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John F. Kennedy assassination
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John F. Kennedy assassination

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John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas at 12:30 pm Central time.

President Kennedy was fatally wounded by multiple gunshots while riding in a presidential motorcade in a 1961 Lincoln Continental, open-top, modified limousine within Dealey Plaza.

Texas Governor John Bowen Connally, Sr, riding in the limousine in front of the president, was also critically injured but survived.

James Tague, an assassination witness, was also inflicted with a minor gunshot-caused wound.

Ninety-eight minutes after President Kennedy died, Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States aboard Air Force One.

Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee of the Texas School Book Depository in Dealey Plaza, was arrested for killing the President but was himself shot and killed by Jack Ruby before he could be tried. Subsequent investigations have repeatedly concluded that Oswald was the assassin, but despite this many people believe that Oswald was not responsible or did not act alone.

Table of contents
1 Timeline
2 List of Witnesses to the Assassination
3 Investigations Into the Assassination
4 Security Failures
5 The Zapruder Film
6 Conspiracy Theories
7 See Also
8 External Links

Timeline

A Presidential visit to the state of Texas was first suggested to John F. Kennedy by his Vice President, Texas native Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Texas native Governor Connally while all three men were together in a meeting in El Paso, Texas on June 6, 1963.

President Kennedy later decided to embark on the trip with three basic goals in mind: the president wanted to help raise more Democratic Party presidential campaign fund contributions. He wanted to begin his quest for re-election in November, 1964 (which most agree he would have won) and, because the Kennedy-Johnson ticket had barely won Texas in 1960, President Kennedy wanted to help mend political fences among several leading Texas Democratic party members who appeared to be fighting politically amongst themselves.

President Kennedy's trip to Dallas was first announced to the public in September 1963.

During the third week of October, 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald started working a seasonal, full-time job at the Texas School Book Depository as a $1.25-per-hour manual laborer filling customers orders for books. Oswald had secured the job from the advice of Ruth Paine, who Marina Oswald and the Oswald children were living with after a marriage separation from Lee. Ruth also separated from her husband, Michael Paine, at about the same time.

The exact presidential motorcade route was announced to the public a few days before November 22.

On Friday, November 22, 1963, at 11:40 am (U.S. Central standard time), President Kennedy, his wife Jacqueline, and the rest of the presidential entourage arrived at Love Field in Dallas, Texas, aboard Air Force One after a very short flight from next door Ft. Worth. The motorcade cars had been lined up in a certain order earlier that morning, but, just prior to Kennedy's arrival, the order of the vehicles was changed. The original schedule was for the president to proceed in a long motorcade from Love Field, through downtown Dallas, that ended at the Dallas Business and Trade Mart.

The motorcade was scheduled to enter Dealey Plaza at 12:25 pm, followed by a 12:30 pm arrival at the Trade Mart so President Kennedy could deliver a speech and share in a steak luncheon with Dallas government, business, religion, civic leaders and their spouses.

Riding with President Kennedy in the limousine were First Lady of the United States, Jacqueline Kennedy, John Connally, Sr., and his wife, Nellie, Secret Service agent and White House Detail Team #3 Assistant in Charge, Roy Kellerman, and Secret Service agent and limousine driver Bill Greer.

Kennedy's open-top limousine was not equipped with a bulletproof top, and no presidential car with a bulletproof top existed in 1963. (F.B.I Director J. Edgar Hoover, however, had three bulletproofed cars.)

There was a spattering of handmade protest signs held aloft by motorcade viewers. Throughout Dallas, and especially along the motorcade route, a group critical of Kennedy expressing its views had distributed a handout flyer. Also, in an November 22nd Dallas newspaper there appeared a black-bordered, full-page advertisement paid for by Kennedy critics, one which Jack Ruby would later mention particularly enraged Ruby.

The presidential motorcade traveled nearly its entire route without incident, stopping twice so President Kennedy could shake hands with some Catholic nuns, then some school children. Shortly before the limousine turned onto Main Street a male ran towards the limousine, but was thrust to the ground by a Secret Service agent and hustled away.

At 12:29 pm Central Standard Time ("CST" hereafter), the presidential limousine entered Dealey Plaza after a 90 degree right turn from Main Street onto Houston Street. Over two dozen amateur and professional still and motion-picture photographers captured the last living images of President Kennedy.

