DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
The conspiracy theory that has President John F. Kennedy's brain "missing" from his head even BEFORE the autopsy (per Paul O'Connor's obviously wrong observations) is one of the biggest hunks of crap revolving around the whole JFK case.
The other "Missing Brain" conspiracy theory that has the brain disappearing after being examined to "hide the bullet track" is nothing but pure conjecture.
Robert Kennedy probably had the brain destroyed to keep it from becoming a morbid curiosity piece; and even the HSCA said that this was the most-likely cause for this "missing material"....
"Consequently, although the committee has not been able to uncover any direct evidence of the fate of the missing materials, circumstantial evidence tends to show that Robert Kennedy either destroyed these materials or otherwise rendered them inaccessible." -- HSCA; Volume 7
And -- The "no brain in the head" CTers (double meaning might aptly apply to that passage) must therefore believe that Commission Exhibit No. 391 (the Supplementary Autopsy Report) is a total fabrication, which describes the "Gross Description Of Brain" at autopsy; and further states that "multiple sections [of the brain] from representative areas as noted above are examined."
All of this "brain" stuff could never have happened per O'Connor (and many CTers). Humes' signature on that Supplementary Report was just one more example of the large number of felonies that conspiracy theorists believe were committed by a variety of conspirators in November of 1963.
David Von Pein
April 6, 2006
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
Amazon's resident "LNer Basher" "Ralph Yates" [whose real name, I have since learned, is Albert Doyle] entertains us all with this gem of a fantasy in his review of the book "Beyond Reasonable Doubt"....
DAVID VON PEIN THEN SAID:
Thanks for your review, "Ralph"/(Albert). Your deep and insightful analysis of the Grand Conspiracy swirling around the death of America's 35th Chief Executive could only be topped by the likes of Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, and Moe, Larry, and Curly. Because only those five comic geniuses could top the comedy that permeates the following comments penned by the all-knowing Ralph Yates.....
"The government/military conspirators who altered the evidence prepared a swapped brain at Bethesda that was caught by an autopsy photographer who showed a picture of this intact whole brain sitting next to Kennedy's corpse prior to the brain autopsy. This photo then disappeared from the record. After weighing this swapped brain at the brain autopsy the conspirators then waited a day to enter the implausible 1500 gram weight they recorded. .... Realizing they had been caught the government then lost Kennedy's brain so they could never be exposed." -- Doyle/Yates; March 12, 2015 AD
The above tale of utter fantasy can only enhance sales of ANY "Lone Assassin" book.
So I thank Mr. Yates for being willing to step up to the plate and say things that no reasonable person could possibly even begin to believe are even partially true (let alone swallow the whole nine yards whole, as Yates does). Such rants spoken or written by conspiracy clowns like Ralph Yates can only help make all JFK conspiracy theorists look like rabid fantasists of the first order. And Yates sits at the head of the fantasy table at Amazon.com.
RALPH YATES SAID:
David Von Pein is arrogant enough that he thinks he can get away with reducing sound arguments of evidence to name-calling and ridicule. He doesn't fear any loss of public credibility by answering that way because he obviously has no honest agenda in the first place and simply exists solely because of the support of a lunatic fringe group of government apologists.
We need to establish some kind of law to enforce normal reality and make what Mr Von Pein does answerable to the crime it is. It is very clear from Mr Von Pein's response that he is indirectly admitting the brain evidence arguments above are credible since he is so publicly unable to answer them.
This is the big time Mr Von Pein. Your credibility-destroying protesting too much without ever answering the facts isn't working and isn't submittable at this level. It is time you be made to pay for it.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
Earth to Yates!! ----
Fantasy doesn't require debunking.
Perhaps you didn't realize the above basic fact of life.
RALPH YATES SAID:
He says while running from evidence that comes directly from the Commission's own report and documented facts.
Mr Von Pein, don't you have any sense of decency?
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
Hilarious, Ralph! Per CT clowns like you, the Warren Commission was the biggest farce and "cover-up" in American history --- and yet that same Warren Commission put stuff in their own report and 26 volumes that proves the fantasy you allege? Is that correct, Ralphie?
Duh! And D'oh! (And Oops!)
Keep talking, Yates. You're the best "BRD" book promoter that Mel Ayton or I could possibly ever hope to find. (And on virtually every Amazon thread too. Imagine my good fortune.)
