JFK assassination – John Fitzgerald Kennedy, commonly known as Jack Kennedy, or by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until he was assassinated in November 1963.
Assassination of jfk
November 22, 1963, Dallas, TX
John F. Kennedy, Assassinated
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time (18:30 UTC) on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was fatally shot by a sniper while traveling with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally’s wife Nellie, in a presidential motorcade. A ten-month investigation from November 1963 to September 1964 by the Warren Commission concluded that Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald before he could stand trial.
Although the Commission’s conclusions were initially supported by a majority of the American public, polls conducted between 1966 and 2003 found that as many as 80 percent of Americans have suspected that there was a plot or cover-up. A 1998 CBS News poll showed that 76% of Americans believed the President had been killed as the result of a conspiracy. A 2013 AP poll showed, that although the percentage had fallen, more than 59% of those polled still believed that more than one person was involved in the President’s murder. A Gallup Poll in mid-November 2013 showed 61% believed in a conspiracy and 30% thought Oswald did it alone.
In contrast to the conclusions of the Warren Commission, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded in 1978 that Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The HSCA found the original FBI investigation and the Warren Commission Report to be seriously flawed. While agreeing with the Commission that Oswald fired all the shots which caused the wounds to Kennedy and Connally, the HSCA stated that there were at least four shots fired (only three of which could be linked to Oswald) and that there was “…a high probability that two gunmen fired at [the] President.”
The HSCA did not identify any other person or group involved in the assassination besides Oswald, but they did specifically say the CIA, the Soviet Union, organized crime, and several other groups were not involved, although they could not rule out the involvement of individual members of those groups. Kennedy’s assassination is still the subject of widespread debate and has spawned numerous conspiracy theories and alternative scenarios.
President Kennedy’s motorcade route through Dallas was planned to give him maximum exposure to Dallas crowds before his arrival, along with Vice-President Lyndon Johnson and Texas Governor John Connally, at a luncheon with civic and business leaders in that city. The White House staff informed the Secret Service that the President would arrive in Dallas via a short flight from Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth to Dallas Love Field airport.
The Dallas Trade Mart had been preliminarily selected for the luncheon and the final decision of the Trade Mart as the end of the motorcade journey was selected by President Kennedy’s friend and appointments secretary Kenneth O’Donnell. Leaving from Dallas’ Love Field, 45 minutes had been allotted for the motorcade to reach the Dallas Trade Mart at a planned arrival time of 12:15 p.m. The actual route was chosen to be a meandering 10-mile (16-km) route from Love Field to the Trade Mart which could be driven slowly in the allotted time.
Special Agent Winston G. Lawson, a member of the White House detail who acted as the advance Secret Service Agent, and Secret Service Agent Forrest V. Sorrels, Special Agent In Charge of the Dallas office, were most active in planning the actual route. On November 14, Lawson and Sorrels attended a meeting at Love Field and drove over the route which Sorrels believed best suited for the motorcade. From Love Field, the route passed through a portion of suburban Dallas, through the downtown area along Main Street, and finally to the Trade Mart via a short segment of the Stemmons Freeway.
For the President’s return to Love Field, from which he planned to depart for a fund-raising dinner in Austin later in the day, the agents selected a more direct route, which was approximately 4 miles, or 6.4 kilometers (some of this route would be used after the assassination). The planned route to the Trade Mart was widely reported in Dallas newspapers several days before the event, for the benefit of people who wished to view the motorcade.
To pass through downtown Dallas, a route west along Dallas’ Main Street, rather than Elm Street (one block to the north) was chosen, because this was the traditional parade route, and provided the maximal building and crowd views. The Main Street route precluded a direct turn onto the Fort Worth Turnpike exit (which served also as the Stemmons Freeway exit), which was the route to the Trade Mart, because this exit was accessible only from Elm Street. The planned motorcade route thus included a short one-block turn at the end of the downtown segment of Main Street, onto Houston Street for one block northward, before turning again west onto Elm, in order to proceed through Dealey Plaza before exiting Elm onto the Stemmons Freeway. The Texas School Book Depository was situated at this corner of Houston and Elm.
Three vehicles were used for secret service and police protection in the Dallas motorcade. The first car, an unmarked white Ford (hardtop), consisted of Dallas police chief Jesse Curry, secret service agent Win Lawson, Sheriff Bill Decker and Dallas field agent Forrest Sorrels. The second car, a 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible, consisted of driver agent Bill Greer, SAIC Roy Kellerman, governor John Connally, Nellie Connally, President Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy.
The third car, a 1955 Cadillac convertible code-named “Halfback,” contained driver agent Sam Kinney, ATSAIC Emory Roberts, presidential aides Ken O’Donnell and Dave Powers, driver agent George Hickey and PRS agent Glen Bennett. Secret service agents Clint Hill, Jack Ready, Tim McIntyre and Paul Landis rode on the running boards. There was an AR-15 rifle in the third vehicle.
On November 22, after a breakfast speech in Fort Worth, where President Kennedy had stayed overnight after arriving from San Antonio, Houston and Washington, D.C. the previous day, the president boarded Air Force One, which departed at 11:10 and arrived at Love Field 15 minutes later. At about 11:40, the presidential motorcade left Love Field for the trip through Dallas, which was running on a schedule about 10 minutes longer than the planned 45 minutes, due to enthusiastic crowds estimated at 150,000–200,000 persons, and two unplanned stops directed by the president. By the time the motorcade reached Dealey Plaza they were only 5 minutes away from their planned destination.
Shooting in Dealey Plaza
At 12:29 p.m. CST, as President Kennedy’s uncovered limousine entered Dealey Plaza, Nellie Connally, then the First Lady of Texas, turned around to President Kennedy, who was sitting behind her, and commented, “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you,” which President Kennedy acknowledged by saying “No, you certainly can’t.” Those were the last words ever spoken by John F. Kennedy. He gave his reply just after the Main-to-Houston Street turn (with photos and films even showing him leaning in towards Mrs. Connally on Houston Street to reply to her).
From Houston Street, the presidential limousine made the planned left turn onto Elm Street, allowing it access to the Stemmons Freeway exit. As it turned on Elm, the motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository. Shots were fired at President Kennedy as they continued down Elm Street. About 80% of the witnesses recalled hearing three shots.
A minority of the witnesses recognized the first gunshot blast they heard as a weapon blast, but there was hardly any reaction to the first shot from a majority of the people in the crowd or those riding in the motorcade. Many later said they heard what they first thought to be a firecracker, or the exhaust backfire of a vehicle, just after the President started waving.
Within one second of each other, President Kennedy, Governor Connally, and Mrs. Kennedy, all turned abruptly from looking to their left to looking to their right, between Zapruder film frames 155 and 169. Connally, like the President a World War II military veteran (and, unlike him, a longtime hunter), testified he immediately recognized the sound of a high-powered rifle, then he turned his head and torso rightward, attempting to see President Kennedy behind him. Governor Connally testified he could not see the President, so he then started to turn forward again (turning from his right to his left). Connally testified that when his head was facing about 20 degrees left of center, he was hit in his upper right back by a bullet he did not hear fired. The doctor who operated on Connally measured his head at the time he was hit as turned 27 degrees left of center. After Connally was hit he shouted, “Oh, no, no, no. My God. They’re going to kill us all!”
Mrs Connally testified that just after hearing a first loud, frightening noise that came from somewhere behind her and to her right, she turned toward President Kennedy and saw him with his arms and elbows raised high, with his hands in front of his face and throat. She then heard another gunshot and then Governor Connally yelling. Mrs. Connally then turned away from President Kennedy toward her husband, at which point another gunshot sounded and she and the limousine’s rear interior were covered with fragments of skull, blood, and brain.
According to the Warren Commission, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, as President Kennedy waved to the crowds on his right with his right arm upraised on the side of the limo, a shot entered his upper back, penetrated his neck, slightly damaged a spinal vertebra and the top of his right lung, and exited his throat nearly centerline just beneath his larynx, nicking the left side of his suit tie knot. He raised his elbows and clenched his fists in front of his face and neck, then leaned forward and left. Mrs. Kennedy, facing him, then put her arms around him in concern.
Governor Connally also reacted after the same bullet penetrated his back just below his right armpit, creating an oval entry wound, impacted and destroyed four inches of his right fifth rib, exited his chest just below his right nipple, creating a two-and-a-half inch oval sucking-air chest wound, entered his arm just above his right wrist, cleanly shattered his right radius bone into eight pieces, exited just below the wrist at the inner side of his right palm, and finally lodged in his left inner thigh. The Warren Commission theorized that the “single bullet” (see single bullet theory) struck sometime between Zapruder frames 210 to 225, while the House Select Committee theorized that it struck exactly at Zapruder frame 190.
According to the Warren Commission, a second shot struck the President at Zapruder film frame 313. The Commission made no conclusion as to whether this was the second or third bullet fired. The presidential limousine was then passing in front of the John Neely Bryan north pergola concrete structure. Meanwhile, the House Select Committee concluded that a fourth shot was then fired at almost the same time, from a separate sniper, but that it missed. Each body concluded that the second shot to hit the president entered the rear of his head (the House Select Committee placed the entry wound four inches higher than the Warren Commission placed it) and, passing in fragments through his head, created a large, “roughly ovular” [sic] hole on the rear, right side. The president’s blood and fragments of his scalp, brain, and skull landed on the interior of the car, the inner and outer surfaces of the front glass windshield and raised sun visors, the front engine hood, the rear trunk lid, the followup Secret Service car and its driver’s left arm, and motorcycle officers riding on both sides of the President behind him.
