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Asking for some info on the JFK autopsy photographs.


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Once again,I am not asking for proof,I am asking for a opinion or actual information.

IIRC) There was a roll of 120mm film that was confiscated by the Secret Service at autopsy.Wasn't this roll of film exposed to light & considered worthless?But a long time afterwards didn't Kodak expose this roll of film to extreme light & come up with some images? I think there were 3 of them? Does anybody know what these images contained?

Any help is appreciated.

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Dr. Randy Robertson asked the archives and was granted permission to view the photos. He wrote a short article describing what they show. Here it is:

A Review at the National Archives of the ARRB enhancements of the exposed roll of 120 Ektachrome E3 film from the JFK autopsy

On November 23, 2015, authorized by Senator Paul Kirk acting for the Kennedy family, I visited the National Archives at College Park.  My intent was to review and re-study the original JFK autopsy materials, as well as the autopsy photographs made from the exposed roll of 120 Ektachrome E3 autopsy film. These enhanced photos were created by Kodak for the ARRB in 1998 and they produced images that had been recorded – but were not seen by anyone since the night of the autopsy in 1963.

Burke Marshall, representing the Kennedy family, initially granted me access to NARA's then-existing materials by virtue of my status as a board certified diagnostic radiologist with a historical interest in the assassination. I viewed them several times during the early and mid 90's.  The impetus for this recent visit was to see if these newly available pictures could, or could not, provide some degree of validation of the authenticity of the original materials.  As they were taken at the same time but never seen, they could also be important in determining whether or not there were photographs that had been altered, forged, or disappeared.  The Deed of Gift specifically prohibits the reproduction of any of the autopsy materials including the newly available photos made by Kodak for the ARRB. While representative photos of the originals are in the public domain, the newly available photos are not and will most likely never be in the public domain. I present my observations in written format which can only describe in broad brushstrokes the photographic detail I have seen with my own eyes.

These 120 Ektachrome E3 color photos of the President were taken in the early stages of the autopsy the night of November 22, 1963. Shortly after the photos had been taken, the film was deliberately exposed to light by Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman in order to destroy them. The photographs were then deemed un-viewable. Thirty five years later in 1998, at the request of ARRB, Kodak was able to digitize and enhance the first three frames of the roll of 120 Ektachrome E3 film using then-state of the art technology. A few members of the ARRB have seen these images.

left_profile.jpg
Left Profile

I was able to determine that these three frames are consecutive because of their overlaps and the dark intervening bands that appeared between each frame. These photos were determined to be the first three on the film by the large length of black preceding the first frame which was several times wider than the black inter-frame width between the other images. The images were printed on paper in color and in one instance black and white.  None of them contain information that enables a forensic diagnosis.  Unlike the original multiple photos taken at the same time with the 4X5 Graphic film - in color and B&W - the three frames from the 35 mm camera loaded with the #120 color film consist of only a single photo for each shot, and each mirrored the positioning of the President as seen in three 4x5 Graphic original photos.  From this I inferred that both photographers, Stringer and Riebe, began photographing from the left side of the autopsy table and continued counterclockwise around the table.  None of the photographs show a Y incision. None show a change in body position between the photos. 

The first 120 film photo, designated A3.02, was taken from the left side of the head from a position further away toward the foot of the table, and from a slightly steeper angle, than the 4X5 Graphic photos. It shows a towel across the lower abdomen, the tracheotomy wound, JFK’s face and upper torso, and his arms at his sides.  The bilateral incisions for the chest tubes are visible. Chest hair is visible. The President's head rests on the metal support with his hair and facial features appearing as they did in the previously available photos. The towels are unchanged in position. In the dark depths of the photo a portable x-ray machine appears in the background on the far right side of the table, and someone's hand is visible to the left side of this machine in the picture. The printed picture is dark and grainy with a sepia tint, giving the overall appearance of a photo taken by candlelight. I saw no discrepancies between the gross features seen on these newly available 120 film pictures -- and the original 4X5 Graphic pictures also made at the same time the night of the autopsy. 


