Saundra K. Spencer

Saundra K. Spencer

Saundra Kay Spencer studied at Rochester Institute of Technology. In 1957 she started basic training with the United States Navy. In November, 1963, she was petty officer in charge of the White House Laboratory at the Naval Photographic Center in Anacostia, DC.

The day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Spencer was informed by her boss, Robert L. Knudsen, that a Secret Service agent would be arriving to have some film negatives to be developed. When the agent arrived he said his name was James K. Fox. Spencer developed the films and discovered they were colour photographs of Kennedy's corpse. It took Saundra Spencer just over an hour to develop and dry the prints. Fox gathered up the negatives and prints and told her "to forget that he had been there."

Spencer was interviewed by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) in June, 1997. Douglas Horne, who attended the session was later to remark that she developed: "Post mortem photography different from that in the Archives today. (Different type of film and different images.) Her photography seemed to be of the body after reconstruction, but before it was clothed and put in the burial casket."

Saundra Kay Spencer was also interviewed by William Matson Law for his book, In the Eye of History: Disclosures in the JFK Assassination Medical Evidence (2005).

Primary Sources

(1) Saundra K. Spencer, interviewed by T. Jeremy Gunn at the Assassination Records Review Board (5th June, 1997)

Q: Ms. Spencer, did you have any work after November 22nd, 1963, that was related to the death of President Kennedy?

A: Yes. We were requested to develop 4" by 5" color negatives and make prints of an autopsy that was - we were told it was shot at Bethesda after the President's body was brought back from Dallas.

Q: I would like to come to that in a minute. Prior to that, did you have any other work or responsibilities related to the death of President Kennedy?

A: We were trying to put together the prayer cards. Mrs. Kennedy had selected a black and white photograph, and so we needed a number of them. What we did was take four prints, 4" by 5" prints, and do the vignetting on those, and then they were copied to a master negative, and we took it downstairs and put it on the automatic black and white printers to print out the required numbers. Then, we brought them back and we did not cut them here. We brought them to the White House. They took them to the printers and evidently they were printed and cut there...

Q: So on Friday, November 22nd, 1963, did you do any work related to either the funeral of President Kennedy or to autopsy photographs that you mentioned?

A: No, we were primarily in a standby position.

Q: Approximately, how long did it take for you to work on the black and white prints?

A: It took most of the day. It seemed to me it was late, maybe 2 o'clock in the morning, by the time we got them over to the White House after we got the indication of which ones we needed to print.

Q: So this would be, then, you worked on them on Saturday, November 23rd, until approximately 2 o'clock in the morning on Sunday, November 24th, is that...

A: I can't remember the day. All I remember is that it was after the President's body bad been taken up to the Rotunda, because as we went to the White House, the lines were forming for the Rotunda.

Q: Just to make sure that I understand this correctly, that you took prints over to the White House, the black and white prints, and at that time, you noticed lines that were forming to go the Rotunda on Capitol Hill?

A: Yes.

Q: And at the time that you took the prints to the White House, do you remember whether the body was at the White House or whether it was at Capitol Hill?

A: It had to be up at the Capitol Rotunda at that time.

Q: Now, a few minutes ago you mentioned some work related to the autopsy photographs of President Kennedy. When did you first receive information that you would be doing some work on that issue?

A: We received a call from the quarterdeck, and they said an agent was there, and we were supposed to perform, photographic work for him. They logged him in and brought him up. He had in his hand 4 by 5 film holders, so I am estimating - he was a large man - so he probably had four or five film holders.

Q: Now, when you say he called from the quarterdeck, where was the quarterdeck?

A: The quarterdeck is on the first floor of NPC.

Q: Do you remember approximately when the telephone call happened, which day of the week?

A: No, I don't.

Q: Do you remember what you were doing at the time that you heard about the telephone call from the quarterdeck?

A: No, I don't. It seemed like it was in the morning.

Q: Were you working on the developing of the black and white prints, did it interrupt that, or was it before or after?

A: No, it was after.

Q: So it was after you had finished the prints. Had you done any other work between the time that you worked on the black and white prints and that you received a call from the quarterdeck?

A: We were finishing up job orders that we had, that had been requested from the White House.

Q: Do you remember the name of the agent who came with the film?

A: No, I don't. The only thing I remember, I think he said he was with the FBI.

Q: Do you remember we spoke earlier, you and I spoke on the telephone in December of 1996?

