Q. "Can you identify that in any reasonable way as appearing to be the-what the brain looked like of President Kennedy?"
A. "No...................It appears to be too much."

— FBI agent and autopsy witness Francis O'Neill, Jr., reacting to the National Archives photographs purported to be JFK's brain.

Government Reports

Warren Report Summary of Medical Evidence
The Warren Commission's medical analysis was hardly thorough, relying simply on the word of the autopsy doctors, despite crucial unresolved contradictions with the statements of the Parkland Hospital physicians in Dallas.

Clark Panel Report
In 1968, a panel of four forensic pathologists reviewed the autopsy photos and X-rays. They determined that the fatal bullet's entrance was 4 inches from where the three autopsy doctors had placed it.

HSCA Appendix to Hearings - Volume VII
The most thorough government study of the medical evidence was conducted the the HSCA, which convened a nine-member medical panel
which wrote a lengthy report. The HSCA's medical panel, we now know, was kept unaware of the interviews of autopsy witnesses who gave statements directly at odds with the evidence given the medical panel.

ARRB Final Report, Chapter 6
The ARRB, after taking one eye-opening deposition after another, ignored the implications of its medical investigation, and printed this brief 9-page chapter, most of which deals with the Zapruder film..

Audio Recordings

ARRB Testimony of Saundra Kay Spencer
Saundra Kay Spencer developed photographs from the autopsy of President Kennedy. Interviewed for the first time in 1997, Ms. Spencer was shown the National Archives' collection of photographs. She described in detail why the photos before her were not the ones she developed. [transcript]

ARRB Testimony of John Stringer
Autopsy photographer John Stringer disavowed the Archives photos purported to be of JFK's brain. He disputed the lack of sections, the type of film used, and the presence of basilar views, among other reasons. [transcript]

ARRB Testimony of Francis O'Neill
FBI agent Francis O'Neill complained bitterly to the ARRB about his treatment by Warren Commission staffer Arlen Specter. When shown a photo of the back of JFK's head, he said "It looks like it's been doctored in some way." Of the brain photos, O'Neill said "It appears to be too much......This looks like a complete brain." [transcript]

Other depositions and interviews were recorded: Check the ARRB Medical Testimony page in the History Matters Archive. See also the ARRB Additional Medical Interviews page for more audio.

Important Transcripts

HSCA Testimony of Robert Knudsen
Robert "Chief" Knudsen was a White House photographer, and was involved in the processing of autopsy photographs on the weekend after the assassination. In this suppressed HSCA interview, Knudsen insisted that he had developed pictures which showed metal probes through the body of JFK. No such photos exist, and their presence would undermine the story that the autopsy physicians had not spoken with Dallas doctors that Friday night.

ARRB Testimony of James Sibert
James Sibert and Francis O'Neill were two FBI agents who witnessed the autopsy and wrote an FD302 report of it for the FBI. Sibert disputed the "high" location of the back wound described in the Warren Report.

Testimony of Dr. Humes and Dr. Boswell before the HSCA Medical Panel
Both of these autopsy doctors vigorously disputed the 4-inch movement of the fatal entry wound, even though Dr. Humes later appeared in public hearings and "admitted" his mistake. Dr. Finck also testified, on 3/11/78 and 3/12/78, before this body, but his testimony was not published by the HSCA. The Medical Panel also interviewed radiologist Dr. John Ebersole, and failed to publish that transcript as well.

Warren Commission Testimony of Dr. Humes
The three autopsy doctors testified before the Warren Commission, although Dr. Boswell's interview was very short. See the testimony of Dr. Boswell and Dr. Finck.

Testimony of Dr. Pierre Finck at the Clay Shaw Trial
Dr. Finck, testifying for the defense at the trial of Clay Shaw, admitted that he did not dissect the neck, and thus trace the bullet path, because an Army General ordered him not to.

