CAPA Sunshine Week Press Conference – National Press Club – March 16, 2017
Dr. Cyril Wecht: I am not going to take long. I want to move this along and try to catch up for some of the time we have fallen behind. I think it is listed in the program that it is medical or scientific practicing. I'm not going give you my whole background, but let me just review.
Probably most if not all of you are familiar with these points. There are maybe some of you that are not fully cognizant of some of the issues that I perceive from the perspective of a forensic pathologist.
Let me just say that I have been a forensic pathologist since 1961 my year of training end of '62 and I continue to practice. I've done about 20,000 autopsies and I have and I have supervised and signed off on about 40,000 others, and I don't know how many thousands of these have been homicides and how many have involved gunshot wounds, which of course it the #1 form of homicide in this country.
Let's just hit some of the medical highlights and then you can put it together and then you will have a chance then, we all will with the speakers who are going to follow a lot of time on this. Let's just go back to the President's arrival of Parkland Hospital, about 18 physicians as I recall, quickly became assembled. They weren't all there at the moment that he arrived obviously but they quickly came. Keep in mind, Parkland Memorial Hospital is a major trauma center. These are doctors who have dealt with gunshot wounds hundreds and hundreds of times, and some of these were senior people. Among them, Dr. Kemp Clark, Professor of Neurosurgery, a distinguished experienced Neurosurgeon, textbook writer, and his young assistant at that time Robert Grossman who went on to become the chief ... My son spent 6 years there in neurosurgery and later on under Dr. Grossman. Dr. McClelland, I think many of you here have seen Dr. McClelland talk about this at our conference in Pittsburgh that my son Ben who is here organized. We had him live talking about this at a 2013 conference.
So, these are the physicians who were there, and at that time obviously they didn't know a damn thing. No matter what anybody may think, even the people with the loudest conspiracy thoughts one way or the other, obviously these are people fresh to the game. They had no dog in that race, I remember that great line from the JFK movie with Walter Mathieu. They called it as they saw it. What did they see, this array of prominent physicians? They described the wounds and we have this on video.
Our colleague Dr. Gary Aguliar has a marvelous presentation, he shows one after the other of these physicians. Where were the injuries? They all talked about the occipital area. They all talk about it. They all talk about damage to the cerebellum, the cerebellum is that part of the brain that is located posteriorly and inferiorly that deals with coordination and balance. Back here. Do you think that these doctors knew about anatomy of the brain? Do you think a neurosurgeon knew the difference between cerebral hemisphere and cerebellum hemisphere? Could they all have been mistaken? This alone, shows you the bullshit that unfolded later on at Bethesda. This alone by itself tells you that. You start off with this. This cannot be ignored.
So you have all of that in place and now we have the body at Bethesda. How many in this audience of people among you ... not this audience necessarily, but when I talk to groups you are a microcosm of America and 20 to 30% of you still believe in the Warren Commission Report, and I want you to know then, what you are dealing with. I want you to know who the players on your team are. I want you to know that the 2 guys that did the autopsy on Kennedy, Humes and Boswell, career naval pathologists had never done a single gunshot wound autopsy in their entire careers, and I repeat that, for emphasis. I want you to think about that, democrat, republican, liberal, conservative, I don't care what you think, you have this ...
I love to give the analogy, let's say the President had slipped, that day, on a wet bathroom shower floor and struck his head and he was dazed, maybe he was rendered unconscious for a brief moment, and they say to an audience of lay people, okay sir who would you call in as an expert to evaluate the President under this hypothetical, metaphorical scenario that I present to you, a Neurosurgeon, a Neurologist, an Internist, want to check the cardiac respiratory status, you know a little about medicine, you say you want an ophthalmologist, look at the eye, because an initial cranial bleed can be reflected in the ophthalmological examination.
What if under my hypothetical retrospective metaphor, the President slipping and striking his head, and you had to evaluate his brain condition and they called in a dermatologist, obstetrician, and gynecologist? How would you like that? Okay. When you deal with somebody with multiple gunshot wounds that is a difficult situation, and when you've got two people and you have to correlate wounds from one to the other and you have to establish trajectory and sequence and angle and the relationship of one to the other, this is a formidable mess.