None of them contain information that enables a forensic diagnosis.

Photo #2 in the sequence, designated A2.02 shows the top of the head from a perspective just slightly different than that taken by the 4X5 Graphic camera. This image was the least clear for several reasons. First, it was inexplicably and inexcusably printed in negative format.  This is obvious because a band of dark color on this image was reversed to light where there was overlap between this second and the subsequent third frame. I don't know the nature of this band, but it extends from the mid-upper portion of the photograph to the high upper right hand corner, and is similar to a ribbon crossing the upper right hand corner of the page of a book. There is no way that this band could be obscuring forensic findings. Peculiarly, #2 has an overall light blue hue. I am certainly not a photographic expert, but I question whether this photo was generated using only the blue filter-scanning channel because, for some unexplained reason, it apparently does not include the red and green spectrum. It appears that JFK’s nose and right cheek are visible at the top of the photo.  Beneath this is his damaged head in very poor resolution, but there are strands of hair visible on the periphery in a manner consistent with the 4X5 Graphic photos.  Again this printed picture is of very poor quality of an almost intentional nature.  Without foreknowledge of the original photos, these observations would be difficult to make.  I have been told by James Toner, who worked on the project for Kodak, that the full digital data set could provide images of greater clarity than has been printed on paper for review.

topofhead.jpg 
Top of the Head

The third photo, designated A1.02, is of a quality comparable to the first photo. It is also somewhat sepia-toned, dark and grainy and looks as though it was taken by candlelight. There are actually two prints of this same photo. The second is designated B4.02 and is printed in black and white, but contains the exact same perspective and information. These prints show a towel across the lower abdomen, and the upper chest and torso is visible, as is the tracheostomy wound and bilateral incisions for chest tubes. Chest hair is visible. The head remains supported by the metal holder. The hair and facial features remain essentially unchanged as does the large flap of scalp hanging from the rear of the head. The towels are unchanged in position. I am unable to resolve the blood droplets on the towel beneath the head. As for the two previous photos, I saw no discrepancies between this photo and the numerous 4X5 Graphic photos I had previously seen multiple times in color and black and white. In the background on the left side of the autopsy table is what appears to be a little fence of vertically spaced round metal bars somewhat similar to those used in crowd control. This is the last latent image on this roll of film. Later photos taken only with the 4X5 Graphic camera do not show the large flap of scalp hanging downward near the midline but instead show this flap having been manually returned to its original anatomic position covering the defect in the underlying bone.

The original data for the scans is stored on JAZ storage cartridges which the Archives can’t access at this time due to technical obsolescence. A thorough evaluation of all three of these prints should be undertaken and accomplished by properly digitizing and enhancing them with 21st century technology or, at minimum, the original Kodak data should be made available in its entirety.  Certainly either process could generate images much improved over the three single images that were printed on paper - one in negative mode. The National Archives was not involved in the decision process determining how these three images were to be printed. Future enhancements may improve these images but these will not detect any discrepancies because it is an inescapable conclusion that two different cameras were both capturing at the same time the condition of the President’s body at the start of the autopsy. None of the staff of the ARRB who have seen these images has gone on record as seeing any discrepancies between these and the originals.

It is clear that these most recently processed 120 images were intended to be forensic, but I found no significant new forensic findings in any of them and no discrepancies between these newly available original photos and those I had seen in the 90’s -- and on this same date in 2015 . But the mere nature of these newly available photos raises interesting questions.  Chief photographer John Stringer and his assistant Floyd Riebe have testified that Riebe, with a camera loaded with a roll of 120 Ektachrome E3 film, was taking general photos of those in attendance in the room to provide historical documentation. These three photographs mirror the same perspectives and relative distances from the body captured by the 4X5 Graphic camera. It is clear that these 120 photos only partially and incidentally included only one out of focus individual observing the autopsy in contradiction to Stringer and Riebe’s contention that these were primarily intended to show individuals observing the autopsy.

rightsuperiorprofile.jpg
Right Superior Profile

•  Did the autopsy doctors request Stringer and Riebe to take these 120 Ektachrome E3 photographs in order to retain a copy for their own use knowing that the Secret Service was going to have possession of all the 4X5 Graphic film holders during the period when the written autopsy results were being completed? 

