Chapter 12:  The Single Bullet "Fact"

A look at more recent versions of the theory, and the misrepresentations used to support them 

For reasons beyond my grasp, the first image in each chapter sometimes fails to appear.  If there's nothing up above, don't despair; you can still see the image here

As Simple As 1-2-3 

While many believe the HSCA identified frame 190 of the Zapruder film as the first moment of impact based on a faulty understanding of a dictabelt recording, few realize that the HSCA's photographic panel studied the Zapruder film, and shared this conclusion. 

A spokesman for the panel, Calvin S. McCamy, a former chairman of the American Society of Photogrammetry, testified before the committee on 9-12-78. His words make it more than clear the panel believed Kennedy turned to the left in reaction to a shot before Kennedy went behind the sign around frame 210 of the Zapruder film. When describing the film as Kennedy went behind the sign, he testified: "There is considerable blurring at this point. The President's arm is up in a waving position. His head is still toward the right. At this point there is considerable blur, and by here, it appears as though his head is beginning to turn quite rapidly to the left. His head is now to the left. That is only one-eighteenth of a second from one frame to the next. He continues to look toward the left. One barely sees his right ear toward the camera. It is quite clear he is here now looking directly at his wife. He and his wife can be seen looking at one another in this sequence. He now goes behind the sign, and only a fraction of a second later we see his hands moving upward. He has a gasping expression. His hands are in a classic position of a person who has been startled. He now begins to raise his arms into what I would call a defensive position. He may be clutching at the throat wound."

The Panel's report was published in Volume 6 of the HSCA's 12 volumes. It reads, in part:

(61) The Zapruder film was studied with care at each of the Panel's conferences..At the final conference, which took place in July 1978, the film was closely scrutinized by 20 photographic scientists who were either members of the Panel or contractors responsible for much of the committee's laboratory work (i.e. photographic enhancement, restoration, etc.).

(64) By a vote of 12 to 5, the Panel determined that President Kennedy first showed a reaction to some severe external stimulus by Zapruder frame 207, as he is seen going behind a sign that obstructed Zapruder's view.

(65) By a vote of 11 to 3, the Panel determined that Governor Connally first showed a reaction to some severe external stimulus by Zapruder frame 224, virtually immediately after he is seen emerging from behind the sign that obstructed Zapruder's view.

(70) At approximately Zapruder frame 200 , Kennedy's movements suddenly freeze; his right hand abruptly stops in the midst of a waving motion and his head moves rapidly from right to his left in the direction of his wife. Based on these movements, it appears that by the time the President goes behind the sign at frame 207 he is evidencing some kind of reaction to a severe external stimulus.  

The acknowledgment by the panel that Connally showed no reaction to a bullet purportedly striking himself and Kennedy until at least a second after Kennedy was, of course, a problem. But the committee found its way around this. The Final Assassinations Report noted: "In its report, the committee's photographic evidence panel suggested that Governor Connally reacted to his wounds approximately one second after President Kennedy. This interval might have been even less, but a
sign obstructing Zapruder's field of view made it impossible to study the Governor immediately after the President first appeared to be reacting to having been shot."

Yep, you got it--the committee considered the sign an obstacle to observing CONNALLY'S reaction to the shot, and not Kennedy's reaction, which they thought was readily apparent.

The reaction of many single-assassin theorists, raised on the belief Kennedy was hit while behind the sign in the Zapruder film was, in time, also apparent: they ignored the panel's report, as if it had never been published. 

When one looks at the Zapruder film in slow-motion, however, one can see the photographic panel was almost certainly right: Kennedy DOES appear to be hit before he heads behind the sign. In a paper delivered to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in February 1971, and published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in October 1971, Physicist Don Olson and Criminalist Ralph Turner pre-cursed the HSCA photography panel and observed that "Beginning as early as frame 194, the President's body seems to undergo a motion forward and to the left. This motion, which can be visually approximated to be on the order of six or seven inches, seems to begin in frame 194 and continues through about frame 200. The President seems to move away from the seat back and tilt to to the left, away from the window ledge...On the interval 194-200 the President's body is seen to narrow somewhat to the view, indicating that he not only leans to the left front, but also is rotated to the left. The rotation of the shoulders begins as early as frame 195. His head comes around at 200-202. By frame 204 the President is facing almost directly forward."

Here's a video I found on youtube which demonstrates their observations. If you watch Kennedy's hand from frames 188-204, I suspect you'll come to agree that he is not happily waving to the crowd, as suggested by the Warren Commission, but reacting to the first shot.

During this visible jerk by Kennedy to his left, his wife turns to look in his direction (as depicted in frame 206, both in the video and on the slide up above). They then go behind the sign. When he emerges he has clearly been hit. When one reads the testimony of Abraham Zapruder and the statements of his secretary Marilyn Sitzman, who stood beside him, one finds, moreover, that both of them believed they saw him hit.  Neither of them mentioned his appearing to be hit as he came out from behind the sign. When one recalls that Hugh Betzner stated he heard the first shot just after he took a photograph (shown to be taken at 186), and that Phil Willis said he heard the shot and it startled him into taking a photograph (shown to be taken at 202) and that the Willis photo shows Kennedy already starting to lean over, furthermore, it seems clear Kennedy was first hit in the back around frame 190, before he went behind the sign.

If you click on the image below, I suspect you will see what I mean.

The Simultaneous Head-Snaps

Yet another argument supporting that Kennedy was first hit around frame 190 of the Zapruder film comes from reading the Secret Service reports of George Hickey, one of the President's body-guards, who was riding in the back seat of the car behind the President on 11-22-63.

In his 11-22-63 report (18H765) Hickey states "As 100-X made the turn and proceeded a short distance, I heard what seemed to me that a firecracker exploded to the right and rear. I stood partially up and turned to the rear to see if I could observe anything. Nothing was observed and I turned around and looked at the President’s car." His 11-30-63 report (18H761-764) clarifies a few things: "After a very short distance I heard a loud report which sounded like a firecracker…I stood up and looked to my right and rear in an attempt to identify it. Nothing caught my attention except people shouting and cheering. A disturbance in 679X caused me to look forward to the President’s car."

Hickey's statements are most informative regarding the timing of the first shot. While he is looking to his left at frame 193 of the film, he turns his head rapidly to his right just afterward. His rapid turn to the right, in fact, almost mirrors Kennedy's head jerk to the left, as an apparent response to this first shot. While Hickey disappears from the Zapruder film shortly thereafter, one can't reasonably argue that he stopped his turn partway and then began another turn or that he turned to his right in response to something other than the first shot. The Altgens photo, after all, shows him turned all the way around to his right less than 3 seconds later.

So why do so many latch onto Governor Connally's statements about turning to his right after the first shot, and use that to conjure up a first shot-miss around frame 160 not described in the statements of any of the witnesses, when there are witnesses like Hickey whose statements, when taken in conjunction with the Zapruder film, confirm the statements and testimony of the vast majority of the witnesses--that the first shot hit? Hickey certainly never said anything to contradict himself. Not true for the Governor. Heck, even single-assassin theorist Godfather Vincent Bugliosi has problems accepting Connally's statements. On page 381 of Reclaiming History, he writes: "The only thing that rings true to me about the governor's reflections on what was happening around the time he was hit is not when he tries to be precise, but when he said things like this in his 1978 testimony before the HSCA: 'When I was hit, or shortly before I was hit--no, I guess it was after I was hit...' All of his hesitation and confusion is more in keeping with what I would expect from a witness who had sustained the kind of injuries Connally did."

I think we all know the answer. People reject Hickey's statements but swear by Connally's because Connally's statements fit in with what they want to believe. The HSCA believed a first shot missed around frame 160 because it matched the timing of the sounds on the dicta-belt. Single-bullet theory devotees believe a first shot missed around frame 160 because it gives Oswald more time to fire his weapon, and makes his purported feat more palatable. (The thought occurs that "feat" and "palatable" should not be used in the same sentence, lest one confuse others into thinking one's put one's foot in one's mouth.) 

The acceptance of Hickey's statements, furthermore, would bring grave doubt to the single-assassin conclusion. Here's the next few lines of his 11-30-63 report (18H761-764): "Perhaps 2 or 3 seconds elapsed from the time I looked to the rear and then looked at the President. He was slumped forward and to his left, and was straightening up to an almost erect sitting position as I turned and looked. At the moment he was almost sitting erect I heard two reports which I thought were shots and that appeared to me completely different in sound from the first report and were in such rapid succession that there seemed to be practically no time element between them." By his having heard only one shot before he turned back around to look at the President--which would have to be after frame 255, as the Altgens photo taken at that time showed him to be looking straight back behind him--and by his having heard two shots in rapid succession after he turned back around, Hickey not only supported the HSCA's conclusion that, if there was a shot striking Kennedy and Connally that was heard by anyone, it would be the shot fired around frame 190, but that the last two shots were fired too close together to have been fired by Oswald alone. This makes his statements as good as poison to those certain in their beliefs that Oswald was the sole assassin. Bugliosi, despite his doubts about Connally, never once discusses Hickey's statements in regards to the timing of the shots in his over-2500 page monster of a book, Reclaiming History.