Just before 12:30 pm CST, President Kennedy slowly approached the Texas School Book Depository head-on, then the limousine slowly turned the 120-degrees directly in front of the depository, now only 65 feet (20 meters) away.

The assassination began when the presidential limousine had completed the slowing turn, and glided down the three-degree inclined Elm Street to a point even with the southwest corner of the depository.

President Kennedy was targeted and shot at for an estimated 6 to 9 seconds. He was hit with multiple bullets, and was killed when struck in his head.

During the assassination the limousine slowed from over thirteen miles per hour, to only nine m.p.h., when, about two seconds prior to the president being struck in his head, the limousine brake lights were witnessed and filmed being illuminated as the limousine driver was turned and facing President Kennedy.

At least two shots are theorized to have struck President Kennedy, and, at least, one shot struck Governor Connally.

A witness, James Tague, was also slightly wounded on his right facial cheek while standing 270 feet (82 meters) in front of where President Kennedy's head first exploded.

On November 22, and in the months and years following President Kennedy's assassination, many witnesses in Dealey Plaza at that moment have come forward or been identified and have stated their observations about what happened during the history changing seconds of the attack. Many witnesses were known to investigators, but some were never called by investigators to describe what they observed. Many unknown photographed witnesses (including several as yet unknown photographers and film-makers) have chosen to not come forward. Some known witnesses observations describing events co-seen by another witness were conflicting. Some witnesses observations describing events co-seen by another witness were described exactly the same or similar. Some witnesses described details that no other witness has yet described. Among the important witness considerations were:

After the first audible muzzle blasts were fired, and after Governor Connally had screamed, "No, no, no. They are going to kill us all!" did the gravity of the situation became clear to the Secret Service limousine driver, Bill Greer. Greer had turned very quickly behind himself to look towards the screaming governor and/or President Kennedy during the attack, then turned forward again, then turned very quickly again rearward as the limousine brakes were filmed illuminating, and Greer was filmed actually facing the president when President Kennedy's head first exploded. Only after President Kennedy was mortally wounded did the limousine then speed up to exit Dealey Plaza to proceed to Parkland Memorial Hospital. Notably, at Zapruder frame 290-293 every single occupant in the limousine (except the president) is seen to quickly duck their heads in near unison within only a quarter-second of each other. Approximately 1.1 second later, President Kennedy was first struck in the head.

No radio or television stations are known to have broadcast the assassination live, as the area the motorcade was traveling through was not considered important enough to broadcast. KBOX-AM did recreate the sounds of the shooting for an LP record it released with excerpts of news coverage of that day, but it was not an original recording. Besides the media positioned at the rear of the motorcade, most media crews were, in fact, waiting in anticipation at the Trade Mart for the President's arrival.

Lee Harvey Oswald was confronted by an armed Dallas policeman, Marion Baker, in the depository second floor lunchroom only 75 to 90 seconds (according to a Warren Commission time recreation) after the last shot. (Baker first testified that the shots he remembered hearing as he approached the depository originated from the "building in front of me, or, the one to the right") The Warren Commission theorized that Oswald had traveled a, minimum, 346 foot distance from the sixth floor easternmost window, and hid an 8 pound, 1938-Italian made Mannlicher-Carcano, 6.5 millimeter rifle equipped with a four-power scope along the way. The rifle was reported discovered by a Dallas police detective at 1:22 pm balanced upright having been placed sometime sitting balanced on its bottom edges. After being discovered the rifle was photographed before ever being touched. In the second floor lunchroom Oswald was identified by the superintendent of the building, Roy Truly, then released. Both Baker and Truly testified that Oswald appeared completely "calm, cool, normal, and was not out of breath in any way." In Baker’s written statement he originally wrote that Oswald already had a Coca-Cola in his hand, but during his testimony, and sometime before 5 months after he testified, the Baker statement about Oswald holding a Coca-Cola was lined-out, and Baker’s name initials appeared above the lineout.

According to the Warren Commission, when Oswald was next seen by a depository secretary on the first floor he was carrying a soda bottle as he left the Texas School Book Depository at approximately 12:33 through its front door.

Authorities did not seal the Texas School Book Depository until 12:39 to 12:40 pm. Before that, policeman, detectives, witnesses, and others were first directed by persons to search the grassy knoll, parking lot, and railroad yard from 12:30 to 12:39 pm. The Dealey Plaza immediate area streets and blocks was never sealed-off either, and within only nine minutes of the assassination, photographs show that vehicles were driving down Elm Street, through the crime scene kill zone.

