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The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 8


The Kennedy Assassination Series:

The Kennedy Casket Conspiracy, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Shot That Killed Kennedy, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 1, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 2, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 3, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 4, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 5, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 6 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 7 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 8 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 9 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 10 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 11 by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 12 by Jacob G. Hornberger


One of the most fascinating aspects of the U.S. military’s autopsy of President John F. Kennedy’s body concerns the examination of Kennedy’s brain. The overwhelming weight of the circumstantial evidence establishes that (1) there were two separate brain examinations and (2) the brain that was examined the second time was not that of John F. Kennedy.

A detailed account of this evidence is found on pages 3547 of volume 1 (JFK’s Post-Autopsy Brain Exam: A Major Deception) and in chapter 10 (Two Brain Examinations Coverup Confirmed) of volume III of Douglas P. Horne’s five-volume book Inside the Assassination Records Review Board.

This article is based on the information found in Horne’s book.

Horne served as chief analyst for military records for the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). It was he and ARRB general counsel Jeremy Gunn who made the discovery of the two separate brain examinations. Horne explains the significance of the discovery

This discovery is the single most significant smoking gun indicating a government coverup with the medical evidence surrounding President Kennedy’s assassination, and is a direct result of the JFK Records Act, which in turn was fathered by the film JFK. Without Oliver Stones movie, and the legislation generated as a response to the controversy engendered by the film, this discovery would not have been possible. The JFK Act forced the release, in August 1993, of the HSCA [House Select Committee on Assassinations] staffs previously withheld medical witness interviews; when these previously suppressed interviews were liberated, and married with Hume’s Warren Commission testimony and Dr. Finck’s summary reports to General Blumberg, the timeline indicating that two separate brain examinations took place became blatantly obvious to me. Without the HSCA interview reports, my hypothesis would never have been formulated. Furthermore, the JFK Records Act created the ARRB, and it was our depositions of Drs. Humes, Boswell, and Finck; photographer John Stringer; and former FBI agent Francis ONeill as well as our unsworn interview of mortician Tom Robinson that confirmed my suspicions, and transformed a hypothesis into incontrovertible fact. (Horne, volume III, page 778; information in brackets added.)

Keep in mind that the HSCA had ordered that much of its records be kept sealed from the American people for 50 years, and that prior to that the Warren Commission had ordered much of its records be kept sealed from the American people for 75 years. The JFK Records Act, which was enacted in the wake of Oliver Stones movie, brought an end to those orders of secrecy.

Moreover, as I pointed out in Part 2 of this series, Horne points out that even after the HSCA officially released military personnel who had participated in the autopsy from the oaths of secrecy that the U.S. military had required them to sign immediately after the autopsy,

the military did not give in easily. On November 3, 1977 Deanne C. Siemer of the DOD Office of General Counsel sent a letter to HSCA Chief Counsel Robert Blakey refusing to rescind the order not to talk, since the record with respect to the autopsy is complete and has been preserved intact.

After the military came to the realization, however, that Congress, not the military, makes the final decisions in such matters, the Surgeon General of the Navy, VADM W.P. Arentzen mailed out letters rescinding the gag order to the last known addresses of the personnel concerned (Horne, volume I, page 171.)

The ARRB’s discovery of the two separate brain examinations in the Kennedy autopsy was reported in the following two articles published in 1998 in the Washington Post:

Newly Released JFK Documents Raise Questions About Medical Evidence by Deb Riechmann (Associated Press, November 9, 1998.)

Archive Photos Not of JFK’s Brain, Concludes Aide to Review Board by George Lardner Jr. (Washington Post, November 10, 1998).

The evidence indicates that the first brain examination took place within a few days of Kennedy’s assassination, most likely on the morning of Monday, November 25, the day of Kennedy’s funeral, and that the second brain examination took place a week or more after the assassination.

What led Horne and Gunn to conclude that there had actually been two brain examinations rather than only one, as reflected in the official autopsy record?

Among the several factors leading to the discovery, as detailed in the section of Horne’s book referenced above, were the following five:

First, testimony by the attendees at the brain examinations indicated that there were two separate examinations.

