Inside the Assassination Record Review Board
Part II- Fraud in the Evidence- A Pattern of Deception
John Delane Williams
Throughout the five volumes , Horne takes to task several individuals, including Dr. James Joseph Humes, “J” Thornton Boswell, David Marwell, G. Robert Blakely, Dr. Michael Baden, and sometimes even Jeremy Gunn, (among others). He accuses Dr. Humes and Dr. Boswell of perjury, fraud, and presumably, breaking their Hippocratic oaths, regarding their behavior in the autopsy of President Kennedy. But Horne’s vituperation grows strongest in counterattacking Vincent Bugliosi (pp. 822-829) for the attack Bugliosi made on Horne in Reclaiming History . I would guess that some readers may be turned off to Horne’s excellent contributions because of these personal responses. Enough said.
Evidence for Two Brain Examinations
Horne contends that two separate brain examinations were conducted; one on Monday morning, November 25, 1963, on President Kennedy’s brain, and a second, between November 29 and December 2, 1963. The second examination was purportedly on a substitute brain, one that was almost intact with very little loss of mass. At the first examination, Dr. Humes, Dr. Boswell, a corpsman, and John Stringer, the Navy photographer, were present. The second examination included Dr. Humes, Dr. Boswell, Dr. Pierre Finck, and an unnamed naval photographer, other than Stringer. The first examination was apparently a normal examination for gunshot wounds, including sectioning the brain. Stringer took only superior (top) views of the still intact brain. He shot serial sections of the brain. Stringer used unnumbered portrait pan film in duplex holders to create black and white negatives; unique notches were present in each corner of each piece of film. Stringer used Ektachrome E3 film to create color positive transparencies. In the official collection of films of the brain, NONE of Stringer’s photographs of President Kennedy’s brain exist. Different film was used, basal (bottom side up) views were photographed, and no sectioning was shown. The official photographs feature an almost intact brain, which was reported to weigh 1500 grams. At the second examination, Dr. Finck suggested having a neuropathologist examine the brain, which Dr. Humes refused.
For the longest time, I felt that the three pathologists chosen to do the autopsy were barely competent in addition to being involved in a brazen way in the cover-up. Now, I’m not so sure, but my sense is that I was wrong. After finishing his testimony with the ARRB, Dr. Humes walked towards the elevator with Jeremy Gunn, David Marwell, and Doug Horne at the Archives II in College Park, Maryland. Humes cryptically remarked, “I sure hope you guys can figure this out.” (p. 834). Perhaps Dr. Humes was trying to do things that would lead to the eventual exposure of the cover-up. The examination on President Kennedy’s brain apparently was done in an appropriate manner. Were the pictures ever to surface, the cover-up would likely be exposed. The determining of the weight of the second brain to be exactly 1500 grams perhaps was a tip off. It was far too large for a brain that had lost 1/3 its volume, and the weight being exactly 1500 grams was likely another tip off. It just took a long time for someone to put this all together. Dr. Humes particularly, but also Dr. Boswell, were caught in a squeeze. Once they agreed to falsify the record, including alterations to President Kennedy’s body, they had crossed the Rubicon. There was no turning back. They were put in a Hobson’s choice by military brass, and having made a choice to “play along”, turning back would mean a court-martial, prison, and loss of their medical licenses.
There is also the question, “What happened to Kennedy’s brain?” Apparently, the brain was turned over to Admiral Burkley, with the intent that it be interred with Kennedy’s body on Monday, November 25, 1963. It is not known whether such a burial of the brain took place, however. It could have been interred either on November 25, 1963, or at the re-interment on March 14, 1967; several pictures of that re-interment can be seen in Russo . Horne opined that the brain was put into the ceremonial casket from Dallas and buried at sea in November, 1966. The disposition of the substitute brain is not known (pp. 839-842).