The top forensic pathologist Milton Helpern, Chief Medical Examiner of New York City, he already had his bag packs. I know this from directly from Milton. It wasn't in an arrogant egotistical way but there is no question, it's the President, you got to call in the top guys and he already called in 2 or 3 of the top people in the country to join with him in forensic pathology at that time. Nobody in that group, none of those ever, ever got a call, and why? There can only be one answer, because this is going to be a military operation. This is going to be a controlled situation. You could take a chance on some civilian forensic pathologist who has been 30, 40, 50 years in practice. Who has their entire reputation on the line, you are going to call them in and you are going to tell them what to do like they did with those people.
Now, when Pierre Finck came over, the 3rd guy from the Armed Force Institute of Pathology, the 1 of the 3 that I knew personally from my 2 years in the Air Force, when Pierre asked a couple of questions he was told damn quickly you just proceed doctor, we'll tell you. There were 33 people in that autopsy room during the course ... Some of which were 4 star Admirals and Generals and FBI and so on telling them what to do and what not to do. What did they see then? Well now this cerebellum is intact and there is no damage in the occipital area. How does that change? I throw it out to you. You don't have to be a doctor, a forensic psychologist, you explain that to me. I don't care how little you know about anatomy, you know the difference between frontal and occipital ... the difference between front and back. How do you explain that?
Okay, so now they put it to bed. Oh, by the way these great pathologists doing an autopsy, only on our President after all, they missed the gunshot wound on the President. When I say the size and they look at me, "What are you talking about?" They never knew there was a bullet wound in front of the neck on the night of the autopsy. They thought they were only seeing a tracheostomy, an incision into the windpipe that you use to take out CO2 and put in oxygen, suck out mucus and blood, and try to keep the person alive while you deal with the wounds and try to save his life, which of course was futile in this case but they missed that gunshot wound, they failed to talk with the doctors.
When the coroner, and all those years and still today, when I have an opportunity to talk to the Doctor Surgeon who is operating on somebody that has been shot or stabbed, I want to talk with that surgeon before I do the autopsy because they invariably, they will go through the wound, understandably, to try to get to the scene of the problem. Where is the hemorrhage? What do we have to do with the liver? What do we have to do with the spleen? What do we have to do with the lung and so on? They are not going to get into all kinds of exploratory diagnostic procedures, so you go through the wound and then, not deliberately or malevolently but it will be obfuscated, it will be changed, it will be altered. Here are these guys, and they had all the time in the world, don't forget right? What do we have 7 or 8 hours from Dallas to D.C.? You got a lot of time, touch base man, touch base! Never was done.
The next morning they learned they had missed a gunshot wound on the President after their report has been submitted to President Johnson and FBI Director Hoover, and I love to say this to an audience, what do you do you do in a case like that, the next morning you find out that you missed the gunshot wound on the President of the United States. What do you do? If you're Asian, you commit suicide. If you're European, you resign. If you're American, you just bullshit your way out of it. That is exactly what the hell happened here, okay?
Now we proceed, everything is now in place, now we have the bullet coming out and everybody is quite sanguine and then low and behold they have a hell of a problem, now comes the Zapruder film 18.3 frames per second and now comes the test firing of the Mannlicher-Carcano, 2.3 seconds in the hands of the best marksmen they could find and you put them together but it doesn't work because, the Zapruder film clearly shows and I have never heard any argument on this, correct me my colleagues, or anybody else if I am wrong, I have never heard anybody dispute this, the time between the President's hit and Connelly's hit, is about 1.5 seconds. I am not talking about the head wound, the first hit was 1.5 seconds. Well, it takes 2.3 seconds as determined by the Zapruder film and that is what of course gave birth to the Single-bullet theory.
