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  • Matt Crumpton

Ep 19: The Medical Evidence Part 7 - Conclusions

Updated: Apr 23

Over the last six episodes, we’ve covered the key pieces of medical evidence in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Now, we are finally going to recap and make judgments about the evidence that we’ve studied so far. The big questions we needed to answer about the medical evidence are: 1) is the Warren Report correct about the Single Bullet Theory? 2) Were the Zapruder film, the autopsy photos, and the autopsy x-rays all authentic - or were those items altered in any way? And 3) Were there any shots fired from the front indicating a conspiracy?


Let’s look at the credibility of the Single Bullet, or Magic Bullet, Theory. There are two issues we need to address. First, whether CE 399, the bullet that’s in the National Archives, could possibly be the same bullet that went through Kennedy and Connally, and Second, whether it would have been possible for any bullet to go through Kennedy and Connally in the way the Warren Report described.

A few episodes ago, we heard about the chain of custody issues with CE 399. After it was found by Darrell Tomlinson on a stretcher outside the elevators on the ground floor of Parkland hospital, Tomlinson gave it to the head of hospital security, O.P. Wright, who gave it to Secret Service agent Richard Johnsen, who gave it to Secret Service Chief James Rowley, who gave it to FBI agent Elmer Todd, who gave it to Robert Frazier at the FBI crime lab. So, 6 people had possession of this bullet at one time. But, only 2 of them – FBI agents Todd and Frazier - confirmed that CE 399 was the same bullet that they once had in their possession. Tomlinson, Wright, Johnsen, and Rowley could not identify it and said CE 399 did not look like the bullet they handled.

The Warren Report does not offer any proof that CE 399 came from the stretcher that Connally was using. That fact ispresumed by the Warren Commission based on the logic of “where else could the bullet have come from?” As we heard from Dr. Shaw at a press conference and saw in the medical report after Connally’s chest surgery, the bullet was still inside of Connally’s leg three hours after CE 399 was found. So, CE 399 defenders have a major problem with the timeline. This bullet cannot be inside of Connally’s leg at 4pm if it was found on a stretcher at 1pm.

To further confuse matters, it looks like the bullet fragments from Governor Connally’s wrist that Nurse Audrey Bell gave to plain clothes federal agents have been conflated in the Warren Report with a full bullet that was in a sealed brown envelope which was given to Officer Bobby Nolan by an unknown nurse. This conclusion is supported by statements from Governor Connally, Officer Nolan, and District Attorney Henry Wade. The Connally wrist fragments eventually made it into evidence as CE 842, which does have Nolan’s initials on it. But, Nolan denies ever handling fragments (he had a full bullet) or interacting with Nurse Bell. The implication is that this mix up of Nurse Bell with the unknown nurse and Officer Nolan with the plainclothes federal agents may have been done intentionally to make the complete bullet that Officer Nolan had in his possession disappear from the record.

Then there is the condition of CE 399, which is sometimes said to be pristine. The firing tests conducted by the FBI don’t help the Warren Report’s case. That’s because the only bullet that we know was fired in to a human cadaver wrist was destroyed. Whereas CE 399 is in very good shape, except for the bottom of it which is a little deformed. But we would expect the bullet to be seriously damaged after having gone through Kennedy, and then fracturing Connally’s rib and wrist. How could there be less damage to a bullet after hitting two bones than after hitting one bone?

Finally, when you add up the weight of the bullet fragments from Connally’s wrist, plus the fragments that remained in his thigh, the weight may be too heavy to have come from one Carcano bullet. The answer to this question was buried with Governor Connally when he died. He had a bullet fragment in his leg that was never removed. And if that fragment is more than 1 grain, then CE 399 and its associated fragments are too heavy. But even without knowing how many grains are in Connally’s leg, there’s another reason to doubt CE 399 - the pieces of bullet fragments that are said to come from it don’t match up with damage to the bullet itself. Because the bullet is in such good shape, you can’t pinpoint where exactly on CE 399 the Connally wrist fragments in exhibit CE 842 would have come from. The puzzle pieces just don’t fit together.

