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Old 23rd July 2017, 03:02 PM   #956
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For the last couple of weeks, I've been working on compiling every relevant Parkland-Bethesda statement pertaining to when the autopsy doctors were made aware of the original throat wound. Was it late night 11/22/63 or shortly after midnight 11/23/63, or was it like Humes et. al described, only learning of the original throat wound later in the daylight morning hours of 11/23/63 after the autopsy had long concluded?

The two FBI agents present at the autopsy, James Sibert and Francis X. O'neil, always stated and wrote in their report that the autopsy doctors were ignorant of the original throat wound, that that the best guess on the night of the autopsy was that a bullet barely penetrated Kennedy's back and naturally fell out of it's own entry wound. But the FBI agents also said that they left the autopsy around the time the funeral home crew were to be handed over the body. According to contemporary documents (this and this), the Gawler's funeral home guys were intended to take posession of the body at 11:00 PM. So Sibert and O'Neil left the autopsy at around 11:00 PM. But, as Humes et. al have always said, the autopsy continued for at least a couple of hours after midnight 11/23. So it would appear that we have two or more hours of leeway to possibly explain some of the statements I am about to paste here.

These recorded statements will be pasted chronologically. As always, keep in mind the fragility of human memory, but also keep in mind that this was the autopsy of the President, which lasted several hours. I will not include Parkland nurse Audrey Bell or Robert Livingston, as they have credibility issues. I have included the statements of White House photographer Robert Knudsen, with later discussion on his credibility.

11/23/1963 Handwritten Notes of Phone Call between Humes and Perry:
This note is dated Nobember 23, showing where Perry relayed to Humes the original throat wound measuring "3-5 mm", also says "bloody air in upper mediastinum". Dr. Perry's testimonies also repeatedly mention this apparent bloody air cavity in that area. Keep this in mind when reading photographer John Stirnger's interview with the HSCA.

3/16/1964 Warren Commission Testimony of Comdr. James J. Humes ,,

Mr. SPECTER - To digress chronologically--

Commander HUMES – Yes.

Mr. SPECTER - Did you have occasion to discuss that wound on the front side of the President with Dr. Malcolm Perry of Parkland Hospital in Dallas?

Commander HUMES - Yes, sir; I did. I had the impression from seeing the wound that it represented a surgical tracheotomy wound, a wound frequently made by surgeons when people are in respiratory distress to give them a free airway.
To ascertain that point, I called on the telephone Dr. Malcolm Perry and discussed with him the situation of the President's neck when he first examined the President, and asked him had he in fact done a tracheotomy which was somewhat redundant because I was somewhat certain he had.
He said, yes; he had done a tracheotomy and that as the point to perform his tracheotomy he used a wound which he had interpreted as a missile wound in the low neck, as the point through which to make the tracheotomy incision.

Mr. SPECTER - When did you have that conversation with him, Dr. Humes?

Commander HUMES - I had that conversation early on Saturday morning, sir.

Mr. SPECTER - On Saturday morning, November 23d?

Commander HUMES - That is correct, sir.

Mr. SPECTER - And have you had occasion since to examine the report of Parkland Hospital which I made available to you?

Commander HUMES - Yes, sir; I have.

Mr. SPECTER - May it please the Commission, I would like to note this as Commission Exhibit No. 392, and subject to later technical proof, to have it admitted into evidence at this time for the purpose of having the doctor comment about it.

The CHAIRMAN. It may be so marked.

(The document referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 392, for identification.)

Mr. SPECTER - What did your examination of the Parkland Hospital records disclose with respect to this wound on the front side of the President's body?

Commander HUMES - The examination of this record from Parkland Hospital revealed that Doctor Perry had observed this wound as had other physicians in attendance upon the President, and actually before a tracheotomy, was performed surgically, an endotracheal tube was placed through the President's mouth and down his larynx and into his trachea which is the first step in giving satisfactory airway to a person injured in such fashion and unconscious.
The President was unconscious and it is most difficult to pass such a tube when the person is unconscious.
The person who performed that procedure, that is instilled the endotrachea tube noted that there was a wound of the trachea below the larynx, which corresponded in essence with the wound of the skin which they had observed from the exterior.

Mr. SPECTER - How is that wound described, while you are mentioning the wound?

Commander HUMES - Yes, sir.

Mr. SPECTER - I think you will find that on the first page of the summary sheet, Dr. Humes.

Commander HUMES - Yes, sir. Thank you. This report was written by doctor--or the activities of Dr. James Carrico, Doctor Carrico in inserting the endotracheal tube noted a ragged wound of trachea immediately below the larynx.
The report, as I recall it, and I have not studied it in minute detail, would indicate to me that Doctor Perry realizing from Doctor Carrico's observation that there was a wound of the trachea would quite logically use the wound which he had observed as a point to enter the trachea since the trachea was almost damaged, that would be a logical place in which to put his incision.
In speaking of that wound in the neck, Doctor Perry told me that before he enlarged it to make the tracheotomy wound it was a "few millimeters in diameter."
Of course by the time we saw it, as my associates and as you have heard, it was considerably larger and no longer at all obvious as a missile wound.
The report states, and Doctor Perry told me in telephone conversation that there was bubbling of air and blood in the vicinity of this wound when he made the tracheotomy. This caused him to believe that perhaps there had been a violation of one of the one or other of the pleural cavities by a missile. He, therefore, asked one of his associates, and the record is to me somewhat confused as to which of his associates, he asked one of his associates to put in a chest tube. This is a maneuver which is, was quite logical under the circumstances, and which would, if a tube that were placed through all layers of the wall of the chest, and the chest cavity had been violated one could remove air that had gotten in there and greatly assist respiration.
So when we examined the President in addition to the large wound which we found in conversation with Doctor Perry was the tracheotomy wound, there were two smaller wounds on the upper anterior chest.

Mr. DULLES - These are apparently exit wounds?

Commander HUMES - Sir, these were knife wounds, these were incised wounds on either side of the chest, and I will give them in somewhat greater detail.
These wounds were bilateral, they were situated on the anterior chest wall in the nipple line, and each were 2 cm. long in the transverse axis. The one on the right was situated 11 cm. above the nipple the one on the left was situated 11 cm. on the nipple, and the one on the right was 8 cm. above the nipple. Their intention was to incise through the President's chest to place tubes into his chest.
We examined those wounds very carefully, and found that they, however, did not enter the chest cavity. They only went through the skin. I presume that as they were performing that procedure it was obvious that the President had died, and they didn't pursue this.
To complete the examination of the area of the neck and the chest, I will do that together, we made the customary incision which we use in a routine postmortem examination which is a Y-shaped incision from the shoulders over the lower portion of the breastbone and over to the opposite shoulder and reflected the skin and tissues from the anterior portion of the chest.
We examined in the region of this incised surgical wound which was the tracheotomy wound and we saw that there was some bruising of the muscles of the neck in the depths of this wound as well as laceration or defect in the trachea.
At this point, of course, I am unable to say how much of the defect in the trachea was made by the knife of the surgeon, and how much of the defect was made by the missile wound. That would have to be ascertained from the surgeon who actually did the tracheotomy.
There was, however, some ecchymosis or contusion, of the muscles of the right anterior neck inferiorly, without, however, any disruption of the muscles or any significant tearing of the muscles.
The muscles in this area of the body run roughly, as you see as he depicted them here. We have removed some of them for a point I will make in a moment, but it is our opinion that the missile traversed the neck and slid between these muscles and other vital structures with a course in the neck such as the carotid artery, the jugular vein and other structures because there was no massive hemmorhage or other massive injury in this portion of the neck.
In attempting to relate findings within the President's body to this wound which we had observed low in his neck, we then opened his chest cavity, and we very carefully examined the lining of his chest cavity and both of his lungs. We found that there was, in fact. no defect in the pleural lining of the President's chest.
It was completely intact.
However, over the apex of the right pleural cavity, and the pleura now has two layers. It has a parietal or a layer which lines the chest cavity and it has a visceral layer which is intimately in association with the lung.
As depicted in figure 385, in the apex of the right pleural cavity there was a bruise or contusion or eccmymosis of the parietal pleura as well as a bruise of the upper portion, the most apical portion of the right lung.
It, therefore, was our opinion that the missile while not penetrating physically the pleural cavity, as it passed that point bruised either the missile itself, or the force of its passage through the tissues, bruised both the parietal and the visceral pleura.
The area of discoloration on the apical portion of the right upper lung measured five centimeters in greatest diameter, and was wedge shaped in configuration, with its base toward the top of the chest and its apex down towards the substance of the lung.
Once again Kodachrome photographs were made of this area in the interior of the President's chest.


Mr. SPECTER - Now, Doctor Humes, at one point in your examination of the President, did you make an effort to probe the point of entry with your finger? Commander HUMES - Yes, sir; I did.

Mr. SPECTER - And at or about that time when you were trying to ascertain, as you previously testified, whether there was any missile in the body of the President, did someone from the Secret Service call your attention to the fact that a bullet had been found on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital?

Commander HUMES - Yes, sir; they did. Mr. SPECTER - And in that posture of your examination, having just learned of the presence of a bullet on a stretcher, did that call to your mind any tentative explanatory theory of the point of entry or exit of the bullet which you have described as entering at Point "C" on Exhibit 385?

Commander HUMES - Yes, sir. We were able to ascertain with absolute certainty that the bullet had passed by the apical portion of the right lung producing the injury which we mentioned. I did not at that point have the information from Doctor Perry about the wound in the anterior neck, and while that was a possible explanation for the point of exit, we also had to consider the possibility that the missile in some rather inexplicable fashion had been stopped in its path through the President's body and, in fact, then had fallen from the body onto the stretcher.

Mr. SPECTER - And what theory did you think possible, at that juncture, to explain the passing of the bullet back out the point of entry; or had you been provided with the fact that external heart massage had been performed on the President?

Commander HUMES - Yes, sir; we had, and we considered the possibility that some of the physical maneuvering performed by the doctors might have in some way caused this event to take place.

Mr. SPECTER - Now, have you since discounted that possibility, Doctor Humes?

Commander HUMES - Yes; in essence we have. When examining the wounds in the base of the President's neck anteriorly, the region of the tracheotomy performed at Parkland Hospital, we noted and we noted in our record, some contusion and bruising of the muscles of the neck of the President. We noted that at the time of the postmortem examination. Now, we also made note of the types of wounds which I mentioned to you before in this testimony on the chest which were going to be used by the doctors there to place chest tubes. They also made other wounds. one on the left arm, and a wound on the ankle of the President with the idea of administering intravenous. blood and other fluids in hope of replacing the blood which the President had lost from his extensive wounds. Those wounds showed no evidence of bruising or contusion or physical violence, which made us reach the conclusion that they were performed during the agonal moments of the late president, and when the circulation was, in essence, very seriously embarrassed, if not nonfunctional. So that these wounds, the wound of the chest and the wound of the arm and of the ankle were performed about the same time as the tracheotomy wound because only a very few moments of time elapsed when all this was going on. So, therefore, we reached the conclusion that the damage to these muscles on the anterior neck just below this wound were received at approximately the same time that the wound here on the top of the pleural cavity was, while the President still lived and while his heart and lungs were operating in such a fashion to permit him to have a bruise in the vicinity, because that he did have in these strap muscles in the neck, but he didn't have in the areas of the other incisions that were made at Parkland Hospital. So we feel that, had this missile not made its path in that fashion, the wound made by Doctor Perry in the neck would not have been able to produce, wouldn't have been able to produce, these contusions of the musculature of the neck.

