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The Autopsy Photos and X-Rays

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Have the autopsy photos and x-rays been faked or altered? Most Warren Commission defenders will point to the HSCA's (House Select Committee on Assassinations) two expert panels that authenticated the photos and x-rays. They were "authenticated" by very narrow criteria and they did not explain the indications of alteration in the autopsy materials. The HSCA also concluded the following (taken from Mike Griffith's JFK Assassination page). They are generally of rather poor photographic quality.

- Some of them were taken in such a manner that it is nearly impossible to anatomically orient the direction of view.

- In many of them, scaler references are entirely lacking, or, when present, are positioned in such a manner that it is difficult or impossible to obtain accurate measurements of critical features from anatomical landmarks.

- Not one of them contains information identifying the victim, such as his name, the autopsy case number, and the date and place of the examination.

- Due to their lack of documentation and poor quality, the defense could have challenged the use of these photos as evidence in a trial, and even the prosecution might have had "second thoughts about using certain of these photographs since they are more confusing than informative."

- The onus of establishing their authenticity would have rested with the prosecution. Harrison Livingstone correctly notes that this point and the previous one can rightly be seen as an admission that the photos would have been prima facie inadmissable as evidence in a court of law, and that the prosecution could have used them only after establishing their validity.

There are also no autopsy tags visible, no photos of the brain after removal, no whole body photographs, no photos of the skull reassembled, and no photo of the chest cavity.

The HSCA authenticated the photos by using these face measurements to prove the man in the photos is indeed John F. Kennedy. But if the photos are genuine but have been altered in some way, the above graphic would not automatically prove authenticity.

In the top-of-the-head photos and the right profile photos, three bloody red stripes hand down giving the impression of a massive wound on the top of the head. However, in the black and white photos, the stripes are white and light gray. This is a photographic impossibility if orthochromatic film was used. When orthochromatic film is used, red becomes black, not white or light gray. Photographic expert Steve Mills has this to say:

"Orthochromatic film, unfiltered, records blue very lightly and red very darkly. This makes perfect sense in [autopsy photos] F1 through F5. Yet, here's a supposedly bloodied scalp in F6 and F7 recorded as light gray. This can be done with a red filter on ortho film, but the blood drops on the towel show me this is not the case. The scalp can't be gray and three bloody spots still be dark if a filter was used. It is common to use ortho film in forensic photography to show differences and details in red and blue areas. But this is no proof. The record declares one type of film, and the photos declare either another or fraud."

Mills then goes on to say:

"They [the autopsy photos] also show Groden's color shots to be frauds. Let me explain.

1) Let's say it was pan b/w. (black and white) F6 and F7 would have to be shot with a blue filter to lighten the stripe. That would darken the supposedly bloody scalp. You can't have it both ways, i.e., light red AND light blue, so there's no red filter either. This would not work. So, if it's truly pan film, then the scalp is not bloody skin but brain matter.

2) Let's say it's ortho film. The blue stripe will always be light and the red will always be dark. No filter is required if the scalp is really brain tissue, but a red one is still needed to lighten blood. But here the bloody spots prove this is not the case once again. So do the bloody marks on his shoulder.

So, here's the result: They probably used ortho film and no filtering of any kind. THAT IS BRAIN and NOT SCALP. We can see that NO COMBINATION OF FILM AND FILTRATION CAN GIVE YOU B/W PHOTOS THAT WILL JIBE WITH GRODEN'S COLORS. THEY HAVE TO BE FAKE"

Also, many witnesses saw a large wound in the back of the head and commented that the top of the head was virtually undamaged. Some also said that the large wound to the head could not even be seen when Kennedy was laying flat on the table.

The autopsy took place in the morgue at Bethesda Naval Hospital but several medical technicians who assisted with the autopsy stated that the background seen in the photos is not that of the morgue. In the left-profile photo, a black phone can be seen on the wall. But these techinicians said that there was no phone in that position in the morgue. Earl McDonald, a medical photographer at Bethesda who trained under James Stringer, told the ARRB (Assassination Records Review Board) that he had never seen anyone at Bethesda use a metal brace like the one that is see holding up the head in the autopsy photos.

One of the photographer at the autopsy, Floyd Riebe, stated in a filmed interview that the wounds in the autopsy photos differ from his recollections. Riebe recalled a large, gaping wound in the back of the head. Not what it shown here. The other photographer, James Stringer, also stated in a filmed interview that he was not the one who took the photos of the back of the head. Who did then?