But there's no honest reason to reject Hickey's statements. 

Zapruder Frames 223-226

Subsequent to the HSCA, better versions of the Zapruder film became available to the public. This led to the wholesale rejection of the HSCA's single-bullet theory.

Few ever subscribed to their version of the theory anyhow. Single-assassin theorists, not quite comfortable with the HSCA's proposition that Connally showed no reaction until almost two seconds after Kennedy had been hit, began working backwards, looking for the precise moment that Connally was hit, so they could see if it looked like Kennedy was also hit at this time. Now, they could have cited a 1976 study of the film conducted for CBS News by the Itek Corporation; this study had come to the conclusion that Connally had been hit by frame 224. And they could also have consulted the 1979 report of the HSCA Photographic Panel, which had also held that Connally was hit by frame 224. And they could also have consulted with Dr. Cyril Wecht, who, in opposition to the many conspiracy theorists claiming that Connally was not hit until frame 234 or afterward, had been claiming since at least 1975 that Connally first showed a reaction to being hit between frames 223 and 224.

But acknowledging any of these studies would have meant acknowledging that men such as Wecht could be right sometimes, and capable of noticing things overlooked by the Warren Commission. So, the single-assassin theorist community and mainstream media withheld its judgment on the precise time Connally was wounded until 1993, when Case Closed, a book largely devoted to tearing down conspiracy theorists and supporting the Warren Commission, warmly embraced a study of the Zapruder film performed by a legal services company, Failure Analysis. This study, prepared for a mock trial of Oswald in 1992, had concluded that Connally first showed signs of being hit at...frame 224, after his lapel started moving in the previous frame. 

Be prepared for a shock: I think they're right.

 photo Z-FilmClipSBTInMotion3.gif

On the digitized version of the film, a reaction by Connally at frame 224 seems obvious…his hair lifts up, his shoulder turns rapidly to its right, his lapel is pulled forward… And Kennedy’s behavior confirms that he, too, has suffered an injury. 

Of course, as we've seen, there's reason to believe Kennedy was hit before this frame as well. 

When one looks closely at Zapruder frames 223-226, one can see that Kennedy’s hands were coming down in 224 and 225, and only started heading towards his throat in 226. This further supports the possibility he was hit before 224 and was beginning to respond only to suffer a second wound to his throat at the same time Connally was hit.

Since this second shot came less than 2 seconds after the shot striking Kennedy around Z-190, moreover, and since FBI's tests showed it would take a minimum of 2.8 seconds for someone using Oswald’s bolt-action rifle to eject a spent shell and re-aim. my acceptance that Connally is hit at frame 224 forces me to conclude that one of these shots was fired by someone other than Oswald.. While the HSCA, relying upon the controversial analysis of a police dictabelt, concluded that Oswald had fired his rifle at both 160 and 190, their own ballistics tests indicated he could only have done this by point-shooting, that is, just aiming the rifle in a general direction without using the sight. (One might presume they believed that Oswald felt there just wasn’t enough time to actually aim.) That the HSCA held nonetheless that Oswald not only attempted his second shot without aiming, but hit Kennedy and Connally with the so-called “magic” bullet on this shot, is indicative that perhaps the HSCA was jealous of the Warren Commission’s Single-Bullet Theory and was trying to one-up them by designing a bullet that was even more magical. 

But that's just silly.

Not Waving, Being Shot

Equally silly is that Dr. Lattimer and his devotees, in an attempt to preserve the single-bullet theory, have tried to pretend that the HSCA Photographic Panel was full of beans and that there are no signs of Kennedy's being hit before frame 224 of the Zapruder film. While looking to Connally's movements to tell them the moment of a first shot miss circa frame 160, they willfully ignore Kennedy's far more significant movements between frames 190 and 210. Somehow they perceive the frantic movements apparent as he heads behind the sign as his calmly waving to the crowd. Heck, even the Warren Commission knew this wasn't true.

To refresh, a 4-22-64 memo written by Warren Commission counsel Melvin Eisenberg revealed: 

  • A screening was held of the Zapruder film and of slides prepared by LIFE from the film.  Each slide corresponded with a separate frame of film, beginning with frame 171.  The consensus of the meeting was as follows:
  •  (a) The President had been definitely hit by frames 224-225,when he emerges from behind a sign with his hands clutching his throat.
  • (b) The reaction shown in frames 224-225 may have started at an earlier point - possibly as early as frame 199 (when there appears to be some jerkiness in his movement) or, with a higher degree of possibility, at frames 204-206 (where his right elbow appears to be raised to an artificially high position).

So, how do Lattimer and his #1 devotee, Gerald Posner, the author of Case Closed, deal with this memo? They are, after all, defenders of the Warren Commission. They can't just ignore that the commission lawyers charged with studying the Zapruder film saw evidence suggesting that Kennedy was hit before the frame number eventually chosen as the moment of the first shot's impact.

Wanna bet? In Case Closed, Posner presents "The latest enhancements show that before the President disappeared behind the sign at frame 200, he was waving to the crowd with his right hand. Even when the car and his body are obscured by the road sign, the top of his right hand can be seen waving." 

The "jerkiness" and "artificially high position" of Kennedy's right elbow had thereby been flushed down the memory hole. 

Now, to be fair, Lattimer and Posner weren't the first to fail to notice these things. Life Magazine, in the 11-25-66 issue in which they called for a new investigation, nevertheless claimed that the Zapruder film "shows the President still waving cheerfully as late as frame 206."

But Lattimer and Posner compounded Life's silliness by desperately trying to explain away what would have to be seen as an incredibly rapid reaction by Kennedy to the bullet striking him at frame 224. Yep, in a moment of profound weakness, they offered up that the bullet nicked Kennedy's spine, and caused him to assume the “Thorburn’s Position,” an immediate locking of the arms.  

The reasons for this silliness were clearly demonstrated in the 1992 mock trial of Oswald put on by the American Bar Association, and televised by Court TV. During this trial, prosecution witness Dr. Robert Piziali, after studying President Kennedy's movements in the Zapruder film after frame 224, asserted that the same bullet struck Kennedy and Connally at frame 224, and that a "reflexive reaction" to this impact would take "approximately 200 ms, which is exactly the time from when the bullet passes through Governor Connally's lapel and we see the first motion of the President's elbow." Ouch. This was painfully incorrect. It was so incorrect that even the most ardent single-assassin theorists could see that it was incorrect. Beyond that the bullet did not pass through Connally's lapel, but at a lower point on his jacket, 200 ms is more than three-and-a-half frames of the Zapruder film. No one outside Dr. Piziali, of whom I am aware, has ever, after studying the Zapruder film, asserted that Kennedy's "reflexive reaction" starts at frame 227 of the film. Equally suspicious, upon cross-examination, Dr. Piziali confirmed that yes, it was his expert opinion that Kennedy was bringing his hand down after a wave in frame 225. This ignored that Kennedy's hands began rising back up in frame 226, not 227, and that frame 226 was not three and a half frames after the impact on Connally first apparent at frame 224.

Afterward, defense witness Dr. Roger McCarthy confirmed that a reflexive reaction on Kennedy's part would take about 200 ms, but disagreed with Piziali's conclusions. He asserted that Kennedy's hand movements in frames 225 and 226 were much too rapid to be reflective of his bringing his hand down after a wave, and that Kennedy was therefore most likely reacting to a shot at this time. He testified that, accordingly, Kennedy was most likely hit no later than frame 221, by a different bullet than the one hitting Connally at frame 224.

This didn't jive with the single-assassin theory, of course, and had to be rejected. Thus, in 1993, the very next year, writer Gerald Posner offered the single-assassin faithful the solution they'd been looking for, telling them on page 328 that a spinal injury to Kennedy's sixth cervical vertebra, as purported by Lattimer, would cause an "instantaneous reaction." On the next page he spelled out just how "instantaneous." He wrote: "Kennedy's Thorburn response, from spinal damage, at frames 226-227, came between one tenth to two tenths of a second after the bullet hit him, which translates to 1.8 to 3.66 Zapruder frames." By pretending that Kennedy's reaction could have started as late as frame 227, and that it could have taken as little as one-tenth of a second, Posner was, not surprisingly, covering his pet assassination theory. If people said Kennedy was hit by 227, he could say the reaction took two-tenths of a second. If they said he was hit by 226 he could say it took one tenth of a second. Posner failed to tell his readers that both the Warren Commission and HSCA concluded that Kennedy was clearly reacting to something before frame 226, and that both sides of the 1992 mock trial he cited throughout his book agreed that the reaction time would be at least two tenths of a second, and that the one tenth of a second reaction time he presented for his readers' consideration was something he just made up.  