Mr. DULLES - Could I ask a question about the missile, I am a little bit--the bullet, I am a little bit--confused. It was found on the stretcher. Did the President's body remain on the stretcher while it was in the hospital?

Commander HUMES - Of that point I have no knowledge. The only--

Mr. DULLES - Why would it--would this operating have anything to do with the bullet being on the stretcher unless the President's body remained on the stretcher after he was taken into the hospital; is that possible?

Commander HUMES - It is quite possible, sir.

Mr. DULLES - Otherwise it seems to me the bullet would have to have been ejected from the body before he was taken or put on the bed in the hospital.

Commander HUMES - Right, sir. I, of course, was not there. I don't know how he was handled in the hospital, in what conveyance. I do know he was on his back during the period of his stay in the hospital: Doctor Perry told me that.


Mr. SPECTER - In response to Mr. Dulles' question a moment ago, Doctor Humes, you commented that they did not turn him over at Parkland. Will you state for the record what the source of your information is on that?

Commander HUMES - Yes. This is a result of a personal telephone conversation between myself and Dr. Malcolm Perry early in the morning of Saturday, November 23.

Mr. SPECTER - At that time did Doctor Perry tell you specifically, Doctor Humes, that the Parkland doctors had not Observed the wound in the President's back?

Commander HUMES - He told me that the President was on his back from the time he was brought into the hospital until the time he left it, and that at no time was he turned from his back by the doctors.

Mr. SPECTER - And at the time of your conversation with Doctor Perry did you tell Doctor Perry anything of your observations or conclusions?

Commander HUMES - No, sir; I did not.

(A short recess was taken.)

Notice that Humes was not asked to provide a specific time frame for he means by "Saturday morning".

3/25/1964 Warren Commission Testimony of Dr. Malcolm Oliver Perry

Mr. SPECTER. Now, did you have occasion to talk via the telephone with Dr. James J. Humes of the Bethesda Naval Hospital?

Dr. PERRY. I did.

Mr. SPECTER. And will you relate the circumstances of the calls indicating first the time when they occurred.

Dr. PERRY. Dr. Humes called me twice on Friday afternoon, separated by about 30-minute intervals, as I recall. The first one, I. somehow think I recall the first one must have been around 1500 hours, but I’m not real sure about that; I’m not positive of that at all, actually.

Mr. SPECTER. Could it have been Saturday morning?

Dr. PERRY. Saturday morning-was it? It’s possible. I remember talking with him twice. I was thinking it was shortly thereafter.

Mr. SPECTER. Well, the record will show.

Dr. PERRY. Oh, sure, it was Saturday morning-yes.

Mr. SPECTER. What made you change your view of that?

Dr. PERRY. You mean Friday?

Mr. SPECTER. Did some specific recollection occur to you which changed your view from Friday to Saturday?

Dr. PERRY. No, I was trying to place where I was at that time-Friday afternoon, and at that particular time, when I paused to think about it, I was actually up in the operating suite at that time, when I thought that he called initially. I seem to remember it being Friday, for some reason.

Mr. SPECTER. Where were you when you received those calls?

Dr. PERRY. I was in the Administrator’s office here when he called.

Mr. SPECTER. And what did he ask you, if anything?

Dr. PERRY. He inquired about, initially, about the reasons for my doing a tracheotomy, and I replied, as I have to you, during this procedure, that there was a wound in the lower anterior third of the neck, which was exuding blood and was indicative of a possible tracheal injury underlying, and I did the tracheotomy through a transverse incision made through that mound, and I described to him the right lateral injury to the trachea and the completion of the operation.

He subsequently called back-at that time he told me, of course, that he could not talk to me about any of it and asked that I keep it in confidence, which I did, and he subsequently called back and inquired about the chest tubes, and why they were placed and I replied in part as I have here. It was somewhat more detailed. After having talked to Drs. Baxter and Peters and I identified them as having placed it in the second interspace, anteriorly, in the midclavicular line, in the right hemithorax, he asked me at that time if we had made any wounds in the back. I told him that I had not examined the back nor had I knowledge of any wounds of the back.

Dr. Perry was initially under the impression that he contacted Dr. Humes via telephone late night Friday, November 22. Also notice how he describes TWO phone calls with Humes, while Humes always described only one in his version of the story. Arlen Spectre apparently understood the significance of downplaying this, asking "could it have been Saturday morning".

This is chronologically Dr. Perry's FIRST testimony, yet it appears AFTER his later 3/30/1964 testimony in the Warren Commission volumes. This earlier 3/25/1964 testimony also appears in the Warren Commission volumes undated (or, at least, you must turn the pages back quite far to see the date).

3/30/1964 Warren Commission Testimony of Dr. Malcolm Perry ,

Mr. SPECTER. Dr. Perry, did you have occasion to discuss your observations with Comdr. James J. Humes of the Bethesda Naval Hospital?

Dr. PERRY. Yes, sir; I did.

Mr. SPECTER. When did that conversation occur?

Dr. PERRY. My knowledge as to the exact accuracy of it is obviously in doubt. I was under the initial impression that I talked to him on Friday, but I understand it was on Saturday. I didn't recall exactly when.

Mr. SPECTER. Do you have an independent recollection at this moment as to whether it was on Friday or Saturday?

Dr. PERRY. No, sir; I have thought about it again and the events surrounding that weekend were very kaleidoscopic, and I talked with Dr. Humes on two occasions, separated by a very short interval of, I think it was, 30 minutes or an hour or so, it could have been a little longer.

Mr. SPECTER. What was the medium of your conversation?

Dr. PERRY. Over the telephone.

Mr. SPECTER. Did he identify himself to you as Dr. Humes of Bethesda?

Dr. PERRY. He did.

Mr. SPECTER. Would you state as specifically as you can recollect the conversation that you first had with him?

Dr. PERRY. He advised me that he could not discuss with me the findings of necropsy, that he had a few questions he would like to clarify. The initial phone call was in relation to my doing a tracheotomy. Since I had made the incision directly through the wound in the neck, it made it difficult for them to ascertain the exact nature of this wound. Of course, that did not occur to me at the time. I did what appeared to me to be medically expedient. And when I informed him that there was a wound there and I suspected an underlying wound of the trachea and even perhaps of the great vessels he advised me that he thought this action was correct and he said he could not relate to me any of the other findings.

Mr. SPECTER. Would you relate to me in lay language what necropsy is?

Dr. PERRY. Autopsy, postmortem examination.

Mr. SPECTER. What was the content of the second conversation which you had with Comdr. Humes, please?

Dr. PERRY. The second conversation was in regard to the placement of the chest tubes for drainage of the chest cavity. And I related to him, as I have to you, the indications that prompted me to advise that this be done at that time.

11/25/1966 Baltimore Sun article "Pathologist Who Made Examination Defends Commission's Version; Says Pictures And Details Back Up Warren Report" by Richard H. Levine summary (no full article available): ine%22+%22traversed+the+neck+and+exited+anteriorly %22&source=bl&ots=WoIOtlG71X&sig=tUKgXkehZTOKjtBsA 0vtQrtCwrg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjFxamb48rUAhXKDsA KHTJyDkkQ6AEIITAA#v=onepage&q=%22levine%22%20%22tr aversed%20the%20neck%20and%20exited%20anteriorly%2 2&f=false

"The pathologists who had already been told of the probable extent of the injuries and what had been done by physicians in Dallas."; "'The wound in the throat was not immediately evident at the autopsy,' Dr. Boswell said, 'because of the tracheotomy performed in Dallas... We concluded that night that the bullet had, in fact, entered in the back of the neck, transversed the neck and exited anteriorly.'";

This would not be the first time Dr. Boswell said what may very well be an accidental slip-up.

1/10/1967 CBS - Memorandum from Bob Richter to Les Midgley

Jim Snyder of the CBS bureau in D.C. told me today he is personally acquainted with Dr. Humes. They go to the same church and are personally friendly. Snyder also knows Humes' boss in Bethesda; he is a neighbor across the street from Snyder. Because of personal relationships Snyder said he would not want any of the following to be traced back to him; nor would he feel he could be a middleman in any CBS efforts to deal with Hume.

Snyder said he has spoken with Humes about the assassination. In one conversation Humes said one X-ray of the Kennedy autopsy would answer many questions that have been raised about the path of the bullet going from Kennedy's back through his throat. Humes said FBI agents were not in the autopsy room during the autopsy; they were kept in an ante room, and their report is simply wrong. Although initially in the autopsy procedure the back wound could only be penetrated to finger length, a probe later was made---when no FBI men were present---that traced the path of the bullet from the back going downward, then upward slighlty, then downward again exiting at the throat.

One X-ray photo taken, Humes said, clearly shows the above, as it was apparently taken with a metal probe stick of some kind that was left in the body to show the wound's path.

Humes said that a wound from a high-power rifle, once it enters a body, causes muscle, etc. to separate and later contract; thus the difficulty in initially tracing the wound's path in the case of Kennedy. Also, once a bullet from a high power rifle enters a body, its course can be completely erratic; a neck wound could result in a bullet emeging in a person's leg or anywhere else.

Humes refused to discuss with Snyder the "single-bullet" theory in which the Warren Commision contends the same bullet decribed above went thru both Kennedy and Gov. Connally.

Humes also said he had orders from someone he refused to disclose--other than stating it was not Robert Kennedy---to not do a complete autopsy. Thus the autopsy did not go into JFK's kidney disease, etc.

Humes' explanation for burning his autopsy notes was that they were essentially irrelevant details dealing with routine body measurements, and that he never thought any controversy would develop from his having done this.

page 2:

Humes plans to retire from the Navy this July and has apparently agreed to accept a $50,000 a year job at a local suburban hospital as a pathologist. Snyder mentioned thisas one indication that Humes was not "just another hack Navy doctor," as some reports have made him out to be.

Snyder also mentioned that Humes recently spoke with a Saturday Evening Post writer (porbably Richard Whalen) who promised Humes that he, the writer, would do away with the "sensationalism" of reports on the autopsy and deal with the matter accurately. However, the article--which has just come out--"ridicules" the autopsy, tries to tear it to pieces so much that Humes has since contacted an attorney and is investigating a suit against the writer and/or the magazine.

Snyder said part of Humes' story--should Humes ever agree to be interviewed--is the followup to his autopsy, the controversey, the inaccuracies, etc., as well as the facts of the autopsy itself.

1/11/1967 CBS - Memorandum from Les Midgley to John J. McCloy

Dear Mr. McCloy:

Thanks very much for letting me see this proof. I agree that it is a very well reasoned and excellent summary of the critics and their cases. Maybe Professor Goodhart would be a good man to participate in our project. We will talk to him as well as Lord Devlin.

As we get into the pathology side of the case it seems more important than ever for us to get a statement--if possible—from Humes, Boswell and Finck that examination of the X-rays and color pictures does not change their findings and we certainly would appreciate your assistance in obtaining some. All three have absolutely refused to be interviewed and Dr. Humes would not even see one of our producers in person, preferring to talk on the telephone. (I have been told, by a man who is a personal friend of Dr. Humes, that he says one of the x-rays shows a wire left in the bullet path through the neck. If this is indeed true, publication of same would resolve forever the discussion about back verses neck wound and generally settle the dust about the autopsy.)