Navy photographer John Stringer (who had been the official photographer for Kennedy’s November 22 autopsy) confirmed that he was present at the brain examination but denied that Army pathologist Pierre Finck was there. Finck, on the other hand, confirmed that he too was present at the brain examination but denied that Stringer was there.

That caused Horne and Gunn to suspect that there were actually two separate brain examinations, one that included Stringer and a later one that included Finck. Both examinations involved Navy pathologists James Humes and J. Thornton Boswell (who, along with Finck, had been the official pathologists for Kennedy’s November 22 autopsy).

Second, the timeline of the brain examinations indicated that there were two separate examinations.

In an interview conducted by the HSCA in 1977, Boswell stated that the brain examination took place two or three days after the November 22 autopsy. When the HSCA interviewed Stringer, he too stated that the brain had been examined two or three days after the autopsy. In his testimony before the ARRB, Humes stated that the brain examination had occurred one or two days after the autopsy.

However, in a 1965 report to U.S. Army Brigadier General Joseph Blumberg, Finck wrote, CDR Humes called me on 29 Nov 63 that the three prosectors would examine the brain at the Naval Hospital.

When the ARRB deposed Finck, he testified as follows:

Gunn: Again, I am not asking you to tell me exactly, but I’m just asking whether you remember whether it was within a day or two or whether it was within a week or two?

Finck: Oh, it was not a day or two. That’s too short.


Gunn: Drs. Humes and Boswell, when they testified to the Review Board, had an initial recollection that they had done a supplementary examination within two or three days after the autopsy. There is no evidence that you were present as far as I am aware in a supplementary examination within two or three days after the autopsy. Do you have any knowledge whether there was more than one supplementary examination of the brain?

Finck: [frowning, looking deeply troubled] No. (Horne, volume III, page 795; brackets in original)

Third, testimony regarding the sectioning of the brain was different.

Stringer testified that at the brain examination he attended, the brain had been cut into sections to determine the track of the bullet, which is the standard operating procedure for autopsies. Finck, on the other hand, stated that there was no sectioning of the brain at the brain examination that he attended.

Consider the following testimony by Stringer before the ARRB:

Gunn: What happened during the supplementary exam, if you could describe the process?

Stringer: They took it out, and put it on the table, and describe it [sic] as to the condition, too some sections of it. We took some pictures of it. I had a copy board there with the light coming down from the well, from underneath and with the lights down on it, and shot pictures of the brain.

Gunn: As it was being sectioned?

Stringer: Yes.

Gunn: Were the sections small pieces, or cross sections of the brain?

Stringer: If I remember, it was cross sections.

Gunn: And what was the purpose of doing the cross section of the brain?

Stringer: To show the damage. (Horne, volume III, page 785)

As Horne points out, Finck, on the other hand, wrote in the Blumberg Report that the brain he examined was not serially sectioned.

Fourth, the photographs of the brain in the official autopsy records were not the photographs taken by Stringer during the brain examination that he photographed.

Consider this testimony by Stringer before the ARRB:

Gunn: Based upon these being basilar views of a brain and based upon there being no identification cards, are you able to identify with certainty whether these photographs before you are photographs of the brain of President Kennedy?

Stringer: No, I couldn’t say that they were President Kennedy’s. I mean, there’s no identification. All I know is, I gave everything to Jim Humes, and he gave them to Admiral Burkley.


Gunn: Okay. When you took the black and white photographs of the brain of President Kennedy, did you use a press pack?

Stringer: No.

Gunn: Can you identify from the negatives in front of you whether those photographs are from a press pack? And Im referring to numbers 9, 21, and 22.

Stringer: I think they are. Yes.

Gunn: Would it be fair to say, then, that by your recollection, that the black and white negatives in front of you now were not taken by you during the supplementary autopsy of President Kennedy?

Stringer: Correct. This is Ansco.

Gunn: When you say, This is Ansco, what do you mean?

Stringer: This is Ansco film.

Gunn: What is Ansco film?

Stringer: Well, its a super high pan. And I think its from a film pack.


Gunn: Did you ever use Ansco film yourself in conducting medical photography?

Stringer: Not very often.

Gunn: Did you use Ansco film in the taking the autopsy

Stringer: Not as far as I know.

Gunn: photographs of President Kennedy?

