My most loyal readers (all 0 of you), may recall my longish essay from earlier this year about the Kennedy assassination. In that essay, I concluded from my research that the evidence was overwhelming that Lee Harvey Oswald was acting alone when he killed JFK.
I recently saw a new documentary on the History Channel that specifically focused on the shooting that took place in Dealey Plaza on that day. The purpose was to test - apparently for the first time - whether it would have been possible for gunmen to actually shoot Kennedy from the various locations around Dealey Plaza where witnesses reported hearing gunshots.
The majority of ear witnesses that day claimed to have heard 3 or fewer shots. Subsequently, Oswald's nest in the Texas School Book Depository was discovered with three empty shell casings on the floor. However, a number of ear witnesses claimed to have heard more than three shots, and many of these people said they thought the shots came from the now infamous "grassy knoll," situated ahead and to the right of Kennedy's car. Others believed they heard shots from directly in front of the car, and to the left of the car.
The documentary in question sought to use a highly-trained marksman to actually test these various locations to see if it would have been possible for someone to take a shot at Kennedy from any of those spots. Since only two bullets are known to have hit Kennedy, and the first was unquestionably fired from behind (it entered through his back), the primary focus of this investigation was to see if the final shot - the killing head shot - might have been fired from somewhere other than Oswald's nest. This is the shot, after all, that most conspiracy theorists point to when arguing for multiple gunmen.
Any of us who have read about the Kennedy assassination, and seen movies such as Oliver Stone's "JFK," will know that one of the primary arguments about the killing head shot is that the way Kennedy's body moves when he is hit, and the way the blood and matter was splattered upon impact, point to a shot from ahead, not behind. In "JFK," Kevin Costner's character, when making his case, famously shows the Kennedy assassination footage, pausing and rewinding at the moment of the fatal shot, repeating as he does so that Kennedy's body goes "back and to the left; back and to the left." This, the movie and other conspiracy theorists argue, is evidence that the shot came from ahead of Kennedy, not behind.
There were four spots in question that the documentary makers wanted to test. The first was on the other side of Main Street, on the lower right corner of this picture. The second was from the freeway overpass. The third was from behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll, and the last was from Oswald's nest on the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository.
An identical replica of Kennedy's car was used for the staging, along with actors inside the car sitting in the precise positions and postures of the original occupants (as taken from video and photographic evidence). The car was then parked at the spot where the killing shot occurred, and the marksman then went along to each of the four locations to see if a reasonable shot could have been taken.
The marksman very quickly ruled out the first two spots - behind Main Street and along the freeway overpass. Neither of these locations provided an angle to actually hit Kennedy at the moment and location where he was hit.
The third and fourth spots - the grassy knoll and the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depostitory - did provide reasonable angles to make a shot at Kennedy.
With the evidence of geometry narrowing the possibilities down to two locations, the team set out to actually make the shots and compare the results to what happened when Kennedy was hit.
If you can take the graphic nature of the Zapruder Film, take a look at this 47-second clip, showing the moments of the assassination. It has been modified to zero in on Kennedy, and is shown in slow motion.
You will notice that Kennedy is first hit just a split second before he reappears from behind the street sign. He is clutching at his throat. A few seconds later, the killing shot occurs. Indeed, when watching the video, it appears that the front part of Kennedy's head is hit, and he slumps back and to the left. Jackie Kennedy, in fact, crawls onto the trunk of the car in an effort to retrieve a piece of skull that was blown that direction - and how could a skull fragment go backward if the shot came from behind? It is easy to see - particularly in light of witnesses who claimed to hear a shot from the grassy knoll - why so many have always held to the idea that the killing shot came from the grassy knoll in front of Kennedy's car, not from Oswald's nest behind it.