Thanks again for your interest,
Leslie Midgley
Executive Producer, Special Reports
Mr. John J. McCloy
Milbank, Tweed, Hedley, & McCloy
One Chase Manhattan Plaza
New York, New York,
January 11, 1967

These CBS memos should be considered hearsay or double hearsay. But also keep in mind that these were written by people in the business of media, and media guys have more of an incentive to get a story straight. So it isn't exactly playing telephone. Within the memos themselves, they talk about not distorting information in a possible future CBS story. If it is true that Jim Snyder of CBS was friends with Dr. Humes, this could be important information.

1967 book The Death of a President by William Manchester (mobi file:, epub file:

Joe Gawler and Joe Hagan, his chief assistant, supervised the loading of the coffin in a hearse, or, as Hagan preferred to call it, a “funeral coach.” The firm’s young cosmetician accompanied them to Bethesda. The two caskets, Oneal’s and Gawler’s, lay side by side for a while in the morgue anteroom; then Oneal’s was removed for storage and the undertakers, Irishmen, and George Thomas were admitted to the main room. The autopsy team had finished its work, a grueling, three-hour task, interrupted by the arrival of a fragment of skull which had been retrieved on Elm Street and flown east by federal agents. The nature of the two wounds and the presence of metal fragments in the President’s head had been verified; the metal from Oswald’s bullet was turned over to the FBI. Bethesda’s physicians anticipated that their findings would later be subjected to the most searching scrutiny. They had heard reports of Mac Perry’s medical briefing for the press, and to their dismay they had discovered that all evidence of what was being called an entrance wound in the throat had been removed by Perry’s tracheostomy. Unlike the physicians at Parkland, they had turned the President over and seen the smaller hole in the back of his neck. They were positive that Perry had seen an exit wound. The deleterious effects of confusion were already evident. Commander James J. Humes, Bethesda’s chief of pathology, telephoned Perry in Dallas shortly after midnight, and clinical photographs were taken to satisfy all the Texas doctors who had been in Trauma Room No. 1.

This line appears without citation. At first, I suspected that Kennedy's personal physician Dr. George Burkley was the inspiration for the "midnight" quote, however, the book subsequently quotes Joe Hagan of Gawler's funeral home, who was also interviewed for the book. As mentioned before, the people from Gawler's funeral home showed up at the autopsy at 11:00 PM, just in time for this hypothetical earlier contact with Dr. Perry of Parkland hospital.

2/24/1969 Clay Shaw Trial Testimony of Dr. Pierre Finck , ,

Q: Now, Doctor, did you examine on the remains of the late President Kennedy a wound in the frontal neck region?

A: At the time of the autopsy I saw in the front of the neck of President Kennedy a transversal, which means going sideways, a transversal incision which was made for the purpose of keeping the breathing of the President, and this is called a tracheotomy, t-r-a-c-h-e-o-t-o-m-y. I examined this wound made by a surgeon, it is very commonly found in unconscious patients, the incision is made to allow them to breathe. I did not see a wound of exit at that time, but the following day Dr. Humes called the surgeons of Dallas and he was told that they --

I object to hearsay.

Q: You may not say what the surgeons in Dallas told Dr. Humes. That would be hearsay evidence.

A: I have to base my interpretation on all the facts available and not on one fact only. When you have a wound of entry in the back of the neck and no wound of exit at the time of autopsy, when the X-rays I requested showed no bullets in the cadaver of the President, you need some other information to know where the bullet went. At the time of the autopsy there was a wound of entry in the back of the neck, no exit, no X-rays showing a bullet, that bullet has to be somewhere, so that information to me is of great importance. I insist on that point, and that telephone call to Dallas from Dr. Humes --

THE COURT: You may insist on the point, Doctor, but we are going to do it according to law. If it is legally objectionable, even if you insist, I am going to have to sustain the objection. Do you understand me, Mr. Dymond?



Q: Therefore, Doctor, am I correct in stating that at the time of your autopsy report that you submitted along with Commanders Boswell and Humes, you primarily based your opinion on your observations made at that particular time? Is that correct, sir?

A: This is correct, and --

Q: Now --

A: And I would like to add the information obtained the day following the autopsy, which stated that there was a small wound in the front of the neck of President Kennedy and that that wound had been extended to make the surgical incision. The wound observed in the front of the neck was part of the surgical incision made by the Dallas surgeons, and I knew that at the time I signed the autopsy report.

Q: When did you all contact the doctors at Parkland Hospital?

A: Are you asking me if I contacted a Dr. Parker?

Q: No, I asked you when did you all contact the doctors at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

A: Oh, I did not contact them, Dr. Humes did.

Q: And did Dr. Humes relate to you what he learned from these doctors at Parkland?

A: Definitely.

Q: Do you know when Dr. Humes contacted these doctors at Parkland?

A: As far as I know, Dr. Humes called them the morning following the autopsy, as far as I know, Dr. Humes called Dallas on Saturday morning, on the 23rd of November, 1963.

Q: Doctor, can you tell me why the delay in contacting the doctors that worked on President Kennedy in Dallas until the next morning after the body was already removed from the autopsy table?

A: I can't explain that. I know that Dr. Humes told me he called them. I cannot give an approximate time. I can give you the reason why he called. As I have stated before, having a wound of entry in the back of the neck, having seen no exit in the front of the neck, nothing from the radiologist who looked at the whole body X-ray films, I have requested as there was no whole bullet remaining in the cadaver of the President, that was a very strong reason for inquiring if there were not another wound in the approximate direction corresponding to that wound of entry in the back of the neck, because in the wound of the head with entry in the back of the head and exit on the right side of the head, I never had any doubt, any question that it was a through-and- through wound of the head with disintegration of the bullet. The difficulty was to have found an entry in the back of the neck and not to have seen an exit corresponding to that entry.

Q: This puzzled you at this time, is that right, Doctor?

A: Sorry, I don't understand you.

Q: This puzzled you at the time, the wound in the back and you couldn't find an exit wound? You were wondering about where this bullet was or where the path was going, were you not?

A: Yes.

Q: Well, at that particular time, Doctor, why didn't you call the doctors at Parkland or attempt to ascertain what the doctors at Parkland may have done or may have seen while the President's body was still exposed to view on the autopsy table?

A: I will remind you that I was not in charge of this autopsy, that I was called --

Q: You were a co-author of the report though, weren't you, Doctor?

A: Wait. I was called as a consultant to look at these wounds; that doesn't mean I am running the show.

Q: Was Dr. Humes running the show?

A: Well, I heard Dr. Humes stating that -- he said, "Who is in charge here?" and I heard an Army General, I don't remember his name, stating, I am." You must understand that in those circumstances, there were law enforcement officers, military people with various ranks, and you have to co-ordinate the operation according to directions.

Q: But you were one of the three qualified pathologists standing at that autopsy table, were you not, Doctor?

A: Yes, I am.

Q: Was this Army General a qualified pathologist?

A: No.

Q: Was he a doctor?

A: No, not to my knowledge.

Q: Can you give me his name, Colonel?

A: No, I can't. I don't remember.


Q: Isn't it a fact, Doctor, at the time you were performing the autopsy, or assisting in performing the autopsy, you were of the opinion the wound in the back of the President was not a through-and-through gunshot wound?

A: At the time of the autopsy on that night?

Q: Right.

A: Having a wound of entry and no wound of exit, and negative X-rays showing no bullets in the cadaver at that time, the time of the autopsy, I was puzzled by the fact of having an entry and no exit. However, this cleared up after the conversation between Dr. Humes and the surgeons at Dallas who stated that included a small wound in the front of the neck in their incision of tracheotomy to keep the breathing of the President up.

Q: On the night of the 22nd of November you did have occasion to see the wound in the area of the throat?

A: On the skin?

Q: Yes.

A: No, I examined the surgical incision, but I don't recall seeing the small wound de- scribed by the Dallas surgeons. It was part of the surgical incision and I didn't see it.

Q: You saw the incision.

A: In the front of the neck, definitely.


Q: Colonel, referring to the autopsy report of November 24, 1963, of the 25th, the report, the original autopsy report --

A: I signed it on Sunday, 24 November, 1963 far as I can remember.

Q: Referring to that again on in the clinical summary in Paragraph 3 you have it marked there that shortly -- in the third paragraph on of that report you state that "shortly following the wounding of the two men the car was driven to Parkland Hospital in Dallas. In the Emergency Room of that hospital the President was attended by Dr. Malcolm Perry. Telephone communication with Dr. Perry on November 23, 1963 develops the following information relative to the observations made by Dr. Perry and the procedures performed prior to death." Is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you have occasion, Colonel, to speak to Dr. Perry and I ask you if you did whether or not Dr. Perry classified the wound he found in the throat?

MR. DYMOND: I object on the grounds that he never --

THE COURT: First let's find out if the witness spoke with Dr. Perry.

Q: Did either you, Colonel, or one of your fellow members of the autopsy report speak to Dr. Perry in Dallas?

A: I personally did not talk to Dallas, to a Dallas doctor but Dr. Humes called him after the autopsy and he told me so.

Q: Did you have a conversation with Dr. Humes regarding what was learned in Dallas, Texas from the Dallas doctors concerning --

THE COURT: Make it one question.

MR. OSER: I just asked him whether or not he did.

THE COURT: Rephrase your question.


Q: Did you talk to Dr. Humes about his conversation?

A: I did.

THE COURT: That breaks it down.

Q: Will you tell us whether or not you had any knowledge that the wound in the area where the tracheotomy was performed was classified as that of an entrance wound in Dallas, Texas?

A: All I learned is that the communication was between Dr. Humes and one or more of the Dallas surgeons, maybe Dr. Perry or it may be others, but they were people taking care of President Kennedy in the Emergency Room, that there was a small wound in the front of the neck of President Kennedy and that they included that small wound of approximately 5 millimeters in diameter in their tracheotomy incision.

Q: Did you have available to you a further description of this small wound that they found in Dallas, Texas prior to performing the tracheotomy?

A: Outside of the location in the anterior, in the front of the neck, and the description I don't recall there was more detail about that wound found by the Dallas surgeons.

Q: Can you tell me, Colonel, whether or not you had at your disposal any information from Dr. Kemp Clark?

MR. DYMOND: If the Court please, we have not been objecting to hearsay but at this point any information of this type would be hearsay unless this doctor spoke with that person and even then it would still be hearsay.

MR. OSER: I didn't ask what the content was, I asked him if he had any information available from Dr. Kemp Clark.

THE COURT: He can say yes or no. Did you understand?

THE WITNESS: There was a Dr. Clark mentioned. I did not talk to him.

Q: Did you have an occasion to talk to Dr. Charles Carrico from Dallas, Texas?

A: I did not.

Q: Do you know whether or not Commander Humes or Commander Boswell spoke to this doctor?

A: Again I cannot pinpoint names of these Dallas surgeons with whom Dr. Humes communicated with. I know the results of the communication but I cannot say he did or did not speak to this one or that one.

Q: Now, can you describe for me as to how large this wound was in the throat area that you saw the night of November 22, 1963?

A: It was a long sideways surgical incision.

Q: Could you tell me Colonel whether or not you could have taken this particular area, or the particular wound in the throat, and meshed the two sides of the incision back together again and ascertain whether or not this was a wound within the incision caused by some missile?

