JFK: The Death of a Conspiracy


There is a plethora of conspiracy theories regarding the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy. They range from the incumbent of the former Soviet Union to organized crime. Pro-conspiracy
groups are in agreement with one theory; the United States government covered up the truth of the
assassination. The premise of a government conspiracy to cover up of the assassination is laden with
insufficient evidence and unproved theories. The truth of the matter is President Kennedy was assassinated
by the lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.
On November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m., President Kennedy was shot as his motorcade drove
through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. He was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital and arrived at 12:35
p.m.. The awaiting medical team rushed the President into one of the trauma rooms. According to Artwohl,
“the doctors were not aware of the massive head damage because the huge flap of frontal scalp that was
loosened from the head was held in place by the clotting of the blood on the scalp. This concealed the
degree of the wound. They were desperate to save the life of the President and examined him quickly
without taking the time...to wash off the blood and debris” (1542). The doctors removed the President’s
clothing to check the body for other wounds. While Dr. Perry began the tracheostomy, Dr. Jenkins
recalled, that Mrs. Kennedy was circling the room with something “cupped” in her hands. As Mrs.
Kennedy passed by, she nudged Jenkins with her elbow and handed him “a large chunk o!
f her husband's brain.” Dr. Jenkins took the brain matter and handed it to a nurse (Breo 2806). The
Parkland Hospital staff worked for twenty-five minutes on the President to no avail. Dr. Clark, who arrived
in the trauma room at 12:50 p.m., pronounced the President dead at 1:00 p.m. (2804,6).
The President’s body was then wrapped in sheets, placed in a casket, loaded onto a waiting hearse,
and transported to the airport. The body was then placed on board Air Force One, the presidential plane,
where Mrs. Kennedy and the newly sworn in President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, departed for Washington
D.C.
While the body of the President was on its way to Washington, Bethesda Naval Hospital made
preparations to receive it. The three doctors chosen to do the autopsy were Commander James Humes,
M.D., director of labs at the Naval Medical School in Bethesda; Commander “J” Thorton Boswell, M.D.,
chief of Pathology at Bethesda Naval Hospital, and Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Finck, M.D., chief of the
Wound Ballistic Pathology Branch at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (A.F.I.P.) (1749,2794,5,8).
In addition to the three pathologists, there were two Navy enlisted men who served as autopsy technicians,
three radiologists, and two photographers. One of the photographers was Bethesda's medical school chief
of photography, John Stringer (2797). Dr. Humes was told personally by Rear Admiral Kenney, Surgeon
General of the Navy, to “find the cause of death” (2796). According to Breo, Drs. Humes and Boswell
thought that the autopsy should be done by the A.F.I.P., but later learned t!
hat Bethesda was chosen because Mrs. Kennedy requested it for the simple reason that her husband was a
Navy man (2803).
The President's body arrived in a bronze casket with the body unclothed, wrapped in sheets, and
the head wrapped “around and around” with gauze and bandages. Accompanying the body was the
President's wife, Jacqueline, his brother, Robert, and his personal physician, Rear Admiral Burkley. Robert
and Jacqueline went to the upper floor of the hospital to await the completion of the autopsy, while the
body was taken to the autopsy room. Upon arrival of the body, Drs. Humes and Boswell opened the casket,
removed the body, and began the autopsy (2797).
Present during the autopsy were Admiral Burkley, officials from the Federal Bureau of
Investigation
(F.B.I.), Secret Service agents, and the President's military aids from the Air Force, Army, and Navy
(2798).
The autopsy began with the doctors first noticing the massive head wound. According to Drs. Humes and
Boswell, “...it was a huge hole in the right side of the head that could only be caused by an exiting, high
velocity, missile. This missile exploded away a six-inch section on the right side of the head, with the