With all these facts in mind, the documentary team went out to a shooting range and built a completely geometrically-accurate replica of Dealey Plaza. Using an identical replica mock-up of Kennedy's car, and using surveying equipment to pinpoint the distances and angles, they tested what actually happened that day. The car was sitting still, but they used an industrial fan to simulate the 22-25 mph winds that would have been blowing toward the car that day. Additionally, they used a company in Australia that specializes in recreating human body parts to design a human skull equivalent to the size, shape, and density of Kennedy's skull. This head, complete with replica bone, soft tissue, and brain matter, was then attached to a dummy, and the dummy was placed into the precise posture within the car that Kennedy was in when he was hit.
When the marksman made the shot that replicated a grassy knoll shot, there were several things that were wrong. First, the bullet entered the skull at a precise spot on the head's front right, passed through the brain, and exited the rear left. The point of entry showed little damage - merely a bullet-sized hole. But the rear left of the head was blown out, and brain matter and tissue sprayed all along the rear and left of the car. The bullet, in fact, imbedded in the rear seat, right in Jackie Kennedy's spot.
These are problems because none of these results match the known facts from the case. Kennedy had no wound at all on the left rear of his head. Instead, he had a small bullet hole behind his right ear, and a massive blow-out wound at the front right - which is consistent with what we observe on the video. Although lay people (read: conspiracy theorists) often do not realize it, the nature of a gunshot wound to the head is such that the entry wound is small, and the exit wound is large. While the blow-out we see on the video appears to the untrained eye to be the bullet entering Kennedy's skull, it is in fact the bullet exiting Kennedy's skull. Any forensic investigator can tell us that this is how gunshots to the head occur. Since the marksman's shot from the grassy knoll put a small hole in the front right, and a large, gaping wound in the rear left, it seems fairly apparent that the killing shot could not have come from that direction.
Added to that are the other two points - the location of the bullet after it exited Kennedy's head, and the location of the brain matter. The marksman's test showed that, based on where Jackie Kennedy was sitting when the killing shot was fired, if that shot had come from the grassy knoll, it would have exited Kennedy's head and entered Jackie Kennedy, wounding and potentially killing her, too. We know, of course, that this did not happen. What we do know, instead, is that Governor John Connelly, who was sitting in front of Kennedy, was hit by a bullet (or bullets) that passed through Kennedy's body.
Additionally, the spray of the brain matter in the test all went toward the back and left. However, while the Zapruder Film shows at least some matter going toward the back, eye-witness accounts of the interior of the car indicate that gore and blood were spattered primarily in the floor in front of Kennedy, and along his right passenger side door. These accounts come from witnesses at the hospital where Kennedy was taken - people who managed to catch a glimpse inside the car before it was cleaned. They all testified to essentially the same thing, and two of them were interviewed for the documentary in question.
Having more or less proven that the fatal head wound could not have come from the grassy knoll, the team performed one more test - a shot from the simulated 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository.
All the parameters were reset for this test, and the marksman took aim and fired. The bullet entered the rear right of the skull, and exited the front right of the skull. The entry wound was a small round hole, and the exit wound was a blow-out wound at the front right. The brain matter spread in all directions, including a piece of skull that flew onto the trunk of the car (as we see in the video), as well as splattering matter along the floor boards in front of Kennedy and along Kennedy's passenger door. Finally, the head is seen on the video footage to go back and to the left, despite the fact that the shot came from behind.
All of these results matched perfectly with what actually happened when Kennedy was shot. The two witnesses who personally saw the interior of the car were shown pictures of the experiment, and both agreed that the general location of the gore and brain matter was the same as what they saw inside Kennedy's car before it was cleaned out in front of the hospital that day.
Anyone who has spent time investigating this historical event will most likely already have come to the conclusion that Oswald fired all the shots. I made this conclusion in my previous essay, and I made many of the same arguments in that essay that I have outlined here (the entry wound/exit wound issue, for instance). This new documentary simply demonstrated, for the first time, that these arguments are, in fact, valid. These tests cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that no shots were fired from any other direction that day, but they can prove that the only shots that actually hit Kennedy could only have come from Oswald's nest.
That fact, together with all the other overwhelming evidence (which I went into in detail in my previous essay), proves for me - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that Oswald was acting entirely alone, that he made the only shots that were fired in Dealey Plaza that day, and that he was solely responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy.