The fact that President Kennedy was shot in Dallas on November 22nd 1963 is probably the only fact which the government, witnesses, police and conspiracy theorists agree on. The who, hows, whys, and wherefores of the case will, after this length of time and after so much key evidence has "vanished", probably never be fully known. The case of who did kill JFK will, for all eternity, most likely be supposition and maybes.
It is believed that Kennedy was well aware of the danger of Dallas, Texas before his visit. It was an extremely right wing mecca of sixties America. Kennedy's left wing policies bore very few friends in the white, middle class Dallas. These were people who cried "treason" at Kennedy's talk of racial integration and the accommodation of the "Communist menace". In the last Presidential election, Dallas voted overwhelmingly for Richard Nixon and the Democrats knew that the outcome could be repeated again. JFK decided on a visit to Dallas to try to redress the balance. But both Kennedy and his aides knew that they where stepping into a boiling pot.
At about noon on the 22nd November 1963, the President arrived in Dallas. Crowds congregated at the airport to greet him and as the motorcade travelled towards the centre of Dallas, Governor Connally's wife turned to JFK and said, "Mr Kennedy, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you now". He replied, "That is very obvious".
The motorcade travelled onto Elm Street and into a large open space known as Dealey Plaza. To the right of the President was the tall Texas School Depository building. A large warehouse and the last high building that JFK would have to pass on this route. At the far end of the Plaza was a grass slope, the infamous Grassy Knoll.
In the lead car an officer saw the oncoming railway tunnel. He commented to his colleague, "We've almost got it made". This was the last danger area on the visit. The time was now 12:30pm.
Shots rang out. A Secret Service Agent in the Presidential car claims Kennedy said, "My God, I'm hit". Governor Connally, sitting in the seat directly in front of Kennedy got hit himself. For five seconds the car actually slowed down. Then more gunfire. The President fell backwards. His head exploding outwards. Mrs Connally claimed it was like, "...buckshot falling all over us".
Jacqueline Kennedy believes she shouted, "Jack, I love you". In front of her, Governor Connally heard her shout, "Jack... they've killed my husband... I have his brains in my hand". The last comment Mrs Kennedy was reported to repeat again and again.
Half an hour later in the emergency room of nearby Parkland Hospital, Kennedy was officially pronounced dead.
In all forms of gun related death the crucial evidence comes from ballistics. The amount of shots fired and the number of gunmen, the path of the bullets and which of the wounds was the fatal shot. There was plenty of evidence available with the JFK shooting to help equate the answers to these questions but it was poorly handled. This means that to this day the truth can, probably, never be known.
Firstly, at about 2pm, there was a disagreement over the corpse. A Secret Service team prepared to ship the body back to Washington DC.. Dr. Earl Rose, the Dallas County Medical Examiner and Justice of the Peace, Judge Ward, tried to prevent this. Rose stated that under the laws of the state of Texas, the body of any murder victim cannot be removed until an autopsy was performed. Ward backed him up saying, "It's just another homicide as far as I'm concerned". As Secret Service Agents forced Ward and Rose against the wall at gunpoint and left with the President's body, Kenneth O'Donnell, Chief Assistant to JFK, was reported to have shouted, "Go screw yourself".
These actions broke state law and it can safely be said that it probably denied JFK an effective autopsy. At 8pm the autopsy was carried out at Bethesda Naval Hospital. A report by the Congress Assassinations Committee said the doctors who carried out the autopsy had, "insufficient training and experience to evaluate a death from gunshot wounds".
Indeed, several mistakes were made. The doctors failed to inspect the clothing, injuries where inadequately documented and evidence preserved incorrectly.
The autopsy itself found four wounds on Kennedy. The fatal head wound on the side of the skull, a smaller head wound at the back of the skull, a wound in the back and only the next day was it discovered that a tracheotomy incision in the throat turned out to have been adapted from another bullet hole in the throat.
It is policy to dissect the path of the bullet's that travel through the body in any autopsy involving gun shots. This was not done. In 1979, the Congress Assassination Committee concluded that the presiding pathologist, Dr. James Humes, was under pressure to work quickly and with the large amount of Government and Secret Service Agents present in the room during the time of the autopsy, it hardly helped to maintain the calm atmosphere required. Humes' colleague, Dr. Pierre Finck claims, however, that the order not to dissect the track of the bullets came from someone else who he believes was an army general. Dr. Finck also says that another official present, prevented him from personally examining the clothing, another routine procedure.
The fatal head shot should certainly have been dissected. The brain was, as procedure dictates, removed and preserved to aid, "future study". The brain was preserved in Formaldehyde and should later have been sectioned. Instead, only a superficial examination was performed.
The brain, autopsy photographs and x-rays were apparently delivered to JFK's former secretary for "safe keeping". But in 1966, after the materials had gone into the hands of the National Archives it transpired that photographs, tissue samples, blood smears, slides and even the President's brain had, "gone missing". After the Assassinations Committee failed to find any trace of these artefacts it favoured the theory that Robert Kennedy, JFK's brother, had disposed of them to avoid them becoming a tasteless display in the future. Some believe this may be due to the fact that Kennedy was a sufferer of the rare Addison's Disease. Whatever happened to these artefacts has become another reason why future investigations will remain hampered.
Police found three cartridge shells on the 6th floor of the Book Depository building. Later a 6.5 Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was found on the same floor stuffed behind some boxes. Bullet fragments were recovered from the wounds of those people injured and one bullet turned up on a hospital stretcher? This bullet was almost intact when discovered by the hospitals Chief Engineer, Darrell Tomlinson. He was, however, unsure that this was the stretcher used to move Governor Connally. Even though the Warren Commission, the report set up to determine who killed JFK, stated that this was the exact stretcher.
After the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald, a worker at the Book Depository building was arrested, initially for the murder of a policeman J.D. Tippit who was shot shortly after the President. Oswald denied murdering both Tippit and the President and his comment, "I'm just a patsy" has become a favourite of the Conspiracy Theorists. On November 24th Oswald was being moved to the county jail. This was broadcasted live on TV to the nation. Journalists and cameramen everywhere tried to get footage of this man. A newsman shouted a question to Oswald, "Have you anything to say in your defence?". At this point Jack Ruby, a local club owner with known Mafia connections, stepped through the crowd and fired a single shot into Oswald's stomach. He collapsed and later died in the same hospital as Kennedy. Ruby was arrested and imprisoned for the murder of Oswald. He stated in his trial that he had done it to save the President's wife from testifying in court. But in a private note to another lawyer Ruby stated that: "It was not my idea to say I shot Oswald to keep Jackie Kennedy from coming back here to testify. I did it because Tom Howard [his lawyer] told me to say so...". Ruby died in prison from cancer in 1967. It is claimed that he said he had information concerning the assassination of the President which would expose a cover-up. He did not, however, wish to talk in Dallas and requested a move to another state. This request was never granted.
After the assassination, the Warren Commission was set up to decide if Oswald had killed JFK and, more importantly, if he had acted alone.
The 26 volume report included witness statements, which where later branded as being false or in ignorance of certain facts. Many witnesses who claimed they had heard shots from the Grassy Knoll and even witnesses who claimed they saw a puff of smoke from the picket fence on the knoll were never called to testify to the Warren Commission. Those who did, found their evidence was ignored or altered. The report concluded that Oswald had acted alone and had fired his weapon from the 6th floor of the Book Depository building. There is however, one piece of evidence which has prevailed and inspired researchers to believe that this report was wrong. That piece of evidence is the film taken by an amateur cameraman, Abraham Zepruder, who was standing on the Grassy Knoll at the time of the assassination.
The film shows JFK and his wife waving to the crowd before disappearing behind a street sign. When they emerge Kennedy appears to have been hit by the first bullet. He raises his hands to his throat. Connally turns around to look at the President then turns back. At this point Connally is shot. Then comes the fatal shot. The shot that the Warren Commission says came from the Book Depository which is currently behind the motorcade. It strikes the Presidents head and throws him backwards and to the left. This has been explained by some due to the car accelerating at the moment of impact. The car actually did not accelerate until a few seconds later. This film has over the years been examined by experts and it has been determined that before the movement backward, the head moved forward even more swiftly than the backward movement. This movement was so quick that much of it occurred between frames of the film. If this is true then this indicates the shot came from behind of the procession.
This area is always confused by many people when discussing the effects of a bullet entering the body. If a bullet entered at an angle of a downward trajectory then the head out of simple Newtonian Physics (action=reaction) would first move backwards before moving forward!
Alternatively it is also still argued that a magic bullet came from the book depository (behind the procession) they then argue that the bullet entered the front of the head and so then that leads us to what has become known as 'The Magic Bullet", when it is argued the bullet rebounded off the body of the car. This would mean the bullet hit the car and did a virtual 180 degree turn and still have enough power to rip apart the Presidents head and then enter from the front, which we have just discussed in the last paragraph.
Another famous option is the theory of a second gunman located in front of Kennedy, possibly on the Grassy Knoll. (bearing in mind that according to the reports that eventually came out the President had three bullet wounds. Zapruder himself claims that he heard a shot which was louder than the rest and seemed to come from all around him which is characteristic of a bullet being fired in close proximity. Maybe there was more than one gun man but, just as the theoretical person with a gun on the grassy knoll then the others escaped indicating Oswald may have been purley there as a scape goat. The distance and acuracy of the weapon he used is still today questioned.
Whatever the truth, it seems certain that more than one person was involved in the plot to murder JFK or at least more than one knows the truth. Who could possibly have conducted and executed the plan will probably never be known. There are suggestions of Mafia, CIA, and pro-Castro organisations all conspiring together to assassinate him. Many names are mentioned in this now legendary case. Clay Shaw, has been the only man to stand trial for involvement in the Kennedy Assassination. David Ferrie, a former airline pilot has been identified as having definite links to the Mafia and possible links to the CIA. There are suggestions that Ruby knew and worked with Oswald on jobs before the assassination. Remarks have even been made that the top brass in the American Military at the time reorganised security to help the shooters flee the scene of the crime and enable the assassination itself to go ahead as planned.
Of course, it could be that Oswald got lucky with his rifle. It had a defective sight and he was firing through foliage. But it could have been luck. Maybe several people made foul-ups in the security and handling of evidence which now suggests a conspiracy but was it in fact just human error. Yet what is the probability of this? It is not everyday that a President is murdered, and the fact that the assassination took place inspired people to evaluate security operations, the allocation of doctors to autopsies, the acoustics of gunshots and the hardened laws of physics, concluding that it is unlikely for one person to have commited the crime. Science and common sense would not allow it. But as readers of Mystical-WWW know, common sense and science have been wrong and there are still a number of things about all aspects of life which they cannot explain.
Maybe there was a massive conspiracy, maybe it was a lone gunman. It is almost certain that these facts, and more, leave us to wonder will we ever fully know the truth?