Gunn: Not as far as I know. (Horne, volume III, pages 806809)

Horne summarizes the significance of Stringers testimony regarding the photographs of the brain:

Summarizing, John Stringer testified that the brain photographs in the Archives could not be the ones he took because (1) the black and white negatives placed before him at the deposition were numbered proving that there were from a film pack instead of unnumbered, as were all of the portrait pan duplex films he remembered using; (2) the black and white negatives shown to him had no identifying notches in the corner of each negative, as all portrait pan negatives should have had; (3) the color positive transparency images of a brain in the Archives did not have the same identifying notches in the corner of each slide that the Ektachrome E3 slides did; (4) the official collection of brain photographs contained basilar, or inferior views of the intact brain, whereas he did not shoot any basilar views of President Kennedys brain; and (5) the deed-of-gift brain photographs did not contain any images of serial sections, which in 1996 he vividly remembered seeing dissected, and which he remembered photographing himself at the brain examination, using a light box. (Horne, volume III, page 810)

Fifth, the condition of the brain, as depicted in the official photographs, is inconsistent with the actual damage to the brain caused by the head shot.

As Horne points out, the average weight of a normal male brain is about 1350 grams (Horne, volume III, page 833.) But the Supplementary Autopsy Report, as well as Fincks official report to General Blumberg, reported the weight of Kennedys brain to be 1500 grams.

Why is that a problem?

Because most everyone concedes that a large portion of Kennedys brain was blown out by the head shot that ended his life. Thus, even with the increase in weight from the solution in which the brain was stored, its not enough to make up for the large amount of brain mass lost as a result of the bullet that blasted through Kennedys head.

Horne points out that one of the physicians who treated Kennedy at Parkland Hospital, Dr. Robert McClelland, estimated under oath, in 1964, that at least one third of the brain was missing when President Kennedy was treated at Parkland Hospital.

When former FBI agent Francis X. ONeill, who was present during the autopsy, saw the brain outside the cranium, he estimated the percentage of missing brain to be much higher, as reflected in the following testimony he gave before the ARRB:

Gunn: Do you have any sense of what percentage of the brain was missing at the time it was removed from the cranium?

ONeill: Im saying this now, 38 years afterwards or something like that 33 years afterwards, 34 years afterwards. It was Oh, well more than half of the brain was missing.


Gunn: Okay. Could we now see the eighth view, what has been described as the basilar view of the brain, color photograph no.46. And let me say, in the way of preface, these photographs have been identified as having been taken of President Kennedys brain at some time after the autopsy after they had been set in formalin. Can you identify that in any reasonable way as appearing to be the what the brain looked like of President Kennedy?

ONeill: No.

Gunn: In what regards does it appear to be different?

ONeill: It appears to be too much.

Gunn: Could we now look Let me ask a question. If you could elaborate a little bit on what you mean by it appears to be too much?

ONeill: This looks almost like a complete brain. Or am I wrong on that? I dont know. In all honesty, I cannot say it looks like the brain I saw, quite frankly I As I described before, I did not recall it being that large. If other people say that this is what happened, so be it. To me, I dont recall it being that large. (Horne, volume III, pages 815817.)

Why was the brain examination so important in the Kennedy autopsy? Because by tracking the damage done by the bullet, the brain examination could detect whether the bullet entered from the front or from the back of Kennedys head. The official autopsy photographs of what purports to be Kennedys brain the photographs that Navy photographer John Stringer said were not the ones he took of the brain are consistent with a shot into the back of Kennedys head.

Important questions obviously arise: Why did the military deem it necessary to conduct a second brain examination, one that the evidence indicates involved a brain that did not belong to Kennedy? What did the first examination of Kennedys brain the one that Stringer photographed reveal? Why would the U.S. military engage in what would seem to be very nefarious conduct in the autopsy of a president of the United States?

Well explore those questions later, but now lets return to my articles The Kennedy Casket Conspiracy and The Shot That Killed Kennedy and explore the secret, early delivery of the presidents body to the Bethesda morgue in the context of the gunshot that hit Kennedy in the head. It will be convenient for the reader to read those two articles before my next segment, The Kennedy Autopsy, Part 9, is posted.

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.