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Bethesda autopsy witness Richard Lipsey


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From Michael Parks

From: mparks@cyberramp.net (Michael Parks)
Subject: Docs, AMKW, part 3
Date: 23 Sep 1998

From the files of Anna-Marie Kuhns-Walko. All emphasis is my own.

Start quote

NOTES FROM TAPED INTERVIEW

Name: Richard A. Lipsey

Date: January 18,1978.................

Began interview at 11:40 A.M.

Place: Steinberg's Sporting Goods Store, Baton Rouge, La (Richard A. Lipsey, President)

Staff Members Present: Donald A. Purdy, Jr. and T. Mark Flanagan, Jr.

THIS MATERIAL IS ON TAPE; THESE ARE NOTES FROM THE TAPE.

Side One 1. Aide to General Wehle - responsible for all funeral
arrangements - saw the majority of the autopsy.

2. Signed a document in his office - about one week later - secrecy
document pertaining to the autopsy - 15 year period - he wished to be
excluded from this agreement if we had the power - we explained that we
wished him to cooperate on a voluntary basis and that it was the
Committee's opinion that no harm would come to him - these orders came
through his office from a Colonel Holden.

3. Born on October 7, 1939 - Salma, Alabama ----Selected as an aide to
General Wehle who was Commanding Officer of the Military District of
Washington ----Activities included social activities at the White House.
Wehle, as Senior Commanding General of Washington, would handle all
ceremonial, and military functions in Washington.


Notes - Lipsey Interview Page Two

4. Met the body of President Kennedy at Andrews Air Force Base and placed
the body in a hearse - also had a decoy hearse - flew to Bethesda by
helicopter - took JFK to the back.

5. Jackie and family - entered the front and went upstairs to the
Presidential suite.

6. General Wehle told him not to "leave this body".

7. Said he often thought about the autopsy in subsequent years.

8. Besides the doctors, Lipsey could only remember one other person in the
autopsy room - Lt. Sam Bird, First Lieutenant - head of the Old Guard,
which was always responsible for the casket and body in any ceremony.

9. First autopsy he ever saw - didn't bother him at all, however.
Believes the autopsy lasted approximately 3-4 hours. After that, the
morticians entered - remained there while they prepared the body. Wehle
would come in occasionally. Sent Wehle's car to collect some clothes at
the White House for JFK.

10. Saw JFK after he was totally dressed. Did not recall when the x-rays
were taken.

11. Obvious that one bullet "entered the back of the head and exited on
the right side of the head." TWO OTHER BULLETS ENTERED AT THE
"LOWER PART OF HIS NECK" AND ONE EXITED AND THE OTHER BULLET
HIT HIS CHEST

Notes - Lipsey Interview Page Three

CAVITY AND TRAVELLED (sp) DOWN INTO THE BODY. HE DOES NOT FEEL
THEY EVER FOUND THE THIRD BULLET - IT DID NOT EXIT THE BODY.

12. STATES THAT THE DOCTORS REMOVED ALL HIS INTESTINES - SAID
THAT THE DOCTORS SLICED THESE UP AND TOOK PICTURES OF THESE.

13. Remembers the doctors discussing the third bullet - went in the back
of the head and was deflected down his chest cavity. Does not feel they
found any "whole" bullets - but just speculation. Feels that there was no
question that all the bullets came from the same place.

SUMMARY OF HIS RECOLLECTIONS:

14. One bullet that went in the back of the head and exited and blew away

part of the face. The other entered at the top of the neck. The other entered

at the bottom of the neck or high back. If you looked at JFK from the left side

you couldn't notice any damage; from the right side part of the head was blown away.

he says this on the taped interview: "i feel that there was no... really... entrance wound - maybe i said that - in the rear of his head; there was a point where they determined the bullet entered the back of his head, but I believe all of that part of the back of his head was gone. I mean I think it just physically blew away that part of his head.

Notes - Lipsey Interview Page Four

The bullet that entered the lower head or upper neck came out of the front
of the neck. ONE BULLET DID NOT COME OUT; ALL THEY TALKED ABOUT FOR
TWO HOURS WAS THE ONE BULLET
.

15. He concluded that a bullet exited from the throat because he saw where
the doctors were working and listened to their conclusions.

