The official autopsy report for JFK, written days after his death and mortuary examination, reads:
The projectiles were from a point behind and somewhat above the level of the deceased.
This was typed by the lead autopsy surgeon, Dr. James Humes of Bethesda Naval Hospital. The autopsy report was partially based on notes handwritten during the body examination, including measuring wounds as well as other parts of the body. This line was elaborated on by Humes in his 3/16/1964 Warren Commission testimony:
Mr. SPECTER – What conclusions did you reach then as to the trajectory or point of origin of the bullet, Dr. Humes, based on 388?
Commander HUMES – We reached the conclusion that this missile was fired toward the President from a point above and behind him, sir.
Arlen Specter was referring to Commission Exhibit 388, also see Commission Exhibit 386. These drawings were made by a medical illustrator working by the recollections of the autopsy pathologists. But it is certainly apparent by those illustrations that the small proposed entrance in the back of the head is anatomically LOWER than the exit location. Since Kennedy’s brain was not properly sectioned and photographed to determine the path of the missile(s), the reported beveling identified in the skull bone is provided as the only proof that the the head wounds were created by a single shot from behind. The “above” in “above and behind” is only justified by the speculation that Kennedy’s head was sharply forward at the moment of impact, which is drawn here. That cannot be true.. We will discuss that misconception later.
Establishing that the autopsy pathologist’s proposed entrance location in the head was anatomically LOWER than their proposed exit location on the top-right side of the head
On the night of the autopsy, the pathologists sure weren’t thinking “above and behind”. We have information from the NIGHT of the autopsy showing that the location of this beveled exit on the skull bone was anatomically higher than the small head wound.
Autopsy face sheet diagram marked during the body examination, showing a dot indicating the small head wound in the back of the head: https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=582 (This document is actually stained in Kennedy’s blood, as shown in this color image) Next is the notation, “ragged, slanted, 15 x 6 mm”
The arrow is clearly pointing UPWARDS, indicating a proposed upwards trajectory.
A summarized autopsy “conclusion” by FBI agent autopsy witnesses James Sibert and Francis X. O’Neill in a 2 AM 11/23/1963 teletype, freshly written after departing the autopsy around 11:00 – 1:00 AM and driving to the FBI lab from Bethesda Naval Hospital, reads:
TOTAL BODY XRAY AND AUTOPSY REVEALED ONE BULLET ENTERED BACK OF HEAD AND THEREAFTER EMERGED THROUGH TOP OF SKULL. PIECE OF SKULL MEASURING TEN BY SIX POINT FIVE CENTIMETERS LATER FLOWN IN FROM DALLAS HOSPITAL AND XRAYS BETHESDA DISCLOSED MINUTE METAL FRAGMENTS IN THIS PIECE WHERE BULLET EMERGED FROM SKULL.
Even the autopsy report has a contradictory line describing the small head wound as being in the “occiput” while the large head wound as being in the “vertex” (which is supposed to have a beveled exit on part the skull bone):
Upon reflecting the scalp multiple complete fracture lines are seen to radiate from both the large defect at the vertex and the smaller wound at the occiput.
The sea of documentary and witness evidence unanimously indicates that this small “entrance” head wound was slightly above the external occipital protuberance, no higher.
On the same page, the official autopsy report reads:
Situated in the posterior scalp approximately 2.5 cm. laterally to the right and slightly above the external occipital protuberance. In the underlying bone is a corresponding wound through the skull which exhibits beveling of the margins of the bone when viewed from the inner aspect of the skull.
The beveling of the bone was reportedly identified by forensic pathologist Dr. Pierre Finck, who was called late to the autopsy to assist autopsy surgeons Dr. Humes and Dr. J. Thornton Boswell who were inexperienced in gunshot wound cases. All evidence provided by Humes (WC 3/16/1964, HSCA 8/10/1977, HSCA 3/11/1978, Livingstone 2/5/1988, 9/5/1991, 10/7/1991, JAMA 2/27/1992, Aguilar 11/18/1994, ARRB 3/13/1996), Boswell (WC 3/16/1964, HSCA 3/11/1978, HSCA 8/17/1977, Livingstone 2/5/1988, 10/7/1991, JAMA 2/27/1992, Aguilar 11/18/1994, ARRB 2/26/1996), and Finck (WC 3/16/1964, Blumberg 1/25/1965 & 2/1/1965, Clark Panel 2/10/1967, Clay Shaw 3/24-25/1969](http://jfkassassination.net/russ/testimony/finckshaw.htm), HSCA 3/11/1978, HSCA 3/12/1978, ARRB 5/24/1996) indicate that this wound was right next to the external occipital protuberance, and that only an approximation was needed to describe how close it was. Drs. Humes, Boswell, and Finck have never deviated from their reporting on this while being interviewed through the years.
