Secrets of a Homicide: Summary of Conclusions

2. The relative positions of JFK and JBC at Zapruder frame
223-224, and their subsequent movements, are consistent
with the theory that both men were struck by a single
bullet fired from the sixth floor sniper's nest of the Texas
School Book Depository.

Analysis of the computer recreation found that Governor John B. Connally received his chest wound during the 1/18th of a second interval between Zapruder frames 223-224. (See conclusion #1) Using medical data surrounding President Kennedy and Governor Connally's wounds, and Zapruder frame 223 (demonstrating their relative positions less than 1/18th of a second before impact), a trajectory was plotted to determine the source of the shot.

According to the 1963 autopsy report, the President had an entrance wound in his upper-right back located 5.5 inches from the point where the right shoulder blade meets the right arm, and 5.5 inches below the bony protuberance found behind and slightly below the right ear. (16H980 CE387) The 1978 HSCA forensic panel agreed that the wound was an entrance wound, noting that the autopsy photographs showed an abrasion collar around the wound (caused from the bullet scraping the margins of the skin as it entered the back) - a condition typical of entrance wounds. (7HSCA85-86)
JFK entrance wound - rear/side view

A microscopic examination of the tissues surrounding the back wound (conducted shortly after the 1963 autopsy) established the presence of coagulation necrosis of the tissues, which confirms beyond any doubt that the wound in the President's back was an entrance wound. (16H988 CE391; 1HSCA191-92) The point of entrance was located on a computer model representing JFK's body.

JFK exit wound - front/side view The autopsy pathologists ultimately determined that the bullet had entered the back, passed between the muscles of the upper back and neck, crossed over the top of the right lung, and exited at the throat just below the Adams apple. (2H363) The pathologists cited some bruising of the muscles on the right side of the neck, a bruising of the pleura cavity (encompassing the right lung), and a wedge shaped bruise (approximately 2 inches in diameter) on the upper portion of the right lung as evidence of the bullet's path. (2H363) The point of exit was also located on the computer model representing JFK's body.

The President's clothing confirmed the path of the bullet: a small hole in the back of his suit coat (threads pushed inward) approximately 5.3 inches below the top of the collar and 1.96 inches to the right of the middle seam (7HSCA83), a corresponding hole in the President's shirt located 5.75 inches below the collar and 1.3 inches to the right of the midline (CD205, p.153-54) (photographs taken seconds before the shooting show the suit coat had shifted upward on the President's back, accounting for the discrepancy between the wounds in the body and the holes in the clothing), a slit-like bullet hole in the front of the shirt (threads pushed outward), and a tear on the left side of the tie knot where the exiting bullet grazed the tie knot. (ARRB MD28)

According to Dr. Robert Shaw' s operative record, the entrance wound in JBC's body was "just lateral to the right [shoulder blade] close [to] the [armpit] yet has passed through the latysmus [latissimus] dorsi muscle...the wound of entrance was approximately [1.2 inches] in its longest diameter." (7HSCA142)

The HSCA's Forensic Pathology Panel determined that Dr. Shaw's report described a wound located approximately 7.9 inches to the right of the midline, and 7.1 inches below the top of the 1st thoracic vertebra. (2HSCA181) This point was located on a computer model representing JBC's body.
JBC entrance wound - rear/side view

JBC exit wound - front/side view Dr. Shaw's operative record described the exit wound stating: "[The missile] emerged below the right nipple...the wound of exit was a ragged wound approximately [2 inches] in its longest diameter." (7HSCA147)

Dr. Michael Baden, HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel, localized the exit wound during an examination of Governor Connally stating: "The exit wound scar is in the right front chest 1 inch below the central nipple line..." This places the exit wound at about the level of the 5th rib, which was shattered by the bullet. (7HSCA147) This point was also located on the JBC computer model.

To determine the source of the shots, the point of entrance on the President's upper-right back was connected to the exit wound in his throat with a straight line to represent the trajectory path of the bullet through JFK's upper body.

Extending that trajectory line forward shows that a bullet passing through the President's upper-right back and throat, at the equivalent of Zapruder frame 223, would go on to strike Governor Connally in the right shoulder just behind the armpit -- the precise location where the entrance wound in JBC's body was located.

In order to exit just below JBC's right nipple (based on JBC's position at Zapruder frame 223); the bullet would have to then follow a slightly altered course after entering the Governor's body -- shifting 13 degrees to the right and 1 degree upward from the original trajectory line.
Trajectory of JFK neck wound

In an anatomically erect position (i.e., not the position JBC was in at Z223), the trajectory path of the bullet was found to pass through JBC at an angle of about 24.5 degrees downward, and about 23.5 degrees right to left. The downward trajectory compares favorably with Dr. Shaw's measurement of 25 degrees during testimony before the Warren Commission. (4H137) The right to left trajectory is slightly higher than the FBI's rough estimate of 20 degrees, inferred from a measurement of the holes in JBC's suit jacket. (CD827)

The possibility that the bullet changed course after hitting the Governor (a rather common phenomenon) has been debated before by experts. Dr. Charles S. Petty, stated that JBC's internal injuries suggested that the bullet "tunneled around the chest wall and did not proceed in a straight line from entrance to exit." (Petty thought that the injuries to JBC's right lung were caused by bone fragments blasted out by the passing bullet.)

However, the majority of HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel members disagree. They said that they would have expected a comparable missile to pass from entrance to exit in a fairly straight line, adding that they didn't feel that the surgeon could have known whether the injury to JBC's lung was caused by the bullet or by rib fragments alone. (7HSCA150)

In the end, the medical evidence alone cannot prove, nor disprove, that the bullet changed course after striking JBC in the back.

SBT trajectory - top view To determine the firing source of the bullet that passed between Kennedy and Connally, the entrance wound on JBC's back was connected to the exit wound on the front of the President's throat at the equivalent of Zapruder frame 223 using a straight line. That trajectory line was then projected rearward 200 feet to its source.

The result shows the bullet moving at a 10 degree angle, right to left, relative to the midline of the limousine.

The angle of declination is about 20.5 degrees below true horizontal. Accounting for the three
degree slope in the road, the bullet is moving
downward at an angle of about 17.5 degrees relative to the limousine. These figures are comparable to those determined in previous trajectory analysis conducted by the FBI in 1964 (WR106) and the HSCA's Photographic Panel in 1978. (6HSCA46)

When this trajectory path is projected rearward, it is found to intersect the front face of the Texas School Book Depository at the southeast corner of the sixth floor. The trajectory line passes through the half open window located at that position, over a stack of boxes believed to have been used as a gun rest, and into the area referred to as the "sniper's nest."

This projected firing source is consistent with eyewitness accounts and physical evidence which point to the sniper's nest as the source of at least some of the gunfire.

SBT trajectory - aerial view

Secrets of a Homicide: JFK Assassination © 1995-2008 Dale K. Myers. All Rights Reserved.
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