16. Cut all the organs apart in the chest region while looking for a
missile.

17. Mentioned that Sam Bird, just after the assassination, on Tuesday or
Wednesday night, made a tape recording of everything he had seen and done
in relation to the death of President Kennedy. The morticians finished the
body sometime around 3 or 4 in the morning. Took the body back to the
White House - took the body to the East Room - had a private service for
JFK.

18. Does not recall if Bird discussed the autopsy on the tape. Has not
talked to Sam Bird since he left Washington - January, 1974. Lived across
from each other at Fort Myer in the Officers BOQ - was a permanent type -
if Bird is still alive, he is probably in the Army. Does not recall any
discussion concerning the type

Notes - Lipsey Interview Page Five

of autopsy to be performed. Does not recall any discussions with anyone
else during the autopsy either. Said he was in position to hear the
conversation of the doctors but that he didn't always pay close attention -
interested in the parts he wanted to be interested in.

Side Two 1. Lipsey stood approximately 12 to 15 feet from the autopsy
table. The autopsy doctors first examined the entire body. Feel the doctors
discovered all of the wounds during the preliminary examination. Based his
recollection of the wounds on what he saw and what h heard. Remembers
seeing the blood in the throat area - all he saw was the blood.

2. No real entrance in the REAR OF THE HEAD; feels one bullet blew away an
entire portion (entrance and exit).
Does not recall any discussion of the
nature of the bullet that caused the head wound. Could not recall the
nature of the wound to the trachea - never got close enough. All he saw of
the wound to the back of the head was blood. Does not recall any discussion
of the wound in the

Notes - Lipsey Interview Page Six

throat being caused by anything other than a bullet. Does not recall any
discussion of a tracheostomy (sp) incision.

3. Cannot recall the doctors specifically saying that the wound in the
throat was caused by a bullet - but he feels they were convinced that a
bullet exited from the front of the neck. Were using an angle from the
entrance in the rear of the head to the throat to look for the other bullet
that entered high in the neck. Both entrances looked the same. Doctors
spent more time looking for the bullet that entered the lower neck-high
back than anything else. Recalls that they said that the bullet could have
gone anywhere. WERE FIRMLY CONVINCED THAT THIS BULLET DID NOT
EXIT IN THE FRONT OF THE NECK. They probed for the path of the bullet
for a short distance until they lost the track and then removed the organs
in an attempt to find it.

4. Cannot recall if they photographed the interior chest. Does not recall
when they took the photographs. Does not recall if they X-rayed the lower
extremities. Recalls the doctors looking at the X-rays during the autopsy.
Related X-rays to things they were doing.

Notes - Lipsey Interview Page Seven

5. DOES NOT RECALL ANY DISCUSSION THAT THE BULLET FELL OUT OF THE
SAME PATHWAY THAT IT ENTERED OR ANY DISCUSSION OF CARDIAC MAS-
SAGE. Does not recall anyone making any calls from the autopsy room - he
made a call from the other room - his parents - does not recall anyone else
making a call from anywhere. DOES NOT RECALL ANY MESSAGES COMING
IN FROM THE KENNEDY FAMILY.

6. Not specifically in charge of security within the room - just had
responsibility to watch the body. Does not recall any orders concerning
admittance to the autopsy room. Does not recall anyone taking attendance.

7. Does not believe the doctors returned any of the organs to the body.
The brain was one of the organs. FEELS THEY DID REMOVE SOME METAL
FRAGMENTS FROM HIS BODY BUT HE HAS NO IDEA WHEN OR HOW BIG THEY
WERE. We had Lipsey diagram the wounds on a face sheet.

8. Does not recall anyone taking notes. Does not recall any Federal agents
in the room. Does not recall anything about the reinterment of the body, or
even when it occurred.

9. FEELS HE KNOWS "FOR A FACT" THAT JFK WAS SHOT THREE TIMES
AND THAT THE BULLETS CAME FROM BEHIND.

Notes - Lipsey Interview Page Eight

Definitely remembers the doctors commenting that the bullets came from
the same spot and direction and that there WERE THREE SHOTS. ABSOLUTE-
LY, UNEQUIVOCALLY, THEY WERE CONVINCED THAT HE HAD BEEN SHOT
THREE TIMES.

