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Throat wound answer for Don Jeffries


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Don,

I apologize this took a little longer to get to than I had told you. :-)

In the limo windshield thread, you said:

"I would be curious to know Barb's stance on the throat wound. Do you believe it was an entrance wound? If you believe it was an exit wound (contrary to all evidence about where the entrance on the back was), where do you believe the bullet exited? I know it's not directly related to this topic, but it would be interesting to know."

As I replied to you there, I am happy to answer your question. I am not looking to get into any additional/new discussions just now as I have too much going on, but I will try to look in from time to time and perhaps comment. But I can tell you what I believe, and in encapsulated form, why.

I do not believe the wound in the throat was an entrance wound. I did once, many years ago. After delving in to the medical evidence, particularly the autopsy evidence and what was and wasn't seen, what was and wasn't done, what was and wasn't found, etc ... and talking to 3 different pathologists (at different times) and assorted gun people as well, I changed my mind. The back wound, of course, also comes into play.

In short, some of those reasons are:

- reports of what was and was not found at autopsy (like by Sibert & O'Neil and others) not just the autopsy report, which was finessed totally on the throat wound.

- no bullet found in the body.

- no exit

- I can stretch and buy one dud bullet ... but not two. An entrance in the back, an entrance in the throat ... no exits for either and no bullets in the body. Highly improbable.

-And the three pathologists I talked to all said the exact same thing about the probability ... even possibility ... of a round like that entering and not plowing all the way through.

-JFK's reactive movements after that first shot

Do I think Parkland was stupid or lying? Absolutely NOT. As I have noted before, I am a huge fan of the Parkland people, and I have been one of their most vocal defenders over the years, especially on the wound they saw and documented for the medical record in the right rear of the head.

Few doctors saw the throat wound before it was cut through for the trach. They had a small wound in the throat and a large avulsive wound in the right rear of the head. Of course they thought it appeared to be an entrance wound. The throat did look like an entrance wound to them. Perry said several times that it "appeared" to be an entrance wound, that the bullet "appeared" to have been coming at him. He also said they didn't know what caused the wound in the rear of the head.... whether the head wound was related to the throat wound or if it involved a different bullet. Clark noted that a bullet had gone in or out the back of the head.

Parkland did not have the advantage of seeing the overall extent of the damage to the skull, nor did they see the wound in the back ... and dinking with the wounds after JFK was pronounced was not their job, and would have been highly inappropriate ... that's what autopsies are for. No one at Parkland determined the wound was an entrance. It did look like an entrance. There is a difference.

I believe the throat wound was an exit for the bullet that entered the back.

I do NOT believe that bullet went in to Connally.

I do not believe that bullet was fired from the 6th floor.

If the bullet entered at a slightly upward angle (about 11 degrees per both Wecht and Baden), it could have escaped the car. It was a convertible, not a sealed box.

After careful study of the facts that are known, it is my opinion that there is no probative evidence the throat wound was an entrance.

OTOH, I do believe there is probative evidence the wound was an exit for the bullet that entered the back.

On the back you said:

"I can never disagree with Cliff stressing the location of the back wound at every opportunity- it IS the essential piece of evidence which disproves the ridiculous single bullet theory and destroys the official version of events all by itself."

I agree the back wound is an essential piece of evidence. I agree it is one thing that disproves the SBT, and that takes out the "official" version of events.

I do disagree with Cliff ... and I am put off by his technique and limited scope. What he finds probative, I do not. I do not think the witnesses, like Bennet and Hill were ... well, whatever he has attributed to me. I do think they are important witnesses ... they tell us without a doubt that the wound they saw was below the top of the shoulder. Neither of them can pinpoint the exact location ... nothing can. The autopsy certainly did not, and they had the body! Hill and Bennett gave honest eyeball estimates ... referencing the wound they saw from different points on the body, and JFK was dressed and seated with an arm bent and resting on the side of the limo besides in Bennett's case.

Burkley's note on the face sheet can't pinpoint it all by itself either because we don't know when he wrote it, and more importantly, we don't know where he came up with it ... it certainly wasn't a level determined at the autopsy, nobody heard the wound placed, or saw it palpated or measured relative to any vertebral level. He may have eyeballed it, we just don't know.

And T3, despite Mr Varnell's unflagging efforts, is not some little exact pinpoint on the body. It is a verebra ... vertebrae have height/thickness to them, they have discs between them ... any level merely mentioned does not tell us if it was at the top of that level, at the bottom of that level, maybe in the middle, maybe right at or on par with a disc for the next level up or down.

The clothing cannot pinpoint the exact spot either. A hole measured to be however many inches from the top of the collar when the coat is hanging on a hanger or laying flat is not going to match up to the same number of inches measured from what would be where the top of the collar would be on the body. No bunching or insults to exquisite tailored clothing involved. It's arc length and curvature ... and demonstrable.

I have discussed the back wound for years on the net ... no doubt hundreds of posts. I am not the least bit shy or reticent about my opinions on this wound, despite whatever Mr. Varnell likes to say. :-) I've seen Mr. Varnell's take on the back wound and his techniques at discussing it. I do not find his waving the coat and Burkley's note at all convincing. There is so much more to be considered.

