he burned his notes (which were stained with blood: that is rather old news) but that he also burned the first-draft of his autopsy report (under orders from his superior: that is the new news); and, (7) he asserts that you can't prove a negative: but we have just done so six times: we have proven that Arlen Specter has made no less than six false claims - seven, including this one - during this brief interview.

The X-rays of Kennedy's body, taken at the autopsy in Bethesda, Maryland, were eventually released. What does James H. Fetzer say about these X-rays?

(F22) Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation (1993)

One demolishes the single-bullet theory: the locations of the bullet holes in the back of Kennedy's jacket and shirt - hard, tangible, measurable evidence - obliterate the possibility of a bullet emerging from Kennedy's throat and striking Governor Connally.... Beyond all the other evidence indicating conspiracy, all the acoustic tests, the autopsy evidence, the bullet trajectory theories and what have you, even beyond all the other evidence of Oswald's associations, the Odio incident absolutely cries conspiracy.

Why does Gaeton Fonzi disagree with the single-bullet theory?

(F23) Jean Hill interviewed by Arlen Specter from the Warren Commission (24th March, 1964)

Arlen Specter: Did you have any conscious impression of where the second shot came from?

Jean Hill: No.

Arlen Specter: Any conscious impression of where this third shot came from?

Jean Hill: Not any different from any of them. I thought it was just people shooting from the knoll - I did think there was more than one person shooting.

Arlen Specter: You did think there was more than one person shooting?

Jean Hill: Yes, sir.

Arlen Specter: What made you think that?

Jean Hill: The way the gun report sounded and the difference in the way they were fired - the timing.

Arlen Specter: What was your impression as to the source of the second group of shots which you have described as the fourth, perhaps the fifth, and perhaps the sixth shot?

Jean Hill: Well, nothing, except that I thought that they were fired by someone else.

Arlen Specter: And did you have any idea where they were coming from?

Jean Hill: No; as I said, I thought they were coming from the general direction of that knoll.

Jean Hill was standing close to the presidential limousine when the bullets were fired in the Dealey Plaza. Why is this considered important when trying to assess the position of the gunmen.

(F24) 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.

Does Abraham Zapruder agree with Jean Hill about the bullets fired in the Dealey Plaza?

(F25) Cyril H. Wecht was interviewed by Donald A. Purdy for the Select Committee on Assassinations about the single-bullet theory (8th September, 1978)

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, is it your opinion that no bullet could have caused all of the wounds to President Kennedy and Governor Connally or the Commission exhibit 399 could not have caused all of the wounds to both men?

Cyril Wecht: Based upon the findings in this case, it is my opinion that no bullet could have caused all these wounds, not only 399 but no other bullet that we know about or any fragment of any bullet that we know about in this case...

Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, what is the basis for your opinion that Commission exhibit 399 could not have caused all of the wounds to President Kennedy and Governor Connally?

Cyril Wecht: It is a composite based upon several things: The timing of the Zapruder film, which we know runs at 18.3 frames or individual units of the film strip per second; the evaluation of the wounds in the President and Governor Connally; the timing of the test-firing in the hands of the most skilled marksman the Government could find in 1964 of this Mannlicher-Carcano weapon, the bolt action nonautomatic World War II Italian carbine, a grossly inferior weapon; the very vivid testimony of Governor John Connally about which he has been completely consistent for the past 14 years concerning the fact that he was struck by a different bullet; the vertical and horizontal trajectories that must be attributed to Commission exhibit 399 if the single-bullet theory is to be substantiated. These are the various factors that relate to the single-bullet theory.

Why does Doctor Cyril Wecht disagree with the single-bullet theory?

(F26) Robert Livingston, letter to Maynard Parker, editor of Newsweek (10th September, 1993)

A further issue concerns reports of the appearance of cerebellar tissue in the occipital wound. This was first reported "live" as observations by an orderly, and by a nurse, both of whom were in the surgery where attempts to resuscitate the president were conducted prior to his death. I didn't give any credibility to those stories and dismissed them from my focus at the time, attributing what I thought must be mistaken identification of cerebellum to a likely lack of familiarity with neuroanatomy by two non-medically trained individuals. It would be easy to assume cerebellum in looking at macerated cerebral tissue protruding from a bloody wound. But since then, around six reputable physicians who saw the president at that time have testified that cerebellum was extruding from the wound at the back of his head. That is an important clue, indicating that something must have burst into the posterior fossa with sufficient force to uproot the cerebellum and blow a substantial hole through the heavy, covering, well-anchored, tentorium, which separates cerebellum from the main chamber of the skull.

Dr. Robert Livingston does not believe that President John Kennedy was killed by a bullet from the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle? Why?

(F27) David Mantik, statement (10th November, 1993)

Just before Halloween this year, I visited the National Archives on four separate days to examine the autopsy X-rays and photographs. While there I used a technique called optical densitometry - to study the X-rays. This technique has been available for many years but has never been applied to the JFK autopsy X-rays. It measures the transmission of ordinary light through selected points of the X-ray film. If I had measured thousands of points I could have constructed a three dimensional topographic map of the X-rays. The higher points on this map would represent the blackest areas of the X-ray film and would correspond to areas in the body where the most X-rays had passed through to strike the film. In a way, therefore, the information contained in the X-ray film is converted from two dimensions into three dimensions and is that much richer in detail. The range of peaks and valleys on such a topographic map would be expected to fall within a well defined range for a normal human skull. Any values which lie outside of this range - and especially those which lie unnaturally far outside - would not be consistent with ordinary skulls and would raise questions of authenticity...

I discovered... new evidence that the autopsy X-rays of President John F. Kennedy have been altered, that there were two shots which struck the head, and that the magic bullet is anatomically impossible.

What did Dr. David Mantik find out after using optical densitometry to study the X-rays of President Kennedy's brain?

(F28) Michael Kurtz, Crime of the Century: The Kennedy Assassination From a Historians Perspective (1982)

An omission in Lifton's theory is his belief that the conspirators inflicted wounds on the body over six hours after the assassination. Although he claims to have read widely in textbooks on forensic pathology, Lifton apparently did not notice one of the most elementary principles of autopsy procedure: damage inflicted on a body after death is easily distinguishable from that inflicted on a living body. If the conspirators had reconstructed Kennedy's skull and produced two entrance wounds on the body, the Bethesda pathologists would have recognized the postmortem changes. By the time of the autopsy, the body was in the beginning stages of rigor mortis and exhibited signs of livor mortis and algor mortis (three of the stages a corpse undergoes after death). Any damage inflicted on that body would have displayed definite pathological signs of alteration, and the entrance wounds in the back and the head would not have shown microscopic indications of "coagulation necrosis," since the blood had long since ceased circulating.

Why does Michael Kurtz disagree with David Lifton theory "that the conspirators inflicted wounds on the body over six hours after the assassination"?