For the 50th anniversary of the assassination, I am involved in a research project on the best evidence concerning what happened, and what did not happen.
The head shot is one small part of a large tangled web. Oswald was known to US intelligence for a long time prior to 1963. With the Cuban covert operations, the Bay of Pigs incident, JFK’s firing of Allen Dulles and basically dismantling the CIA’s action capabilities, we have a clear motive for wanting him removed from power.
Notes / Sources…
JFK Assassination: Head Wound
Credited to Dr. Groden, U.S. NAVY employee (Bethesda Naval Hospital), http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:JFK_autopsy.jpg
Controversy stems from whether the frontal damage is an entrance wound or an exit wound.
Also controversy surrounds whether the bullet damage reached the very back of the skull, “occipital” region.
The “flap” is apparently a dislodged piece of scalp that originally covered over the frontal area head wound.
Eyewitness to JFK shooting describes frontal wound as bullet entrance wound:
Interview with Marilyn Sitzman, the woman who held Abraham Zapruder steady while he was filming the motorcade; transcript of tape recording, http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/sitzman.txt:
Thompson: Where on the side of the head did that shot appear to hit?
Sitzman: I would say it’d be above the ear and to the front.
Thompson: In other words, if one drew a line vertically upward from the tip of the ear, it would be forward of that line?
Thompson: It would then mean the left … back of the temple, but on the side of the head, back of the temple?
Sitzman: Between the eye and the ear.
DIFFICULTY IN ANALYZING THE EVIDENCE
The House Select Committee on Assassination in 1979 (http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/autopsy2.txt) acknowledged discrepancies between descriptions of Kennedy’s head wounds by the Dallas doctors versus Bethesda autopsy personnel:
“The description of the size and location of the President’s head wounds, for example, by eyewitnesses at Parkland Hospital differed dramatically from the testimony of the autopsy doctors and the account set forth in the Warren Report.(195) More recently, the panel of medical experts convened by then-Acting Attorney General Ramsey Clark described Kennedy’s head entrance wound as approximately 10 centimeters higher than the location reported by the Warren Commission.”
Source http://www.assassinationresearch.com/zfilm/, frames 313, 314, 315, 316:
Zapruder Film frame 313 (cropped), low resolution 8mm image hard to analyze.
After bullet hit, head motion is to the left and backward, consistent with frontal entry of bullet. Frames 314, 315, 316:
HEAD X-RAY EVIDENCE
- Only two views have been shown to public.
- Severe fractures visible at rear, possible cosmetic reconstruction?
X-RAY TECHNICIAN CLAIMS X-RAY IMAGES ARE FORGERIES
JERROL CUSTER, a JFK autopsy X-ray technician (evening of Nov. 22, 1963), told author David Lifton that the wound in the skull was posterior [at the back] in the skull and said that “he exposed, and returned to the morgue, X- rays showing that the rear of the President’s head was blown off.” ( Best Evidence , p. 620) The extant X-rays show no such thing. May 29, 1992 and November 18, 1993 press conferences Custer repeated his consistent claim that the current X-rays are forgeries. (Reuters wire service, reported in: Duffy JP, Ricci VL, The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, New York, 1992, Thunder’s Mouth Press, p. 142.)
JERROL CUSTER was an X-Ray Technician at the JFK autopsy, Assassination Records Review Board Deposition, October 28, 1997: (http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/jfk/arrb/medical_testimony/pdf/Custer_10-28-97.pdf):
Q: Did you see any reconstruction of the body at all by morticians?
CUSTER: I remember when I looked into the skull – I remember seeing an apparatus in there.
…Q: Could you describe the apparatus that was in the skull?
CUSTER: It was non-human. It had – I’m not sure if it was metallic or plastic…
…CUSTER: Their basic thing was “We’re looking for shells, bullets, fragments.” They weren’t looking to what caused it? How was it done? What was the tracing – what was the path of the bullet?
Q: How was it that you came to the impression that what they were doing was looking for bullet fragments?
CUSTER: That was plain and simple. They come right out and said, “You’re taking X-Rays for bullets.”
…CUSTER: The head was so unstable, due to the – the fractures. The fractures were extremely numerous. It was like somebody took a hardboiled egg and just rolled it in her hand. …And every time we picked the head up, you could feel it. This part of the head would come out; this part of the head would be in. And it was just – The only thing holding it together was the skin.
During the autopsy, Custer also said that Dr. Ebersole, his commanding officer, told him that he had brought in JFK skull fragments, which had arrived from Dallas. “High-ranking people had talked to him. And he suggested to me that everything I see from now on, I should forget.” (ARRB deposition, p146)
The HSCA addressed the possibility of fraudulent X-Rays in 1979. http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/autopsy2.txt
Their conclusion was to simply assume that 14 of the “Parkland personnel could be mistaken…”
HSCA uses a number of X-Ray experts to authenticate that the images are of Kennedy, however the report includes no mention at all of JERROL CUSTER, the man who actually took at least one set of known X-Ray images of President Kennedy that night.
