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The Head Wound Explained


Erick A. Bovik
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This has probably been covered before, but I thought I’d give my take on the subject and see what others say, regarding the fatal head wound.

Initially, without considering what Dr, Crenshaw and other witnesses said about a large exit wound to the back of the head, examine the head wound on the Zapruder film. The flap of skull we see exploding to the right side above the ear is not, in my opinion, indicative of an exit (or entrance) wound. Exit wounds are generally round albeit much larger than entrance wounds. This wound in my opinion, is a shock wave wound.

Bullet engineers often test bullets in a substance known as “ballistic gelatin.” This is a rectangular block of thick, clear gelatin of flesh-like consistency, which, when a bullet is fired into the end, allows the engineer to view the path of the bullet and the “wound channel” it would create in flesh. Round-nosed or pointed full-metal-jacket (FMJ) bullets at low subsonic velocity, 700-800 feet per second (fps), (such as fired from a handgun) will create a channel in the gelatin not much large in diameter than the actual projectile. FMJ bullets are usually copper-clad. The same FMJ bullet fired at supersonic speed (above 1130 fps) will enter the gelatin and create a shock wave near the entrance, then as the velocity decreases, the channel reduces in diameter. The shock wave increases in size with the velocity of the projectile. Muzzle velocities of handgun rounds are generally 700 to 1500 fps. Rifle rounds are generally above that. The muzzle velocity of a typical .30 caliber bullet fired from a deer rifle is between 2200 and 2800 feet per second (fps). A 6.5 by 52mm Carcano rifle round has a muzzle velocity of about 2100 fps. (6.5mm refers to the diameter of the projectile, 52mm refers to the length of the cartridge case.)

A high velocity rifle bullet creates a shock wave, and sonic boom--this is the cracking sound heard when a high-powered rifle is fired. I once knew a fellow who served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He recounted being on guard duty at the perimeter of camp one night when the Viet Cong attacked unexpectedly. The soldier had laid his —16 rifle on the embankment in front of him and only had time to pick it up with one hand as an enemy soldier came over the top. He fired and the attacker immediately dropped dead. Later upon examining the body, they discovered the round had barely grazed the side of the enemy’s head. The shock wave of the bullet had shattered the skull. This was a 5.56 by 45mm (.223) round with a muzzle velocity of 2985 fps.

There are wide variations in rifle bullet velocities depending on the size of the gunpowder charge and the weight of the bullet. Lighter bullets e.g. .223 and .243 caliber, usually have higher muzzle velocities (2900 fps+) than heavier .30 caliber bullets. Each particular caliber of bullet is manufactured in two or three, sometimes more weights, depending on the popularity of the round. Some hunters hand load their own cartridges to achieve a particular ballistic objective.

The typical rifle bullet used by hunters for deer and other mid-sized game is a partial metal jacket. That type of bullet has a soft lead nose, sometimes with a hollow point, and the base is jacketed with copper, for controlled expansion. Upon penetration, the soft lead nose begins to flatten, which expands the lead within the copper base. The copper base in turn serrates and peels back. This creates several cutting surfaces on the expanding projectile which causes a great deal of tissue damage. Depending on the location of the impact and whether the projectile encounters thick bone tissue, the controlled expansion bullet may remain in the target or create a large, gaping exit wound. Viewed in ballistic gelatin, this projectile will cause an expanding pocket of damage, representing both high-velocity shock wave and gelatin disruption from the copper serrations.

Another type of rifle bullet is what some refer to as a “fragmenting” round. These are bullets which rapidly disintegrate upon penetration. The tissue or gelatin contains and absorbs all the energy of the projectile, and depending on the entry location, there may not be an exit. This type of round causes a great deal of tissue damage. Fragmenting rounds are currently manufactured for both rifles and handguns. In 1963, fragmenting bullet technology was more primitive than today, although the concept has been around for quite some time. Old-time Mafia hit men used to carve deep X’s in the tips of their lead bullets, which would cause fragmentation. In Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal there is an interesting description of the assassin making fragmenting rounds by sealing drops of mercury into hollow point rifle bullets.

