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The Moving Head Wounds

Composite view of: CE 388, the Warren Commission's drawing, HSCA Exhibit 66, the House Committee's depiction, HSCA Exhibit 48, artist's rendering of autopsy photo.
Composite view of:
1) CE 388, the Warren Commission's drawing.
2) HSCA Exhibit 66, the House Committee's depiction.
3) HSCA Exhibit 48, artist's rendering of autopsy photo.

If Kennedy was shot in the head from behind, why did the Parkland Hospital doctors all describe a large gaping wound in the rear of his head? They were mistaken, according to the Warren Commission, which relied on an autopsy report description of a "largely irregular defect" and a drawing which showed the large wound to be on the right side of the head. The autopsy report also firmly placed a small entrance wound low in the back of the head, just above and to the right of the external occipital protuberance.

The two differing descriptions turned into three when in 1968 an independent panel of experts reviewed the autopsy photos and X-rays, and declared that the entrance wound had been mis-measured at autopsy by about 4 inches! According to the Clark Panel, the entry was up in the cowlick.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations convened a nine-member panel of experts in the late 1970s which concurred with the Clark Panel on the location of the head wounds (while disputing other Clark Panel findings). The HSCA also for the first time interviewed many of those present at the autopsy who had witnessed the wounds, and elicited drawings from several of them. The HSCA then declared that "All of those interviewed who attended the autopsy corroborated the general location of the wounds as depicted in the [autopsy] photographs; none had differing accounts." The interviews themselves were not published.

When the HSCA's witness interviews and drawings were released in the early 1990s, they told a dramatically different story. Many of the autopsy witnesses had described a large rear head wound; in some accounts the wound also extended into the right side. The Assassination Records Review Board conducted its own interviews with a similar result.

Was Kennedy shot from the front, from the grassy knoll or some other location? The "hard" evidence of the autopsy photographs and X-rays is still used to buttress the theory that all shots came from behind, but these are incomplete and the authenticity of some of them has been called into question. And what about the Zapruder film, which does not appear to show any rearward damage to Kennedy's head? One thing is certain - the official accounts have consistently declared that the shots came from behind, while continually changing the actual findings which support that idea.



How Five Investigations into JFK's Medical/Autopsy Evidence Got it Wrong, by Gary Aguilar, MD and Kathy Cunningham.

The Wandering Wounds, by Milicent Cranor.

New Light on a Lingering Forensic Controversy, by John Canal.

A Philadelphia Lawyer Analyzes the Shots, Trajectories, and Wounds, by Vincent Salandria.

The HSCA and JFK's Skull Wound, by Gary Aguilar, MD.

A Demonstrable Impossibility, by John Hunt.

The State of the Medical Evidence, by Joe Backes.

The Medical Evidence, by John McAdams.

John F. Kennedy's Fatal Wounds: The Witnesses and the Interpretations from 1963 to the Present, by Gary Aguilar, MD.

The Harper Fragment, by David W. Mantik, MD.

Warren Commission Suppressed Jackie's Testimony on JFK's Head Wound, by JFK Lancer.

What Did the Parkland Doctors Really Say?, by Russell Kent.

Dr. Robert McClelland in Trauma Room One, by Brad Parker.

Wounds to the Left of JFK's Head?, by Russell Kent.

Other Links

ARRB MD 264 (drawing of rear head wound done for Six Seconds in Dallas).



Medical Reports from Doctors at Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Tex. Warren Report p.516.

Autopsy Report and Supplemental Report. Warren Report p.538.

Clark Panel Report. "1968 Panel Review of Photographs, X-Ray Films, Documents and Other Evidence Pertaining to the Fatal Wounding of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas."

Rockefeller Commission Report, p.257. "The Allegation That President Kennedy Was Struck in the Head by a Bullet Fired From His Right Front."

HSCA Medical Panel Report (Volume VII of Final Report):

Unpublished HSCA Interviews & Drawings:

ARRB Witness Drawings:

Warren Commission Testimony:

Related Starting Points


CE 567, 569 Bullet Fragment Photos. CE 567 and 569 are the large bullet fragments recovered from the Presidential limousine.

HSCA Medical Interviews. See particularly Humes-Boswell, Pierre Finck, and Tom Robinson.

ARRB Medical Interviews. See particularly Francis O'Neill Jr., Saundra Kay Spencer, Audrey Bell, and Andrew Purdy.

Books of Interest

Stewart Galanor
Kestrel Books, 1998
    Murder In Dealey Plaza
Fetzer, James H., editor
Catfeet Press, 2000
    Best Evidence
David S. Lifton
Carroll and Graf Publishers, Inc., 1988
    The Killing of a President
Robert J. Groden
Viking Studio Books, 1993
    Six Second In Dallas
Josiah Thompson
Bernard Geis, 1967
    High Treason 2
Harrison Edward Livingstone
Carroll & Graf, 1992

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