The Autopsy Reports- A Botched Cover-up
Three separate autopsy reports appear to have been prepared; the FBI wrote their own preliminary report based on what they observed and heard from the autopsists when they left around midnight, thinking that the autopsy was almost completed. Thus, four different lenses are associated with the autopsy, the FBI report and the three different autopsy reports. The FBI report, or the Sibert –O’Neill report, includes two hits to the president, a shot to the back of the skull, which exited out of the top of the skull, and a shallow non-transiting back wound; the bullet was presumed to have fallen out of JFK’s body during cardiac massage in Parkland Hospital. This set of conclusions was abandoned after Sibert and O’Neill left the autopsy; shortly after the two FBI agents left, a conversation took place between Dr. Humes and Dr. Perry (Parkland Hospital), about the wound in JFK’s throat; this necessitated adding a third shot hitting President Kennedy, which constituted lens 2, the first written draft (reviewed by Dr. Humes, Dr. Boswell, and Captain R.O. Canada, USN). A third shot was added to lens 1, a shot which purportedly entered high in the neck/or low in the skull, exiting through the throat. In turn this report would be abandoned when it became known that one bullet missed the limousine and caused an injury to James Tague; the strong inference made was that since three shells were found on the sixth floor, and one shot missed the limousine entirely, that no more than two shots could have hit President Kennedy. This gave rise to the third lens. The two shots became the head shot, now having a fragment causing a throat wound as it exited the body, plus the non-transiting back wound. This second autopsy report, and the first signed report, was completed on November 24, 1963. This lens had to be abandoned when the Zapruder film was reviewed; the film showed that JFK was visibly reacting to the throat wound before the fatal head shot, making the explanation that the fragment from the head shot caused the throat wound untenable. The fourth lens reverted to the head shot (as in lens 1 and lens 2) and a shot that entered the upper back and transited through the throat (the previously non-transiting back wound, pp. 845-878). Horne surmised that, “…the evolving autopsy findings serve as evidence not of the true events of what happened in Dealey Plaza, but of what those in charge of the coverup wanted us to believe about the assassination—namely, that all of the shots were fired from above and behind the limousine, and from the same location.” (p. 879).
Revisiting the Autopsy Photographs
The next issue that Horne addressed was to investigate the authenticity of the photographs. The ARRB digitized the autopsy photographs for posterity; this process allowed examining their authenticity. Horne accompanied the autopsy photographs to the Kodak facility in Rochester, New York. The Kodak employees understood that they were to informally see if there was any evidence of forgery or alterations evident in the photographs. The conclusions drawn from the examination was that the images were not forgeries (pp. 890-892). While the photographs were authentic, they were seen as being deliberately made to misinform. The autopsy photographs showing the back of the President’s head to be intact were accomplished in such a way to intentionally be misleading to viewers. The scalp was rearranged to make it appear that the rear of President Kennedy’s head had only the entry shots in an otherwise undisturbed manner. It is interesting that the surviving photographs don’t actually show actual entry points; these two holes were made by Humes to correspond with what was thought to be what would have been the pattern of injuries caused by shots from the sixth floor. One actual shot from behind was included as one of three wounds to President Kennedy’s head and back. These photographs (of three wounds) were probably taken by John Stringer. It was later understood that at most three shots could have emanated from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, and there was one missed shot. Thus a photograph showing three wounds would have been unacceptable. The wound eliminated was the one actual wound in the back of Kennedy’s head. Horne surmised that few if any of the photographs taken by John Stringer and Floyd Riebe are now available in the National Archives (p. 908). Rather, the photographs taken by Robert Knudsen were to be the main surviving autopsy photographs. As Knudsen had no previous experience in photography at an autopsy, normal procedures at an autopsy by a photographer were simply not in his experience base. Thus, some of his close ups didn’t show the detail well. He also didn’t know that he should have used rulers and other devices to help the viewers orient to the images. It would appear that some of Knudsen’s images were excluded from the final set as well. Dennis David saw pictures at William Pitzer’s office that included a small puncture wound in the right forehead (an entry wound) that never became part of the official autopsy pictures.
Then there is the issue of interpretation of data by Robert Blakely. Horne quotes Blakely as writing: “In disagreement with the observations of the Parkland doctors are the 26 people present at the autopsy. All of those interviewed who attended the autopsy corroborated the general location of the wounds as depicted in the photographs; none had differing accounts.” (p. 886). Though Blakely does not indicate how many attendees were interviewed, 12 attendees gave evidence disputing the autopsy photos; 12 are definitely more than none! (pp. 886-887).
Horne makes the interesting observation that the entrance wound in the back of the head was likely fired from the 2nd floor of the Dal-Tex Building; the shot did not exit but was lodged behind JFK’s right eye. The shot was nearly on the horizontal (pp. 911-912).