A: I examined this surgical wound and I did not see the small wound described by the Dallas surgeons along that surgical incision. I did not see it.

Q: If you did not see it then, Colonel, I take it then this was a small type of wound if it was there?

A: According to the telephone conversation it was a small wound in the front of the neck.


Q: Colonel, can you give me the measurements of the wound in the area of the front of the President's neck that I am pointing to here on State Exhibit 69?

A: As I recall, it was given by the Dallas surgeons as approximately five millimeters in diameter.

Q: Can you convert approximately five millimeters in diameter to a part of an inch for me, please?

A: Approximately three-sixteenths of one inch corresponds to five millimeters.

Q: Referring, Colonel, to your Summary Report, State-67 for purposes of identification, which you signed on 26 January, 1967, can you tell me why you did not list the size of the wound that you say is the exit wound in the throat of the President?

A: Because I did not, I did not see that wound in the front. I did not, I don't know why it is not there.

Q: You say you did not see it?

A: I did not see the wound of exit in the skin. I saw a hole of exit in the shirt of the President.

Q: But in speaking of the throat area, or skin area of the President, relative to his throat you said it was approximately five millimeters and you later said that Commander Humes received this information from Dallas.

A: The wound that was in the front of the neck I obtained that information from Dr. Humes.

Q: Therefore would you say, Colonel, that the wound in the back of the neck as you describe it is larger than the wound in the throat area?

MR. DYMOND: We object to this. First of all, the Doctor testified that these are approximate measurements on wounds in the skin. Secondly, the doctor testified that he never saw the front bullet wound and consequently an answer on that would have to be based on measurements made by someone else, told to someone else, and then included in the report.

MR. OSER: All the results, if the Court please, from two autopsy reports signed by this witness stating that -- I believe he said everything in here is true and correct when I asked him, then I asked him if he wished to change anything in here at the beginning of his testimony and he said no. I'm trying to ascertain what he told Defense Counsel on direct examination he stated this was an exit wound and I am trying to find out whether the hole in the back is larger than the front and whether or not it is compatible with a wound from this type of bullet.

MR. DYMOND: If the Court please, the Doctor testified what he based his conclusions on and further testified that he never did see the front wound in the neck and consequently the question is impossible of answer.

THE COURT: He has testified he is familiar with the information received from Dr. Humes from the surgeons in Dallas, Texas and he knows it was in the report and that the information was communicated to him and he was aware of it. I understand that Mr. Oser's question is whether the entrance wound from the rear was larger than the exit wound, which was the information given by the surgeon in Dallas, Texas.

MR. DYMOND: Your Honor has consistently ruled throughout the trial that a witness cannot relate what someone else related to him.

THE COURT: Ordinarily, I agree but it was advised to him and he was made cognizant of it when he signed the original report, when he signed the report he either knew that as a fact which was received it from Commander Humes who received it from Dallas. I will permit the question. You are asking Dr. Finck if from the information he had whether or not the measurements of the alleged entrance wound as you wish to call it, alleged, is not larger than the information received from Dallas of the entrance wound in the front. I will permit you to ask it.

MR. DYMOND: To which Counsel respectfully objects and reserves a Bill of Exception on the grounds this is hearsay evidence making the entire line of questioning, particularly this question, the answer to the question, the objection and ruling of the Court and the entire record parts of the bill.

MR. OSER: Could I have the witness answer my question. Will you answer the question.

THE WITNESS: Please repeat the question.

THE REPORTER: Question: "Therefore, would you say, Colonel, that the wound in the back of the neck as you described it is larger than the wound in the throat area?"

MR. DYMOND: Your Honor, that is not the question you stated you were ruling on. You said you were ruling on the question whether it was larger than the information indicated.

MR. OSER: I will ask that question.

THE WITNESS: Whether or not it was larger?

Q: Than the information you received from the doctors in Dallas.

MR. DYMOND: Object now on the ground that he didn't receive the information from the Doctor.

THE COURT: I just ruled that he signed his name to the report and under that exception I will permit the question. Do you understand the question?

MR. OSER: Let me ask you again, Doctor --

THE COURT: No, because then I will have to be ruling on different things if you change the question each time.

MR. OSER: Then I'll ask that the Court Reporter read the question I asked.

THE REPORTER: Question: "Therefore, would you say, Colonel, that the wound in the back of the neck as you described it is larger than the wound in the throat area" -- then he added the second part of the question, Your Honor, which says, "than the information you received from the doctors in Dallas?"

THE WITNESS: I don't know 'cause I measured the wound of entry whereas I had no way of measuring the wound of exit and the wound could have been slightly smaller, the same size or slightly larger because all I have is somebody saying it was approximately 5 millimeters in diameter.

THE COURT: We have covered it well and you can go on to something else now, Mr. Oser.
Q: You said the back wound was seven by four millimeters, Doctor?

A: Approximately, all these measurements are approximately.

Q: Why approximate, Colonel?

A: Because the edge of the wound can be measured in different ways. The edge of the wound is something that you measure with a ruler and you take approximate measurements and you write them down.

1/12/1977 Robinson-Purdy HSCA Interview

Purdy: Tracheotomy. Did you ever hear any discussions that would have indicated why that was the case or what might have caused that, caused obviously the tracheotomy occured prior to the time the body came there?

Robinson: Yes, those things are done very quickly. By nature of the situation, but it was examined very carefully. The throat was. All that was removed.

Purdy: Was it your understanding that that was just a tracheotomy. Or was there some other cause that may have made it ragged or something else?

Robinson: There is something about the bullet exiting from there. A bullet exiting from there. I don't know whether I heard the physicians talking about it or whether I read it now.

Purdy: What was your impression at the time or now thinking about it as to, if you assume a bullet or part of a bullet exited there, or something exited there. Where did that something come from? Where would it have entered from the other side? From the your examination of the body, where could it have come from?

Robinson: You mean you're looking for another hole?

Purdy: Another hole or some other place, either coming from the head down and out or from the back.

Robinson: It might have been coming from the head and down. These are all in straight lines here coming down like that.


Purdy: Specifically, when you say the body, you saw the back, I want to know specifically if either you know there was not a wound from the head down to the waist anywhere on the back, neck or whatever, or that the autopsy work may have either obliterated it or made it not evident to you that there was such a wound?

Robinson: It might have done that, there was...but the back itself, there was no wound there, no.

Purdy: Were there any wounds in the neck, the back?

Robinson: Now this is where I'm hazy. I can remember the probe. The probe of all this whole area. It was about an 18 piece [sic] of metal that we used.

Purdy: Do you feel they probed the head or they probed the neck?

Robinson: It was at the base of the head where most of the damage was done, the things that we had to worry about. So it all runs together in my mind.

Purdy: Did they probe with anything other than the 18 probe, either prior to or after the use of that probe? Did that use a shorter probe [sic]

Robinson: I don't remember, I remember them probing.

Purdy: What is you impression as to either how far or in what direction they probed with that probe?
Purdy: Or any direction about the actual probing to indicate either the direction or the depth?

Robinson: I remember they talked about it. They took notes, made notes.

Conzelman: At this time, did you take any notes?

Robinson: No.

Purdy: Did you take any notes afterwards?

Robinson: No.

Purdy: Did you draw any autopsy face sheets, sketches or anything like that?

Robinson: No, which is something we always did.

Purdy: Why didn't you this time?

Robinson: I never saw the file, like I said everything was done to protect the family as far as we were concerned.

Purdy: On this probe, do you remember if the probe went all the way through wherever they probed, do you remember...

Robinson: I don't recall.

Purdy: Do you remember any discussion, you said you remember them talking about the probe, any discussion at all about whether there was any transcending of the body, maybe wounds transit the body? Do you remember, for example, if they said that it was a bullet where a bone exited in the temple? Or at the throat?

Robinson: No, but I'm sure he had it in his notes.

8/17/1977 Boswell-Purdy HSCA Interview

DR. BOSWELL indicated that regarding the tracheostomy, the doctors "...thought it was a wound." He meant to convey the impression that the doctors thought it was a bullet wound. (This becomes potentially signifigant in laer stages of the interview.)


Dr. Boswell said the autopsy doctors assumed that the anterior neck wound was a wound of exit, saying that hole is not that big and that it was "...far bigger that wound of entry." He said the doctors didn't explicitly discuss the possibility of a tracheotomy having been performed but said it was assumed that this was a possibility. He said Parkland did not really do a tracheotomy in the sense that they never inserted a tube. (See notes on interview with Dr. Perry.) Dr. Boswell said that if a full autopsy had been performed they would have removed the trachea. Dr. Boswell said he remembered seeing part of the perimeter of a bullet wound in the anterior neck.


Dr. BOSWELL was asked why the back wound was probed if the autopsy doctors knew the bullet had exited out the anterior neck (as Dr. BOSWELL stated earlier in the interview). Dr. BOSWELL said that Dr. BURKLEY didn't mention the fact that a tracheotomy had been performed. He said that Dr. BURKLEY was very upset and this might have explained his failure to mention this important fact. Dr. BOSWELL said (without indicating that he was being inconsistent with his previous statement), the doctors felt anterior neck damage was caused by a tracheotomy wound and in the later courses of the autopsy thought it may have included the exist [sic] wound of a bullet. He said the x-rays [sic] were examined during the autopsy in trying to accomplish what they saw as their main purpose, namely to look for a bullet. Dr. BOSWELL is a little vague as to when the doctors felt that a bullet may have fallen out the neck wound, but seemed to indicate it occurred around the time they learned the bullet had been discovered in Parkland and prior to the time when they began to feel there was a very real possibility of an exit wound in the anterior neck.

This is just freaky. Dr. Boswell literally changed his story midway through the same interview. This may be a clear indicator that the autopsy doctors intentionally changed their story.

8/17/1977 John Stringer HSCA Interview report

MR. STRINGER recalled conversation about the pathway through the neck and specifically discussion about air in the throat. He remembers a great deal of discussion and concern as the doctor searched for a missing bullet. He believes HUMES instituted the call to Dallas.


STRINGER recalls that during the autopsy someone was asked to call Parkland. He also remembers DR. BURKLEY discussing the fact that the doctors should not conduct a full autopsy, saying: "...shouldn't do a complete one if didn't have to." STRINGER said the doctors had to crack the skull comewhat to get the brain out, though they didn't have to saw it off.

Thus, Stringer became an "early contact" witness, with added credibility because the "air in the throat" sounds exactly like Dr. Perry attested to noticing while treating Kennedy. This also may indicate that the doctors were paying attention to the air cavity in the neck identified on the X-Rays. Dr. Lattimer theorized that this air cavity was a bullet track from the posterior thorax wound to the throat wound.

8/23/1977 Karnei-Purdy HSCA Interview report

Dr. Karnei said he was present when probing of the wound was attempted. ("...when they were putting the probes through the body".) Dr. Karnei said he was "... not exactly sure..." how successful they were with the probing. He recalls them putting the probe in and taking pictures (the body was on the side at the time). He said they felt the hole in the back was a wound of entrance and they were "...trying to figure out where the bullet came out."

Dr. Karnei said the wound of the throat "...looked like a tracheotomy elipse" but said there was no discussion of that fact. He said he thought it was assumed. He said he recalled no talk about there being a wound of entrance in the front of the neck. He gathered from his conversation with Dr. Boswell that the doctors didn't come to a "...full conclusion..." that night.