RALPH YATES SAID:
Most credible observers understand why you refuse to answer the points directly Mr Von Pein. If my arguments were as ridiculous as you contend then surely you would be able to refute them directly. Your desperation to avoid this says everything anyone would need to know.
This is why the brain evidence is game-over for the deniers.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
Typical CT clown --- he spikes the ball in the end zone and declares victory because a sensible person (that'd be me) won't "refute" an obvious fantasy that only a person who lives in a fantasy world could possibly buy into.
Should I feel the intense desire to start refuting and debunking Brian David Andersen's theory too, Mr. Yates? (Andersen is the CTer who thinks JFK wasn't killed at all on 11/22/63. And the ultra-silly "Two Brains" theory is almost as preposterous.)
RALPH YATES SAID:
The educated public can see that the brain evidence I discussed is valid and comes from legitimate sources like the Commission's own evidence. So much so that David Von Pein literally cannot answer it.
His ridicule in place of any credible response permanently destroys his credibility, as does his use of ballot-stuffing done by supporters who also use that same cowardly method instead of offering any credible response.
We need to apply some kind of law to this process since these people no longer deserve the right to practice their intentional deceit in public. Amazon deletes what is termed as holocaust denial yet it allows these outright liars free practice concerning their denial of serious treason.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
In Ralph Yates' world, pure fantasy (which includes a brain photograph that doesn't even exist) deserves to be treated as "credible" evidence.
And to Yates, fantasy theories (like the "Two Brains" nonsense) should rise to exactly the same high stature and should receive an equal amount of serious attention from researchers as theories based upon "reality".
In other words, ALL theories are created equal -- even the fantastic "Two Brains" charade.
It's truly a topsy-turvy universe there in Yates-land.
RALPH YATES SAID:
Not working David.
Like Bugliosi, you're not answering to the facts.
David's lying to you. He knows the photographs exist in NARA.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
Get your story straight, Ralph. You specifically said this in your book review....
"This photo then disappeared from the record." -- R. Yates
That's the photo I was talking about. So which is it? Does the "second brain" photo exist at the National Archives? Or has it "disappeared from the record"?
RALPH YATES SAID:
He [DVP] is also flagrantly dodging the 1500 gram weight presented in his own Commission evidence.
DAVID VON PEIN SAID:
And can you explain just exactly WHY the Warren Commission, if they were the rotten cover-up operatives you obviously think they were, would want to put something in their own report that they knew would PROVE to people like Ralph Yates that a conspiracy existed?
Was the Commission doing the CTers a big favor by deliberately throwing them a bread crumb that proves conspiracy? Or were all of the Warren Commission members just incredibly stupid and reckless?
Even though what I said in a prior post is certainly true enough -- "Fantasy doesn't require debunking" -- I'll provide the following passages from the JFK Bible (Vincent Bugliosi's "Reclaiming History") anyway. The book excerpts presented below will, of course, be totally ignored by Mr. Yates and most other rabid conspiracy theorists of the world, but to a reasonable person looking for reasonable and logical answers, instead of searching "Two Brains Fantasy Land" for the answers, Mr. Bugliosi has got the "brain" subject covered nicely here....
"How much of the president’s brain was missing? From the autopsy report, we know that the left hemisphere of Kennedy’s brain was “intact” (CE 391, 16 H 987). But in addition to lab technician Paul O’Connor’s demonstrably incorrect statement that virtually the whole brain was “missing,” there were others who have said that most of the right hemisphere was missing.
FBI agent Francis O’Neill said that “[well] more than half [of] the brain was missing” (ARRB Transcript of Proceedings, Deposition of Francis X. O’Neill, September 12, 1997, pp.115–117, 164–166). And too many to quote have argued that since a considerable part of the right hemisphere of the president’s brain was missing, how could the brain, per the autopsy report, have weighed “1,500 grams”? Since the average brain, they argue, weighs around 1,400 grams (at 450 grams per pound, about 3 pounds), how could the president’s brain, after losing so much brain matter, weigh more than the average brain?
The answer is that the president’s brain did NOT lose much brain matter. “Contrary to the myth,” Dr. Michael Baden told me, people who have said that the president lost a good part of his brain “are absolutely wrong.”
Baden says he saw the photographs taken of the president’s brain at the time of the autopsy, and under his direction the HSCA’s medical illustrator, Ida Dox, drew a diagram of the brain viewed from the top. (See sketch in photo section of book.)