Getting back to the head wound shown in the Zapruder film, the X-rays of the President’s skull show small metal particles dispersed in the brain matter, and the autopsy doctors at Bethesda recovered two larger fragments. This is indicative of a fragmenting rifle bullet, not an FMJ Carcano round, such as the legendary “magic bullet.” The skull flap indicates a shock wave from a high-velocity round. The backward movement of the head indicates the shot originated from the front. The fact that the skull flap occurred on the right side of the head indicates that the shot came from the right front, i.e. the grassy knoll or the right side of the railroad bridge. Mrs. Kennedy climbed onto the trunk of the limousine to retrieve a large chunk of tissue. Again, this indicates a bullet from the front. The same round which caused the shock wave resulting in the right skull flap and metal particles, could have remained sufficiently intact to create the exit wound to the back of the head, as observed by Dr. Crenshaw and others.

I’ve heard an argument that a bullet wound to the human central nervous system could cause an involuntary spasm which could cause the victim to move counter to the force of the bullet strike. This is an attempt to explain the President’s backward head movement as not necessarily indicative of bullet trajectory. Let’s consider a typical rifle round which might have been fired from the Grassy Knoll. The .308 Winchester is a high velocity round with a fairly flat trajectory. It would be an ideal sniper round. In fact, that is the round the U.S. Army, police departments and Special Forces have used for decades in sniper rifles. A 150-grain .308 round has muzzle energy of 2648 foot pounds. At 75 yards, a probable distance from the grassy knoll, it would retain 2365 foot pounds of muzzle energy, in other words, the force of 2365 pounds moving one foot against the President’s head. That’s about the weight of a small car. The velocity of the .308, which is a component of the bullet’s energy, is 2820 fps at the muzzle and 2654 at 75 yards. So if a .308 was used, the velocity of the bullet striking the President’s head was more than twice the speed of sound. The physics of high velocity rifle bullets defy any attempt to explain the backwards head movement as being a mere spasm.

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The physics of high velocity rifle bullets defy any attempt to explain the backwards head movement as being a mere spasm.

Hi Erick, and welcome to the forum. A very interesting piece.

Have you studied the head movements, with the neck as a pivot, vs. the full backward jerk of the torso that clearly pivots from the pelvis/hips? If so, would the ballistics you have described account, by force isolated to the head, for the full body motion, and if so, how?

Ashton

Edited by Ashton Gray
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IMO the following should be considered: Cobbled together from various sites that explain muscle movements:

"Placed in a stressful situation, your sympathetic nervous system triggers an accelerated heart beat rate, blood gets shunted from your extremities to your lungs for better oxygen exchange, the liver is stimulated to release glycogen for conversion to glucose and subsequent oxidation for its stored energy. You are set up to "fight" or "run."

The movement of muscles is coordinated and controlled by the nervous system. A part of the brain called the motor cortex sends messages or signals through the spinal cord to the nerves in the body that then "tell" the muscle to move. The motor cortex on the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, while the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body.

When muscles receive a signal (are stimulated), they contract. This signal may be a message that the muscle receives from the brain in response to a person's desire to move; this is a voluntary stimulus. The signal may be a reflex, or an involuntary stimulus.

A Muscle Contraction, like a Nerve Impulse, is an All-or-None Response- either Fibers Contract or they Remain Relaxed.

14. The force of a Muscle Contraction is determined by the number of Muscle fibers that are Stimulated. As more fibers are activated, the force of the contraction Increases.

15. Some Muscles, such as the muscles that hold the body in an upright position and maintain posture, are nearly always at least Partially Contracted."

The main points are : the right side of the brain control the left side of the body. The frontal lobes mostly control movements. Movements are because of contractions. When muscles receive a signal they contract.

The throat shot triggers "flight run response"

The right side of the brain is traumatised, A burst of neural stimulation goes to the left side, so the muscles on the left side of the body contract.

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The physics of high velocity rifle bullets defy any attempt to explain the backwards head movement as being a mere spasm.

Hi Erick, and welcome to the forum. A very interesting piece.

Have you studied the head movements, with the neck as a pivot, vs. the full backward jerk of the torso that clearly pivots from the pelvis/hips? If so, would the ballistics you have described account, by force isolated to the head, for the full body motion, and if so, how?

Ashton

I am isolating my comments only to the immediate movement of the head upon bullet impact. I will concede that after the initial impact, neurological spasms could have been a factor in any other bodily movements. I know nothing about neurological spasms from bullet impacts other than what I have observed in the Zapruder film and having shot quite a few animals myself when hunting. From my personal observations, large body movements from spasms are rare from brain shots; small twitches are more common. On small game such as rabbits I would usually aim for the head to avoid damaging meat. On deer I sometimes would administer a coup de grace to the head.

