Medical Evidence

Commission Exhibit 385, one of three representative drawings submitted by the autopsy doctors in lieu of photographs.
Drawing by Harold Rydberg.

The medical evidence in the JFK case may be gory and unpleasant, but its importance is hard to overstate. Defenders of the Warren Commission point out that several medical bodies have concluded that President Kennedy was struck by two shots, both from behind, and that this is powerful evidence implicating Oswald as the lone gunman. But each medical body in turn, while "supporting" previous conclusions, has overruled earlier findings of the most basic sort. The HSCA's prestigious medical panel, for instance, declared that the fatal shot which struck Kennedy’s skull was mis-measured by the autopsy team by about 4 inches!

The history of the amazing twists and turns in the medical evidence, starting with an abysmal secretive military autopsy, can and has filled several books. The Warren Commission posited a "single bullet theory" to explain all the wounds with three shots fired, and this idea has been subjected to much analysis and ridicule.

Other areas of controversy include the widely differing description of the wounds by participants and medical experts, missing autopsy photographs, and indeed the authenticity of autopsy materials including photos and X-rays. Controversial even among those who dispute the official medical findings is author David Lifton’s "body alteration" theory, which explains some of the medical puzzles by positing surreptitious pre-autopsy procedures.

The ARRB took new medical testimony from autopsy witnesses and others in the 1990s, and released formerly-secret HSCA medical depositions and documents. These eye-opening materials have altered the debate about the JFK medical evidence.

Single Bullet Theory - The Warren Commission posited a "single bullet theory" to explain all the non-fatal wounds with a single shot. Is this possible?

The Moving Head Wounds - Was there a large wound in the back of Kennedy's head - evidence of a frontal shot - as the Parkland Hospital doctors said? Where is the fatal entry wound, and why did the HSCA medical panel place it 4 inches away from where it was measured at the autopsy?

Autopsy Photos and X-Rays - Autopsy photos are missing, according to the participants themselves. Are all of those that remain authentic, including the ones which show no damage to the back of JFK's head?

Body Alteration? - David Lifton's Best Evidence claims that the President's body was diverted and surgically altered prior to the autopsy. Fantasy or evidence of a coup?

Connally Wounding - Were all of Governor Connally's wounds caused by a single bullet, and if so did that same bullet first pass through JFK, and later turn up on a hospital stretcher?

ARRB Medical Testimony - In the mid-1990's, the Assassination Records Review Board interviewed many medical witnesses and heard some eye-opening stories. What were they told?

The Missing Physician - The President's personal physician, George Burkley, was in the motorcade, was present at both Parkland Hospital and the Bethesda autopsy, signed the death certificate, verified autopsy papers, and apparently took charge of the President's brain (which then went missing). Why did the Warren Commission fail to interview him?



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

A History of the Medical Evidence, by Stewart Galanor.

The Medical Evidence, by John McAdams.

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

Lessons Learned From 40 Years of Coverup, by Rex Bradford.

Primary Sources: Autopsy, by Spartacus Educational.

Other Links

Medical Coverup. JFK medical resources at History Matters.

Medical Evidence. JFK medical resources at JFK Lancer.


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

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

FBI Report on the Autopsy. Sibert and O'Neill report of 26 Nov 1963 (ARRB Medical Document 44).

Warren Commission testimony of autopsy doctors Humes, Boswell, and Finck. Warren Commission Hearings and Exhibits, Volume II p.347.

Testimony of Parkland Hospital medical personnel. Warren Commission Volume VI.

HSCA Final Report medical conclusions. HSCA Report, p.41.

HSCA Report, Volume VII: Medical and Firearms Evidence.

ARRB Medical Depositions.

ARRB Master Set of Medical Exhibits.

Comments On This Page


    ARRB Medical Interviews. Taped interviews of autopsy participants and other medical witnesses, conducted by the Assassination Records Review Board.

    HSCA Medical Interviews. Taped interviews of autopsy participants and other medical witnesses, conducted by the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

    Books of Interest

        Trauma Room One: The JFK Medical Coverup Exposed
    Charles A. Crenshaw, MD, with J. Gary Shaw, D. Bradley Kizzia, JD, Gary Aguilar, MD, and Cyril Wecht, MD, JD
    Paraview Press, 2001
        Best Evidence
    David Lifton
    Carroll & Graf, 1980
        False Mystery: Essays on the Assassination of JFK
    Vincent J. Salandria
    Square Deal Press, 2004
        Post Mortem
    Harold Weisberg
    Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 1969, 1975, 2008
        Murder in Dealey Plaza
    James H. Fetzer, ed.
    Catfeet Press, 2000
        Kennedy and Lincoln
    John K. Lattimer
    Harcourt Brace Janovich, 1980
        Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why
    Gerald McKnight
    University of Kansas Press, 2005.

    © Mary Ferrell Foundation. All Rights Reserved. |Press Room |Our Policies||Site Map