A CASE FOR A NEW FORENSIC AUTOPSY
By William Kelly
“Renowned JFK assassination expert and professor John McAdams weighs in on the findings of the warren Commission, the deficiencies of the medical and autopsy evidence, and the lack of understanding on the part of the Kennedy camp on the need for a forensic autopsy at the time.”
– Press release for 2013 NOVA TV documentary
The victim was murdered, gunned down on the street in broad daylight in front of hundreds of witnesses.
The cause of death – a bullet to the head, was determined by an autopsy. But after that fact was clearly established, there is complete legal confusion – as the body was improperly removed from the state where the murder occurred before there was a proper forensic autopsy, as required by law. Rather than a proper forensic autopsy – which creates certified evidence that can be used in a court of law, a less thorough regular autopsy was performed, the purpose of which was to determine the cause of death – gunshot to the head.
But there were three different autopsy reports prepared, the doctors who conducted the autopsy did not talk about the wounds with the emergency room doctors who treated them, and there were two brain exams, one of a brain that was not that of the victim.
The photos, x-rays and reports of the autopsy could not be introduced as evidence in a court of law because the technicians who took the photos and x-rays could not identify them as the ones they created, so the provenance – the chain of evidence from the scene of the crime to the grave, is broken and lost, much like our history.
If the victim was an unknown bum found dead in a street gutter and his death was considered suspicious, his remains would be routinely exhumed and given a proper forensic autopsy – one that would produce photos, x-rays and reports that could be introduced as evidence in a court of law.
But justice has been thwarted in this case because the victim was the President of the United States named John F. Kennedy, and political forces have intervened to prevent a proper legal resolution of the case and keep the truth from being known.
The details of the original, botched autopsy are well known. When the doctors in the emergency room at Parkland Hospital in Dallas viewed the wounds within minutes after they were inflicted, they only examined the throat and head wounds. The throat wound they assumed, because of its small size, to be one of entrance, and it was enlarged to insert breathing tubes.
The head wound, as all the Parkland doctors agreed, was a large, grapefruit sized whole in the back of the head, indicating an exit wound, and a flap of bone and flesh on the side of the head above the ear exposed the brain. The large, gaping hole in the back of the President’s head was also confirmed by Secret Service agent Clint Hill, who twice viewed it and confirmed its existence.
Because the President was lying on his back on the hospital gurney,and the nature of the head wounds precluded his survival, the Parkland doctors didn’t turn him over and didn’t know there was also an entrance wound in the back, about six inches below the neck.
They did however, find a nearly pristine bullet on a gurney that may have been used by to wheel the President or Texas Governor John Connally into the emergency room.
The autopsy doctors, when they discovered the entrance wound in the back, found that the bullet only penetrated a few inches, less than a finger, and the bullet probably fell out and was the one discovered on the gurney at Parkland. A four star military general ordered the doctors not to track the full extent of the back wound.
The next day the autopsy doctors were surprised to learn that the Parkland emergency doctors had enlarged an already existing throat wound – which they believed to be an entrance wound, so it was realized that, even though their conclusion as to the cause of death – gunshot to the head, was correct, the rest of their report was invalid as more information became available from witnesses at Parkland.
Eventually the official report on the assassination concluded that the back wound was not a superficial, two inch deep wound, but did in fact transit the victim and exited his throat, and then inflicted all of the wounds on Governor Connally in the jump seat in front of the President, creating the “Single Bullet Theory,” which is required if all of the wounds were by one gunman shooting from behind.
When the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigated the murder in the late 1970s and the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) in the 1990s questioned the doctors, photographers and x-ray technicians, they testified that could not recognize their work, sometimes explaining that the photos in evidence could not have been the ones they took because they were of a different type of film and not from the angles of the photos they took.
In retrospect, everyone with any knowledge of the Bethesda Naval Hospital autopsy agrees that it was a medical and legal abortion, and all of the autopsy reports, exams, x-rays and photos have lost their chain of possession and the provenance necessary for them to be introduced into evidence in a court of law.