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IMO the following should be considered: Cobbled together from various sites that explain muscle movements:

"Placed in a stressful situation, your sympathetic nervous system triggers an accelerated heart beat rate, blood gets shunted from your extremities to your lungs for better oxygen exchange, the liver is stimulated to release glycogen for conversion to glucose and subsequent oxidation for its stored energy. You are set up to "fight" or "run."

The movement of muscles is coordinated and controlled by the nervous system. A part of the brain called the motor cortex sends messages or signals through the spinal cord to the nerves in the body that then "tell" the muscle to move. The motor cortex on the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, while the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body.

When muscles receive a signal (are stimulated), they contract. This signal may be a message that the muscle receives from the brain in response to a person's desire to move; this is a voluntary stimulus. The signal may be a reflex, or an involuntary stimulus.

A Muscle Contraction, like a Nerve Impulse, is an All-or-None Response- either Fibers Contract or they Remain Relaxed.

14. The force of a Muscle Contraction is determined by the number of Muscle fibers that are Stimulated. As more fibers are activated, the force of the contraction Increases.

15. Some Muscles, such as the muscles that hold the body in an upright position and maintain posture, are nearly always at least Partially Contracted."

The main points are : the right side of the brain control the left side of the body. The frontal lobes mostly control movements. Movements are because of contractions. When muscles receive a signal they contract.

The throat shot triggers "flight run response"

The right side of the brain is traumatised, A burst of neural stimulation goes to the left side, so the muscles on the left side of the body contract.

Over the years I have heard the hypothesis that the President’s reactions may have been slowed by the steroids he was on for his back condition. Also, he probably had Addison’s disease, which affects the adrenal glands, and that may have affected his reaction to the shots. Below is an informative link from the JFK Library on the President’s health problems.

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resou...ons+Disease.htm

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I'm just logging some points to consider. There are things that are not so clear, like if the frontal lobe is severely damaged would it send stimuli as readily as if it is not severely damaged. The 'switch board' for the signals are more deeply nestled in the skull.

The fact you have direct experience with shooting various animals is significant. I haven't. A slaughterhouse worker which usually deliver a fatal blow in some way to the head of many animals might also have some experiences to recount. Perhaps animals behave differently because their neural centers are different as they lack the higher cortexes. I don't know. I'll search for an answer to it.

I've read the impact of a supersonic slug is akin to hitting with a human speed delivered sledge hammer strike. The head being much lighter than the body and being multiple pivoted on the neck could very well show rapid movements as well as the explosion. The body being more inert could have more of its movements attributed to spasms and other factors. The WC pulled a fast one with their goat shooting in that they anchored the neck in a vice and said there was no significant head movements and large spasms. There were large spasms but if one looks very carefully at the first few frames after the headshot (this was a highspeed film) one can see the head flicking sideways.

As well as steroids etc Kennedy wore a steel rod reinforced brace tightly wrapped around the lower trunk.

Good topic, BTW, most thought provoking on an important subject.

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I'm just logging some points to consider. There are things that are not so clear, like if the frontal lobe is severely damaged would it send stimuli as readily as if it is not severely damaged. The 'switch board' for the signals are more deeply nestled in the skull.

The fact you have direct experience with shooting various animals is significant. I haven't. A slaughterhouse worker which usually deliver a fatal blow in some way to the head of many animals might also have some experiences to recount. Perhaps animals behave differently because their neural centers are different as they lack the higher cortexes. I don't know. I'll search for an answer to it.

I've read the impact of a supersonic slug is akin to hitting with a human speed delivered sledge hammer strike. The head being much lighter than the body and being multiple pivoted on the neck could very well show rapid movements as well as the explosion. The body being more inert could have more of its movements attributed to spasms and other factors. The WC pulled a fast one with their goat shooting in that they anchored the neck in a vice and said there was no significant head movements and large spasms. There were large spasms but if one looks very carefully at the first few frames after the headshot (this was a highspeed film) one can see the head flicking sideways.

As well as steroids etc Kennedy wore a steel rod reinforced brace tightly wrapped around the lower trunk.

Good topic, BTW, most thought provoking on an important subject.

A bullet wound to the head will sharply increase the internal cranial pressure which affects all parts of the brain. However the explosion of the skull would have the effect of alleviating the pressure. This occurs within thousandths of a second.