The irony here is that I don't entirely disagree with Posner about the one-tenth of a second reaction time. It seems possible that Kennedy, at frame 226, is reacting to the same burst of gunfire hitting Connally at frame 224. You see, the flipping of Connally's lapel was most probably not caused by the bullet itself, but by the explosion of blood and rib from Connally's chest after the bullet made its exit. The bullet causing this reaction would most probably have hit Connally just after frame 223. Kennedy's hands lift in frame 226, which means they had reversed course either between frames 224 and 225 or 225 and 226, most logically the latter. This would indicate a reaction time of around 2 frames or just over the one-tenth second reaction time offered by Posner, provided both men were hit by the same bullet. If Kennedy and Connally were hit by separate shots fired from an automatic weapon, of course, the overly-rapid reaction by Kennedy in comparison to the impact on Connally is more readily explained.

But that's a separate issue. What we need to note here is that Lattimer and his devotee Posner, by pushing the "Thorburn theory," were simultaneously rejecting the conclusions of both the Warren Commission and HSCA that Kennedy was hit when he came out from behind the sign, and were instead pushing that Kennedy was not responding to a shot, but only waving, in frames 224 and 225 of the Zapruder film. And that's just plain silly.

Actually, Posner and the single-assassin community's propping up of Lattimer and his "Thorburn theory" to help sell the single-bullet theory is worse than their simply being silly. Lattimer's "Thorburn theory," holding that Kennedy's arms immediately locked into place after being hit, was, and is, a hoax. A careful viewing of the Zapruder film shows that although Kennedy’s elbows remain slightly bent after frame 224 for the phenomenal length of five seconds, his arms themselves are far from locked and drop almost immediately. Even more damaging, as discovered by Millicent Cranor and reported by Wallace Milam, the position described by Thorburn in the 1800's was not an immediate locking of the arms, but a position assumed over a couple of days as the afflicted patient sunk into paralysis and death.

And, should one think that--no matter what he called it--Lattimer was onto something when he pushed that the passage of the bullet by the nerves in Kennedy's neck caused his arms to fly up as a reflex, one should consider that this has been disputed as well. And not by a conspiracy theorist such as myself, but by a recognized expert on such things... Yes, an article by Julie Dunn on the website of Kenneth Rahn reports that on December 13, 1994 she contacted famed neuropathologist Dr. Jan Leestma and asked him about Lattimer's "Thorburn" theory. Leestma reportedly said "it seems to me a reaction as such would just never occur. I don't care if the sixth cervical segment was severed or just touched, the nerves in that area would not go into an immediate neurological reaction with arms flying up, they would fall limp." He even explained "when you physically shock any nerve, the last thing it does is fire. It classically becomes electrically silent. Whether the spinal cord is directly hit or grazed, the nerve cords extending beyond the actual spine would be affected and fall silent."

Still another argument against Lattimer’s “Thorburn theory", and one all my own, comes from the presumption that the immediate paralysis described by Lattimer would also cause Kennedy to lose control of his bodily functions. If this is so, then it would seem significant that Kennedy’s x-rays, as interpreted by all three x-ray professionals present at his autopsy, Dr. John Ebersole, Jerrol Custer, and Edward Reed, revealed a significant amount of fecal matter in his colon. That’s right; I’m using fecal matter to combat fecal matter.

And I'm not afraid to sling it... Is it just a coincidence that Gerald Posner, the primary spreader of Lattimer's manure, was in 2010 exposed as one, let's say, lacking in ethics, after it became clear he'd been routinely plagiarizing the works of others in his columns for the Daily Beast? I suspect not.

I also suspect he wasn't the only prosecutor-turned-writer to try and "lawyer" his readers into believing something he knows is most unclear. In the first section of Vincent Bugliosi's 2007 single-assassin theorist manifesto, Reclaiming History, he describes a first shot miss, and then a second shot 4.9 seconds before the head shot, at roughly frame 224 of the Zapruder film. He claims this second shot is the one that hit Kennedy and Connally. Later, while discussing in the photo section the position of the limo at the time of this second shot he claims, first, that it was "somewhere around frame 210" and then, on the next page, that it was "within a split second of frame 210." Nowhere in the book is it acknowledged that one of the expert witnesses used by Bugliosi in his prosecution of Oswald in a 1986 mock trial was Cecil Kirk, from the HSCA Photographic Panel, and that Bugliosi had Kirk testify that a comparison of frames 195 and 199 of the Zapruder film indicated that Kennedy was shot by this time. (When looking at the second frame, Kirk testified "Now you see that the President's arm is super-extended. We interpreted this to be a stimulus." When asked by Bugliosi if this was a response to his being hit the first time, Kirk testified "That's correct.") No, instead of acknowledging that he had previously introduced evidence into a court of law that Kennedy was reacting to a shot before frame 199 of the Zapruder film, Bugliosi, in Reclaiming History, presents frame 204 of the film with the misleading caption "Kennedy, now past most of the spectators on his right, begins to lower his right arm."

What had been a reaction to a stimulus was now just a relaxing of the arm. Evidently, Mr. Kirk and his testimony had fallen down Bugliosi's memory hole.

And no, Bugliosi wasn't even the worst of those hungrily wrapping their arms around Posner and his desperate and dishonest shooting scenario. Bugliosi's sin was one of omission. Dan Rather and CBS told an outright lie.

You see, one of the chief attractions of Posner's scenario was that the first shot was at Z-160. This gave Oswald more time to fire the shots... This, according to Rather, in his 1993 CBS special Who Killed JFK: The Final Chapter?, made Oswald's purported feat far more likely.

The problem was that Rather tried to correlate this to the tests performed for CBS in 1967. These tests proved physicist Luis Alvarez's theory holding that people holding a movie camera like Zapruder's would jiggle their cameras when shots were fired, and that one could use the blurs in Zapruder's film to come to a conclusion as to when the shots were fired in Dealey Plaza.

After showing the already 26 year-old blur tests in the 1993 special, Rather enthused: "The first blur happens precisely when Posner says Oswald got off the first shot, supporting the theory that Oswald had more time to get off three shots, not the far more difficult 5 1/2 seconds estimated by the Warren Commission."

Uggh... Holy big fat cow, Batman! Rather was lying through his teeth. The three blurs discussed by CBS in its 1967 special came at frames 190, 227, and 318. The blur at 190, according to the 1967 special, corresponds to a shot fired around Z-186, not Z-160, when Posner claimed the first shot was fired. This proposed shot, moreover, closely corresponded to the HSCA's jiggle analysis and proposed shot at Z-190--the shot Posner had chosen to pretend never happened.

And here was Rather, using evidence for a shot at Z-190 as evidence for a shot at Z-160, without telling his viewers about his little switcheroo.

It's enough to make one paranoid, I tell ya.

But let's try to be fair. It seems possible Rather's recollection was that the 1967 tests suggested a shot was fired before the Warren Commission said the first shot was fired, and that he'd correctly understood Posner to have come to this same conclusion, but incorrectly assumed Posner had picked the identical frame. The 1993 special, after all, never identified the frame for Posner's first shot, nor the frame for Alvarez's first blur.

Yeah, maybe. This is one instance where Rather's well-documented sloppiness plays to his advantage.

Where's Nellie?

When one looks at Warren Commission Exhibit 895, a photograph purporting to represent the trajectory from the sniper’s nest at frame 225, roughly 1/10th of a second after the point single-assassin theorists now claim Kennedy was hit, one can find yet another reason to doubt the new and "improved" version of the single-bullet theory, moreover.

Since the bullet found on the stretcher in Parkland Hospital, the “magic” bullet, was largely undamaged, the theory is dependent on the presumption that the bullet struck no bones on its way through Kennedy. Since the bullets used in Oswald’s rifle, per the testimony of the Warren Commission’s and HSCA’s own ballistics experts, were among the most stable ever tested, it follows that there should have been little deviation from its path while going through the President. And yet the target on Kennedy’s neck in the Warren Commission’s own re-enactment aligns not with Connally’s right armpit, where he was struck, but the middle of his back! While one might muse that the bullet was deflected slightly by the knot in Kennedy’s tie towards Connally’s armpit, this would then necessitate its being deflected both to the left and downwards once again when it struck Connally’s rib. Perhaps this problem in alignment is why the FBI, under the direction of the Warren Commission’s Arlen Specter, failed to measure the right/left angle from the sniper’s nest into the limousine. They measured the angle of descent from the sniper’s nest into the limousine to the minute, but made no measurements whatsoever of the cross-angle. 

Since this exhibit, much as the HSCA exhibit showing the trajectory of a single-bullet shot at frame 190, conclusively demonstrates that Connally would have to have been sprawled across his seat for his wounds to align with Kennedy’s, we are forced to look at the Zapruder film once again, and see if we can conclusively determine Connally's position at frame 224. 

It occurred to me that one could do this by establishing the relative positions of the limousine's occupants,  and projecting them onto the scale drawing of the limousine provided by the Warren Commission and HSCA, and see what made sense. Since the limousine was moving roughly a foot per frame and since the Connallys were sitting roughly two feet in front of the Kennedys, the Connallys in frames 223 and 224 occupied the same relative space as the Kennedys in frames 225 and 226. As demonstrated on the Z-223-226 slide, when one compares these frames, it becomes readily apparent that John and Nellie Connally were roughly 90% as far apart as John and Jackie Kennedy. 

From this we can establish Connally’s actual position. If one places Connally far enough over in his seat to receive a wound in his right armpit from a bullet exiting Kennedy’s neck in a straight line from the sniper’s nest at 224, and places Jackie Kennedy far enough over so that she’s in line with Connally a la the Zapruder film, a placement of Nellie Connally 90% as far from her husband as Jackie Kennedy was from the President pushes Nellie off her seat and up against the side of the car. I refuse to believe the first lady of Texas was draping her face over the side of the limousine and lapping up wind like a dog. That she seems far too close to her door is an indication, clearly, that everyone, save the President, should be shifted back to their right.  If one shifts Connally just a few inches to his right, however, the single-bullet theory trajectory, via rear-projection from Connally’s wounds, pivots onto the roof of the Dal-Tex Building.  If one simply shifts Kennedy all the way to his right, so that he is draped across the side of the car, as has been done in most current re-enactments and simulations, on the other hand, it takes care of Nellie and places her more towards the center of her seat, but opens up a whole series of other problems.

For when one looks closely at the Zapruder sequence from 223-226 one can see that Kennedy’s right arm was inside the car and did not even leave a shadow along the side of the car. This would appear to place him several inches inwards from the position used in a 1998 laser re-enactment. If one compares Kennedy's position in frame 225 against that of Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman, the passenger in the front seat, moreover, it seems clear that both men are roughly the same distance from the side of the car. And yet, in order for Kellerman to be in line with Nellie’s position in the Zapruder film (and have her be 90% as far from her husband as Mrs. Kennedy was from her husband) Kellerman would have to have been twice as far away from the side of the limousine as Kennedy.

Once again, the proper positioning of the passengers in the limousine and Kennedy and Connally in particular pivots a backwards trajectory through Connally and Kennedy’s wounds from the Texas School Book Depository across the street to the Dal-Tex. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Kennedy and Connally’s wounds only align if the shot originated from the Dal-Tex Building.

The Single Bullet Theory Redux

The single-bullet theory, with its new and "improved" impact frame of Z-224, was first revived in the eyes of the public by Gerald Posner in his 1993 book Case Closed, a response to Oliver Stone’s JFK.  In his defense of the single bullet theory, however, Posner was grossly deceptive.  He repeatedly cited Dr. Lattimer as an expert on the single-bullet theory without mentioning that Dr. Lattimer believed the bullet entered Kennedy’s neck at a point inches higher than even the Warren Commission.  He also published an exhibit demonstrating the single-bullet theory prepared by a legal services team called Failure Analysis without mentioning that this exhibit was made for a mock trial in which Failure Analysis prepared exhibits for both sides, including exhibits indicating the single-bullet theory did not work.

A simulation, performed in Dealey Plaza on September 3, 1998 for a TV show called the Secret KGB JFK Assassination Files, was equally disingenuous. In this simulation, performed under the guidance of noted wound ballistics expert Vincent J M. DiMaio (not surprisingly, a close colleague of the Clark Panel's Dr. Fisher), the dummy’s body needed to be bent forwards in order to get the laser beam connecting the locations of Kennedy’s wounds to reach the sniper’s nest. If one imagines this dummy sliding back a few inches to match Kennedy’s position at Z-225, the first frame he can be seen after coming out from behind the sign, however, the backwards trajectory from Connally through Kennedy’s neck once again pivots to Kennedy’s left and once again ends up on the Dal-Tex Building.  If one projects backwards at the 25 degree angle of the wounds reportedly from Kennedy’s neck through Connally, moreover, this projection leads precisely to the roof of the Dal-Tex Building.    

But a cursory knowledge of anatomy is all one really needs to doubt the single-bullet theory. As discussed in The Smoking Spine section of the last chapter, if one looks at a cross-section of the level of the bullet’s purported passage, the 7th cervical vertebrae and the 1st thoracic vertebrae, and projects an 18 degree right-to-left trajectory through the body, a la the HSCA’s trajectory analysis, one can see that a bullet entering at the location apparent on HSCA exhibit F-58 would nick a man’s spinal column. Even worse, a bullet entering 2/3 of an inch closer to the mid-line, as apparent on the autopsy photo, would plow right through the spine and exit from the left side of the neck. Should one allow that Kennedy was scrawnier than the man used for the medical slides, and compress the cross-section so that an 18 degree bullet can connect Kennedy’s back wound with the exit in his throat, one still finds that the bullet would smash right through his right transverse process, the small bones that stick out to the left and right of the column. This problem with the spine was discussed by Dr. John Nichols in the 1970’s.  More recently, Dr. David Mantik has plotted out this trajectory on CAT scans of men with Kennedy’s precise proportions and has confirmed that a trajectory connecting the back wound with the purported location of the throat wound would have to pass through bone. According to Dr.s Pryor and Cotton in 2005’s Ballistic Trauma: A Practical Guide, the use of entrance and exit locations on CAT scans to accurately plot the internal trajectory of bullets traveling through the neck has been tested with positive results.  Since the so-called magic bullet found on a stretcher in Parkland hospital shows no sign of crashing through bone this casts a great shadow over the single-bullet theory. (While the HSCA acknowledged that the right transverse process of Kennedy's first thoracic vertebrae was damaged, single-assassin theorists almost unilaterally maintain that a temporary cavity caused by the bullet’s rapid passage struck this process, and not the bullet itself. This explanation is of course necessitated by the undamaged condition of the bullet’s nose.) 

While a bullet fired from the sniper’s nest and striking Kennedy at frame 224 of the Zapruder film, the single bullet scenario currently in vogue, would be coming in at less of an angle than the 18 degrees described by the HSCA’s trajectory analysis (which was built around a shot at frame 190), it would still exit the left side of Kennedy’s throat. Should one decide Kennedy straightened out between Z-190 and Z-224, so that he was no longer turned 5 degrees to his right, as proposed by the HSCA, it would restrict the damage to Kennedy’s trachea to his right side, and be more in line with the recollections of his doctors. Unfortunately, for single-bullet theorists, this trajectory still plunges through the spine. 

This comparison between the HSCA's single-bullet theory and the "single-bullet theory redux" raises an interesting point. Few single-bullet theorists acknowledge that with the recent change in frame number they’ve re-interpreted the position of the President from the HSCA's trajectory analysis. Many in fact claim to accept both the wound locations of the HSCA forensic pathology panel and its trajectory analysis, even though (as we have seen) they are in opposition and designed around a shot at frame 190, when the President was about 30 feet closer to the gun than at frame 224.

It's like saying that GM builds the best trucks, and then citing a report saying that Ford builds the best trucks as support for your statement. You can't have it both ways. You're either in agreement with the HSCA's trajectory analyst or you're not. You're either supported by the "experts" or you're not.

And should one think I'm nit-picking on this issue, one should be informed that animator Dale Myers, perhaps the most respected of the current batch of single-bullet theorists, agrees, and has concluded that the wounds in Connally and Kennedy project back to the sniper's nest but for the split second between frames 217 and 224 of the Zapruder film, and that the HSCA's trajectory analysis was fatally flawed in both its interpretation of the single-bullet trajectories, and head wound trajectories. 

So single-bullet theorists can't have it both ways, try as they might. As a result, many of them have stopped citing the HSCA's "rocket scientist," Thomas Canning, as the definitive expert on the trajectories, and instead cite Dale Myers, a mere animator, as the definitive expert. This is indeed hypocritical. If Canning--the supposed expert--was wrong, as they now claim, and Myers, an amateur, was right, on what grounds can they pretend that the findings of an amateur such as myself should automatically be rejected in favor of the "experts" to whom they normally defer. They can't. Not if they give a damn about intellectual consistency. 

Still, many single-assassin theorists evade this trap by telling themselves an animator such as Myers possesses unique skills, and is every bit the expert in his own way as NASA trajectory expert Thomas Canning was in his. There's at least one point on which single-bullet theory revisionists are most definitely NOT supported by any of the top "experts" they so love to cite, however: the location of the back wound.

Dr. Lattimer and the Big Lie

Although one might think Dr. Lattimer, a urologist, after having his interpretation of Kennedy's back wound location so thoroughly rejected by the nine forensic pathologists on the HSCA pathology panel, would simply revise his interpretation, but continue to push that the single-bullet theory was correct, one would be wrong.