•  Did Stringer and Riebe both purposely mislead official investigators to hide the fact that forensic photos had been destroyed?  Or were they taking an additional set of forensic photos exclusively for the autopsy team, even knowing that this would conflict with Agent Kellerman’s desire to retain all photos? Or did Kellerman believe that Reibe was taking pictures with his own camera for personal use or profit? Could this have been the reason for the confrontation between Kellerman and Riebe? 

•  Kellerman was present when Riebe took additional photos with this same 35 mm camera, but flashed Riebe’s roll of 120 film to light after only three photos had been taken. It could not have been motivated by their content because Kellerman must have seen that the 4X5 Graphic camera had recorded these same views in both color and black and white. In fact the Secret Service did go on to process Riebe's roll of exposed 120 film to verify that its images had been destroyed. Unfortunately, the motivations for Stringer and Riebe to obfuscate about the nature of these photos, and the impetus for Kellerman’s early attempt to destroy these redundant images remains unknown. 

•   Although the autopsy team claimed film taken that night contained exposures of the interior of the chest and the beveling of the skull at the entry point, the documentary and photographic record does not support that any such photographs were taken by either camera. Contemporaneous Secret Service receipts and F.B.I. notes both recorded the same number of film holders. Any alleged additional photographs would had to have bypassed this inventory process. F.B.I. agents Sibert and O’Oneill’s report incorrectly stated that 5 exposures were contained on the roll of exposed 120 film.


I found no . . . discrepancies between these newly available original photos and those I had seen in the 90’s — and on this same date in 2015 . 

•   A clear conclusion is that none of the photos, old or new, support Parkland physician Dr. Robert McClelland’s diagrammatic representation of the wound to the back of the President’s head. Both sets of photos, taken at the same time the night of the autopsy but only seen and comparable after 35 years, show a large contiguous flap of scalp hanging from the rear of the head. This contiguous flap of scalp, situated near the midline, had to originate anatomically from the top right rear of the head. Dr. McClelland’s diagram, taken from memory, shows a complete absence of scalp in this same area and reveals no recollection on his part of this large flap of scalp seen on the autopsy photos. The autopsy radiographs and photographs clearly delineate the true extent of underlying bone loss.  The documented bone loss in the rear of the head is in actuality higher than in Dr. McClelland’s diagram and is much more faithfully represented by Ida Dox’s HSCA diagram determined from the photographs and radiographs.

backofhead.jpg
Scalp Manually Returned to
Original Position

•  Ultimately, we still don't know why Agent Kellerman deliberately exposed the film, or whether this was his sole decision.  It would seem to have been quick and rash -- because the film could have easily been processed, and any photos not desired in the historic record could have been easily removed. This would have been a much simpler process than the alleged altering or forging the photographs and documentary record at a later time.

•  The apparent disparities between my memories and the films are based on the incidental findings in the un-cropped background portions in the original photographs that aren’t in the public domain. Despite Kodak’s skillful digitization, enhancement and enlargement, all other findings between the sets of photographs remain unchanged.  Between my visits to view the original materials in the 1990s and this visit, I have only been able to study further those autopsy photographs found in the public domain.  From a personal perspective, it's been disconcerting to find that some of my recollections of the films I examined closely 20+ years ago differed from the photographs I've just studied. It is not that the photographs have changed or been altered over the years. It is just that my memory, like most, is fallible and not photographic. 

