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FBI agent James Sibert talks about JFK's wounds and the autopsy


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On 2/2/2021 at 12:21 PM, Pete Mellor said:

Sibert and O'Neil's 302 report states "The president's body was removed from the casket in which it had been transported and was placed on the autopsy table".

As the FBI agents were in the Andrews AFB to Bethesda motorcade they must have been referring to the Dallas casket.  Contrary to Dennis David's + others stated arrival

time & shipping casket.  Another mystery.

The FBI agents went to the trouble of stating the the body was "removed from the casket in which it had been transported'.  Based on simple rules of English usage, it seems to me that the descriptive phrase --that the coffin been specified was "the casket in which it (i.e., the President's body --DSL) had been transported," would suggests that there was another (i.e., some "other") casket.  If not, why specify that the casket as "the casket in which it had been transported."  Think of it this way; Suppose the FBI agent had made a telephone report to a supervisor at FBI Headquarters. I can easily imagine that a transcript of such  conversation might read:

FBI AGENT ("Joe"): We witnessed the body as it was taken from from the casket in which it had been transported.

SUPERVISOR: What are you saying, Joe?  Was there some other casket?

FBI AGENT (Joe):  Yes, there was.

SUPERVISOR:  Which one was that?

FBI AGENT: That expensive ceremonial casket which the Kennedy family purchased in Dallas.

SUPERVISOR: You mean the body was not in that?

FBI AGENT: No, it was not. That's why I reported that the body was removed "from the casket in which it had been transported".

SUPERVISOR: You mean that there were two caskets, and both arrived on Air Force One?

FBI Agent: yes.

SUPERVISOR: Then I think you should say exactly that, in plain English.

** ** **

You get the idea.

Unfortunately, the FBI report does not state 'the facts' in plain English.

DSL

Edited by David Lifton
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On 1/31/2021 at 4:11 PM, Denny Zartman said:

Transcript:

James Siebert: They got this sheet unwrapped off the head, there was a big gaping hole in the right rear of the head back here by the cowlick part. And he said in, apparent surgery of the head, in the head area. So, we made notes of this. Gerald Ford had the description of the wound to the back, which actually had entered five and a half inches below the collar, changed to describe it as having entered at the base of the back of the neck. He, he admitted this when the, uh, AARB (sic) people contact him by phone, he admitted that he had made this change. Specter said “Siebert said he didn’t make any notes.” And he said, “O’Neil made just a few and destroyed them.” And when I read that, I could feel the heat coming up on the back of my neck. And I made this statement, and it’s in the record, in the archives: “That’s a false statement.”

A couple of points:  (1) The correct spelling of JWS's last name:  "S i b e r t." (2) Sibert and O'Neill's FBI Report (dated 11/26/63) was based on "oral statements" made to the two FBI agents, by the chief autopsy surgeon 'at the time of autopsy" --THIS, according to the official FBI statement issued in the aftermath of the publication of Epstein's book, "INQUEST", published in July 1966, as well as letters written to the FBI by Sylvia Meagher, and myself.  (3) The S & O report states that the bullet exited through the hole at the "top" of the head.  He may have said something different at a later date, but that's what was stated in the report dated 11/26/63 (and  which is Commission Document 7 ["CD 7', to use FBI lingo]; (4) Its standard practice --or was, anyway, in 1963--for FBI agents to make notes, then write their FBI ("302") report and then destroy the notes. Nothing sinister about that. That was "SOP".  DSL

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On 2/4/2021 at 7:15 PM, David Lifton said:

I suppose "hi tech rounds the wouldn't leave a trace" is a possibility.  

Indeed it is, David.

The bullets that created the back and throat wounds could have been removed prior to the autopsy, or the autopsists were correct in their speculation that JFK was hit with high tech rounds which dissolved.