Arlen Specter, Junior Legal Council on the Warren Commission, bright guy, we became quite friendly over the years in fact I was very actively involved in Democratic politics and yet I endorsed him in his re-election campaign in 2004, when he won as a Republican and I endorsed him in again 2010 when he lost to the Democratic primary. I only mention that because ... I emphasis that I don't say these things to dump on Arlen Specter, in fact I praise him in a way that he, a young man, he's the one who came up with it. It’s a formidable dilemma, a physical incongruity, how do you deal with this? That is what gave birth to the Single-bullet theory as Mark Lane, I think the first one to label it the Magic Bullet theory, a phrase that I use and others have to.
Here we get to the heart of the case medically then, 7 wounds and 2 men. I am not going to take the time now but ... well I will take the time. Mike, sit in this chair here. Jerry come on, there is a chair right in front here. Demonstrative evidence, okay. Here you are. Here you are. The bullet comes in to Kennedy, about 5 1/2 inches down here not up in the neck where Gerald Ford tried to move it. The bullet was right here. Now, there is Oswald, you see him up there, 6th floor windows. The shot is coming from right to left, up downward, and back to front okay? Bullet comes in here. So far we got the bullet exiting here and there is … and my 8 colleagues on the House Select Committee of Assassination Forensic Pathology Panel, all agree there is no way to disagree that there is 11 1/2 degree upward angle. 11 1/2 degrees upward angle with a shot coming from the 6th floor. How did my colleagues get around that?
What if the President were bent over? Mr. President, don't tie your shoelace, you are in a god damn parade. Stop scratching your groin, the people they love you. We got 11 degrees, okay. Now the bullet comes out 30 inches between the President's chest and the Governor's back, 30 inches. Remember, downward or leftward. If it had grazed the Governor's front left shoulder, say well how do you know, an inch or 2 or so, but the bullet hit the Governor's right posterior axillary area, which is fancy medical terminology for the right armpit. Right over here. How in the hell? I have seen these programs on T.V., here, or there, or there ... This is the alignment, look at the Zapruder film, they were both looking at the crime. The bullet hits the Governor there, goes through pierces the lung, destroys 4 inches of the 5th rib. John Connelly, 6'4", big boned Texan, you are not talking about some 110 pound woman here. It exits below the level of the nipple, Governor with the hat right here. Look at the Zapruder film. Don't believe me look at the Zapruder film. He's got the hat and he is looking at the people that love him. The bullet below the nipple level is going downward and the God damn bullet comes back all the way around, slams into the back of the wrist, shatters the distal end of the radius.
Now for those of you who are now physicians know the radius, 1 of the 2 bones in the forearm broadens just before just they meet the small bones of the wrist, broadens. This is a compound common unit fracture, not a grazing slightly displaced. This is a common unit, that bone is damaged badly. It comes out the front and now proceeds that angle this way was 27 degrees now a 45 degree angle until the 5. So, the bullet on the night of the autopsy that they found by, under the stretcher, on the stretcher, who knows whose stretcher, but in the emergency room the night of the autopsy the bullet was from Kennedy's back. Do you prove this medically of course? How did the bullet do that? Remember they didn't know about the bullet exit wound and the throat. How did the bullet come out here? Well when the President lay on the table, supine, and they applied pressure to the front of his chest, the pressure applied to the front of his chest, forced the bullet that had gone deep inside, they could not touch it with their finger, could not touch it with an instrument, and they did find it ....
So they go their information from the FBI that a bullet had been found, on, under, a stretcher, somebody’s stretcher…. Ahhh! Now we know, when they pressed on the chest, for a cardiac massage, the bullet came back out.
Bullets do not do that. There is not a car that you put in reverse and decide you're going the wrong way, and want to back up. It doesn't work that way. We gotta really go in and dig and look for bullets. The next day when we learned about the hole, and the President's neck, now the bullet is from the front of his neck, so his starched white collar, got frightened to death, popped in front of his clothing, and that's where the bullet came from. Five months later, under the single bullet theory, now the bullet is from the left thigh. Okay? Thanks.
That's the single bullet theory.