United States Secret Service Special Agent Clint Hill was riding on the left front running board of the follow-up car, which was immediately behind the Presidential limousine. Hill testified that he heard one shot, then, as documented in other films and concurrent with Zapruder frame 308, he jumped off into Elm Street and ran forward to try to get on the limousine and protect the President. (Hill testified to the Warren Commission that after he jumped into Elm Street, he heard two more shots.)
After the President had been shot in the head, Mrs. Kennedy began to climb out onto the back of the limousine, though she later had no recollection of doing so. Hill believed she was reaching for something, perhaps a piece of the President’s skull. He jumped onto the back of the limousine while at the same time Mrs. Kennedy returned to her seat, and he clung to the car as it exited Dealey Plaza and accelerated, speeding to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
After Mrs. Kennedy crawled back into her limousine seat, both Governor Connally and Mrs. Connally heard her say more than once, “They have killed my husband,” and “I have his brains in my hand.” In a long-redacted interview for Life magazine days later, Mrs. Kennedy recalled, “All the ride to the hospital I kept bending over him saying, ‘Jack, Jack, can you hear me? I love you, Jack.’ I kept holding the top of his head down trying to keep the…” The President’s widow could not finish her sentence.
Governor Connally, riding in the same limousine in a seat in front of the President and three inches more to the left than the President, was also critically injured but survived. Doctors later stated that after the Governor was shot, his wife pulled him onto her lap, and the resulting posture helped close his front chest wound (which was causing air to be sucked directly into his chest around his collapsed right lung).
James Tague, a spectator and witness to the assassination, also received a minor wound to his right cheek while standing 531 feet (162 m) away from the Depository’s sixth floor, easternmost window, 270 feet (82 m) in front of and slightly to the right of President Kennedy’s head facing direction, and more than 16 feet (4.9 m) below the top of the President’s head. Tague’s injury occurred when a bullet or bullet fragment with no copper casing struck the nearby Main Street south curb. When Tague testified to the Warren Commission and was asked which of the three shots he remembered hearing struck him, he stated it was the second or third shot. When the Warren Commission attorney pressed him further, Tague stated he was struck concurrent with the second shot.
Aftermath in Dealey Plaza
Bill and Gayle Newman drop to the grass and cover their children.
The presidential limousine was passing a grassy knoll on the north side of Elm Street at the moment of the fatal head shot. As the motorcade left the plaza, police officers and spectators ran up the knoll and from a railroad bridge over Elm Street (the triple underpass), to the area behind a five-foot (1.5 m) high stockade fence atop the knoll, separating it from a parking lot. No sniper was found. S. M. Holland, who had been watching the motorcade on the triple underpass, testified that “immediately” after the shots were fired, he went around the corner where the overpass joined the fence, but did not see anyone running from the area.
Lee Bowers, a railroad switchman sitting in a two-story tower, had an unobstructed view of the rear of the stockade fence atop the grassy knoll during the shooting. He saw a total of four men in the area between his tower and Elm Street: a middle-aged man and a younger man, standing 10 to 15 feet (3.0 to 4.6 m) apart near the triple underpass, who did not seem to know each other, and one or two uniformed parking lot attendants. At the time of the shooting, he saw “something out of the ordinary, a sort of milling around,” which he could not identify. Bowers testified that one or both of the men were still there when motorcycle officer Clyde Haygood ran up the grassy knoll to the back of the fence. In a 1966 interview, Bowers clarified that the two men he saw were standing in the opening between the pergola and the fence, and that “no one” was behind the fence at the time the shots were fired.
Meanwhile, Howard Brennan, a steamfitter who was sitting across the street from the Texas School Book Depository, notified police that as he watched the motorcade go by, he heard a shot come from above, and looked up to see a man with a rifle make another shot from a corner window on the sixth floor. He said he had seen the same man minutes earlier looking out the window. Brennan gave a description of the shooter, and Dallas police subsequently broadcast descriptions at 12:45 p.m., 12:48 p.m., and 12:55 p.m. After the second shot was fired, Brennan recalled, “This man I saw previous was aiming for his last shot … and maybe paused for another second as though to assure himself that he had hit his mark.”
As Brennan spoke to the police in front of the building, they were joined by Harold Norman and James Jarman, Jr., two employees of the Texas School Book Depository who had watched the motorcade from windows at the southeast corner of the fifth floor. Norman reported that he heard three gunshots come from directly over their heads. Norman also heard the sounds of a bolt action rifle and cartridges dropping on the floor above them.
Estimates of when Dallas police sealed off the entrances to the Texas School Book Depository range from 12:33 to after 12:50 p.m.
Of the 104 earwitnesses in Dealey Plaza who are on record with an opinion as to the direction from which the shots came, 54 (51.9%) thought that all shots came from the direction of the Texas School Book Depository, 33 (31.7%) thought that all shots came from the area of the grassy knoll or the triple underpass, 9 (8.7%) thought all shots came from a location entirely distinct from the knoll or the Depository, 5 (4.8%) thought they heard shots from two locations, and 3 (2.9%) thought the shots came from a direction consistent with both the knoll and the Depository.
Additionally, the Warren Commission said of the three shots they concluded were fired that “a substantial majority of the witnesses stated that the shots were not evenly spaced. Most witnesses recalled that the second and third shots were bunched together.”
Lee Harvey Oswald
Main article: Lee Harvey Oswald
Jack Ruby prepares to shoot and kill Oswald, who is being escorted by police to be sent to Dallas County jail.
Lee Harvey Oswald, reported missing to the Dallas police by Roy Truly, his supervisor at the Depository, was arrested approximately 70 minutes after the assassination for the murder of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit. According to witness Helen Markam, Tippit had spotted Oswald walking along a sidewalk in the residential neighborhood of Oak Cliff, three miles from Dealey Plaza. Officer Tippit had earlier received a radio message which gave a description of the suspect being sought in the assassination and called Oswald over to the patrol car.
Helen Markam testified that after an exchange of words, Tippit got out of his car and Oswald shot him four times. Oswald was next seen by shoe store manager Johnny Brewer “ducking into” the entrance alcove of his store. Suspicious of this activity, Brewer watched Oswald continue up the street and slip into the nearby Texas Theatre without paying. Brewer alerted the theater’s ticket clerk, who telephoned police at about 1:40 p.m.
According to one of the arresting officers, M.N. McDonald, Oswald resisted arrest and was attempting to draw his pistol when he was struck and forcibly restrained by the police. He was charged with the murders of President Kennedy and Officer Tippit later that night. Oswald denied shooting anyone and claimed he was a patsy who was arrested because he had lived in the Soviet Union.
Oswald’s case never came to trial because two days later, while being escorted to a car for transfer from Dallas Police Headquarters to the Dallas County Jail, he was shot and mortally wounded by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, live on American television. Arrested immediately after the shooting, Ruby later said that he had been distraught over the Kennedy assassination and that killing Oswald would spare “…Mrs. Kennedy the discomfiture of coming back to trial.”
Main article: John F. Kennedy assassination rifle
A 6.5×52mm Mannlicher-Carcano Italian Carcano M91/38 bolt-action rifle was found on the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository by Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman and Deputy Sheriff Eugene Boone soon after the assassination of President Kennedy. The recovery was filmed by Tom Alyea of WFAA-TV.
This footage shows the rifle to be a Carcano, and it was later verified by photographic analysis commissioned by the HSCA that the rifle filmed was the same one later identified as the assassination weapon. Compared to photographs taken of Oswald holding the rifle in his backyard, “one notch in the stock at [a] point that appears very faintly in the photograph” matched, as well as the rifle’s dimensions.
The previous March, the Carcano rifle had been bought by Oswald under the name “A. Hidell” and delivered to a post-office box Oswald rented in Dallas. According to the Warren Commission Report, a partial palm print of Oswald was also found on the barrel of the gun, and a tuft of fibers found in a crevice of the rifle was consistent with the fibers and colors of the shirt Oswald was wearing at the time of his arrest.
A bullet found on Governor Connally’s hospital gurney, and two bullet fragments found in the Presidential limousine, were ballistically matched to this rifle.
President Kennedy declared dead in the emergency room
Further information: Timeline of the John F. Kennedy assassination
The staff at Parkland Hospital’s Trauma Room 1 who treated President Kennedy observed that his condition was “moribund” (a mortal wound), meaning that he had no chance of survival upon arriving at the hospital. Dr. George Burkley, the President’s personal physician, stated that a gunshot wound to the skull was the cause of death. Dr. Burkley signed President Kennedy’s death certificate.
Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as U.S. President aboard Air Force One in Dallas.
At 1:00 p.m., CST (19:00 UTC), after all heart activity had ceased and after Father Oscar Huber had administered the last rites, the President was pronounced dead. “We never had any hope of saving his life,” one doctor said. Father Huber told The New York Times that the President was already dead by the time he arrived at the hospital, and he had to draw back a sheet covering the President’s face to administer the sacrament of Extreme Unction. President Kennedy’s death was officially announced by White House Acting Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff at 1:33 p.m. CST (19:33 UTC). Kilduff was acting press secretary on the trip because Pierre Salinger was traveling to Japan with half the Cabinet, including Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Governor Connally, meanwhile, was taken to emergency surgery, where he underwent two operations that day.
By Texas law, the President’s body could not legally be removed from the hospital before an autopsy had been performed. This caused a brief scuffle between Dallas officials and members of the President’s security detail. The impasse ended when Secret Service agents put the officials against the wall at gunpoint.
A few minutes after 2:00 p.m. CST (20:00 UTC), President Kennedy’s body was taken from Parkland Hospital and driven to Air Force One. The casket was then loaded aboard the airplane through the rear door, where it remained at the rear of the passenger compartment, in place of a removed row of seats. The body was removed before a forensic examination could be conducted by the Dallas County Coroner Earl Rose, who had jurisdiction. At that time, it was not a federal offense to kill the President of the United States, although it was a federal crime to conspire to injure a federal officer while he was acting in the line of duty. Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson, who became President upon President Kennedy’s death, and had been riding two cars behind President Kennedy in the motorcade, refused to leave for Washington without President Kennedy and his widow.
At 2:38 p.m. CST (20:38 UTC), Vice-President Johnson took the oath of office on board Air Force One just before it departed from Love Field, with Jacqueline Kennedy at his side.
Drawn replication of a photograph depicting the posterior head wound of President Kennedy
Main article: John F. Kennedy autopsy
The autopsy was performed, beginning at about 8 p.m. and ending at about midnight EST at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. The choice of autopsy hospital in the Washington, D.C. area was made at the request of Mrs. Kennedy, on the basis that John F. Kennedy had been a naval officer.
Main article: State funeral of John F. Kennedy
The state funeral took place in Washington, DC during the three days that followed the assassination.
The body of President Kennedy was brought back to Washington, D.C. and placed in the East Room of the White House for 24 hours. On the Sunday after the assassination, his coffin was carried on a horse-drawn caisson to the U.S. Capitol to lie in state. Throughout the day and night, hundreds of thousands lined up to view the guarded casket. Representatives from over 90 countries attended the state funeral on Monday, November 25. After the Requiem Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, the late President was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Recordings of the assassination
No radio or television stations broadcast the assassination live because the area through which the motorcade was traveling was not considered important enough for a live broadcast. Most media crews were not even with the motorcade but were waiting instead at the Dallas Trade Mart in anticipation of President Kennedy’s arrival. Those members of the media who were with the motorcade were riding at the rear of the procession.
The Dallas police were recording their radio transmissions over two channels. A frequency designated as Channel One was used for routine police communications; Channel Two was an auxiliary channel dedicated to the President’s motorcade. Up until the time of the assassination, most of the broadcasts on the second channel consisted of Police Chief Jesse Curry’s announcements of the location of the motorcade as it wound through the city.
President Kennedy’s last seconds traveling through Dealey Plaza were recorded on silent 8 mm film for the 26.6 seconds before, during, and immediately following the assassination. This famous film footage was taken by garment manufacturer and amateur cameraman Abraham Zapruder, in what became known as the Zapruder film. Frame enlargements from the Zapruder film were published by Life magazine shortly after the assassination. The footage was first shown publicly as a film at the trial of Clay Shaw in 1969, and on television in 1975. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, an arbitration panel ordered the U.S. government to pay $615,384 per second of film to Zapruder’s heirs for giving the film to the National Archives. The complete film, which lasts for 26 seconds, was valued at $16 million.
Zapruder was not the only person who photographed at least part of the assassination; a total of 32 photographers were in Dealey Plaza. Amateur movies taken by Orville Nix, Marie Muchmore (shown on television in New York on November 26, 1963), and photographer Charles Bronson captured the fatal shot, although at a greater distance than Zapruder. Other motion picture films were taken in Dealey Plaza at or around the time of the shooting by Robert Hughes, F. Mark Bell, Elsie Dorman, John Martin Jr., Patsy Paschall, Tina Towner, James Underwood, Dave Wiegman, Mal Couch, Thomas Atkins, and an unknown woman in a blue dress on the south side of Elm Street.
Still photos were taken by Phillip Willis, Mary Moorman, Hugh W. Betzner Jr., Wilma Bond, Robert Croft, and many others. The lone professional photographer in Dealey Plaza who was not in the press cars was Ike Altgens, photo editor for the Associated Press in Dallas.
An unidentified woman, nicknamed the Babushka Lady by researchers, might have been filming the Presidential motorcade during the assassination. She was seen apparently doing so on film and in photographs taken by the others.
Previously unknown color footage filmed on the assassination day by George Jefferies was released on February 19, 2007 by the Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas, Texas. The film does not include the shooting, having been taken roughly 90 seconds beforehand and a couple of blocks away. The only detail relevant to the investigation of the assassination is a clear view of President Kennedy’s bunched suit jacket, just below the collar, which has led to different calculations about how low in the back President Kennedy was first shot (see discussion above).
After arresting Oswald and collecting physical evidence at the crime scenes, the Dallas Police held Oswald at the police headquarters for interrogation. Oswald was questioned all afternoon about both the Tippit shooting and the assassination of the President. He was questioned intermittently for approximately 12 hours between 2:30 p.m., on November 22, and 11 a.m., on November 24. Throughout this interrogation Oswald denied any involvement with either the assassination of President Kennedy or the murder of Patrolman Tippit. Captain Fritz of the homicide and robbery bureau did most of the questioning, keeping only rudimentary notes. Days later, he wrote a report of the interrogation from notes he made afterwards. There were no stenographic or tape recordings. Representatives of other law enforcement agencies were also present, including the FBI and the Secret Service, and occasionally participated in the questioning. Several of the FBI agents present wrote contemporaneous reports of the interrogation.
During the evening of November 22, the Dallas Police Department performed paraffin tests on Oswald’s hands and right cheek in an apparent effort to determine, by means of a scientific test, whether Oswald had recently fired a weapon. The results were positive for the hands and negative for the right cheek. Because of the unreliability of these tests, the Warren Commission did not rely on the results of the test in making their findings.
Oswald provided little information during his questioning. When confronted with evidence which he could not explain he resorted to statements which were found to be false. Dallas authorities were not able to complete their investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy because of interruptions from the FBI and the murder of Oswald by Jack Ruby.
The FBI was the first authority to complete an investigation. On December 9, 1963, the FBI issued a report and gave it to the Warren Commission.
The FBI stated that three bullets were fired during the Kennedy assassination; the Warren Commission agreed with the FBI investigation that three shots were fired but disagreed with the FBI report on which shots hit Kennedy and which hit Governor Connally. The FBI report claimed that the first shot hit President Kennedy, the second shot hit Governor Connally, and the third shot hit President Kennedy in the head, killing him. In contrast, the Warren Commission concluded that one of the three shots missed, one of the shots hit President Kennedy and then struck Governor Connally, and a third shot struck President Kennedy in the head, killing him.
Criticism of FBI
The FBI’s murder investigation was reviewed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979. The congressional Committee concluded:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation adequately investigated Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the assassination and properly evaluated the evidence it possessed to assess his potential to endanger the public safety in a national emergency.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a thorough and professional investigation into the responsibility of Lee Harvey Oswald for the assassination.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was deficient in its sharing of information with other agencies and departments.
Criticism of Secret Service
Sgt. Davis, of the Dallas Police Department, believed he had prepared stringent security precautions, in an attempt to prevent demonstrations like those marking the Adlai Stevenson visit from happening again. The previous month, Stevenson, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, was assaulted by an anti-UN demonstrator. But Winston Lawson of the Secret Service, who was in charge of the planning, told the Dallas Police not to assign its usual squad of experienced homicide detectives to follow immediately behind the President’s car. This police protection was routine for both visiting presidents and for motorcades of other visiting dignitaries. Police Chief Jesse Curry later testified that had his men been in place, they might have been able to stop the assassin before he fired a second shot, because they carried submachine guns and rifles.
An investigation by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1979 concluded that “the Secret Service was deficient in the performance of its duties.” The HSCA stated:
That President Kennedy had not received adequate protection in Dallas.
That the Secret Service possessed information that was not properly analyzed, investigated, or used by the Secret Service in connection with the President’s trip to Dallas.
That the Secret Service agents in the motorcade were inadequately prepared to protect the President from a sniper.
The HSCA specifically noted:
No actions were taken by the agent in the right front seat of the Presidential limousine [ Roy Kellerman ] to cover the President with his body, although it would have been consistent with Secret Service procedure for him to have done so. The primary function of the agent was to remain at all times in close proximity to the President in the event of such emergencies.
The Warren Commission presents its report to President Johnson
Main article: Warren Commission
The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 29, 1963, by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the assassination. Its 888-page final report was presented to President Johnson on September 24, 1964, and made public three days later. It concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the killing of President Kennedy and the wounding of Texas Governor John Connally, and that Jack Ruby also acted alone in the murder of Oswald. The Commission’s findings have since proven controversial and been both challenged and supported by later studies.
The Commission took its unofficial name, “The Warren Commission”, from its chairman, Chief Justice Earl Warren. According to published transcripts of Johnson’s presidential phone conversations, some major officials were opposed to forming such a commission, and several commission members took part only with extreme reluctance. One of their chief reservations was that a commission would ultimately create more controversy than consensus, and those fears ultimately proved valid. The Commission’s report was printed by Doubleday.
Ramsey Clark Panel
In 1968, a panel of four medical experts appointed by Attorney General Ramsey Clark met in Washington, D.C. to examine various photographs, X-ray films, documents, and other evidence about the death of President Kennedy. The Clark Panel determined that President Kennedy was struck by two bullets fired from above and behind him, one of which traversed the base of the neck on the right side without striking bone and the other of which entered the skull from behind and destroyed its upper right side.
The United States President’s Commission on CIA activities within the United States was set up under President Gerald Ford in 1975 to investigate the activities of the CIA within the United States. The commission was led by Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller, and is sometimes referred to as the Rockefeller Commission.
Part of the commission’s work dealt with the Kennedy assassination, specifically the head snap as seen in the Zapruder film (first shown to the general public in 1975), and the possible presence of E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis in Dallas. The commission concluded that neither Hunt nor Sturgis were in Dallas at the time of the assassination.
Church Committee is the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church, to investigate the illegal intelligence gathering by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after the Watergate incident. It also investigated the CIA and FBI conduct relating to the JFK assassination.