From autopsy-attendee FBI SA Francis O'Neill's sworn affidavit for the HSCA:

<quote on>

Some discussion did occur concerning the disintegration of the bullet. A general feeling existed that a soft-nosed bullet struck JFK. There was discussion concerning the back wound that the bullet could have been a "plastic" type or an "Ice" [sic] bullet, one which dissolves after contact.<quote off>

From autopsy-attendee FBI SA James Sibert's sworn affidavit for the HSCA:

<quote on>

The doctors also discussed a possible deflection of the bullet in the body caused by striking bone. Consideration was also given to a type of bullet which fragments completely.... Following discussion among the doctors relating to the back injury, I left the autopsy room to call the FBI Laboratory and spoke with Agent Chuch [sic] Killion. I asked if he could furnish any information regarding a type of bullet that would almost completely fragmentize (sic).<quote off>

Occam’s Razor:  what is the simplest explanation for JFK appearing to be paralyzed between the throat shot and the head shot/s?

He *was* paralyzed.

 

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Yes, there was considerable confusion amongst the doctors when they could find no bullets or bullet fragments in the back wound or the throat wound (once they were aware it was a gunshot wound. I have read elsewhere that someone had phoned Humes BEFORE the body arrived letting him know of the throat wounds existence but the "official" story says he was notified of this after the autopsy by a Parkland doctor if I recall correctly.). Now, as for the head wound, there were a handful of accounts of an intact 6.5 mm bullet or "missile" being removed. DSL could lay out all the evidence of this better than I can given it has been some time since I've read Best Evidence. If I recall correctly there was an Admiral Osbourne who saw a bullet retrieved. And I'm thinking there was a "receipt" in evidence written up for a bullet retrieved at the autopsy that was overlooked by pretty much everyone until DSL discovered it and understood the implications behind it. I'm thinking there was at least one other autopsy attendee who said a bullet was removed from the head. Can't recall who. I remember someone with the last name Canada in there somewhere but not sure it he was the other bullet retrieval witness. Can you help my memory out Mr. Lifton?

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On 2/1/2021 at 7:23 AM, Pete Mellor said:

Did he witness the type of casket that JFK's body was in?

In David Lifton's 'Best Evidence' Sibert's report states:-"When the body was removed from the coffin and the wrapping taken off".

Did he ever describe the Dallas coffin or a shipping casket?

Not explicitly; but the two FBI agents (Sibert and O'Neill) wrote, in their report, that the President's body "was removed from the casket in which it had been transported and was placed on the autopsy table".  The implication (IMHO) was simply this: that "the coffin in which it (JFK's body)  had been transported" was different than the one offloaded from Air Force One at about 6 PM, EST, at Andrews AFB, upon its arrival from Dallas-- an event televised nationally on all the major TV networks. 

Now back to the two FBI agents, who had been ordered to "stay" with the body and obtain bullets "reportedly" in the body.  If (in writing their report) the two FBI agents had been a tad more explicit, there would have been far less mystery: specifically, it would have been perfectly clear that the the President's body had arrived at the Bethesda morgue (7:35 PM EST, according to Commander Humes) in a different casket than the one it had been inside, in Dallas; specifically, the one the nation watched being offloaded from Air Force One at Andrews.  If this situation had been spelled out in plain English (by the two FBI agents, in writing their FBI "302" report) the Warren Commission legal staff (I believe) would have immediately spotted the linguistic ruse.  They (the WC legal staff) would have "put two and two together," realized that the Dallas coffin was empty; realized that the President's body arrived in some other coffin, and demanded additional investigation.  

But the Commission legal staff didn't have any of these insights.  

Furthermore, they (and now again, referring to the Warren Commission staff) never seemed to have realized any of this; and instead were focused on creating a reconstruction that "worked" -- i.e., that explained the assassination in terms of "a man in a building who shot a man in a car."  The result: the Single Bullet Theory.

However, and now entering the world of the "contrafactual". . . : If the WC legal staff had looked at the problem differently, the investigative focus might have shifted quite significantly (and dramatically): from the viability of the Single Bullet Theory, to "What the heck happened in Dallas, prior to the takeoff of Air Force One, that JFK's body was arriving in a coffin that was clearly different than the one it had (originally)  been in (i.e., the 400 pound ceremonial coffin) when it was brought to Love Field and placed aboard AF-1, at 2:14 PM CST?

Apparently, no-one on the Warren Commission legal staff thought along these lines; i.e., approached the problem in this fashion.