See this model skull marked by Drs. Humes, Boswell, and Finck: https://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/hsca/reportvols/vol7/html/HSCA_Vol7_0062b.htm, https://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/hsca/reportvols/vol7/html/HSCA_Vol7_0063a.htm . The lower marks are where they recalleed the location of the small head wound. The upper mark is where an entry wound closer in line with the Depository would be located.
Not only the three lead autopsy surgeons, but other autopsy witnesses including photographer John Stringer (HSCA 8/15/1977, Lifton 8/25/1972, ARRB 4/8/1996, ARRB 7/16/1996), Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman (WC 3/9/1964, HSCA 8/24/1977), Chief Petty Officer Dr. Chester Boyers (HSCA 4/25/1978), FBI agent Francis X. O’Neill (HSCA 1/10/1978), Lieutenant Richard Lipsey (HSCA 1/19/1978) have made statements describing a small wound next to the EOP.
Two more autopsy participants may be considered “half-EOP witnesses”: embalmer Tom Robinson, who described seeing the autopsy pathologists use a tool to probe the base of the head (HSCA 1/12/1977, ARRB 6/24/1996), and Dr. Burkley, Kennedy’s personal physician who signed and verified the face sheet diagram, and may have given information to author William Manchester for his book The Killing of a President that inspired it’s passage “The last bullet has torn through John Kennedy’s cerebellum, the lower part of his brain.“. See further down for more on Burkley.
The single-assassin theory cannot accout for the existence of this wound.
Factoring in Kennedy’s body position at Zapruder Frame 312, a 6.5 Carcano round from the angle of the Sixth Floor of the School Book Depository entering the skull next to the EOP would exit the face or the right temple, where no signifigant wound was reported or filmed, not the top of the head as the official x-rays and photographs indicate the large defect was located.
See this diagram on z312: https://i.imgur.com/tpfhS7S.jpg
In an otherwise awful recent propaganda History Channel special called Tracking Oswald, some valuable experimental evidence was provided in the form of 6.5 round fired from the angle of the Sniper’s Nest into a ballistics dummy next to it’s EOP location. It exited the face. It did not deflect upward.
Such a trajectory would continue in the direction of Connally, who suffered no applicable shrapnel wounds. It would also fail to explain the windshield, dashboard, and Tague curb damage, all officially explained by fragments from the head shot.
Even if such a powerful round could suddenly deflect upwards upon entering skull, how could it do so without severely damaging the cerebellum? The official brain photographs show only slight damage to the cerebellum. How could it do so without depositing bullet fragments in the base of the head? The official x-rays only show fragments on the top of the head.
This small wound in the back of the head was right beside the EOP, not whatever measurment suits the single-assassin theory.
The evidence overwhelmingly contradicts the U.S. Government’s official 1967 Clark Panel and 1976-1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations conclusion that this small wound of entrance was located 4-5 inches above the EOP in the parietal bone.
Here are some leaked versions of the official autopsy photographs showing the back of the scalp: https://imgur.com/a/aM8R375
The current official theory is that the red blemish to the right of the ruler was the actual entry wound described in the autopsy report. The head is tilted considerably back and the apparent red blemish in the scalp appears to be at least 3 inches above the EOP. If you read through the statements of Humes, Boswell, Finck, and Stringer, amoung some others, you will see just how strongly the autopsy pathologists disagreed with that. Humes, Finck, and Stringer, couldn’t identify exactly what the red spot was, and said they though it might be dried blood. Boswell, on the other hand, told both the HSCA and the ARRB that he thought the red spot was a small laceration in the scalp related to the large head wound. When shown the autopsy photographs for later interviews, no person present at the autopsy recongnised the red blemsh in the scalp on the back-of-head photographs. The three pathologists and photographer argued that the existing photographs didn’t show the back of the scalp clearly enough, or that the “white spot” noted in the imgur album may represent the wound (actually, this white spot appears to be slightly below the EOP, so it remains an enigma). The record is littered with statements indicating that various views of the body photographed at the autopsy, including close-ups of the small wound in the back of the scalp, and the inner and outer surface of the skull upon reflection, have gone missing from the record. There is some evidence that Robert F. Kennedy wanted to personally take or destroy John’s perserved brain and tissue samples, but not the photograps.