Their report concluded that the investigation on the assassination by FBI and CIA were fundamentally deficient and the facts which have greatly affected the investigation had not been forwarded to the Warren Commission by the agencies. It also found that the FBI, the agency with primary responsibility on the matter, was ordered by Director Hoover and pressured by unnamed higher government officials to conclude its investigation quickly. The report hinted that there was a possibility that senior officials in both agencies made conscious decisions not to disclose potentially important information.
United States House Select Committee on Assassinations
Main article: United States House Select Committee on Assassinations
As a result of increasing public pressure caused partly by the finding of the Church Committee, the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) was established in 1976 to investigate the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the shooting of Governor George Wallace. The committee was both controversial and divided among themselves. The first chairman, Thomas N. Downing of Virginia retired in January 1977 and was replaced by Henry B. Gonzalez on February 2, 1977. Gonzalez sought to replace Chief Counsel Richard Sprague. Eventually both Gonzalez and Sprague resigned and Louis Stokes became the new chairman. G. Robert Blakey was then appointed Chief Counsel and his deputy Robert K. Tanenbaum resigned soon afterwards.
The Committee investigated until 1978, and in 1979 issued its final report, concluding that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The Committee concluded that previous investigations properly investigated Oswald’s responsibility but did not adequately investigate the possibility of a conspiracy, and that the Warren Commission presented its conclusions too definitively. The Committee also found that the FBI and CIA were deficient in sharing information. Furthermore the Secret Service did not properly analyze information it possessed prior to the assassination and was inadequately prepared to protect the President.
Although the HSCA concluded that President Kennedy was “probably” assassinated as the result of a conspiracy it did not offer the name of any person or group it thought had conspired with Oswald. Instead the HSCA listed several organizations that it did not think were involved, including the governments of the Soviet Union and Cuba, organized crime groups and anti-Castro groups, but noted that it could not rule out the involvement of any individuals of these groups.
Four of the twelve committee members wrote dissenting opinions. Chris Dodd did not think that Oswald fired all three shots from the depository and wanted more investigation into the matter. Three other members did not think there was a second shooter or a conspiracy. According to Robert W. Edgar the committee was swayed at the last minute by the introduction of acoustic analysis of a Dictabelt recording of radio transmissions made by the Dallas Police Department. Prior to that a draft of the committee’s report said “the available scientific evidence is insufficient to find that there was a conspiracy.” The final report said: “Scientifically, the existence of the second gunman was established only by the acoustical study, but its basic validity was corroborated or independently substantiated by the various other scientific projects.” Three dissenters, Edgar, Devine and Sawyer, were not convinced by the Dictabelt analysis. Subsequent examinations of the recording by the National Academy of Sciences, by the FBI, and by the Justice Department disputed the Dictabelt evidence, and in turn the NAS’s analysis was contested by Donald Thomas, see Dictabelt evidence relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The back and forth on the acoustics evidence continues to this day.
The HSCA made several accusations of deficiency against the Secret Service, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the CIA and the Warren Commission. The accusations encompassed organizational failures, miscommunication, and a desire to keep certain parts of their operations secret. Furthermore, the Warren Commission expected these agencies to be forthcoming with any information that would aid their investigation. But the FBI and CIA only saw it as their duty to respond to specific requests for information from the commission. The HSCA found the FBI and CIA were deficient in performing even that limited role.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations was conducted mostly in secret. They issued a public report but much of its evidence was sealed for 50 years under Congressional rules. In 1992, Congress passed legislation to collect and open up all the evidence relating to Kennedy’s death, and created the Assassination Records Review Board to further that goal.
Sealing of assassination records
All of the Warren Commission’s records were submitted to the National Archives in 1964. The unpublished portion of those records was initially sealed for 75 years (to 2039) under a general National Archives policy that applied to all federal investigations by the executive branch of government, a period “intended to serve as protection for innocent persons who could otherwise be damaged because of their relationship with participants in the case.”
The 75-year rule no longer exists, supplanted by the Freedom of Information Act of 1966 and the JFK Records Act of 1992. By 1992, 98% of the Warren Commission records had been released to the public. Six years later, at the conclusion of the Assassination Records Review Board’s work, all Warren Commission records, except those records that contained tax return information, were available to the public with only minor redactions.
The remaining Kennedy assassination related documents are scheduled to be released to the public by 2017, twenty-five years after the passage of the JFK Records Act. Among the items most sought after by researchers are some 1,171 documents still closed by the CIA on national security grounds.
The Kennedy autopsy photographs and X-rays were never part of the Warren Commission records and were deeded separately to the National Archives by the Kennedy family in 1966 under restricted conditions.
Several pieces of evidence and documentation are described to have been lost, cleaned, or missing from the original chain of evidence (e.g., limousine cleaned out on November 24, Connally’s clothing cleaned and pressed, Oswald’s military intelligence file destroyed in 1973, Connally’s Stetson hat and shirt sleeve gold cufflink missing).
Jackie Kennedy’s blood-splattered pink and navy Chanel suit that she wore on the day of the assassination is in climate controlled storage in the National Archives. Jackie wore the suit for the remainder of the day, stating “I want them to see what they have done to Jack” when asked aboard Air Force One to change into another outfit. Not included in the National Archives are the white gloves and pink pillbox hat she was wearing.
Assassination Records Review Board
The Assassination Records Review Board was not commissioned to make any findings or conclusions. Its purpose was to release documents to the public in order to allow the public to draw its own conclusions. From 1992 until 1998, the Assassination Records Review Board gathered and unsealed about 60,000 documents, consisting of over 4 million pages. All remaining documents are to be released by 2017.
A handbill circulated on November 21, 1963 in Dallas, one day before the assassination of John F. Kennedy
The wooden fence atop the grassy knoll, and the Triple Underpass with the highway sign, which at the time of the assassination read “Fort Worth Turnpike Keep Right,” as seen in the Zapruder film. The knoll is where many conspiracy theorists believe another gunman stood.
Main article: John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories
From the day of the assassination, many Americans suspected that a conspiracy, and not a lone gunman, was responsible for President Kennedy’s death. Polls taken that day through November 27, 1963 by Gallup showed 52 percent believing “some group or element” was behind the assassination.
Before the Warren Commission issued its report which concluded Oswald acted alone, several books had already been published suggesting a conspiracy was behind the assassination. Within a few months of the assassination, lawyer Mark Lane, who had been hired by Oswald’s mother Marguerite to represent Oswald’s interests before the Warren Commission, had formed his Citizens’ Committee of Inquiry on the assassination and was speaking in the United States and Europe in early 1964, challenging the work of the Warren Commission, even before it had published its findings.
Upon the publication of the Warren Report in September 1964, only a minority 31.6 percent of Americans rejected the conclusion that Oswald had acted alone, with 55.5 percent accepting the Report’s conclusion. But since then, public opinion has consistently shown majorities, often large majorities, believing a conspiracy had been in place. In 1966, Lane’s Rush to Judgment was published, spending six months on The New York Times best-seller list. The book accused the Warren Commission of “being biased towards its conclusions before the facts were known,” and cited evidence found within the 26 volumes of the Warren Report and in his interviews with witnesses which seemed to suggest bullets coming from multiple directions striking the president and hence a conspiracy. The Freedom of Information Act was also passed that year, which had the effect of permitting researchers greater access to once-secret government files, particularly those connected to the Warren Commission.
Many researchers were now investigating the assassination, most of whom believed the Warren Report was at best inaccurate and at worst a lie. In July 1966, in commenting on Edward Jay Epstein’s book Inquest, which focused on the inner workings of the Warren Commission, Richard N. Goodwin became the first of Kennedy’s inner circle to publicly call for a review of the Warren Report. That November, former assistant to the president and Pulitzer-prize winning author Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. called on Congress to initiate a new inquiry. That same month, Life magazine called for a new investigation as did The Saturday Evening Post the following January. The New York Times, in an editorial dated November 25, 1966, did not call for a re-investigation, but said that the Warren Commission and its staff should address “the many puzzling questions that have been raised… There are enough solid doubts of thoughtful persons.”
In 1967, Six Seconds in Dallas by Josiah Thompson was published. The book was the first to focus on many technical aspects not previously discussed by other authors, such as firearms, bullet trajectories, medical and photographic evidence. Thompson, who was a consultant to Life magazine, had unique access to a first-generation print of the Zapruder film and was the first to suggest that President Kennedy was struck by two near-simultaneous bullets to the head, one from the rear, the other from the right front.
That March, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison announced he would prosecute local businessman Clay Shaw for the murder of President Kennedy, and, galvanized, many Warren Commission critics descended on New Orleans. Public interest in the trial was high, with a Harris poll that May showing nearly two of three Americans saying they were following the investigation. The same poll indicated 66 percent believed there was a conspiracy, compared to 44 percent who believed that in a Harris poll done in February.
Garrison was also notable for being among the first to assert that there were two conspiracies: The first conspiracy being the one which engineered the assassination of the president; the second conspiracy being the deliberate cover-up by the Warren Commission to hide the true facts of the assassination.
Shaw was acquitted in March 1969, and the conspiracy movement was dealt a blow as Garrison’s trial was widely seen as a debacle, with many researchers denouncing Garrison as a fraud and megalomaniac. Further, as conspiracy theorist Robert Anson put it, because of Garrison, “bills in Congress asking for a new investigation were quietly shelved.” Nevertheless, the trial opened new avenues of investigations for the movement, particularly with previously unexplored New Orleans connections and links of others to Oswald.