A: Yes.

Q: At that time you mentioned the name of an agent. Do you remember the name that you used at that time?

A: No, I don't, because I really couldn't verify that that was the agent, so I just - he was an agent.

Q: In December of 1996, you spontaneously said to us that you recalled the name was Fox, but that you weren't certain. Does that ring a bell?

A: Yes.

Q: When Mr. Fox or the person came to the White House lab, approximately, how many other people were working in the lab at that time?

A: Two others.

Q: Now, when you say that the agent had 4 by 5 film holders, what do you mean by that?

A: It means they either used a 4 by 5 press camera or a view camera, and a film holder is a two-sided container that holds two sheets of film, insert it in the camera, pull the dark slide, do your photograph, reinsert the dark slide, turn the holder over, and you are ready - and pull the dark slide, and you are ready for a second shot. So there is two sheets of film in each of the holders.

Q: When you refer to a press camera or a view camera, are those also known as large format cameras?

A: Yes, large format cameras.

Q: Now, if I recall correctly, you said that your recollection was that he had four or five of these duplex film holders, is that correct?

A: Correct.

Q: Did the agent speak to you directly or did he speak with somebody else?

A: To me directly.

Q: What did he ask you to do?

A: He said he needed the film processed and a print of each of them.

Q: What did you then do?

A: We took them and then checked our chemistry, brought it up to temperature, and processed the negatives. We put the negatives in the drying cabinet, and when they were completed, we brought them out. We went into the dark room and made a test print on them, which we processed and color corrected, and made the final print, at which time we took all scraps and anything related to that job, and put it in an envelope and gave it to the agent, returned his film holders to him.

Q: Did you keep any material at all related to the development of those photographs?

A: Absolutely not. The agent was very specific that he wanted everything, any test scraps or anything that we might use....

Q: Did you ever see any other photographic material related to the autopsy in addition to what you have already described?

A: Just, you know, when they came out with some books and stuff later that showed autopsy pictures and stuff, and I assumed that they were done in - you know, down in Dallas or something, because they were not the ones that I had worked on.

Q: Do you recall any books that you have seen with autopsy photographs in them?

A: I can't quote the titles of them.

Q: But you have seen commercially published books with what appear to be autopsy photos in them?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you ever hear of any discussion related to autopsy photos at NPC?

A: No.

Q: So, did you ever discuss the fact that you had processed those with Mr. Madonia, for example?

A: No.

Q: Did you ever discuss it with anyone else your own work?

A: No.

Q: Or did you hear of anyone else at NPC who had worked on any other autopsy photographs?

A: No.

Q: Did you have any opportunity to observe the content of the negatives and the prints as you were working on them?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: Can you describe for me what you saw as best you can recollect?

A: Briefly, they were very, what I consider pristine for an autopsy. There was no blood or opening cavities, opening or anything of that nature. It was quite reverent in how they handled it.

Q: If I can just ask for some clarification. Do you mean that the body appeared to be clean, had been washed? Is that what you are suggesting?

A: Yes.

Q: And that was different from what you had seen in other autopsy photographs, is that right?

A: Yes. In other autopsies, they have the opening of the cavity and the removing of vital organs for weighing and stuff of this nature. The only organ that I had seen was a brain that was laid beside the body.

Q: And that was in the photograph of President Kennedy?

A: Yes.

Q: So there was a brain in the photograph beside the body, is that correct?

A: Well, yes, by the side of the body, but, it didn't appear that the skull had been cut, peeled back and the brain removed. None of that was shown. As to whose brain it was, I cannot say.

Q: But was it on a cloth or in a bucket or how was it.

A: No, it was on the mat on the table.

Q: Did you see any people in the pictures in addition to President Kennedy, such as bystanders or doctors?

A: I don't remember anybody or any real measuring material, instruments, because normally, when you are photographing something like that, you have gauges in there, so that you can determine size and everything.

Q: Did you see any cards or any identification markers that would identify an autopsy number or the victim, or something of that sort?

A: I don't remember any.

Q: Were there any photographs that would show the entire body in one frame, do you recall?

A: It seems like there was a full-length one, kind of shot at a 45-degree angle, at a slightly high angle.

Q: Did you see any photographs that focused principally on the head of President Kennedy?

A: Right. They had one showing the back of the head with the wound at the back of the head.

Q: Could you describe what you mean by the "wound at the back of the head"?