Medical Illustrations

Warren Commission Exhibit (CE) 385

CE 388

ARRB MD 264: McClelland Drawing

HSCA Illustrated Depiction of Fatal Shot

HSCA Drawing of Brain From Photo

Anterior-Posterior Head X-Ray

Lateral Head X-Ray

HSCA Illustration Based on Autopsy Photo of Back of Head

ARRB MD 88: Robinson Drawings

ARRB MD148: Spencer Drawing

ARRB MD 188: Sibert Drawing

ARRB MD 184: Bell Drawing

ARRB MD 206: Custer Drawing

Important Documents

Transcript of Nov 22 Dallas Press Conference

Handwritten Notes and Warren Commission Testimony of Parkland Hospital Doctors Dr. Robert McClelland, Dr. Kemp Clark, Dr. Charles Carrico, Dr. Paul Peters, Dr. Malcolm Perry, Dr. Ronald Jones, Dr. Charles Baxter, and Dr. Marion Jenkins.

Autopsy Protocol

Autopsy Face Sheet

Death Certificate

Sibert and O'Neill FD302 Report on the Autopsy

Medical discussion in Warren Commission Executive Session Transcript of 1/27/64

Sample "Order of Silence" Issued to Autopsy Participants

HSCA Chief Counsel Richard Sprague's Memo to File re: contact by Admiral George Burkley's attorney.

1967 Oral History with JFK's White House Physician, Admiral George Burkley.

HSCA Interviews of James Sibert, Francis O'Neill Jr., Tom Robinson, Paul O'Connor, James Jenkins, and Richard Lipsey.

Affidavit of Leonard Saslaw

ARRB Interview Report of Call to Dennis David

NARA Documents Detailing the "Sea Burial" of Ceremonial Casket

NARA Report of Testing of JFK Assassination Bullet Fragments

Many more documents are available in the ARRB Master Set of Medical Exhibits.


Q. "Are you able to determine whether the photographs in front of you now are consistent with or not consistent with the brain, as you remember it from 1963?"
A. "Well, it has to be, if that's Mr. Kennedy."
Q. "Well, that's the question."
[from p.218 of the 1996 interview of JFK autopsy photographer John Stringer]

The line "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive" could have been invented to describe the byzantine history of revelations and revisions in the JFK medical evidence. Each federal investigation in turn has, while leaving the lone-gunman conclusion sancrosanct, thrown out many of the actual findings of the previous body.

The Warren Commission was faced with a basic dilemma. Reports from Parkland Hospital, where Kennedy was rushed in a failed attempt to save his life, indicated one or more shots from the front of the limousine. These reports noted both a small wound in the anterior neck, and a larger exit-like wound in the rear of the head. But any shots from the "sniper's nest" in the Texas School Book Depository had to have hit Kennedy from the rear. The FBI's report on the assassination, unable to explain this away, had simply ignored the neck wound entirely.

The Warren Commission, with the help of the autopsy doctors and an autopsy report whose authenticity is open to question, decided that the Dallas doctors were all wrong, and that Kennedy had been hit with two bullets from the rear. One of these bullets, later named the "magic" bullet by critics, is said to have entered the back of Kennedy's neck, exited his throat, entered Governor Connally's back, broken a rib and exited his chest, then smashed a wrist and finally entered Connally's thigh, leaving a fragment there and later falling out. This bullet, containing rifling marks matching Oswald's weapon, was mysteriously found on a stretcher in Parkland hospital after the shooting.

The Commission was hard-pressed to find any of its own expert witnesses to bless this "single bullet theory." Lead autopsy prosector Dr. Humes, referring to the fragments in Connally's body and the nearly pristine bullet, said "I can't conceive of where they came from this missile." The single bullet theory also required that the bullet enter Kennedy's back several inches higher than the spot where holes in the President's jacket and shirt were measured to be by the FBI. This lower location for the wound was also noted on an autopsy drawing, observed by several witnesses including Secret Service and FBI agents, and measured more accurately in the long-suppressed death certificate. But the Warren Commissioners moved the wound upwards to fit their theory. The HSCA, relying on autopsy photographs, determined that the entrance was indeed lower down on Kennedy's back.

The single bullet theory is the tip of a rotten iceberg of false and misleading statements, missing photographs, missing tissue slides and a missing brain, lack of a chain of custody for nearly all key evidence, a huge number of actual witnesses whose statements don't fit the "hard" evidence, and findings reached in contradiction to known facts.

