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Old 23rd July 2017, 04:14 PM   #962
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8/11/1978 Robert Knudsen HSCA testimony , ,

Mr. PURDY - You stated earlier at the Naval Photographic Center you had checked the prints for quality, but not for detail. Is that true?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Yes.

Mr. PURDY - Did you have a chance, subsequent to that examination, to look a little more closely at the prints?

Mr. KNUDSEN - I never saw the prints after we brought them back.

Mr. PURDY - Did you have a chance at any time to examine the prints closely enough that you now have a recollection of what they showed?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Oh, yes.

Mr. PURDY - When did you examine them that closely?

Mr. KNUDSEN - At the time that I was examining for technical quality, a lot of things were apparent.

Mr. PURDY - What things stick in your mind about those prints? What do you recall seeing?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Well, it was a close-up of a cavity in the head. Probes through the body --

Mr. PURDY - Where did the probes go through the body?

Mr. KNUDSEN - From the point where the projectile entered to the point where the projectile left.

Mr. PURDY - Where were those two points?

Mr. KNUDSEN - I did not say they were two points.

Mr. PURDY - You said the projectile.

Mr. KNUDSEN - From the entry to the exit.

Mr. PURDY - Where were the entry and exit points?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Here, again, I have a mental problem here that we were sworn not to disclose this to anybody. Being under oath, I cannot tell you I do not know, because I do know; but, at the same time, I do feel I have been sworn not to disclose this information and I would prefer very much that you get one of the sets of prints and view them. I am not trying to be hard to get along with. I was told not to disclose the area of the body, and I am at a loss right now as to whether -- which is right.

Mr. PURDY - Was it a Naval order that you were operating under that you would not disclose?

Mr. KNUDSEN - This was Secret Service. To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Berkley also emphasized that this not be discussed.

Mr. PURDY - Do you remember seeing rulers in the photographs or anything other than the body itself?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Yes.

Mr. PURDY - What other things besides the body did you see, other than the rulers?

Mr. KNUDSEN - What appeared to be stainless steel probes.

Mr. PURDY - About how long were they?

Mr. KNUDSEN - The probes?

Mr. PURDY - Yes.

Mr. KNUDSEN - I would estimate about two foot.

Mr. PURDY - Was there one probe that you saw through the body, or were there more than one?

Mr. KNUDSEN - More than one. Here again, we are getting into this grey area of what I was instructed not to discuss.


Mr. KNUDSEN - I probably would recall as good now as I could later. Like I say, it has been a long time.

Mr. PURDY - We have gone over quite a few of your recollec- tions, and we are going to show you, in a second, the color autopsy prints that we have and ask you whether the prints that you are shown are consistent with your recollections of them when you saw them. The primary points that we are going to cover are the number and locations of wounds and the other details in the photographs that you described generally, such as the presence of metal probes in the photographs and the presence of rules in the photographs, and what have you. Are you confident now that you saw metal probes in the photographs?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Yes.

Mr. PURDY - Are you confident that the metal probes were actually through the wounds when you saw them?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Yes, I am certain of that, because it showed the point of entry and exit with the probe.

Mr. PURDY - Were there ever photographs that you have seen, either before this incident or since that incident that you might be confusing with your recollection of these photographs?

Mr. KNUDSEN - To my knowledge, I have not seen anything regarding -- I have never seen any photographs of it other than the ones taken there.

Mr. PURDY - Have you seen photographs of any other autopsies?

Mr. PURDY - Have you seen photographs of any other dead bodies that may have probes in them?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Yes, I have. I am certain on the Kennedy there were the probes showing the point of entry and exit.

Mr. PURDY - How many probes were there that you saw in a given picture? What is the most probes that you saw in a given picture at one time?

Mr. KNUDSEN - I know there were two.

Mr. PURDY - Two metal probes that were through wounds when you saw them?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Yes.


Mr. PURDY - Thank you. As I said previously, Mr. Goff is the General Counsel of the United States Secret Service. Now, before the break we were talkinq about the number of probes, and you had said the most you saw in any one picture was two. I believe that is what you stated, is that correct?

Mr. KNUDSEN - I said the minimum was two.

Mr. PURDY - What was the most?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Over this period of time, I am not certain. It seems to me that there were three in one picture, but this I will not state for sure.

Mr. PURDY - Of the proves that you recall, where did they enter and where did they exit?

Mr. KNUDSEN - One was right near the neck and out the back.

Mr. PURDY - The front of the neck and out the back of the neck?

Mr. KNUDSEN - The point of entry-exit.

Mr. PURDY - The metal probe extended from the front of the neck to the back of the neck?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Right. One was through the chest cavity.

Mr. PURDY - Did it go all the way through?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Yes. It seems to me that the entry point was a little bit lower in the back than -- well, the point in the back was a little bit lower than the point in the front. Put it that way. So the probe was going diagonally from top to bottom, front to back.

Mr. PURDY - Approximately, regarding both probes, how high -- you mentioned the one was from the front of the neck, the probe extended between points on the front of the neck and the back of the neck. How high on the back of the neck, and how high or low from the front of the neck would you say for that probe?

Mr. KNUDSEN - As I said, not studying them for technical purposes, it seemed to me that the point on the front was about this point, somewhere in this area here (Indicating).

Mr. PURDY - Could you articulate?

Mr. KNUDSEN - What bone is this?

Mr. PURDY - You are pointing to a point right around the top --

Mr. KNUDSEN - Right about where the neck-tie is. That would be somewhere in that vicinity.

Mr. PURDY - Approximately how much lower than that would you say the other probe, which went through the chest cavity?

Mr. KNUDSEN - I would put it six, seven inches.

Mr. PURDY - Was it opened or closed in the photograph?

Mr. KNUDSEN - It was a side view. I just glanced at it to make sure.

Mr. PURDY - From the side view, you saw both probes?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Right.

Mr. PURDY - Where would you place the points of the probes in the back? You say one was in the neck, one was in the back. Approximately how high up, or how low?

Mr. KNUDSEN - I would put in the back -- it would seem to me it is probably around ten inches. There, again, I do not recall the length of time. I cannot say.

Mr. PURDY - You were kind of pointing to the middle of your back, about midway down, you would say?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Midway between the neck and the waist.

Mr. PURDY - Where was the other probe?

Mr. KNUDSEN - This one --

Mr. PURDY - You just indicated where the probe came out, on the lower --

Mr. KNUDSEN - Somewhere around the middle of the back. It seemed to me it was right around midchest.

Mr. PURDY - The probe that you said you could see coming out of the neck, the front of the neck, where was it out of the back of the neck? How high up would you say that one was.

Mr. KNUDSEN - About the base of the neck. Was the body lying flat, or sitting up or lying on its front when you saw the probes through it?

Mr. KNUDSEN - It would have to be erected to put the probes through, because on the back there was no way.


Mr. PURDY - Is there anything that you saw that is not represented by these photographs?

Mr. KNUDSEN - I feel certain that there was the one with the two probes.

Mr. PURDY - One photograph with two probes through the body?

Mr. KNUDSEN - That is correct.

Mr. PURDY - I am referring again to Photograph No. 37 in the area that is on the right side of the photograph from your position, which is to the front of the President's body. There are some metal things vaguely in view, one which points towards the President.

Mr. KNUDSEN - That is not it. That is not what I had in mind.

Mr. PURDY - Could you, once again, go through the photographs looking carefully to see if there is anything in there that you might have taken to be a metal probe which was not on this examination? (Pause) Let the record show that the witness is beginning again at 26F. (Pause)

Mr. KNUDSEN - I do not see a photograph here that covers the chest area.

Mr. PURDY - It was your sense that it was from the side, though?

Mr. KNUDSEN - A side view.

Mr. PURDY - Referring to Photograph No. 40F, showing the front of the President, including the front neck region, do you see a point on the President which would correspond to one or more of the locations of the probe that you recall?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Right here (Indicating.)

Mr. PURDY - Could you articulate it?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Right here -- the neck -- where the necktie would be tied.

Mr. PURDY - Let the record show that the witness is pointing to the tracheotomy incision at the front of the President's neck. Is it your recollection, also, that there was a probe lower than that area? Is that correct?

Mr. KNUDSEN - That is correct.

Mr. PURDY - Looking at this photograph, approximately how much lower? Was it at a point that would not be visible in this photograph?

Mr. KNUDSEN - I am beginning to wonder now. I do not see anything here. But it is in the back of my mind there was a probe through the body.

Mr. PURDY - Is it your present recollection that the body was not opened up in the chest area, or could you not tell whether it was opened up, or was it definitely not open in the picture that you recall but do not see here?

Mr. KNUDSEN - There again, I was looking quickly for quality. I did not study it. But I do not recall seeing any photograph of the chest being opened.