A: It appeared to be a hole, inch, two inches in diameter at the back of the skull here.

Q: You pointed to the back of your head. When you point back there, let's suppose that you were lying down on a pillow, where would the hole in the back of the head be in relationship to the part of the head that would be on the pillow if the body is lying flat?

A: The top part of the head.

Q: When you say the "top of the head," now, is that the part that would be covered by a hat that would be covering the top of the head?

A: Just about where the rim would hit.

Q: Are you acquainted with the term "external occipital protuberance"?

A: No, I am not.

Q: What I would like to do is to give you a document or a drawing, and ask you, if you would, on this document, make a mark of approximately where the wound was that you noticed.

Q: Did you see any photographs that would have shown any wounds in either the neck or shoulders or back?

A: It seems like I seen - there was at the base of the neck.

Q: When you are pointing, you are pointing to the front of your neck to the right side?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you remember approximately how large that injury was?

A: Just about the size of like your thumb pressed in.

Q: About how much time were you able to look at the photographs, did you get a good observation of them, was it fleeting? How would you describe that?

A: It was - they traveled. You placed them on the drum, they would travel around, so after you place it on, probably about 15 seconds or so, they start under the drum and it rotates around, and then they drop off, and you grab them and stack them. So probably just 10 or 15 seconds.

Q: Are your observations based upon the prints rather than the negatives?

A: Yes. Like I said, the negatives have masking on them, and you don't see too much on a color negative when you are printing.

Q: And for the prints to dry, that takes approximately how long?

A: Probably about two to three minutes by the time it goes on, it goes around the drum.

Q: And that is all entirely on the drum?

A: Yes.

Q: So the prints themselves would not hang from a wire or anything?

A: No, they have electric drum, and it puts the ferrotype finish to it. That was before RC papers when you can air-dry them.

Q: What is your best recollection of the approximate size of the wound on the throat that you identified before?

A: Just about like that, just like a finger, half-inch.

Q: Do you remember whether the wound was jagged or how that appeared?

A: No, just - it appeared just indented. It was, again, clean, pristine, no - you know, it wasn't an immediate wound, it had some cleaning done to it or something.

Q: Were you able to observe any characteristics of the room in which the photographs were taken?

A: No.

Q: Do you remember what the walls looked like or whether they...

A: No, everything basically concentrated straight on the body. It didn't appear like the normal medical setting, you know. I don't know whether they did it in a separate room or they used special coverings on their tables or what, but I don't remember, you know, hospital stainless-steel gleaming or anything, or people running around in green scrubs or anything. It was just, like I said, it looked a very reverent laid out arrangement.

Q: What is your best recollection as to how long after the autopsy you received the photographs? Let me try and put it in terms of some other events that happened. Do you remember whether you developed the photographs before or after the funeral, for example?

A: It was before.

Q: Before the funeral. But your recollection also is that it was after the black and white cards had been delivered to the White House?

A: Right.

Q: Do you recall whether it was on a Sunday or a Monday?

A: It was sometime over the weekend. It was during the day. I believe the body arrived back at the White House Saturday morning about 1:00 a.m., so because we had a black and white photograph of it being carried into the White House. It was dark, so it would had to have been - the film would have had to have been shot by that time...

Q: So you would think that the photographs that you developed were taken after reconstruction of the body?

A: Yes.

Q: In the photograph that you saw in November of 1963, with the brain lying next to the body, were you able to observe whether there had been any damage to the brain?

A: No, it was not damaged as this brain, as the brain on these photographs were.

Q: When you say "these photographs," you means that we just saw today?

A: The ones that we just viewed.

Q: Ms. Spencer, before we started I said that I would give you an opportunity to add anything if you have any additional statement that you would like to make, and I will just give you that opportunity now.

A: I had brought along a photograph that was reproduced approximately 10 days prior to the time that we printed the autopsy photographs that we produced at NPC, and because of the watermark and stuff on it does not match those that I viewed, and NPC bought all of a run, which meant every piece of paper within the house would have the same identical watermarking and logo on it, I can say that the paper was not a piece of paper that was processed or printed out of the Photographic Center within that time frame. Like I said, the only thing I can think of is that a second set of autopsy pictures was shot for public release if necessary.

(2) Michael T. Griffith, Missing Autopsy Photos and the Large Head Wound (1st November, 2002)

What follows is a brief summary of some of the historic new evidence contained in recently released autopsy witness interviews conducted by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) from 1976-1979 and in interviews of key witnesses conducted over the last three years by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB).