At 1:00 pm, after a bus and taxi ride (a taxi ride that he was witnessed offering first to an elderly woman), Oswald arrived back at his boarding room and according to his landlady, left at 1:03 or 1:04 pm when she last saw him standing and waiting at a bus stop.

At 1:15 to 1:16 pm, Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit was shot dead 0.85 miles from Oswald's rooming house. Thirteen people either witnessed Oswald shooting Tippit or fleeing the scene. After the Tippit murder Oswald was witnessed traveling on foot toward the Texas Theatre.

Meanwhile, the situation at Parkland Hospital had deteriorated. Even as the press contingent grew, a Roman Catholic priest had been summoned for President Kennedy so that his Last Rites could be performed. It had become apparent to those inside the hospital that the president had been mortally wounded. President Kennedy was pronounced dead at 1:00 pm. Governor Connally, meanwhile, was soon taken to emergency surgery where he underwent two operations later that day.

The news of Kennedy's death was made public at 1:38 pm CST. News anchorman Walter Cronkite passed along word of the assassination. The television transmissions were first interrupted around 12:35 pm CST. At this time, the top-rated As the World Turns was airing across the country. As Nancy Hughes (Helen Wagner) turned to Grandpa to discuss a domestic matter, the CBS News bulletin card was abruptly placed on the screen. After the first notice was read that President Kennedy was wounded, the affiliates went back to As the World Turns, at least for a couple of minutes. Walter Cronkite read more news reports and then, around 1 pm CST, the affiliates joined Cronkite in the news room. After news footage was shown of a luncheon in Dallas where Kennedy was supposed to speak, Cronkite read the press release on-air:

"From Dallas, Texas, the flash -apparently official- President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time a hour ago... ...Vice President Johnson has left the hospital in Dallas, but we do not know to where he has proceeded. Presumably, he will be taking the oath of office shortly, and become the thirty-sixth President of the United States."

For approximately three days after November 22, all three major U.S. television networks remained fixed to news coverage. Most radio stations carried either news or 'beautiful music', in a show of respect. Some have pointed to the John F. Kennedy assassination as a coming of age of sorts for live television news coverage.

Johnny Calvin Brewer worked as a manager at Hardy's Shoe Store, down the street from the Texas Theatre. He saw Oswald turning his face away from the street and duck into the entranceway of the shoe store as Dallas squad cars sirened up the street. When Oswald left the store Brewer followed Oswald and watched him go into the Texas Theater movie house without paying while the ticket attendant was distracted. Brewer notified the ticket taker, who in turn informed the Dallas Police at 1:40 pm. Inside the theatre, several theater witnesses saw Oswald shift to different seat locations in the theatre to sit next to different patrons.

Almost two dozen policeman, sheriffs, and detectives in several patrol cars arrived at the theatre because they thought Tippet and/or the President's killer was inside. (They also raided a nearby library on a similar, but mistaken report.) When an arrest attempt was made at 1:50 pm inside the theater, Oswald resisted arrest and, according to the police, attempted to shoot a patrolman after yelling once, "Well, it's all over now!" then punching a patrolman. A policeman was heard to immediately yell, "Kill the president, will ‘ya?!!"

following the assassination of John F. Kennedy]]

A few minutes after 2:00 PM, rather than undergoing a forensic examination by the Dallas coroner, and against Texas state laws (the murder of the president was a state crime, and legally occurred under Texas jurisdiction) President Kennedy's body was illegally removed from Parkland Hospital and driven to Air Force One, after a ten to fifteen minute confrontation with cursing and weapons-brandishing Secret Service agents.

Back at Air Force One, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the thirty-sixth President of the United States at 2:38 pm CST.

At about 6:00 pm EST Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington D.C. where a casket was loaded into a light gray US Navy ambulance for its transport to the US Navy Bethesda Hospital for an autopsy and mortician's preparations.

At about 7:00 pm CST Oswald was charged with "murder with malice" in the killing of police officer J.D. Tippit. At about 11:30 pm Oswald was charged with assassinating President Kennedy "in the furtherance of a Communist conspiracy."

During his two days of incarceration, Oswald always consistently denied shooting anyone, and was famously quoted, "I'm just a patsy."