Mr. PURDY - Do you think it is something you would remember, if the President's chest was cut and opened up?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Yes.

Mr. PURDY - Does this approximately respond to the number of color prints you recall? Mr. Knusen. That is correct.

Mr. PURDY - It is just your recollection that there was one more, or at least one more, than is present in these? Mr.Knudsen. It seems to me that the one I saw with the probes was strictly a negative. I do not remember seeing a print of it. The first day, when we processed the film, we were just checking the negatives. I believe it was a black and white. I do not know. I believe it was the negative of the probe.

Mr. PURDY - You think it was black and white, or you think it might have been, or you are just not sure?

Mr. KNUDSEN - It was a negative. I do not recall ever having seen a print, but it seems to me that there was a negative, in checking the negatives.

Mr. PURDY - Let me show you from the same photo book at the beginning, photographs of the black and white prints. Do you see if perhaps one of these might correspond to your recollection of the black and white negative that you just referred to, beginning at Photograph No. 1F? Let the record show that the witness is looking through the photographs sequentially. (Pause)

Mr. KNUDSEN - Is this in the copy?

Mr. PURDY - Let the record show that the witness is refer- ring to 13F. It looks like a band of light across the lower portion of the photograph.

Mr. KNUDSEN - In looking at the negative, you have a band here. It has been so doggoned long. If that is in the original --

Mr. PURDY - I do not think it is in the original, because it looks like it is on something from the copies.

Mr. KNUDSEN - I see it over here now. I do not see it.

Mr. PURDY - You are saying you do not see it?

Mr. KNUDSEN - I do not see it here, but in the back of my mind, it still seemed that there was one photograph, the body erect with two probes through it.

Mr. PURDY - Let me ask you --

Mr. KNUDSEN - One negative.


Mr. PURDY - Was there anyone else that you know of that may have seen the negative that you are talking about that showed the probes, anyone else that we might suggest that we might talk to about that?

Mr. KNUDSEN - No. It is just in the back of my mind I am certain that there is the one shot of the body erect, two probes through it, and I processed the black and white. I hung it up. I just quickly went down it to make sure I had everything there. I then closed tne door. Jim and I stayed outside, had a cup of coffee or something while the film was drying. After it was dry, I put each negative in a four by five preserver, took it, took the color, which had also dried the same.


Mr. PURDY - Have you had any previous experience seeing metal probes such as this so that you would know what it would look like on a negative?

Mr. KNUDSEN - The only reason I say I thought it was a metal probe, in my recollection, it was a rod. Twenty-four inches long, probably; three-eighths of an inch diameter. It appeared to be aluminimum, stainless steel. There again, it was a negative this size, hanging like this to dry.

Mr. PURDY - You have had a lot of experience looking at negatives over the years?

Mr. KNUDSEN - Over the years.

Mr. PURDY - Could it have been some form of light shadow or a defect in the negative that you may have thought was a metal probe, or do you think there was actually an object, that there was a picture taken?

Mr. KNUDSEN - I thought that there had to be something in the negative that I do not believe could have been a defect, no.

Mr. PURDY - It did not look like an artifact of any kind?

Mr. KNUDSEN - It did not appear that way to me. Like I say, I did not take it down and study it over a view, or anything like that. I just glanced at it. The wall was approximately this color and the negatives were hanging like this (Indicating). I just flipped them around like this (Indicating).

Mr. PURDY - Let the record show that the witness held up some papers from the top, as though it was a negative hanging from a line, and just turned them and glanced at the papers. How certain are you that seven prints, seven sets of prints were made of the color negatives?

Mr. KNUDSEN - That is the number that sticks in the back of my mind. Why the number seven sticks there, I do not know.


Mr. PURDY - I should add that -- Mr. Knutsen. I will tell you one thing that would clarify it, if the negatives were available. The film pack is numbered right on the bottom at the factory, and you can go one through twelve.

Mr. PURDY - Also, there has not been previous evidence that there were either metal probes that were extended totally through the body, or that such probes were photographed through the body. So obviously, it would be significant if your recollection were correct, and it would be of evidentiary significance to us. I, in no way, mean to question your view, your recollection. I just want you to have it in historical perspective as to what some other say, and you may be absolutely, completely correct.

Mr. KNUDSEN - I do not know why that one sticks in my mind. A right profile of the body. It would seem to me that if it were, as I am sure that it was, that there would have been something in the autopsy report as to the probes, and I cannot conceive in my mind why I would feel that this negative did have it. Like I said a couple of times, I did not study these things over a viewing glass like this (Indicating). As you say, it was suspended from a clothespin on a wire, a hook on a wire, and I was just flipping them this way. I do not see any picture there that would confuse with the picture, the waist-up picture.

Mr. PURDY - If you should recall anything else, whether it is new things or elaboration or your opinions on anything change or someone should, someone's name should come to mind who might also be able to provide information, I hope you will feel free to contact us here.

Mr. KNUDSEN - You have talked to Jim Fox?

Mr. PURDY - Yes.

Mr. KNUDSEN - And he did not recall any black and white negative of that nature?

Mr. PURDY - I am not permitted to give out the substance of the investigation, but I think you can glean certain things from the nature of my questions.

Mr. KNUDSEN - Jim is the one who apparently printed the black and white. I know the black and white did not go into the Photo Center for printing, so I would assume that Jim did it. Why this sticks in my mind, that there was one with these two probes through the body that nobody else recalls, it puts a question in my mind, and yet but I could not imagine where I could get the idea from, if I had not seen it. And yet it is starting to bother me now that there is nothing in the autopsy about it. Certainly that would be in the autopsy, if it were true. At this point, I wish I had studied the negatives rather than glance at them. At this point, I am confused why it sticks in my mind so strongly that there was this photograph, yet nobody else recalls it, and it is apparently not in any report. If it is not in any report -- I cannot conceive why it would not be in the report. If it were there -- it is really bothering me as to why it does stick in my mind so much.

Mr. PURDY - As I said, if you, you know, desire to talk about it, or after you have thought about it some more or whatever, please feel free to give us a call and we will be glad to talk about it. We appreciate very much your taking the time and coming in, particularly since it took a lot longer than we thought it would.

Mr. KNUDSEN - That is okay. I am trying to rack my mind on why this should stick in my mind so strongly that there was this photograph, and yet no other signs of it. It bothers me, but I cannot think of any reason that it would stick in my mind if I hadn't seen it.

Mr. PURDY - This concludes the deposition. It is now 12:05. (Whereupon, at 12:05 p.m., the taking of the instant deposition ceased.)

White house photographer Robert Knudsen talked about briefly seeing one or two photographic negatives of probes going through Kennedy's body, including the general area of his throat wound. His credibility is hard to pinpoint. In the August 1977 issue of Popular Photography magazine, Knudsen is quoted as claiming that he alone photographed JFK's autopsy. His family was interviewed by the ARRB (see here and here), and they said that Knudsen told him that he photographed the autopsy. This is almost certainly a lie by Knudsen. But while under oath talking to the HSCA, Knudsen doesn't say anything of the sort. IMO his HSCA testimony is filled with too many details and nuances, including admitting when he doesn't remember certain parts, to be an intentional fabrication.

Here is a discussion of Knudsen's credibility in James DiEugenio's review of Doug Horne's five-volume work Inside the Assassination Review Board (2009):

I will conclude this review of Volume I by discussing what can only be called the enigma of Robert Knudsen. Knudsen has been discussed before by other writers, like David Mantik. But in light of the fact that Horne spends seven pages on him (pp.247-254), and he implies that he may have actually taken at least some of the autopsy photographs in existence today, I think it's necessary to write a bit about the unplumbed mystery of the man. Because, to me, he has been ignored for too long.

One way to begin to point out the strangeness of Robert Knudsen is with this fact: Although Stringer denied knowing who Knudsen was, Knudsen had Stringer's name and phone number in his appointments book. (p. 252) Which strongly implies that Knudsen did know Stringer. The question obviously becomes: How could Knudsen know Stringer if Stringer didn't know Knudsen? And in fact, if Stringer did know him, is he feigning that he did not? If so, why? Because as we will see, under the circumstances we will describe, it is hard to believe that Stringer completely forgot about the man.