I find it impossible that CE 399 could have been the single bullet that caused damage to Kennedy and Connally. The Warren Report continually states things that CE 399 could have done. But it never says what it did do. There’s no proof that CE 399 caused the wounds because there is no certainty about where CE 399 even came from. Remember, it was found on a random stretcher at a time when Connally still had the bullet in his thigh.

Single Bullet Theory Other Than CE 399

Ok, so we’ve got plenty of evidence to rule out CE 399 as possibly being the bullet that hit Kennedy and Connally. But, putting the credibility of CE 399 aside, could the Single Bullet Theory have been pulled off as the Warren Report says?

There are many Parkland doctors who are on record as saying that Kennedy’s throat wound, which was later obscured by a tracheotomy, was an entrance wound. If that’s true, then the Single Bullet Theory falls apart.

What about the wound in Kennedy’s back? This is the rear neck wound if you believe the autopsy or a right upper backwound if you believe the Sibert and O’Neill report and the drawing on the autopsy facing sheet. The evidence is all over the place for this wound. Sure, there is a lot of testimony for the idea that the wound was a lower back or right shoulder wound. But, the strongest evidence that the neck wound was not at the base of Kennedy’s neck and was instead lower and further to the right is the autopsy photo of Kennedy’s back.

The photo doesn’t put the wound as low and as far right as conspiracy theorists say, but it’s much lower than the base of his neck. Also, Sibert and O’Neill’s FBI report said that the back wound QUOTE “had no point of exit.” The Sibert and O’Neill report and the two FBI reports that followed it were all hidden from the public and not included with the exhibits to the Warren Report when it first came out.

But, it’s also true that rigor mortis could have been the reason the doctors thought there was no point of exit at the time. The doctors would have had difficulty trying to probe the wound. Still, the fact that the wound was not dissected at all because the doctors were told not to dissect it by military higher ups is very suspicious. Also, the autopsy doctors presumably were aware of the concept of rigor mortis and would have taken that into account when they said there was QUOTE “no point of exit.”

The Warren Report made no final determination about which bullets hit the motorcade. They said it was likely that there were three shots, but made no finding about whether the first shot hit the limo or the second shot hit the limo.[i] There is general agreement that the third shot caused the fatal wound that hit Kennedy’s head. The Warren Report says in the Conclusions section QUOTE:

Although it is not necessary to any essential findings of the Commission to determine just which shot hit Governor Connally, there is very persuasive evidence from the experts to indicate that the same bullet which pierced the President's throat also caused Governor Connally's wounds. However, Governor Connally's testimony and certain other factors have given rise to some difference of opinion as to this probability….[ii]

The Warren Report goes on to affirm that Oswald was the lone gunman even if the single bullet theory is not accurate. But Governor Connally was not a believer in the Single Bullet Theory.

Unquestionably, when the first shot was fired, I recognized it as a shot. I had no doubt it was a rifle shot. I turned to my right. I had time to think, I had time to react…I am convinced beyond any question of a doubt that the first shot that was fired did not hit me. Then, I was hit. And I was not then, and I have no memory of the sound of the bullet that hit me.[iii]

Connally’s belief that he was hit by the second shot is based on his recollection that after he heard the first shot, he had time to turn to his right and then turn to his left before he felt anything.[iv]

The Zapruder film makes it clear that Kennedy is hit before Connally is hit. But, exactly how much earlier he is hit is still disputed. Assuming Kennedy is hit with the first shot and Connally is hit with the second shot, then which shot struck the curb near James Tague? The Commission’s conclusion was that either the first or second shot missed the limo and caused Tague’s injuries and whichever shot didn’t cause Tague’s injuries is the one that hit both Kennedy and Connally.

When the Warren Commission saw the Zapruder film and the timing of Governor Connaly’s reaction as compared to President Kennedy’s reaction, there was this exchange between Commissioners Allen Dulles and John McCloy:

Dulles: But, you would then have the problem you would think if Connaly had been hit at the same time would have reacted in the same way and not reacted much later as these pictures show.