On November 24, at 11:21 am C.S.T., after 15 hours of undocumented interrogations, Jack Ruby — a Dallas nightclub owner, former F.B.I. informant, illegal-guns-runner to Cuba, illegal-drugs-supplier, and mafia gangster — shot and killed Oswald in the basement of the Dallas jail while Oswald was being transferred via car to a nearly next door jail.

Millions watched the silencing of Lee Harvey Oswald on television. It was the first time in tv history that a murder was captured live.

The route that Ruby took to get down into the basement of the Dallas jail has been disputed, although Ruby was very specific about using the entrance ramp (and his access to the jail on other days), during the polygraph test Ruby insisted on taking and documented in a Warren report appendix. Some routes would have suggested that Ruby had to have had help from authorities inside the building. His precise route is not, and may never be, known.

In a one of several questions Ruby showed signs of lying about (despite the polygraph operator having turned-down the sensitivity mechanism of the polygraph machine) was when Ruby answered "no" to if he ever knew Oswald. In the preparations to his trial Ruby later stated that he killed Oswald on the spur of the moment to spare Jacqueline Kennedy the stress and embarrassment a trial would cause her, yet, immediately after his arrest, Ruby expressed to witnesses that the American people would see him "as a hero" and/or that the murder was proof that "Jews have guts."

(Still missing from this timeline are details of what the Parkland Hospital trauma room #1 personnel observed, the trip home by Jacqueline Kennedy, documented details of the Bethesda autopsy, the funeral, procession to Arlington National Cemetery, and burial, which may be far enough for the timeline to run.)

A Nation Mourns

Across the United States, the news of President Kennedy's murder brought much normal activity to a halt. In New York, the news spread by radio, television, and word of mouth, Men and women wept openly. So many phone calls were placed in the New York phone exchange that operators were eventually forced to refuse calls. People instinctively clustered in department stores and others prayed. Auto traffic in some areas came to halts as the news of Kennedy's death spread literally from car to car. An unguided anger against 'Texas and Texans' was reported from some individuals. In Washington D.C., at 1:43 pm (12:38 Dallas time, just minutes after the attack) the telephone system went out-of-service for 59 minutes.

Many sporting events were cancelled on that Friday and into the following weekend. NFL football was not cancelled that weekend, and NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle later called that the biggest mistake he ever made.

An estimated 450,000 people, some waiting through driving thunderstorms, personally paid their respects and expressed their grief as President Kennedy's body lay in-state in the Capitol Building rotunda. Televised worldwide, President John F. Kennedy was carried to Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963 on the same horses-drawn caisson carriage that has carried President Reagan, Lincoln, and twelve other presidents since Lincoln. President Kennedy was followed by his family (except for his ill father), and at least one representative from every nation except Communist China and Albania. An estimated 350,000 mourners lined the now-quiet streets of Washington D.C. as millions of free citizens worldwide joined-in via tv.

List of Witnesses to the Assassination

Known Witnesses

Several witnesses testified they noticed a weapon extended from the 60.7 feet (18.5 meters) high sixth-floor easternmost open window of the depository, 265.3‘ away from the President when his head first exploded. Two witnesses testified that they watched that weapon fire once. One of those two witnesses, James Worrell, testified he heard 4 separate shots. The other of those two witnesses, Howard Brennan, testified he remembered hearing 2 shots, and, he saw that assassin's upper body half, yet, on the evening of November 22, 1963 (and despite seeing Oswald’s face on television), he refused to positively identify that assassin as Lee Harvey Oswald. After Oswald was murdered, and having met several times with investigative authorities, this witness then changed his mind and later testified that the assassin he saw was Oswald. (There is no documentation of Brennan ever attending any police line-up.)

Shortly before the attack started, several witnesses saw a second man wearing a dark color coat and standing with the sixth-floor eastern-most window assassin.

One witness stated that they saw a second rifle-armed assassin in a depository sixth-floor west window just minutes before the assassination.

Several close witnesses also stated they saw the debris and/or spark of something striking the Elm Street pavement during the shooting.

The vast majority of persons said that the first audible shot (or the first closely-bunched volley of shots) they remembered hearing sounded different than the follow-up audible shots. The majority of witnesses who expressed an opinion of the timing of the audible shots they remembered hearing said the second and third shots (or the second and third closely-bunched volley of shots) were noticeably closer together than the first and second shots.