As Baden said in his testimony before the HSCA, the diagram “represents [the] extensive damage and injury to the right top of the brain” (1 HSCA 304). (“It’s an exact depiction,” he told me.) Note the words “damage and injury” as opposed to saying a large part of the brain was “missing.”
And, indeed, the autopsy report says nothing about any significant part of the brain being missing, merely saying, “The right cerebral hemisphere is found to be markedly disrupted”.
“Basically, the president’s whole brain was still there,” Baden said. “The right hemisphere was severely damaged and torn, but less than an ounce or two of his brain was actually missing from the cranial cavity. If you squash a tomato, some would look at it and loosely say that most of the tomato was missing, but actually it’s still all there, only it’s mashed. That’s the only explanation I can give you for how some people have said that a big part of the brain was missing. But they are wrong.”
However, since Baden conceded that the president had indeed lost at least an ounce or two of his brain (there are 28 grams to an ounce), I asked him how he explained that the president’s brain, which weighed 1,500 grams, ended up weighing as much as it did, more than the average brain of around 1,400 grams? Was it simply that he had a larger brain?
“When the brain is injured,” Baden said, “this causes edema fluids to leak out of the blood vessels into the surrounding brain tissue, causing the brain to be swollen and increasing its weight. The increased weight to the president’s brain is from the swelling.” (Telephone interview of Dr. Michael Baden by author [Vincent Bugliosi] on March 29, 2002)
But in response to Dr. Gary Aguilar telling Dr. Boswell about the “1,500 grams” of “brain weight,” Dr. Boswell told Aguilar, “I suspect that weight was probably the formalin-fixed brain” (Transcript of taped telephone interview of Dr. Boswell by Dr. Gary Aguilar on March 8, 1994, p.2, submitted to author [Bugliosi] in letter from Aguilar of August 29, 2000).
And Dr. Baden said that completely independent of edema, “Once a brain is put in formalin, it sometimes can gain or lose up to 100 grams dependent upon the concentration of the formalin solution. If the formalin fluid is more concentrated, then it will remove fluid from the brain and make the brain slightly lighter than it was on removal from the cranium. If the formalin fluid is less concentrated, then the brain can gain fluid by absorbing water from the formalin and getting slightly heavier. I don’t know which was the case here, but usually the brain is weighed before it is put in formalin. Here it was weighed after” (Telephone interview of Dr. Michael Baden by author [Bugliosi] on April 11, 2004).
It should be added that it is only an assumption that President Kennedy’s brain weighed around 1,400 grams before the assassination. We don’t know that, it being mere speculation. Actually, the average weight of the brain for someone the president’s age (it varies with age, not the size of the person) is 1,366 grams, and the range is from 1,069 to 1,605 grams.
And the average weight increase after formalin soaking is 8.8 percent, the range being from 3.3 to 19.2 percent. (Ludwig, Current Methods of Autopsy Practice [2nd Edition; 1979], p.666; see also Blinkov and Glezer, [The] Human Brain in Figures and Tables [A Quantitative Handbook; 1968], pp.3–4, 277, for discussion and tables on the increase in brain weight when there is formalin fixation by immersion, which we had in the case of JFK’s brain, as opposed to perfusion or injection of the formalin through the blood vessels. The latter technique results in less weight increase than the immersion technique. Also, the concentration of the formalin, as Dr. Baden says, affects the weight, and there appears to be no record of what the concentration was in this case.)"
-- Vincent Bugliosi; Pages 283-285 of Endnotes in "Reclaiming History"
Additional excerpts from Vincent Bugliosi's book, "Reclaiming History"....
"One of the very biggest mysteries concerning missing evidence in the Kennedy assassination, one that continues to fascinate, and one that may never be solved—but, fortunately, one that doesn't need to be, since it has only academic value—is what happened to President Kennedy's brain?
At the London trial ["On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald"], Gerry Spence zeroed in on the issue with my pathologist, Dr. Charles Petty....
Spence: "Did you ever see the brain?"
Spence: "Do you think it's important for a doctor, before he gives his opinion, to see the brain to determine what the course of the bullet was?"
Petty: "It would be nice if the brain were available."
Spence: "Now, please, Doctor, let's not be silly. You're a professional. You're under oath. Tell the ladies and gentlemen of the jury if it isn't essential for you to see the brain?"
Petty: "No, it's not essential to see the brain."