Knudsen was one of two White House photographers in 1963. The other was Cecil Stoughton. (p. 249) As he revealed in his HSCA interview, Knudsen began his career as a Navy photographer who was then detailed to the White House in 1958. (8/11/78 HSCA transcript, p. 4) Generally speaking, Knudsen covered President Kennedy on state trips, and Stoughton covered the First Lady. (p. 250) In fact, Knudsen was scheduled to cover the Dallas trip. But he injured himself the week before. Therefore he did not accompany President Kennedy to Texas, Stoughton did. (ibid) At around 3:00 PM on the afternoon of the murder, Knudsen received a phone call. He was ordered to go to Andrews Air Force Base to meet Air Force One and to accompany the body of President Kennedy to Bethesda. And thus begins a fascinating puzzle. For, as Horne writes, there is no documented evidence that Knudsen was ever interviewed by the Warren Commission. (If this is true, the fact that the Commission never talked to either Knudsen or Stringer tells us plenty about Specter's investigation of the autopsy.) The first, and only, on the record interview with Knudsen about this subject came with Andy Purdy of the HSCA. And that transcript was classified by Robert Blakey and Michael Baden. The ARRB declassified it in 1993. And on the version of the audiotape at the History Matters site, Knudsen's voice is not audible on the actual recording. It sounds like a woman who is phrasing the transcript for copying purposes is repeating his words. (See for yourself.)

How did the HSCA find out about Knudsen and the autopsy? In 1977, Knudsen gave an interview to a trade magazine in which he said that he was the only photographer to record Kennedy's autopsy. (Horne, p. 250) What makes this odd is not just that Knudsen was not on the Bethesda staff, but that Stringer and his assistant Floyd Riebe have always maintained that they were the only photographers in the morgue that night. There were no civilian photographers taking pictures. Obviously, Knudsen did not have to say what he did to a magazine. But since the HSCA had been convened in 1976, after the electrifying viewing of the Zapruder film on ABC in 1975, Knudsen may have felt compelled to reveal what he knew.

Unfortunately for Gunn and Horne, Knudsen had passed away before the ARRB was formed. But the Board got in contact with the survivors of his family, his widow and two children. What they told the ARRB about the aftermath of Knudsen at Bethesda makes the story even more tantalizing. They told the Board that Knudsen disappeared for three days after he was called to report the day of the murder. (ibid) He didn't return home until after Kennedy's funeral on the 25th. Knudsen told his son Robert that he had been present at the beginning of the autopsy. (ibid) Further, he told his family that he had photographed probes going into he back of President Kennedy. Which, as noted before, do not exist today. In a statement that is hard to reconcile with the record, Knudsen told them that he was the only one with a camera in the morgue. (Horne, p. 251) He also told his son that he did not recognize 4 or 5 of the photos shown to him by the HSCA. And at least one had been altered. Hair had been drawn in on it to conceal the missing portion of the top-back of Kennedy's head. (ibid) In keeping with many other witnesses, Knudsen told his wife that much of Kennedy's brain was blown away. (ibid) When Knudsen tried to get a copy of his HSCA transcript, he was told that "there was no record of him or his testimony." (ibid)

I have saved for last what is probably the most fascinating piece of information that the ARRB garnered from Knudsen's survivors. All three of them said "Knudsen appeared before an official government body again some time in 1988, about six months before he died in January of 1989." They all agreed "Knudsen came away from this experience very disturbed, saying that four photographs were missing, and that one was badly altered." Gloria Knudsen continued by saying that Knudsen felt "that the wounds he saw in the photos shown to him in 1988 did not represent what he saw or took." (p. 252) One reason he was disturbed by the experience was that "as soon as he would answer a question consistent with what he remembered, he would immediately be challenged and contradicted by people whom he felt already had their minds made up." (ibid) Knudsen told his wife that he knew who had possession of the autopsy photographs he took. That based on that, he could then find out who had made some of them disappear and who had altered the back of the head picture. But he was not going to stick his neck out on something this huge because he had a family to protect. (p. 253)

Andy Purdy's HSCA interview with Knudsen is a disappointment. As Horne notes, Purdy concentrates almost completely on the photo negatives that were sent to the Navy Photographic Center at Anacostia. Knudsen notes that this was done because of the color facilities there. And Navy officer Saundra Spencer handled the color operation there. (HSCA transcript, p. 47) Secret Service photographer Jim Fox accompanied Knudsen there. According to Knudsen they were ordered to do this by George Burkley on the morning after the autopsy. (ibid, p. 5) Knudsen told Purdy that afterwards, Burkley ordered seven prints made. (ibid, p. 8) Which, as Purdy later noted, was an unusually high number that no one else recalled. Knudsen noted that after he turned in the work product to the White House, he never saw the photos again until Purdy showed them to him that day. (ibid, p. 16) When asked, he distinctly recalled photos of a large cavity in the back of Kennedy's head and a side view with probes going through the body. (ibid, p.22) Unlike others, the views he saw showed the probes extending all the way through the body. Again, Purdy reminded him that no one else recalled such a photo. There was another photo of the chest cavity which Knudsen recalled that today is not in existence. (ibid, p. 39)

Now, Knudsen said that it took about two hours for him to develop the color photos at Anacostia. But yet he told Purdy that the four-day period of the assassination and its aftermath were like a fog to him. He recalled working continuously through it. (ibid, pp. 9-12) This period roughly coincides with how long his family said he was gone from home. Incredibly, Purdy never asked the obvious question: "Mr. Knudsen, if the processing took two hours, but you worked for 3-4 days, what did you do the rest of the time?" And as Horne notes, even though Knudsen told the trade magazine the previous year that he actually took photos of the autopsy, Purdy never asked him any direct questions on this point. Like, how many pictures did he take, what kind of camera did he use, when did he take the shots, and did he give his photos to Stringer or Riebe?

Now, as is his usual tendency, Horne makes an extreme assumption: There were actually two sets of photographs made and Knudsen shot pictures of the intact back of the head. And he did it at the request of Humes, Boswell and Finck. (Horne, p. 247) Or as he puts it, it was an "intentional creation by higher authority of a fraudulent photographic record designed to replace the real photos taken by Stringer and Riebe of a huge occipital defect in the head ..."(ibid) Which ignores the fact that, as I noted, Knudsen saw just such a photo. Horne even uses the testimony of a friend of Knudsen's, USIA photographer Joe O'Donnell to make his case. Yet this is a man who, as his own family has noted, was likely suffering from dementia brought on by his failing health at the time the ARRB interviewed him. After all, he had two rods in his back, suffered three strokes, had two heart attacks, incurred skin cancer and had part of his colon taken out. Not the best witness. (NY Times, 9/15/2007) Further, O'Donnell had been known to testify falsely about photographic records before. (ibid)

To me, the incomplete evidentiary record does not conclusively lead to Horne's bold conspiratorial denouement. The case of Robert Knudsen, as I said before, is and remains a mystery. What it actually reveals about the JFK case is that there has never been anywhere near a first-class criminal inquiry into what really happened. In any professional inquiry, with say someone like Patrick Fitzgerald in charge, Knudsen would have been called in under oath with an attorney. He would have been warned in advance that he was expected to answer all questions under penalty of perjury. If he refused to answer he would be charged with contempt. He would have been asked to bring in any corroborative witnesses and exhibits. He would have been asked specifically, "Did you take any autopsy pictures at any time in 1963?" If he said yes, he would have been asked specific questions about when and where he took them and with whom. He would have been specifically asked if he worked with anyone else in making them. Stringer would have been asked the question, "Do you recall anyone else taking pictures at the autopsy?", and also, "If you did not know Knudsen then how did he get your name and phone number?" And this inquiry would have been followed to its ultimate destination: to find out if Knudsen took or did not take any photos. To me that is where the status is of the evidence concerning Knudsen. I believe Horne goes too far in making his assumptions about the man.

But to give Horne his due, at least he brings these matters to the attention of the reader. That is to his credit, since very few others have done it. And no one else has done so in such a complete way.

9/7/1978 Humes HSCA Testimony ,

Dr. HUMES. We stayed to assist the morticians and their associates to prepare the President's body.

Mr. CORNWELL. How many hours did that take?

Dr. HUMES. Until about 5 o'clock in the morning.

Mr. CORNWELL. Then, what did you do?

Dr. HUMES. After the President's body was removed, half an hour or so later, I went home.

Mr. CORNWELL. Did you get any sleep?

Dr. HUMES. Not too much. I had to take one of my children to a religious function that morning, but then I returned and made some phone calls and got hold of the people in Dallas, which was unavailable to us during the course of the examination, as you heard from Dr. Baden, and I couldn't agree more with the apparent findings of his panel as to problems that we had had and hoped they would never be repeated, and spoke with Dr. Perry and learned of the wound in the front of the neck and things became a lot more obvious to us as to what had occurred.

Mr. CORNWELL. And you finally began to write the autopsy report at what time?

Dr. HUMES. It was decided that three people couldn't write the report simultaneously, so I assumed the responsibility for writing the report, which I began about 11 o'clock in the evening of Saturday, November 23, having wrestled with it for 4 or 5, 6 hours in the afternoon, and worked on it until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning of Sunday, the 24th.

Mr. CORNWELL. Did you have any notes or records at that point as to the exact location of the----

Dr. HUMES. I had the draft notes which we had prepared in the autopsy room, which I copied.