A Dallas Police motorcycle escort said he heard something clang against his motorcycle then saw a bullet slug bounce away from his motorcycle.

As seen in several photos and films during the assassination, the wind was blowing from the southwest towards the depository, yet several ground-level witnesses and motorcade witnesses at street level testified that they smelled gunpowder. Several witnesses testified that gun smoke lingered long enough to be seen near where they heard at least one audible shot originate from --the picket fence of the grassy knoll.

Three witnesses have stated they saw an assassin fire a weapon from behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll. One witness stated he encountered a business-suited man behind the grassy knoll who had a weapon under his suit coat and who said to him and others not to come up here because you may get shot. Several witnesses were close enough to President Kennedy to detail the bullets wounding results and timing reactions of President Kennedy, Governor Connally, and other limousine occupants to each other. A witness testified she was told that a Dealey Plaza stationed “agent” saw something kick up ground debris near her feet. (there is no documentation of any "agent" being stationed within the grounds of Dealey Plaza) Two more witnesses later said that they examined two parallel ground tracks that a Dallas policeman had told them was where bullets had struck, and that these burrows aligned with the grassy knoll (although their F.B.I. interview states they saw only one track, and that it "generally aligned with the depository").

Another witness, James Foster, a Dallas policeman stationed on the railroad bridge overpass, testified he saw something strike the cement apron of a sewer 105 feet (32 meters) in front of the limousine. Within 9 minutes, he was ordered to guard that sewer area. One witness saw a dark-coated man run out the backdoor of the depository within 2 minutes of the last audible shot. Within minutes, a Dallas policeman, David Harkness, encountered four men in business suits at the rear of the depository who were armed. Harkness has stated that before he even had a chance to ask these four men who they were, one of the armed men quickly identified themselves as “agents.” Another Dallas policeman who heard shots west of the depository and a woman screaming “They’re shooting the president from the bushes!” encountered a man who flashed an “agent” identification. That same policeman also testified he smelled gunpowder behind the grassy knoll picket fence.

Unknown Witnesses, Disputed Witnesses, and Possible Assassins or Accomplices

A portion of the known witnesses can be found here.

One of the best scaled maps of Dealey Plaza showing witnesses locations and observations, suspected assassins’ locations, evidentiary artifacts, and other valuable information can be found here.

Shots Sequencing and Origins

There were approximately 700 witnesses and motorcade witnesses within Dealey Plaza during the assassination. Of 267 identified witnesses who expressed or were asked the number of shots they remembered hearing, 249 (93%) claimed to hear only 3 shots (or 3 closely spaced volleys of shots), or less.

The vast majority of witnesses stated (“a 5 to 1 ratio“ as Warren Commissioner, and ex-C.I.A Director, Alan Dulles stated for the record) the last two audible muzzle blasts (or volleys of shots) that they remembered hearing were, noticeably, bunched closer together in time than the first two audible muzzle blasts (or volleys of shots).

Of 207 witnesses who expressed or were asked from where the shots they remembered hearing originated from (60 witnesses were never asked nor expressed an opinion)

Therefore, of the 173 persons who had an opinion of the shots locations, 64% remembered hearing at least one shot that did not come from the depository or the Houston/Elm intersection area, while 36% heard all shots they remembered hearing come from the depository or the Houston/Elm intersection area of the depository.

Investigations Into the Assassination

The Warren Commission

Many people dispute the claim that Oswald was an assassin, or, the sole assassin. The first official investigation of the matter, the
Warren Commission, was created by President Lyndon B. Johnson on November 29, 1963 to investigate the assassination. It was headed by Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. It eventually reported that Oswald alone killed Kennedy, that he acted alone, and the commission could not find any persuasive evidence of a domestic or foreign conspiracy involving anyone else. The theory that Oswald acted alone has been informally dubbed the lone gunman theory. All proceedings of the commission members, witnesses, experts, tests, re-creations, and evidence artifacts were not allowed to be witnessed by the public. All files of the Warren Commission were sealed away from public view for 75 years (until 2039) by order of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

On November 22, 1963, at 3:01 pm Dallas time, only an hour after Oswald was taken into the Dallas jail, F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote a memo to his assistant directors in which he stated, “I called the Attorney General at his home and told him I thought we had the man who killed the President down in Dallas, at the present time.”

