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HSCA Medical Interviews

The House Select Committee on Assassinations taped several interviews with some of those involved in the Kennedy's treatment at Parkland Hospital in Dallas and the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Medical Center, and others involved in some way with the Kennedy medical evidence.

For some of these recordings, transcripts are available. This is a near-complete set of available HSCA medical interview recordings (missing here, but available at the National Archives, is an interview with Dr. Cyril Wecht).

Autopsy Doctors

James Humes and J. Thorton Boswell,
16 Sep 1977

Reel 1, Side 1 (32:39)
Reel 1, Side 1B (24:27)
Reel 1, Side 2 (42:48)
Reel 1, Side 2A (01:59)
Reel 1, Side 2B (10:26)
Reel 2 (14:03)

transcript

(ARRB MD 20)
Dr. Humes and Dr. Boswell, two of the three medical doctors who performed the autopsy on the body of President Kennedy, testified together to the HSCA's medical panel. Much of their testimony is taken up with the controversy over the location of the entry wound into the skull. In this interview, both Humes and Boswell remain adamant about a location near the external occiptal protuberance (eop), low in the skull, despite being unable to adequately locate this wound on any of the autopsy photographs. The medical panel seemed equally persistent that the entry wound must be higher, near the cowlick. A year later, Dr. Humes appeared in the HSCA public hearings and publicly disavowed the lower eop location, though his retraction seemed half-hearted. Later in a 1993 article for the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Humes re-affirmed the original location. The other doctors, Boswell and Finck, had never wavered from their original contention.

Pierre Finck, 11 Mar 1978

Reel 1, Side 1 (43:25)
Reel 1, Side 2 (30:43)
Reel 1, Side 2B (12:15)
Reel 2 (21:58)

transcript

(ARRB MD 30)
Dr. Finck was interviewed twice by the HSCA medical panel, once on March 11, 1978, and a second time on the following day at Finck's request. Dr. Finck, like Dr. Humes and Boswell before him, argued with the medical panel about the location of tne skull entry wound. Also at issue in the interview were restrictions placed on the autopsy, which Dr. Finck said were coming "from the family." Finck said he was unable to remember the answers to to many questions, such as when the back wound was discovered, whether abdominal organs were removed, when Dr. Humes learned of the throat wound from Dallas, and the name of the Army General who ordered him not to dissect the neck organs.

This testimony was not published in the HSCA's medical report, but was released along with other HSCA materials in the wake of the 1992 JFK Assassination Records Collection Act.

Pierre Finck, 12 Mar 1978

Side 1 (22:53)
Side 1B (19:21)
Side 2 (19:56)

transcript

(ARRB MD 33)
These recordings are from the second day of Dr. Finck's appearance before the HSCA medical panel. This testimony was not published in the HSCA's medical report, but was released along with other HSCA materials in the wake of the 1992 JFK Assassination Records Collection Act.

The transcript of this interview ends abruptly at a point just prior to the end of the first tape segment. The second two tape segments are untranscribed.

Others Present at the Autopsy

John Ebersole, 11 Mar 1978

Reel 1, Side 1 (22:49)
Reel 1, Side 1B (19:23)
Reel 1, Side 2 (42:11)
Reel 2 (25:38)

transcript

(ARRB MD 60)
Dr. John Ebersole was Acting Chief of Radiology at Bethesda Naval Hospital on November 22, 1963. Assisted by Jerrol Custer and Edward Reed, he was responsible for the taking of X-rays at the autopsy of President Kennedy. Ebersole's testimony before the HSCA medical panel began with a lengthy prepared statement which included not only the events of the autopsy, but also curious circumstances following it. Ebersole described how he participated in the making of a Kennedy bust by taking measurements on the X-rays and phoning in various figures to a Dr. Young at the White House, using coded phrases like "Aunt Margaret's skirts needed the following change."

Ebersole also told the HSCA medical panel that communications between Dr. Humes and Parkland Hospital regarding the neck wound took place during the autopsy, not the following morning. He was also puzzled by the autopsy photos, having remembered "more of a gaping occipital wound than this."

Dr. Ebersole passed away before the ARRB began taking medical depositions, and so did not testify before that body.

Richard Lipsey, 18 Jan 1978

Reel 1, Side 1A (22:50)
Reel 1, Side 1B (19:36)
Reel 1, Side 2A (22:59)
Reel 1, Side 2B (19:11))
Reel 2 (11:13)

No transcript available.

(But see interview report at ARRB MD 87).
In 1963, Richard Lipsey was military aide to General Wehle, Commanding General of the Military District of Washington. In this role, it became Lipsey's job to transport the body of President Kennedy from Andrews Air Force Base to Bethesda Naval Hospital for autopsy. In a stunning revelation that elicited few questions from HSCA staffers, Lipsey described how a "decoy" hearse had been driven to the front of the hospital along with Jackie Kennedy, and the hearse with Kennedy's body had driven to the rear of the morgue. This interview provides powerful corroboration for the thesis of military control over the body of JFK first elucidated in David Lifton's Best Evidence.

