The assassination of President John F. Kennedy took place over 50 years ago in Dallas, Texas, yet conspiracy theories still abound as to what happened on that fateful November day. Now, thanks to advancements in technology and the ability to digitally analyze audio and video footage of the shooting and its aftermath, one research firm thinks they’ve solved a major part of the puzzle.
According to official reports, Lee Harvey Oswald was the prime (and only) suspect. The ex-marine had positioned himself next to a window on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository overlooking the Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. From there he shot Kennedy twice with a high-energy Carcano military rifle, once in the neck and again in the back of the head.
“Given the current trendiness of news that are not based on facts, the study shows that thorough scientific investigation can make a difference in supporting one theory over another, and I therefore believe that the topic is as relevant today as it was nearly 55 years ago.”
Nalli re-analyzed the Zapruder film, a citizen-shot video clip that captures the very moment Kennedy was hit with the fatal bullets. The film was used as evidence during an investigation by the FBI and again by a Presidential Commission set up by LBJ and led by Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time Earl Warren, but both inquiries apparently missed a crucial piece of information – that is, the forward motion of Kennedy’s head when the bullet struck.
This, he says, shows that it came from behind and not, as many have speculated, from a second shooter hiding out in the grassy knolls.
To prove it, Nalli built a one-dimensional gunshot wound dynamics model that used data on bullet mass, speed, and autopsy measurements to show the effect they had on Kennedy’s reaction (specifically, the forward head snap).
The findings show that the movement of Kennedy’s head, caught in the Zapruder film, is consistent with the official line: he was shot from behind by an assassin using a high-energy Carcano military rifle from the Texas School Book Depository building.
Nalli does point out this doesn’t necessarily prove for a fact the conspiracy theories are wrong – it just makes them a lot less likely.
There will always be debate over whether Oswald acted on his own accord or as the puppet of other nefarious entities, but for that day in Dallas the conspiracy theorists have always questioned whether he was the lone gunman.
For years, yes, multiple shooter theorists did speculate that maybe there had been a shooter positioned to the front of Kennedy, setting up a type of kill zone in tandem with Oswald and his position.
In fact, this was the source of the oft repeated, “Back and to the left… back and to the left” that Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner) repeated in the Oliver Stone film, JFK, describing the motion that the President’s head made after impact, as shown in the Zapruder film.
That motion, however, had been effectively explained by Gerald Posner in his 1993 book Case Closed, as well as by forensic expert Dr. Michael Baden. A head, shot from behind, would naturally recoil back and to the left.
So, what, if anything, does this new “scientific” report bring to the table. Nothing! In fact, it doesn’t even try to address other key facts that have lead many to believe that there was a second shooter.
First, many people on the ground that day either saw or smelled gunsmoke. Had Oswald been the only shooter, there’s no way that the smell of gunsmoke would have drifted from the sixtth floor of the School Book Despository down to street level.
Second, and most damning to the lone gunman theory is the way that witnesses described hearing the sound of the shots. They described the noise as a loud BANG, followed by a quicker BANG-BANG, just as witness Lee Bowers testified in the video below:
With a bolt action rifle, the third shot would have been impossible to pull off that close to the second. Just take a look at this CBS News re-enactment of the shooting with gun experts handling the same rifle Oswald used.
Third the caliber of bullet that Oswald used does not match the size of the entrance wound into the President’s head. Oswald’s bullets used a full metal jacket, they were designed to go through and object or a person. The bullet that entered Kennedy’s head exploded on impact.
All evidence points to a second gunman at ground level, but if the gunman wasn’t in front of Kennedy, and we know that the fatal shot came from the rear, then who was the shooter?
The most plausible theory comes from now deceased gun expert and sharpshooter, Howard Donahue who, teamed up with author Bonar Menninger to produce the 1992 book, “Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK.” The book makes the case that, bizarre as it may sound, President Kennedy was the subject of accidental, friendly fire from one of his own Secret Service agents.
Here are the facts:
1) You know how Obama’s Secret Service agents got busted for partying too hard when they were out on assignment with the President? Well, that’s not a new thing.
The Secret Service agents guarding President Kennedy had stayed out very, very late into the morning the night before Kennedy was shot, with many of them only getting a few hours sleep. They were very hungover.
In fact, Agent George Hickey, the one many believed fired the fatal shot was new to the Secret Service. He’d only been on the job for a few months and had only been cleared as a driver, but because of the carousing from the night before.
2) The lead car braked after the second shot.
This is huge and provides much of the explanation as to how Hickey accidentally shot the president. After the first shot, pictures show Hickey and the other Secret Service agents looking back up to the school book depository.
In fact, if you look at the picture below, all you see is the back of Hickey’s head.
It’s at this moment that Hickey turns back around, grabs the AR-15 out of the floorboard and prepares to return fire. We know from the testimony of one of the other Secret Service agents that the AR-15 was locked and loaded, aka ready to fire.