10. On the face sheet, the blown away portion of the top side of his head
represented an entrance and exit. Another bullet entered the lower head
and exited the throat. ANOTHER BULLET ENTERED THE UPPER BACK AND
DID NOT EXIT. The bullet entrance in the lower head was distinctly another
bullet. NO QUESTION IN HIS MIND THAT THE DOCTORS FELT THERE WERE
THREE SEPARATE WOUNDS AND THREE SEPARATE BULLETS. Identified the
entrance in the lower head (upper neck) as just inside the hairline. Has not
discussed the autopsy with anyone, not even his wife.

Ended interview at 1:15 P. M.

End quote

I wonder who performed the interview - whose notes are these?

Edited by Glenn Nall
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"they spent MORE time looking for that other bullet than they did anything else"...

"they were firmly convinced that it did not" exit the body ---

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As an addendum to Vince Palamara's thread-starter, here's some more audio featuring Richard Lipsey, including his complete HSCA interview from 1978, plus an interview with him on November 22, 2013.

Total running time is a little more than 2 hours:

jfk-archives.blogspot.com/2014/07/richard-lipsey-interviews

Edited by David Von Pein
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I'm not sure if all of this stuff at my page below is also in Vince Palamara's thread-starter above or not, but in case it's not, I'll link it here. I've included a 1978 interview with with Lipsey, plus one from Nov. 22, 2013....

http://jfk-archives.blogspot.com/2014/07/richard-lipsey.html

yeah, I'm not sure if it's on your website either.

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you'll note that it said "as much as I can" or something to that effect (of course you've omitted that which doesn't suit) AND you'll note NO promise even implied.

Trust me, I ignore 99% of your input. All the emails i get following threads, I first look at the author.

this is why i have no idea, as will most others, if this thread is also on your website.

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an odd thing i noticed in the notes is that he states, according to the interviewer, that he remembers no one other than the doctors (and this guy Sid?) and himself. No FBI, no 36 people.

hmm...

i also read a while back of the mysterious activity at Bethesda that night, of the possibility of "TWO" autopsies, and Lipsey mentions the decoy hearse.

i wonder...

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He mentions a decoy hearse but not how JFK got moved there...

Means the hearse loaded into the navy vehicle already did not have JFK... Which in turn begs the question, was the casket loaded on the plane up the stairs also empty?

What he witnessed does sound like a different autopsy yet is not nearly as troublesome as addressing the casket and transportation questions

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Hey, Vince, the link to the Advocate article doesn't work. You didn't happen to save it, did you? I'm amused by the way Lipsey props up Posner and Bugliosi, even though he knows an entrance wound low on the back of the head was discussed at the autopsy.

What's that river in Africa?

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Never mind, Vince, I found The Advocate article. But hey, looky, I also found an article from 9-6-92 :

Like many Americans, Richard Lipsey saw JFK, Oliver Stone's cinematic portrayal of President John Kennedy's assassination. Like many, he has read books and seen documentaries and talk shows alleging Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy that was not disclosed _ or even covered up _ in the government's official conclusion.

Unlike many, Lipsey has not found these theories persuasive.

"I listened to the Warren Commission. I listened to every other thing," Lipsey said. "I'm not a believer in a conspiracy that there was more than one person. I believe there was one person that shot the president. I believe that one person was Lee Harvey Oswald from all the evidence that I saw."

"... evidence that I saw." That's the key phrase. Lipsey had a unique vantage point from which to view the tragic story that unfolded almost 30 years ago and has captured public fascination ever since.

Lipsey, a Baton Rouge native and long-time sporting goods dealer, was not in Dallas when Kennedy was shot. But, as a 23-year-old Army lieutenant and aide to Gen. Philip Wehle, the commanding officer of the Military District of Washington, Lipsey would hardly leave Kennedy's body from the time it arrived in Washington, D.C., until it was buried at Arlington National Cemetary.

That role thrust Lipsey in front of television, newspaper and magazine cameras and, ultimately, into a controversy that continues to rage.

It was the early afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963, and Lipsey had gone to pick up Wehle at the general's house after lunch when he heard the radio bulletin that Kennedy had been shot.

"I started running toward the general's house, and he was coming out the back door," Lipsey said. "He had just heard it on the radio."

They immediately headed toward Fort McNair, Va., when the car's telephone rang. It was the White House. They were to report there immediately.

"Traffic was just at a standstill," Lipsey said. "People were standing around out of their cars in bewilderment, listening to their radios. We literally took to sidewalks. It was incredible, but we had a good chauffeur who knew how to get to the White House quickly."