Lipsey also had interesting things to say about JFK's wounds, insisting that there was a third wound in addition to the back wound and skull wound. The location Lipsey gave for this third wound matches the location of a spot near the hairline which appears in autopsy photos. The HSCA medical panel deemed this spot to be a splotch of brain tissue.

Tom Robinson, 2 Jan 1977

Audio (28:19)

transcript Tom Robinson was a mortician who worked on the body of President Kennedy following the autopsy, preparing it for burial. He was interviewed by HSCA staff members Andy Purdy and Jim Conzelman early on, during the era when Richard Sprague still headed the HSCA. Mr Robinson described a large rear head wound, "directly behind the back of his head." He also observed what appeared to be a small wound in the right temple.

John Van Hoesen, undated

Audio (16:55)

No transcript available. John Van Hoesen was, along with Tom Robinson, one of four Gawler's employees who prepared Kennedy's body for burial at the conclusion of the autopsy. He described for the HSCA his memories of the evening and of Kennedy's wounds, including a large wound in the posterior of the skull.

Parkland Hospital Doctors

Malcolm Perry, 11 Jan 1978

Audio (33:01)

transcript

(ARRB MD 58)
Dr. Perry described for HSCA staffers Purdy and Flanagan his actions and observations at Parkland Hospital on 22 Nov 1963. Perry described Kennedy's anterior neck wound and the tracheostomy he performed on it, as well as the "parietal occipital head wound" from which brain tissue, including cerebellar tissue, was seen. The interview also included discussion of Perry's contacts with autopsy physician Dr. Humes at Bethesda Hospital. Dr. Perry was hesitant to be definitive on many of his observations, possibly because of previous "conjecture that got me in a lot of trouble before."

George Shires, 9 Jan 1978

Audio (20:08)

transcript

(7 HSCA 336 - see also interview report at 7 HSCA 333).
Dr. Shires, who was involved in the treatment of Governor Connally, was interviewed on that subject. The location of the fragment embedded in Connally's leg, whether in bone or near the skin surface, was discussed. Shires was also asked whether all Connally's wounds could have been caused by a single bullet, to which he answered "They could." Asked whether this was likely, his reply was "No."
James Carrico, 11 Jan 1978

Audio (24:47)

transcript

(7 HSCA 266)
Dr. Carrico was part of the Parkland Hospital team who tried to revive President Kennedy. Carrico observed the anterior neck wound firsthand before Dr. Perry performed a tracheostomy through it. He was also involved in the insertion of chest tubes and the attempt to get circulation going.

Other Interviews

Robert Knudsen, 11 Aug 1978

Reel 1, Side 1 (45:48)
Reel 1, Side 2 (01:34)
Reel 1, Side 2A (00:46)
Reel 2, Side 1 (22:53)
Reel 2, Side 2 (05:34)

transcript

(ARRB MD 135)
Robert Knudsen was a White House photographer during the Kennedy administration. In this interview conducted by HSCA staff members Andy Purdy and Mark Flanagan, Knudsen recounted his role in the developing of Kennedy autopsy photographs, including the making of sever sets of prints and their delivery to the White House. Knudsen also distinctly remembered seeing photographs which featured metal probes through the body, and was distressed that there were no such photos in the official set.

The audio recordings available here, taken directly from tapes at the National Archives, do not feature the voice of Robert Knudsen. They have the appearance of being the voice of a female stenographer transcribing the interview as it occurred, with pauses at appropriate points. Furthermore, sections of the tape have been overwritten. Reel 1, Side 2 begins with more of the Knudsen stenographer, but then switches to some completely different material relating to small business tax laws. Reel 1, Side 2A is identical to Reel 1, Side 2. The last minute of Reel 2, Side 2 features the same stenographer's voice, reading material unrelated to the Knudsen testimony.

What makes the lack of real interview audio distressing is the ARRB interview of Knudsen's wife and children, who told the ARRB that Mr. Knudsen was upset that he had never received a copy of his HSCA testimony, and who further related stories that are at odds with both the official autopsy records and with this HSCA testimony. For instance, Robert Knudsen told his family that he photographed the autopsy.

Regis Blahut, 11 Jul 1978 and 13 Jul 1978

Reel 1 (43:35)
Reel 2 (37:23)

No transcript available. Regis Blahut, a CIA security official assigned to the HSCA, was interviewed regarding a security breach in the Committee's secure room. Autopsy photographs had been found out of the safe and in one case out of its plastic sleeve, and Blahut became the focus of the investigation. In the first interview, Blahut admitted to leafing through the autopsy photo booklet on one occasion. In the second interview, he admitted to additional occurrences, and also that he had discussed his observations with CIA personnel. He was informed by Gary Cornwell of the HSCA that his statements were still inconsistent with the evidence -- Blahut's fingerprints had been found on the safe and on autopsy photographs themselves (not just the sleeves).

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