DSL (5/9/21 - 10:20  PM PST)

 

Edited by David Lifton
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On 2/4/2021 at 7:30 PM, David Lifton said:

The FBI agents went to the trouble of stating the the body was "removed from the casket in which it had been transported'.  Based on simple rules of English usage, it seems to me that the descriptive phrase --that the coffin been specified was "the casket in which it (i.e., the President's body --DSL) had been transported," would suggests that there was another (i.e., some "other") casket.  If not, why specify that the casket as "the casket in which it had been transported."  Think of it this way; Suppose the FBI agent had made a telephone report to a supervisor at FBI Headquarters. I can easily imagine that a transcript of such  conversation might read:

FBI AGENT ("Joe"): We witnessed the body as it was taken from from the casket in which it had been transported.

SUPERVISOR: What are you saying, Joe?  Was there some other casket?

FBI AGENT (Joe):  Yes, there was.

SUPERVISOR:  Which one was that?

FBI AGENT: That expensive ceremonial casket which the Kennedy family purchased in Dallas.

SUPERVISOR: You mean the body was not in that?

FBI AGENT: No, it was not. That's why I reported that the body was removed "from the casket in which it had been transported".

SUPERVISOR: You mean that there were two caskets, and both arrived on Air Force One?

FBI Agent: yes.

SUPERVISOR: Then I think you should say exactly that, in plain English.

** ** **

You get the idea.

Unfortunately, the FBI report does not state 'the facts' in plain English.

DSL

If the above conversation actually took place and FBI agent "Joe" was telling the truth, the question of JFK's body being removed from the Dallas ornate casket between Dallas and D.C. is answered.

Commander James Humes in his sworn ARRB testimony says the first time he saw JFK's arriving body, it was while lifting him out of the heavy and large ornate bronze casket in the morgue.

A few questions here:

When JFK's body first arrived to the morgue and was lifted out of "any" casket, was it placed on an exam table other than the one in the official autopsy amphitheater room?

Was the morgue and student accommodating amphitheater all the same room?

With but "one" exam/autopsy procedure table?

It sounds to me like there was a preliminary exam of JFK's body ( and on a different table ) before the actual official with witnesses autopsy.

Humes said JFK's body first arrived "to the morgue " around 6:30 to 6:45 pm.

Did he immediately start the official autopsy at that time and on the first exam table he and Boswell and one or two medical techs lifted JFK's body onto?

Or was JFK's body placed on another amphitheater room autopsy table later than when it first arrived?

Was the table JFK was first placed on one with wheels that could be rolled into another room?

Others have stated the official autopsy started around 8:pm.

Naval Tech Paul O'Conner's stated this time table account of first seeing JFK's body and the start of the official autopsy.

Commander Humes stated JFK's body was first brought to the morgue around 6:30 to 6:45 pm.

If both are correct...what were Humes and Boswell doing with JFK's body from 6:45 to 8:00 pm?

Was O'Conner not present at the Humes stated 6:45 pm JFK body arrival time and place?

What was the official documented record stated time that the "amphitheater with witnesses" autopsy first began?

6:45 pm? 7:30 pm? 8:00 pm?

Edited by Joe Bauer
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On 2/4/2021 at 7:30 PM, David Lifton said:

 

By any chance do you have any new opinions on the passage from The Death of a President that reads:

The call to the seventeenth floor was made by Godfrey McHugh. He said, “Bob, the casket we have is cheap and thin, it’s really shabby. One handle is off, and the ornaments are in bad shape"

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22 hours ago, Joe Bauer said:

If the above conversation actually took place and FBI agent "Joe" was telling the truth, the question of JFK's body being removed from the Dallas ornate casket between Dallas and D.C. is answered.

Commander James Humes in his sworn ARRB testimony says the first time he saw JFK's arriving body, it was while lifting him out of the heavy and large ornate bronze casket in the morgue.

A few questions here:

When JFK's body first arrived to the morgue and was lifted out of "any" casket, was it placed on an exam table other than the one in the official autopsy amphitheater room?

Was the morgue and student accommodating amphitheater all the same room?

With but "one" exam/autopsy procedure table?

It sounds to me like there was a preliminary exam of JFK's body ( and on a different table ) before the actual official with witnesses autopsy.

Humes said JFK's body first arrived "to the morgue " around 6:30 to 6:45 pm.

Did he immediately start the official autopsy at that time and on the first exam table he and Boswell and one or two medical techs lifted JFK's body onto?