Because the cause of death was a “gunshot to the head,” and therefore a murder, this case certainly meets the “suspicious death” threshold necessary for the law to require a new, proper forensic autopsy, one that would answer all outstanding questions and recreate the lost provenance of the chain of evidence in the case.
But since the victim is not an ordinary American citizen, but the President of the United States, the laws, rules and standards are considered different – and rather than give the President the best and most thorough autopsy he deserves, observance of the law is relegated to the feelings of the Kennedy family.
In a press release for the NOVA TV science program Cold Case JFK it is noted that, “Renowned JFK assassination expert and professor John McAdamas weighs in on the findings of the Warren Commission , the deficiencies of the medical and autopsy evidence, and the lack of understanding on the part of the Kennedy camp on the need for a forensic autopsy at the time.”
Indeed, a forensic autopsy is what is needed, and it is one that can and should be done today, in honor of the president on the fiftieth anniversary of his murder.
Society gives the family primary control over the body of the deceased, yet in many cases a coroner, district attorney or grand jury has the power to order the exhumation of a body for a forensic autopsy, especially in the case of a suspicious death or homicide.
In an academic presentation on the subject of a new autopsy at a 2003 Conference, the topic should have been presented in an objective, unbiased fashion, but instead, an emotional appeal was made to respect the Kennedy family, to honor the revered dead and let them rest in peace.
Well, the revered dead are turning over in their graves and will never rest in peace, and neither will we, until the total truth is determined, including the answers to the many questions concerning the medical evidence and botched autopsy of the President.
The first objection to a proper forensic autopsy is the feelings of the Kennedy family, and like the decision of the Connally family at the death of John Connally, not to permit an autopsy, it has always been assumed that the Kennedy family would also oppose a new, proper autopsy.
John Connally and his wife were sitting just in front of President Kennedy and he was wounded in the same barrage of bullets. They never believed the “single bullet theory,” and it has been suggested that there is more lead in Connally’s wrist than is missing from the so-called “magic bullet.”
When Connally died the Justice Department requested the bullet fragments be removed, but the request was denied by the Connally family.
When the Department of Justice agreed to request of John T. Orr, Jr. one of the most respected attorneys, to subject bullet fragments CE567 to further tests, they also noted in a memo for the record that: “…It is our view that the Department has retained investigative jurisdiction over the assassination, though such investigation is restricted to activities which are not based upon the expectation of an eventual federal prosecution. Thus, the examination of evidence in federal possession is seemingly appropriate, (while) obtaining evidence by grand jury subpoena would like be inappropriate. This position was adopted by the Division and endorsed b the Office of the Deputy Attorney General when we declined to seek a court order for exhumation of former Governor Connally’s body following allegations that bullet fragments remaining in his body from the incident would reveal, by weight or composition, the existence of additional bullets.” [For more on CE567 see: http://jfkcountercoup2.blogspot.com/2012/03/re-wc-ce-567-bullet-fragment-found.html]
It has always been assumed that the Kennedys will deny such a request as well.
That may have been the case with the previous generation who witnessed the public exhumation and butchering of the body of Lee Harvey Oswald, which was done to positively establish his identity.
But today a proper forensic autopsy can be conducted with dignity, can answer many of the outstanding questions, will legally reestablish the provenance of the medical evidence in the case and reconnect the truth to history.
In fact, with today’s modern scientific techniques and equipment, the body can be photographed, x-rayed and given MRI and similar non-intrusive surveys so that the body does not have to be probed. These photographs, x-rays and scans will not be gruesome, but are like works of art, and will be studied by forensic science students for generations into the future.
Now that the Kennedy family is led by a new generation who are interested in public service, they should allow for the legal process, established by the Constitution, to function as it should, and permit a proper forensic autopsy, not only in the interest of the Kennedy family, but in the best interests of the nation.