The year 1973 saw the release of the film Executive Action starring Burt Lancaster, the first Hollywood depiction of events surrounding the assassination. In the film, three gunmen shoot President Kennedy in a conspiracy led by right-wing elements and military/industrial interests. That year also saw the formation of the Assassination Information Bureau. The influential group spoke to ever-growing audiences at hundreds of colleges throughout the United States, urging a reopening of the investigation, and was ultimately instrumental in the realization of that goal in 1977.
In March 1975, Good Night America broadcast, for the first time, the Zapruder film, with an audience of millions watching. Almost immediately, with the film showing a backward snap of President Kennedy’s head, indicating to many a shot from the right front and hence a conspiracy, there were new demands for a re-investigation. The findings of the Rockefeller Commission that year and the Church Committee the next year added impetus to calls for a new inquiry, which was realized by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) from 1977 to 1979. That investigation concluded President Kennedy “was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy”.
While the HSCA’s conclusion was welcomed by many in the conspiracy community, the HSCA’s inability to name any players in the conspiracy they identified, and their actions in sealing much of their documentation, left many in the community frustrated.
Numerous books, television shows and articles continued to appear. Writing in 2007, Vincent Bugliosi said, “close to one thousand books” had been published on the subject of the assassination, of which “over 95 percent” were pro-conspiracy. Some notable books to 1990 were Anthony Summers’ Conspiracy (later revised and published as Not in Your Lifetime), David Lifton’s best-selling Best Evidence, both published in 1980, and Henry Hurt’s Reasonable Doubt in 1985.
The Summers and Hurt books explore many of the prominent conspiracy theories, while Lifton argues that President Kennedy’s wounds were altered before the autopsy to frame Oswald. Jim Marrs published Crossfire in 1989, the same year High Treason, by Robert J. Groden and Harrison Livingstone was published. The latter book argued the autopsy photos were altered to give the appearance that wounds were caused by shots from a single gunman.
By the late 80s, interest in the subject among the general public was waning. One theory for this from writer Pete Hamill was that by 1988, “an entire generation had come to maturity with no memory at all of the Kennedy years.” In 1991, Oliver Stone’s film JFK introduced the subject – and many of the attendant conspiracy theories – to a new generation of Americans. The sudden renewed interest in the assassination led to the passage by Congress of the JFK Records Act in 1992. The Act created the Assassination Records Review Board to implement the Act’s mandate to release all sealed documents related to the assassination. Thousands of documents were released between 1994 and 1998, providing new material for researchers.
To date, there is no consensus on who, among many players, may have been involved in a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Those often mentioned as being part of a conspiracy include Jack Ruby, organized crime as an organization or organized crime individuals, the CIA, the FBI, the Secret Service, the KGB, right-wing groups or right-wing individuals, President Lyndon Johnson, pro- or anti-Castro Cubans, the military and/or industrial groups allied with the military.
Reaction to the assassination
Main article: Reaction to the assassination of John F. Kennedy
The assassination evoked stunned reactions worldwide. Before the President’s death was announced, the first hour after the shooting was a time of great confusion. Taking place during the Cold War, it was at first unclear whether the shooting might be part of a larger attack upon the U.S., and whether Vice-President Lyndon Johnson, who had been riding two cars behind in the motorcade, was safe.
The news shocked the nation. People wept openly and gathered in department stores to watch the television coverage, while others prayed. Traffic in some areas came to a halt as the news spread from car to car. Schools across the U.S. dismissed their students early. Anger against Texas and Texans was reported from some individuals. Various Cleveland Browns fans, for example, carried signs at the next Sunday’s home game against the Dallas Cowboys decrying the city of Dallas as having “killed the President”.
The event left a lasting impression on many Americans. As with the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor before it and the September 11, 2001 attacks after it, asking “Where were you when you heard about President Kennedy’s assassination” would become a common topic of discussion.
Artifacts, museums and locations today
Dealey Plaza and Texas School Book Depository in 1969, looking much as they did in November 1963.
Dealey Plaza, with Elm Street on the right and the underpass in the middle.
Looking southeast, with the pergola and knoll behind the photographer: the X on the street marks the approximate position of President Kennedy in the limousine at the moment he and Governor Connally were shot (photo taken in July 2006).
The plane serving as Air Force One is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, where tours of the aircraft are offered including the rear of the aircraft where President Kennedy’s casket was placed and the location where Mrs. Kennedy stood in her blood stained pink dress while Vice-President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president. The 1961 Lincoln Continental limousine is at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Equipment from the trauma room at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where President Kennedy was pronounced dead, including a gurney, was purchased by the federal government from the hospital in 1973 and stored by the National Archives at an underground facility in Lenexa, Kansas. The First Lady’s pink suit, the autopsy report, the X-rays, President Kennedy’s jacket, shirt and tie are stored in the National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland, and access is controlled by a representative of the Kennedy family. The rifle used by Oswald, his diary, revolver, bullet fragments, and the windshield of Kennedy’s limousine are also stored by the Archives. The Lincoln Catafalque, which President Kennedy’s coffin rested on while he lay in state in the Capitol, is on display at the United States Capitol Visitor Center.
The three-acre park within Dealey Plaza, the buildings facing it, the overpass, and a portion of the adjacent railyard – including the railroad switching tower – were designated part of the Dealey Plaza Historic District by the National Park Service on October 12, 1993. Much of the area is accessible to visitors, including the park and grassy knoll. Though still an active city street, the approximate spot where the presidential limousine was located at the time of the shooting is marked with an X on the street. The Texas School Book Depository now draws over 325,000 visitors each year to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza operated by the Dallas County Historical Foundation. There is a re-creation of the sniper’s nest on the sixth floor of the building.
At the Historic Auto Attractions museum in Roscoe, Illinois, are permanently displayed items related to the assassination such as the catalogue Oswald used to order the rifle, a hat and jacket that belonged to Jack Ruby and the shoes he wore when he shot Oswald, and a window from the Texas School Book Depository. The Texas State Archives have the clothes Governor Connally wore on November 22, 1963.
Some items were intentionally destroyed by the U.S. government at the direction of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, such as the casket used to transport President Kennedy’s body aboard Air Force One from Dallas to Washington, which was dropped by the Air Force into the sea as “its public display would be extremely offensive and contrary to public policy”. Other items such as the hat worn by Jack Ruby the day he shot Lee Harvey Oswald and the toe tag on Oswald’s corpse are in the hands of private collectors and have sold for tens of thousands of dollars at auctions.
Jack Ruby’s gun, owned by his brother Earl Ruby, was sold by the Herman Darvick Autograph Auctions in New York City on December 26, 1991, for $220,000.
Who assassinated jfk?
The Chicago plot to assassinate John F. Kennedy involved a planned attack on November 2, 1963 in Chicago, during a Kennedy motorcade scheduled to take place from O’Hare International Airport to Soldier Field stadium. An FBI tip-off warning of a four-man conspiracy involving rifles with telescopic sights saw the Secret Service put a group of four men seen with such rifles and a map of the parade route under surveillance. The Secret Service apprehended two of the suspects, along with a fifth apparently unconnected person, Thomas Arthur Vallee, with strong similarities to Lee Harvey Oswald. With insufficient evidence to hold the suspects and two conspirators still at large, Kennedy’s visit was cancelled with less than an hour to go. All suspects were released, and even after Kennedy’s assassination on November 22 in Dallas, no further investigation appears to have been carried out.
Kennedy was due to arrive at O’Hare International Airport at 11:00 A.M. and progress in a motorcade to Soldier Field stadium to attend an Army-Air Force game. The route included a slow left turn at the Jackson exit of the Kennedy Expressway (then the Northwest Expressway) which would bring the motorcade almost to a standstill, at a point where dozens of schools and civic organizations were due to watch. The location had an unobstructed view that would permit a triangulation of fire.
Four men with rifles
On 30 October 1963 the Chicago office of the US Secret Service, in the midst of security preparations for the event, received a phone call from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C. warning of a four-man conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. The suspects were right-wing paramilitaries armed with rifles and telescopic sights, expected to attempt the assassination at a Northwest Expressway overpass. Abraham Bolden, a Chicago Secret Service agent at the time, later said that four photographs were shown to staff, and at least two names provided – Gonzales and Rodriguez. The information was provided by an FBI informant named “Lee”. Bolden also said later that the head of the Chicago office, Martineau, relaying instructions from Service chief James Rowley, insisted that no reports be written, no case number assigned, and no telexes sent to the Service’s head office – only Martineau would communicate with Rowley, by telephone.
Zapruder Film Slow Motion (HIGHER QUALITY)
The FBI, besides not possessing jurisdiction (it was not a federal crime to kill or threaten the President at the time) didn’t seem to know how to handle the threat. Teletype confirmation from the Secret Service head office in Washington, D.C. followed, with James Rowley ordering every available man (from all other details) to the task of locating the would-be assassins. Rowley’s teletype confirmed that the FBI would not be involved. The Chicago office of the Secret Service had only eight men, and some agents were brought in from other offices.
On 31 October the Chicago police received a tip, passed on to the Secret Service, from a local landlady, who was renting rooms to four men, and had seen four rifles with telescopic sights, and in view of the impending Presidential visit felt some concern. A surveillance operation was set up, which led to two of the suspects being apprehended prematurely, without evidence, when the surveilling agent was exposed. Interrogation of these suspects led nowhere.
In late October, another tip came in to the Secret Service, phoned in by Chicago police officer Lt. Berkeley Moyland. Moyland had been told by a manager at a cafe that a regular customer had been making threats against Kennedy, and when the customer usually came in. Moyland waited and met the man, Thomas Arthur Vallee, and called the Secret Service afterwards. Soon afterwards, according to Moyland’s son interviewed by James W. Douglass decades later, Moyland was phoned back by a Treasury Department official (the Secret Service being part of that Department), who told Moyland to forget about Vallee, and not to tell anyone or write anything about the incident. Moyland largely did as asked – except that he told his son towards the end of his life, along with a warning “you probably can’t repeat it”.