In an important new disclosure, Saundra Kay Spencer stated that she didn't process any of the black and white autopsy pictures and didn't process any of the ones in evidence now. This supports the contention that there are two sets of autopsy photos, one altered and one genuine.

The X-Rays

In the x-ray of the head, you can see about two-thirds of the brain is missing. You can also see a trail of small metal fragments from the supposed entrance wound to the supposed exit wound in the front. But how can this be? There is no brain there to support the metal fragments.

Fragments can also be seen in the frontal lobe. But Dr. Richard Lindenberg, expert consultant for the Rockefeller Commission, stated that the whole frontal lobe is missing. But there is nothing supporting these fragments if the frontal lobe is missing.

The x-rays also show a large, 6.5 mm fragment near the supposed entrance wound. But this was not seen by the autopsy doctors or the radiologist. When the chief autopsy doctor Dr. Humes testified before the Warren Commission, he said nothing about a 6.5 mm fragment anywhere near the back of the head. Also, it is highly unlikely that a fully metal-jacketed Carcano bullet would shear to form that fragment. Detective Shaun Roach, an Australian forensics expert had this to say:

". . . due to the inherent strength of the 6.5 mm Carcano jacket, I also believe that it would NOT shear off a fragment upon entering the head, then deposit that fragment on the outer table of the skull, either above or below the wound"

But Dr. David Mantik discovered that the fragment isn't really a bullet fragment at all! After studying the x-rays and using optical density measurements, Dr. Mantik discovered that this object had been superimposed over a smaller, genuine bullet fragment. Dr. Mantik was even able to duplicate the process by which the 6.5 mm fragment could have been created.

Dr. Mantik has also concluded that the x-rays are abnormal. After studying the radiographs at the National Archives, Dr. Mantik discovered the measured light in the large white area on the right lateral x-rays is "a thousand times the maximum seen in any other x-rays."

The Bethesda x-ray technician, Jerrol Custer, stated that on November 23, he was told to tape bullet fragments to pieces of skull and x-ray them. He was told they were for a bust of JFK's head but no such bust ever surfaced.

Thanks to Michael T. Griffith for his page on the JFK Assassination. That is where I got most of my information.

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One set of autopsy photographs, now at the National Archives, has been known to exist for years, and most of the pictures have been published by Robert Groden, but the new testimony documents the existence of at least one other complete set.

In 1977, Mr. Groden had examined the "known" autopsy photographs in the National Archives while he was Staff Photographic Consultant for the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He noticed that several photographs were missing from the known inventory and he also discovered and reported to the HSCA that about a half dozen others, that were not in the original inventory, were now present in the Archives' collection. In his report to the HSCA, Mr. Groden reported that he had noticed that some of the photographs, notably those showing the rear of the president's head, had been retouched photographically. The insert lines and contrast changes were quite evident.

No other members of the HSCA photo panel were aware of the testimony of the Dallas doctors about the massive exit wound in President Kennedy's head. "They didn't know what to look for." stated Mr. Groden.

In 1997, the review board found and interviewed Saundra K. Spencer, who worked at the Naval Photographic Center in 1963. She was shown the autopsy photographs in the National Archives and found that they were not the photographs that she had processed.

The pictures that she developed and printed had, "no blood or opening cavities." she stated.

The film was brought in by an agent she believed was with the FBI. "When he gave us the material to process, he said that they had been shot at Bethesda and they were autopsy pictures."

She was told, she said: "Process them and try not to observe too much, don't peruse."

Robert Knudsen's widow, Gloria, revealed to the review board that her husband told her that photographing the dead president was "the hardest thing he had ever had to do in his life."

Mr. Knudsen testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which in the late 1970s reopened the official investigation into the killings of both President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mrs. Knudsen said he later told her that four or five of the pictures the committee showed him did not represent what he saw or photographed that night and that at least one of them had been altered.

"His son Bob said that his father told him that 'hair had been drawn in' on the photos to conceal a missing portion of the top-back of President Kennedy's head," according to a review board memo about a meeting with Mr. Knudsen's family.

Mr. Knudsen's observations were identical to those of another autopsy photographer, Floyd Riebe as well as Robert Groden who also reported the alteration of exactly the same photographs, in exactly the same location.

The House Assassinations Committee suppressed both Mr. Knudsen's testimony and Mr. Groden's report of the alteration.

"It is quite important that there were other cameras." said Mr. Groden, "There were four autopsy photographers (and cameras) in all." John Stringer, William Bruce Pitzer, Robert L. Knudsen and Floyd Riebe. Mr. Pitzer was murdered soon after President Kennedy's autopsy to silence him. The existence of the other two or three additional sets of autopsy photographs have been concealed from the public and investigative agencies for thirty-five years.