What do the abovementioned documents reveal? As we'll see in a moment, they contain, among other things, evidence that a bullet struck Kennedy in the right temple, that there was a large wound in the back of the skull (which of course indicates the bullet came from the front and exited the rear of the head), that several important autopsy photos are missing, that there was NOT a straight path from the Oswald window to the back wound to the throat wound (because the back wound was lower than the throat wound and because Kennedy was not leaning off the seat when the back missile struck), that even Secret Service agents believed there had been a conspiracy, and that autopsy photos were altered (obviously in order to give a false impression of the direction of the gunfire that struck the president).

Here are some of the important new disclosures:

* John Stringer reported that the throat wound was probed. This is key because it's further evidence the autopsy doctors were lying when they testified they were not aware of the throat wound until after the autopsy when Dr. Humes called Dallas and spoke with Dr. Perry.

* White House photographer Robert Knudsen told the HSCA that the probe went downward from the throat wound, which means that if the throat wound was the exit point for the back wound, then the back wound was lower than the throat wound. Knudsen assisted with the handling of the autopsy photos, and may have been present at the autopsy. The fact that the back wound was lower than the throat wound destroys the single-bullet theory.

* Dr. Pierre Finck, the only forensic pathologist at the autopsy, confirmed to the ARRB that there was a fragment trail that went from a point near the external occipital protuberance (EOP) upward to the area of the right orbit (behind the right eye). This is further evidence that the rear head entrance wound was not in the cowlick but rather four inches lower, very close to the EOP and just a couple inches above the hairline. Why is this so important? Because no bullet fired from the Oswald sniper's nest could have made that wound, unless Kennedy's head was tilted nearly 60 degrees forward, which the Zapruder film and the Muchmore film clearly show it was not.

* Saundra Kay Spencer, as established by chain of evidence documentation, processed the autopsy photos that Secret Service Agent James Fox brought from the autopsy. However, she did not process any black and white photos, only negatives and color positives, and she told the ARRB she did not process any of the autopsy photos now in evidence. She said the extant autopsy photos were not the ones she processed. This suggests the black and white autopsy photos were processed elsewhere, and that there were two sets of autopsy photos.

* Joe O'Donnell, a White House photographer who worked with Robert Knudsen, told the ARRB that Knudsen showed him autopsy photos that showed a grapefruit-sized hole in the back of the head. This is yet another witness who saw a sizable wound in the rear of the skull. The evidence of a large wound in the back of Kennedy's head is important because the current autopsy photos show no such wound. In the autopsy photos the back of the head is virtually undamaged. Critics contend those photos have either been altered or the skull was cosmetically repaired before the pictures were taken, so as to conceal the large wound in the back of the head. A large wound in the back of the head, of course, would be characteristic of a shot from the front, not from behind.

* O'Donnell further told the ARRB that one of the autopsy photos Knudsen showed him showed what appeared to be an entry wound in the right temple. This is key because there were several reports out of Dallas of a small wound in one of the temples. O'Donnell's account strongly tends to confirm those reports. Also, a defect consistent with a wound of entry can be seen in the right temple area on the autopsy x-rays, according to three doctors who have examined them (one of whom is an expert in neuroanatomy and another of whom is a board-certified radiologist).

* Tom Robinson, the mortician, confirmed what he had already told the HSCA on the issue of a small wound in the temple, namely, that he saw a small hole in the area of the right temple, and that he filled it with wax. Although Robinson speculated the small hole was made by an exiting fragment, the hole is strong evidence of a shot from the front in light of the reports of a large wound of exit in the back of the head and in light of the other accounts of an entry-like wound in one of the temples. Indeed, White House press man Malcolm Kilduff told reporters at Parkland Hospital that afternoon that Dr. Burkley told him a bullet entered the right temple, and Kilduff pointed to his own right temple to illustrate the trajectory. This was all captured on film. One of the reporters who attended that press conference wrote in his notes "bullet entered right temple" (or "entered right temple").

* O'Donnell said that Knudsen showed him other autopsy photos that showed the back of the head intact. This corresponds with the other evidence that there were two sets of autopsy photos, one genuine and the other altered.

* Knudsen's wife, Gloria Knudsen, and both his children, told ARRB interviewers that four autopsy photos were missing and that another photo had been "badly altered" (and "severely altered"). They also reported that he told them that four or five of the autopsy photos he was shown by the HSCA did not represent what he saw during the autopsy.