Or was JFK's body placed on another amphitheater room autopsy table later than when it first arrived?

Was the table JFK was first placed on one with wheels that could be rolled into another room?

Others have stated the official autopsy started around 8:pm.

Naval Tech Paul O'Conner's stated this time table account of first seeing JFK's body and the start of the official autopsy.

Commander Humes stated JFK's body was first brought to the morgue around 6:30 to 6:45 pm.

If both are correct...what were Humes and Boswell doing with JFK's body from 6:45 to 8:00 pm?

Was O'Conner not present at the Humes stated 6:45 pm JFK body arrival time and place?

What was the official documented record stated time that the "amphitheater with witnesses" autopsy first began?

6:45 pm? 7:30 pm? 8:00 pm?

Joe, DSL is really the man to answer your questions above.....but, "the question of JFK's body being removed from the Dallas ornate casket between Dallas and D.C."  is strongly implied in Best Evidence p620 when Jerrol Custer recalled taking X-rays of JFK to an upper floor at Bethesda for developing and meeting the arriving Jacqueline Kennedy at the main entrance, with the Navy ambulance outside and therefore the ornate Dallas casket still to arrive at the morgue.

According to Rydberg drawings of the Bethesda morgue with the viewing amphitheatre, was all in one room with two autopsy tables.

To my thinking the autopsy may well have begun around that stated time of 8:00, after the room had been cleared of viewers/FBI-SS etc for X-rays and photographs of the body, taking up the time period around 6:30-8:00.

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6 hours ago, Pete Mellor said:

Joe, DSL is really the man to answer your questions above.....but, "the question of JFK's body being removed from the Dallas ornate casket between Dallas and D.C."  is strongly implied in Best Evidence p620 when Jerrol Custer recalled taking X-rays of JFK to an upper floor at Bethesda for developing and meeting the arriving Jacqueline Kennedy at the main entrance, with the Navy ambulance outside and therefore the ornate Dallas casket still to arrive at the morgue.

According to Rydberg drawings of the Bethesda morgue with the viewing amphitheatre, was all in one room with two autopsy tables.

To my thinking the autopsy may well have begun around that stated time of 8:00, after the room had been cleared of viewers/FBI-SS etc for X-rays and photographs of the body, taking up the time period around 6:30-8:00.

Pete, it doesn't sound like there was already a busy and buzzing room filled crowd of non-medical personnel all around Humes and Boswell in the immediate 6:45 pm arrival of the JFK's casket and body to the morgue and their lifting of it up and onto an exam table.

Were all these generals and admirals and agents and who knows whos already there waiting for the casket arrival in the morgue/autopsy amphitheater when it was first brought in and laid down on the floor there?

I have always assumed that Humes and Boswell had some preliminary time to examine and maybe even work with JFK's body ( JFK's brain wasn't removed in front of the amphitheater crowd was it? ) before the 8:00 PM start of the amphitheater viewed autopsy.

Edited by Joe Bauer
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1 hour ago, Joe Bauer said:

Pete, it doesn't sound like there was already a busy and buzzing room filled crowd of non-medical personnel all around Humes and Boswell in the immediate 6:45 pm arrival of the JFK's casket and body to the morgue and their lifting of it up and onto an exam table.

Were all these generals and admirals and agents and who knows whos already there waiting for the casket arrival in the morgue/autopsy amphitheater when it was laid down on the floor there?

I have always assumed that Humes and Boswell had some preliminary time to examine and maybe even work with JFK's body ( JFK's brain wasn't removed in front of the amphitheater crowd was it? ) before the 8:00 PM start of the amphitheater viewed autopsy.

Good question Joe.  Who was in the morgue from 18:30 to 20:00hrs?

Certainly the room was cleared while X-rays were taken.  According to testimony from Jim Jenkins JFK's brain was removed after 20:00hrs with the military in attendance & after the arrival of Finck.

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3 hours ago, Pete Mellor said:

Good question Joe.  Who was in the morgue from 18:30 to 20:00hrs?

Certainly the room was cleared while X-rays were taken.  According to testimony from Jim Jenkins JFK's brain was removed after 20:00hrs with the military in attendance & after the arrival of Finck.