Additionally, testimony was received by the review board that Mr. Pitzer was, at the time of his death, in possession of a 16 millimeter film of the autopsy which he had taken during the autopsy examination and been working on at the time he was murdered. The film disappeared and has never again surfaced. No one from any of the five governmental investigations has seen any of these other three sets. The only set they've seen contain the doctored photographs which show a photographically rebuilt rear of the head to disguise the large exit wound which was in the back of President Kennedy's head. The proof of at least one more gunman and, of course, a conspiracy."

© 1999 New Frontier Publications. All rights reserved.

Edited by dankbaar
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Publicly circulated photos that are touted as being from Kennedy’s autopsy simply show a bullet hole in the back of his head, so in the early 1990s I called the office of Congressman Louis Stokes, Chairman of the House Assassinations Committee in the 1970s, and they referred me to Robert Blakey at Notre Dame Law School. Mr. Blakey was the assassination committee’s general counsel.

I called Mr. Blakey at Notre Dame and asked him when the autopsy photos were first made public. He stated that they’ve never been made public, so I queried him on the publicly circulated photos and he stated that they were “stolen documents.” I asked him if that meant they haven’t been authenticated in any way and he said that was correct, stressing that they were stolen documents.

Further research into news articles revealed that when the House Assassinations Committee was investigating President Kennedy’s assassination, Regis Blahut, a CIA officer who had been detailed to “assist” the committee, broke into a combination safe at the committee’s offices. The break-in was reported in the news several months after the House Assassinations Committee actually disbanded.

“The safe was reserved for physical evidence of President Kennedy’s assassination, including the autopsy photos, X-rays, and other articles, such as the so-called ‘magic bullet’ that wounded both Kennedy and Texas Governor John B. Connally.”

“Autopsy photos of the head shot that killed Kennedy had been taken out of their cases and were left in disarray inside the three drawer safe . . . There was no doubt that the files in the safe had been tampered with . . . ‘It looked as though someone had just run out.’”

Blahut’s fingerprints “were all over the place, on the photos, inside the safe, and on all sorts of different packages.”

“The CIA acknowledged that it has dismissed the individual in question. ‘We’re satisfied it was just a matter of curiosity,’ said CIA spokesman Herbert Hetu.”

(Blahut obviously made sure that the break-in would be noticed and that the autopsy photos were in disarray. That’s because the CIA does things for a reason, and if the CIA spokesman were to be believed, what he was really saying was, “Yes, the agent we assigned to assist the House Assassinations Committee broke into their safe, but that’s only because he was curious. In fact, we fired him. We’re satisfied.”)

“In a telephone interview with the Washington Post, Blahut denied any wrongdoing. He insisted that there was an innocent explanation. He refused, however, to say what that was.” (The Post got its responses from the CIA and Blahut when they publicized the break-in.)

Blahut said he worked for the CIA’s Office of Security and he stated, “There’s other things that are involved that are detrimental to other things,” and he refused to elaborate when asked what he meant by that.

Blahut went on to say, “I signed an oath of secrecy. I cannot discuss it any further . . . I’ve already defended myself to my employers. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all cleared up.” He also claimed to have passed CIA lie detector tests over the matter. (It doesn’t sound like he’d been fired. And why did the CIA have an agent with their Office of Security assigned to “assist” the House Assassinations Committee?)

A couple of months after the Washington Post publicized that the Committee’s safe had been broken into, a man named Harrison Livingstone claimed that he was selling photographs from President Kennedy’s autopsy.

At that time, Robert Blakey had said, “There are two things possible here. Either it’s a fraud, or it’s an attempt to sell stolen property.”

Harrison Livingstone responded at that time by saying that they weren’t stolen, but the day after he made his claim about trying to sell the photographs, he said he was taking them off the market, still claiming that they weren’t stolen but allegedly claiming that he feared the Justice Department would take action against him.

Photographs ultimately surfaced that show a bullet-size hole in the back of President Kennedy’s skull and the public has accepted that they are from President Kennedy’s autopsy.

The CIA was obviously the source of the photographs and they undoubtedly had the sloppy break-in perpetrated to make the photos seem as though they were authentic autopsy photos. No wonder the spokesman said the CIA was “satisfied.”

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To find out what really happened to JFK's body after the assassination, you should read the paper 'The Top Secret Second Autopsy of President John F. Kennedy' by BK Gjerde, which has been published at this site:



That site about the second autopsy is reall interesting. I had no idea that faking the photos would be that easy.

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