McCloy: That is right.

Dulles: Because the wounds would have been inflicted.

McCloy: That is what puzzles me.

Dulles: That is what puzzles me.[v]

So, there you have it: two of the Warren Commissioners thought Connally’s reaction on the Zapruder film was too late for the same bullet to hit Connally and Kennedy. As I said before, I am not equipped to decipher what the Zapruder film tells us or doesn’t tell us. There are competing experts arguing all kinds of things. But, it’s interesting that Dulles and McCloy are puzzled by this. They are not the only ones.

When asked whether the magic bullet theory was possible by Arlen Specter, Parkland hospital Dr. Charles Gregory said, QUOTE “I believe that one would have to concede the possibility, but the probability is much diminished. … To pass through the soft tissues of the President would have certainly decelerated the missile to some extent. Having then struck the Governor and shattered a rib, it is further decelerated, yet it has presumably retained sufficient energy to smash a wrist bone. Moreover, it escaped the forearm to penetrate at least the skin and fascia of the thigh and I am not persuaded that this is very probable.”[vi]

During a September 18, 1964 Warren Commission meeting regarding the debate to finalize the Single Bullet Theory, Commissioners Russell, Cooper, and Boggs made their skepticism known. As a compromise, they settled with their fellow commissioners Allen Dulles, Gerald Ford, Earl Warren and John McCloy on describing the Single Bullet Theory in the report’s conclusion as QUOTE “persuasive, but not compelling.”[vii] Commission Chief Counsel J Lee Rankin made no written record of this Commission meeting where the Single Bullet Theory was questioned.

But, we do know that the Single Bullet Theory was debated within the Warren Commission from a recorded phone call between Senator Russell and President Lyndon Johnson.

Senator Russell: Well, they’re trying to prove that the same bullet that hit Kennedy first was the one that hit Connally, went through him through his hand his bone and through his leg and everything else. There’s a lot of stuff. But I couldn’t get all the evidence to cross examine all of them. … But we’ve got you a pretty good report.

President Johnson: What difference does it make which bullet got Connally?

Senator Russell: Well, it don’t make much difference, but they say that the Commission believes that the same bullet that hit Kennedy hit Connally. Well, I don’t believe it. So I couldn’t sign it.

President Johnson: I don’t either.[viii]

Senator Russell: I said that Governor Connally testified directly to the contrary and I’m not going to approve of that. So, I finally made them say that there was a difference in the Commission in that. Part of them believed that wasn’t so. Of course, if a fellow is accurate enough to hit Kennedy right in his neck on one shot and knock his head off on the next one when he’s leaning up against his wife’s head and not even wound her, well he didn’t miss completely with that third shot. According to that theory, he not only missed the whole automobile but he missed the street. Well a man good enough shot to put two bullets right into Kennedy he didn’t miss that whole automobile.

As we just heard, not even President Johnson believed that the Single Bullet Theory was possible. Johnson and Senator Russell wanted to disregard the James Tague injury and have all three bullets hit Kennedy and Connally so that separate bullets would be responsible for Kennedy’s back and throat injuries and all of Connally’s injuries. This would have taken away the necessity of the single bullet theory.

To be clear, President Johnson and Senator Russell are not conspiracy theorists. They just thought it was more believable that a bullet fragment coming off of the limo hit the concrete near Tague than it was that a Single Bullet caused all of that damage and remained in such good condition. This audio clip speaks merely to the believability of the single bullet theory by a Warren Commission member and the President of the United States. It doesn’t tell us what actually happened. Still, it’s quite notable and not often discussed that President Johnson was a critic of the Single Bullet Theory.

Zapruder Film, Autopsy Photos, X Rays Fake?

Let’s answer the next question: can we rely on the autopsy photos, autopsy x-rays and the Zapruder film – or were any of those things altered?

The autopsy itself has three issues that raise questions: first, the autopsy facing sheet showing an upper right back wound instead of one at the base of Kennedy’s neck, second, the constant interference with standard autopsy procedures by military officers – as Dr. Finck testified during the Clay Shaw trial in New Orleans, and third, the Clark Panel report that moved the location of Kennedy’s head wound entrance up 4.5 inches.

The facing sheet drawing is explained away as a preliminary mistake. But it’s a pretty important document, so it’s hard for me to believe the doctor wasn’t trying as hard as he could. Also, the facing sheet drawing is consistent with the FBI Sibert and O’Neill report. The fact that the doctors did not follow basic procedures for an autopsy because the military told them not to is something that raises red flags. History has been deprived of the absolute knowledge of the trajectory of the bullets because the tracks of the bullet wounds were not dissected in the autopsy.

Finally, the Clark Panel report challenged the credibility of the Warren Report autopsy because it revised the location of Kennedy’s head wound up 4.5 inches from the base of his skull to near the cowlick area on the back of his head. Oh, and the Clark Panel doctors happened to find a bullet fragment in an x-ray that was the exact size of the bullet Oswald allegedly used. But, we are supposed to believe that all of the Bethesda doctors who did the autopsy and radiologists who examined the x-rays failed to see that 6.5 mm fragment.

I don’t buy the Clark Panel revision or the discovery of the 6.5mm bullet fragment. It’s one thing to say that the Parkland doctors said the wound was somewhere else and move it there if there was also other independent facts to support moving the wound position. But, the Clark Panel, whose findings the HSCA adopted, moved the wound to a place where no witness ever said it was.

What about the autopsy photos? Can we rely on them as being authentic? What I don’t understand about the photos is that even the doctors who did the autopsy were not allowed to look at them. Why were they not allowed to look at these photos? Autopsy photos are necessary to solve a crime. Why were they not used here? Why were drawings and renderings used in place of actual photos?

To understand how ridiculous this is, imagine if a prosecutor had photographic evidence, but then said, “I’m not going to use the photos, instead we’ll be relying on someone I hired to draw what the photos show. And no this person I hired to draw the illustrations has never actually seen the photos.” On top of that, this holier than thou argument from the Warren Commission that the reason they never looked at the autopsy photos was out of respect for the Kennedy family just doesn’t make any sense. Were they really trying to solve the crime? If they were, they should have used all available tools to do it.

Aside from how shady it is that the Warren Commission never even looks at any autopsy photos, the validity of the photos themselves has been challenged. These challenges are credible until someone specifically debunks them. And saying that people claiming the autopsy photos are altered “must be mistaken or otherwise they are trying to get rich and famous off of conspiracy books” is not the same thing as debunking the substance of the argument. The specific claims must be refuted in a credible way.

We need to know why Saundra Spencer, the woman who processed the autopsy photos, told the ARRB that the photos in the National Archives are not the same ones she processed. She even had the exact type of photo paper that the images should be on and the paper doesn’t match. Similarly, why does the autopsy photographer, John Stringer, tell the ARRB that he never used the kind of film that the official autopsy photos were developed on and that the brain he photographed was more damaged. Also, Robert Knudsen told his family that he was the only photographer at the autopsy and he didn’t recognize 4 or 5 of the photos he was shown by the HSCA.

In Spencer, Stringer and Knudsen we have three people who were involved in the autopsy photos who are on record saying that the official autopsy photos are not the real ones that they worked on. And, yes, it is true that their memories could have faded over time. But, Stringer’s recollections were very specific. And Spencer brought physical proof with her in the form of the old photo paper.

Dr. David Mantik believes the autopsy photos of the back of Kennedy’s head utilize a photo patch to cover up the area that would have had a hole in the back. He also claims that a similar technique was used for the autopsy x-rays of the skull. Dr. Mantik says the x-rays showing Kennedy’s skull have been altered because the back section is bright white and could not possibly have the thickness attributed to it using the optical densitometer – unless the x-rays were forged.