Some years ago I saw a TV show on the Lincoln assassination. They used a cadaver head in an experiment. They attached pressure gauges which measured the internal cranial pressure. First they fired a .44 caliber black powder derringer, identical to the one Booth used, into the back of the head. The internal cranial pressure sharply spiked. The spike in cranial pressure occurred throughout the entire inner skull. The experimenters were trying to figure out whether Mr. Lincoln would have survived with modern medical intervention. I remember another part of the experiment also. This replicated the initial finger probe of Mr. Lincoln’s wound in Ford’s theater by Dr. Leale and others subsequently. The experimenter probed the cadaver head wound in a similar manner, and again the cranial pressure spiked. The experimenter concluded that probing the wound did not help Mr. Lincoln. I do not recall whether he thought modern medicine would have been helpful. Below are some links on the subject:

http://www.thelincolnlegacy.org/timeline/hours.htm

http://www.nvrha.com/NEWS.HTM

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I'm just logging some points to consider. There are things that are not so clear, like if the frontal lobe is severely damaged would it send stimuli as readily as if it is not severely damaged. The 'switch board' for the signals are more deeply nestled in the skull.

The fact you have direct experience with shooting various animals is significant. I haven't. A slaughterhouse worker which usually deliver a fatal blow in some way to the head of many animals might also have some experiences to recount. Perhaps animals behave differently because their neural centers are different as they lack the higher cortexes. I don't know. I'll search for an answer to it.

I've read the impact of a supersonic slug is akin to hitting with a human speed delivered sledge hammer strike. The head being much lighter than the body and being multiple pivoted on the neck could very well show rapid movements as well as the explosion. The body being more inert could have more of its movements attributed to spasms and other factors. The WC pulled a fast one with their goat shooting in that they anchored the neck in a vice and said there was no significant head movements and large spasms. There were large spasms but if one looks very carefully at the first few frames after the headshot (this was a highspeed film) one can see the head flicking sideways.

As well as steroids etc Kennedy wore a steel rod reinforced brace tightly wrapped around the lower trunk.

Good topic, BTW, most thought provoking on an important subject.

A bullet wound to the head will sharply increase the internal cranial pressure which affects all parts of the brain. However the explosion of the skull would have the effect of alleviating the pressure. This occurs within thousandths of a second.

Some years ago I saw a TV show on the Lincoln assassination. They used a cadaver head in an experiment. They attached pressure gauges which measured the internal cranial pressure. First they fired a .44 caliber black powder derringer, identical to the one Booth used, into the back of the head. The internal cranial pressure sharply spiked. The spike in cranial pressure occurred throughout the entire inner skull. The experimenters were trying to figure out whether Mr. Lincoln would have survived with modern medical intervention. I remember another part of the experiment also. This replicated the initial finger probe of Mr. Lincoln’s wound in Ford’s theater by Dr. Leale and others subsequently. The experimenter probed the cadaver head wound in a similar manner, and again the cranial pressure spiked. The experimenter concluded that probing the wound did not help Mr. Lincoln. I do not recall whether he thought modern medicine would have been helpful. Below are some links on the subject:

http://www.thelincolnlegacy.org/timeline/hours.htm

http://www.nvrha.com/NEWS.HTM

*****************************************************

I concur with what Erick says, having shot game, myself as well as witnessing my brothers taking down deer for food and provision for the winter months. John Ritchson would've been pleased with your analysis, and explanation here, Erick. I only wish he was still alive today to offer his input. You guys would've gotten along really well.

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Hello Erick

I being a military veteran, a life long hunter, and one who currently actively participates in local shooting clubs....I find your presentation excellent.

There is a question that frequently arises, and I had hoped that you would pick up in John Dolva's post....which referred to a "sledge hammer".

It it a common perception on this and other forums, that when 170 # animals are impacted with a bullet, that they "Hollywood Style", are projected thru the air.

Could you explain to those that believe in this concept, that the impact of a bullet on the face of a target is no greater than the recoil impact on the shooter.

A 170 # animal will do one of three things. 1) The animal will drop. 2) The animal will not drop. 3) The animal will take some steps or run for a while after the impact. But its body will NOT be propelled thru the air.

I have tried to explain this several times, however many are under the impression that the "sledge hammer" or basball bat type lifting and propelling of a body is seen with actual bullet impact on standing or sittings animals, as has been recently falsely depicted in Hollywood.