Apparently, there was too much at stake. Not only had Lattimer staked his reputation on the thoroughly repudiated proposition that the back wound was well above the throat wound, the reputation of the Warren Commission, and, by extension, the Executive Branch of the Government, also hung in the balance. In 1967, and then again in 1968, the Justice Department had convened panels of doctors to interpret the photos. Both panels had asserted that the autopsy photos demonstrated that the back wound was well above the throat wound. In 1972, after becoming the first "independent" researcher allowed to inspect these photographs, Lattimer, amazingly, went even further, and emerged from the archives with the proposition that the back wound was even higher on the back than depicted in the drawings created for the Warren Commission. In 1975, Warren Commission lawyers W. David Slawson and Richard M. Mosk wrote an article for the L.A. Times arguing against a re-investigation of the medical evidence; in this article, they asserted "The evidence concerning the wounds conclusively dispels the idea of shots from the front...The wounds both slanted downward from Kennedy's back. This is clear beyond doubt from the autopsy and from the photographs and X rays of the doubt the evidence of the wounds is to label as liars the doctors who examined the body, the pictures and the X rays for the commission." Well, here, in 1978, were nine top pathologists, working for the House of Representatives, not only doubting the evidence of the wounds, but asserting it had been incorrect. They were, in the eyes of Warren Commission supporters like Slawson and Mosk, admitting that the autopsy doctors--the men upon whose integrity the entire single-bullet theory had been built--were liars, and that, by extension, Dr. Lattimer, who'd asserted that the biggest lie pushed by the autopsy doctors--that the back wound was well above the throat wound--was an understatement--was an even bigger liar.

So what was he to do? He could admit he was mistaken, and take a body blow to his credibility, or he could double down, and insist that he, a urologist, was the sole doctor to inspect Kennedy's autopsy photos and x-rays in the decade to properly interpret the vertical relationship between Kennedy's back wound and throat wound.

As Dr. Lattimer was an avid collector of Nazi paraphernalia, he was almost certainly familiar with the following passage from Hitler's manifesto, Mein Kampf:

"in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie  than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying."

In his 1980 book, Kennedy and Lincoln, Dr. Lattimer revealed that the repudiation of his findings by the HSCA pathology panel in 1978 had had no impact whatsoever on his unique interpretation of Kennedy's wounds. As a result, one is forced to wonder if his continuing to tout, in the absence of all evidence, and without any support among his fellow physicians, that the back wound was much higher on the body than the throat wound, is an example of a "big lie" in action...

Sadly, however, it appears that Lattimer was mostly lying to himself.

On 1-26-14, researcher John Fiorentino, a regular on the alt-assassination.JFK newsgroup, and a defender of Lattimer's, assured me that he'd spoken to Lattimer on this issue numerous times, and that Lattimer was quite convinced the bullet traveled downwards in Kennedy's back at an "18 to 20 degree angle," and that Dr. Baden was incorrect in claiming it traveled upwards in the body. According to Fiorentino, Lattimer believed Baden was a "f***ing liar!" and under the influence of Dr. Cyril Wecht when he claimed the back wound was lower than the throat wound. Lattimer, apparently, never allowed himself to realize the pathology panel's conclusion about the back wound was a unanimous conclusion, and that Wecht had been marginalized on the panel, and had little influence, if any, on the commission's conclusions.

Lattimer vs. Lattimer

Yep, when it comes to bizarre thinking about the Kennedy assassination medical evidence, Lattimer pretty much sets the standard with Kennedy and Lincoln. While discussing Kennedy's throat wound, for example, he asserted, “any bullet that might have exited through this hole had had a definite downward course through Kennedy’s neck, rather than the relatively horizontal course …depicted in the official schematic diagram made by medical staff artist H.A. Rydberg.” Incredibly, even after the HSCA released a drawing of Kennedy taken from an autopsy photo showing his back wound to be, well, on his back, Lattimer chose to re-publish his 1972 drawing depicting the back wound to be at the level of Kennedy's chin, and the bullet to be descending on an even steeper trajectory through the President’s neck than in the drawings created for the Warren Commission. This trajectory, if projected forward from the back wound in the autopsy photos, amazingly, would have passed right through the President’s sternum, inches below the supposed exit on his throat.

In 1993, in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Lattimer tried to explain this last discrepancy. He asserted that a large fat pad on Kennedy’s neck, aka the "hunch" or "hump," deflected the bullet downwards, and that Kennedy may have leaned forwards to talk to Connally just before he was shot at frame 224 of the Zapruder film. Astonishingly, Lattimer and the editors at JAMA had failed to realize that this proposed lean would lessen the degree of descent within Kennedy’s body, and make the 27 degree descent depicted in his drawing even more unlikely.

This was not all that surprising. By 1993, Lattimer had become something of a guru to his fellow single-assassin theorists, including JAMA's editor George Lundberg. As a consequence, in April 1993, he was invited to present his findings at an assassination conference in Chicago. Videotapes of this conference indicate that he was still 100% committed to his appallingly incorrect understanding of Kennedy's anatomy and wounds. As he showed the audience the Warren Commission's depiction of the single-bullet theory, CE 385, he explained:  "I knew President Kennedy and this was not President Kennedy.  President Kennedy had a big hump on the back of his neck from all the steroids he was taking. And the point of entry, for example, of the bullet, isn't down there (pointing out the entrance on CE 385), it's way up here (pointing to the back of the neck) at the level of the base of his chin." Later, when presenting his own drawing to the audience, he added: "The hump on the back of his neck brought the point of impact of the bullet up to the level of his chin and the downward course of the bullet coming out low on his neck, where Dr. Perry did the tracheostomy."  

Well, this was just crazy talk. In Kennedy and Lincoln, Lattimer published a photograph of a shirtless Kennedy at Santa Monica Beach and claimed this photograph proved Kennedy's shoulders to be unusually high as a result of his Addison's disease. This was totally misleading. True, Kennedy's chin was below his right shoulder in the photo. But this was because he was leaning slightly forward, and to his left. His chin, tellingly, was not below his left shoulder. When one looks at other photos of a shirtless Kennedy taken after he'd contracted his disease, moreover, it becomes abundantly clear that his shoulders did not extend above his chin, and that his chin was at best at the level of the crease at the base of his neck. (The second shirtless photo of Kennedy on the slide above was taken in the mid-50's.)

I mean, just look at Lattimer's drawing, and compare it to the autopsy photo of the back wound... The autopsy photo proves the back wound to be inches below the point where Kennedy's shoulders connected to his neck. And yet, Lattimer's drawing presents this wound at the level of his chin. It follows then--yes, I know it's hard to believe that such a respected man could make such a crazy assertion--that Lattimer believed Kennedy's shoulders attached to his neck inches above his chin. 

Don't believe me? Well, then consider that at the '93 Chicago conference, Lattimer showed the audience the JFK beach photo on the slide above, and pointed out the trajectory of the bullet through Kennedy's neck...beginning at the level of Kennedy's mouth. 

I mean, really, just who was Lattimer trying to fool?

Apparently, all of us...

Unfortunately, Lattimer’s actions on behalf of his beloved single-assassin theory extended way beyond his creating a flawed drawing or two, and/or his inability to see its inaccuracies. He helped sell a whole generation of doctors and devotees that the single-bullet theory was viable and supported by meticulous research. Since his work on the head wounds was equally misleading, many in the conspiracy community assumed he was some sort of government plant. Upon his death in 2007, however, another possibility was revealed--that he was every bit as eccentric and wacky as the wackiest conspiracy theorist. You see, buried within his obituaries was an astonishing fact--that among Lattimer's many collectibles and prized possessions was an historically significant item he'd purchased some years before at auction, for a reported 3,000 dollars...Napoleon's shriveled penis! 

Location, Location, Location 

But enough about shriveled penises...

While single-assassin theorists are fond of repeating ad nauseum that conspiracy theorists can't accept the clear-cut truth that Oswald acted alone, and are in love with 'factoids" at odds with the evidence, the incredible hypocrisy of this overly influential "community" becomes apparent when one looks at their depictions of the single-bullet theory. In virtually all depictions, they take their lead from Lattimer and place the back wound above the throat wound at a point inches above the back wound location determined by the HSCA forensic pathology panel. 

When asked if their doing so doesn't make them no better than the conspiracy theorists they denounce, and all too often despise, single-bullet theorist David Von Pein, who has littered the internet with literally thousands of posts and essays praising the single-bullet theory, gave what would have to be taken as an admirably honest response.

On December 24, 2011, on the alt.assassination.JFK newsgroup, he replied:

"You are exactly right, Pat. I plead guilty. And I'll admit that I am doing something that I often scold CTers for doing -- throwing out EXPERT testimony and clinging to my own personal beliefs. So, if you want to, you can shoot me down with Oswald's remaining unfired C2766 bullet. Yes, I'm asking for it, because I did something that I ridicule the conspiracy theorists for constantly doing. In this instance, I'm nothing but a hypocrite.  However, I sincerely believe that the HSCA/FPP was wrong about the throat wound being higher than the back wound. And I think I've provided a very good reason for WHY I think they were wrong. Mainly-- this composite picture below, which plainly shows the throat wound to be LOWER than the bullet hole in JFK's upper back. And I don't see how anyone can argue with this plain-as-day observation. But, just in case you want to -- I'm ready to be strung up by the oak tree in front of the TSBD for my sin of disagreeing with the HSCA. I'm guilty. And I know it."