In summary, after having reviewed the entirety of the autopsy photographs and x-rays, I believe that there are three major conclusions: 


I can attest with absolute conviction that all these materials are authentic and unchanged since they were taken the night of the autopsy. 

#1. Autopsy photographers Stringer and Riebe, intentionally misled official governmental investigators about the true forensic nature of the images contained on the roll of exposed 120 film. Their motivation, as well as that for Kellerman’s early attempt to destroy these duplicative images, remains unknown.

#2. Parkland physician Dr.Robert McClelland and many others were mistaken in their memories as to the exact size and nature of the wound to the back of the President’s head, as it appears in Dr. McClelland’s diagrammatic depiction. Both the original autopsy photographs and radiographs show the actual extent of the wounds.  This does not impugn the veracity of any other observations that Dr. McClelland has made.

#3.  Again, the original photographs and radiographs provide a degree of fidelity unchallengeable by any eyewitness attempts to describe the wounds to the President’s head in any manner. There are no internal discrepancies between the original and newly available photographs taken at the same time during the autopsy, or between any of the individual photographs or radiographs. Two cameras were simultaneously recording the true condition of the President’s body at the start of the autopsy.  

I can attest with absolute conviction that all these materials are authentic and unchanged since they were taken the night of the autopsy. 

Randolph Robertson M.D. November 2015

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6 hours ago, Pat Speer said:

In fact the Secret Service did go on to process Riebe's roll of exposed 120 film to verify that its images had been destroyed.

They developed the film in order to verify the images had been destroyed? Seems to me tossing the exposed film in the fireplace or cutting it into paper dolls would have been an effective way of ensuring whatever images that may have remained were eliminated.

Oh, but they wouldn't do that, would they? Taking it out and trying to destroy the images by exposing it to light was fine, but then throwing that exposed film in the fireplace or the shredder, well gee, that would have been against the rules.

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7 hours ago, Pat Speer said:

#2. Parkland physician Dr.Robert McClelland and many others were mistaken in their memories as to the exact size and nature of the wound to the back of the President’s head, as it appears in Dr. McClelland’s diagrammatic depiction. Both the original autopsy photographs and radiographs show the actual extent of the wounds.  This does not impugn the veracity of any other observations that Dr. McClelland has made.

Many others? Including what...a dozen or more eye witnesses?

Fellow Parkland doctors, nurses, Clint Hill, etc.etc.

All saying the same thing regards a baseball sized hole in the right rear skull area  showing oozing brain matter or ( according to Hill and Bethesda Med Tech Paul O'Conner ) no brains at all?

Even in one of the photos shown, we can see the the two piece skull bone flap that is in an above the right side ear area location of JFK's head.

We know exactly this location from viewing the Zapruder film and watching the flap blow out shown in real time. And by the closest sidewalk eye witness to the blowout Bill Newman's immediate description given just one hour later when he was interviewed on Dallas TV.

The location of that flap blowout is far away from the skull bone hole described by so many other up close eye witnesses to JFK's head that day.

Also, from looking at the right side and up top photos of JFK's head it looks like over half of JFK's upper brain matter must have been blown out. The massively eviscerated scalp looks so depressed downward as if there wasn't much left underneath to hold it back up into a more raised normal position.

It sure appears that the bullet that went into JFK's skull literally exploded JFK's brain matter into oblivion, does it not?

No wonder Humes and team didn't measure the weight of JFK's brain. Wasn't enough left to do so?

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THIS part of Robertson's article sticks out to me:

 The documented bone loss in the rear of the head is in actuality higher than in Dr. McClelland’s diagram

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21 minutes ago, Vince Palamara said:

THIS part of Robertson's article sticks out to me:

 The documented bone loss in the rear of the head is in actuality higher than in Dr. McClelland’s diagram

Robertson has convinced himself the large triangular fragment derived from the crown of Kennedy's head, and that there was no skull at the top of the back of the head (as shown in the so-called McClelland drawing.)