Mr. CORNWELL. Was the distance between the wound and the external occipital protuberance noted on those notes?

Dr. HUMES. It was not noted in any greater detail than appears in the final report.

8/20/1979 David Lifton interview with George A. Barnum, reproduced in BEST EVIDENCE (1980) by David Lifton rst+striking+him+in+the+lower+neck+and+coming+out+ near+the+throat.+The+second+shot+striking+him+abov e&source=bl&ots=WoIPknDfYR&sig=NfeE0lrDtIsFRM1hpe1 Ats5jx0Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj20oTsmc7UAhWo24MKH T7IAQ8Q6AEIJTAA#v=onepage&q=barnum&f=false

"[Barnum] explained that when he reported back for duty after the funeral, his superior at Coast Guard Headquarters directed him to write a report…Barnum was surprised to learn that his November 29, 1963 account, which he had saved primarily for his children's benefit, contained details of interest to me. Here is the portion of that account that deals with the events following the arrival of the casket team, by helicopter, at Bethesda: "We landed just prior to the President's procession. They stopped in front of the hospital, and were immediately swarmed over by people that had come to see the casket. We pushed and shoved our way through the crowd until we were beside the hearse. Immediately we were told to get into a pickup truck that was standing by and go to the rear of the hospital. We were following an ambulance that supposedly had the President's casket in it. Mrs. Kennedy had gotten out of the hearse and gone immediately into the hospital. As we arrived at the rear entrance to the hospital by the morgue, we were informed that the casket had not been driven there. We then jumped back into the pickup and returned to the front of the hospital…There were so many people that the instructions were still confusing, and we were told to return again to the rear. We did so and once again we were informed that the casket was not there. We returned again to the front and this time police had cleared a path through the people and the ambulance proceeded to the rear entrance of the morgue. We then proceeded to take thecasket into the hospital in an orderly fashion…[Dr. Burkley said, regarding the shots that hit JFK, that] The first striking him in the lower neck and coming out near the throat. The second shot striking him above and to the rear of the right ear, this shot not coming out…";

This is based on a personal journal entry dated 11/29/1963. If the relevant text had stopped at "The first striking him in the lower neck and coming out near the throat", that would be too much sense. But then Barnum had to throw in "The second shot striking him above and to the rear of the right ear, this shot not coming out". "This shot not coming out"? That sounds like a garbled reference to the original theory on the back wound, a short shot with the bullet squeezing out of it's own entry wound. Could this be a garbled reference to the mythical EOP-throat connection as attested by Lipsey? Nobody can know. Despite the incoherence, this is some of the most credible evidence that the autopsy doctors knew about the throat wound earlier than claimed.

5/1/1981 Ben Bradlee interview with Dr. Paul Peters ,

A. Alright, now. Just a second. See, part of that is what Mr. Lifton or whatever his name is, is saying, but what I thought that he was referring to was the neck wound at that time. You see, we did find out almost immediately after President Kennedy was taken to Bethesda that there was a hole in the neck that we had not seen at the time. Now Dr. Jenkins, I believe, has said later that he did see it. But I did not know that it was there at the time that we resuscitated President Kennedy. There is therefore, there are two wounds that we didn't know about at the time. The one in the neck posteriorly and then what was subsequenttly found underneath the hair, the wound of entry in the occipital area on the right side.


A. What I thought at the time was, as I told you, that he had been shot in the neck. See, it was only, it was going to be a few hours before I would know that the bullets were fired from behind. I thought, seeing the patient, if I had just walked in now and saw a patient like that who had a small hole in his neck and a large wound in the back of his head, I would have thought the bullet had entered here and exited through the back of his head. That's what I thought at the time. But then we began to get more information, that there was a wound in the back of the neck, and also a second hole was found in the skull, and I learned the President had been shot twice. Why, there were other explanations that appeared more rational.


A. Yeah, but with the high velocity of the missile striking, you'd think it would just go right on through. But bullets, when they're coming in at high velocities get deflected in strange ways, sometime. I've seen them deflected internally into blood vessels in the body. And zip right down the blood vessel once the pathway was started. But that's what we thought at the time, see? Plunk, plunk. But it was only a few hours later when we began to get calls back from Bethesda, that we learned that there was a wound in the back of the neck that had gone through, see? And that he had been hit twice, and of course the Zapruder film subsequently showed that.

8/27/1991 Harrison Livingstone interview with Dr. Robert Karnei , reproduced in High Treason 2 by Harrison Edward Livingstone (1992)

"I think the report says it, but it was only an assumption. They hadn't even seen, they did not even know that there was a bullet hole in the throat."

"At first, yeah, but there was a bullet hole in the neck. They couldn't find the exit wound.

"They didn't know there was a bullet hole in the throat. All they saw was the trach incision."

"Right. Once they talked to the doctors in Dallas, this is around midnight, I think."

"No, it was the next day when he called Perry."

"Next day?"

"Yes. The body was already gone."

"I was convinced they talked to somebody that night, and finally decided that they had to be an exit wound. Pierre Finck, I think, talked to somebody."

"No, the only person that called was Humes. While you were there, there were people in the gallery that were trying to force the issue and say 'did the bullet come out of thr throat?' But at the time there was no knowledge that there was a bullet hole of any kind in the throat."

"For some reason I thought they had discovered that around midnight. Maybe it was the next day."

"Yes, it was the next day when Humes was sitting at home and called Perry."

Livingstone is unintentionally pulling a Specter! Let the man speak!

12/2/1992 David Mantik Conversation with John Ebersole, M.D.


Transcript from the book Murder in Dealey Plaza: What We Know Now that We Didn't Know Then about the Death of JFK, edited by James H. Fetzer:

Mantik: Interesting. You saw the tracheostomy, too, didn't you?

Ebersole: (pause) I saw, yeah.

Mantik: What did that actually look like? There seem to be some differing opinions on that.

Ebersole:Well, it looked like an explosive (sic) type of wound, with lipping, ah, but clean, you know, we assumed that it was a surgical wound.

Mantik: Looked like a scalpel incision?

Ebersole: Yeah.

Mantik: Uh-huh. Was it the size you would expect for a tracheostomy?

Ebersole: Yeah, except it was, you know, too transverse. I wouldn't want to do a tracheotomy like that (said with some feeling).

Mantik: Um-hmm. OK, that's an interesting comment. Was it open when you first saw it, or was it sutured?

Ebersole: It was open.

Mantik: It was open, not sutured. Uh-hmm. OK. Fascinating. Burkley was there, too, at the autopsy, wasn't he? (Pause) Admiral Burkley?

Ebersole: I don't remember-

Mantik: -don't remember him.

Ebersole: I don't remember him being there.

Mantik: Let me tell you what puzzles me about him. He was the only doctor who was at Dallas and also at the autopsy and he certainly must have known about that anterior neck wound, and I just can't understand why he didn't tell Humes about that.

Ebersole: I don't, frankly-I don't remember his being there.

Mantik: You don't actually remember him-

Ebersole: I wouldn't say he wasn't- OK.

Ebersole: -but I don't remember his being there.

Mantik: Yeah.

Ebersole: And it was, oh, 10:30 at night before we got the communication from Dallas [Mantik note: Ebersole had told me during our first conversation that they had learned about the throat wound from Dallas that night. In prior conversations, he had also stated that he had learned of the projectile wound to the throat during the autopsy-that, in fact, he had stopped taking X-rays after that intelligence had arrived, because the mystery of the exit wound--correspoding to the back entrance wound-was solved.]

Mantik: Uh-hmm. Uh-hmm.

Ebersole: I think Burkley may well have been with the President's wife.

Mantik: Yeah, that could be, couldn't it? Your job was mainly to look for the bullets, as I understand it, on the X-rays?

Ebersole: Yes, because for a while everyone, investigating officers and so on, felt there was an entry wound, i.e., in the back, and no exit wound-

Mantik: Sure.

Ebersole: -ah, but that was later proven to be wrong.

2/13/1996 ARRB Deposition of Dr. James Joseph Humes , ,

Q. During the course of the autopsy--

A. Let me interrupt there. May I?

Q. Sure.

A. My problem is, very simply stated, we had an entrance wound high in the posterior back above the scapula. We didn't know where the exit wound was at that point. I'd be the first one to admit it. We knew in general in the past that we should have been more prescient than we were, I must confess, because when we removed the breast plate and examined the thoracic cavity, we saw a contusion on the upper lobe of the lung. There was no defect in the pleura anyplace. So it's obvious that the missile had gone over that top of the lung.
Of course, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it had to go out from the neck.
It was the only place it could go, after it was not found anywhere in the X-rays. So early the next morning, I called Parkland Hospital and talked with Malcolm Perry, I guess it was. And he said, Oh, yeah, there was a wound right in the middle of the neck by the tie, and we used that for the tracheotomy. Well, they obliterated, literally obliterated--when we went back to the photographs, we thought we might have seen some indication of the edge of that wound in the gaping skin where the--but it wouldn't make a great deal of sense to go slashing open the neck. What would we learn? Nothing, you know. So I didn't--I don't know if anybody said don't do this or don't do that. I wouldn't have done it no matter what anybody said. That was not important. I mean, that's--

Q. Do you know what the standard autopsy protocol is for gunshot wounds and autopsy of the neck?

A. Well, no. I haven't seen that in--what you say, standard, I mean, many times if you have a track of a missile, it's helpful to take a long probe and put it in the position. It can tell you a lot of things. If you know where the point of entrance and the point of exit are, it's duck soup. But for me to start probing around in this man's neck, all I would make was false passages. There wouldn't be any track that I could put a probe through or anything of that nature. It just doesn't work that way.