And this wasn't the first time he admitted his hypocrisy.

On February 14, 2008, in an online discussion of Vincent Bugliosi's book Reclaiming History, he wrote:  "In this particular narrow-based instance, I will readily admit that it (his re-interpreting the wound location) doesn't make me "any better than the looniest conspiracy theorist", due to the fact that I am doing what almost all conspiracy-happy people love to do with virtually ALL of the evidence in the case -- I'm completely ignoring the official conclusion of the HSCA's Forensic Panel in this particular "height of the wounds" regard...the HSCA's FPP was and is definitely DEAD WRONG when it comes to their conclusion that the back wound was anatomically lower than the throat wound. And even Dr. James J. Humes, JFK's leading autopsy doctor, has said so -- i.e., Humes himself said, in 1964 to the Warren Commission, that JFK's throat wound was "physically lower" than the wound located in Kennedy's upper back." (Von Pein's citing Humes' Warren Commission testimony on this matter was of course pretty silly--seeing as he'd had been denied access to the autopsy photos before testifying. It becomes even more silly, moreover, when one considers that Humes' partner, Dr. Boswell, when confronted with the photos by the ARRB, and asked the magic question, approximated the back wound at the level of the second thoracic vertebra, well below the throat wound.)

Not surprisingly, Von Pein then went on to argue that his ignoring experts was somehow more
"rational" than conspiracy theorists ignoring experts, and that, even if he disagreed with the HSCA panel about the wound location, he was correct in citing them as authoritative on the number of bullet wounds. He wrote " I wouldn't compare the two things as being on equal levels. In one instance, the HSCA was attempting to determine how many bullet holes John Kennedy had in his body (and from what directions those shots were fired). But the other instance is quite different (and a bit more subjective in nature, given the fact they had no photo to work with that showed BOTH Kennedy's throat wound and his upper-back wound in the same photo for direct "relative height" comparison) -- i.e., the HSCA was trying to answer the "lower or higher?" question regarding those wounds by utilizing the autopsy photographs and the written record and the testimony of the autopsists (testimony taken 15 years after the assassination). And that's just exactly what other people have tried to do as well, using the very same pictures and documented testimony. And the HSCA, for some reason I'll never be able to fathom, came to the cockeyed determination that the two photos linked below (when viewed IN TANDEM and when using each of them to compare to the other) depict the upper-back wound (in the top photo) as being located anatomically LOWER than the wound in the front of JFK's neck, which is a wound that is fully visible in the bottom photo." (Von Pein's suggestion that comparing autopsy photos to determine the relative location of wounds on a patient's body is drastically more challenging to a medical professional well-acquainted with anatomy than determining the number and direction of bullets striking the body is of course without merit.)

He then, perhaps unwittingly, asserted that one's expertise is of but little importance when the evidence is so, well, gosh-darned evident. He declared: "But as anyone with just one good eye can see (when comparing the individual wounds seen in each of the above photos), the bullet hole in JFK's upper back (which was determined by the HSCA to be the TOP SPOT [or "artifact"] in the top photo above) is not even close to being located anatomically LOWER on Kennedy's body when compared to the wound in the throat." (While he is DEAD WRONG about this particular piece of evidence, I have to agree that one's relying on experts to interpret a photo can blind one to what's startlingly clear.)

Von Pein also discussed Vincent Bugliosi's approach to this matter: "you can't really say that Vince and I think alike on this issue (at least when based on Pages 423 and 424 of VB's JFK book)....and that's because, based on the text found on those two pages, Vince says that he totally accepts the HSCA's findings as being true regarding the wound locations AND he also asserts that he does not accept the HSCA's conclusions (via his comments on page 424 at any rate)" 

Here, Von Pein was repeating information first discovered and exposed by myself on this webpage. He is correct to distance himself from Bugliosi on this issue, as Bugliosi's handling of this issue is mighty mighty strange. On page 423 of his book, Bugliosi writes "The...bullet track, which is going downward through the president's body, is traveling upward anatomically." But on the very next page, he enthuses "Perhaps the clearest visual evidence of the fact that the entrance wound in the back was definitely above the exit wound in the throat appears in one of these photos taken of the left side of the president’s head as he is lying on his back, his head on a metal headrest. Only the wound in the throat is visible, not the wound on the upper right back. However, it couldn’t be clearer from this photo that the wound in the back was definitely above the exit wound in the throat.” These assertions are, of course, mutually exclusive. It seems that Bugliosi, like the dog in the Devo song "Freedom of Choice", had two bones, and failed to properly assess which one was best deserving of a lick.

So let's take a look at these photos and see what Von Pein and Bugliosi have been raving about.

Artwohl Analysis

The photos discussed by Von Pein and Bugliosi are the same ones discussed in the "Hunchback Analysis" slide of the last chapter. In the 1990's Dr. Robert Artwohl resurrected the incorrect assessment of these photos first pushed in the 1967 so-called "Military Review" and then later adopted by the Church Panel.  Since that time, his comparison has been a mainstay on the much-visited JFK website of Marquette University professor John McAdams, confusing people by the thousands.

On the surface, his comparison almost makes sense. He uses the ruler in the back wound photo to measure the distance from Kennedy’s neck line to his back wound and comes up with 5.6 cm.  He then uses the length of Kennedy’s ear in the lateral photo as a ruler, and plots out where this 5.6 cm down Kennedy’s back would be on the lateral photo. This establishes his entrance.  It’s then just a simple matter of drawing a line between the back wound and the throat wound and measuring the angle.  Not surprisingly, Artwohl came up with the exact angle the HSCA told us leads back to the sniper’s nest.

He makes a number of mistakes. First of all, he uses 8 cm as the length of Kennedy’s ear, which seems way too large. (Mine is only 6.8 cm and I have big ears.) Using a long distance photo of Kennedy for comparison I determined his ears were really more like 6.2 cm. (Should you doubt me, consider that, if this 8 cm measurement was real, Kennedy’s throat wound was at a vertical level 2.5 inches below his Adam’s Apple.  Measure this on your own body and not along the throat itself--which runs at an angle--and see if this seems possible.) Second of all, even though the ruler in the back wound photo is clearly pressed against Kennedy’s back he measures this distance down Kennedy’s back at the angle of his neck and not the angle of his back. When one makes these corrections, one finds that the angle from the back wound to the throat wound was really more like 14 degrees, the white trajectory in the slide up above.

But there are other factors as well.  When one realizes that Kennedy’s head in the back wound photo is turned slightly to his right, one should realize that this lowers his neck line by approximately one centimeter in comparison to the neck line in the lateral view. This means the 5.6 cm measurement leading to the back wound in the lateral photo should start a centimeter lower on Kennedy’s neck. This drops the angle from the back wound to the throat wound down to 10 degrees, which is represented by the tan trajectory.  Finally, one should take into account that Kennedy’s body in the back wound photo appears to be laying on its left side with its right shoulder rolled forwards.  According to my calculations (or, more precisely, my girlfriend’s repeated measurements on my body), this would raise the back wound an inch or more in comparison to the throat wound, and drop the angle down to zero, as shown by the blue line.

But one need not rely on my words to see Artwohl is mistaken. Consider Artwohl's own. At the April '93 conference on the medical evidence in Chicago, Dr. Artwohl pointed out the "hump" on Kennedy's back where he claims the bullet entered, and said "The hump here really represents about the level of T-1." No, not really. I mean, he really said that. But that's not really what it represents.

And that's not the only time Artwohl has put his woeful grasp of anatomy on display. On the website of  Professor John McAdams, in an attempt to demonstrate the failings of Dr. Cyril Wecht, he presents a few old online posts from Artwohl to Wecht, in which Artwohl unsuccessfully asks Wecht for clarification on a few key points. On one of these posts, dated 10-18-94, Artwohl writes that "the autopsy photographs clearly show that the bullet wound is 5.5 cm (about 2 inches) below the inferiornuchal crease (the lowest wrinkle in the back of JFK's neck). The inferior nuchal crease overlies the cervical spine at about the level of C4 or C5. Thus two inches below that would fall at the level at around the level of C7, or at the base of the neck." Artwohl is thereby claiming the back wound was around C7. Well, one look at the left lateral view of Kennedy with Artwohl's trajectory drawn in demonstrates beyond any argument that his proposed entrance location, which he says is at C7, is far closer to the "inferiornuchal crease" than it is to the level of the throat wound. This means that, in Artwohl's analysis, the throat wound was more than 2 vertical inches below the level of C7.