Thomas Vallee, the Secret Service soon discovered, was a John Birch Society member with a history of mental problems. A visit to Vallee’s home by two agents turned up an M1 carbine, a handgun, and 2500 rounds of ammunition. Short-staffed, and with Vallee not having committed any crime, the agents’ request for surveillance of Vallee was satisfied by bringing in two Chicago police officers, Daniel Groth and Peter Schurla. The following morning, November 2, these arrested Vallee for turning left without signalling, as well as for unlawful use of a hunting knife (placed on the front seat). Vallee was interrogated about his political views, and under a certain amount of duress took the Secret Service to his home, where his guns and ammunition were seized. Vallee was then placed in police custody.
At 9.30, following the breaking news of the arrest and assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem (President of South Vietnam), White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger announced the rush construction of a new communications facility at Soldier Field to enable the President to stay up-to-date with developments in Vietnam. With only two of the four conspirators in custody, plus the apparently un-connected Vallee, the security position was untenable. At 10.15 am, less than an hour before Kennedy was due to arrive (and with the press jet having already taken off), the decision was made to cancel the trip. Publicly, the situation in South Vietnam was blamed.
Without evidence to hold them, the suspects were released; Vallee was eventually given a year’s probation. The Secret Service’s file on Vallee was forwarded to local offices in Indianapolis and Columbus as Vallee moved, and that it was not until 1966 that he was first interrogated by the Secret Service – though not about Chicago, and for reasons that remain unclear. Despite the existence of a well-organised conspiracy in Chicago and the assassination of Kennedy just weeks later, the Warren Commission never investigated the Chicago plot, despite Chicago Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden’s efforts to inform the Commission of it. The agent said that the office’s reports for 2 November were collected by the agent in charge and forwarded to Washington, where they were burned in 1995 following a FOIA request. There were even strong similarities between Vallee and Lee Harvey Oswald – besides having similar “loner” personalities. Vallee, like Oswald, was an ex-Marine who had been assigned to a U-2 base in Japan. Both were employed at locations along the Kennedy parade route, both had expressed strong anti-Kennedy views, and both possessed rifles. 
An identical warning was telexed to the FBI’s New Orleans office prior to Kennedy’s visit there; the visit passed off without a hitch or any record of arrests. Another assassination plot was set in train for a Kennedy visit to Tampa, Florida, on November 18. On November 22, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
A few days after the assassination, NBC News in Chicago learned of Vallee’s arrest, and a reporter drew on family connections to ask New York police to find the details linked with Vallee’s car registration, 31-1ORF. He was told the registration was “frozen”, with details only available to the FBI.
The Assassination Records Review Board wrote in its 1998 Final Report that “in January 1995, the Secret Service destroyed presidential protection survey reports for some of President Kennedy’s trips in the fall of 1963. The Review Board learned of the destruction approximately one week after the Secret Service destroyed them, when the Board was drafting its request for additional information. The Board believed that the Secret Service files on the President’s travel in the weeks preceding his murder would be relevant.”
JFK assassination footage
JFK assassination autopsy
John F Kennedy Autopsy Photos
A rather hasty military autopsy was performed on Kennedy’s body at Bethesda. Furthermore, images were taken that were later tampered with, muddling things even more. We’ve tried to include only photographs we believe to be actual autopsy images from the president.
The view of the top of Kennedy’s head. It is readily apparent that a large portion of the skull is missing, and brain matter is exposed. (There is another series of photos that purports to depict the autopsy, with this area intact.)
The autopsy of President John F. Kennedy was performed, beginning at about 8 p.m. EST November 22, 1963, on the day of his assassination and ending at about 12:00 AM EST November 23, 1963, at the then Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. The choice of autopsy hospital in the Washington, D.C. area was made by the President’s wife, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. She chose the Bethesda Naval Hospital because President Kennedy had been a naval officer.
The back wound
The death certificate, signed by the President’s personal physician Dr. George Burkley, then aRear Admiral in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Navy, gave a location for the back wound lower than found by the autopsy (either its photographs or measurements). Dr. Burkley believed a bullet to have hit Kennedy at “about” the level of the third thoracic vertebra (T3). Supporting the location of Dr. Burkley is a diagram from the autopsy report of Kennedy, which shows a bullet hole in the upper back. However, this diagram is freehand, and not drawn with any attention to landmarks — a criticism made of it by the later House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) analysis.
Burkley’s location at T3 (the third thoracic vertebra) is also about the same location of the bullet hole in the shirt and the bullet hole in the suit jacket worn by Kennedy which show bullet holes between 5 in (13 cm) and 6 in (15 cm) below the top of Kennedy’s collar. However, again there has been controversy on the matter of whether or not the holes in the president’s clothing should be expected to correspond to the location of his back wound, since he was sitting with a raised arm at the time of the assassination, and multiple photographs taken of the motorcade show his suit jacket bunched at the back of his neck and shoulder, so that it did not lie closely against his skin.
Official findings of the autopsy
The gunshot wound in the back
- The Bethesda autopsy physicians attempted to probe the bullet hole in the base of Kennedy’s neck above the scapula, but were unsuccessful as it passed through neck strap muscle. They did not perform a full dissection or persist in tracking, as throughout the autopsy, they were unaware of the exit wound, at the front of the throat. Emergency room physicians had obscured it when they performed the tracheotomy.
- At Bethesda, the autopsy report of the president, Warren Exhibit CE 387 described the back wound as being oval, 6 x 4 mm, and located “above the upper border of the scapula” [shoulder blade] at a location 14 cm (5.5 in) from the tip of the right acromion process, and 14 cm (5.5 in) below the right mastoid process(the bony prominence behind the ear).
- The concluding page of the Bethesda autopsy report, states: “The other missile [the bullet to the back] entered the right superior posterior thorax above the scapula, and traversed the soft tissues of the supra-scapular and the supra-clavicular portions of the base of the right side of the neck.
- The report also reported contusion (bruise) of the apex (top tip) of the right lung in the region where it rises above the clavicle, and noted that although the apex of the right lung and the parietal pleural membrane over it had been bruised, they were not penetrated, indicating passage of a missile close to them, but above them.The report noted that the thoracic cavity was not penetrated.
- This missile produced contusions of the right apical parietal pleura and of the apical portion of the right upper lobe of the lung. The missile contused the strap muscles of the right side of the neck, damaged the trachea, and made its exit through the anterior surface of the neck.
- The single bullet of the Warren Commission Report places a bullet wound at the sixthcervical vertebra (C6) of the vertebral column, which is consistent with 5.5 inches (14 cm) below the ear. The Warren Report itself does not conclude bullet entry at the sixth cervical vertebra, but this conclusion was made in a 1979 report on the Kennedy assassination by the HSCA, which noted a defect in the C6 vertebra in the Bethesda X-rays, which the Bethesda autopsy physicians had missed, and did not note.
Even without this information, the original Bethesda autopsy report, included in the Warren Commission report, concluded that this bullet had passed entirely through the president’s neck, from a level over the top of the scapula and lung (and the parietal pleura over the top of the lung), and through the lower throat.
Claims that anyone on the commission “moved the wound” are subject to discussion. Gerald Ford said he renamed the location of the wound, so as “to make things clearer”. The Bethesda autopsy noted that JFK was hit in the “upper back.” [unreliable source?] However, the autopsy doctors, while testifying for the Warren Commission, frequently referred to this wound as a “neck” wound. 
- The Commission report, as amended by Ford, then found the bullet to have passed through the base of the neck, and not to have been in the back. However, Ford’s change is consistent with a bullet hit in the shoulder at the C6 vertebral body, where the HSCA and the photograph placed the wound on the basis of X-damage of the vertebrae and tiny lead fragments in that location.
The gunshot wound to the head
|[show]Graphic warning: A picture of JFK’s head taken at the beginning of the autopsy|
- The wound to the back of the head is described by the Bethesda autopsy as being a laceration measuring 15 x 6 mm, situated to the right and slightly above the external occipital protuberance. In the underlying bone is a corresponding wound through the skull showing beveling (a cone-shaped widening) of the margins of the bone when viewed from the interior of the skull.
- The large, irregularly shaped defect in the right side of the head (chiefly to the parietal bone, but also involving the temporal andoccipital bone) is described as being about 13 cm (5 inches) wide at the largest diameter.
- Three fragments of skull bone were received as separate specimens, roughly corresponding to the dimensions of the large defect. In the largest of the fragments is a portion of the perimeter of a roughly circular wound presumably of exit, exhibiting beveling of the exterior of the bone, and measuring about 2.5 to 3.0 cm in diameter. X-rays revealed minute particles of metal in the bone at this margin.
- Minute fragments of the projectile were found by X-ray along a path from the rear wound to the parietal area defect.
Later government investigations
Ramsey Clark Panel Analysis (1968)
At the request of the Attorney General of the United States Ramsey Clark, four physicians (hereafter sometimes referred to as The Panel) met in Washington, DC on February 26 and 27 to examine various photographs, X-ray films documents and other evidence pertaining to the death of President Kennedy, and to evaluate their significance in relation to the medical conclusions recorded in the Autopsy Report on the body of President Kennedy signed by Commander J. J. Humes, Medical Corps, US Navy; Commander J. Thornton Boswell, Medical Corps, US Navy and Lt. Col. Pierre A. Finck, Medical Corps, US Army and in the Supplemental Report signed by Commander Humes. These appear in the Warren Commission Report at pages 538 to 545.