Dr. Mantik is an oncologist and radiologist with a physics degree. He’s a serious person and as a radiologist is an expert in interpreting x-rays. So, when I went to the index of Reclaiming History, the Warren Report defender bible written by Vincent Bugliosi, I expected to find a technical refutation of Dr. Mantik’s research. Instead. the only thing Bugliosi had to say to refute Dr. Mantik’s claims was this: QUOTE

Dr. Mantik, as is obvious from his scholarly research in the Kennedy case as well as his background, is a person of considerable intelligence. Not only is he an oncologist, but also a radiologist with a doctorate in physics. How, then, can Mantik and thousands like him in the conspiracy community – many of lesser intellect – end up uttering absurdities like this, as well as countless others throughout the years? The answer is that within the world of insanity there is an internal logic. By that I mean that one can frequently have a perfectly intelligent conversation with an insane person if one is willing to enter that person’s world of insane suppositions.

Mantik is clearly a very rational person and not insane, but for whatever reason he is starting out with an insane premise. The internal logic that flows from this premise makes perfect sense. But only from the outside peeping into this mad world can one see how utterly crazy his “logical” conclusions are.[ix]

Ok, I get it. Bugliosi doesn’t agree that there was a conspiracy. But, the question remains, what specifically did Dr. Mantik get wrong in his analysis. Bugliosi did not even attempt to answer that question.

Zapruder Film

We’ve discussed the autopsy, along with its accompanying photos and x-rays. But, was the Zapruder film also potentially altered?

Former ARRB employee Doug Horne laid out how he believes the Zapruder film was altered. He interviewed career officials of NPIC under oath for the ARRB. They explained how the Zapruder film arrived on Saturday night and Brugioni worked on it. Then, secret service took it early in the morning on Sunday. Sunday night, McMahon says that Secret Service agent Bill Smith told him he had just brought the film from the top secret Hawkeyeworks photo lab in Rochester, New York. Why did all of these career officials make these statements under oath if what they said is not true?

But there’s another piece of the ARRB Zapruder film saga. The ARRB hired Roland Zavada, an expert on Kodachrome film who worked at Kodak, to analyze the film. Zavada wrote a 150 page report to the ARRB stating that the Zapruder film in the national archives is the same one that came from Zapruder’s camera and that the film was not altered.

Some people believe that Kennedy was hit by simultaneous bullets to the head from the front and the back. To me, the film doesn’t show the blowout in the back of Kennedy’s head like you would expect if the shot was from the front – though it does show his head snapping backwards. The thing is, if the shot was from the front, then you would also expect Kennedy’s body to go violently back and to the left - and that’s exactly what happened.

It’s not clear whether or not the film has been altered. Roland Zavada is a world-class expert and he says it has not. But, it’s also true that Dino Brugioni, Homer McMahon and Ben Hunter were career professionals who testified under oath. And McMahon says the film was delivered from CIA photolab that had the most advanced photo editing in the world at the time – the Hawkeyeworks facility in Rochester, New York.

Either you believe the NPIC employees or Zavada. But, they can’t both be right.

Shot from the Front

Finally, we have to tackle the third and most important question: Were there any shots fired from the front?

We will ultimately never know with certainty whether Kennedy’s throat wound was an entrance wound or exit wound because the autopsy doctors were not permitted to dissect the wound as would have been standard procedure in a homicide case. Still, a large number of Parkland hospital doctors are on record as having believed that the throat wound was an entry wound when they saw it – specifically: Dr. Akin, Dr. Baxter, Dr. Carrico, Dr. Clark, Dr. Crenshaw, Dr. Jones, Dr. McClelland, Dr. Peters, and Nurse Henchcliffe. The New York Times reported two days after the assassination that the throat wound was an entrance wound.

So, there is a fair amount of evidence for the throat wound being an entrance wound. The testimony of Parkland doctors is persuasive because they mostly say the same thing, but it’s not conclusive because the question still remains - if the throat wound was an entrance wound, then where did that bullet go? That’s the caveat. If you think the throat wound was an entry wound, the bullet had to go somewhere.

