Assassination still stirs emotions, doubts

President John F. Kennedy’s administration was identified with currents of global change: sharp crises in the Cold War, the looming specter of the Vietnam conflict, social changes embodied by the civil rights movement. His killing in Dallas at age 46 deeply shocked the American public. Many still feel the official account of the assassination, the Warren Commission Report of 1964, presented some questionable findings and selectively ignored some evidence. It concluded the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, acted alone. Fifty years later, doubts persist over some key questions:

Next: Dealey plaza

Dealey Plaza, on the west side of downtown Dallas

Warren Commission findings Details calling Warren findings into question
Triple underpass
Union TerminalNorth Tower

Sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository

Manlicher-Carcano bolt-action rifle and three shell casings were found near this sixth-floor “sniper’s nest” in the Texas School Book Depository.

The Warren Commission ruled that Oswald was the sole shooter and he only fired three shots.

JFK, Connally appear to be wounded here
Car’s position at time of fatal head shot, 265 ft.(81m) from the sixth floor depository window
Previous: Introduction
Next: The first shot

Discrepancies in autopsy observations

The first doctors to see the president at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas found a large wound at the back of his head, which they thought was an exit wound; part of the skull was missing; in an effort to treat JFK, a tracheotomy was performed over what one of them considered to be an entrance wound in the throat; the back wound was not examined in Dallas

Two versions of diagram

Original diagram, left, and version in Warren Report, right, missing Dr. Burkley’s signature confirming location of back wound noted by Dr. Boswell

Parkland Memorial Hospital

Dr. Charles Carrico, Dr. Malcolm Perry,Dr. (and Admiral) George Burkley

During early press conference, Perry says neck wound was an entry wound. Testifying before Warren Commission later, he reversed himself and said it had been an exit wound

Bethesda Naval Hospital

Lt. Cmdr. J. Thornton Boswell,Cmdr. James Humes, Dr. Burkley

Burkley notes wound on back, 5.25 in. (13.3 cm) below collar; too low for that bullet to have exited throat at necktie knot level; Bosley marks diagram to show that spot; Burkley agrees, signs it. Throat wound not examined; tracheotomy incision had altered it

Revised Warren Report version

Dr. Charles Carrico, Dr. Malcolm Perry,Dr. (and Admiral) George Burkley

Back wound noted at a higher location. Humes burns notes, first autopsy draft, he says because it was bloodstained

Previous: Dealey Plaza
Next: The bullet
John F. Kennedy
Texas Gov. John Connally
Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman
Jacqueline Kennedy
Nellie Connally
Driver William Greer, secret service

The Single Bullet

Because one of the three shots missed the limo and another caused the fatal head wound to JFK, only one bullet remained to account for seven other wounds to Kennedy and Connally; this finding in the Warren Report has drawn skepticism for decades

Bullet hole in shirt, 5.25 inches (13.3 cm) belowline of collar
Bullet hole at level of tie knot
Entry right armpit
Chest wounds fifth rib shattered,exit wound, nipple
Right wrist shattered
Left thigh bullet stops

‘Pristine bullet’

CE-399, on the left, was found at hospital in near-perfect condition; a bullet of the same type was fired through a cadaver’s wrist and was badly deformed, on the right.
Previous: The autopsy
Source: ESRI, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, MCT Photo Service, Assassination Archives and Research Center, AP, Library of Congress, Warren Commission, U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations
Graphic: Robert Dorrell and Danny Dougherty