The Clark panel reviewed the original autopsy records, photos, and X-rays, as well as clothing, films, motion pictures, and bullet fragments. They also reviewed the Warren Commission report. The Clark panel concluded the following:
Major findings regarding the two missile wounds:
Skull There are multiple fractures of the bones of the calvarium bilaterally. These fractures extend into the base of the skull and involve the floor of the anterior fossa on the right side as well as the middle fossa in the midline. With respect to the right frontoparietal region of the skull, the traumatic damage is particularly severe with extensive fragmentation of the bony structures from the midline of the frontal bone anteriorly to the vicinity of the posterior margin of the parietal bone behind. Above the fragmentation extends approximately 25 mm. across the midline to involve adjacent portions of the left parietal bone; below, the changes extend into the right temporal bone. Throughout this region, many of the bony pieces have been displaced outward; several pieces are missing. Distributed through the right cerebral hemisphere are numerous small, irregular metallic fragments most of which are less than 1 mm. in maximum dimension.
The majority of these fragments lie anteriorly and superiorly. None can be visualized on the left side of the brain and none below a horizontal plane through the floor of the anterior fossa of the skull. On one of the lateral films of the skull (#2), a hole measuring approximately 8 mm. in diameter on the outer surface of the skull and as much as 20 mm. on the internal surface can be seen in profile approximately 100 mm. above the external occipital protuberance. The bone of the lower edge of the hole is depressed. Also there is, embedded in the outer table of the skull close to the lower edge of the hole, a large metallic fragment which on the anteroposterior film (#1) lies 25 mm. to the right of the midline. This fragment as seen in the latter film is round and measures 6.5 mm in diameter immediately adjacent to the hole on the internal surface of the skull, there is localized elevation of the soft tissues. Small fragments of bone lie within portions of these tissues and within the hole itself. These changes are consistent with an entrance wound of the skull produced by a bullet similar to that of exhibit CE 399. The metallic fragments visualized within the right cerebral hemisphere fall into two groups. One group consists of relatively large fragments, more or less randomly distributed. The second group consists of finely divided fragments, distributed in a posteroanterior direction in a region 45 mm. long and 8 mm. wide.
As seen on lateral film #2, this formation overlies the position of the coronal suture; its long axis, if extended posteriorly, passes through the above-mentioned hole. It appears to end anteriorly immediately below the badly fragmented frontal and parietal bones just anterior to the region of the coronal suture. The foregoing observations indicate that the decedent’s head was struck from behind by a single projectile. It entered the occipital region 25 mm to the right of the midline and 100 mm. above the external occipital protuberance. The projectile fragmented on entering the skull, one major section leaving a trail of fine metallic debris as it passed forward and laterally to explosively fracture the right frontal and parietal bones as it emerged from the head. In addition to the foregoing, it is noteworthy that there is no evidence of projectile fragments in the left cerebral tissues or in the right cerebral hemisphere below a horizontal plane passing through the floor of the anterior fossa of the skull.
Also, although the fractures of the calvarium extend to the left of the midline and into the anterior and middle fossa of the skull, no bony defect, such as one created by a projectile either entering or leaving the head, is seen in the calvarium to the left of the midline or in the base of the skull. Hence, it is not reasonable to postulate that a projectile passed through the head in a direction other than that described above. Of further note, when the X-ray films of the skull were presented to The Panel, film #1 had been damaged in two small regions by what appears to be the heat from a spotlight. Also, on film #2, a pair of converging pencil lines had been drawn on the film. Neither of these artifacts interfered with the interpretation of the films.
Neck Region Films #8, 9 and 10 allowed visualization of the lower neck. Subcutaneous emphysema is present just to the right of the cervical spine immediately above the apex of the right lung. Also, several, small metallic fragments are present in this region. There is no evidence of fracture of either scapula or of the clavicles, or of the ribs or of any of the cervical and thoracic vertebrae. The foregoing observations indicate that the pathway of the projectile involving the neck was confined to a region to the right of [t]he spine and superior to a plane passing through the upper margin of the right scapula, the apex of the right lung and the right clavicle. Any other pathway would have almost certainly fractured one or more bones of the right shoulder girdle and thorax.
DISCUSSION The information disclosed by the joint examination of the foregoing exhibits by the members of The Panel supports the following conclusions; The decedent was wounded by two bullets, both of which entered his body from behind. One bullet struck the back of the decedent’s head well above the external occipital protuberance. Based upon the observation that he was leaning forward with his head turned obliquely to the left when this bullet struck, the photographs and X-rays indicate that it came from a site above and slightly to his right. This bullet fragmented after entering the cranium, one major piece of it passing forward and laterally to produce an explosive fracture of the right side of the skull as it emerged from the head. The absence of metallic fragments in the left cerebral hemisphere or below the level of the frontal fossa on the right side together with the absence of any holes in it the skull to the left of the midline or in its base and the absence of any penetrating injury of the left hemisphere, eliminate with reasonable certainty the possibility of a projectile having passed through the head in any direction other than from back to front as described in preceding sections of this report.
The other bullet struck the decedent’s back at the right side of the base of the neck between the shoulder and spine and emerged from the front of his neck near the midline. The possibility that this bullet might have followed a pathway other than one passing through the site of the tracheotomy wound was considered. No evidence for this was found. There is a track between the two cutaneous wounds as indicated by subcutaneous emphysema and small metallic fragments on the X-rays and the contusion of the apex of the right lung and laceration of the trachea described in the Autopsy Report. In addition, any path other than one between the two cutaneous wounds would almost surely have been intercepted by bone and the X-ray films show no bony damage in the thorax or neck.
The possibility that the path of the bullet through the neck might have been more satisfactorily explored by the insertion of a finger or probe was considered. Obviously the cutaneous wound in the back was too small to permit the insertion of a finger. The insertion of a metal probe would have carried the risk of creating a false passage in part, because of the changed relationship of muscles at the time of autopsy and in part because of the existence of postmortem rigidity. Although the precise path of the bullet could undoubtedly have been demonstrated by complete dissection of the soft tissue between the two cutaneous wounds, there is no reason to believe that the information disclosed thereby would alter significantly the conclusions expressed in this report.
SUMMARY Examination of the clothing and of the photographs and X- rays taken at autopsy reveal that President Kennedy was struck by two bullets fired from above and behind him, one of which traversed the base of the neck on the right side without striking bone and the other of which entered the skull from behind and exploded its right side. The photographs and X-rays discussed herein support the above-quoted portions of the original Autopsy Report and the above-quoted medical conclusions of the Warren Commission Report.
Major differences with, and support of, conclusions in the Bethesda autopsy and Warren Report:
- The Clark report places the head bullet wound 100 mm (4 inches) above the reported occipital protuberance wound of the Bethesda report. This is important, because it is consistent with a high angle rear entry wound to the skull.
- The Clark report places the back wound squarely in the neck above the scapula and passing through the throat, passing over the TOP of the right lung, in keeping with the Bethesda conclusions. However, this finding is bolstered by additional findings of metallic fragments along the higher bullet trail.
Rockefeller Commission analysis (1975)
The five-member Rockefeller Commission, which included three pathologists, a radiologist, and a wound ballistics expert, did not address the back and throat wounds, writing in its report, “The investigation was limited to determining whether there was any credible evidence pointing to CIAinvolvement in the assassination of President Kennedy,” and that “The witnesses who presented evidence believed sufficient to implicate the CIA in the assassination of President Kennedy placed much stress upon the movements of the President’s body associated with the head wound that killed the President.”
The Commission examined the Zapruder, Muchmore, and Nix films, the 1963 autopsy report, the autopsy photographs and X-rays, President Kennedy’s clothing and back brace, the bullet and bullet fragments recovered, the 1968 Clark Panel report, and other materials. The five panel members came to the unanimous conclusion that President Kennedy was struck by only two bullets, both of which were fired from the rear, including one that struck the back of the head. Three of the physicians reported that the backward and leftward motion of the President’s upper body following the head shot was caused by a “violent straightening and stiffening of the entire body as a result of a seizure-like neuromuscular reaction to major damage inflicted to nerve centers in the brain.”
The report added that there was “no evidence to support the claim that President Kennedy was struck by a bullet fired from either the grassy knoll or any other position to his front, right front or right side … No witness who urged the view [before the Rockefeller Commission] that the Zapruder film and other motion picture films proved that President Kennedy was struck by a bullet fired from his right front was shown to possess any professional or other special qualifications on the subject.”
HSCA analysis (1979)
The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) contained a forensic panel which undertook the unique task of reviewing original autopsy photographs and X-rays and interviewed autopsy personnel, as to their authenticity. The Panel and HSCA then went on to make medical conclusions based on this evidence.
The HSCA’s major medical-forensic conclusion was that “President Kennedy was Struck by Two Rifle Shots Fired from Behind Him.”(The committee found acoustic evidence of a second shooter, but concluded that this shooter did not contribute to the president’s wounds, and therefore was irrelevant to the autopsy results).
The committee’s forensic pathology panel was composed of nine members, eight of whom were chief medical examiners in major local jurisdictions in the United States. As a group, they had been responsible for more than 100,000 autopsies, an accumulation of experience the committee deemed invaluable in the evaluation of the medical evidence — including the autopsy X-rays and photographs — to determine the cause of death of the President and the nature and location of his wounds.
The committee also employed experts to authenticate the autopsy materials. Neither the Clark Panel nor the Rockefeller Commission undertook to determine if the X-rays and photographs were, in fact, authentic. The committee, in light of the numerous issues that had arisen over the years with respect to autopsy X-rays and photographs, believed authentication to be a crucial step in the investigation. The authentication of the autopsy X-rays and photographs was accomplished by the committee with the assistance of its photographic evidence panel as well as forensic dentists, forensic anthropologists and radiologists working for the committee. Two questions were put to these experts:
1. Could the photographs and X-rays stored in the National Archives be positively identified as being of President Kennedy?