Spence: "You didn't see the brain in this case?"
Petty: "No, I did not."
Spence: "Do you know where it is?"
Petty: "No, I do not."
Spence: "Did you look for it?"
Petty: "Well, not really."
Spence: "As a matter of fact—well, now, please, Doctor, you smiled. But as a matter of fact, didn't your committee [the HSCA] ask some twenty different people where the brain of the president was?"
Petty: "We asked, but we did not look for it."
Spence: "You couldn't find it, could you?"
* In his final summation, Spence argued, "I'll tell you this much, if one of us was charged with murder, and the most important piece of evidence in the whole trial was gone, and it was evidence that we needed to prove our innocence, we needed it to prove our innocence, and it was gone, what would we say? We would say, 'What has happened to this country?' We would say, 'What kind of procedure is this?' We would say, 'What kind of judicial system is this?' We would say, 'What's going on with the FBI?' I can hear Lee Oswald saying, 'I'm a patsy' " (Transcript of On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald, July 25, 1986, p.1015).
Conspiracy theorists have always been certain that the conspirators who killed Kennedy somehow were able to expropriate his brain as a part of the cover-up. Here's what we do know. As the HSCA summarized it, "shortly after" the supplemental examination of the president's brain (the date of which has never been confirmed), Kennedy's personal physician, Admiral George Burkley, directed the Bethesda Naval Hospital to transfer all the physical autopsy material in its possession to Robert I. Bouck, the special agent in charge of the Protective Research Section of the Secret Service, at the White House.
Captain John H. Stover, the commanding officer of the Naval Medical School at Bethesda, gave Burkley "the [president's] brain in a . . . stainless steel bucket," and Burkley "personally transferred it to the White House where it was placed in a locked Secret Service file cabinet" along with the other autopsy-related material, such as photographs, X-rays, and tissue sections.
Bouck took the containers of autopsy-related material and stored them inside a four-drawer file cabinet safe with a dial combination lock in a basement location in the White House adjacent to the control room occupied by White House police.
On April 22, 1965, Senator Robert Kennedy sent a letter to Admiral Burkley, directing Burkley to transfer, in person, all of the aforementioned autopsy material being kept at the White House to the president's personal secretary, Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln, at the National Archives for safekeeping.
Mrs. Lincoln did not work at the archives, but the archives gave her an office there to assist in the transfer of the president's official papers to the archives. Pursuant to this request, on April 26, 1965, Burkley, accompanied by Bouck, said he personally took the brain and tissue sections, with all the other materials, which were now inside a locked footlocker, to Mrs. Lincoln.
Accompanying the transfer was a cover letter of the same date on White House stationery from Burkley to Lincoln memorializing the transfer to Lincoln. An attached list set forth an inventory of nine items of autopsy-related materials that were transferred. Item number 9 (the other eight items being predominantly autopsy photos, negatives, and X-rays, although item number 1 was "one broken casket handle"), the last item on the inventory, contained paraffin blocks of tissue sections of the president's brain, four boxes of slides, one of which was of "blood smears," and "1 stainless steel container," 7 X 8 inches in diameter, "containing gross material"—that is, what was left of the president's brain. Admiral Burkley told the HSCA that item number 9 represented "the container of the brain."
As of this point in time, the materials had only been transferred, per the April 26, 1965, letter to Lincoln, to "your [Mrs. Lincoln's] custody," not the custody of the archives. It's from this point on that the situation gets very murky. Mrs. Lincoln gave an affidavit to the HSCA in which she said that approximately one month after she received the footlocker, Robert Kennedy telephoned to inform her that he was sending Angela Novello, his personal secretary, over to her office to move the footlocker.
Lincoln, who said she had never opened the footlocker while it was in her custody,** assumed it was going to be moved to another part of the archives where Robert Kennedy stored other materials. Novello, accompanied by Herman Kahn, assistant archivist for presidential libraries, came and took physical possession of the footlocker. Lincoln gave Novello both keys to the footlocker and never saw it again.
** Mrs. Lincoln mentioned in a 1978 interview that although "she had no intention of looking inside the various containers [within the trunk] because she was very upset about the assassination of the president and was upset at the prospect of having to handle the autopsy materials," she was very careful with them "and noted that they fit neatly into the trunk," indicating that at some point she did look inside the footlocker (HSCA Record 180-10077-10138, Interview of Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln, July 5, 1978, pp.5-6; also ARRB MD 128).