On the other hand, if everything in the autopsy is correct, then the throat wound must be an exit wound. I lean towards the throat wound being an entrance wound based on the Parkland doctors testimony, but I do not have much certainty because I can’t account for where the bullet went if it entered in his neck and wasn’t found in his body.


On the 50th anniversary of the assassination, former Parkland hospital nurse, Phyllis Hall, claimed that there was a bullet lodged between Kennedy’s ear and his shoulder. Hall said QUOTE “I could see a bullet lodged between his ear and his shoulder. It was pointed at its tip and showed no signs of damage. I remember looking at it – there was no blunting of the bullet or scarring around the shell from where it had been fired.” Nurse Hall goes on to say QUOTE “I’d had a great deal of experience working with gunshot wounds but I had never seen anything like this before. It was about one-and-a-half inches long – nothing like the bullets that were later produced. It was taken away but never have I seen it presented in evidence or heard what happened to it. It remains a mystery.”[x]

We haven’t talked about this bullet at all yet. So, if Hall’s claim is true, this would be an extra bullet. Is there any evidence to support the existence of this additional JFK ear bullet?

On the day of the assassination, on November 22, 1963, a memo was written from Alan Belmont of the FBI to FBI Deputy Director Clyde Tolson. The memo said “I told SAC Shanklin that secret service had one of the bullets that struck president Kennedy and the other is lodged behind the president’s ear and we are arranging to get both of these.”

FBI Director J Edgar Hoover also mentioned an intact bullet that came from Kennedy’s head in a phone call a week after the assassination with President Lyndon Johnson:

LBJ: Any of them fired at me?

Hoover: No. All 3 at the president. And we have them. Two of the shots fired at the president were splintered, but they had characteristics on them so that our ballistics experts were able to prove that they were fired by this gun….The third shot is a complete bullet and that rolled out of the president’s head … it tore a large part of the president’s head off… and in trying to massage his heart at the hospital … on the way to the hospital… they apparently loosened that and it fell on to the stretcher. And we recovered that. And we have that…[xi]

It sounds like the bullet that Hoover is referencing that came out during cardiac massage is the same one that Sibert and O’Neill mention that everyone was told had come out during cardiac massage. According to Hoover it was the head wound bullet that was found on Kennedy’s stretcher and was a complete bullet. This puts even more doubt on CE 399 as being the legitimate single or magic bullet because the Warren Report says that the bullet came from Connally’s stretcher after coming out of his thigh. There is no record of a fully intact bullet coming out of Kennedy’s body and onto the stretcher. But Hoover says quote “we recovered that. We have that.” It sounds like he’s talking about having this bullet that he says came out of Kennedy’s head.

I don’t know what to make of this evidence of another bullet. But it’s not nothing. Hoover and Belmont wouldn’t say it if there wasn’t a reason to. Nurse Hall also lends credibility to the statement. Although, we do have to wonder why no other doctors in Dallas saw the ear bullet that was seen by Nurse Hall.


Author Josiah Thompson was one of the original researchers and authors on the Kennedy Assassination. After reporting on the Kennedy assassination for Life magazine on assignment, he published a book with his findings called Six Seconds in Dallas in 1967. Thompson has written a new book that documents his research since then – Last Second in Dallas. In it, Thompson puts forth a novel theory about a second shot hitting Kennedy’s head from behind after the first shot already hit Kennedy’s head from the front. This last second shot would explain how there could be bullet fragments in the front seat, and is consistent with a separate head shot from the front as well.

Thompson had previously measured Kennedy’s head movement in between each Zapruder frame so that he could see when there were noticeable changes. The time period where there is the biggest movement in Kennedy’s head – other than Zapruder frame 313 when the first head shot hits – is in frames 329 and 330, which is 7 tenths of a second after the infamous head shot. In those frames you can also see Kennedy’s head suddenly snap forward. We don’t know if that is from a bullet, but it could be.