I will say I like T2. And all the above applies to it too. Top of T2, bottom of T2, somewhere in the middle, in the T1/T2 disc space (I doubt it), or in the T2/T3 disc space (I doubt that too) ... there's no way to tell. But I do believe T2 fits better with the evidence we have ... and fits with a transiting shot exiting on a slightly upward angle ... and escaping the car.

Again, I do not believe this shot came from the 6th floor.

There are many reasons I believe the wound was most likely somewhere in the T2 level (we have to remember not all bodies are built exactly alike ... just as we come in different heights and weights, so do other anatomic features ... disc space thickness, vertebral heights, etc.)

Here are a few ...

- I like Bennett and Hill for the reasons already mentioned.

-T2 is at a level that appears to have access (for lack of a better word) from the T2 level at a slight angle and out just above the suprasternal notch where the throat wound was located. (Some say a bullet couldn't pass below C7/T1 like that without having hit bone and causing more damage.... I am not convinced of that and would love to see that proven definitively one way or the other).

-On most anatomical charts I have or have looked at, a line drawn across the spine from tip of acromion process to tip of acromion process, falls across the spine at T2 ... where on T2 depends on the chart, but usually at the middle to bottom of T2. I have seen one that showed it crossing at the very top of T3, I have seen none that show it crossing above T2.

-Humes replied to a query from a friend of mine, highlighting and initialing that they measured straight across from the acromion to the wound, not at an angle from the acromion to the wound ... but straight across, perpendicular to the spine.

There are other things ... it's a big subject. And, as you noted, an important one. Much to be considered. I don't believe the wound can be pinpointed with any great accuracy ... T2 and T3 are right in there ... and, we have to remember anatomic differences from person to person. In my opinion, T2 is more likely. And I believe it works with the throat wound. Am I married to T2? No ... I am interested in being as accurate as possible, I just have not seen any evidence presented that convinces me the wound was not somewhere within T2 space. We are not taking a lot of distance between the top of T3 or the bottom of T2.

I addressed some of this on the back wound in an article about the BOH and back wound autopsy photos that Lancer published several years ago. It is here:

http://www.jfklancer.com/pdf/barbj.pdf

The back wound is one area I would like to see some real definitive research done. If someone has the time and necessary materials, resources,etc, I believe it would be a worthwhile pursuit. Maybe someday I can do it.

Just now, time is the bane of my existence. But you asked a straightforward question and I wanted to answer it .. with more than just a simple no/yes. Is it fair to list the things I did without being able to launch into a full blown discussion right now? Maybe not, but I hope you understand, and I wanted you to realize that there is study and evaluation behind my opinions.

The great question is not quibbling over whether the bullet entered at T2 or T3. The great question is if a bullet, entering anywhere along or below a line crossing the spine from tip of acromion to tip of acromion, could transit and exit the throat without puncturing the lung or hitting bone. That is the question I have. The hole in the coat is another indicator that the bullet entered below the top of the shoulder. Beyond that, it is of no real interest to me, and debating the hole in the coat and Burkley's note, in my opinion, is a waste of time. Neither can pinpoint the wound ... nor answer the great question.

You have asked me a few times about the SBT, and though it is referred to above, this article, published by Lancer, will give you my take on the shot sequence and should answer any questions you have about me and the SBT. :-) I don't recall if I have referred you to this article before or not ... sorry.

http://www.jfklancer.com/pdf/bj190.pdf

[note: footnote number 5 is: HSCA Record number 180-10123-10047, Letter from Sherman, Bennett to Jane Downey, HSCA, 10-27-78.]

Bests,

Barb :-)

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Barb,

Thanks for taking the time to share your views in such detail. I do appreciate your time and effort.

I differ with Cliff on one thing- while I do believe there was an entrance wound to the throat, I think it could possibly (not likely, but a slight possibility) have been caused by a bullet fragment. Ironically, this was first postulated by Josiah Thompson in Six Seconds In Dallas. Where I strongly differ from you is that I don't believe the throat wound could have been, under any circumstances, an exit wound.

I've reiterated why I feel so strongly about the location of the back wound (holes in coat and shirt, autopsy face sheet, death certificate, Sibert & O'Neill report, etc.) I'm sure you're sick of hearing that same mantra. Even if I accepted an entrance wound at a higher location (where the HSCA moved it), I still can't see how a bullet could have entered there and exited from the throat. You mention an entrance wound with a slightly elevated angle; where could any shooter have been positioned, for a bullet to enter JFK's back with any kind of upward trajectory? It seems to me that your theory would require a shooter firing from behind at street level somewhere. I don't see how that would have been possible. I believe there was at least one bullet found in Dealey Plaza (as captured in the Murray photos), so I don't dismiss it on that count. However, the trajectory seems impossible, even if we move the entrance wound on the back up to where you want it to be.

I'm glad to know you don't think the shot came from the TSBD sixth floor window, and don't accept the single bullet theory. I respect your opinion, but have to stand with Cliff on this; in my view, the location of the entrance wound on the back was revealed by the holes in JFK's clothing.