Q. Was any probe used at all to track the path--

A. I don't recall that there was. There might have been some abortive efforts superficially in the back of the neck, but no.
And if there's a standard protocol, I don't know where you'd find it, to tell you the truth.


Q. Dr. Humes, I'd like to go through the events as they occurred, as best you can recollect them, on November 26th, starting from--

A. 26th?

Q. Excuse me. November 22nd, starting in the afternoon. The first question I'd have for you would be whether you heard from anyone prior to the time the autopsy began about the nature of the wounds that President Kennedy had suffered.

A. Not at all.

Q. Are you familiar with the name of Robert Livingston, Dr. Robert Livingston?

A. Is this him? No, that's Harry Livingstone. No, I'm not.

Q. I'd like to show you a transcript of some testimony that he offered in the case of Crenshaw v. Sutherland?

A. May I ask who is Dr. Livingston?

Q. Yes.

A. Not the guy in the jungle.

Q. According to "Who's Who in America," Robert Livingston is a neuroscientist who received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Stanford University, and he was a resident at Stanford Hospital in San Francisco. In 1963, he was the chief of the Neurobiology Lab at the National Institute of Mental Health.

A. Okay.

Q. Does that help refresh your recollection of who Dr. Livingston is?

A. I don't know him from Adam, personally. I never heard of him before this minute, but I don't doubt his qualifications or whatever.

Q. I'd like you to take a moment, if you would, and read the deposition from page 23, line 1, to page 26, line 16.

You should also feel free to read any other part of the deposition that you'd like.

A. Now, where?

Q. Page 23, line 1. This is in microscript.

A. Page 22--okay. I see it now. Okay.
Q. For the record, the exhibit number is No. 24.

A. Well, this is ridiculous. I was at home at this time. He never talked to me, period. Absolutely never did talk to me. I don't need to read any further, to tell you the truth. I mean, I don't know what he's talking about. I was at home helping my wife prepare for a social event that night, and our first knowledge of the death of the President was when our children came home from school on the school bus, came in running, yelling, all screaming, of course, "The President was shot." And I couldn't even remember where the President was, to tell you the truth, at that time. But I never talked to this person.

Q. Could you complete through page 26, line 16, please?
A. I get confused. It stops and goes over to another...

Q. 24, 25, 26.

A. It doesn't follow, sir. It doesn't follow.

Q. 23.

A. I see.

Q. 24.

A. Well, this doesn't follow this. It makes no sense. It's a nonsense. I don't mean it frivolously.

Q. At this point it says--there is an objection, calls for speculation, then there's some colloquy, and it's back to--

A. What? All I see is the word "speculation"--oh, somebody objects--

Q. "Objection, calls for speculation."

A. Oh, okay.

Q. The passage between the two pages.

A. Okay. I didn't understand that. This is fantasy. Pure fantasy. I don't know where this guy was or where he's coming from. He was concerned about the autopsy, he called me and talked to me about it? He never talked to me. I mean, I'll read it, but I don't know what good it's going to do you.
Never happened. That's all I can tell you. If I did, I mean, I developed amnesia of some kind or other. But a long conversation like this at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, absolutely, categorically did not occur.

Q. Just so the record is clear here, you are saying that--would it be fair to say that you're saying that Dr. Livingston never called you on the 22nd--

A. To my recollection, he never called me. The only person, outside of the people right there on the scene, I spoke to was Bruce Smith. Bruce Smith, a very dear friend, close friend of mine, was the Deputy Director-Navy at the AFIP at that time. He called and offered the services of the AFIP, anybody I needed, which was very logical. I had been stationed at the AFIP. You know, it was home to me. It was a very cordial conversation. "Bruce," I said, "Thanks a lot. Let me see what the problem is, and if I need any help, I'll call you back." When I saw what the problem was, I needed a ballistics person. And I called Bruce back. I said, "Who do you have that's in ballistics?" He said, well, Colonel Finck just got back from Panama, where he'd been unscrambling some who-shot-whom between the Americans and the Panamanians, one of the typical--which was familiar to me because I served for a couple years in Panama during a revolution. So I was very familiar with that. I said, "Well, that sounds great."
I welcomed the assistance of Dr. Finck. That is absolutely the only person that I spoke to outside of that building that day. Now, whether he talked to somebody else, I can't--it could be. He could have talked to J or he could have talked to any number of people in our department. We had a big department, you know, but I did not speak with him.


Q. When is the first time you had a conversation with anyone outside of people in the autopsy room regarding the nature of the President's wounds?

A. The next morning when I called Malcolm Perry.

Q. Approximately--

A. I'm pretty sure that's who I spoke to. I know it is.

Q. Approximately what time did you speak to Dr. Perry?

A. I think 8 or 9 o'clock on Saturday morning.

Q. Were you aware of any telephone calls being made from the autopsy room during the time of the autopsy?

A. Well, you see, that's possible. Certainly not by me, but we had a large defect in the side of--in the right side of the President's skull, and there was dialogue back and forth between somebody- -I don't know whether the FBI or Secret Service-- that fragments of bone had been picked up on the street. And there was conversation back and forth between--I guess they were Secret Service people. I had no idea, to tell you the truth. And they were going to be sent to us, which was fine because we needed to close the defect if we could. It didn't turn out to be enough to totally close the defect. We did other things to accomplish that. But your specific question, if these phone conversations were going on, I was not directing them, I was not involved in them, and really it wasn't my problem.

Q. Was there a telephone in the autopsy room?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you recall whether anyone was stationed at the telephone during the course--

A. No, no. If there was, I didn't have anything to do with it.

Q. Did you make any attempts to call anyone in Dallas prior to the completion of the autopsy?

A. No.

Q. Were you aware of any other kinds of communications, in addition to telephone calls, between Bethesda Hospital and Dallas regarding wounds of the body?

A. No.

Q. In addition to the call that you had with Dr. Perry, did you speak with any other person who had been in Dallas on the day of the assassination regarding the nature of the President's wounds?

A. Contemporaneously at that time?

Q. Thank you. Let me try the question again. Prior to the time that you had completed the autopsy protocol, did you speak with any other doctor--

A. No.

Q. --or law enforcement official about the nature of the wounds on President Kennedy's body?

A. I did not.

Q. Dr. Perry is the only one, then, prior to the completion--

A. Right.

Q. --of the autopsy protocol?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you see any written materials prior to the time that you completed the autopsy protocol that discussed or described events in Dallas?

A. No.

Q. In the autopsy protocol, there is reference to information that happened in Dallas. Do you recall how you came to have that information?

A. I'd have to know--

Q. I'll show you the autopsy protocol.

A. Yes. I can't recall.

Q. Just start with the first two paragraphs of the autopsy protocol.

MR. GUNN: Dr. Humes is now examining Exhibit 3.


THE WITNESS: Yes, this makes reference to the local newspapers, which is the source, plus I may have had the television on sometime on Saturday. I'm not sure. I was busy doing a lot of things. I can't tell you for sure. I had no personal knowledge. I had to get it secondhand, whatever it was. It was not my job. It was not my responsibility in the first place.


Q. Did you consider the autopsy to be a medical-legal autopsy?

A. Yes. Oh, sure.

Q. And there was a gunshot wound to the neck, wasn't there?

A. Well, you'd better clarify that. There was a big gaping tracheotomy wound in the anterior neck. I learned later that there had been a gunshot wound in that location, but I didn't know it. That was 99 percent of my problem. There was a bullet wound in the back above the scapula, like I mentioned earlier, and there was a wound of entrance in the back of the skull and a wound of exit in the skull. Those were the wounds.