A Bit of Backbone for the Autopsists
Apparently the autopsists were willing to go only so far in accommodating their military superiors. They were not in control of which films made at the autopsy would become part of the permanent record. The one legitimate shot from behind in the head was removed from the photographic record. This shot was duly recorded in the final autopsy report, and the doctors were unwilling to “move” the entrance wound to coincide with the pictures that did not show this point of entry. Horne interpreted their attitude as: “To hell with these people, we are going to report the actual location of the entry wound, not that thing they photographed up high in the scalp.” (p. 912) Horne concluded that the doctors were willing to suppress evidence of shots from the front to help prevent World War III, but they were unwilling to lie about the location of the shot from behind; if the president’s body were ever exhumed, their mistake would be obvious. Besides, they did not know that the photographs displaying the actual shot from behind had been removed from the autopsy photo collection. Ultimately, when testifying before the House Subcommittee on Assassinations (HSCA) they stood their ground, now knowing the photographs showing the actual shot from behind were missing from the collection. The HSCA Forensic Panel chose to believe the autopsy pathologists were incompetent (pp. 912-914).
According to Horne, the existing photographs, though they are misleading, at least are not forged. The same cannot be said for the x-rays. In particular, at least five skull x-rays were taken. Only three skull x-rays now exist. Each of the existing skull x-rays has been altered. The two lateral x-rays have been altered to remove evidence of a frontal shot. The existing anterior-posterior skull x-ray was said to be a composite film; the x-ray had added to it an object that appears to be a 6.5 mm bullet fragment; it only appears as a bullet when viewed as a right lateral view. The x-ray was shown to be a forgery through optical densitometry. No bullet was found at the autopsy, nor did the original (no longer available) x-ray show any bullet (pp. 963-969).
Tampering of the Body in Dallas
Horne’s take on the tampering of the President’s body had its origin in Dallas: “It is my belief that the throat wound…was tampered with prior to receipt of the body at Bethesda, in an attempt to remove evidence of a shot fired from in front of the motorcade. [Boldface in the original text]. Based upon the absence of any bullet in the body at Bethesda associated with this wound, I infer that someone in Dallas, at Love Field, successfully removed a bullet that had damaged the trachea just to the right of the midline, and had lodged atop the right lung, just above the pleura, severely damaging the pleura dome, and the apical tip of the lung, as well.” (p. 997). In doing so, the tracheostomy incision was severely altered. Roy Kellerman, the Secret Service agent who was also seated next to William Greer in the front seat of the Presidential limousine, was noticed to have blood over the front of his shirt on the trip back to Andrews AFB from Love Field, according to a copilot on Air Force One. Kellerman was in charge of the Texas trip, and “was controlling access to the Bethesda morgue after about 7 PM on November 22, 1963, it does not surprise me that he appears to be implicated in the alteration of President Kennedy’s throat wound. Someone did, and he is clearly the prime candidate.” (pp. 997-998).
But Kellerman is not the only candidate. As reported in Part VII of The Men Who Killed Kennedy,  John Melvin Liggett, then a 31 year old mortician employed at Restland Funeral Home in Dallas, was called to the Parkland Hospital for some important work. Liggett was reputedly among the best at restorative work. His ex-wife (they’d been married for only three months at the time of the assassination) said that Liggett was gone for about 24 hours. The inference was that he had something to do with Kennedy’s body. Or another mortician with skills similar to those attributed to Liggett might have been employed. And of course, there is the possibility that all of the alterations were performed at the Bethesda morgue.
The Framing of Lee Harvey Oswald
The pristine “magic bullet” (CE 399) lacks a chain of custody that presumably would have been inadmissible in a trial (p. 1089). The rifle found in the Texas School Book Depository was a German Mauser 7.65 mm rifle. As Mark Lane pointed out in his deposition to the Warren Commission, almost every Mauser and every Mannlicher-Carcano have their caliber stamped on them. The rifle said to belong to Lee Harvey Oswald, and held in evidence by the Warren Commission had stamped on it:”Made Italy” and “Cal. 6.5”. It seems highly unlikely that two deputy sheriffs and a deputy constable would misidentify such a rifle as a Mauser. Deputy Constable Seymour Weitzman pointed to a stamp on the barrel of the rifle saying “7.65 Mauser” (p. 1102-1104). “The case of the vanishing Mauser’ teaches us either there was only one rifle found in the Book Depository—a Mauser—and that the rifle in the custody of the Dallas Police Department was replaced with Oswald’s rifle on Saturday after the FBI had determined that he had purchased the 6.5 mm Italian carbine through a mail order house; or that perhaps two different rifles were found in the Book Depository on November 22, 1963; both a Mauser and Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano.” (p. 1106).