So he supports his pet theory by describing what he presumes to be a hole in this location as "documented bone loss."

As you know, Vince, researching the medical evidence is a mine-field, with experts on both sides of the fence mis-representing their pet theories as "facts". 

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3 hours ago, Joe Bauer said:

Many others? Including what...a dozen or more eye witnesses?

Fellow Parkland doctors, nurses, Clint Hill, etc.etc.

All saying the same thing regards a baseball sized hole in the right rear skull area  showing oozing brain matter or ( according to Hill and Bethesda Med Tech Paul O'Conner ) no brains at all?

Even in one of the photos shown, we can see the the two piece skull bone flap that is in an above the right side ear area location of JFK's head.

We know exactly this location from viewing the Zapruder film and watching the flap blow out shown in real time. And by the closest sidewalk eye witness to the blowout Bill Newman's immediate description given just one hour later when he was interviewed on Dallas TV.

The location of that flap blowout is far away from the skull bone hole described by so many other up close eye witnesses to JFK's head that day.

Also, from looking at the right side and up top photos of JFK's head it looks like over half of JFK's upper brain matter must have been blown out. The massively eviscerated scalp looks so depressed downward as if there wasn't much left underneath to hold it back up into a more raised normal position.

It sure appears that the bullet that went into JFK's skull literally exploded JFK's brain matter into oblivion, does it not?

No wonder Humes and team didn't measure the weight of JFK's brain. Wasn't enough left to do so?

Clint Hill's depiction of the wound location is not remotely in line with the location depicted in the so-called McClelland drawing (which McClelland repeatedly disavowed before finally caving-in and telling people what they wanted to hear).

image.png.162d470a2bae687aafa8e82ec4019b59.png  

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1 hour ago, Pat Speer said:

Robertson has convinced himself the large triangular fragment derived from the crown of Kennedy's head, and that there was no skull at the top of the back of the head (as shown in the so-called McClelland drawing.)

So he supports his pet theory by describing what he presumes to be a hole in this location as "documented bone loss."

As you know, Vince, researching the medical evidence is a mine-field, with experts on both sides of the fence mis-representing their pet theories as "facts". 

Fair enough. Pat, do you believe the back of the head was gone and do you believe the medical evidence points to a conspiracy?

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According to him and his family, Robert Knudsen was there that night. In fact, he was gone for three days.

And the evidence indicates that he took pictures and was a witness to what happened in the morgue. In fact, he described the probes inserted in JFK's body.

He was not called to testify before the Warren Commission.

As we show in JFK Revisited, he did testify before the HSCA.  They did not like what he said.

Therefore, as Doug Horne says, they classified his testimony for about 50 years.  But the ARRB declassified it.

To say the least, his story is one of the most fascinating of just about anyone before the HSCA. 

We talk about  it rather briefly in the film.  But clearly he and Sandy Spencer indicate there was a different set of pictures taken that night. Jeremy Gunn said that Spencer was their best witness.

George Burkley took a lot of secrets to his grave. Which is why the Secret Service visited him every year before he died.  And his daughter reneged on a deal for the ARRB to look through his attorney's files.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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3 hours ago, Pat Speer said:

Clint Hill's depiction of the wound location is not remotely in line with the location depicted in the so-called McClelland drawing (which McClelland repeatedly disavowed before finally caving-in and telling people what they wanted to hear).

image.png.162d470a2bae687aafa8e82ec4019b59.png  

Hill in 2013 on the National Geographic special (also a DVD) JFK: THE FINAL HOURS

 

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2 hours ago, Michael Crane said:

Crenshaw & McClelland > Hill IMHO.

Hill = Go along to get along.

Well, I would have to disagree. if Hill was just trying to go along with the official story, he would have said he believed in the single-bullet theory. But he has repeatedly said he doesn't believe it. And then there's the problem of the scoop. Hill described the brain he could see through the head wound as giving the appearance of ice cream with a scoop taken out. This is not the description of an exit wound created by an intact bullet. It is a description of a tangential wound of both entrance and exit. 