A. Well, we looked at this wound in the upper part of his neck, and we made a customary Y-shaped incision to do the rest of the autopsy and removed the breast plate, which was standard operating procedure, and examined the inside of the thorax. And that's when we saw the contusion of the dome of the upper lobe of the right lung, and we wondered, Where's the bullet? You know. Should have called Dallas right then and there. It would have saved me a lot of worry and grief for several hours, because X-rays hadn't found it for us. Like it could have been in his thigh or it could have been in his buttock. It could have been any damn place. We don't know where it went. It was obvious after we talked to the doctors the next morning where it went. It went out. That's why we couldn't find it. And we weren't going to spend the rest of the night there, you know.
Meantime, George Burkley is telling me, you know, the family wants to get out of here sometime tonight. Then we proceeded with the dissection of the lungs, heart, and abdominal contents and so forth.


Q. During the time that you were performing the autopsy, did you ever identify what you took to be the margin of a wound in the area of the trach incision?

A. No.


Q. During the course of the deposition, we have talked three photographs that you had had some understanding existed and that you did not see here today. I'd like to ask you a question about another possible photograph or X-ray to see if you have any recollection of it. Do you recall any photograph or X-ray that was taken with a probe inserted into the posterior thorax?

A. No, absolutely not. I do not have a recollection of such.

2/26/1996 ARRB Deposition of J. Thornton Boswell , ,

Q. Okay. We'll come back to those a little bit later.
I'd like to show you a document that is Exhibit 26, which I will state appears on its face to be a memorandum from Andy Purdy to Jim Kelly and Kenneth Klein, with the title "Notes of Interview with Dr. J Thornton Boswell, August 17, 1977, National Orthopedic Hospital, Arlington, Virginia."
Dr. Boswell, have you seen the document previously that is now marked Exhibit 26?

A. Many years ago. It must have been in that year, 1977.

Q. Were you at one point interviewed by staff members from the House Select Committee on Assassinations?

A. Yes.

Q. And would it be fair to say that, to the best of your recollection, Exhibit 26 would appear to be notes taken from that interview with those staff members?

A. True.

Q. I'd like to draw your attention to page 2 of Exhibit 26, and I'd like just to ask you to read for a moment the full paragraph that's in the center of the page, beginning with the words "Dr. Boswell had been concerned" and going through the end of that paragraph.

Q. You've had a chance to read that now, Dr. Boswell?

A. I have.

Q. Now, we all know that when people record what other people say, things are sometimes exactly correct and sometimes the nuance is off. I'd just like to ask you whether in reading that paragraph any portion of it seems to you to be inaccurate, to the best of your recollection?

A. I'm not sure about Robert McNamara. I see this now, and whether I said that or whether that was true or not, I don't know. I know that Dr. Burkley and other people were running around up in the tower with Mrs. Kennedy, but whether it was McNamara or not, at this point I don't know.

Q. "At this point," you mean in 1996?

A. Right.


Q. Wouldn't it be standard practice in a forensic autopsy to have the clothing available for inspection during the autopsy?

A. Well, under normal circumstances, but these were not normal circumstances. I mean, the body was transferred from Dallas and everything, and we certainly understood that that was not feasible. But then Jim made the decision early in the evening that we had to talk with the doctors who had done the examination in Dallas and did subsequently in the morning talk with them and discuss the wounds and clothing and so forth.

Q. When was the first conversation with doctors in Dallas, as best you recall?

A. Saturday morning.

Q. Do you know of any reason that they were not contacted on Friday night during the autopsy?

A. I guess just the fact that we were pretty well tied up all night. It would have been--it was midnight after--when we finished, and Jim wrote up the autopsy. I followed him home, and then he took all of our notes to his house, and then he wrote up the autopsy before he went to bed. The three of us separated, and I don't think we discussed calling Dallas at that hour of the night.

Q. Prior to the time you first saw President Kennedy's body, had you heard any communications about the nature of the wounds that he had suffered?

A. I don't think specifically. I think just the fact that he had a head wound.

Q. The doctors in Dallas who had treated President Kennedy had a news conference on the afternoon of November 22nd that would have been at approximately 4:15 to 4:30 Washington time. Had you heard any communications about what those doctors had said during the press conference?

A. No.

Q. Do you know whether Dr. Humes had received any information prior to the beginning of the autopsy about the nature of the wounds on President Kennedy?

A. I'm almost sure that he didn't.

Q. Have you ever heard him say that he had any information prior to the beginning of the autopsy?

A. No.

Q. Are you familiar with the name of Dr. Robert Livingston?

A. Yes. Livingstone, I believe it is.

Q. I'm referring to a person formerly affiliated with the National Institute of Mental Health, not Harry Livingstone.

A. Oh. No.

Q. You don't know the name of Dr. Robert Livingston?

A. I don't believe so.

Q. Did you or Dr. Humes ever use the telephone in the autopsy room during the course of the autopsy?

A. I didn't, and I--well, now, wait a minute.
I may have called Pierre or called the AFIP before or in the early part of the autopsy. That's the only time I might have used it. I'm not sure about that. And Jim, I don't think he used it either.

Q. Do you remember Dr. Finck using the telephone?

A. I don't believe so. It was pretty busy all evening.

Q. The telephone?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was using the telephone?

A. Security people mostly.

Q. And could you overhear their conversa- tions?

A. A lot of it, yes.

Q. And do you know with whom they were speaking?

A. No idea.

Q. Did they ever tell you anything at all during the course of the autopsy about what the doctors in Dallas had reported to the media?

A. No.

Q. In the ordinary course of an autopsy procedure, would a prosector want to know information in the possession of the treating physician of the deceased?

A. Well, you'd try and get that beforehand, but if you didn't have it and you ran into
something unusual or of a bit of a problem, then you might try and do that.

Q. Do you have any impression as to whether the prosector should have been informed during the course of the autopsy or before, what the treating physicians in Dallas had learned during the time of the treatment of President Kennedy?

A. Well, it would have been nice, and we discussed that, actually, because when we first started doing the autopsy, there were marks on the body that we had difficulty--they had started to do cutdowns, and they made little incisions around the nipples, and there was no tubes or anything there. And we didn't know whether they were actually trying to get into vessels or going to get into the chest, whether he had had a hemothorax or something. And then we had difficulty in interpreting the wound in his anterior neck. And at the point when we came to those, we discussed whether or not we might call the Dallas hospital. But we elected not to, and I don't know why at this time.

Q. When you referred to the wound in the anterior neck, what was your first impression as to what that wound was?

A. I'm not sure what our first impression-- oh, we thought that they had done a tracheostomy, and whether or not that was a bullet wound, we weren't sure, initially. It was after we found an entrance wound and then the blood external to the pleura that we had a track, and that proved to be the exit wound; but it was so distorted by the incision, initially we just assumed it to be a tracheostomy.

Q. Did you reach the conclusion that there had been a transit wound through the neck during the course of the autopsy itself?

A. Oh, yes.

Q. Did you receive any kinds of written reports at all from Dallas about the nature of the wounds on President Kennedy's body prior to the completion of the autopsy?

A. No.

Q. Were you ever told that such written reports had been prepared?

A. No. And, in fact, we never saw any reports. We may have seen such a report during the Warren Commission's investigation, but we certainly didn't in the early days after the autopsy.

Q. Dr. Burkley was present in the emergency room in Parkland Hospital during the time President Kennedy was treated. Did Dr. Burkley tell you anything about what he observed at Parkland Hospital?

A. He didn't tell me anything, and I don't think that he told Jim.

Q. Some of the other people present in the autopsy room also had been present with President Kennedy in Parkland Hospital during the treatment. Did any of them tell you what they had observed during the treatment of President Kennedy?

A. No one did, and I'm trying to think who might have been. Just Secret Service men would have been the only ones there. They were the only ones that could have been in both places, because no members of the--oh, I'm sorry. His military aides were in the morgue, and they were probably also present in Dallas. But they didn't say anything.

Q. You've referred to Secret Service agents as well as the President's military aides being present in the autopsy room. Who else do you recall was present in the autopsy room?

A. Aside from those helping?

Q. Yes.

A. There were some staff people, on-duty staff people.


Q. Dr. Boswell, I'd like to show you a document that appears as Exhibit 26. I'm drawing your attention to page 3. Could you look at the paragraph on page 3 of Exhibit 26 that begins with "The radiologist began his work very early on"?

A. Just that paragraph?

Q. Yes, just that one paragraph. You can read as much of the document as you want, but I just have a question for you on that paragraph.
The document quotes you as saying, quote, that you "thought it was a wound," referring to the tracheostomy. The statement that's here in this paragraph isn't entirely clear. My question to you would be: Do you recall at any point thinking before the time that you learned that the wound on the anterior neck was the tracheostomy incision that it may have been a wound of some sort?

A. I think it was pretty obvious from the beginning that it was a tracheostomy wound. Then as the evening progressed, the question became whether it was both an exit wound and a tracheostomy wound, because right in the middle there was what appeared to be the exit wound through which they had cut. I don't understand this.