On November 24, 1963, in a memo J. Edgar Hoover wrote for the record, Hoover stated, "The thing I am most concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so that we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin."

On a November 26, 1963 memo from Assistant F.B.I. Director, Mafia Section, Courtney Evans, to Assistant to the F.B.I. Director, Alan Belmont, Director J. Edgar Hoover hand-wrote in the memo margin, "Just how long do you estimate it will take? It seems to me we have all the basic facts now."

On December 9, 1963, only 17 days after the assassination, the F.B.I. report was turned over to the Warren Commission theorizing that only three bullets were fired during the assassination; that the first shot hit President Kennedy, the second shot hit Governor Connally, and the third shot hit President Kennedy in the head, killing him. The F.B.I. theorized that Lee Harvey Oswald fired all three shots.

Just before the shot timing problem caused by the wounding of James Tague became the focus of anxious attention calling for the "single bullet theory", in an internal Warren Commission memo from Norman Redlich to general commission counsel Lee Rankin on 4-27-64, Redlich wrote, "Our report presumably will state that the President was hit by the first bullet, Governor Connally by the second, and the President by the third and fatal bullet. The report will also conclude that the bullets were fired by one person located in the sixth floor southeast corner window of the TSED building." "Our intention, is not to establish the point with complete accuracy, but merely to substantiate the hypothesis which underlies the conclusion that Oswald was the sole assassin." "I should add that the facts which we now have in our possession, submitted to us in separate reports from the FBI and Secret Service, are totally incorrect, and, if left uncorrected, will present a completely misleading picture."

In late September 1964, after a 10 month investigation and about 5 weeks before the Presidential election, the Warren Commission Report was published in which it theorized that it was persuaded that only three bullets were fired during the assassination, that Lee Harvey Oswald fired all three bullets from the Texas School Book Depository, and the commission found no evidence of a conspiracy involving others, either domestic or foreign. The Commission theorized that one bullet passed through President Kennedy and Governor Connally, one bullet completely missed the large limousine and its occupants, and one bullet struck the president. One of the Warren Commissioners disagreed with the conclusion (referred to by skeptics as the “magic bullet theory”) and only agreed to sign the report when the language of the major conclusions was changed by future President Gerald R. Ford and Arlen Specter, the two main architects of the theory. The Warren Commission Report 26 follow-up volumes detailing its sub-investigations, testimonies, evidentiary tests, re-creations, etc. was issued only after the presidential election.

From 1976 to 1979 the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated then reported that four bullets were fired during the assassination. The HSCA concluded that President Kennedy "was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy." The HSCA concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald fired the first, second, and fourth bullets, while an unnamed assassin fired the third bullet from behind the grassy knoll picket fence, located to the right and in front of the President.

One bullet that impacted was believed by the Warren Commission and the HSCA to have caused 7 wounds (2 wounds of which were into bones) to President Kennedy and Governor Connally. This single bullet emerged in nearly pristine condition. Among several considerations by the critics is that the nearly pristine condition of the bullet implies that bullet could not have caused 2 major bones breaking fractures.

According to the Warren Commission, three shots were fired, and three empty shells found in the sixth floor sniper's nest in the book depository (and one live bullet still chambered in the rifle). According to the Warren Commission, one bullet hit Kennedy in the neck, one bullet hit somewhere outside of the large limousine, and one bullet, the longest shot, struck President Kennedy in the head when he was 265.3 feet (80.9 meters) away.

When he is struck in his head, the President's head moved slightly forward 1 to 2 inches (25 to 50 mm), then, after a 0.11 second pause, the President's head, upper torso, and right arm all violently snap simultaneously upwards, then, backwards (towards the depository) and leftwards (away from the grassy knoll).

As recorded in the Zapruder film, Governor Connally was also wounded.

Rather than introduce more than three fired bullets, the Commission was persuaded (by 4 to 3) of a theory advocated by Arlen Specter that the same bullet that non-fatally wounded President Kennedy twice, also caused Governor Connally's five bones-breakings wounds. See single bullet theory for more information on the Warren Commission's writings concerning this bullet.