I always have to grapple with either believing or disbelieving Bethesda Navy Medical corpsman Paul O,Conner's sworn oath testimony and interview statements regards the removal of JFK's brain on 11,22,1963.

If he is telling the truth...the entire brain part of the JFK autopsy report is false.

James Jenkins stated in one interview that while he was assisting Humes and Boswell in the morgue he was handed a brain ( he wasn't sure if it was Humes or Boswell who handed him the brain ) and told to put this in some sort of "sling?" but he qualified this recollection by also stating he couldn't be sure it was JFK's!

He also described JFK's brain as being pretty much intact except for a chunk gone from the back right area that he estimated was less than a third of the entire brain.

However Humes himself said under sworn testimony that JFK's brain was incredibly torn and mascerated inside from back to front ( like mush) and we know from the Zapruder film that a lot of JFK's brain was exploded out along with skull bone and fluid and blood into a wide area coverage spray.

Clint Hill ( who was within inches of JFK after jumping on the limo and back seat area to cover him and Jackie ) often described a massive hole in the back of JFK's head where the brain was "gone."

O'Conner ( who everyone acknowledges was within inches from JFK's head and upper body almost the entire autopsy and whose specialty was autopsy brain removal - 50 to 60 times ) stated he never saw any skull cutting done on JFK and inferred there was no brain removal that he saw because...there was so little brain matter to remove!

Humes was confronted in his ARRB appearance with questions about not listing JFK's brain weight in Hume's first summary notes about the autopsy.

Humes akwardly, admitted he didn't put this always done and recorded information in his initial summary and ... well ... he just simply could not explain why. 

Hmmm ... ??? 

The final official autopsy finding listed JFK's brain weight as 1,400 grams. Heavier even than a "fully intact" average male brain weight?

What happened to Jenkin's missing one third and obvious weight loss of JFK's brain claim?

Then, JFK's brain disappears completely not long after the autopsy?

The JFK brain story is all over the map with versions completely different from each other.  Toss a dart.

Whose version do you choose to believe?

If you believe O'Conner then you must believe Humes is lying about JFK's brain findings.

For many reason's I believe Navy corpsman Paul O'Conner over Humes.

 

Edited by Joe Bauer
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1 hour ago, Joe Bauer said:

I always have to grapple with either believing or disbelieving Bethesda Navy Medical corpsman Paul O,Conner's sworn oath testimony and interview statements regards the removal of JFK's brain on 11,22,1963.

If he is telling the truth...the entire brain part of the JFK autopsy report is false.

James Jenkins stated in one interview that while he was assisting Humes and Boswell in the morgue he was handed a brain ( he wasn't sure if it was Humes or Boswell who handed him the brain ) and told to put this in some sort of "sling?" but he qualified this recollection by also stating he couldn't be sure it was JFK's!

He also described JFK's brain as being pretty much intact except for a chunk gone from the back right area that he estimated was less than a third of the entire brain.

However Humes himself said under sworn testimony that JFK's brain was incredibly torn and mascerated inside from back to front ( like mush) and we know from the Zapruder film that a lot of JFK's brain was exploded out along with skull bone and fluid and blood into a wide area coverage spray.

Clint Hill ( who was within inches of JFK after jumping on the limo and back seat area to cover him and Jackie ) often described a massive hole in the back of JFK's head where the brain was "gone."

O'Conner ( who everyone acknowledges was within inches from JFK's head and upper body almost the entire autopsy and whose specialty was autopsy brain removal - 50 to 60 times ) stated he never saw any skull cutting done on JFK and inferred there was no brain removal that he saw because...there was so little brain matter to remove!

Humes was confronted in his ARRB appearance with questions about not listing JFK's brain weight in Hume's first summary notes about the autopsy.

Humes akwardly, admitted he didn't put this always done and recorded information in his initial summary and ... well ... he just simply could not explain why. 

Hmmm ... ??? 

The final official autopsy finding listed JFK's brain weight as 1,400 grams. Heavier even than a "fully intact" average male brain weight?

What happened to Jenkin's missing one third and obvious weight loss of JFK's brain claim?

Then, JFK's brain disappears completely not long after the autopsy?

The JFK brain story is all over the map with versions completely different from each other.  Toss a dart.

Whose version do you choose to believe?

If you believe O'Conner then you must believe Humes is lying about JFK's brain findings.

For many reason's I believe Navy corpsman Paul O'Conner over Humes.

 

Transcription of presentation given by Bethesda witness Jim Jenkins with researcher William Law, given at the ‘November in Dallas’ ‘JFK Lancer conference at the Adolphus Hotel on Friday 22nd  November  2013. 

 

J.J.:- The sheets from the head were on the floor and my impression was I had to clean that up.  It was picked up along with the sheets that were removed from the torso and placed in the linen room, which was a small room off of the morgue.  The examination of the head started as a precursor to Dr.Finck arriving.  When I asked who Dr.Finck was I was told that he was a specialist in war, I mean in war field wounds. 

At that point in time we proceeded with the autopsy.  Dr.Humes was at the end along with Dr.Finck, Dr.Humes stood on the left side of the body, Dr.Finck was on the right side and I was at Dr.Finck’s right shoulder and at the shoulder of the president’s body and Dr.Boswell was on the other side opposite of me.  When they began to examine the body Dr.Finck and Dr.Humes who were right here with me and as I was observing them, there was a small entry…..exit, anyway a small wound that appeared to be approximately four….right in front of the top of the right ear and slightly above it.  There was a discussion between Dr.Finck and Dr.Humes as to a grey area that actually surrounded the wound and there was speculation by Dr.Finck that maybe that was lead from a bullet.  After that there, it was not really probed or much of a discussion continued after that because at that point in time there was a discussion with Dr.Humes and Admiral Burkley, and that exchange was pretty much the norm for the rest of the night.  Dr.Humes would go to Dr.Burkley because Dr.Burkley would call him over and they would discuss and he would come back and he and Dr.Finck would look at other aspects of the head wounds. 

About the same time Dr.Boswell and I started the autopsy on the torso.  We made the usual autopsy cuts, ours was little different, we went from one shoulder to the other shoulder in a single U shaped incision and we moved this flap, it was caused back up over the face, took the ribcage and then we removed the organs intact.  We did that by tying off the major arteries, severing the trach and the oesophagus and lifting it all out.  We placed it on a cutting board, the cutting board was placed over the chest area, or slightly down toward the mid-section.  The cutting board was pretty much a corp type board with a scale that was mounted on the corner of it.  As Dr.Boswell dissected out the organs as whole organs,  he weighed them and he gave me the weights.  The weights are what you see (referring to projected slide) at the top that’s where the results were added.  Again….to….is significant because that is not my handwriting.  My handwriting doesn’t look that nice.  At that time, you know, we finished the organs, the heart was…at Bethesda we did autopsies a little different.  We did the sources to heart like normal protocols, in other places where I’ve done autopsies we actually went in to the ventricles and we opened up so we could see the walls and so forth and not have to see them in sections.  The heart was examined in that manner.  The intestinal tract, both large and small intestines were taken out and taken to the deep sink.  Now normally in other autopsies, that was my job.  We would open up the intestinal tract, lay it open, clean it with the water and then we would examine it for lesions and things of that nature.  Now, with the residents, we cleaned the intestines.  Paul (referring to O’Conner) and I according to which of us got the task when we were there and the rest would come and check for lesions, tumours, particular things of that nature.  That was done by Dr.Boswell.  He did that personally.  Then there were some controversies about whether to take the testicles or not, and they were taken.  I’m not sure what the controversy was and so forth but the kidneys were also examined.  Due to the fact, I’ve heard, I’m not sure, I didn’t see any of the final results from these organs, just the gross (weight) at the autopsy, but I think they were asked because there was a possibility if there was Addison’s disease involved. 