No one knows what Novello did with the footlocker. It was either kept in a personal storage area set aside for Robert Kennedy within the archives or, more likely, removed from the archives building altogether, since it turned up one and a half years later in the possession of Burke Marshall, a Kennedy family friend.
At the request of the U.S. Department of Justice, on October 29, 1966, Marshall, on behalf of "the executors of the estate of the late President John F. Kennedy," transferred ownership of the autopsy materials and other items (such as the "personal clothing" and "personal effects" of the president that were "gathered as evidence" by the Warren Commission) to the U.S. government.
The seven-page letter transferring title to the government, from Marshall to Lawson B. Knott, the administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), constituted a "deed of gift" from the Kennedy family, and per the letter, the items transferred thereunder "should be deposited, safeguarded and preserved" in the National Archives.
The letter said that the Kennedy family "desires to prevent the undignified or sensational use of these materials . . . or any other use which would tend in any way to dishonor the memory of the late President or cause unnecessary grief or suffering to the members of his family and those closely associated with him. We know the Government respects these desires."
The "gift" had restrictions. Although access to the president's clothing and personal effects would be immediately available to any federal government investigative agency and any "serious scholar or investigator" whom the administrator approved of, access to the autopsy photographs and X-rays would not be authorized "until five years after the date of this agreement [October 29, 1966] except with the consent of the Kennedy family representative," designated in the document as Burke Marshall.
Also, per the deed of gift, no public display of the items would be permitted and the limitations on the gift would remain in effect throughout the lifetime of Mrs. Kennedy, the president's parents, his brothers and sisters, and his two children.
Two days later, on October 31, 1966, Marshall delivered the footlocker back to the archives, and in the presence of many people, including Novello (who furnished the key to open it) and several officials from the GSA, archives, and attorney general's office, the footlocker was opened and all the materials contained within were removed so they could be inspected and reinventoried.
Per a document signed on November 4, 1966, by Robert Bahmer, the archivist of the United States, James B. Rhoads, the deputy archivist, and three other officials, "Inspection of the footlocker disclosed that it contained items 1 through 8, inclusive, referred to in the attachment to Admiral Burkley's letter of April 26, 1965. It did not contain any of the material [i.e., not just the stainless steel container holding the brain, but the slides and tissue sections] referred to in item 9 of the attachment."
So sometime between April 26, 1965, when Burkley transferred the footlocker to Evelyn Lincoln and confirmed that the steel container holding the president's brain was inside, and October 31, 1966, when it was discovered the container was no longer there, someone removed the container from the footlocker.
The question of who it was has mystified students of the assassination for years, and the HSCA conducted a very thorough and comprehensive investigation to answer the question, interviewing or deposing over thirty people who were believed to have possible knowledge about the disappearance, all of whom claiming to the HSCA that they had no knowledge.
One person they naturally sought out was Novello, who gave them an affidavit saying she had no recollection of handling the footlocker, of possessing a key or keys to such a footlocker, or handling any of the autopsy materials. The HSCA did not believe Novello, particularly in view of the fact that when the footlocker was opened for inspection on October 31, 1966, it was she, in the presence of many witnesses, who produced the key to open the locker.
Burke Marshall told the HSCA it was his opinion that Robert Kennedy obtained and disposed of the brain and slides himself. "Marshall said Robert Kennedy was concerned that these materials would be placed on public display in future years in an institution such as the Smithsonian, and wished to dispose of them to eliminate such a possibility.*** Marshall emphasized that he does not believe anyone other than Robert Kennedy would have known what happened to the materials and is certain that obtaining or locating these materials is no longer possible."
*** In a similar vein, and fortifying the natural inference that RFK (or, for that matter, any member of the Kennedy family) would have had every motive to have expropriated his brother's brain, on April 5, 1988, RFK's brother-in-law, Stephen Smith, telephoned Los Angeles County deputy district attorney Steven Sowders, and asked him, on behalf of RFK's widow, Ethel, to return RFK's bloodstained suit jacket and shirt to her from his assassination in Los Angeles in June of 1968, and if that couldn't be done, to make sure that these items were kept at the DA's office and never given to any third party. Sowders said RFK's clothing was not returned to the Kennedy family, and is still in the office's "evidence locker," not available for public scrutiny. (Telephone interviews of Steven Sowders by author [Vincent Bugliosi] on July 20, 1999, and June 25, 2002; see also Washington Post, April 20, 1988, p.C3) Greg Stone, a dedicated student of the RFK assassination who got to know the Kennedy family, told me years ago that the family didn't want RFK's clothing on display anywhere for the public.