I have even tried to make the point that if one pays attention, there are many times aired on the History Channel, the actual photos of Nazis lining up prisoners beside a slit trench common grave, and shooting them at "point blank" range with Mauser rifles or 9mm pistols. On these occasions, the victims merely "fall into the grave....their bodies are not propelled (as was JFK's body in the Zapruder film.)

It was reportd by, I think, "all" Dealey Plaza eyewitnesses, whose testimony was taken on the afternoon of 11/22/63, that JFK exhibited no head snap or body snap or propulsion....and that after the head shot / shots, that JFK fell into Jackies lap.....as what ballistically should have happened.

Non shooters do not also realize, that when film of fruit (melons) being impacted by a bullet show the melon exploding from the pressure....that the "base" of the melon is not propelled off of its mount, and still remains on the table.

I have tried to explain that the "violent" up, back and leftward motion of JFK's body is not what has been observed by combat veterans, police officers, or deer hunters.......or the Dealey Plaza eyewitnesses.

I would appreciate your input, and I feel that it might be a great help to some of the forum members.

Charlie Black

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Hello Erick

I being a military veteran, a life long hunter, and one who currently actively participates in local shooting clubs....I find your presentation excellent.

There is a question that frequently arises, and I had hoped that you would pick up in John Dolva's post....which referred to a "sledge hammer".

It it a common perception on this and other forums, that when 170 # animals are impacted with a bullet, that they "Hollywood Style", are projected thru the air.

Could you explain to those that believe in this concept, that the impact of a bullet on the face of a target is no greater than the recoil impact on the shooter.

A 170 # animal will do one of three things. 1) The animal will drop. 2) The animal will not drop. 3) The animal will take some steps or run for a while after the impact. But its body will NOT be propelled thru the air.

I have tried to explain this several times, however many are under the impression that the "sledge hammer" or basball bat type lifting and propelling of a body is seen with actual bullet impact on standing or sittings animals, as has been recently falsely depicted in Hollywood.

I have even tried to make the point that if one pays attention, there are many times aired on the History Channel, the actual photos of Nazis lining up prisoners beside a slit trench common grave, and shooting them at "point blank" range with Mauser rifles or 9mm pistols. On these occasions, the victims merely "fall into the grave....their bodies are not propelled (as was JFK's body in the Zapruder film.)

It was reportd by, I think, "all" Dealey Plaza eyewitnesses, whose testimony was taken on the afternoon of 11/22/63, that JFK exhibited no head snap or body snap or propulsion....and that after the head shot / shots, that JFK fell into Jackies lap.....as what ballistically should have happened.

Non shooters do not also realize, that when film of fruit (melons) being impacted by a bullet show the melon exploding from the pressure....that the "base" of the melon is not propelled off of its mount, and still remains on the table.

I have tried to explain that the "violent" up, back and leftward motion of JFK's body is not what has been observed by combat veterans, police officers, or deer hunters.......or the Dealey Plaza eyewitnesses.

I would appreciate your input, and I feel that it might be a great help to some of the forum members.

Charlie Black

Charles, I differentiate between body and head:

"The head being much lighter than the body and being multiple pivoted on the neck could very well show rapid movements as well as the explosion. The body being more inert could have more of its movements attributed to spasms and other factors."

Also if you strike, for example, a watermalon with a sledge hammer very hard it doesn't necessarily shift the watermelon much but shatters it. If you hit a heavy adult on the trunk with a sledge hammer you're more likely to break bone than propel the body itself anywhere. If you swing at the foot you'll do both. It's all about inertia.

Recoil on a rifle can be, and is, dealt with in a number of ways, not least of which is the spreading of the force by the stock.

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Hello Erick

I being a military veteran, a life long hunter, and one who currently actively participates in local shooting clubs....I find your presentation excellent.

There is a question that frequently arises, and I had hoped that you would pick up in John Dolva's post....which referred to a "sledge hammer".

It it a common perception on this and other forums, that when 170 # animals are impacted with a bullet, that they "Hollywood Style", are projected thru the air.

Could you explain to those that believe in this concept, that the impact of a bullet on the face of a target is no greater than the recoil impact on the shooter.

A 170 # animal will do one of three things. 1) The animal will drop. 2) The animal will not drop. 3) The animal will take some steps or run for a while after the impact. But its body will NOT be propelled thru the air.