The location where three autopsy doctors measured the entrance of the fatal bullet on JFK's skull, for instance, doesn't match a trajectory from the Book Depository. Conveniently, the Clark Panel and HSCA later found that the autopsy doctors were simply mistaken, and that the true entrance location was 4 inches higher on the skull! This takes the notion of a "bungled" autopsy into new territory, to be sure. The higher location was partly buttressed by an apparent metal bullet fragment on one of the X-rays. This large disc-shaped fragment was far larger than any noted during the autopsy. Dr. David Mantik, using optical density analysis, compared this X-ray with another X-ray taken at a different angle. He found that the supposed fragment has been superimposed onto one X-ray, and is not to be found on the other. This finding has yet to be challenged in a scientific test.

The suppressed interviews of autopsy witnesses by the HSCA staff, never shown to that body's own medical panel, contain stark indications of medical coverup. Coupled with stunning new interviews conducted by the ARRB in the 1990s, there is now every reason to call the "hard" medical evidence into question. Other evidence in the assassination, particularly the false stories of a Communist conspiracy, have provided the motive for a government coverup. That this coverup included the medical evidence, and extended even to the tampering with autopsy photographs and X-rays and other basic medical documents, is now the best explanation for a tangled web of contradiction.

Rex Bradford
History Matters



How Five Investigations Into JFK's Medical/Autopsy Evidence Got It Wrong, by Dr. Gary Aguilar and Kathy Cunningham. This extensive nine-part essay takes on the seemingly reasonable question of how the official JFK investigations could possibly be all wrong about the medical evidence for or against a single gunman. The result is a devastating critique of those analyses. With over 200 links to reports, testimony, pictures, and audio recordings, this essay is a great detailed introduction to a sorry history of missing photographs, burned notes, failed camera matches, biased investigations, ignored and mis-represented evidence, and the recent emergence of abundant formerly-secret witness testimony which directly contradicts the official findings.

Trajectory of a Lie, Part I: The Palindrome, by Milicent Cranor. Noting that "two connected bullet wounds in a body make a line," and "a line can accuse a man of murder," Milicent Cranor then expertly dissects the evidence that Kennedy's back wound was really one of entrance and the throat wound one of exit, as the lone gunman thesis insists. The true nature of these wounds and the history of the testimony about them reveals an outline of deceit, the "trajectory of a lie."

Trajectory of a Lie, Part II: Neck and Torso X-rays: Selectivity in Reporting, by Milicent Cranor. The late 1990s saw the medical "proof" of the lone assassin fall part with the release of the HSCA's suppressed medical interviews and the ARRB's own work. But the patterns of deceptive medical reporting by official bodies and their cheerleaders has been there to see all along. In this incisive essay, Milicent Cranor puts the history of official reporting about the JFK X-rays onto the light table, and illuminates a sorry record of misleading and deceptive analysis.

Trajectory of a Lie, Part III: Big Lie About a Small Wound in Connally's Back, by Milicent Cranor. Support for the Single Bullet Theory comes, it is said, from the oversized wound in Connally's back, which could only be explained by a bullet which was tumbling (after striking JFK). Only problem: the myth that Connally's back wound was oversized is a falsehood which has been perpetuated by those who know better.

Traces of Witness Tampering, by Milicent Cranor. Testimony from some of the JFK autopsy participants has morped in peculiar ways, creating what the author terms "the matte line of a lie."

A Demonstrable Impossibility, by John Hunt. The HSCA's Forensic Pathology Panel (FPP)claimed to have mapped out where each major skull fragment came from, and thus deduced the location of an exit wound on the right side. The skull model used to demonstrate this was never entred into evidence and cannot now be found. John Hunt demonstrates how the FPP's claim cannot possibly be true.

Breakability: CE-399 and the Diminishing Velocity Theory, by John Hunt. Proponents of the single bullet theory have put forth the idea that the "magic bullet" might have remained intact due to slowing down prior to its encounters with Connally's rib and wrist. Hunt explores this dubious theory and the "facts" which support it.