He's dead wrong. Kennedy's throat wound was indisputably near the level of C7/T-1. Two inches above this--where Artwohl places the back wound--would be around C5, not C7. Artwohl's analysis is nonsense.

Coat Check

Should one still be confused by Dr. Artwohl’s presentation, one should take a look at a comparison of the entrance locations in dispute with the undisputed entrance of the bullet on Kennedy’s clothing, 5 3/8 inches below the top of his collar. Even if one uses Artwohl’s 8 cm measurement of Kennedy’s ear in one’s analysis, it seems highly unlikely a bullet could enter so low on Kennedy’s clothing yet as high on his back as Artwohl and Lattimer contend. 

A look at this comparison, moreover, casts further doubt on the integrity of Warren Commission counsel Arlen Specter and Wesley Liebeler (who pushed that the hole on Kennedy's clothes overlay a wound at the base of his neck), as well as those who repeated their nonsense.

It should be admitted, of course, that the back wound location they were defending was the back wound location pushed in the Rydberg drawings. Well, this location is roughly where it is in the Artwohl analysis, above.

Andy yet, a June, 1967 article by Sid Moody and Bernard Gavzer for the Associated Press, and published nationwide, defended that the back wound location pushed by the commission was consistent with the holes on the clothes. In dismissing the Warren Commission’s critic’s claims that the jacket holes were too low to support the single-bullet theory, they claimed “Seeing the holes through the eyes of Lane, Epstein, and Weisberg, it might seem that the bullet which made them could not have hit the president in the base of the neck. But put a jacket and shirt on any grown man with reasonably well-developed shoulders, measure 5 3/8 inches below the top of the collar and a bit to the right of the seam, have him raise his right arm slightly (as the president’s was) and mark the spot with a pencil point or chalk. Where does this touch the body? The base of the neck.”

Oh really? The slight lift of Kennedy’s right arm would lift the blue star in this comparison to the level of the tan line?  I don’t think so. Evidently, Moody and Gavzer weren’t in the mind to double-check their “facts” that day…


Coat Double Check

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't double check our facts. The undisputed entrance on the clothing is also slightly lower than the back wound seen on the autopsy photos. This means that either there was some bunching of Kennedy’s clothing on November 22, 1963, or that Kennedy’s autopsy photos and the bullet holes visible on his clothing are in disagreement.  If there was some bunching, of course, one should determine whether or not there was enough bunching to support the single bullet theory.

When one combs the internet for photos from the November 22, 1963 motorcade, one discovers that the jacket Kennedy was wearing in Dallas did undoubtedly “bunch” up whenever he lifted his arm. Virtually every photograph displays significant ‘bunching.” But was this bunching significant enough to support the single bullet theory? Could the bunching have lifted Kennedy’s jacket high enough so that a bullet descending from 20 degrees or more above him could enter 5 3/8” below the top of his collar and still exit from his throat? Without deflection?

In researcher John Hunt’s online article “The Case for a Bunched Jacket,” available on the website of John McAdams, he argues that the amount of bunching shown in the Croft photo is indeed significant and suggests that the bullet entrance was high enough on Kennedy’s body to support the single-bullet theory. I respectfully disagree. The straight line of “bunched jacket” sticking out at the back of Kennedy in Hunt’s version of the Croft photo is in my considered opinion Kennedy’s right shoulder pad seen at an angle. Clearly the line of the back seat in the photo runs parallel to a line connecting his left shoulder with the purported bunching of the jacket. While Hunt is quite correct in that there is bunching visible in most every photo of the motorcade, it would appear then that this bunching involved too little material to lift the clothing in line with the Warren Commission or Artwohl entrance, and nowhere near the amount of material needed to lift it in line with the Lattimer entrance.

That the holes in the clothing and the hole in the back are consistent, moreover, also seems apparent. The back wound was determined to be 14 cm below the bottom tip of the right mastoid process. This is at the approximate level of the bottom of the ear. The hole on the shirt was determined to be 5.75 inches below the top of the collar, or 14.6 cm. Well, this means that for the holes to be consistent, the top of the shirt collar would have to be a bit above the bottom tip of the mastoid at the time of the shooting, correct? And this seems a bit off. But wait, the shirt did not stretch flat like a ruler from the back wound to the mastoid. It was at a bit of an angle on the upper back, and was perhaps even bunched up a bit. For the measurements of the hole on the shirt to be consistent with the measurements provided for the back wound, then, the collar of the shirt would have to have been just below the bottom tip of the mastoid at the time of the shooting. Well, LOOK at the Croft photo! The shirt collar is right below the bottom tip of the ear, precisely where one would expect it to have been!

The holes on the clothing thereby support the accuracy of the back wound photo, and they, in unison, destroy the argument the bullet descended within the body.

The only way around this, it seems clear, is to push that far more clothing is bunched up on the back of Kennedy than is shown in the photographs, and that this clothing, unseen to the naked eye, ACTUALLY bunched up along the back of Kennedy's head. Well, no one has gone on to propose this...

Reality Check

Well, at least no one remotely reasonable. As if to advertise his lunacy, Dr. John Lattimer actually proposed Kennedy's jacket was bunched up at the back of his head, and that 5 3/8 inches of Kennedy's clothing (the measured distance to the bullet entrance on the clothing) had been lifted above the level of his chin!

Complete nonsense. Utter hoo-ha. And certifiably certifiable...

Let's review. In the September 1973 Forensic Science Gazette Lattimer specified that "the bullet holes in the clothing were about 13 or 14 centimeters below the upper edge of the collar, whereas the bullet hole in the back of the body, in this general location, was only about half this distance down from the expected location of the top of the collar." He then related that "The bullet hole in the President's upper back, near the base of his neck, was about two inches below the prominent crease across the base of the back of his neck."

Now let's do the math. Two inches is basically 5 centimeters. Since the expected location of the collar was, according to Lattimer, as little as 6 1/2 cm above this location, it follows that the expected location of the top of the collar would be as little as 1 1/2 cm above the neck crease.  So far, so good. That is, if you're willing to accept that the expected location of Kennedy's collar was 6 1/2 to 7 cm above the level of his back wound (which Lattimer elsewhere places at the level of his chin) and that twice this amount of clothing was bunched up at the back of JFK's head!

Now let's factor in that Lattimer accepted the autopsists' conclusion the back wound was 14 cm below the bottom tip of the mastoid process, the bottom of the skull. This means that, in Lattimer's analysis, the "expected location of the top of the collar" was as much as 7 1/2 cm (three inches!) below the base of the skull! 

That's right, in Lattimer World, the "expected location" of Kennedy's collar was both 7 to 7 1/2 cm below the base of his skull and 6 1/2 to 7 cm or more above the level of the back wound (which Lattimer elsewhere describes as being at the level of his chin). Amazingly, and perhaps inadvertently, Lattimer had proposed that Kennedy's chin was 14 cm below the base of his skull, and that the expected location of Kennedy's collar lay half-way in between.

Now, measure this out on yourself real quick and see if it makes any sense.

It doesn't. Not one iota. Perhaps this helps explain why Lattimer claimed Kennedy was a hunch-back. The man was desperate for something, anything, that could help him explain the problematic measurements. Having Kennedy's back stick straight out would allow the back wound to be 14 cm away from the base of his skull, while still being at the level of his chin. This is insanity in its purest form, or a deliberate fraud, take your pick. 

And Artwohl's theory wasn't much better. When one looks at profile pictures of Kennedy on 11-22, and realizes one can establish the level of the entrance on the clothing by using the 1 1/4 width of his collar as a ruler (which I've done on the slide above at the suggestion of Cliff Varnell), one can see quite easily that there was just no freakin' way that enough clothing bunched up on the back of Kennedy's neck to bring the entrance on his clothing in line with Artwohl's make-believe entrance at the base of Kennedy's neck.

Still, some folks are slower than others. In December, 2009, single-bullet theorist David Von Pein revealed that despite everything demonstrated on the slides above, he, in keeping with his hero Vincent Bugliosi, still felt the Croft photo demonstrated that Kennedy's jacket was bunched up enough to lift the bullet entrance on the clothes up to the level of the entrance location proposed by Robert Artwohl on Kennedy's back.


End of the Line

And so I dedicate the slide above to Von Pein and his quite "Vince-ible" hero Vince. 

After matching up the AP photo of Kennedy on 11-22 with the Croft photo taken just seconds before he was shot, and using the width of Kennedy's collar to measure the distance down his back on the AP photo, I was able to establish the length of a straight line stretching to the entrance on the clothes. I then broke this line into two parts, and placed them along the outside of Kennedy's jacket profile in the Croft photo. This proved, once and for all, that EVEN IF the "bunching of clothing" visible in the Croft photo was not his right shoulder seen at an angle, but clothing directly in back of Kennedy's head bunched straight out, the amount of material involved was still insufficient to lift the hole on the clothes to Artwohl's proposed entrance location. I mean, let's get real. It's not even close.