* Mrs. Knudsen reported that Knudsen told her that the background in the autopsy photos he was shown was wrong. This agrees with the reports of other witnesses at the autopsy that the photos in evidence show things in the background that were not in the autopsy room at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

* Knudsen's son Bob recalled that his father mentioned seeing probes inserted into three wounds. The WC said there were only two wounds of entrance, one in the back and the other low on the back of the head. Three entrance wounds means there must have been more than one gunman.

* Knudsen himself told the HSCA that he firmly recalled at least two probes inserted into wounds and that he believed he recalled one picture in which three probes were inserted into wounds. Again, three wounds of entrance equals conspiracy, period. In fact, in this instance two probes might mean conspiracy since it's unlikely the pathologists would have probed the head wound.

* Knudsen volunteered in his HSCA interview that there was "something shady" about the third piece of film that he handled. Incredibly, the HSCA interviewer did not ask him to explain his comment.

* Knudsen confirmed that Saundra Spencer processed color autopsy photographic material at the naval lab, and that he was personally aware that the black and white photos were done elsewhere.

* The special agent in charge of the Miami Secret Service office told the HSCA he believed some elements of the Secret Service might have been involved in a conspiracy in the assassination.

* Secret Service Special Agent Elmer Moore "badgered" Dr. Malcolm Perry into changing his story that the throat wound was an entrance wound. This is revealing. Researchers have always suspected that Dr. Perry was pressured into changing his initial (and very firm) diagnosis that the throat wound was an entrance wound.

* Robert Bouck, who was the chief of the Protective Research Division of the Secret Service in 1963, told the HSCA he believed Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy.

* Special Agent Fox made black and white autopsy photo prints at the Secret Service lab.

* Dr. Robert Karnei, who viewed and assisted with the autopsy, told the ARRB he clearly remembered that a photo was taken showing a probe inserted into the body. No such photo is to be found in the autopsy photos in evidence.

* Another new witness discovered by the ARRB is John Van Hoesen. Van Hoesen was a mortician who was present when Robinson reconstructed the skull. He told the ARRB he saw an "orange-sized" hole in the back of the head. Incidentally, Robinson himself told the HSCA he very clearly recalled seeing a large wound in the back of the skull, and he even diagrammed the wound for the HSCA interviewer. Robinson, of course, not only saw this wound for a prolonged period of time, but he also HANDLED it. Is anyone going to seriously suggest that Robinson "confused" this wound for a wound that was "really" above the right ear?! (The current lone-gunman theory posits, and the extant autopsy photos show, a large wound above the right ear.

* Yet another new witness is Earl McDonald, who was a medical photographer at Bethesda Naval Hospital. McDonald trained under Stringer, in fact. McDonald told the ARRB that at Bethesda he never saw anyone use a metal brace like the one seen holding the head in the autopsy photos. Other medical technicians at the autopsy have made similar observations, i.e., that the background in the autopsy photos doesn't show the autopsy room at Bethesda.

* X-ray technician Jerrol Custer, who was present at the autopsy and assisted with the autopsy x-rays, testified to the ARRB that he was certain he took x-rays of the C3/C4 region of the neck and that those x-rays showed numerous fragments. Custer added that he suspected the reason those x-rays disappeared was that they showed a large number of bullet fragments. Custer has a point. Why else would those x-rays have been suppressed?

* Custer told the ARRB that he saw a large bullet fragment fall from the back when the body was lifted for the taking of x-rays.

* Custer further told the ARRB that he wanted to put his personal marker on the x-rays during the autopsy, so as to be able to identify them, but that he was unable to mark all of them because a senior military officer ordered him to stop marking them.

(3) Doug Horne, Saundra K. Spencer (19th July 2006)

I remember her deposition well. Her comments about the watermark were indicated to be in error later when Kodak examined her print and compared it with other paper from 1963. However, she did develop post mortem photography different from that in the Archives today. (Different type of film and different images.) Her photography seemed to be of the body after reconstruction, but before it was clothed and put in the burial casket. The photos she developed would be some of those that I now consider “missing.” Her testimony is part of my analytic work. She was a very credible witness.