Have to rest up now for a book signing tomorrow. For any of you in my area, I'll be signing copies of The Unreals at the Manassas, Virginia Barnes & Noble from 12-4 PM.

Edited by Don Jeffries
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Thanks for your thoughtful response, Don.

Just a couple quick things here for you to consider.

Barb,

Thanks for taking the time to share your views in such detail. I do appreciate your time and effort.

I differ with Cliff on one thing- while I do believe there was an entrance wound to the throat, I think it could possibly (not likely, but a slight possibility) have been caused by a bullet fragment. Ironically, this was first postulated by Josiah Thompson in Six Seconds In Dallas. Where I strongly differ from you is that I don't believe the throat wound could have been, under any circumstances, an exit wound.

So, are you saying this fragment from a bullet would have *entered* the throat - not come out of the throat (a bullet frag from the head shot) as was talked about even by the WC?

I've reiterated why I feel so strongly about the location of the back wound (holes in coat and shirt, autopsy face sheet, death certificate, Sibert & O'Neill report, etc.) I'm sure you're sick of hearing that same mantra. Even if I accepted an entrance wound at a higher location (where the HSCA moved it), I still can't see how a bullet could have entered there and exited from the throat. You mention an entrance wound with a slightly elevated angle; where could any shooter have been positioned, for a bullet to enter JFK's back with any kind of upward trajectory? It seems to me that your theory would require a shooter firing from behind at street level somewhere. I don't see how that would have been possible. I believe there was at least one bullet found in Dealey Plaza (as captured in the Murray photos), so I don't dismiss it on that count. However, the trajectory seems impossible, even if we move the entrance wound on the back up to where you want it to be.

I agree C7/T1 is much too high. T2 is not much higher than T3 ... again, depending on the person, their personal anatomy, vertebrae and disk size, etc. Vertebrae get larger as they go down the spine. The average thoracic vertebra is only about an inch high; the disk is about 5mm (1/5") thick. Somewhere on the upper end of T3 is only about an inch or less lower than somewhere on the lower end of T2. With only a roughly 1/5" disk separating them, it could be much less than a 1" difference.

As for the angle .... horizontal to slightly upward is what they determined. Again, Wecht and Baden both said they thought about 11 degrees. As you know, the throat wound was just above the sternal notch. T2 is also at the level of the sternal notch. Some spine surgeries on T1, T2 are sometimes done from the the front ... thru the neck. The link below leads to a medical illustration of where T2 is relative to the sternal notch. I think this helps make it clear that T2 or even T3, is not some waaay below distance from where the throat wound was. I think our human beans have that perception because we think of our neck (and throat) being perched completely on top of our shoulders, which it really is not.

Here's a link to an image.

Sternal Notch

NOTE: This image is most likely copyrighted, therefore I post merely the link to the image available to the public for viewing on the medscape.com site. The image can be found on google images by searching for "sternal notch."

The sternal notch has been extended into the manubrium slightly to expose all of T2. In the image, the top portion of T2, starting from about the top of the written in "T" is on par with the sternal notch where the throat wound was. As you can see, T2 is well situated relative to the throat wound if the bullet came in at a level to slightly upward angle. The question is if it could have traversed without puncturing a lung or hitting bone.

And you are correct, the bullet would have had to come from a lower location. I don't know where it did come from, but I was struck by these photos Bill Hamley and I took from the 2nd floor Dal-Tex in 1998. This is one of those things I would like to see someone study instead of yet another study on a head shot from the 6th floor window! Could a shot from somewhere in the Dal-Tex have cleared the Queen Mary and the agents on the running boards and hit JFK in the back? And that is, imo, the great question ... not if the entry was 1/2 to 1" higher or lower. But if it could have transited and exited the throat on a slightly elevated path and escaped the car.

I'm glad to know you don't think the shot came from the TSBD sixth floor window, and don't accept the single bullet theory. I respect your opinion, but have to stand with Cliff on this; in my view, the location of the entrance wound on the back was revealed by the holes in JFK's clothing.

I agree the general location of the wound is revealed by the clothes, but not the exact location ... it's that arc length and curvature thing. More simply put, 6 surface inches on the coat and 6 surface inches on the body are not going to match up. The hole in the coat (as measured with the coat laid flat or on a hanger) will fall a bit higher on the body if you then put the coat on the body ... than where you dot a 6" measurement made on the body itself. That is because of the natural curve we all have at the top of our shoulders, and because the thickness of the coat and shirt will add to that curvature as well. One just cannnot measure down to the bullet hole on the jacket, then measure the same distance down on just the body, put a mark, and say it went in right at that spot. I wish I was an artist ... would make that easier to explain ... sigh.

Have to rest up now for a book signing tomorrow. For any of you in my area, I'll be signing copies of The Unreals at the Manassas, Virginia Barnes & Noble from 12-4 PM.

I hope it was fun and went well! I looked the book up on Barnes & Noble ... looks like a fun one.

Bests,

Barb :-)

ETA: fixed image link

Edited by Barb Junkkarinen
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