Q. When you say "this," you're pointing to the paragraph in document 26?

A. Yeah, in the deposition here. "Dr. Boswell indicated that regarding the tracheostomy the doctors thought it was a wound." Well, I don't know what I might have said to make them say that, because a tracheostomy wound is a wound, and our conclusions had been that night and then reinforced the next day that it was a tracheostomy through a bullet wound.

Q. At the time that you first saw the body of President Kennedy, did you see any other wounds or incisions on the body that you thought or came to believe were surgical wounds?

A. Well, on his chest there were--there was an attempt or the beginning of a surgery wound. I don't know to this day what--I think we did learn that they had been preparing to intubate him, and at some point they--I don't know whether it's marked on there or not. Oh, yeah, here we are.

Q. When you're referring to the wounds on the chest, I'm now showing to you Exhibit No. 1. Are the wounds that you're referring to those that are marked on the diagram with the body facing forward on the chest?

A. Yes.

Q. In addition to those wounds and any other cutdowns that you might see on the document and the tracheostomy wound, was there any other surgical incision that you saw at the time that you first saw the body of President Kennedy?

A. No.

Q. More specifically, did you see any incisions that appeared to be any form of surgery in the head area prior to the time that you conducted any procedures at Bethesda?

A. No.


Q. I'd like to show you, continuing with this thing, Exhibit No. 6, which appears to be death certificate for President Kennedy signed by Admiral Burkley. The first question is: Have you ever seen this document before?

A. No.

Q. I'd like you to note on the second page where it says that--just read the first sentence to yourself, and I'll read it for the record. It says that "President Kennedy was struck in the head by an assassin's bullet, and a second wound occurred in the posterior back at about the level of the third thoracic vertebra." Do you see that?

A. Yes.

Q. Is that correct?

A. No.

Q. What vertebra was the wound closest to, if you know? Again, we're talking about the wound other than the skull.

A. It would not be a thoracic vertebra. It would have to be a cervical vertebra.

Q. Dr. Boswell, I'd like to show you Exhibit No. 22, page 2800, and draw your attention to one portion of that article that relates to what we're talking about now. If you look over in the third column on the right, the first full paragraph, if you could read that to yourself, please.
As I examine the photographs, the President's clothing, and other records, it appears to me as a lay person that the marking that you have made on the diagram on the right seems roughly to correspond to the other records; but it also seems as if you're suggesting that the diagram is incorrect.

A. Right.

Q. Is that right?

A. Yes. When we saw the clothing, we realized that where I had drawn this was--if you looked at the back of the coat, it was in the exact same place. But the coat had been--was up like this. He was waving, and this was all scrunched up like this. And the bullet went through the coat way below where this would be on his body, because it was really at the base of his neck. And the way I know this best is my memory of the fact that-- see, we probed this hole which was in his neck with all sorts of probes and everything, and it was such a small hole, basically, and the muscles were so big and strong and had closed the hole and you couldn't get a finger or a probe through it.
But when we opened the chest and we got at--the lung extends up under the clavicle and high just beneath the neck here, and the bullet had not pierced through into the lung cavity but had caused hemorrhage just outside the pleura. And so if I can move this up to here--it's shown better on the front, actually. The wound came through and downward just above the thoracic cavity and out at about the thyroid cartilage. So if you put a probe in this and got it back through like this, that would come out right at the base of the neck.

Q. When you say "a problem through this," you're referring to the entrance wound--

A. I'm sorry.

Q. --in the posterior part coming out the front?

A. The exit wound in the front.

Q. I'd like to show you a diagram that's marked Exhibit MI 13 and ask you if you've seen that diagram before.

A. I don't remember it, but I--

Q. I'll state for the record this is Warren Commission Exhibit 386 that was prepared by H.I. Rydberg to show the entrance wound in the back. Does that help refresh your recollection on the diagram?

A. Yes.

Q. If I understand you correctly, you have been suggesting that although the wound as depicted
on the diagram in Exhibit 1 may look more as if it's thoracic, you are arguing now or your statement of clarification now would be that it's more in the neck wound. Does the drawing in Exhibit No. MI 13 better demonstrate to your mind where the actual entrance wound was?

A. Exactly. Yes.

Q. Is it your sense that Exhibit MI 13 is reasonably accurate for showing the location of the wound entrance to the neck?

A. Yes.

Q. Dr. Boswell, I'd like to show you a document that's been marked Exhibit 44, which, for the record, is a report prepared by FBI Special Agents O'Neill and Sibert, dated November 27, 1963. Agents O'Neill and Sibert were at Bethesda on the night of the autopsy.
Dr. Boswell, I'd like to show you page 5, the paragraph beginning "On the basis of the latter two developments." Could you read that paragraph to yourself, please?

Q. Dr. Boswell, have you had an opportunity to read that?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know who Agents O'Neill and Sibert were?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ever talk to them?

A. No.

Q. Do you see anything in the paragraph that you just read that you now understand to be incorrect?

A. Yes.

Q. What is it that you understand to be incorrect in that paragraph?

A. Well, it's not totally incorrect. I'm sure he overheard us, while we were dissecting, making comments and discussion and so forth, and there was a time at which point we had seen the X-rays and were looking at the wounds and saw that there were no whole bullets left in the body. And one of the possibilities early in the investigation was that that bullet had gone in there and worked its way out or was still there or something. By X-ray it wasn't there, so it had to have gone someplace. And we had the bullet wound of entrance. We didn't yet have the bullet wound of exit. We had the tracheostomy wound in the front, but no other place. And so we were just contemplating whether that had gone in and had not come out until they had done some manipulation on him and that it might be on his stretcher or something.
Well, they did find a bullet on the stretcher, but not that one.

Q. So would it be fair to say that although Sibert and O'Neill's statement that the doctors believed that there may have been an entrance wound in the back and the bullet worked itself out during the course of treatment, that although that may have been speculation at one point during the autopsy, that was abandoned by the conclusion of the autopsy?

A. True. That's true.

Q. So this would be almost as if the agents were present at one point, they left the room, and that that was their conclusion based upon something that had occurred partway through the autopsy?

A. Yes. They were reporting this stuff by telephone at the time we were talking.

Q. Do you know to whom they were reporting it?

A. I have no idea.

Q. Did you ever, in terms of probing the wound either in the skull or in the neck, did you ever calculate the angle at which the bullet had entered the body?

A. No. We couldn't.

Dr. Boswell stood firm with the "later contact" story, yet when asked "Did you reach the conclusion that there had been a transit wound through the neck during the course of the autopsy itself?", he replied "Oh, yes". What?! And when shown his bizarre 8/17/1977 HSCA interview report, he doesn't even acknowledge the part where he changed his mind half way through!

4/8/1996 ARRB Call Report of Telephone Interview of John Stringer, Jr.

Q: Do you recall a probe being used during the autopsy?

A: Yes, a long metal probe was used to probe the neck wound.

Q: When you say that do you mean the back wound, that is to say, the wound entering from the back, or do you mean the wound in the front of the neck, in the throat?

A: The probe was inserted in the throat wound in the front of the neck.

Q: Do you recall any photographs or X-Rays taken while the probe was inserted in the body?

A: No, I don't think so.

5/24/1996 ARRB Testimony of Pierre A. Finck, M.D. , ,

Q: At the time that you completed the autopsy of President Kennedy, did you believe that the standards as set forth in the autopsy manual had been satisfied for the autopsy of President Kennedy?

A: You mean at the time the autopsy was completed?

Q: Yes.

A: I didn't - I did not ask myself the question. We examined the wounds and there were questions answered following the autopsy. It was clear that there was a wound of entry in the upper back, but it is, thanks to Dr. Humes, that next morning he found out there was a wound in the front of the neck. At the time of the autopsy, we did not see the exit in the front of the neck. For the head it was clear, but for the neck it was not. So this was clarified the next day. So to answer your question, at the time the autopsy was completed, there was still no answer. It shows once more that you have to wait for certain things to be put together.
Q: Do you believe that everything that was done, everything that should have been done during the time of the autopsy on President Kennedy was in fact done during the autopsy? Was there any procedure, for example, that should have been performed that was not performed?

A: The removal of the organs of the neck. In my training we were trained to remove the organs of the neck. And in this particular case, they were not removed.

Q: Isn't that particularly important in the autopsy of President Kennedy in the sense that there is believed to have been a wound that went through the neck?

A: Yes.

Q: And isn't it important in a medical/legal autopsy to be able to track the course of a bullet through the body?

A: Yes.

Q: When you were performing the autopsy of President Kennedy, did you make any attempts to track the course of the bullet -

A: Yes.

Q: - that you referred to as the upper back?

A: Yes. That was unsuccessful with a probe from what I remember.

Q: What kind of probe did you use?

A: I don't remember.

Q: Is there a standard type of probe that is used in autopsies?

A: A non-metallic probe.

Q: In using the probe, did you attempt to determine the angle of the entrance of the bullet into President Kennedy's body?