The HSCA literally tried coercing Dr. Humes into verbally agreeing with their “upper entry wound” interpretation of the back-of-head photographs. Anybody who hears the tape or reads the transcript of their joint interview with Humes and Boswell heard them almost literally arguing with them about the location of the small head wound, but it gets worse. HSCA counselor Gary Cornwell admitted in his 1998 book Real Answers that he threatened to treat Humes as a hostile witness if he did not concede to their theory, and that in his opinion the autopsy pathologists were lying about the wound to hide their personal embarassment of describing it in their report as an approximation instead of a specific measurment. Also, according to both HSCA medical panel members Andy Purdy and Michael Baden in in later interviews, fellow panel member Dr. Charles Petty verbally berated Humes after his first interview with the HSCA for disagreeing with them. According to author David Lifton who visited the HSCA public hearings in person, Humes’ fists were literally shaking in anger from how his final testimony transpired. The HSCA medical panel seemed obsessed with their theory of a higher wound to explain a trajectory from the School Book Depository. Humes never truly deviated from his opinion about the location of the small head wound.
The Clark Panel and HSCA also contended that the skull x-rays show a small hole 10 cm above the EOP. The X-rays from the autopsy were taken with low-resolution portable WW2-era X-ray equipment for the sole purpose of scanning for bullets or large bullet fragments in the body, not for the purpose of recording the forensic evidence of the wounds themselves. It would appear that the “expert consensus” on the existence of a hole on these x-rays is also questionable. An equal number of people equally experienced in X-rays have examined the official films and couldn’t identify any specific defect resembling an entry wound (Dr. John Ebersole, Dr. Fred Hodges, Dr. Robert McMeekin, Dr. Alfred Olivier, Dr. Norman Chase, Dr. G.M. McDonnel, Dr. David O. Davis, Dr. Douglas Ubelaker, Dr. John J. Fitzpatrick, Dr. Robert Kirschner, Dr. David Mantik, and Dr. Peter Cummings).
The HSCA also formulated a basic interpretation of the open-cranium photographs. The open-cranium photographs are known to be one of the most confusing photographs in crime case history. Opinions vary on whether the front or the back of the skull is in the foreground on these photographs, color versions of which are stored at the National Archives building. No color versions have leaked.
Here is an album explaining the HSCA’s interpretation of these photos: https://imgur.com/a/v6aDqjx
Very few question the proposed OUTWARD beveling location, because it appears to be a textbook example of beveling on the edge of a bullet wound in the bone, but the presence of an an inward beveled hole indicating entry behind it is questionable.
As neuropathologist Joe Riley has pointed out, the HSCA medical panel’s interpretation of the open-cranium photographs is anatomically impossible because it necessitates this brain to fit through a five-inch skull cavity. The only way their interpretation of these photos could come close to being true is if the autopsy pathologists somehow repaired the back of the skull or placed skull fragments “back in” after removing the brain. Usually in an autopsy, the entire top of the skull is separated with a saw in order to remove the brain. In some cases, the brain can be removed without separating any of the occipital bone if it is carefully lifted and menuevered through the front of the head. But in those cases: 1. A lot of frontal bone is separated, and 2. enough of the left side of the skull is separated to fit your fingers under the left temporal lobe. In the case of the open-cranium photographs, not only did the HSCA conclude that they do not show a lot of frontal bone removed (their proposed beveled exit location is near the coronal suture), but also either way you orient them anatomically, they still show a lot of the left side of the skull intact. Some who examined the photographs expressed belief that the beveled exit wound existed lower on the forehead above the right eyebrow, and in that interpretation a lot of frontal bone would be missing from the open cranium, but if so the Doctors never reported this wound which would have had to be obvious at the autopsy. By the way, the autopsy pathologists were shown these photographs and couldn’t recognize the beveled exit on the edge of the skull bone. Dr. Finck always said that he could not identify any outward beveling indicating exit on the skull or the portions of skull removed during the examination before his arrival, and only later identified outward beveling on a fragment of skull bone discovered in the Limousine that flown from Dallas to Bethesda around midnight. These issues with the official “4-5 inches above the EOP” interpretation of these photographs is compounded by the fact that the earliest evidence from the autopsy indicates that the pathologists thought the beveled exit in the skull was anatomically HIGHER than the small head wound. Are single-assassin theorists going to ignore that too?
