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THE JFK ASSASSINATION REVISITED
By James V. Rinnovatore, Allan Eaglesham
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2014 James V. Rinnovatore & Allan Eaglesham
All rights reserved.
At 2:38 PM (EST) on November 22, 1963, millions of Americans learned from Walter Cronkite that President Kennedy was dead. To say the least, this was shocking news, especially since he had been shot in public view while riding in a motorcade. Was it possible that a banana-republic-style assassination had taken place in our country? Was it possible that our much-loved president's young, vibrant life had been extinguished so horribly? Many of us found it inconceivable.
During the early evening of the day of the assassination, citizens, transfixed to their television sets for information, observed the arrival of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, DC, at approximately 6:05 PM. The tail section opened and a bronze ornamental casket was off-loaded. Mrs. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, side-by-side, observed the lowering of the casket and its placement in a gray navy ambulance (Figure 1). Those in denial now knew for certain that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was no more, by observing his wife's blood-stained suit.
Mrs. Kennedy and her entourage entered the ambulance, which was part of a motorcade to the Bethesda Hospital, a division of the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC). Needless to say, she, as did the nation wide viewing audience, assumed that the president's body was in the ambulance. In fact, the casket was empty and the president's body, inside a body bag, was en route to the Bethesda morgue by helicopter. The removal of President Kennedy's body from the bronze casket, while en route to Andrews Air Force Base, was necessary to clandestinely take it to the morgue early, so that bullets could be removed and the wounds altered from what was observed and described by the doctors at Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas. The president had sustained wounds caused by shots from the front, whereas, in order to implicate Lee Harvey Oswald, the wounds had to appear as having been caused by shots from the rear. This was a key component to the cover-up of President Kennedy's assassination.
Author David Lifton made the astute observation many years ago in Best Evidence  that the president's body and his wounds—as observed by the doctors at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas—were the "best evidence" for a true assessment of how President Kennedy was assassinated. The doctors at Parkland observed a wound in the anterior neck and in the right occipital (rear) region of the head. The latter wound was judged to have been fatal. Descriptions of these wounds are contained in their contemporaneous reports. [3, Appendix VIII]
There was unanimity among the observations of the Parkland doctors: the president had sustained what appeared to be an entrance wound at the throat and an exit wound in the right-rear section of the skull. Wounds with these characteristics conform to frontal shots.
At 1:33 PM (CST) it fell to White House Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff to announce the death of the president to members of the press assembled in a nurses classroom:
President John F. Kennedy died at approximately one o'clock central standard time today here in Dallas. He died of a gunshot wound in the brain. I have no other detail regarding the assassination of the president.
The hapless Kilduff was then peppered with questions, during which he stated, "Dr. Burkley told me that it was a simple matter of a bullet right through the head," as he touched his forehead above the right eye (Figure 2).
These findings would, in due course, be contrary to the conclusions of the Warren Commission who determined that the president was shot from the rear by Lee Harvey Oswald, located in a sniper's nest of book cartons on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD).CHAPTER 2
Evidence of a Conspiracy and Cover-Up
In all criminal cases, the chain-of-custody must be unbroken in order for items of physical evidence to be deemed valid at trial. Since the president's body was evidence in this case, it follows that once it was placed inside the ornamental bronze casket at Parkland Hospital, it should have traveled in an uninterrupted manner to the morgue at the NNMC, Bethesda, for autopsy. It did not. Therefore, the autopsy report should be considered circumspect, as it would in a court of law. Proof of interrupted travel between Dallas and Bethesda follows.
2.1. Early Arrival of the Body at the Bethesda Morgue
The official arrival time of the president's body at the morgue was approximately 8:00 PM, when the honor guard carried in the ornamental bronze casket. [4, p. 1] The honor guard—men from all five services—had also attended the arrival of the bronze casket at Andrews Air Force Base (Figure 1) and had traveled to Bethesda by helicopter. [4, p. 3] On the other hand, eyewitness accounts indicate that the body was carried into the morgue at 6:35/6:45 PM, [5, p. 3; 6, p. 5] i.e. before the gray navy ambulance carrying the bronze casket arrived in the motorcade from Andrews Air Force Base at the front entrance to the NNMC at 6:55 PM. [2, p. 407]
2.1.1. Eyewitnesses outside the morgue
In an interview with the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), Dennis David, chief-of-the day for the Naval Medical School (a division of the NNMC), said that he supervised a detail of sailors who removed a gray shipping casket from a "black hearse" at approximately 6:45 PM. This shipping casket was like those he observed frequently during the Vietnam War. [5, p. 3] Obviously, he was not describing the ornamental bronze casket taken into the morgue later by the honor guard. He also said that he observed arrival of a "motor cavalcade" that included a gray navy ambulance from which Mrs. Kennedy, Robert McNamara, and others alighted and entered the NNMC lobby. [5, p. 3] The motorcade arrived after he and his detail of sailors had taken the gray shipping casket into the "anteroom directly adjacent to the morgue." [5, p. 3] Chief David was not present when the shipping casket was opened; hence he had no firsthand knowledge of its contents. Being aware of the arrival of two caskets, on the following day he asked J. Thornton Boswell, one of the autopsy pathologists, which casket contained the president's body. Dr. Boswell replied, "You ought to know; you were there." [5, p. 3] Since David was at the morgue complex only when the gray shipping casket arrived, he took Boswell's response to imply that the body was in the shipping casket.
