I recently met a woman born on the very day of Kennedy’s assassination, Erica fervently desires to learn who really killed him. Proving that even with the passage of 50-years, the conspiracy of a single shooter will never die.
The Warren Commission may have gotten off to an ill advised beginning. During Naval pathologist Doctor Humes’ testimony, they were shown exhibit 385, a hand drawing of a bowed head with a penetrating dart to illustrate the trajectory of the Kill Shot. The illustration, drawn without access to autopsy photos or x-rays, by Corpsman Rydberg in collaboration with Commanders Humes and Boswell, has the character’s eyes looking straight down toward Kennedy’s feet. If his head had been in this position when the Kill Shot was fired, it had to have come from high and behind. Likely from the 6th floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building, where Lee Harvey Oswald had his sniper’s nest.
However, the cleared-up frame 313 of Zapuder’s film shows Kennedy’s head raised with him staring diagonally forward.
According to Doctor Humes, “The Kill Shot entered “the right posterior portion of the scalp…situated approximately 2.5 centimeters to the right and slightly above the external occipital protuberance, which is a bony prominence situated in the posterior portion of everyone’s skull. The third obvious wound at the time of the examination was a huge defect over the right side of the skull…. However, the skull was intact completely past this defect…. …multiple minute fragments of radio opaque material transversing a line from the wound in the occiput to just above the right eye. …more likely moving in a direct line.”
The Kill shot trajectory was almost level. Therefore, it could not have come from the height of any 6th floor. Experts have proven that it was possible for Oswald to have gotten off three shots in eight seconds. It was impossible, however, for him to get off the almost simultaneous final two shots in less…than two seconds.
We have Colin McLaren to thank for his detailed analysis in JFK The Smoking Gun. He asserted that Oswald could not have fired the Kill Shot. Among his revelations based on numerous eyewitness accounts were:
- Oswald withdrew his rifle from the window after firing only two 6.6mm bullets. McLaren explained that one spent shell, found separate from the other two on the 6th floor of the Depository, likely came from a prior use of the weapon. This practice, to leave a spent shell in their weapon, is followed by most hunters.
- Gun smoke, which could not have drifted down from a tall building, was visible to sight and smell. Therefore a weapon was discharged at or near ground level. According to McLaren, the Kill Shot came from the AR-15 handled by Secret Service Agent George Hickey from his position behind the driver in the follow up car.
- Based on his decades of experience as an Australian homicide detective, he declared that different type bullets struck Kennedy’s neck and head. The neck shot came from the 6.6mm shells used by Oswald, which passed through cleanly and perhaps wounded Governor Connally. Whereas the head shot came from a .223 (5.6mm) frangible shell, a type used by Hickey, which fragmented after penetrating Kennedys’ skull, causing a huge exit wound above his right eye.
- A 6.6mm bullet would have made a wider entry wound than the 6.0mm Kill Shot wound measured by both Doctors Perry in Dallas and Hume at Bethesda.
If not Oswald then who?
When you have eliminated all which is impossible,
then whatever remains, however improbable,
must be the truth.
Arthur Conan Doyle
I part company with McLaren, regarding his remote possibility, that the brand new addition to the presidential protection team, inexperienced Secret Service Agent George Hickey accidently fired the shot that killed Kennedy. I don’t, however, contest the strong possibility that Hickey accidently fired the AR-15, a weapon in use for the very first and last time by the Secret Service. Based on one of his early statements, Hickey probably didn’t realize his weapon was prepared for eminent use. As Agent Kellerman affirmed, “This is a rifle, and it was on all movements … it is out of its case, she is ready to go.”
But, what are the odds? Kennedy was seated in the third seat of a limousine moving at 8- to 10-miles an hour. Hickey, surrounded by five passengers plus four Secret Service Agents standing on running boards, had to pull out a loaded rifle and get off a wild shot. A shot that squarely hit the head of the very person he was assigned to protect with his life.
Even though Hickey had the perfect trajectory, I would attribute his errant shot to be the unexplained ricochet that wounded James Tague. Tague was standing over the length of a football field distant at the bridge abutment of the Elm Street triple underpass.
In a city where schoolchildren booed whenever Kennedy’s name was mentioned, where according to Bill O’Reilly in Killing Kennedy, “30% of the population hated…hated the President,” there was no lack of potential assassins. My gut tells me that a trained killer fired from either the fire escape or from a lower floor of the Dal-Tex Building. A high rise situated at the corner of Elm and Houston, directly in line with Kennedy’s moving limo.
It’s long past time we give Oswald his place in history, and move on to identifying the real killer.