Dr. Wecht: All right I'm going to wrap it up. I'm going to tell you this, here in Washington D.C., not far from here, I don't think, as a member of the Friends of Pathology Panel I gave my minority dissenting report to the distinguished house committee, they were all there, as I recall. I told them, what I said to my colleagues, and my colleagues are eight experienced, competent, forensic pathologists. I had sent them in, and I repeated to the committee, and I'll toss it out again now ... That was '78 right? So we're talking 22 and 16 is 38, 38 and a half years ago, I repeat the challenge: I said to my colleagues, and I said to the committee, "go back to your respective offices, search your files, don't limit it to just autopsies you've done, every pathologist in the office now, every pathologist who has ever been in that office since the office started, all the major medical examiner, coroner's offices in the country, anyone, and come up with one case, one case in which a single bullet produced seven wounds, multiple wounds, I wouldn't limit them to seven, broke two bones, and emerged pristine."
The bullet commission exhibit 399 is completely intact, there is only slight deformity at the base and there is a question of whether that, I always thought, maybe it came from the impact of the bullet being shot. In any event, the entire copper jacket is intact. Totally intact! The nose, the cone of the bullet, shows no deformity what so ever. I continue to look at the bullets that I extract from people when I do homicides, or that the police, the city police bring in, for me to look at. Bullets that just break a bone, sometimes bullets don't even break a bone, that are deformed, I have yet to see one such case. One such case.
That kind of summarizes it. I am not going to get into all of these other things on the head wound, I'll just tell you that a lot of work has been done. A lot of marvelous work Dr. David Mantick, who is a Ph.D, M.D., radiologist, physicist, Dr. Garry Aguliar, Dr. Michael Cheshire, an outstanding neurologist who went there recently, and our good colleague, friend, Josiah Tink Thompson, and so on, are studying this etc.
There is no way in the world, that the President received that shot in the rear, as the Warren Commission says, making a small identifiable hole in the right occiput and then moving forward to eventually the President was struck in the head twice, and one of the shots came from behind the third defense on the grassy knoll. That gives you the directionality, that gives you the impact that gives you the reason why the motor cycle policeman riding off the left front wheel was spattered with brain and blood, so much that he thought he had been hit for several seconds. That's why the President, when he's struck, comes backward like this.
So, he's hit, you remember from your high school physics, force equals one half mass times velocity squared. One half mass times velocity squared. The bullet, in its pristine state, weighed 161 grains, 161 grains. The velocity by 121 feet per second. Figure that out. That impact to the head, according to the Warren Commission, the back of the head, but it drives him backward to the left, rather than forward. Then come these cop committees, Alvarez with his melons on the fence. So its total bullshit, it's been shown to be absolutely absurd and fraudulent, just study this and read.
This bullet, as it was found, 158.6 grains, a loss of 2.4 grains is exactly one and a half percent of the original mass. This bullet producing seven wounds in two men, breaking two bones in a large boned man, looses only one and a half percent. I remember speaking with Audrey Bell.
The head nurse. I never met her, Audrey Bell, but I spoke with her and she told me, I remember her telling me. You get fragments from the surgeons operating on John Connolly, fragments, it's not big but she's got fragments which she gave to the FBI then. So all of those fragments, fragments with John Connolly took to the grave with him, we tried to get those and the Attorney General Janarillo was very cooperative and she passed on a request to the FBI, and then to Mrs. Connolly in D.C. to allow us to, somebody, a doctor to get out the fragment in his wrist. Unfortunately it was denied, but the point I make here now is, all those fragments together, according to the Warren Commission, quantitative to only one and a half percent of the original weight of that bullet.
Those are the medical facts. You deal with them, you follow through yourselves, you think them through, on these points and ask yourself whether or not the Warren Commission report and so far as the medical pathological evidence is the least bit credible. And that's the medical story.
Dr. Wecht: Okay, does anybody have any questions about this? Yes sir.
Paul Kuntsler: Doctor Wecht, I was president of the Miller Reporting Company
Dr. Wecht: President of where sir?
Paul Kuntsler: Miller Reporting Company. Which did the transcriptions, reportings, hearings, and depositions, for the assassination Records Review Board. When you looked through Dr. Hughes' deposition, it's obvious that he's lying. And what's more the representatives from the review board knew that he was lying.