Marshall's strong suggestion that Robert Kennedy disposed of the items is strengthened by the testimony of Evelyn Lincoln, who told HSCA investigators in 1978 that Robert Kennedy came to the National Archives four or five times during the key period of 1965-1966, when the autopsy materials are known to have disappeared. After Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, Mrs. Lincoln reportedly became concerned about the autopsy materials stored at the archives. She called Ken O'Donnell, who contacted Ted Kennedy. O'Donnell called back and said, "Everything is under control."
The HSCA noted that "the only materials" removed from the footlocker were "physical specimens from the body of [RFK's] brother: tissue sections, blood smeared slides, and the container of gross material [i.e., the president' s brain]. He [RFK] may have understandably felt more strongly about preventing the misuse of these physical materials than the photographs and X-rays. Second, the Justice Department . . . pushed hard to acquire the photographs and X-rays but did not request the physical materials."
After its extensive inquiry, the HSCA concluded "that Angela Novello did remove the footlocker . . . from the office of Mrs. Lincoln at the direction of Robert Kennedy" and that "circumstantial evidence tends to show that Robert Kennedy either destroyed these materials or otherwise rendered them inaccessible."
As indicated, the conspiracy theorists maintain the president's brain was stolen as part of the cover-up and that only with an examination of the brain itself could we "determine whether all the shots were fired from the rear or if shots came from the right front. The path of the bullet through the brain could be discerned, and the location of the gunman determined." [Shaw with Harris, Cover-Up, p.77]
But we've already seen that the three autopsy surgeons, as well as every one of the many other forensic pathologists who looked at the X-rays and photographs of the president's brain, already reached firm and irrefutable conclusions as to the location of the entrance and exit wounds and the path the two bullets took through the president's body.
If both of the wounds to the rear of the president's body (upper right area of the back and right rear of his head) were determined to be entrance wounds, as they were, it would be physically impossible for an examination of the president's brain to reflect that the bullets, in fact, entered from the front or the side.
The conspiracy theorists also seem to forget that this "missing brain" that they go on and on about was not always "missing." The three autopsy surgeons saw the brain, held it in their hands, examined it, even weighed it. And they said the left hemisphere of the brain was "intact."
If they saw any damage to the left hemisphere of the president's brain or any bullet track through the left hemisphere, they obviously would have mentioned it in their autopsy report. And the only bullet track the autopsy surgeons noted through the right hemisphere was one that "traversed the cranial cavity in a posterior-anterior [i.e., back to front] direction . . . depositing minute particles along its path."
And Dr. Michael Baden, the chief forensic pathologist for the HSCA, testified before the HSCA that an examination of the photographs and X-rays of the brain and a description of the brain by autopsy surgeons did not indicate "any injury of the brain other than the extensive damage to the right upper part of the brain consistent with the upper track" of the bullet that entered the rear of the president's head.
In other words, there was absolutely no evidence of any second bullet entering the president's head. So finding the "missing brain" would not have any evidentiary value.
The majority of the HSCA forensic pathology panel (eight of the nine members, the exception being Dr. Cyril Wecht) concluded that "the documentation that is available—[photographs of the body and the uncut brain, X-rays, and autopsy and physician reports]—are sufficient to permit accurate evaluation of the gunshot injury to the head and brain, and . . . [proper] examination of the brain itself would only further confirm the panel's conclusion that one, and only one, bullet struck the President's head from behind." [7 HSCA 137]
On February 13, 2002, I called Dr. Wecht, who in assassination literature is the leading proponent of the position that the president's brain, if it could be found, could unlock all kinds of mysteries in the Kennedy assassination. Dr. Wecht told the Washington Post's Michael Isikoff that "there's something very sinister" about the brain's disappearance, adding that "it's the most important piece of physical evidence in the case."
Wecht agreed with me, as he had to, that all forensic pathologists, including himself, who either physically examined the president's head or looked at X-rays and photographs of it, agreed that the only entrance wound discernible from the physical examination and the X-rays and photographs was a wound to the upper right rear of the president's head, meaning the shot came from the rear.