It’s at this moment that the driver of President Kennedy’s car taps the brakes causing the car that Hickey’s in to abruptly brake as well. We know this because the right brake light is on in this video taken from the grassy knoll by Marie Muchmore.
The theory is that this causes Agent Hickey to fall forward while holding the gun, and accidentally discharge the rifle, launching the fatal shot that killed the President.
Multiple witness testimonies, including ones from Senator Ralph Yarborough, Mayor Cabell, other Secret Service Agents, a Dallas police officer, and civilian witnesses on the ground remember seeing a Secret Service agent with a “machine gun,” and a man falling down in one of the cars.
In the picture below, you can see Hickey weilding the AR-15 as the car speeds off toward Parkland Hospital:
3) The size of the entrance wounds didn’t match.
Once again, this is proof that it wasn’t one of Oswald’s bullets that delivered the fatal blow. In fact, not only did the bullets not match in size, they also did not match in behavior.
This is from the article Hidden in Plain Sight by Bonar Menninger.
The bullets Oswald fired were nominally 6.5 millimeters in diameter (although actually slightly larger at 6.75 millimeters to allow the rounds to expand against the concentric rifling grooves inside the gun barrel). The entrance wound on the back of Kennedy’s skull was 6 millimeters wide.
The Warren Commission tried to explain away the physical impossibility of passing a bullet through a hole smaller than its diameter by asserting that the smaller entrance wound was due to the “elastic recoil of the skull which shrinks the size of an opening after a missile passes through it.”
Tissue can contract, and bone can shrink due to low-velocity trauma. But the high-velocity impact of a rifle bullet — particularly in the strong, thick bone at the back of the skull — produces a different and very brittle response.
Holes in the skull made from high-velocity rounds are reamed out as the spinning bullet bores through, pulverizing the bone, and thus invariably are slightly larger than the diameter of the bullets that cause them. The .223 round used in the AR15 is 5.56 millimeters in diameter, or just a touch smaller than the 6-millimeter entrance wound. The wound’s size, therefore, was consistent with a shot from Hickey.
In two written statements provided to the Warren Commission, Hickey claimed he didn’t reach down to grab the AR15 on the floor of the follow-up car until the motorcade had slipped into the darkness of the triple overpass, or well after the shooting had ended. However, at least 15 witnesses saw an “AR15,” a “rifle,” a “machine gun” or a “gun” at the instant, or just after the instant, the last shot struck Kennedy.
One witness, S.M. Holland, saw a Secret Service agent with a “machine gun” fall down at the time of the final shot. Another, Austin Miller, “saw a man fall over” in the motorcade.
Witness Jean Hill, standing nearly adjacent to the follow-up car at the time of the last shot, told a reporter on the afternoon of Nov. 22 that “I thought I saw someone in the motorcade in street dress shoot back at a person running up the hill.”
Sen. Ralph Yarborough was in a convertible immediately behind the Secret Service follow-up car. He told reporters at Parkland Hospital that “the third shot may have been a Secret Service man returning fire.”
“You could smell powder on our car nearly all the way to here (to the hospital.)” In 1989, Yarborough told author Jim Marrs: “A second or two later, I smelled gunpowder. I always thought that was strange because, being familiar with firearms, I never could see how I could smell the powder from a rifle high in that building.”
At least three witnesses believed the shots came from the motorcade itself, including motorcycle policeman Bobby Hargis, who — riding just off the left-rear bumper of the presidential limo — asserted that “it sounded like the shots were right next to me.”
Nine witnesses claimed to have smelled gun smoke in or near the motorcade immediately after the shooting. Nearly all were in open cars that moved into the follow-up car’s airspace as the procession made its way down Elm Street.
Significantly, the wind was blowing briskly out of the west at 15 mph on Nov. 22, or toward Dealey Plaza from the direction of the triple overpass and into the face of Lee Harvey Oswald. It therefore would have been physically impossible for smoke from the sixth-floor window to reach individuals on the street, particularly within seconds of the final shot.
Multiple witnesses reported a pattern of intimidation tactics and suspicious behavior on the part of the Secret Service at Parkland Hospital in Dallas and at the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, in the aftermath of the assassination.
These actions ranged from the illegal removal of the president’s body from Texas prior to the performance of an autopsy to the confiscation of photographs and X-rays during and after the autopsy in Bethesda.
At the autopsy, numerous pieces of bullet and jacket material were identified in Kennedy’s brain. These fragments could have revealed the origin of the bullet through identification of the jacket composition. Yet the brain disappeared after the autopsy and was never seen again.
So, even though, the new “scientific” report came out that, indeed, does confirm that President Kennedy was shot from behind, it falls way short from answering all the questions about the events that took place on that November day in Dallas.
What do you think? Did Oswald act alone? Was he part of a bigger plot?