Dr. Pierre Finck has consistently stated that he arrived late to the autopsy, after the top of the skull had already been opened up to facilitate the removal of the brain, and yet he could still examine this small wound as an undisturbed perforation in the occipital bone. Again, more indication that this hole was LOW in the head. If there was an entry wound 4-5 inches above the EOP, then the hole in the skull would have been among the portions of skull separated during the brain removal procedure. Some have argued that the HSCA’s interpretation of the photographs and Finck’s statements could be true if Humes and Boswell had just carefully sawed around this entry hole in the parietal bone. This explanation cannot be true because the autopsy pathologists have already explained how fractured and brittle the area of skull around the large defect was, and how “virtually no” sawing of the skull was necessary to create a skull cavity large enough to remove the brain.
Statements from the autopsy pathologists also indicate that exposing the outer surface of this small hole in the skull required making a special incision low in the scalp for forensic examination. If the entry wound was on the top of the head instead of the base of the head, then no extra incision would be needed to expose it.
On a side note, Dr. Burkley suspected or believed that Kennedy may have been struck in the head by more than one missile. He was not called by the warren commission to testify about his experience beginning at the motorcade, at the Dallas emergency room, in Maryland for the autopsy, etc; he only wrote a 11/23/1963 Death Certificate and a 11/27/1963 affidavit which no not mention any specific evidence about the head wounds except the fact that they were fatal. But in a 10/17/1967 interview at the JFK Library, Burkley was asked “Do you agree with the Warren Report on the number of bullets that entered the President’s body?, to which he replied “I would not care to be quoted on that“. Then, a 3/18/1977 memo from Dr. Burkley’s attorney said “he has information in the Kennedy assassination indicating that others besides Oswald must have participated., and that Burkley would be available to interview. An August 1977 interview report written by Dr. Purdy of the HSCA medical panel reads ““Dr. BURKLEY said the doctors didn’t section the brin and that if it had been done, it might be possible to prove whether or not there were two bullets. Dr. BURKLEY thinks there was one but concedes the possibility of there having been two“. Burkley then gave a 11/12/1978 affidavit to the HSCA saying “Had the Warren Commission deemed to call me, I would have stated why I retained the brain and the possibility of two bullets having wounded President John F. Kennedy’s brain would have been eliminated“, “I supervised the autopsy and directed the fixation and retention of the brain for future study of the course of the bullet or bullets“. And finally, author Henry Hurt interviewed Burkley in 1982 (Reasonable Doubt, page 49):
It is significant that Dr. Burkley had been with the President in Dallas, with him in the Parkland Hospital emergency room, with his body as it was flown east, and present during the autopsy. It is also significant that even though he was the only doctor present both at Parkland and at Bethesda, Dr. Burkley’s testimony was never taken by the Warren Commission, nor was it taken later by the House Select Committee.
In 1982 Dr. Burkley told the author in a telephone conversation that he believed that President Kennedy’s assassination was the result of a conspiracy.
This startling statement, after so long a silence, amplified an obscure exchange Dr. Burkley had in an oral-history interview on file at the Kennedy Library in Boston.
When he originally telephoned the author, Dr. Burkley expressed his willingness to discuss various matters concerning the assassination. He asked for a letter detailing the areas the author wished to discuss. Dr. Burkley acknowledged receipt of the letter with a letter of his own. Two months later, the author proposed a meeting with Dr. Burkley to discuss the points. The doctor responded with an abrupt refusal to discuss any aspect of the case.
Can’t explain the EOP wound without a conspiracy
Many researchers suspect that the x-rays have been faked and that brain in the official brain photographs did not belong to Kennedy. But a conspiracy can be argued without invoking the fabrication of evidence. Different vantage points for a shooter, different weapons, different ammunition, and different outlets for missiles striking Kennedy’s body should be open for consideration for all reasonable people. Whatever few explanations there are, it can not be explained by a single 6.5 round from the Depository.