I have tried to explain this several times, however many are under the impression that the "sledge hammer" or basball bat type lifting and propelling of a body is seen with actual bullet impact on standing or sittings animals, as has been recently falsely depicted in Hollywood.

I have even tried to make the point that if one pays attention, there are many times aired on the History Channel, the actual photos of Nazis lining up prisoners beside a slit trench common grave, and shooting them at "point blank" range with Mauser rifles or 9mm pistols. On these occasions, the victims merely "fall into the grave....their bodies are not propelled (as was JFK's body in the Zapruder film.)

It was reportd by, I think, "all" Dealey Plaza eyewitnesses, whose testimony was taken on the afternoon of 11/22/63, that JFK exhibited no head snap or body snap or propulsion....and that after the head shot / shots, that JFK fell into Jackies lap.....as what ballistically should have happened.

Non shooters do not also realize, that when film of fruit (melons) being impacted by a bullet show the melon exploding from the pressure....that the "base" of the melon is not propelled off of its mount, and still remains on the table.

I have tried to explain that the "violent" up, back and leftward motion of JFK's body is not what has been observed by combat veterans, police officers, or deer hunters.......or the Dealey Plaza eyewitnesses.

I would appreciate your input, and I feel that it might be a great help to some of the forum members.

Charlie Black

Charlie,

I am blessed by the fact that I have not been in combat or seen someone shot in combat (a long time ago a neighbor accidentally shot himself in the groin with a .22 but that is the subject of another story).

I am just basing my comments on the head movement we can all see in the Zapruder film. I offer no explanation for any other body movement. Eyewitness testimony can be unreliable. When I try cases I often find that one witness's testimony may vary significantly from another witness's even if they testify to the same event. It is a matter of perception, memory, stress, etc. Your comment on recoil is well-taken. Don't anyone try this at home or anywhere else: Hypothetically, if a person were to place the unpadded butt end of a deer rifle firmly against their forehead and fire, it would probably produce a similar head movement to the one seen in the film. It would also likely produce injuries.

Erick

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A bullet wound to the head will sharply increase the internal cranial pressure which affects all parts of the brain. However the explosion of the skull would have the effect of alleviating the pressure. This occurs within thousandths of a second.

A bullet wound to the head will also cause a back spatter of the cranial fluid as seen in the Zapruder film, which also tells the direction from which the shot came. This is not an opinion, but rather a science. The release of the cranial fluid is captured in Zapruder frame Z313. That release of cranial fluid comes from atop the skull from where the bone plate came off.

Bill Miller

The release of back spatter

The release of the back spatterd cranial fluid

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A contribution to the discussion. My sincere apologies to the creator of the impact.mov from which the gif is made. I can't find the place I found this some time ago. When/if I do I'll credit it.

It's a visualisation of a non penetrative impact. Note the delay between the impact, it's absorption and the start of movement.

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c168/yanndee/i.gif

Edited by John Dolva
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The physics of high velocity rifle bullets defy any attempt to explain the backwards head movement as being a mere spasm.

Hi Erick, and welcome to the forum. A very interesting piece.

Have you studied the head movements, with the neck as a pivot, vs. the full backward jerk of the torso that clearly pivots from the pelvis/hips? If so, would the ballistics you have described account, by force isolated to the head, for the full body motion, and if so, how?

Ashton

I am isolating my comments only to the immediate movement of the head upon bullet impact. I will concede that after the initial impact, neurological spasms could have been a factor in any other bodily movements.

Excellent. I've done a small anim from the Zapruder film, below, focusing on "the immediate movement of the head upon bullet impact" to see if you could expand on that a bit.

First, allow me to credit, then apologize to, John Dolva: I've adopted his ingenious stablization technique for this short series—hence the credit—but haven't done it nearly as well as he does—hence the apologies. I feel it will suffice for these purposes, though.

I have the first three of four frames of the anim set to 1.5 second intervals so it goes slow enough to see, then the last frame lingers for 3 seconds before the anim loops.

In the first frame—Zapruder 312, immediately prior to impact—I have scribed a white line along the silhouette of JFK's back and head.

In the first bullet impact frame—Zapruder 313—I have done the same thing, but left the outline from the prior frame in place, connecting them with motion lines.

That stays essentially the same through the next frame—Zapruder 314—but there I have added an arrow to what clearly appears to be ejecta, which arrow happens to align almost exactly with the motion lines showing the sudden change of head position.