By the time they arrived, the president was dead. For the next three days, their time would be consumed with coordinating everything that would take place in the capital involving the return of Kennedy's body _ parades, security, numerous other details.

Lipsey would spend virtually every hour until Kennedy's burial on Nov. 25 dealing with these details. As a result, Lipsey said, he was on television so much his phone rang for days with friends calling to say they'd seen him.

He was at Andrews Air Force Base when Air Force One returned with Kennedy, his widow, Jackie, and the new President, Lyndon Johnson. He was present for the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital. After morticians had finished their preparations, Lipsey helped dress the body and place it in the casket. He called cadence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff marching in the president's funeral parade from the Capitol to St. Matthews Cathedral. He says he did not return to bed for more than 80 hours.

It would be four more days before President Johnson created the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination. It would be a year before the commission's report was released to the public. The commission, named after chairman and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, concluded that Oswald had acted alone in shooting Kennedy.

Opinions to the contrary sprang up immediately, almost all pointing to a conspiracy involving various combinations of the military, CIA, FBI, Secret Service, the Mafia, Cuban President Fidel Castro and Castro's right-wing opponents in the United States.
Some of these theories maintain that Kennedy's body was altered so that autopsy doctors would conclude that he was shot from behind rather than the front, which would cover up the presence of another assassin and, thus, a conspiracy. In JFK, Stone portrayed the autopsy as one in which unnamed military officers pressured pathologists to reach certain conclusions.

Hogwash, says Lipsey, who watched the autopsy as instructed by Wehle. Lipsey said the autopsy had an observation area and he sat in the front row until the four-hour autopsy was over at about midnight and the morticians arrived, when he slipped out briefly to go to the bathroom and call his parents.

"All this hoopla about the generals coming in and demanding this was done or that was done... there weren't any other generals in there," Lipsey said. "My boss was the only one, and he only came in two or three times.

"They did a full autopsy. Don't let anybody tell you they didn't do a full autopsy. They did. I never heard anybody say don't do this or don't do that."

Lipsey said the doctors did express frustration and confusion about not finding a bullet in Kennedy's body from an entrance wound in his upper back. Eventually, Dr. James Humes, the surgeon in charge of the autopsy, concluded the bullet exited through the front of Kennedy's neck, the wound obliterated by a tracheostomy incision.

Lipsey has no medical training, but he said he came away from the autopsy concluding Kennedy had been shot from behind based on seeing the X-rays the doctors held up.

"When they were looking, they were showing how the bullet entered and the fragments had gone forward in his skull," Lipsey said. Lipsey said he also spoke years later with two other men in the room, Lt. Sam Bird, who was in charge of the honor guard that carried the casket from Air Force One to the ambulance and from the ambulance into the hospital, and FBI agent Francis O'Neill. Lipsey said that a few months ago O'Neill let him read the report he submitted after the autopsy.

"I agreed with, like, 90 percent of what he said, and I'm sure the 10 percent I didn't agree with wasn't because he was correct or I was correct," Lipsey said. "It was because... after 30 years your memory gets a little foggy. His report that was written one hour after the autopsy really corroborates my way of thinking."

One of the theories Lipsey refutes is offered by author David Lifton in Best Evidence. Lifton concluded that Kennedy's body was altered before the autopsy, having been slipped out of the casket before Air Force One took off in Dallas.

Lifton theorizes that the body could have been placed aboard another airplane that arrived in Washington ahead of Air Force One, or that it was slipped onto a military helicopter shortly after arrival at Andrews AFB. The theory is that the body was taken to Walter Reed Army Hospital or Bethesda ahead of time and that the coffin aboard Air Force One was empty when it was taken off the airplane.

More hogwash, Lipsey said.

For the theory to hold water, the body would have had to be put back in the casket at Bethesda without any of the military personnel assigned to the coffin seeing this. Lipsey, who flew from Andrews to Bethesda on helicopter and was at the hospital when the ambulance carrying the casket arrived, said this didn't happen.

"I never left the body after that point," Lipsey said. "So, I mean, there's no humanly way possible it came on another helicopter or another ambulance or anything else.... There was no way on God's green earth that body could be tampered with."

"He totally disregards it," Lipsey said. "That's what upsets me so bad." Lipsey is more complimentary toward Stone's movie.