Another finding of HSCA:
“FBI agents Silbert and O’Neill referred to “surgery” of the head area being evident when the body arrived for the autopsy”
GARY AQUILAR M.D., 1994 COMPILATION OF MEDICAL WITNESSES
These eyewitnesses said that JFK’s frontal head damage was likely an entry wound, and/or the rear head wound was an exit wound:
Dallas Parkland Hospital
Gary Aquilar paraphrases DOCTOR ROBERT MCLELLAND, who “…made clear that he thought the rear wound in the skull was an exit wound (WC-V6:35,37).”
RONALD COY JONES: was a senior General Surgery resident physician at Parkland Hospital: “…described “what appeared to be an exit wound in the posterior portion of the skull”. (WC-V6:56) http://www.assassinationweb.com/ag6.htm Asked to speculate: “…the only speculation that I could have as far as to how this could occur with a single wound would be that it would enter the anterior neck and possibly strike a vertebral body and then change its course and exit in the region of the posterior portion of the head.” (WC.V.6:56)” “In January, 1983 he told David Lifton, “If you brought him in here today, I’d still say he was shot from the front.””
PAUL PETERS MD: “…the only answer we could think (of) was perhaps the bullet had gone in through the front [of the neck], hit the bony spinal column, and exited through the back of the head, since a wound of exit is always bigger than a wound of entry.”
CHARLES CRENSHAW MD: “…From the damage I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that the bullet had entered his head through the front, and as it surgically passed through his cranium, the missile obliterated part of the temporal and all the parietal and occipital lobes before it lacerated the cerebellum.” ( JFK: Conspiracy of Silence, p. 86)”
ROBERT GROSSMAN MD: Never testified to Warren Commission, not mentioned by other doctors as being present. “”He (Grossman) said that he saw two large holes in the head, as he told the (Boston) Globe, and he described a large hole squarely in the occiput, far too large for a bullet entry wound…”. (HT-I Groden and Livingstone, p. 51)-& also “Duffy & Ricci, The Assassination of John F. Kennedy–A Complete Book of Facts, p. 207-208.)”
NURSE DIANA HAMILTON BOWRON: “When asked her opinion of the nature of the defect in the rear of the skull, Bowron told Livingstone, “Well, to me it was an exit hole.” (Livingstone, Killing the Truth, p. 192) Livingstone asked, “Did you see any entry hole in the back of the head?”. “I assumed and I still do that that was an exit wound.” Bowron answered.”
GREG AKIN MD: Anasthesiologist: ‘I assume that the right occipitoparietal region was the exit.’” (Lifton, BE, p.317)
Bethesda Naval Base
JAN GAIL RUDNICKI: Dr. Boswell’s lab assistant on the night of the autopsy: “…from the ear back, the scalp was either gone or definitely destroyed in that area…..it would look more like it was an exit than an entrance.”
JERROL CUSTER: “Which tells you again, you had to have a king-size force coming anterior to posterior [front to back]. Everything seemed like it was just pushed backwards. This whole area blew out.” (ARRB)
…”Here’s another thing too, that shows this is more than likely – I’d say 80 to 90 percent – entry wound.” [indicating front wound over sinuses] (ARRB)
Many forensic witnesses speculated that the bullet entered from the rear, top or front, leading to conflicting descriptions.
Expert witness claims two bullets hit president’s head:
RANDOLPH H. ROBERTSON M.D. examined x-rays of Kennedy’s head and testified to the Congress, November 17, 1993. Transcript: http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/robertsn.txt
“We are left to wonder why this obvious evidence of a second impact was not recognized by the original autopsy team. We may also ask why the largest bullet fragment present on these x-rays was not recovered the night of the autopsy. It is my belief that this fragment was dropped out of the evidentiary chain because it was related to the second bullet which struck President Kennedy’s head originating from the Grassy Knoll area.”
However, Robertson’s article on the 2nd head injury bullet was rejected by Radiology Journal, whose reviewer stated:
“The two prints included with the manuscript are very difficult to interpret. Therefore, I believe prudent pathologists would be very hesitant to make a firm statement regarding precise locations, or beginning and ending point of fracture lines based on these images.”
Recollections Have Changed Over Time
Some doctors have changed their statements since testifying to the Warren Commission, and others have been challenged as to what they had said.
Example: Anesthesiologist MARION JENKINS (http://www.assassinationweb.com/ag6.htm) has told conflicting stories of the cerebellum hanging out of JFK’s wound and also a claim of a wound on the left temporal area which is not seen in the autopsy.
ADDITIONAL INFO ON THROAT WOUND
Parkland Hospital Press Conference
Dallas Doctors First Statements
PARKLAND MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
NOVEMBER 22, 1963
2:16 P.M. CST
Doctor, describe the entrance wound. You think from the front in the throat?
DR. MALCOM PERRY- The wound appeared to be an entrance wound in the front of the throat; yes, that is correct.”