(4) William Matson Law, In the Eye of History (2005)

Depositions were soon to be released by the Assassination Records Review Board. Most of the listed names were familiar, but neither Debra Conway nor 1 had heard of Saundra Kay Spencer. So, we did what most researchers of the Kennedy assassination did in like circumstances: we contacted Mary Ferrell. True to form, Mrs. Ferrell found the name in her file and a number. I called in August 1998 and explained who I was and what I was doing. It was, indeed, the Saundra Spencer.

I told her that I had never heard of her before. (I had not yet read her ARRB deposition.) She chuckled: "Well I think they were just going through papers and came upon my name." I asked if I could videotape her for an oral history.

"No, I don't want to do that. I work behind the camera, not in front of it." However, she was happy to answer my immediate questions, for which I was grateful.

In November, 1963, she was petty officer in charge of the White House Laboratory at the Naval Photographic Center in Anacostia, Washington, DC. Within a day or two of the assassination, a Secret-Service agent arrived, carrying films in four holders-exposures of President Kennedy's corpse.

Law: Did someone call and tell you he was coming?

Spencer: Yep. Chief Robert L. Knudsen had called saying that an agent would have film negatives to be developed. We were not to pay too much attention to what was on them.

Law: Did you look at the negatives?

Spencer: Yes, I had to. I had to get the color balance right.

Spencer said the agent's name was James K. Fox. He stayed with her while she developed the films, even in the darkroom.

Spencer: They were basic shots of the president's head. He was on his back. They weren't like autopsy pictures. They did not have the incisions, you know, or the cutting of the head.

Law: Did the body have the classic Y-incision denoting the autopsy had been performed?

Spencer: I didn't see any Y-incision. The chest wasn't showing. I don't know when these pictures were taken. They could have been shot in Dallas when the Dallas doctors started their work, or it could have been after everything was finished. There is no way to tell. I was not informed.

Law: Can you describe the wounds on the body?

Spencer: The two that I remember were at the back of his head and at his throat. The throat wound was small and slightly off to the right, about thumbnail size.

This was a startling revelation. Spencer had developed a photograph showing a thumbnail-sized throat wound, the picture had to have been taken before the official autopsy at Bethesda. Those I had spoken to from the Bethesda autopsy had confirmed that the throat wound was an open gash as seen in the "stare-of death" photograph. There is no record of photographs of the corpse taken in Dallas

Spencer: The wound in the back of the head was about two and a quarter (inches) around, slightly off to the right.

Law: Was there massive damage to the head?

Spencer: No. Have you viewed the photos in the National Archives? Law: Yes, I have.

Spencer: There was none of the massive head trauma that is shown in those photos.

Law: Can you offer an opinion on the wound in the back of the head-was it an entrance wound or an exit?

Spencer: I don't know how it hit. There was no large wound on the face, so I think that it would have to be an exit wound. But that's just my opinion.

Law: I understand. Would you say the top and front of the head were intact.

Spencer: Yes. His face looked normal and relaxed. It didn't have the grimace that is on the other photos.

The negatives she developed were in color and of good quality.

Law: From what angles where the photographs taken?

Spencer: Well, I remember a three-quarter length view of the body, a profile, back of the head, and the throat. There was one of the brain next to him.

I almost screamed "WHAT?" in her ear, but somehow I maintained composure. I tried to sound nonchalant: "Was the brain whole?"

Spencer: Yes - the more I think of it - it's almost like they reconstructed his head for the photos so, if they had to show the public something, that's what they would show.

Law: Did the brain have damage to it?

Spencer: No, which surprised me and I doubt that it was his because I didn't see any cutting on the head). I didn't see how they could get it out.

Law: It was just beside him?

Spencer: Yes. It was next to the body. The head had no opening big enough to take the brain out. This set of pictures differed from those that are in the National Archives. This was a more respectful set of poses - almost like the body was posed for these pictures. But like I said, after looking at the other (National Archives) photos, I almost think these were shot in case some had to be shown. So the family and everybody could see them. I know they closed the casket, and I never could understand that from the pictures I'd seen.

She went on to say the president's body and hair were clean and free of blood. I asked about the bullet wound in the president's back: none of the photographs that she developed showed the rear of the torso.

She developed and dried the negatives and then ran some test prints; in all, it took an hour or so. Agent Fox then gathered up the negatives and prints and the papers that Spencer had signed, and told her to forget that he had been there.

The ARRB seemed disappointed that she could not identify the autopsy pictures in the National Archives as the one she developed. In her opinion, they were trying to obtain as much information as possible.

(5) 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."