If this was just a guy talking about the Zapruder film, I wouldn’t have even mentioned it. But, it’s not just some guy – it’s Josiah Thompson, who is known in the conspiracy research world to be very responsible. And the possibility of Thompson’s theory is also supported by the written report of the HSCA’s medical panel which said QUOTE:

Dr. Michael Baden, Chairman of the [HSCA’s] Forensic Pathology Panel, acknowledged there was a possibility, although highly remote, that the head wound depicted in Zapruder Frame 312 could have been caused by a shot fired from the grassy knoll, and that the medical evidence of it had been destroyed by a shot from the rear a fraction of a second later. The significance of this … was the realization that it could mean that the President’s fatal head wound was caused by the shooter from the grassy knoll, not Oswald.[xii]

THE HSCA report continues:

For that bullet to have destroyed the medical evidence of the president being hit at Zapruder frame 312 (from a shot fired from the grassy knoll) it would had to have struck the rear of the president’s head at Zapruder frames 328-329 by a shot fired from [behind.][xiii]

Josiah Thompson’s theory about a last second rear head shot makes sense to me. It would explain the bullet fragments found in the front seat. And the Zapruder film, which, admittedly, I am no expert in interpreting, does match up with what Thompson says. More importantly, Dr. Michael Baden said that – if there was a shot from the grassy knoll, there would have to be this rear head shot that happened at about the exact time Thompson puts the shot.

Now, this claim by Dr. Baden that there could have been a grassy knoll shooter, but only if there was a last second rear head shot did not go unnoticed. Dr. Baden was scheduled to respond to questions before the HSCA about this theoretical possibility on December 29, 1978, but because of the time spent on the acoustical evidence, Dr. Baden’s scheduled appearance before the committee was cancelled and never rescheduled.[xiv]

Head Wound Conclusion

Conspiracy theorists pretty much unanimously believe that the shot that hit Kennedy’s head was from the right front. But does the evidence support that?

Dr. Malcolm Perry, the presiding surgeon gave a press conference where he said QUOTE “A bullet struck him in the frontas he faced his assailant.”[xv] Now, Dr. Perry later recanted that statement. But, then again, we also have the James Gochenauer story about how Secret Service agent Elmer Moore confessed to him that he pressured Dr. Perry to publicly take back what he had said in that press conference about the shot coming from the front.

The medical evidence we found in support of a right front head shot is that the vast majority of eyewitnesses in Dallas, including doctors and nurses, said the head wound was on the back right side of Kennedy’s head, including Dr. Crenshaw, Dr. Clark, Dr. Peters, Dr. Perry, Dr. Jones, and, most notably, Dr. McClelland - who was the doctor physically closest to the back of Kennedy’s head while he was being treated. Dr. McClelland said that the wound was in the lower back right part of Kennedy’s head. And the final official word from the Dallas doctors in the form of their written medical report summary states that the head wound was in the “occipital” region of the skull – which is the back of the skull – not the parietal (or side) region alleged by the Warren Report. The official counts vary, but according to researchers, Dr. Gary Aguilar and Kathy Cunningham, the earliest statements of at least 43 people who saw the head wound said that it was in the right rear of his head.[xvi]

Warren Report defenders are quick to point out that the Parkland doctors were not looking for things an autopsy doctor would look for, and to the extent they think they were – those doctors must have been mistaken. Good people can make mistakes under pressure. But, for the majority of doctors to have consistently identified the wound and have been wrong, there would have either had to be some coordination among them or a mass hallucination to all be saying the same thing which is not true.

On top of the doctors, there are other witnesses, like Paul O’Connor, James Jenkins, Al Wright, Dennis David, Joe O’Donnell, and Tom Robinson, who are on the record saying that the head wound was one that entered in the front and exited out the back of Kennedy’s head. Remember the video of the Press Conference at Parkland Hospital where Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff put his finger against his right temple and said the president died of a gunshot straight to the brain? Wouldn’t Kilduff have put his finger on the back of his head if the entrance wound was thought to be from the back?