A: Yes. It was unsuccessful from what I remember.

Q: In the probes that you did make, did you find any evidence that would support a bullet going into the upper back and existing from the place where the tracheotomy incision had been performed?

A: From what I recall, we stated the probing was unsuccessful. That's all I can remember.

Q: My question is did you find any evidence during the course of the autopsy that would link the wound in the upper back to the exit wound in the throat?

A: I don't recall.

Q: Do you recall anyone during the course of the autopsy suggesting that the bullet wound in the upper back might have exited from the throat?

A: I don't remember.


During the 1960's, was it standard procedure for doctors performing an autopsy to attempt to speak with doctors who may have treated the victim before the death?

A: Yes. You need information at the time of the autopsy regarding the circumstances preceding death.

Q: And it would have been standard practice in the 1960's for autopsy physicians to attempt to contact the doctor who treated the patient before he died, is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: Was there any attempt made to contact any of the treating physicians of President Kennedy during the course of the autopsy?

A: I don't know.

Q: Should someone have attempted to contact one of the treating physicians of President Kennedy during the course of the autopsy?

A: Yes.

Q: Were you aware during the time of the autopsy that one or more physicians who had treated President Kennedy had appeared in a press conference and described the wounds?

A: I don't know.

Q: Were you aware that during the time that you performed the autopsy of President Kennedy, the doctors who had treated President Kennedy in Dallas had already prepared written statements about what they observed during their treatment of President Kennedy?

A: I'm not aware.

Q: Should in the ordinary course, if doctors have prepared statements regarding treatment of a victim, should those statements have been made available to doctors performing an autopsy?

A: Yes.

Q: That would have been standard procedure -

A: Yes.

Q: - in 1963? But as far as you are aware, that was not done in the case of President Kennedy?

A: As far as I know.


Q: Are you aware of anyone in the autopsy room having called Dallas to speak to either police or treating physicians regarding any observations that were made at the time of the assassination?

A: I am not.

Q: Were you aware of any calls that came to the autopsy room during the course of the autopsy from Dallas by either police or some other official related to the injuries sustained by President Kennedy?

A: No.


Q: Do you recall whether anyone in the room expressed any interest in the angle in which the bullets hit President Kennedy?

A: I don't.


Q: Other than with your telephone call with Dr. Humes, had you heard any other information about the nature of President Kennedy's wounds prior to the time that you arrived in the autopsy room?

A: I don't remember details about this.

Q: Just a question of whether you heard anything at all about the nature of the wounds, not any details.

A: I don't.

Q: So, for example, had you heard on the radio what anybody had said about wounds?

A: I don't remember.


Q: Do you have any recollection of photographs being taken with probes inserted into the wounds?

A: I don't.


Q: At the time you concluded the autopsy, on the night of November 22nd-23rd, did you have any conclusion in your own mind about what had happened to the bullet that entered the upper thoracic cavity?

A: No. And that was the reason for the phone call of Dr. Humes the following morning, and he found out there was a wound of exit in the front of the neck. But at the time of the autopsy, we were not aware of that exit wound in the front of the neck.

Q: Can you explain to me why there was no prosector who apparently had believed that the thoracic wound would have exited from the throat? Why was it that that was not being considered as an option?

A: I don't know.

6/21/1996 ARRB Meeting Report Summarizing In-Person Interview of Tom Robinson

-Tracheotomy: Robinson remembered the tracheotomy wound in the anterior throat. In his opinion that wound also represented an exit wound for a bullet.

-Use of Probes: Robinson had vivid recollections of a very long, malleable probe being used during the autopsy. His most vivid recollection of the probe is seeing it inserted near the base of the brain in the back of the head (after removal of the brain), and seeing the tip of the probe come out of the tracheotomy incision in the anterior neck. He was adamant about this recollection. He also recalls seeing the wound high in the back probed unsuccessfully, meaning that the probe did not exit anywhere.

Corroborating Lipsey on the connection between the base of the head and the throat wound. Although his memory seems to have suspiciously "improved" over the years compared to his HSCA interview. Maybe he read one too many conspiracy books? [/spoiler]

7/16/1996 ARRB Testimony of John T. Stringer ,

Q: Did you see metal or any other kind of probes being used during the autopsy?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you take any photographs with probes in the body?

A: Not that I can recall.

Q: Were any probes put inside the cranium that you recall?

A: I don't think so. I think it was primarily in the neck area.

Q: Was the probe put into the neck, or did it come out of the neck?

A: It was put into the back part.

Q: The back of the body. And then did the probe come out the neck?

A: No.

Q: So, when you're referring to the neck, you're referring from behind?

A: From behind.


Q: Okay. At the time the autopsy was concluded—So, we're back to November 22nd, 23rd. At the time the autopsy was concluded, had the doctors reached any tentative conclusion about the number of shots or the angle of the shots that had hit President Kennedy?

A: I think they had, yes.

Q: What was your understanding of the number of shots that had hit him.

A: Two.

Q: And where—what was the trajectory of those shots in the body?

A: One from the back that came out the side. And then the other one, from down in the neck, came out here.

Q: You have a recollection that during the night of the autopsy, the doctors believed that there was—that the wound in the front of the neck was an exit wound from the back?

A: I think so.

Q: Do you recall any telephone call between the autopsy room and Dallas with doctors at Parkland Hospital?

A: I think it was the one—Yes. I think it was one of the agents called. I'm not sure.

Q: Did they report—did any of the agents report what doctors in Dallas had said regarding wounds on the President's body?

A: I heard somebody say something about a tracheotomy.

Who said it, I don't know.

Q: Did the agent report anything about there being a bullet wound in the same location as the tracheotomy?

A: I don't remember. I don't remember if anybody said that, but—

Q: I believe that when I—Sorry to jump around here a little bit, but—I believe that when I asked you about the film that was used at the supplementary exam, I asked you about the portrait pan film, but I didn't ask you about the color film. What was—what kind of color film was it—

A: Ektachrome, I'm sure.


Q: Would you say that this tracheotomy incision is larger, smaller, about the same size as the average tracheotomy incision?

A: It looked like—it looks like it was done in a hurry, so it's probably a little larger.

Q: Is it a little larger; substantially larger? How would you characterize it?

A: Maybe a little larger. It was probably done by a doctor. Off the record.

Q: At any time during the autopsy, did any of the doctors attempt to determine whether there were any bullet fragments in the anterior neck wound?

A: Yes.

Q: What did they do?

A: Well, they checked on the X-rays. Did it by feel, or vision.

Q: When you say "by feel", what do you mean?

A: By feeling, to see if there was anything sharp or—

Q: So, the doctor's fingers then would have been put into the tracheotomy wound, to attempt to determine whether any bullet fragments—

A: And I think there was a probe put in there, too.

Q: And the probe was put in from the front towards the back?

A: Yes.

Q: And what was the direction of the probe, if you recall?

A: It went straight in. I don't know. I don't know. All—I saw it in. I don't know whether it went up, down—you know, sideways, or what.

Q: Was the body propped up, so the torso was in a vertical position when the probe was put in the neck?

A: I think it was, at times. I think so.

Q: Do you recall now—And I know I've asked you this question before, but just if anything has helped prompt your recollection is the reason I'm asking it again.—whether you took any photographs with the probe in the body?

A: I don't think so.

Thus, Stringer was solidified in history as an "early contact witness" as well as a "throat probe" witness.

3/10/1997 ARRB Meeting Report Summarizing 5121196 In-Person Interview of Dr. Robert Karnei

Autopsy Conclusions: Dr. Karnei said that "about midnight" the prosectors still had not found a bullet track through the body, nor had they found an exit wound for the entry in the shoulder, and had only a bruise atop the right lung as further evidence of damage -- he did not observe the bruise, but seemed to remember them discussing it. He said that Humes had concluded that two shots had hit the President from the rear. He told the ARRB staff that he was aware of hearsay that Dr. Humes had called Dallas to talk to a surgeon later in the evening before the body left the morgue, and had then learned that the tracheotomy had been made through a bullet wound in the front of the neck, thus causing Humes to conclude that the tracheomoty had obscured an exit wound. However, he could not remember who told him this, or when.

This may raise a contradiction with his 1991 Livingstone interview.


The witness I wish we had more input from is Kennedy physician Dr. George Burkley. The only things close to a reference to the throat wound by Burkley was his 11/27/1963 affidavit reading "...It was evidence that death was imminent and that he was in a hopeless condition...", and his 11/21/1978 affidavit to the HSCA reading "There was no difference in the nature of the wounds I saw at Parkland Hospital and those I observed at the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital". In his essay Between the Signal and the Noise, Roger Feinman argues that Burkley did in fact get a chance to see the original throat wound, if not learn about it through talking with the other doctors at Parkland hospital:

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