In a later interview with Harrison Livingstone, Karnei will say that he thought he remembered the autopsy doctors discovering the reality of the original throat wound during the autopsy itself. This may raise a contradiction. See the Livingstone interview and the ARRB interview for more information to weigh Karney's credibility on this issue.

9/16/1977 HSCA Interview of Drs. James J. Humes and J. Thornton Boswell by the Forensic Pathology Panel ,

Dr. BADEN. We're talking about also photographs Nos. 13 and 14. Did--in further discussing the exit perforation through the tracheotomy, did you have occasion to explore in the neck area beyond what is in the protocol, beyond what the description was? As to what was injured?

Dr. HUMES. Well, the trachea, I think we described the irregular or jagged wound of the trachea, and then we described a contusion in the apex of the lung and the inferior surface of the dome of the right pleural cavity, and that's one photograph that we were distressed not to find when we first went through and catalogued these photographs, because I distinctly recall going to great lengths to try and get the interior upper portion of the right thorax illuminated-you know the technical difficulties with that, getting the camera positioned and so forth, and what happened to that film, I don't know. There were a couple films that apparently had been exposed to light or whatever and then developed, but we never saw that photograph.

Dr. BADEN. From the time you first examined them, that particular photograph was never seen?

Dr. HUMES. Never available to us, but we thought it coincided very neatly with the path that ultimately we felt that that missile took.

Dr. BADEN. Continuing with the path. There is present in the X-rays Solne Opaque material to the right of the lower cervical spine which has been interpreted as being tiny bullet or bone fragments. Would the track, as you recall, be consistent with the missile striking a transverse process?

Dr. HUMES. Well, I must confess that we didn't make that interpretation at the time. I'm familiar with the writings of Dr. John Lattimer and of some reprints of his articles, and I'd have to go back and restudy it the way he has done. But as you can see from the point of entrance, it wasn't that far lateral. It could conceivably have nicked a--the edge of a transverse process.


Dr. HUMES. Laterally to the right and slightly above the external occipital protuberance is a lacerated wound which I describe for your identification. You may wish to go back and look and add some corrections and whatever to this note. There's another fact of this. Having completed the examination, others might he interested in this--

Dr. BADEN. Yes. We're in session, Joe.

Dr. HUMES. Having completed the examination and remaining to assist the morticians in the preparation of the body, we did not leave the autopsy room until 5:30 or 6 in the morning. It was clearly obvious that a committee could not write the report. I had another commitment for that morning, a little later, a religious commitment with one of my children. And so I went home and took care of that, slept far several hours until about 6 in the evening of the day after, and then sat down and wrote the report that's sitting before you now myself, my own version of it. without any input other than the discussions that we thought that we had had, Dr. Boswell, Dr. Finck and myself. I then returned that morning and looked at what I had written--now wait, I'm a day ahead of myself---Saturday morning we discussed--

Dr. BOSWELL. Saturday morning we got together and we called Dallas.

Dr. HUMES. We called Dallas. See, we were at a loss because we hadn't appreciated the exit wound in the neck, we had been-- I have to go back a little bit. I think for your edification. There were four times as many people in the room most of the time as there are in this room at this moment, including the physician to the President, the Surgeon General of the Navy, the Commanding Officer of the Naval Medical Center, the Commanding Officer of the Naval Medical School, the Army, Navy, and Air Force aides to the President of the United States at one time or another, the Secret Service, the FBI and countless nondescript people who were unknown to me. Mistake No. 1. So, there was considerable confusion. So we went home. I took care of this obligation that I had. To refresh my mind, we met together around noon on Saturday, 11 in the morning, perhaps 10:30, something like that and---

Dr. BADEN. Now this is the day after?

Dr. HUMES. The day after, within 6 or 8 hours of having completed the examination, assisting Waller's and so forth for the preparation of the President's remains. We got together and discussed our problem. We said we've got to talk to the people in Dallas We should have talked to them the night before, but there was no way we could get out of the room. You'd have to understand that situation, that hysterical situation that existed. How we kept our wits about us as well as we did is amazing to me. I don't know how we managed as poorly or as well as we did under the circumstances. So I called Dr. Perry. Took me a little while to reach him. We had a very nice conversation on the phone in which he described a missile wound, what he interpreted as a missile wound, in the midline of the neck through which he had created a very quick emergency, as you can see from the photographs, tracheotomy incision effect destroying its value to us and obscuring it very gorgeously for us. Well, of course, the minute he said that to me, lights went on, and we said ah, we have some place for our missile to have gone. And then, of course, I asked him, much to my amazement, had he or any other physician in attendance upon the President, examined the back of the patient, his neck, or his shoulder. They said no, the patient had never been moved from his back while they were administering to him. So, the confusion that existed from some of his comments and the comments of other standby people in the emergency room in Dallas had been in the news media and elsewhere, so that added to the confusion. So, following that, and that discussion, and we having a meeting of minds as to generally what was necessary to be accomplished, and being informed by the various people in anthority that our gross report should be delivered to the White House physician no later than Sunday evening, the next day, 24 hours later, or not quite 24 hours later. Not having slept for about 48 hours, I went home and rested from noon until 8 or 10 that evening, Saturday evening, and then I sat down in front of other notes on which I had made minor comments, handwritten notes. I wrote the report which is present here. Now we also have here--and since it's in the record I want to comment about it some comments that I destroyed, some notes related to this, by burning in the fireplace of my home, and that is true. However, nothing that was destroyed is not present in this write-up. Now, why did I do that? It's interesting, and I've not spoken of this in public. Not too long here of this, I had had the experience of serving as an escort officer for some foreign physicians from foreign navies, who were being entertained and given a course of instruction in the United States. We had 20 or 30 of these chaps, and they used to come through every year or two, and I often was escort officer for them. They spent 5 weeks in Washington or 5 weeks in the field, then we went various places. We went to submarine bases and Marine Corps installations and naval training centers to teach them how physicians function in the American Navy. One of the places to which I happened to take them--and we tried to teach them a little Americana--I took them to Greenfield Village, which, as many of you know, Henry Ford set up adjacent to his former home in suburban Detroit, Dearborn. And in that location is a courthouse in which President Lincoln used to hold forth when he was riding the circuit, and these men were very impressed with that, and they knew who President Lincoln was and were impressed with his courthouse and many other things in Greenfield Village. But what I was amazed to find there, because I personally did not know it was there until I made that visit, was the chair in which President Lincoln sat when he was assassinated. Somehow or other they got that chair out of Ford's Theatre, and Henry Ford got it into Greenfield Village, and it's sitting in this courthouse. Now the back of that chair is stained with a dark substance, and there's much discussion to this day as to whether that stain represents the blood of the deceased President or whether it is Macassar. I don't know if you all remember what Macassar is. When people our age were young and you'd visit yoar grandmother, on the back of the sofa there were lovely lace doilies in the homes of many people. And if you recall what I'm speaking of--they were on the sofas and reclining chairs--and those lace doilies bear the name antimacassar. You could go to a store in this country and buy an anti macassar. They don't exist any more. And Macassar was a hair dressing that gentlemen wore in those days to keep their hair in place. And these officers were appalled that the American people would wish to have an object stained with the blood of the President on public display. And I was--it kind of bothered me a little bit-it still does, to this day. And here I was, now in the possession of a number of pieces of paper, some of which unavoidably, and in the confusion which I described to you earlier, were stained in part with the blood of our deceased President. And I knew that I would give the record over to some person or persons in authority, and I felt that these pieces of paper were inappropriate to be turned over to anyone, and it was for that reason and for that reason only, that, having transcribed those notes onto the pieces of paper that are before you, I destroyed those pieces of paper. I think I'd do the same thing tomorrow. I had a similar problem, because I felt they would fail into the hands of some sensation seeker.

Dr. Humes firmly provides a 10:30 AM to 11:00 AM 11/23/1963 timeframe for his contact with Dr. Perry and discovery of the original throat wound.

1/11/1978 Perry-Purdy HSCA Interview ,

FLANAGAN: Dr. Perry, could you go over and describe the conversations that you subsequently had after treating the President at Parkland with Dr. Humes, the surgeon who performed the autopsy?

PERRY: Yeah. This won't be too accurate, Mark, because I found out, interestingly enough, that later I had my dates a little bit fouled up. They called me twice and I couldn't remember -- I didn't write it down. I've learned to keep better records since then, but -- and I didn't remember exactly when they called me and about what, but I was called twice back from Bethesda. And the conversation of the first one, as I recall, and I need, I should go back and look at my testimony in my notes here and I haven't done that, I guess, I should have to find out exactly what we're talking about on that first one. But we discussed the thing and I told him about the tracheostomy wound and told him that I had cut right through the small wound in the neck. And Dr. Humes at that time had described that they had had a little difficulty tying up that posterior entrance wound -- as allegedly to be an entrance wound, I shouldn't get in this hot water -- that posterior wound with the -- couldn't find out where it went. And they surmised that during the cardiac massage and everything that perhaps the bullet had fallen out -- which seemed like a very unlikely event to me, to say the least. But at any rate, when I told him that there was a wound in the anterior neck, lower third, he said: "That explains it:" I believe that was the exclamation that he used -- because that tied together their findings with mine. Now there was a second call about the chest tubes, I think. And I believe that was the next day. I'm not sure of that. Maybe they called me twice that morning.

PURDY: At one point in your testimony, to help clear it up with you, you said that the calls came about 30 minutes apart.

PERRY: Was it twice in the same morning? It's possible. There should be something in the record of that. They had a record of it, Andy, and I just don't remember, you know. Between Friday and the President and Sunday and Oswald, and all those conferences and interviews, I got a little bit confused -- because Saturday morning I was asked to come up to the hospital and talk to a whole bunch of people and so I was up there Saturday too. And I don't remember -- but maybe it was two, both.., ... Saturday was when they called?

PERRY: Yeah, twice.

FLANAGAN: I believe so.

PERRY: But they called twice. And they asked me about the chest tubes--or something to that effect. Was it chest tubes?

PURDY: Yeah. In your testimony you say that "the initial phone call was in relation to my doing a tracheotomy," and you informed them...

PERRY: ...that I'd cut right through the wound.

PURDY: Right. Do you remember whether or not there was any discussion in either of the calls about whether there had been any surgical incisions made in the President's back?

PERRY: I don't remember. I don't know why they would. He might have asked me, but I didn't even look at his back--so I wouldn't have known the answer to that if there had been. But I don't recall him asking that question. He might have asked -- I got asked so many questions along about that time, I don't remember who asked them. I didn't even look at Mr. Kennedy's back -- which was another thing I wish we'd have done.

FLANAGAN: One further question on these lines. To your knowledge, did the Bethesda Hospital or Humes -- did they ever receive any, for instance, handwritten notes that might have been taken by them?

PERRY: Should have.

FLANAGAN: ...I mean after the assassination.

PERRY: Yeah. You know, we -- yeah, that's a good question, too, Mark, because we all sat down afterwards and wrote out in our own -- as L'il Abner would say, hand written -- notes our recollection of what happened down there, knowing that we'd get a little fuzzy about it. And I think they got copies of those; I'm not sure of that, though. Those copies were available, because we made them available to the investigating committees, and know our inspector and all the guys around here. We all wrote down some of them and they were available for everybody. I think several of the people from various investigating agencies looked at 'em. They made a bunch of copies and they should be widely circulated. Interestingly enough is the discrepancy between what people remember -- it's kinda like the blind men and the elephant -- that's what they remember. Dr. McClelland's and some of the others are quite different from some of ours which I thought...