Marine Sergeant Roger Boyajian was in charge of a detail of marines who, from approximately 6:00 PM, were stationed at the morgue entrance to prevent unauthorized personnel from entering. In an after-action report , Sergeant Boyajian wrote: "At approximately 1835 (6:35 PM) the casket was received at the morgue entrance and taken inside." [6, p. 5] Boyajian did not describe the casket he observed entering the morgue at 6:35 PM. However, the fact that his time of entry was close to Chief David's estimated time of 6:45 PM, it is reasonable to presume that both men observed the same event: entry of a shipping casket. Additional corroboration is based on the account of four eyewitnesses who were inside the morgue at that time.
2.1.2. Eyewitnesses inside the morgue
In a telephone interview with Mark Flanagan, a staff member for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA)—X-ray technician Edward Reed said that he arrived in the morgue at approximately 6:30 PM. [7, p. 1] In his ARRB deposition, he stated that he found that, as he entered the hallway outside the morgue—at approximately 6:30 PM [7, p. 1]—a casket containing the president's body had already been delivered. He described a "typical military, aluminum casket, stainless steel or aluminum ... lying on the ground" (i.e. floor) in the "hallway leading into the morgue" with "five or six Marine corpsmen at attention, lined up across the hallway." [8, pp. 21–26] Mr. Reed was likely describing some of the men in Boyajian's detail of marines. He helped carry the casket into the autopsy room and was present when it was opened. The body was "completely nude in a plastic bag." [8, p. 24]
In his deposition to the ARRB, photographer Floyd Riebe stated that he could not recall the time when "a gun-metal gray ... very plain, inexpensive-type casket" was brought into the autopsy room. [9, pp. 27–29] However, he stated, "We were in the room for maybe half an hour before they brought the casket in." [9, p. 27]. The body "was in a rubberized-type body bag." [9, p. 30] He recalled that Paul O'Connor assisted in removing the body from the bag. [9, pp. 30–31]
In an interview conducted by the HSCA, technician Paul O'Connor described a "pink shipping casket," inside which the body was in a "body bag" [10, p. 2] He helped to unwrap a sheet from around the head and place the body on the autopsy table. [10, p. 3] In 1979, O'Connor told David Lifton that the body arrived in a "shipping casket," a "cheap ... pinkish gray" casket that he likened to "a tin box." [2, pp. 598–599] The body was naked except for a sheet around the head. [2, p. 600]
2.2. Body Wrapping
Based on the Warren Commission testimony of Diana Bowron and Margaret Henchcliffe, nurses who helped to prepare the corpse for placement in the ornamental bronze casket at Parkland, the head and body were wrapped with sheets. [11, pp. 137, 141]. The fact that O'Connor observed only a sheet wrapped around the head indicates that the sheets around the body had been removed at some point—corroborating a break in the chain of evidence.
In 1979, medical technician James Metzler told David Lifton that he observed a regular viewing casket, or a ceremonial casket, being carried into the morgue by the honor guard [2, p. 631]. Metzler helped to place the body on the autopsy-room table; it was wrapped in two sheets—one around the body and one around the head. This account indicates that the wrappings on the body were changed twice after departure from Parkland at about 2:08 PM  and before arrival in the Bethesda morgue at 8:00 PM [4, p. 1], the importance of which cannot be overstated.
Having established that the president's body had been removed from the ornamental bronze casket at some point after it left Parkland Hospital and placed in a plain shipping casket prior to arrival in Bethesda, the question is why? One clear reason is that the wounds had to be altered, since they indicated shots from the front of the limousine.CHAPTER 3
The Wounds: Parkland Hospital vs. Bethesda Official Autopsy
3.1. Throat Wound
In their testimony to the Warren Commission, Charles Carrico and Malcolm Perry, two of the first doctors to tend to President Kennedy in trauma room one, described the throat defect as small and circular, i.e. characteristics of an entry wound. Dr. Carrico said it was a "4–7-mm wound ... rather round ... no jagged edges ..." [11, p. 3] Dr. Perry described it as "roughly circular or oval in shape, not a punched-out wound ... roughly 5 mm in size ..." [11, p. 9]
Although, according to Robert McClelland, President Kennedy was "comatose from a massive gunshot wound of the head" when he arrived at Parkland Hospital [3, p. 526], efforts were made to assist his breathing by insertion of a tracheostomy tube. To accommodate the tube, an incision of between 2 and 3 cm was made across the small throat wound by Malcolm Perry. [2, p. 272] Dr. McClelland described the incision as "smooth" and Paul Peters said it was "sharp." [2, p. 275] After the breathing tube had been removed, the incision made by Dr. Perry closed, revealing only the original small entry wound. Charles Crenshaw recalled:
When the body left Parkland Memorial Hospital there was no gaping, bloody defect in the front of the throat, just a small bullet hole in the thin line of Perry's incision. [13, p. 54]
In stark contrast, when the president's body was observed at the start of the official autopsy, 8:00 PM, the thin line of Dr. Perry's incision across the throat was widened and elongated (Figure 3).