2. Was there any evidence that any of these photographs or X-rays had been altered in any manner?
To determine if the photographs of the autopsy subject were in fact of the President, forensic anthropologists compared the autopsy photographs with ante-mortem pictures of the President. This comparison was done on the basis of both metric and morphological features. The metric analysis relied upon a series of facial measurements taken from the photographs, while the morphological analysis was focused on consistency of physical features, particularly those that could be considered distinctive (shape of the nose, patterns of facial lines, et cetera). Once unique characteristics were identified, posterior and anterior autopsy photographs were compared to verify that they, in fact, depicted the same person.
The anthropologists studied the autopsy X-rays in conjunction with premortem X-rays of the President. A sufficient number of unique anatomic characteristics were present in X-rays taken before and after the President’s death to conclude that the autopsy X-rays were of President Kennedy. This conclusion was consistent with the findings of a forensic dentist employed by the committee. Since many of the X-rays taken during the course of the autopsy included the President’s teeth, it was possible to determine, using the President’s dental records, that the X-rays were of the President.
Once the forensic dentist and anthropologists had determined that the autopsy photographs and X-rays were of the President, photographic scientists and radiologists examined the original autopsy photographs, negatives, transparencies, and X-rays for signs of alteration. They concluded there was no evidence of the photographic or radiographic materials having been altered. Consequently, the committee determined that the autopsy X-rays and photographs were a valid basis for the conclusions of the committee’s forensic pathology panel.
While the examination of the autopsy X-rays and photographs was the principal basis of its analysis, the forensic pathology panel also had access to all relevant witness testimony. In addition, all tests and evidence analyses requested by the panel were performed. It was only after considering all of this evidence that the panel reached its conclusions.
The pathology panel concluded that President Kennedy was struck by two, and only two, bullets, each of which entered from the rear. The panel further concluded that the President was struck by one bullet that entered in the upper right of the back and exited from the front of the throat, and one bullet that entered in the right rear of the head near the cowlick area and exited from the right side of the head, toward the front. This second bullet caused a massive wound to the President’s head upon exit. The panel concluded that there is no medical evidence that the President was struck by a bullet entering the front of the head, and the possibility that a bullet could have struck the President and yet left no evidence is extremely remote.
Because this conclusion appeared to be inconsistent with the backward motion of the President’s head in the Zapruder film, the committee consulted a wound ballistics expert to determine what relationship, if any, exists between the direction from which a bullet strikes the head and subsequent head movement. The expert concluded that nerve damage from a bullet entering the President’s head could have caused his back muscles to tighten which, in turn, could have caused his head to move toward the rear. He demonstrated the phenomenon in a filmed experiment which involved the shooting of goats. Thus, the committee determined that the rearward movement of the President’s head would not be fundamentally inconsistent with a bullet striking from the rear.
The HSCA also voiced certain criticisms of the original Bethesda autopsy and handling of evidence from it. These included:
- the “entrance head wound location was incorrectly described.”
- The autopsy report was “incomplete”, prepared without reference to the photographs, and was “inaccurate” in a number of areas, including the entry in Kennedy’s back.
- The ”entrance and exit wounds on the back and front neck were not localized with reference to fixed body landmarks and to each other”.
Document inventory analysis: Assassination Records Review Board (1992–98)
(Not an analysis of the assassination per se, but a limited archival and inventory analysis of the records available regarding it)
The Assassination Records Review Board was created as a result of an act passed by the US Congress in 1992, entitled the “President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act.” The Act mandated the gathering and release of all US Government records related to theAssassination of John F. Kennedy. The Act was passed following the public outcry about the assassination after the 1991 premiere of Oliver Stone’s film JFK, which proposed Kennedy assassination theories involving plots to kill the President. The ARRB collected evidence starting in 1992, then produced a final report in 1998. According to Douglas P. Horne, the ARRB’s chief analyst for military records,
The Review Board’s charter was simply to locate and declassify assassination records, and to ensure they were placed in the new “JFK Records Collection” in the National Archives, where they would be freely available to the public. Although Congress did not want the ARRB to reinvestigate the assassination of President Kennedy, or to draw conclusions about the assassination, the staff did hope to make a contribution to future ‘clarification’ of the medical evidence in the assassination by conducting these neutral, non-adversarial, fact-finding depositions. All of our deposition transcripts, as well as our written reports of numerous interviews we conducted with medical witnesses, are now a part of that same collection of records open to the public. Because of the Review Board’s strictly neutral role in this process, all of these materials were placed in the JFK Collection without comment.
According to Horne, the ARRB’s work showed that:
(1) The autopsy report in evidence today, Warren Commission Exhibit 387, is the third version prepared of that report; it is not the sole version, as was claimed for years by those who wrote it and signed it.
(2) The brain photographs in the National Archives that are purported to be photographs of President Kennedy’s brain are not what they are represented to be; they are not pictures of his brain, but rather are photographs of someone else’s brain. Normally, in cases of death due to injury to the brain, the brain is examined one or two weeks following the autopsy on the body, and photographs are taken of the pattern of damage. Following President Kennedy’s autopsy, there were two subsequent brain examinations, not one: the first examination was of the President’s brain, and those photographs were never introduced into the official record; the second examination was of a fraudulent specimen, whose photographs were subsequently introduced into the official record. The pattern of damage displayed in these ‘official’ brain photographs has nothing whatsoever to do with the assassination in Dallas, and in fact was undoubtedly used to shore up the official conclusion that President Kennedy was killed by a shot from above and behind.
(3) There is something seriously wrong with the autopsy photographs of the body of President Kennedy. It definitely is President Kennedy in the photographs, but the images showing the damage to the President’s head do not show the pattern of damage observed by either the medical professionals at Parkland hospital in Dallas, or by numerous witnesses at the military autopsy at Bethesda Naval hospital. These disparities are real and are significant, but the reasons remain unclear.
Personnel present during autopsy
List of personnel present at various times during the autopsy, with official function, taken from the Sibert-O’Neill report list, the HSCA list and attorney Vincent Bugliosi, author of Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Non-medical personnel from law-enforcement/security:
- John J. O’Leary: Secret Service agent.
- William Greer: Secret Service agent.
- Roy Kellerman: Secret Service agent.
- Francis X. O’Neill: FBI special agent
- James “Jim” Sibert: FBI special agent, assisting Francis O’Neill
Medical personnel and assistants (USA = US Army, USN = US Navy, USAF = US Air Force, MC = Medical Corps)
Official autopsy signatories:
- Commander J. Thornton Boswell, MC, USN: chief of pathology at Naval Medical Center, Bethesda.
- Commander James J. Humes, MC, USN: director of laboratories of the National Medical School, Naval Medical Center, Bethesda. Chief autopsy pathologist for the JFK autopsy. Officially conducted autopsy.
- Lieutenant Colonel Pierre A. Finck, MC, USA: Chief of the military environmental pathology division and chief of the wound ballistics pathology branch at Walter Reed Medical Center.
Other medical personnel
- John Thomas Stringer, Jr: medical photographer
- Floyd Albert Riebe: medical photographer
- PO Raymond Oswald, USN: medical photographer on call
- Paul Kelly O’Connor: laboratory technologist
- James Curtis Jenkins: laboratory technologist
- Edward F. Reed: X-ray technician
- Jerrol F. Custer: X-ray technician
- Jan Gail Rudnicki: Dr. Boswell’s lab tech assistant on the night of the autopsy
- PO James E. Metzler, USN: Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class
- James H. Ebersole: Assistant Chief of Radiology
- Lieutenant Commander Gregory H. Cross, MC, USN: resident in surgery
- CPO Chester H. Boyers, USN: chief petty officer in charge of the pathology division, visited the autopsy room during the final stages to type receipts given by FBI and Secret Service for items obtained
- Vice Admiral Edward Kenney, MC, USN: surgeon general of the U.S. Navy
- Dr. George Bakeman, USN
- Rear Admiral George Burkley, M.D., MC, USN: the president’s personal physician
- Robert Frederick Karnei, M.D.: Bethesda pathologist
- Captain David P. Osborne, MC, USN: chief of surgery at Bethesda
- Captain Robert O. Canada, USN: commanding officer of Bethesda Naval Hospital
Additional military personnel
- Brigadier General Godfrey McHugh, USAF: US military aide to the President on the Dallas trip
- Rear Admiral Calvin B. Galloway, USN: commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Medical Center, Bethesda
- Captain John H. Stover, Jr., USN: commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Medical School, Bethesda
- Major General Philip C. Wehle, USA: commanding officer of the U.S. Military District of Washington, D.C., entered to make arrangements for the funeral and lying in state.
- 2nd Lieutenant Richard A. Lipsey, USA: Jr. aide to General Wehle
- 1st Lieutenant Samuel A. Bird, USA: head of the Old Guard.
- Sr CPO, Alexander Wadas – Chief on duty.
Others: At the termination of the autopsy, the following personnel from Gawler’s Funeral Home entered the autopsy room to prepare the President’s body for viewing and burial (this required 3 to 4 hours ):
- John VanHoesen
- Edwin Stroble
- Thomas E. Robinson
- Joe Hagen
Views of JFK
Photo of the president’s back, oddly taken from below the body. The Warren Commission’s report located this wound at the back of the neck, though you can clearly see that the wound is to the back.
Left view of the head. Injuries are not visible from this angle.
Magic bullet theory – JFK assassination
JFK Assassination Magic bullet video