FLANAGAN: Is this normal procedure -- that Parkland Hospital would follow writing down...

PERRY: No. Normally, what we do -- well, normally, yes; but normally just one of us. Normally, the guy -- myself, for example, since I ostensibly was responsible for the surgery and the rest of it, normally the guy who's attending and who's doing the job writes a summary about it afterwards for the record. The reason all of us did was we thought it might be important -- more than the usual -- to have a good record. I'm not sure it served its purpose. I haven't read everybody's, but I've read some of them and I found they didn't correspond with what I remembered.

PURDY: Do you remember any in particular?

PERRY: No, no, but I remember the stuff about Bob McClelland's. We talked about that later because we talked about the thing in the temple. And we all kind of laughed about that but I just, you know, Bob was told when he joined in there and like me he didn't spend much time because he saw I needed help. And when he started helping me with the trache, he asked where he was shot. And somebody told him he was shot in the left temple and he accepted that as being true, when actually it wasn't true and I think Bob wrote that down -- or if he didn't write it down, he told somebody that, which was interesting. But, you know, you get naive and trustworthy and that's a bad way to be.

PURDY: As you recall, your testimony says that the second conversation you had with Dr. Humes was in regard to the placement of the chest tube for drainage of the chest cavity.

PERRY: It's interesting to me -- and I'm not being critical-but it's interesting to me that the pathology report does not reflect that. The autopsy report said that those incisions were made to combat subcutaneous emphysema, which is not a -- in the current jargon -- a viable therapeutic technique.

FLANAGAN: What would have been a normal routine, if it existed at the time, after someone taken into emergency expired, and then you wrote up some reports...

PERRY: What do we usually do?

FLANAGAN: What would occur then with the reports, for instance?

PERRY: They'd go in the hospital records.

FLANAGAN: Hospital record with the forensic pathologist in the area that might examine the body...

PERRY: Yeah, they're all there. It all goes in the record. We'd write a narrative summary and I must say, if I may be a little bit immodest, I write mine right away. I'm very good about that sort of thing -- mainly because I found that if I do it right then, it's like an operative report. When I come Out of the operating room I dictate the operative report right then because it gets progressively hazier. And I usually sit down and write it as soon as I finish. I write a short op. note anytime I do an operation on the chart. We prepare them right then. And that's what we would do. And that would become a part of the legal hospital record.

Dr. Perry seems to still remember his contact with Dr. Humes as happening earlier. He also suggests the existence of a long-lost written record of when exactly he was contacted by Humes.

1/18/1978 HSCA Interview with Richard Lipsey
HSCA Interview report w/ diagram marked by Lipsey:

Q: Getting back to the beginning stages of the autopsy, or even before the actual autopsy began, do you recall when the x-rays were taken, the x-rays and photos?
LIPSEY: Yeah, well as far as the exact x-rays were taken, no I don’t recall. I do recall the comments from the doctors, you know, who started examining the body before they did anything, you know, looking at the body, looking at where the bullets had entered the back of the his head. It was obvious that one bullet entered the back of his head and exited on the right side of his face and pretty well blew away the right side of his head. And then the other two bullets had entered the lower part of his neck and the best of my knowledge, or the best of my memory, one had exited. The other bullet had entered from behind and hit his chest cavity and the bullet went down into the body. And during the autopsy, this is the only part that I can imagine would be of any--really, what I’ve told you right there, of strictly confidential nature that was never written up anywhere. And I presume, am I right, that this tape and this conversation is strictly confidential? You know, it’s not going to be published I guess is what I’m getting at?
Q: It’s not going to be published during the term of this committee. During 1978.
LIPSEY: Okay, Well, is that as far as I can remember, and I’m pretty positive about it, they never found that third bullet. It did not exit the body. When they did the autopsy first they cut the top of his head off and then they cut his chest open, you know, and they got all of his insides out, that was the only gory part, they took them out a piece at a time and laid them up on, I remember, a beautiful clean stainless steel rack with water pouring over it all the time. I imagine to keep it fresh or whatever. They did the whole autopsy then they came back and, you know, sliced up all the organs.
Q: For slides?
LIPSEY: I don’t know what they were using them for. They were taking pictures of them, they, you know, and they were examining them. I don’t know whether they were taking them for records or not. I don't think the doctors, to be perfectly frank, I don’t think it ever entered the doctors' minds that they were taking pictures for a formal investigation. They were doing an autopsy, a complete autopsy, and whatever physical records that you maintain during an autopsy was what they were doing. I know they did a very thorough job because every time one to them would say something the other one would question it. I can remember they looked at this one organ and they passed it around and all three discussed it before they would go on to the most part. You know, it wasn’t one guy doing his operating on the feet, one on the chest, and one on the head. They did everything together and re-examined everything together. I remember that distinctly. They looked like one of the most efficient teams doing anything that I’ve ever seen. But anyhow, like I say. I can remember lifting his chest cavity and then the top of his head off, and you know, all the internal organs out. And I can remember them discussing the third, third bullet. First, second and third bullet. The third bullet, the one they hadn’t found. Their only logical explanation was that it hit him in the back of the head, hit his chest cavity and then, like bullets will do--I am sure you are familiar with that one, you could shoot somebody, no telling where the bullet is going to and up--probably hit his chest cavity and could have gone all the way down into his toe. You know, it could have just hit and gone right down into his leg or wherever. But I don’t think, to the best of my knowledge, they ever found the third bullet.
Q: Did they find any other bullets?
LIPSEY: This is what I'm getting back to. I don't know that they found bullets or whether they found just particles of bullets. I don't think they know. I don't think they found any whole bullets. But that is just strictly speculation on my part. I remember they were bound and determined to find that bullet because it didn't have an exit mark. But I don't think they ever found the bullet. The one that hit his chest, the one that exited here -- [corrects himself] entered here; there was no exit hole. So the bullet was somewhere in his body, obviously.
Q: When you say "entered here" referring to?
LIPSEY: The lower back of the neck.
Q: Lower back.
LIPSEY: From the angle they were talking about it had to come from quite a height because they were looking and talking to each other the angle they were pointing that had hit him had to be a down angle. Also all of them, their entire discussion -- I never entered the discussion and neither did Sam Bird. We were sitting there watching and listening. And we weren't asked our opinion, for obvious reasons. We wouldn't have known what we were talking about. We never entered in any conversation with the docs or offered any information except when we were talking.
And I didn't personally think, personal opinion, from listening to the doctors, watching the autopsy, there was no question in their minds that the bullets came from the same direction that all three bullets came from the same place at the same time. They weren't different angles. They all had the same pattern to them.
Q: Okay, getting back to the bullets themselves, not the bullets themselves but the entrances, can you just go over again the entrances as you remember them?
LIPSEY: Alright, as I remember them there was one bullet that went in the back of the head that exited and blew away part of his face. And that was sort of high up, not high up but like this little crown on the back of your head right there, three or four inches above your neck. And then the other one entered at more of less the top of the neck, the other one entered more of less at the bottom of the neck.
Q: Okay, so that would be up where the crown, not the top of the head?
LIPSEY: Yeah, the rear crown.
Q: Where that point might be on the skull bone?
LIPSEY: Exactly.
Q: Then one approximately several inches lower?
LIPSEY: Well not several but two or three inches lower.
Q: Still in the head? Or what we would call…
LIPSEY: Closer to the neck.
Q: Closer to the neck? And than one in the neck?
LIPSEY: In the lower neck region.
Q: In the back?
LIPSEY: Yeah, the very -- right as the ....
Q: Let's go back over things. Sometimes visual aids you forget. Okay, and then according to the autopsy doctors they feel the one that entered in the skull, in the rear of the head, exited the right side of the head?
LIPSEY: The right front, you know, the face. Not the right top, the right front. The facial part of your face. In other words...
Q: Did that destroy his face at all? You say Presidents Kennedy, was his face distorted?
LIPSEY: Yeah, the right side. If you looked at him straight. If you looked at him from the left you couldn’t see anything. If you looked at him from the right side it was just physically part of it blown away.
Q: So that would be right here?
LIPSEY: Yeah, behind the eye and everything.
Q: Behind the eye? Was it all hair region or was it part of the actual face?
LIPSEY: To the best of my recollection it was part of the hair region and part of the face region.


Q: Now getting back, we just went over the three entrances and what the doctor's stated were entrances. To refresh your memory, the first doctor was Dr. Humes…is the chief pathologist…
LIPSEY: [Talking over questioner] I met the doctors when it first started except when I read their names -- I don't know them then; I don't know them now -- on a personal basis. Nor I never talked to them before, during or afterwards.
Q: You do recollect Commander Humes?
LIPSEY: Yes. Okay, the only thing I remember there at times was another, it wasn't a doctor. It could have been a doctor. I know there was an assistant or an aide doing things for them during different periods.
Q: Getting back to the entrances you just stated one exit you believed was on the right hand side of the head. Now what about the other entrances, what about the corresponding exits if there were any? Let's clarify that a little more. For starting, one…
LIPSEY: The bullet entered lower part of the head or upper part of the neck. [long pause] To the best of my knowledge, came out the front of the neck. But the one that I remember they spent so much time on, obviously, was the one they found did not come out. There was a bullet -- that's my vivid recollection cause that's all they talked about. For about two hours all they talked about was finding that bullet. To the rest of my recollection they found some particles but they never found the bullet -- pieces of it, trances of it. The best of my knowledge, this is one thing I definitely remember they just never found that whole bullet.
Q: What was it you observed that made you feel that exited -- the bullet that entered the rear portion of his head exited in the throat area?
LIPSEY: The throat area. Right. The lower throat area.
Q: What, were there markings there that indicated that the doctors came to that conclusion?
LIPSEY: I saw where, you know, they were working and also listening to their conclusions.
Q: And it's your recollection at that time was that the doctors definitely felt the bullets came from the one area, same area, same time?
LIPSEY: Yes, they talked about that. It never seemed to be any doubt in their mind the bullets were coming from different directions at all.
Q: It's been a long time but do you recall any reasons they gave?
LIPSEY: Because of the angle. I remember that's how they kept talking bout the angles of the bullets because the angles that they entered the body. That's why, they, I remember, measuring and doing all kinds of things. They turned the body up at one point to determine where that bullet that entered back here that didn't have an exit mark. Where was that bullet? And so when it got to down to where they thought it hit his chest cavity, they opened him up and started looking in here. That's why I remember one thing, they took, after they had taken all his organs out, during the autopsy they had them sitting up there: "Now let's see if we can find the bullet." They cut all his organs apart. I don't know what they did with them, I don't remember but they put them in some kind of containers. I don't remember but they put them in containers.