The strongest argument against the word of the Parkland doctors is the autopsy, the autopsy photos and the autopsy x-rays. The autopsy itself is supported by the sworn testimony of the autopsy doctors: Humes, Finck, and Boswell. So, if you think the autopsy is not truthful, you have to believe that Humes, Finck and Boswell were not being truthful. But why would Humes, Finck and Boswell lie under oath? Conspiracy theorists say they may have been pressured to lie due to the chain of command. But, that’s just speculation. We don’t have any proof of that for these doctors. But, we do have a proof that the doctors were pressured to not follow standard procedure during the autopsy.

If we knew with certainty that autopsy, the photographs, and the x-rays were credible it would be easier to dismiss all of the people on the record saying that Kennedy’s head wound entered from the front and exited in the rear. But, even assuming all of those documents are completely legit, it still doesn’t explain the anomaly of the Dallas doctors overwhelmingly saying the head shot came from the front with a large wound in the back of Kennedy’s head.

So, what do you do?

This is one of the key points in the case where different people make different inferences based on what they think this information means. There are competing inferences based on how you answer these questions: How much weight do you put on official records? Do you believe there is any scenario where the FBI and a Commission led by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would intentionally fabricate information, or be gullible enough to fall for falsified documents? Or, is it more likely that a lot of Parkland doctors just misremembered what the head shot looked like? Is anyone who testifies to information consistent with a conspiracy telling the truth? If not, how do you account for so many people? Do they all just want to be famous and cash in on book deals?

The way you answer these questions dictates the conclusion you reach as to whether the Warren Report got it right on the medical evidence.


My final conclusions regarding the medical evidence in the assassination of President Kennedy are as follows:

1. It is highly unlikely that CE 399 was the bullet that caused the damage to Kennedy and Connally. Most of the people who handled the bullet said it didn’t look like CE 399. And even more significant – the bullet was still in Connally’s leg at the time CE 399 was found on a random stretcher. If the same bullet went through Kennedy and Connally, it wasn’t CE 399.

2. It’s also highly unlikely that the same bullet that hit Kennedy caused all of Connally’s wounds. The Sibert and O’Neill report, Admiral Burkley’s death certificate, and the autopsy photo of Kennedy’s back wound, among other evidence, demonstrate that the back wound is too low for the front neck wound to be an exit wound.

3. Given everything that we reviewed, while I am not sure exactly what happened, I believe it is more likely that the autopsy photos and x-rays were altered than it is that 43 doctors, nurses, and medical professionals were all mistaken about their initial recollections of seeing a lower back head wound. This is one of the biggest splits in inference points. I understand that what I am alleging has serious implications. I base this on the testimony of the Parkland doctors, the Sibert and O’Neill report, and the bizarre refusal to allow the autopsy doctors to have access to the autopsy photos. I understand this is a serious and contentious claim. And I remain open to information that would prove that the autopsy photographs and x-rays are authentic.

4. The Zapruder film could have been altered, but I don’t know whether it was or not. Rolando Zavata’s report stating that it was not altered really makes the issue cloudy. The Zapruder film alteration is still not impossible because you have the testimony of McMahon, Hunter, and Brugioni. And the question of why would they all lie?

NEXT TIME ON SOLVING JFK: We’ll look at whether there were holes in the windshield of the limo, the timing of the shots, whether the limo came to a stop in Dealey Plaza, and whether Oswald had the shooting skills to pull off the shots that that he was accused of firing by the Warren Commission?

[i] Warren Report at 111. [ii] Id. at 19. [iii] Rush to Judgment at 19:30 [iv] [v] Volume 5, p155 of Commission Testimony [vi] Testimony of Dr. Charles Gregory, 4H 127 [vii] James DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, at 108. [viii] [ix] Vincent Bugliosi, Reclaiming History, at 443-444. [x] [xi] [xii] Final Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, p 80-81. [xiii] Id. at 81. [xiv] Id. at 604. [xv] NBC News, Seventy Hours and Thirty Minutes, Random House, 1966 [xvi] See Tables 1 and 2,

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