I have something to add to Horne’s just stated assertion. Back in November 2001, fellow researcher Gary Severson and I were interviewing Madeleine Brown; Brown had been a mistress of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and bore him a son.  In a three hour interview, I obviously missed something. I finally got around to begin transcribing the interview the following March. As I listened to what Madeleine said, I was flabbergasted: “See, through all these years, I’ve met Marina. And I’ve talked to Marina over and over again. And I say, ‘Marina, tell me what you want [people] to know. You couldn’t speak English in those years.’ And she told that the police came and picked up the rifle the day after the shooting. I said, ‘Are you sure?’ She said, ‘Yeah.’”  I immediately called Madeleine, wanting to confirm what I had just transcribed. She assured me that the quote was accurate—Marina Oswald Porter had indeed told her that the police came and picked up Oswald’s rifle on Saturday, November 23, 1963.  The implication was that all of the evidence regarding shots from the Mannlicher-Carcano had been planted to implicate Oswald—Oswald could not have shot a gun on November 22, 1963 that was stored in Mrs. Paine’s garage. If there was a Mannlicher-Carcano with identically the same serial number as Oswald’s and found in the Texas School Book Depository, it needn’t have been Oswald’s. In the 1930’s the Italian dictator Mussolini ordered all arms factories in Italy to manufacture the Mannlicher-Carcano. Since many companies manufactured the same rifle, the same serial number could appear on rifles manufactured by different companies.  Why would Marina tell the police that when she went to look for Oswald’s rifle, that it wasn’t there? One good reason was fear of being deported back to the Soviet Union.
Another issue is the use of sabots (p. 1159). A sabot is a small plastic device which fits around the lip of a shell casing, allowing bullets smaller than those intended to be fired from a rifle, using a casing appropriate for the larger rifle; if the bullet had already been fired from the original rifle into a barrel of water, when shot in a sabot, the ballistic markings would be the markings from the original rifle. A Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5 mm bullet could be reshot in a sabot from a 30.06 rifle. A spent 30.06 bullet casing was found on the roof of the County Records Building in the 1970’s during construction work. It had markings on its lip indicating it had been fitted with a sabot when it was fired. 
Horne met with Floyd Boring at Boring’s home on September 18, 1996. Boring was a Secret Service agent who held the title of Special Assistant in Charge at the time of the JFK assassination. Horne asked Boring about two shell fragments reportedly found in the presidential limousine by Boring on the night of November 22, 1963. These two fragments were entered as CE exhibits 567 and 569, and were presumably fired by Oswald’s gun. Boring stated, “I didn’t have anything to do with it, and I don’t know anything.” (p. 1096) Boring did recall that he searched the follow-up car which carried several secret service agents. Boring recounted without any prompting that he found a piece of skull bone with brain attached in the footwell just in front of the back seat of the Secret Service follow-up car (called the Queen Mary, p. 1097). Horne interpreted Boring’s statements as, “It could have only meant one thing: that the shot responsible for the debris came from in front of the Presidential limousine.” (p. 1145).
Boring called the next day to retract his statements regarding finding the skull bone with brain attached in the follow-up car. He claimed it could not be that he found the skull bone and brain fragment in the follow-up car. Therefore he must have discovered them in the Presidential limousine instead. Horne interpreted Boring’s retraction to mean that this was powerful evidence that the U.S. government’s cover-up of the JFK assassination was still continuing 33 years later (pp. 1098-1099).
Was the Zapruder Film Altered?
In a word, Horne would say, “Yes”. If so, how much alteration was done, and the who, why, where and when questions arise as well. And of course, sub-questions also arise. Anytime an author writes an almost 200 page chapter on a subject, you can expect many, many, details. Areas where Horne suspects altering would include:
1. Around frames 132 &133, the slowing to a crawl of the Presidential limousine as it began the 120 degree turn onto Elm Street; Horne suggests that William Greer was driving poorly, almost running the limousine up onto the North curb near the TSBD’s front door. Given what transpired seconds later, having what appears to have been an incompetent driver would be unacceptable on the film (p. 1299).
2. Numerous eye witnesses reported the limousine stopping briefly near the fatal shot (frame 313); the extent film shows no stopping (p. 1299).