Autopsy X-rays and Photos, Parkland Hospital Medical Witnesses ARRB Drawings

The U.S. Navy Bethesda Hospital autopsy photos are graphic. If you decide to view them, along with the skull x-rays, and medical drawings prepared by the Assassination Records and Review Board when it took testimonies from the Parkland Hospital medical witnesses, they are available hereand here

The House Select Committee on Assassinations

An official investigation by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, from 1976 to 1979 concluded that President Kennedy "was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy."

This conclusion was based in part, but not entirely upon, the scientific analysis of a Dallas Police radio channel recorded on a Dictabelt during the assassination by a motorcade Dallas police motorcycle escort officer's stuck-open microphone.

The Dallas Police dictabelt was scientifically analyzed and found to contain gunshot impulses fired at Kennedy's motorcade. The analysis determined, to what it stated was a 95% near-certainty, that one of four shots was fired from the grassy knoll to President Kennedy‘s upper right front.

The Dictabelt Evidence

The adult magazine Gallery published a plastic record of the dictabelt recording in its July 1979 issue. Ohio rock drummer Steve Barber listened to that recording repeatedly and heard the words "Hold everything secure" at the point where the HSCA had concluded the assassination shots were recorded. However, those words were spoken by Sheriff Bill Decker about a minute after the assassination, so the shots could not be when the HSCA claimed.

After the FBI disputed the validity of the acoustic evidence the Justice Department paid for the National Academy of Sciences to review it. A panel of scientists, headed by Dr. Norman Ramsey, issued a report in 1982 which agreed with Barber and determined that there was no compelling evidence for gunshots on the recording and that the HSCA's suspect signals were recorded about a minute after the shooting happened.

An analysis published in the March 2001 issue of Science & Justice by Dr. Donald Thomas used a more accurate timeline synchronization to claim that the National Academy of Sciences panel was in error. Dr. Thomas's scientific conclusion, very similar to the HSCA scientific conclusion, is that the gunshots impulses are real to a 96.3% scientific certainty. Dr. Thomas presented additional details and support in November, 2001, September, 2002, and November, 2002.

In 2003, an independent researcher named Michael O'Dell reported that both the National Academy and Dr. Thomas had used incorrect timelines that when corrected showed the impulses happened too late to be the real shots, even with Thomas' more accurate synchronization. In addition, he showed that due to a mathematical misunderstanding, and the presence of a known impulse pattern in the background noise, there never was a 95% or higher probability of a shot from the grassy knoll.

A November, 2003 analysis paid for by the cable television channel Court TV, responded that the gunshot sounds did not match test gunshot recordings fired on Dealey Plaza any better than random noise. [1] Dr. Thomas soon responded in December, 2003 by pointing out what he claimed to be errors in the Court TV analysis.

Other Evidence

As of June, 2004 many tens of thousands of pages of documents remain classified and sealed away from public availability:

On May 19, 2044, the 50th anniversary of the death of Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, there will be a 500-page transcript of an oral history about John F. Kennedy given by Mrs. Kennedy released to the public by the Kennedy library.

Hundreds of studies of the evidence artifacts in the Kennedy assassination have been performed over the years - they have reached as many conclusions about what happened and why. From the Dictabelt recording, eyewitness accounts (present and missing), testimonials, an unidentified fingerprint found in the snipers lair, and much other physical and scientific evidence...nearly every "important" piece of evidence has been questioned since the assassination.

Security Failures

The Secret Service (and general security surrounding the President) as it existed in 1963 was very lax -when measured by today's standards- and made it much easier for the President to be killed. The Warren Commission's Report, chapter 8, goes to some length to detail flaws in Secret Service security at the time of the assassination. Procedures in place and events of the day presented security lapses that enabled the assassination. These included:

As one might imagine, significant changes occurred within the Secret Service organization and procedures as a direct result of the Kennedy Assassination and the Warren Commission's report, such that a recurrence was much less likely.

The Zapruder Film

(See Zapruder film for more details about the film in particular.) President Kennedy's last seconds of life through Dealey Plaza was recorded on silent 8mm film in the 26.6 seconds before, during, and immediately following the assassination by amateur cameraman Abraham Zapruder, in what became known as the Zapruder film. Depending on the study, this film has been used to prove that Oswald was the sole assassin of Kennedy, or that another gunman or gunmen must have been involved. Although the film graphically depicts the assassination, it does not provide agreed upon evidence either way. As the film clearly shows, when the President Kennedy is first struck in his head, his head moved slightly forward 1 to 2 in (25 to 50 mm), then, after a 0.11 second pause, the president's head, upper torso, and right arm all violently snap simultaneously upwards, then, backwards (towards the depository) and leftwards (away from the grassy knoll).

Conspiracy Theories

A number of professional polls taken after the weekend of the assassination, and covering the forty-plus years to present, have consistently shown that 60% to 90% of the people polled do not believe that President Kennedy was killed as the result of a pre-meditated plan and sub-plans formed and implemented by only one assassin.

Investigations and scientific testing and recreations into the circumstances of John F. Kennedy's death have not settled the question of who killed him. Looking at the three most recent 2003 polls directly implies this. An ABC TV News poll reflected that just 32 percent (plus or minus 3 percent) of Americans believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, while 68 percent do not believe Oswald acted alone. [1] A Discovery Channel poll reveals that only 21% believe Oswald acted alone, while 79% do not believe Oswald acted alone. [1] A History Channel poll details that only 17% of individuals believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, while 83 percent do not believe Oswald acted alone. [1]

The security around Kennedy's motorcade had been stripped-down from what it was documented to be in previous motorcades - a conclusion that the Warren Commission and other investigations confirm. The lack of security suggests to some that the CIA, Secret Service and/or some other agent or agencies were actively involved in the assassination, rather than simply negligent.

Many people have pointed to the Warren Commission's single bullet theory as unlikely. Some ballistic evidence has suggested that such a bullet trajectory was possible, but this particular point is a source of much contention and disagreement.

The presidential limo was immediately cleaned and repaired instead of being secured as ballistic evidence. Kennedy's body was also immediately taken to Washington, rather than examined by the local coroner as Texas law mandated. Governor Connally’s hat which he was holding in his right hand only inches away from his wrist when the wrist was shot completely through with a bullet has disappeared from the evidence chain after last being seen in the Dallas police department Chief’s office the evening of November 22. The Dallas police did not seal the Texas School Book Depository until 12:39 to 12:40 PM; policeman, detectives, witnesses, and others were busy searching the grassy knoll, parking lot, and railroad yard from 12:30 to 12:39 pm. The Dealey Plaza area itself was not sealed-off by the Dallas police, and within only nine minutes of the assassination, photographs show that vehicles were driving down Elm Street, through the crime scene kill zone. Whether or not allowed deliberately these actions suggest, at the very least, poor handling of evidence at hand. Questions about the Bethesda Hospital autopsy performed 11-22-63 by three military personnel abound, including how an easily seen on the x-rays, conveniently sized 6.5 mm sized, mostly round bullet fragment located at the rear of the president’s head almost 3 inches (75 mm) above the Warren Commission’s bullet entry point (traveling at 1800 to 2000 ft/s (549 to 610 m/s)) but on the outside of President Kennedy’s skull could have been missed by the 11-22-63 autopsists. This fragment was never reported by the Warren Commission or testified to by the autopsists, and was not officially commented about until the x-rays were limitedly restricted for release to researchers in 1966, and when the x-rays were reviewed by the Ramsey Clark Panel in 1968.

Here is a list of the individual or combined conspiracy theories:

Disproving to an absolute certainty any conspiracy theory or combination thereof about the Kennedy assassination, or, conversely, proving that the Warren Commission's findings of a "lone gunman" was correct, may possibly never occur. There are still 1000's of pages of documentation being withheld from the public, and possibly several, as yet, un-publicized pieces of physical evidence such as photographs/films, Governor Connally's "Stetson" hat, and living witnesses that have yet to come forward.

See Also

External Links

JFK's wounds as seen by Parkland then Bethesda Witnesses
  • JFK Assassination Shots Study
  • Rosemary Willis Headsnap Towards the Grassy Knoll
  • Oswald in Mexico City
  • The Secret Service and the JFK Assassination
  • The JFK limousine evidence
  • JFK: The Puzzle Palace
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  • The Clay Shaw Trial
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  • Dr. Thomas & JFK dictabelt March 2001
  • Dr. Thomas & JFK dictabelt November 2001
  • Dr. Thomas & JFK dictabelt September 2002
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  • Dr. Thomas & JFK dictabelt December 2003; Court-tv rebuttal
  • Dealey Plaza Accoustics
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  • Batrcop's JFK Assassination Page
  • Physical Evidence of Conspiracy