Dr. Wecht: Thank you. Thank you. Pierre Fink went back to native Switzerland and had been made inaccessible. My wife and I were talking last night about sometimes I'm in front of the work, other times I'm inaccessible. I knew Pierre Fink, you could not get to him. He was listed to academy of physical sciences as a member with no address and no phone number. I've contacted six friends who are pathologists in Switzerland and nobody knows anything about him. He just left the country, I'll never forget, seeing him at the American Academy Forensic Sciences in 1965, I gave my paper and sat next to him at lunch and said, Pierre, can you talk about it? And he was so, so, so distraught, so solemn. This was a guy who knew a little bit about forensic pathology and I'm sure what happened was just absolutely sickened him.
WhoWhatWhy Reporter: I just wanted to mention there is one more witness for your occipital wound. Tom Robinson worked at Gawler's Funeral Home and they were called up to the Feds in Mabel, he describes putting plaster pears in the right rear of the head and an rubber patch, just to seal it off.
Dr. Wecht: To seal it off?
Dr. Wecht: But according to the Warren Commission, it's intact. Thank you.
Reporter: You can add him to your list. Tom Robinson at Gawler's.
Dr. Wecht: Thank you very much Ma'am. Thank you. Yes sir?
Reporter: I was wondering, have you ever heard the theory that there was alterations done to the body?
Dr. Wecht: Yes.
Whole Audience: On the airplane?
Reporter: Yes. I have heard that, and a lot of the facts have been presented. David Lifton, of course, I think was first and foremost ... There have been several other people who ... This gets into a very murky area, not aside from somethings missing. I forgot to mention the missing brain. When I finally got one of them to add medically, as it relates to me, I finally got in ... They came up with this cockamany executive agreement with Jackie Kennedy that she was the owner of everything, she was the owner of the gun, the rifle, the bullets, the bullet fragments, the X-rays, the clothing, she was the owner. And of course the last person in the world, I'm sure, who would ever look or touch any of that stuff, and then she gives it back to the government in a paper roll of 65.
In October of '66 they go in to do an inventory on Mrs. Kennedy's gift, and the agreement said that nobody could get in to see that for 75 years with exception that they recognized an expert in the field of pathology with a serious historical interest could apply. So I applied five years later in 1971 and I never got an answer back from Burke Marshall who was the executor of that agreement as Assistant Attorney General, and who now, in 1971, was a professor of law at Yale Law School.
I did get a response finally, once day I got a call from Fred Graham at the New York Times and he asked me, was it true that I was trying to get in, I said yes, and he said, well I'll check back with you. He called me back a a couple weeks later and asked me if I'd heard anything, I told him no, and I'll never forget his comment, not said in an arrogant way but just ... he said do you mind? And he asked me, he said do you mind if I call professor Marshall, he said, sometimes people do respond to the New York Times. I'll never forget that. I said yes, and finally I heard from Burke Marshall and he still tried to drag me around and told me why don't I come up to New Haven to meet with him. Little did he know that New Haven is our second home with my relatives and close friends there, I was elated to go to New Haven and visit family and friends, and finally I got permission.
So I go in, and I'm looking at all of this stuff and I have the stuff there, the comparison, and in April '65 we have all these things including a metal box that clearly contained the President's brain, and now in October of '66, that is no longer there. That was a front page story on August 27th of 1972, Fred Graham New York Times President's brain missing. And as we talk here today, the President's brain remains missing.
Reporter: Just a little back story here that I've written about, and not very many people know, was that when Fred Graham was given access to Dr. Lattimore the public urologist of ...
Dr. Wecht: A urologist.
Reporter: Yeah a urologist. And that was a big front page story and the Times got so much push back on that from professionals who were outraged that they were putting ... calling a urologist an expert in this case. That's why Fred Graham at the time, they actually were furious because they felt embarrassed, and that's why Fred Graham took it upon himself to get you in there.
Dr. Wecht: Well good, I'm glad to hear that.
Well I am going to stop here, because we got to continue on. Folks, if any of you wish to talk to me later on privately please.