Moving on.  During the time that we were dissecting and weighing the organs, Dr.Humes was probing the back wound.  On this same sheet that was approximately where the wound was placed and that’s where I remember it being, in the back.  But the significance of this is I watched the operation of Dr.Humes probing that wound with his finger.  He probed it to the depth of that wound with his finger.  I could see the impression on the pleural, on the back of the pleural cavity, the chest cavity, but it never entered the chest cavity.  He and Dr.Finck took a sound.  A sound is for, many of you probably know what a sound is, but I suggest they probably used a sound, because a sound is rounded. (?) Because one of the things that they expressed was the fact that we don’t want to create an entry into the pleural cavity if there’s none there.  Now, moving on to the lungs, this is related to the lungs.  On the right top of the middle lobe, almost….it’s a junction.  The lung has three lobes.  There was a blue, a blueish type of indentation probably about the size of your thumb.  Speculation was that that was caused by the bullet that entered at the point in the back.  I know that this is one of the major controversial points related to the neck wound.  At the point that the back wound is, it is probably, just roughly guessin’, ten, maybe a little more, a little less, centimetres below the wound in the throat.  At no time in the autopsy did we do any examination of the throat trach.  We were told that’s what it was, that it was a trach.  Now, there were questions about it because of how large it was.  It was I think on the face sheet it says it was 6.5cm., that’s a little over 2 inches.  The other thing was that this trach was done, it was horizontal in relation to the neck.  Most trachs were much smaller and in those days they were done in the vertical.  The description of the wound here as you see it was vastly different from what we got from Parkland, as was a lot of other information we got later. 

W.L.:- Have you ever seen a trach like that, that big? 

J.J.:- No.  I’ve never seen a trach that way and I’ve never seen one that large, because the old metal tracheotomy tubes were, my guess would be probably 5mm., 3 to 8mm., something like that.  We never really questioned it.  The only thing we did was when the flap was up, and the flap was up over the face Dr.Boswell kinda lifted the flap and looked up and he stuck his fingers in there.  No comment.  No nothin’ at that point in time, but that wound was never probed.  It was never examined for entry or exit.  Which brings another controversial point.  We did multiple X-rays, before we actually proceeded with the autopsy itself. 

W.L.:- Jim, when you say multiple, take a guess and tell us how many X-rays would you estimate you took? 

J.J.:- I think Custer (referring to Jerrol Custer) and I took, we took the original AP (anteroposterior) and laterals. We took multiple, I would say probably for every one we took, we did five repeats at the request, my impression was, at the request of the gallery.  Nothing seemed to be pleasing the people in the gallery.  Actually, nothing being done in the autopsy seemed to be pleasing to the people in the gallery.  We were directed again, at one time we were directed away from the wound in the neck because the reason we were given was that it would have been too….if we had actually examined it, we would have had to open it into the trach and that would have been too hard for the mortician to conceal it. 

W.L.:- To find the path of the bullet would you need to do that? 

J.J.:- Yes!  Yes you would have to actually do the incisions involved and follow the path in there.  At least you would have probed it to see where it went.  The other thing with the X-rays, we were finding no bullet fragments.  We found no bullet fragments that were in the body itself.  Now, the bullet fragments that people relate to were bullet fragments that were brought in after the autopsy was underway and given to us in a small tie top bag.  It’s similar to a zip lock except it has a tie that runs across the top and is folded over and that type of thing, that was placed on the autopsy table by the right ear. 

W.L.:- Can you estimate the time that you remember that? 

J.J.:- No.  That’s always been a question that I’ve had about time.  It was a military morgue so it had a huge clock, but the clock was at the other end of the morgue over a huge order plate.  My attention was such that I had to be aware of the needs of the pathologist, that was my purpose for being there. So my attention was focussed on that table, on whatever they asked for help with.   At the conclusion of the autopsy my personal ideas of the things that I said, I was sure that the entrance wound was above the right ear and that the large wound in the back (of the head) was an exit wound.  In the wound in the back (of the head) there were some questions by Dr.Boswell to the gallery.  He made a statement, or asked a question really, “was there any surgery done on the head at Parkland?”  What he was referring to is that there seemed to be an incision at one of the points on the large incision that radiated out toward the middle suture, and at that point in time I just looked at it as maybe something he was curious about and so forth, but then I realised that later on when the brain was removed, that incision made it possible for the wound to be spread, where we did not have to do the skull cap.  We did the skull cap.  Normally the way we took the brain out of the cranium, we made an incision from this ear to this ear across.  We spread the scalp back and forward and we took a saw and made a notch at the front of the skull to orientate us when we replaced it, and we took the whole skull cap off and then we removed the brain.  At that time we always attempted to remove the brain intact with the spinal cord.  Sometimes it worked…very rarely did it work.  Most of the time the spinal cord was torn off and we had to go in from the interior of the body.  At autopsy we removed parts of the spinal cord off the spinal column and took that out.  We did not have to do that with the President’s body.  Actually I don’t really remember that we ever removed the cord itself, just the brain. 

W.L.:- Jim, lets stop you for a minute because this is where the big controversy comes in.  Paul O’Conner is well known, famous for saying that when he saw the head, there was no brain, that it had been blown out.  Yet when we were in New Orleans 15 years ago you told me….you have to understand that Jim did not know me from Adam, and when I finally worked up the courage to be able to come and see him, he agreed.  I didn’t know whether he was going to give me ten minutes or fifteen minutes.  You have to understand that unlike Paul O’Conner, who was a wonderful gregarious person with a great sense of humour, he would tell you anything you wanted to know.  Jim doesn’t do this stuff so that’s why we’re lucky to have him tonight.   He just doesn’t involve himself.  He’s never sought the limelight in this thing.  Anybody that ever wanted to talk to him, they’ve always had to hunt him down and find him, if they were lucky enough to get to talk to him.  So I was very lucky to be in a room, sitting with him asking these questions, and I could tell the look on his face, it was reluctant.  He was reluctant to do it, but he did it and at one point I’m sitting there and Jim said, “one of the doctors made an exclamatory statement, and he was looking right at me when he said, I think what he said o.k., was meaning the brain, ‘the damn thing fell out in my hand.’”  I asked Jim what does that mean to you?  Tell ‘em what you said to me. 

J.J.:- O.k.  That statement was made by Dr.Humes.  To remember that Humes and Finck were actually the people who were working with the head, the head wounds.  That was the statement.  As I said before it was a statement that kinda surprised me, but as they took the brain out he handed it to Dr.Boswell who was actually across the table from me.  Since I had been assisting with Dr.Boswell, I was the only corpsman at that point in time that was working with Dr.Boswell.  I followed Dr.Boswell to the bucket of formalin where we infused the brain.  I told William, I gave him some of the impressions that I had of the brain when I first saw it.  My first impression was, the damage to the brain does not correlate with the extensive damage to the skull.  What I mean with that was the right interior portion of the brain was damaged and there was some tissue missing.  The brain due to the trauma apparently was in that area was kinda gelatinous and that pretty much stands to reason, because when you traumatise the brain, it’s not like traumatising a muscle, or something like that, where you get bruising and so forth.  The brain actually has a large amount of fluid in so it kinda becomes mushy and gelatinous, that was what I saw.  The other thing, I didn’t think that the brain was large enough.  I had an impression that it was smaller than what it should be coming out of the cavity that it came out of.  Now these were just impressions on my part.  That was a first sight, first impression type thing.  Dr.Boswell carried the brain to our bucket where we infused the brain.  How we did it is important, because our normal method was we had a stainless steel bucket, we filled the bucket approximately half full of formalin.  We had created a gauze sling that went over the top of the bucket.  We laid the brain upside down in that sling.  We had a two needle apparatus that came from a supply of formalin that was up on the top of the cabinets.  What we did with it was, we took those needles, we infused the brains through the two internal carotids at the base of the brain.   Those carotids were retracted and it was extremely difficult, and as a matter of fact we had one of the residents come in, which was the chief resident, because Dr.Boswell and Dr.Humes did not do this menial type thing of placing these suture needles in and so forth.  So what we did was, we infused the brain and it was extremely difficult because of the condition of the carotids. 

W.L.:- So what does that mean to you Jim? 

J.J.:- Well, in my experience when vessels are severed for a period of time they retract, especially arteries, because of the way they’re constructed, and over a period of time it’s almost like they begin to close off themselves.  The other thing I noticed was the brain stem, where the brain stem was cut to remove it from the cranium, the brain stem looked like it had been cut from two different sides, from each side met in the middle.  I can relate that because if you’ve ever tried to cut something from the right side and go back and cut it from the left side, it never, almost invariably never is the same level, and this is what the brain stem looked like.  You know, I’ve been asked many times about this, ‘did I think that the brain had been removed prior to the autopsy?’  Taking into consideration the abnormal things that I just described….I feel like it was. 

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James Curtis Jenkins c1963. 

 

 

 

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