But will this end of the line put an end to the lyin'?

Nope. Afraid not. Although single-bullet theorists are trapped--either they believe the back wound was where the HSCA Panel said it was, and that Kennedy was leaning further forward than shown on the films, or that the back wound was higher than proposed by the HSCA, with more "bunched' clothing than shown in the films--they refuse to recognize the futility of their dilemma, and accept that, on this issue at least, their theory is at odds with the evidence.

In fact, as time goes by, it becomes more and more clear that most of the reasons offered to support the single bullet theory have been at odds with the evidence. On December 24, 1991, as a response to the movie JFK, HSCA assistant deputy chief counsel Kenneth Klein published an article in the L.A. Times defending the single-bullet theory. He offered four reasons to believe it. First he claimed that Connally's back wound was ovoid, and that this indicated the bullet striking him had first struck Kennedy, Well, as we've discussed, this wasn't exactly true. Connally's doctor, for one, was convinced the bullet struck nothing before hitting Connally. Klein then noted the trajectory analysis of Thomas Canning, which was purported to show that the bullets striking Kennedy and Connally all came from the sniper's nest. Well, as we shall see, Canning not only moved the wounds so that the bullet trajectories would point back to the sniper's nest, he actually re-imagined the positions of Kennedy, so that, in the findings of his committee, Kennedy was leaning further forward when shot in the back than when shot in the head at frame 313 of the Zapruder film. This was the height of lunacy, and marked him as a high priest of voodoo science. Klein then cited the ballistics evidence, and noted that "it was determined that the bullet found on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital had been fired from the rifle recovered from the depository." Well, maybe so, but not by his committee. The HSCA's ballistics experts claimed the assassination rifle had been fired too many times, and that bullets fired down its barrel no longer matched the stretcher bullet. Klein then referenced the findings of Vincent Guinn, and specifically his claim that the bullet fragment found in Connally's wrist came from the stretcher bullet. Well, as we've seen, the scientific community has since rejected Guinn's conclusions, and Klein's boss Robert Blakey has taken to calling Guinn's methodology "junk science".

The single-bullet theory trajectory just plain ole doesn't work.

But you don't have to trust me on this. You can measure this yourself.

Do It Yourself 

In March, 2007,  after reading yet another online defense of the single bullet theory using a comparison of the back wound photo and the left lateral photo as "proof" that the back wound was above the throat wound, I decided to kill this argument once and for all. This argument, first pushed forward in the January 26 1967 report of the autopsy doctors, then repeated in 1968 by the Clark Panel, and then resurrected by Dr. Artwohl and spread throughout the internet from the website of John McAdams, (from whence, apparently, it infected Vincent Bugliosi) just infuriates me. It infuriates me because these men, supposedly respectful of the official record, used their subjective impressions of the relative sizes of two photos in order to come to a conclusion about a wound's location, rather than use the ACTUAL measurements taken at autopsy. As Artwohl, McAdams, and Bugliosi have no forensic background and could simply be mistaken, we can give them the benefit of the doubt. That the doctors in the 67 "military inspection" and the Clark Panel made the same mistake, however, is highly suspect.   

As both the autopsy doctors and the Clark Panel agreed that the back wound was 14 cm below the bottom tip of the right mastoid process, all I needed to establish the location of the back wound was a model and a ruler. I decided to use myself. In looking around my apartment, I found that the long measurement of a typical CD jewel case is a little over 14 cm.  (At 141 mm it was less than 1% larger than 14 cm, which was okay because I am 76 inches tall--6% taller than Kennedy, and have a reasonably long neck.)  I then placed it across the back of my neck, with the top edge up against the base of my skull (the location of the bottom tip of the mastoid process). And guess what? The bottom of the CD case was clearly on my back, inches below the entrance on the Rydberg drawings and INCHES below the entrance proposed on the left lateral photo in the 67 inspection, the Clark Panel inspection, and by Artwohl. It's not even close. The location is so far off, in fact, that it's really difficult to believe that Humes and Boswell could ever have believed that the wound in the Rydberg drawings was 14 cm below the right mastoid process.

They probably never did. Harold Weisberg, in his 1975 opus Post Mortem, recounts that he, too, measured 14 cm from his mastoid and found this location to be on his back. He tells us, furthermore, that he double-checked this with Dr. Malcolm Perry, Kennedy's emergency room doctor, and that Dr. Perry told him "that his plotting of these measurements makes it a back wound."  This is interesting because a 12-11-63 report by the Secret Service's Elmer Moore reflects that he met with Perry and showed him the autopsy report and its measurements and found that the proposed missile path for the first bullet to strike the President was “from the upper right posterior thorax to the exit position in the low anterior cervical region"  and was "in slight general downward direction.” This is especially interesting, moreover, because Dr. Perry was asked in his testimony before the Warren Commission how a wound 14 cm below the mastoid process would align with the wound he saw on the President's throat, and replied: "In view of the fact there was an injury to the right lateral portion of the trachea and a wound in the neck if one were to extend a line roughly between these two, it would be going slightly superiorly, that is cephalad toward the head, from anterior to posterior, which would indicate that the missile entered from slightly above and behind."

It seems doubtful Perry would unreservedly describe it as a back wound later if he honestly believed it to be above the throat wound when talking to Moore, and "a wound in the neck" when testifying before the Commission. Of course, the "slight general downward direction" mentioned by Moore and the "slightly superiorly" testified to by Perry might have been "extremely slight and nearly non-existent" in Perry's mind.

And then there's another possibility...raised when one looks at the exact wording of the question asked Perry, and then his response.

Mr. SPECTER - Based upon a point of entrance in the body of the President which I described to you as being 14 cm. from the right acromion process and 14 cm. below the tip of the right mastoid process and coupling that with your observation of the neck wound, would that provide a sufficient basis for you to form an opinion as to the path of the bullet, as to whether it was level, up or down?
Dr. PERRY - Yes, it would. In view of the fact there was an injury to the right lateral portion of the trachea and a wound in the neck if one were to extend a line roughly between these two, it would be going slightly superiorly, that is cephalad toward the head, from anterior to posterior, which would indicate that the missile entered from slightly above and behind.

Well, Specter refers to the throat wound as a neck wound, and Perry responds by stating that a line connecting the trachea wound and the neck wound pointed back in the general direction of the head. If Perry is calling the wound 14 cm below the mastoid the "neck wound," as surmised, he is indeed supporting the accuracy of the autopsy doctors and claiming the shot came from above. If, however, he is using Specter's terminology and calling the throat wound the "neck wound" and stating that the wound on the throat, when lined up with the trachea wound, pointed back upwards toward the head, then his answer is non-responsive to Specter's question. He is refusing to tell Specter where a wound 14 cm below the mastoid would be, and is telling him instead that, from what he observed, the trachea wound was above the throat wound, and the "missile" (which can be taken as an indication he's still not convinced it was a bullet) MUST HAVE come from above. If so, and this is indeed what Perry is stating, then it follows that he knew a wound 14 cm below the mastoid would not be well above the throat wound, as suggested by the autopsy doctors, and is trying not to put his observation into the record.

In any event, Perry's statements to Moore, Specter, and Weisberg make it clear he knew the Rydberg drawings were gross misrepresentations of Kennedy's wounds. His silence on this matter in the years prior to 1978, when the drawings were officially debunked, is, therefore, disappointing. In 1967, when Dr. Humes went on TV and told the nation that the autopsy photos showed the back wound to be exactly as depicted in the Rydberg drawings, Perry (and no doubt dozens of other curious doctors) most certainly knew that the wound depicted in the drawings was inconsistent with the autopsy measurements, and that, therefore, either Humes' autopsy measurements were incredibly inaccurate, or he was lying to the nation. And yet, as far as I can tell, not one of these doctors said anything about this to the media! No. Not even when Dr. Lattimer moved the back wound in the Rydberg drawings--already far too close to the mastoid process to be in agreement with the autopsy measurements--INCHES CLOSER to the mastoid process in the drawing he created and published in article after article, year after year, (while still touting in personal letters that "the wound on the back of the neck that I described was certainly the one 14 cm. below the mastoid process") did anyone break their silence, and point out to their colleagues that Lattimer was dishing up manure. 

As a result, I can't decide if the AMA is AMAzingly gutless, or AMAzingly brainless, but it is certainly AMAzing and missing something of vital importance.

If the Rydberg drawings were deliberate misrepresentations, of course, it suggests a larger conspiracy than previously discussed.  Since the 67 inspection and Clark Panel inspection were both performed for the Justice Department, and under its direction, and both told the same demonstrable lie about the back wound being higher than the throat wound, the finger points directly at the Johnson Administration. Orchestrating a cover-up, of course, does not prove guilt of the initial act. But one should question why such a reckless and politically dangerous cover-up was performed, if not to cover-up something even more sinister.

I better stop here before I start sounding like one of those dreaded "conspiracy theorists."