I then asked Dr. Wecht, "Doctor, since the wound to the back of the president's head was an entrance wound, meaning the bullet would have had to travel from the back of the president's head to the front, how would it be physically possible for the brain itself to reflect that the bullet actually came from a different direction?"
Wecht responded, "Well, of course, it could not. I agree that the brain could only show that that bullet passed from the back of the president's head to the front."
"So then you agree, do you not," I said, "that finding the president's brain would not have any evidentiary value?"
"No," Dr. Wecht said, proceeding to reprise a position he had taken with me in an earlier conversation. "The brain," he said, "could show a second track through the president's brain from a second missile entering the right side of the president's head in the area of the large exit wound."
But since there's absolutely no evidence that this ever took place, and even Dr. Wecht agrees that such a bullet (if it were a normal bullet) would have had to penetrate into the left hemisphere of the president's brain, and Wecht agrees the left side of the president's brain "was intact," the bottom line is that even if the president's brain were to be found, it would not have any evidentiary value.
Dr. Wecht did point out a theoretical value the brain could have. It could help determine where, based on the path of the bullet through the president's brain, the shooter was located to Kennedy's rear. But all the evidence, including, but not limited to, the trajectory studies, shows that the bullet came from the vicinity of the sniper's nest window. And we know from the physical evidence (e.g., Oswald's Mannlicher-Carcano, his finger and palm prints, etc.) that Oswald fired the rifle. There's no evidence the bullet was fired, for instance, from a lower floor in the Book Depository Building or from the Dal-Tex Building to the president's rear.
As a side note, if Senator Robert Kennedy came into possession of his brother's brain, as appears likely, what did he do with it to make it inaccessible to others? For years, there have been rumors that when President Kennedy's body was moved from its temporary site and reinterred at a new and permanent granite and marble site at Arlington National Cemetery under floodlights on the evening of March 14, 1967, the brain was placed in the president's grave.
In a photo at the grave site (see photo section [in "Reclaiming History"]), Robert and Edward Kennedy stand between the Eternal Flame on their left and a curious box to their right. No one knows what this box's purpose at the grave site was, or what it contained, if anything, but the speculation is that it contained the president's brain. The subject photograph surfaced after the HSCA concluded its investigation in 1979, but the HSCA did interview the few people (it was a very private ceremony that the press was not privy to) who were present at the grave site, and they could not recall any additional package or material being placed in the grave.
John Metzler, the superintendent of the cemetery, now deceased, told the HSCA that the coffin was in a sealed vault. He was present throughout the entire process—from the opening of the old grave site through the transfer by crane of the vault to the reinterment at the new site—and said there was no way anyone could have placed anything in the coffin or vault without his seeing it, and no one placed anything in the new grave site.
Robert Tanenbaum, the chief assistant to Richard Sprague, the first chief counsel for the HSCA, told me that in a personal conversation he had years ago with Frank Mankiewicz, Robert F. Kennedy's press secretary and close confidant, Mankiewicz told him that he was present at the grave site when JFK's body was reburied, and that Bobby Kennedy had "put Jack's brain in the coffin." [Interview of Robert Tanenbaum by author (Bugliosi) on January 31, 1991.]
When I asked Mankiewicz about this, he denied expressly telling Tanenbaum this, though he conceded talking to Tanenbaum about the president's brain and further acknowledged that he may have speculated to Tanenbaum that this could have happened. But since Mankiewicz was at the grave site, his "speculation" position doesn't have nearly the believability it would have if he hadn't been present, and it is unlikely that someone of Tanenbaum's stature would have misunderstood what Mankiewicz told him about such an important matter.
Mankiewicz told me, "I do believe that the president's brain was reburied with the president when his body was moved from its temporary grave to its permanent one," adding, however, that he had no firsthand knowledge of this. [Telephone interview of Frank Mankiewicz by author (Bugliosi) on February 8, 2001.]
Mankiewicz told the HSCA's G. Robert Blakey in 1978 that after the reinterment, Edward Kennedy "seemed" to confirm that the brain was buried in the grave site, but when I asked Mankiewicz to elaborate on this, he said, "I honestly just don't recall either Ted confirming this in any way, or telling Blakey this."
If, indeed, Robert Kennedy somehow placed the president's brain in the president's coffin when the president was reburied, we have a situation where the dead president was not "taking a secret to his grave," but someone else's secret."
-- Vincent Bugliosi; Pages 429-434 of "Reclaiming History"
David Von Pein
March 12-13, 2015