3. In the fatal shot many witnesses noted debris moving back from the limousine, consistent with a shot from the front. Motorcycle escort Bobby W. Hargis, who was the escort to the left rear of the limousine, closest to the left rear wheel: “…I felt blood hit me in the face, and the presidential car stopped immediately after that and stayed stopped for about half a second, then took off at a high rate of speed.” (p. 1299).
4. Cartha DeLoach of the FBI and Dan Rather of CBS News both saw President Kennedy’s head move violently forward, from their viewing of the Zapruder film the weekend of the assassination. While this was evidence of a shot from behind, this scene also showed evidence of a shot from in front, a scenario consistent with a crossfire, and hence not due to a lone assassin (p. 1294).
5. The head wound seen in the right front skull in most frames after 313, and particularly in frames 336 & 337, is inconsistent with the head wound observed at Parkland Hospital (p. 1303).
6. There are undeniable differences between the Zapruder film and other Dealey Plaza films. In Zapruder’s film, Jean Hill and Mary Moorman are standing in the grass and wearing white shoes; in the Mary Muchmore film and a slide taken by Charles Bronson, their shoes are black and they are standing in the street (pp. 1318-1319).
The Who, Where, When, and How
It is likely that the Zapruder film alterations were made at the “Hawkeye Plant” a CIA facility within the Kodak plant in Rochester, New York, probably no later than Monday, November 25, 1963. Two separate groups of personnel worked on successive nights, on different versions of the Zapruder film. The two crews were entirely separate from one another, and presumably, were unaware of the other crew. In Horne’s view, the second crew, working from what they thought was an original, in camera (the original from Zapruder’s camera) film were working from a copy of the Zapruder film prior to the original being slit; the original was slit in Dallas, and several persons saw the original film; Zapruder was trying to market the film to the highest bidder. The “how” is best read from Horne’s Volume 4. It is far beyond my expertise (my non-existent expertise) in photography. Actually, Horne defers to David Healey’s presentation in Jim Fetzer’s The Great Zapruder Film Hoax. 
What happened to the original film that Zapruder recorded with his camera? One might surmise that intelligent conspirators would have destroyed this evidence to remove their being eventually found out. Dick Russell  reported that Paul Rothermel, Jr., a high level aid to Oil man H.L. Hunt, took a large amount of money to get the Zapruder film. He insists that he got one of the original copies for Hunt. Horne speculates that Hunt might even have purchased the original (p. 1342).
A Hollywood Connection
After Horne had finished his chapter on the Zapruder film, he was put in touch with Sydney Wilkinson, an accomplished professional in film and video post-production in Hollywood. Wilkinson purchased the best available copy (a dupe negative) of the Zapruder film from the National Archives. She, along with several colleagues, looked at the film in terms of authenticity. The film was termed to be a fake—and in some ways, a poor fake (p. 1361).
Undoubtedly those who held the extant Zapruder film knew that, even with the changes, someone would eventually determine the fakery. Their best means of continued concealment was to keep close control over the film. The efforts of Jim Garrison finally got a copy out of the hands of Time-Life in 1969. While in Garrison’s control, 100 bootleg copies were made. It is not clear, at least to me, which version of the Zapruder film Garrison made available.
1. Horne, D.P. (2009). Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK, Volumes I-V. Lexington, KY: Author.
2. Bugliosi, V. (2007). Reclaiming History. New York: Norton. (pp. 434-437).
3. Russo, G. (1998). Live by the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK. Baltimore: Bancroft Press.
4. The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Part VII: Smoking Guns. The History Channel, November 21, 2003.
5. Brown, M.D. (1997). Texas in the Morning: The Love Story of Madeleine Brown and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Baltimore: The Conservancy Press.
6. Interview with Madeleine Brown, November 18-19, 2001.
7. Telephonic interview with Madeleine Brown, 4/3/2002. Ms. Brown died on 6/22/2002.
8. Armstrong, J. (2003). Harvey & Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald. Arlington, TX: Quasar. (pp. 437-453).
9. Marrs, J. (1989). Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy. New York: Carroll & Graf.
10. Healey, D. (2003). Technical Aspects of Film Alteration. In Fetzer, J. (Ed.) The Great Zapruder Film Hoax: Deceit and Deception in the Death of JFK. Peru, IL: Catfeet Press. (pp. 113-144).
11. Russell, D. (1992).The Man who knew too Much. New York: Carroll & Graf. (p. 584.)