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Autopsy photographs chain of custody: Where is the ARRB interview for Carol Ann Bonito/Roberts?

Micah Mileto

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The story of Saundra Spencer relates to one of many issues in the chain of custody for the official autopsy photographs – there is no clear identification for who developed the film and made the prints at the NPC. There are least 4 potential candidates for who could have done the hands-on processing there – besides Saundra Spencer and James Fox, there is U.S. Navy Lieutenant j.g. Vincent Madonia, White House photographer Robert Knudsen, and NPC employee Carol Ann Bonito. There doesn’t seem to be any single definitive account. There is also a lack of information on how the color negative film in the official collection was duplicated from the color positive film. The HSCA tried publishing a report on the chain of custody for the autopsy materials (HSCA Vol. 7, p. 23 [text]), but it was not very detailed, and a lot more information came afterwards. The statements of Saundra Spencer clearly don’t corroborate the official story, but she did suggest some other potential witnesses. When Spencer was asked in her first 12/13/1996 interview “...Was there anyone else you know of at NPC who had any role in developing any autopsy photograph- photographs other than yourself?”, she saidI- I was trying to think of who the two people were that were working that day, and I- I can't think of it”. Spencer said that whoever else was helping would have been a military rank below her. Spencer then suggested the name of “Bonita” as somebody who could have helped process the photos (Spencer’s 12/13/1996 interview by the ARRB [audio]). The name of Carol Ann Bonito was listed on a Navy Enlisted Distribution and Verification Report from 1963 (ARRB MD 144). In 1963, Carol was in the Navy as a third class E-4 photographer's mate (ARRB, 12/16/1996 email from Douglas Horne to Dave Montague; ARRB Electronic Files of T. Jeremy Gunn, Executive Director and General Counsel, INTERVIE_BONITO.WPD). When Spencer was asked in her deposition about who else could’ve been there helping with the photographs, she said “They secured the regular color lab crews and we stayed... “There was about three of us up there... “Carol Bonito was the only one I can identify. There was a 2nd Class that had come aboard just recently, but I didn't remember. The only thing I remember is Kirk was on his name... “...the gentleman I was talking about was a 2nd Class…”. Question: “When Mr. Fox or the person came to the White House lab, approximately, how many other people were working in the lab at that time?”, answer: Two others”, question: Do you remember who they were? Was one Ms. Bonito, for example?”, answer: “Yes, and the 2nd Class. The day crew was on. We had two, usually two 2nd Class that worked the evening shift (Spencer’s ARRB deposition, 6/5/1997 [text] [audio]). Carol Ann Bonito, whose last name was later changed to Roberts, was found and contacted by the ARRB in 1996 (ARRB staff memo, 5/18/1998, Doug Horne to Jeremy Gunn, Requested Lists of Information Re: All of ARRB's Medical Witnesses, and All New ARRB Medical Evidence Not Previously in JFK Collection; ARRB, 12/27/1996 letter from Jeremy Gunn to Carol A. Roberts), but further details do not seem to be currently available on the internet.


Edited by Micah Mileto
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