"I thought it was a great movie," Lipsey said. "I really enjoyed it. But it was not anything even close to fact. It was just a good work of fiction."

Before Lipsey left the autopsy room, he had to sign a statement forbidding him from telling anyone what he had seen for 15 years. Fifteen years and one day later, attorneys from the House Assassinations Committee were waiting for him when he arrived at his office at Steinberg's Sporting Goods.

Lipsey said the lawyers questioned him for six or seven hours, and he tape-recorded the interview. Lipsey declined to play the tape for a reporter, saying the interview went into the "gory details" of the autopsy.

"Nobody's ever heard that tape," Lipsey said. "My wife's never even heard that tape."

Lipsey has been similarly reluctant to discuss what he saw. He has talked with authors researching the assassination but has spoken only twice before to media publications, neither time discussing the conspiracy theories. When Lipsey spoke to his civic club, Baton Rouge Rotary, about three years ago, he said he did so under the provision that no television cameras be allowed. "I really didn't want to make this a public spectacle," he said.

However, Lipsey agrees with those who believe that unreleased documents put together by the Warren Commission, the House Committee on Assassinations and other investigative bodies should be made public so that people can decide for themselves what the truth is about Kennedy's assassination.

Otherwise, Lipsey said, the image that will stay in people's minds is that of JFK.

"The thing that perturbs me: People tend to want to believe anything they see on the screen... whether it's television or a movie," Lipsey said. "If it shows realistic scenes _ which it did, the Zapruder films _ people... tend to say, "They showed that, and listen to what he said. That's got to be the way it was.'

"Well, that wasn't the way it was."

Edited by Pat Speer
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and this brings up the question i had when i read his statement the other day, where he says he didn't notice, or didn't remember noticing, many people coming (going?) into the lab; something about just the usual attendees.

were there or were there not 35+ people in attendance?

I tend to believe from all the different things i've read that there were quite a number of people there.

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  • 4 weeks later...

David Lifton's book, BEST EVIDENCE (1980) isn't just tossed together. He interviewed so many eye witnesses that his work stands far above most CT works.

David Lifton was a student of Professor Wesley Liebeler at UCLA (yes, the same Liebeler of WC fame), and the phrase, "Best Evidence," comes from Liebeler himself. David Lifton ultimately tore his professor's theory apart.

The Bethesda junior staff -- and especially Dennis Duane David, Supervisor -- all agreed that the body of JFK arrived earlier than the two other hearses, in a plain metal casket, wrapped in a body bag with a sheet around his head, around 6:45pm EST.

They all tended to agree -- the body of JFK had *no brain* at this point.

David Lifton was keen to point out that all of the X-rays and Photographs of JFK (made available for the HSCA) always omitted any picture of JFK's brain.

Also, the X-rays and photographs contradicted each other -- some showing no damage to the back of the head, and some showing extensive damage to the back of the head. It was clearly a FORGERY.

As for Richard Lipsey and all the Doctors at Bethesda -- they were (and are) under Military Orders to hide the truth about what happened at Bethesda. So, if anybody relies on their information, they get what they deserve.

As for David Lifton, he sometimes considered that J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI and SS led this Cover-up for benign reasons (e.g. National Security) but at the end of his investigation he became cynical about it, like most CTers.

Regards,
--Paul Trejo

Edited by Paul Trejo
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"under Military Orders" ...

while i agree with most everything you said, in all sincerity, what could that possibly mean to someone who is no longer in the military? except in intelligence matters, i would presume - the military has no further jurisdiction over any veteran who has resigned or retired, i'm fairly sure.

just wonderin'... (bein' a veteran and all...)

Edited by Glenn Nall
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Sorry, Pat- just seeing this now :)

I received a letter from Lipsey back in 1998 (in my forthcoming book) that goes against official history, as does his earlier statements. Lipsey sounds like John Stringer- a guy who is sick to death of all the "hoopla" and wants to put this all behind him; perhaps feeling a little burnt and used, as well (by the various authors who have run with his statements). Dr. Marion Jenkins really takes the cake as someone who changed his tune, but Lipsey would make my top 5 in the medical area (Floyd Riebe, Jerrol Custer, and a couple others would be on that list, as well). There always seems to be a contingent of people who remain unchanged, those who lean pro-conspiracy, and those who lean toward the official story.

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