In their report [3, p. 540], the autopsy doctors, James Humes, J. Thornton Boswell and Pierre Finck, described the throat wound as "a 6.5 cm long transverse wound with widely gaping irregular edges." In his Warren Commission testimony, Dr. Humes said it was "7 or 8 cm in length" (i.e. approximately 3 inches). [14, p. 361] Clearly, the 1-inch tracheotomy, made at Parkland, had been enlarged prior to the 8:00 PM autopsy at Bethesda.
3.2. Head Wound
During his testimony to the Warren Commission, Dr. Carrico described the head wound as:
a large gaping wound, located in the right occipitoparietal area ... about 5 to 7 cm in size, more or less circular, with avulsions of the calvarium and scalp tissue ... I believe there was shredded macerated cerebral and cerebellar tissues both in the wounds and on the fragments of the skull attached to the dura. [11, p. 6]
Figure 4A shows the location of the occipital and parietal bones. Figure 4B shows that the cerebellum is at the very base of the brain.
Dr. McClelland told the Warren Commission: "I was in such a position that I could very closely examine the head wound, and I noted that the right posterior portion of the skull had been extremely blasted ... in such a way that you could actually look down into the skull cavity itself and see that probably a third or so, at least, of the brain tissue, posterior cerebral tissue and some of the cerebellar tissue had been blasted out." [11, p. 33] For his book Six Seconds in Dallas, Josiah Thompson used McClelland's description to produce the illustration in Figure 5. [15, p. 107] With reference to this illustration, on January 24, 1994, Dr. McClelland wrote the following to author Brad Parker: "[T]he drawing is an exact copy, in regard to location and dimensions, of the drawing I made for Josiah Thompson in 1966."  In his contemporaneous report, Kemp Clark, a neurosurgeon, described the head wound as "a large wound in the right occipitoparietal region ... Both cerebral and cerebellar tissue were extruding from the wound." [3, p. 518] And in Dr. Perry's contemporaneous report [3, p. 521], the head wound was described as a "large wound in the right posterior cranium ... exposing severely lacerated brain." These mutually consistent descriptions place the major wound in the right-rear section of the skull, with characteristics of an exit wound which, therefore, was caused by a frontal shot.
The autopsy report describes the head wound as "a large irregular defect of the scalp and skull on the right involving chiefly the parietal bone but extending somewhat into the temporal and occipital regions." Also, the defect "measures 13 cm in greatest diameter." [3, p. 540]
Upon comparison of the descriptions by the Parkland doctors with those in the autopsy report, we find that a defect of 5×7 cm, principally located in the occipito-parietal region (Parkland), had increased to a 13-cm defect principally located in the parietal region (Bethesda autopsy): the rear head wound had "moved" to the top of the head and become larger (Figure 6). The conflicting descriptions between Parkland and Bethesda are so stark that it is impossible to attribute them to either incompetence or human error.
In describing the damage to the skull in the autopsy face sheet (Figure 7), Dr. Boswell wrote:
"Vomer crushed" (i.e. the bone in the nose was fractured)
"globe rt. eye Fracture through floor" (i.e. the bone around the right eye was fractured)
"Falx loose from sagittal sinus from the coronal suture back" (i.e. the fold in the dura was loose posterior to the coronal suture, see Figure 8).
The notation "10x17" (in centimeters) (Figure 7) represented an area in which most of the skull bone was missing. The number 19 represented nineteen centimeters of fragmented frontal bone. The "3 cm" notation above the left eye represented cracked bone in that location. And "10" on the left represented the size of a bone (in centimeters) broken away from the skull, but still attached to the scalp. [17, pp. 69–70]
Excerpted from THE JFK ASSASSINATION REVISITED by James V. Rinnovatore, Allan Eaglesham. Copyright © 2014 James V. Rinnovatore & Allan Eaglesham. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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Table of Contents
1. Context, 1,
2. Evidence of a Conspiracy and Cover-Up, 5,
3. The Wounds: Parkland Hospital vs. Bethesda Official Autopsy, 9,
4. Alterations of the Wounds: When, Where and by Whom?, 21,
5. The Pre-Autopsy Photographs, 29,
6. Chain-of-Custody of the Casket/Body, 37,
7. Timeline: FBI Agents Sibert and O'Neill, 45,
8. Timeline: Dealey Plaza to the Bethesda Morgue, 51,
9. The Warren Commission, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) and the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB): Investigations of the JFK Assassination, 53,
10. Why President Kennedy was Assassinated, 121,
11. Lee Harvey Oswald—The "Patsy", 127,
12. Final Thoughts, 135,
13. Appendix I The Sibert and O'Neill FBI Report, 137,
14. Appendix II The Zapruder Film: Another Altered Document, 141,
15. Appendix III Autopsy Witnesses: Official List, 159,
16. Sources and Notes, 161,
17. Section Index, 171,
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