Q: Did the doctors in that preliminary examination find all the wounds you have described?
LIPSEY: I’m sure they must have. They were visible.
Q: To follow that up, the wounds that you describe, was that based on hearing the doctors calling out that this is a wound, this is a wound? Or was that based on your visible sight when you saw the body?
LIPSEY: Both. Because, I could see the body, I could see the rear. I could see obviously the side of the face. Although that’s just when I walked in they took him out the casket -- I saw that. Beside the side wound, because when I went back and sat down, they laid him down to right. The way they laid him I was looking at the left side of his body as opposed to the right side of his body. I remember I could see the blood at the throat area, and in the neck area. As for as me getting down and looking at the exit hole in the front, all I could see was the blood. What I'm talking about is what I heard in conversation from them, from then on.
Q: To follow that up, as you should well know because I take it you do hunt a lot, locating wounds in hair is very difficult. The sighting. Did you visibly see the wounds in the back of the head, what you feel were the entrance wounds? Was based on what the doctors stated that we know their opinions…
[Lipsey is interrupting with "No…That's…No."]
LIPSEY: No. That’s...No. I hope I’m not contradicting myself. But at this point, there again, like I said, it's been a long time. I feel that there was no really entrance wound --maybe I said that --in the rear of his head. There was a point where they determined the bullet entered the back of his head but I believe all of that part of his head was blown. I mean I think it just physically blew away that part of his head. You know, just like a strip right across there or may have been just in that area -- just blew it out..
Q: So you say the damage caused by the entrance and the exit of the bullet to the head caused one large hole?
LIPSEY: To the best of my recollection, yes it did. But one, the other one went in the back of the neck. Like a say, I saw the blood spots and what have you, but they weren't tremendous, not a blow-a-way like this. But, of course, what little I know about it, which isn't a hell of a lot, your bone is right there, so when it hit it, the bullet probably expanded, hit something solid and ripped. But here, it went in to tissue before it hit anything.
Q: Was there any discussion of the nature of the bullet which caused the head wound?
LIPSEY: No. To my recollection, no there wasn't.
Q: Was there any discussion that it would take a certain kind of bullet to cause that kind of damage?
LIPSEY: If it was done, it was probably, I'm thinking, it was probably done in the privacy of the doctors after the autopsy. I don't remember -- and I'm sure it must have been mentioned during the autopsy but I'm not going to say yes or no because I don't have any idea. I don't remember that at all.
Q: During the autopsy, did you discuss with anyone else in the room the nature of head wounds. Or the causes of them?
LIPSEY: No. Not really. Sam and I…We just talked about different things. We talked about Kennedy, talked about how many times he had been shot. I don’t think we ever discussed anything in relation to what the doctors were saying about the wounds.
Q: Could you describe for us the nature of the damage to the front of the neck?
LIPSEY: No. I really couldn't. Because like I say, when we got it out, there was -- blood was all over the body. It was almost caked on. I remember they took a scrub brush and a pail. One of his arms, and if I've not mistaken, it was his left arm. You know, the way, I guess, after he died, finished the autopsy by that time and, rigor mortis had set in and one of his arms was slightly higher. Well, the guy's laying down and one of them was up a little bit. So when they started the autopsy I can remember, one of the doctors, when he was starting to clean the body up, got up on the table and physically got up on the table and put his knee down on his arm to hold it down -- to get it out of his way -- so he could scrub the rest of the body. So to say, to describe the hole to you, no. Because it was so messy and so much blood that I didn't, I never got close enough to get down and look at the wound itself.
Q Can you give us an rough estimate, compared it for example to the wound in the head and the wound in the back…
LIPSEY: It was much smaller, very much smaller.
Q: …Than the head wound…
LIPSEY: Than the side head wound.
Q: What about the wound on the back?
LIPSEY: There again the wound in the back of the head, all I saw of that wound was when they turned him on his side. And saw the blood when they were cleaning him off, cutting, and doing the thing. I couldn't possibly describe to you the relation to the size. I don’t' remember and I doubt that I saw it close enough to describe it to you.
Q: Do you remember whether the doctors describing the wound in the neck as being caused by anything other than a bullet?
Q: Do you remember discussions on whether or not there was a tracheotomy incision?
LIPSEY: [Long Pause.] No. I guess anything I do remember something about that -- I remember it would have to come after reading about what went on in Dallas. I just don't remember discussing that.
Q: What have you read about Dallas? About that front neck wound?
LIPSEY: It's been so long. Like I say, I'm glad I hadn't. I'm glad I didn't go back over any articles and read because I don't even remember.
Q: You don't recall whether there was a tracheotomy in the front of the neck?
LIPSEY: Absolutely not.
Q: Well, you say you didn't you hear the doctors discuss that. Did you explicitly hear the doctors say that the wound in the front of the neck was caused by a bullet?
LIPSEY: If you want to get down to specifics: no. The only thing I do remember was when they kept talking about the entrance in the back of the neck and looking at the hole in the front of the neck. To the best of my knowledge they were convinced that a bullet came out the front of the neck. And that's how they were determining where to look for the other bullet -- by the angle it went in at the back and came out at the front. Where to look at the other one.
Q: Oh, the angle where it came in the head -- looking out the front of the neck -- using that angle…
LIPSEY: Right. Right. [Interrupting] To determine where to look for the other one, I presume from what they were looking at, both entrances looked to be the same.. In other words, both entrances -- the angles were the same were on both entrances, or the sizes of the holes probably was the same -- and in the front. I'm not going to stand here and make up a story, make it sound good, I just don't remember whether they discussed the size of a trach hole or it in relation to where a bullet might have exited.
Q: How much time would you say, relatively speaking, did the doctors spent on the 3 wounds you described? Did they spend more time on one or the other of the wounds?
LIPSEY: They spent more time looking for that other bullet than they did on anything else.
Q: You're describing the bullet that went in…
LIPSEY: …on the lower part of the neck. I remember them saying it must of hit the chest cavity and ricocheted down somewhere into the body.
Q: Do you remember any discussion…
LIPSEY: And they spent a lot of time on that. Because I remember when they cut him open in the front, you know, they -- I remember -- "Let's look for this, let's look for this." They took all the organs out, they went through, they cut the organs up looking for bullets. And finally, to the best of my knowledge, and I remember this, I don't remember how much more they did after this, but I remember them saying: "That bullet could be anywhere." It could have gone right down to his heels or his toes. It could have ricocheted and traveled right down through right on down, you know, through his insides.
Q: Do you remember any discussion among the doctors that the bullet could have entered lower in the neck -- lower back part of the neck exited in the front of the neck?
LIPSEY: Yeah. I remember they were firmly convinced it did not.
Q: Okay. So you're convinced…
LIPSEY: That's why they spent so much time looking for it. They traced it through the back of his neck through, you know, when they did the autopsy, through the inside of his body and there was no where the bullet was then where it should have exited, it was not. And at the angle it was traveling, and from, you know, with the other things they saw visible in the chest area once they cut him open, you know, it had started down, but where was it?
Q: When they opened up the body from the front, did -- were they able to discern any part of the track of the bullet?
LIPSEY: I'm convinced they were in the upper part of his body -- yes -- because that's how they started following it. And then I think, that's when they started taking his organs out, you know, one at a time only. They took all of the insides out, I remember that, boy. They had four or five piles of insides sitting on the table. And they thoroughly examined each one of those. They just had a big hollow chest and stomach cavity left -- or particularly chest cavity, when they got through. And, I'm very convinced, in my own mind, that they were very convinced that bullet was somewhere in him.
Because, from their conversations, they tracked this bullet as far as they could in a downward position before they couldn't tell where it went. That's when they started taking organs apart and looking where ever they could look without going ahead and just cutting him apart. And I think their decision finally was, we're just, you know, not going to completely dissect him to find this bullet. So they tracked the bullet down as far as it went. Obviously, by that point it wasn't that important.
Q: When they opened up the chest, when you say they saw part of the track of the bullet, did they take a photograph of that?
LIPSEY: Can't tell. I honestly do not know.


Q: Do you remember any of the autopsy doctors probing any of the wounds?
LIPSEY: Not, no, I really can't say. They were doing everything so I don't... I can say they must have, I'm not going to say they did. I remember, the wounds, looking for the bullet, were their primary concern.
[Interruption by intercom]
Q: Do you remember any discussion when they were trying to find out where the bullet went -- of the possibility that the bullet had gone in the back and had fallen out of the body? In other words, a non-exited bullet remained in…
LIPSEY: [Interrupts] No. There was no possibility, there were no other holes it could have fallen out.
Q: That's what I mean -- Did they discuss…
LIPSEY: [Interrupts] …to the rear. In other words…
Q: [Talking over Lipsey] That's what I mean. Fell out of the entrance.
LIPSEY: The bullet has penetrated. It went into his skin. There was evidence of it inside his body. It had penetrated the body. There was no way it could have fallen out.
Q: Was there any discussion because of external cardiac massage from the front when he was face up it could have fallen out?
LIPSEY: No. There was no discussion of that that I recall.
Q: Do you recall any phone calls anyone in the autopsy room made?
LIPSEY: In the room you mean?
Q: Anyone from the room or anyone from the room leaving the room to make a call?
LIPSEY: I made a call.
Q: From the room?
LIPSEY: No. Not from the room, but when the autopsy was over, before the men from the funeral home started their work, they took a break. Gen Wehle came in and asked if I wanted to go out for a while. Gen Wehle came into the room and I went out of the room and took 10 or 15 minutes. And called my parents and said, "Guess where I am or what I just did?" Woke them up, it was then after 2:00 in the morning. They said, "What?" "I just watched Kennedy's autopsy." Yes, we saw you on television this afternoon at Andrews Airforce Base and all that. I'll participate to a much greater extent at the funeral. Watch television -- you'll see me. Typical, you know, I guess, 21 year old's reaction. That was the sum total of my reaction to my parents. I didn't discuss anything about anything. Just, I've been watching the autopsy. If anybody else called…I don't know.


Q: I have a sketch here from the autopsy face sheet we'd like you to place, you can do it in pencil first and then in pen or just in pen, any wounds you recall.
LIPSEY: okay
Q: This sketch is a blank drawing of a body, a male body.
LIPSEY: Like I said, to the best of my knowledge somewhere in that area and in that area.
Q: Could you label them as of whether they are of entrance or of exit?
LIPSEY: Alright. [writing and speaking] Part blown away. Entrance and entrance. To the best of my…let's see it would be the right side of his face. That area in there. Once again, that area was kind of blown away.
Q: Is that area the same area?
LIPSEY: Same area. And there was a hole -- you're talking about at tracheotomy. As far as I remember they were talking about it being a bullet hole. [writing and speaking] Exit. Exit.


The only thing, and it's certainly not going to hold up under any court of law-type thing. But, I can remember when the Warren Commission was formed. Everybody's writing books about it. All the comments on how many times he was shot and the angles. I remember Walter Cronkite doing this big CBS thing on who shot him -- how many directions it came from. I can remember vividly in my mind on literally hundreds of occasions, saying these people are crazy. I watched the autopsy and I know for a fact he was shot three times. And the doctors were firmly convinced they all came out of the same gun because of the type of wounds or the entrances, whatever. I wish I could be more specific. I remember going back to the autopsy. I can remember specifically the next week, the next month. Over the period of the next year or so. Which was when I really remember what went on in the room. These people were crazy.
I can remember in my own mind, they're trying to read something into it that didn't happen. One book came out that he was shot from three different angles, another report came out he was only shot once, another that he was shot seven times. All kinds of…Everybody had their own versions of what happened, how many sounds they heard, and the angles of the fire they came from. I definitely remember the doctors commenting they were convinced that the shots came from the same direction and from the same type of weapon -- and it was three shots.
Q: Did they also feel --did the doctors state that three separate bullets had struck?
LIPSEY: This is one other thing, that to the best of my memory, today, and remembering what I thought about when all these reports came out absolutely, unequivocally yes, they were convinced that he had been shot three times.
Q: It's unclear to me from the sketch that you did where there are three bullets.
LIPSEY: One on the right side of his head, one on the upper point of his neck and one on the lower part of his neck.
Q: Well, on your sketch, you labeled two points as points of entrance.
LIPSEY: One point was just blown away. This point was just blown away. I just can't remember whether there was a point of entrance and then the blown away part or whether it -- he must have been sitting like this and it hit like this and went in just blew that away or if it ripped the whole section away.
Q: Either of those two possibilities means one bullet to the head, I think.
LIPSEY: Right. One bullet to the head.
Q: Right.
LIPSEY: Then one bullet to the lower head.
Q: Oh. Then where did that bullet exit?
LIPSEY: That's the bullet that exited right here.
Q: The throat.
LIPSEY: Throat. Then the lower entrance that did not exit. If that's confusing, ask me again and we'll go over it. Do you understand it? What I'm talking about so far? One bullet, right on his head. The bullet was coming out like this --
Q: The question is, the bullet wound that you're referring to right hand side of his head,
LIPSEY: Right.
Q: Did that, did this wound, which you describe as a large blasting out, did that have a separate corresponding entry wound or did the doctors believe that was all of one wound?
LIPSEY: That was all part of one wound.
Q: Could it have been part of that lower wound on the head that you labeled?
LIPSEY: Oh no. Absolutely not.
Q: Because, earlier when I asked you about the blown away portion, I go the impression that when you were saying you weren't sure whether it entered and then blew away a portion or whether the entrance and exit were part of the same hole.
LIPSEY: You're right. I wasn't. This was distinctly a separate wound beside, in relation to these two.
Q: Did the doctors conclude [laughing] that was there a two separate wounds was there a track between the two of them?
LIPSEY: The doctors concluded, the conclusion of the doctors was there were three separate wounds.
Q: And three separate bullets.
LIPSEY: And three separate bullets. No question in my mind about that. Can I ask you a question at this point?
Q: You can ask us but we may not be able to answer it for you.
LIPSEY: I think it will be a very simple question that I think you could answer. There's gotta be something to do with it. Why don't they exhume the body and study the body?
Q: We'll that's a question we can't answer.


Q: On this sketch could you add a further identification where you say "part blown away." That's my confusion.
LIPSEY: Okay. [writing and speaking out loud] Entrance of bullet #2 and entrance of bullet #3.
Q: When you say "wound #1, why don't you say…
Q: [All speaking at once] That, to you, represents entrance of bullet #1.
LIPSEY: That would represent…No. Not in sequence. The bullet #1 may have been this bullet and that may have been #2. I don't remember the sequence.
Q: Of course. But for the purpose of this paper, that could be the sequence.
LIPSEY: [writing and speaking out loud] Entrance and exit --
Q: Entrance and exit.
LIPSEY: Exit of bullet #1. This would be entrance of bullet #2. Entrance of bullet #3. Not in order.
Q: Just write "For identification."
LIPSEY: [writing and speaking out loud] For identification. This same area blown away as…
Q: Wound #1.
LIPSEY: [writing and speaking out loud] Wound #1. [then different notation] Exit point of wound #2.
Q: Now, let me ask you this to clear up, I think we stated this explicitly, but, the point on the sketch labeled as point on entrance wound #2, did you in fact see that hole?
LIPSEY: All I saw was when they turned him over on his side, we took him out of the boxed coffin that they brought him from the hospital, he was laying on his back, they laid him on the table. When I saw him is when they turned him on his side and I saw it from a distance of 20ft, 15ft I saw the big blood area. I did not get any closer look at the hole than that.
Q: But [tape missing a few words] of the doctor.
LIPSEY: [writing and speaking out loud] [writing and speaking out loud] And what I could see relatively from where I was sitting that's about the position of it. Yes.
Q: So essentially, the doctors said there were two bullet wounds to the head. Is that correct?
LIPSEY: Not really, not considering if you want to consider this a head or a neck wound. I consider it more of a neck wound and I believe in their discussions they discussed it more of a neck wound. I consider my wound #1 is the head wound. I consider this wound #2 on a Upper neck/lower part of your head
Q: Was it in the hair, hairline?
LIPSEY: Yes. It was in the hair, but the lower hairline.
Q: It was in the hair?
LIPSEY: Just a minute. Wait. I'm considering where my hairline is today. Like I say, it was just a blood smash area back there. It could have been in the part that you sort of shave right up there. But lower head still, but upper neck. But the third one definitely was the lower neck, upper vertebrae.

Lipsey recalls the doctors "debating" over what the throat wound represented, and a track entering the base of the head and exiting the throat being concluded! This would mean a three-hit scinareo, with the large head wound being tangential. I love his bit at the end about how many conspiracy theory shooting scenarios are "crazy", because "I was there", "I know he was only shot three times!".

3/11/1978 HSCA Testimony of John H. Ebersole, M.D. ,

The autopsy proceeded and at this point I am simply an observer. Dr. Humes in probing the wound of entrance found it to extend perhaps over the apex of the right lung bruising the pleura and appeared to go toward or near the midline of the lower neck.

I believe by ten or ten thirty approximately a communication had been established with Dallas and it was learned that there had been a wound of exit in the lower neck that had been surgically repaired. I don't know if this was premortem or postmortem but at that point the confusion as far as we were concerned stopped.

The only function that I had was later in the evening, early in the morning, perhaps about twelve thirty a large fragment of the occipital bone was received from Dallas and at Dr. Finck's request I X rayed these. These were the last X rays I took. The X rays were taken by the Secret Service that evening; I did not see them again.


Dr. Baden. Do you recall seeing those three fragments and X raying the bones?

Dr. Ebersole. Yes. This was maybe midnight to one o'clock when these fragments arrived from Dallas.

Dr. Baden. After the autopsy?

Dr. Ebersole. The autopsy was still going on during that period.

Dr. Baden. And it is your impression that before the autopsy was finished at ten thirty at night contact had been made between Dr. Humes and --

Dr. Ebersole. I must say these times are approximate but I would say in the range often to eleven p.m. Dr. Humes had determined that a procedure had been carried out in the anterior neck covering the wound of exit. Subsequent to that the fragments arrived. At the time the fragments were X rayed Dr. Finck was present.

Dr. Baden. Do you have any idea, what did you do with the fragments after you finished X raying them?

Dr. Ebersole. Returned to the autopsy room. They were kept in the autopsy room.


Dr. Weston. I am not clear on the chronology. When you first started talking you gave the impression that everybody had the impression that there was a bullet hole in the back of the neck. You gave me the impression that they rolled the body over almost immediately. Is that a correct impression?

Dr. Ebersole. I don't know whether we looked at the anterior or posterior aspect first. I would suspect it was posterior.

Dr. Weston. You looked at the posterior first?

Dr. Ebersole. A head wound and a wound of entrance.

Dr. Weston. They saw the wound of entrance on the back of the neck almost immediately?

Dr. Ebersole. Yes. At least immediately, yes. This again is a question of recollection of whether it was the posterior or anterior surface.

Dr. Weston. But you said they didn't recognize this as being an exit wound until after the conversation with Dallas which was ten or ten thirty.

Dr. Ebersole. Or later.

Dr. Weston. By that time you had already taken two sets.

Dr. Ebersole. No, no, no.

Dr. Weston. Oh.

Dr. Ebersole. When both aspects of the body had been viewed, and I do not know in what order they were reviewed, we were faced with the problem of a wound of entrance and not a known wound of exit, so at that point we perhaps would never I have taken any X rays had we had a wound of entrance and a wound of exit. Remember, I am standing by waiting for the prosector to start with my X ray equipment. We had certainly not to my knowledge planned to take any X rays at this autopsy but when it became apparent we had a wound of entrance and no known wound of exit, this is when I was brought into the action.


Dr. Ebersole. We can put this back on when we get the tape on but somewhere during the course of the evening the input came in from Dallas about the wound exit in the neck. That I think stopped the problem from my aspect of taking the X rays. I cannot tell you what time that was. The time is rather vague that night but it was quite late in the evening.

Dr. Petty. Do you want him to repeat what he just said?

Mr. Flanagan. Yes, if you would, please.

Dr. Ebersole. The taking of the X rays again were stopped to the best of my remembrance once we had communication with Dallas and Dr. Humes had determined that there was a wounded exit in the lower neck anterior at the time that the President arrived at the hospital in Dallas. I think once that fact had been established that my part in the proceedings were finished.

Dr. Petty. May I ask two questions further. One, did you see the wound in the neck and associate it with a bullet wound of exit after it had been pointed out that the tracheostomy had been through that area?

Dr. Ebersole. No, sir, I can't say that I did. After the dissection had started I saw the area that Dr. Humes was very interested in. He pointed out to us that this was a track running over the apex of the lung -- I think he used the term bruising the apex of the lung and pointed to the middle line. I remember the area was open and he was pointing this out to us. I cannot recollect if I saw this area again after that information was known to him.

Dr. Petty. All right. The second question that I have is you said that you left the autopsy area somewhere around three o'clock in the morning.

Dr. Ebersole. Yes.


Dr. Wecht. Dr. Ebersole, hypothesize with me for a moment, please, that if on the autopsy evening Dr. Humes or any of the other physicians or people present had not received information at that time that there had been a bullet entrance wound in the front of the neck, that no such information was known by anybody on that evening, what would be your professional opinion as a radiologist -- what would it have been at that time concerning the need or desirability for taking additional x ray pictures?

Dr. Ebersole. I think we would have had to — I would like to try to keep retrospective thinking out of this but it is difficult. I think had we not had that information eventually, I would have wanted to take the body to the main X ray department and do an honest to God total body radiograph. It is remotely possible a bullet entering the back can end up in the ankle but again the hypothetical case, I think this is what we would have done.


Dr. Baden. Is it your impression perhaps, and again as Dr. Wecht said 15 year old memories get clouded, if we assume that the information about the tracheostomy through a bullet hole was not available to the doctors that evening but came later on, could there have been a tentative conclusion reached was there a tentative conclusion reached that evening that in fact the bullet entering the back region had dropped out and that is why it was not present and that explained the autopsy and X ray findings?

Dr. Ebersole. I don't remember such conclusion being reached but assuming it, I suppose it could have.


Mr. Purdy. One other question I have has to do with the nature of the information you received from other sources on the night of the autopsy. You mentioned a phone call which helped clear up confusion.

Dr. Ebersole. Somewhere in the course of the evening Dr. Humes received information from Dallas re the procedures that had been carried out there, number one. Number two, somewhere in the course of the evening Dallas sent to us the bony fragments you saw which were X rayed as to how this was carried out. The mechanics I don't know. Somewhere in the course of the autopsy Dr. Humes was made aware of the surgical procedures at Dallas vis-a-vis the neck.

Mr. Purdy. And what was that information?

Dr. Ebersole. The information was that there had been a wound of exit there, a tracheotomy and a suturing done.

Mr. Purdy. Do you recall how that information was conveyed to Dr. Humes?

Dr. Ebersole. I don't. I don't recall.

Dr. Ebersole is possibly the best known "early contact" autopsy witness.

This is part 1 of my comment, part 2 will come momentarily.

Last edited by MicahJava; 23rd July 2017 at 04:37 PM.
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