As far as McClelland and Crenshaw, they are both lacking in credibility. McClelland's initial report said the head wound was a wound of the left temple. While some would like to think he was describing an entrance wound on the right temple, this is desperate nonsense. He never claimed he saw an entrance wound on the right temple. No doctor worth his license would write a report claiming a wound was in a location that he did not see. He was thereby describing the large head wound--only he, quite obviously, mistook his right for his left, a situation not uncommon even among doctors. (Whenever I had a procedure done in the hospital they marked the location with a marker so the doctor wound't go to the wrong side.)

And, yes, I know McClelland tried to claim he wrote the left temple because Jenkins confused him by pointing to the left temple. But this goes back to what I wrote earlier. No competent doctor who'd personally observed a large head wound on the back of the head would write a report claiming the fatal wound was of the left temple, even if another doctor had indicated that was where the bullet had entered. 1) Doctors are supposed to describe what they saw and not what they were told. 2) Doctors should not report on an entrance location without mentioning the exit location, should they know the exit location. The idea that McClelland just wrote down what Jenkins told him and forgot to mention the large exit he claimed he'd studied is LUDICROUS. 

As far as Crenshaw, he failed to make a report on what he saw, or even put notes in a diary. His recollections were decades old, and clearly influenced by numerous books and articles on the assassination. He was most obviously influenced by the McClelland drawing, which was published and shown the Parkland staff for years and years before Crenshaw came forward. It is not a coincidence, IMO, that the majority of Parkland witnesses, when first shown this drawing, said it didn't represent what they remembered, but that Crenshaw came forward years later and described a wound in the rough location of the drawing (i.e. on the back the head below the top of the ear.) And then there's the problem with the drawings Crenshaw created for the ARRB. He placed a wound on an anatomy drawing of a posterior view of the skull. He then placed this wound on a lateral view of the skull. The problem is that he placed the wound in two different locations, revealing, if nothing else, his lack of anatomical expertise.

I met McClelland briefly, but never met Crenshaw. I will grant that they seemed to be nice men, and sincere in their belief something was askew. But their precise recollections are not to be trusted, IMO. 

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1 hour ago, James DiEugenio said:

According to him and his family, Robert Knudsen was there that night. In fact, he was gone for three days.

And the evidence indicates that he took pictures and was a witness to what happened in the morgue. In fact, he described the probes inserted in JFK's body.

He was not called to testify before the Warren Commission.

As we show in JFK Revisited, he did testify before the HSCA.  They did not like what he said.

Therefore, as Doug Horne says, they classified his testimony for about 50 years.  But the ARRB declassified it.

To say the least, his story is one of the most fascinating of just about anyone before the HSCA. 

We talk about  it rather briefly in the film.  But clearly he and Sandy Spencer indicate there was a different set of pictures taken that night. Jeremy Gunn said that Spencer was their best witness.

George Burkley took a lot of secrets to his grave. Which is why the Secret Service visited him every year before he died.  And his daughter reneged on a deal for the ARRB to look through his attorney's files.

It seems to me that you can't have it both ways. if you're gonna push what Knudsen's family remembered him saying, you can't simultaneously push his HSCA testimony. His HSCA testimony makes clear he helped develop photos that he did not take, and that he did so on the day after the assassination. And this only makes sense. 

He was a White House photographer, who took pictures of the family and public events etc. He would not have been asked to take pictures at an autopsy. That was the job of a forensic photographer, such as Stringer. To have a White House photographer take autopsy photos would be like having a rock n roll photographer take up close advertising photos of food. It's a different kind of photography, performed by a different kind of photographer. One specializes in capturing the moment and one specializes in capturing minute details. Different cameras. Different lenses. Different lighting. And almost certainly different film. 

Edited by Pat Speer
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