The State of the Medical Evidence in the JFK Assassination, by Doug Horne. This is a transcript of a talk given by ARRB Senior Analyst Doug Horne at November in Dallas 1998 conference, discussing the medical materials released by the ARRB in July of 1998. The transcript, hosted on the JFK Lancer web site, includes many links to cited documents.

Gerald Ford changed wording of Commission Report, by George Michael Evica. In this article on the JFK Lancer web site, Evica discusses Commissioner Gerald Ford's wording change of a bullet entry location from "back" to "back of the neck."

Memo Regarding Dr. Burkley, President Kennedy's personal physician, comment by Dr. Gary Aguilar. Dr. Burkley was the only doctor present both at Parkland Hospital and at the autopsy. He was not called as a witness by the Warren Commission. On the JFK Lancer web site is this retyped version of an amazing memo found in the HSCA's now-released files, along with a comment by researcher Dr. Gary Aguilar.

Doug Horne Memos

These essay-like memorandums were written by ARRB Senior Analyst Doug Horne. For additional memos, click here.

Unanswered Questions Raised by the HSCA's Analysis and Conclusions Regarding the Camera Identified by the Navy and the Department of Defense as the Camera Used at President Kennedy's Autopsy, by Doug Horne. This memo and accompanying documents shows that the Navy to the HSCA did supply what it said was the camera used at the Kennedy autopsy. The HSCA found that the camera didn't match the photos, and hid this fact in its report.

Questions Regarding Supplementary Brain Examination(s) Following the Autopsy on President John F. Kennedy, by Doug Horne. Reported in the Washington Post, this memo lays out the case for two examinations of two different brains, as part of a deception and entering of false data into evidence.

Chain-of-Custody Study of Autopsy Photos & X-Rays, by Doug Horne.. Explores the problems with the chain-of-custody of the autopsy photographs and X-rays. A separate memo in two parts (part one, part two), lays out problems with the chain-of-custody of the original autopsy protocol.

Air Force One Audiotapes From November 22, 1963. Discusses strange comments and instructions in the tapes of Air Force One's ride home from Dallas to Washington.

Recommended Books

Cover-up, by Stewart Galanor, Kestrel Books, 1998. Provides an excellent introduction to the basic medical evidence prior to the ARRB medical releases of July 31, 1998.

Postmortem, by Harold Weisberg, self-published, 1975. Like some of Weisberg's other works, Postmortem is very dense reading, and in serious need of editing. Nonetheless, this work is chock full of fascinating details and insightful analysis from the first twelve years of medical coverup.

Never Again, by Harold Weisberg, Carroll & Graf, 1995. Much more readable than Postmortem, this book focuses on later medical evidence, particularly the controversial articles published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1992.

Best Evidence, by David Lifton, Penguin Books, 1980. Liftons' groundbreaking, controversial, and perhaps overreaching analysis of the medical evidence was based on original interviews with autopsy witnesses. Lifton's "body alteration" theory has been much derided, but his assertion that the military took control of Kennedy's body has received corroboration in released HSCA files.

Murder in Dealey Plaza, edited by James Fetzer, Catfeet Press, 2000. This collection contains powerful essays based on the new medical evidence by Dr. David Mantik (Paradoxes of the JFK Assassination: The Medical Evidence Decoded) and Dr. Gary Aguilar (The Converging Medical Case for Conspiracy in the Death of JFK).

Trauma Room One, by Dr. Charles A. Crenshaw et al, Paraview Press, 2001. This update of Conspiracy of Silence contains a well-written 100-page chapter called The Medical Case for Conspiracy, written by Dr. Gary Aguilar and Dr. Cyril Wecht, the only dissenting member of the HSCA medical panel. This essay discusses much of the new medical evidence and calls into question the authenticity of autopsy photographs.

In the Eye of History, by William Law (with Allan Eaglesham), JFK Lancer Productions & Publications, 2004. Law adds to David Lifton's work by reproducing excerpts from William Law's own detailed interviews of several autopsy participants, embedded within an insightful narrative.