Finally, Zapruder 315 shows JFK's right arm swinging up after the side of his head has been blown out, as his body arcs back, bringing his head almost to the same position as Zapruder 312. Then the sequence starts again and loops:

headshot4framestable.gif

I'm not really up on ballistics, so since this thread is "The Head Wound Explained," I hoped you could explain the ballistics to me of a frontal shot that would throw his head forward to that degree in the time of a single frame, and send ejecta that far forward in the same direction of the head movement by the next frame.

Ashton

Edited by Ashton Gray
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The physics of high velocity rifle bullets defy any attempt to explain the backwards head movement as being a mere spasm.

Hi Erick, and welcome to the forum. A very interesting piece.

Have you studied the head movements, with the neck as a pivot, vs. the full backward jerk of the torso that clearly pivots from the pelvis/hips? If so, would the ballistics you have described account, by force isolated to the head, for the full body motion, and if so, how?

Ashton

I am isolating my comments only to the immediate movement of the head upon bullet impact. I will concede that after the initial impact, neurological spasms could have been a factor in any other bodily movements.

Excellent. I've done a small anim from the Zapruder film, below, focusing on "the immediate movement of the head upon bullet impact" to see if you could expand on that a bit.

First, allow me to credit, then apologize to, John Dolva: I've adopted his ingenious stablization technique for this short series—hence the credit—but haven't done it nearly as well as he does—hence the apologies. I feel it will suffice for these purposes, though.

I have the first three of four frames of the anim set to 1.5 second intervals so it goes slow enough to see, then the last frame lingers for 3 seconds before the anim loops.

In the first frame—Zapruder 312, immediately prior to impact—I have scribed a white line along the silhouette of JFK's back and head.

In the first bullet impact frame—Zapruder 313—I have done the same thing, but left the outline from the prior frame in place, connecting them with motion lines.

That stays essentially the same through the next frame—Zapruder 314—but there I have added an arrow to what clearly appears to be ejecta, which arrow happens to align almost exactly with the motion lines showing the sudden change of head position.

Finally, Zapruder 315 shows JFK's right arm swinging up after the side of his head has been blown out, as his body arcs back, bringing his head almost to the same position as Zapruder 312. Then the sequence starts again and loops:

headshot4framestable.gif

I'm not really up on ballistics, so since this thread is "The Head Wound Explained," I hoped you could explain the ballistics to me of a frontal shot that would throw his head forward to that degree in the time of a single frame, and send ejecta that far forward in the same direction of the head movement by the next frame.

Ashton

Ashton,

I assume for the purpose of this thread that we are proceeding on the assumption that the Zapruder film actually depicts the terrible event within the capabilities of 8mm color film, and that the film has not been altered. There is a great deal of controversy as to whether the film has been altered, which would properly be a subject for another thread.

Pick up a stone and throw it forward like a baseball into water. Some of the water will splash forward of the stone’s impact and some will splash ahead and around the point of impact. Crime scene specialists and forensic scientists will tell you that when an individual is shot, there is ejecta coming backwards out of the wound. That is why, at close range, the shooter will get sprayed with blood and tissue.

Mrs. Kennedy would not have been reaching for a chunk of the President’s head on the trunk of the limo if the shot had come from the rear. Any chunk of tissue would likely have ended up in the front seat rather than on the trunk if the head shot came from the rear. Dallas Police Officer Bobby Hargis was on a motorcycle behind and to the left of Mrs. Kennedy when the head shot occurred. He was splattered with blood and brain tissue. This also indicates a shot from the front and to the right.

As regards the head movement upon the point of impact, remember, the President had already been shot in the upper torso. Undoubtedly he was reacting to that wound when the fatal bullet arrived. It was a natural reaction to the torso wound and the sound of gunfire, to hunch forward, which is what appears to be occurring as the limo appears after passing the Stemmons Freeway sign. The overall head movement is not just backwards, it is also to the left and downward, towards Mrs. Kennedy, which is consistent with a shooter in front and to the right. The head recedes from the camera. This is what appears to be happening from frame 312 to 315.

Each frame of the Zapruder film is 1/40th of a second. Moving objects will be slightly blurred in each frame. It’s not as photographically accurate as a video tape. A slight, rapid head movement in reaction to the initial impact will not be depicted as accurately as the overall head movement over many film frames. We cannot see what is occurring between each film frame.

Erick

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