The most controversial theory of the JFK assassination is that president Kennedy was killed in a deadly crossfire with multiple shots from both the front and the back. According to some prominent critics of the Warren Commission (WC), a “fraudulent” Bethesda autopsy–including pre-autopsy surgery–was necessary to “remove evidence of shots from the front” and to secure the notion that JFK was killed by a lone nut firing from the 6th floor School Book Depository.
Throat Wound at Parkland Hospital
There is no question that there was a small hole in JFK’s throat when he arrived in the ER at Parkland Hospital. Several Parkland doctors, including Dr. Carrico and Dr. Jones, saw the wound which was located just below the Adam’s Apple. Dr. Perry, who probably had the best look at the hole, described it as approximately 5mm in size with blood excluding from its edges. When he talked with Commander James Humes at Bethesda later that night, he said that the size of the neck wound was approximately 3-5mm. Dr. Perry then proceeded to insert his surgical knife at that site and enlarge the hole somewhat to accommodate a tracheotomy procedure.
At a press conference later that day–in response to questions from a reporter—Dr. Perry opined several times that the hole he enlarged appeared to have been caused by a bullet that had entered “from the front.” Dr. Charles Crenshaw, another ER doctor at Parkland, was even more emphatic many years later about what he saw on November 22nd. In several interviews that he gave in the 1990s, Crenshaw asserted that he clearly observed a classic entrance wound in JFK’s neck and that it was roughly the size of the tip of one’s finger.
However, when Dr. Perry testified before the Warren Commission, he hedged his November 22nd press conference opinion on the direction of the throat wound. Under intense questioning by Arlen Specter, Perry acknowledged that the initial hole that he saw “could have been either” an entrance or an exit wound. Dr. Perry admitted that he “did not examine it (the wound) very closely” and that “there was no way (for me) to determine from my examination as to exactly how accurately I could depict an entrance wound from an exit wound without ascertaining the trajectory.” And that “trajectory” could not have been determined, apparently, without some manual probing or with medical instruments or with the taking of X-rays; none of this was done at Parkland.
It appears that the most one can say with confidence about the throat wound (at Parkland) is that several doctors got a relatively brief look at a small, bloody wound in the throat under very strenuous conditions ( there was near “bedlam” in the ER according to Dr. Crenshaw); that both Perry and Crenshaw thought that the throat hole appeared to be an entrance wound; but that no one at Parkland photographed the wound or performed any other medical procedures that might have established beyond a reasonable doubt that the wound was one of entrance.
A Shot From the Grassy Knoll?
Now if a bullet from the front had entered JFK’s throat, where did it come from and where did it go? There has been intense speculation for almost 60 years that someone fired a rifle-shot at the president from the “grassy knoll” area behind the picket fence. Unfortunately for the crossfire theory proponents, however, no solid evidence has ever emerged for any grassy knoll shooter.
There are no reliable eyewitnesses to any shot or shooter from behind the picket fence. There are no photographs or video with any confident resolution that show any gunman in that area. Immediately after the president was struck and his car sped away, several bystanders and police officers ran up toward the knoll and quickly reached the parking lot area behind the picket fence; aside from someone there who allegedly flashed Secret Service credentials, they found nothing suspicious. There was no rifle, no spent shells, no lingering smell of gunpowder. I will allow that the throat wound could conceivably have come from a small caliber rifle-shot from the picket fence area; but there is no real evidence that there was such a shot.
Where Did the Bullet Go? (1)
Now If critics contend that a bullet entered the throat from the front, where did that bullet go? Any bullet entering at that point could have passed through JFK’s throat (doing substantial damage) and then out the back of his throat or neck area. Was there an exit wound in the back of the neck or upper back? Absolutely not. Did a bullet pass through and hit the motorcycle cop to the left-rear of the president’s car? No. Did that cop report a missile that just missed him or his cycle? No. Did bystanders on the curb to the left of the president’s car report that a bullet had passed or hit the ground near where they were standing? They didn’t.
Did the bullet somehow end up in the president’s seat cushion or fall out of his neck to the floor of the car? Apparently not; no such bullet was recovered from those locations. Did anyone in the president’s car report that they heard or saw a shot from the (right) front hit the president in the neck? No they didn’t. Did anyone in the Secret Service (SS) follow-up car (there were at least 8 people in that car just 5 to 6 feet behind) hear or see a shot from the (right) front hit the president? None of them reported that they did.
There is some speculation that a bullet could have passed through the front of JFK’s throat but that it did not exit the body; it could have been deflected either upward or downward and come to rest in the body somewhere. Actually Dr. Perry first offered that speculation (quite casually) at that November 22nd news conference since he didn’t observe any exit wound for the throat shot. And according to some crossfire proponents, one of the purposes of the pre-autopsy surgery at Bethesda was to retrieve such a bullet (or bullet fragments) and then remove evidence that such an entrance and deflection had occurred.
There is no doubt that the assassination contains many unsolved mysteries. And if a missile entered the throat and did not exit, its location in the body is certainly one of them. But to propose that a bullet through the neck was deflected somewhere in the body and then retrieved by clandestine pre-autopsy surgery is an extraordinary claim that would require extraordinary proof. Where is that proof? How do we substantiate that claim? If the Bethesda autopsy is to be believed at all (I know, I know), a cursory examination of the throat area was performed and some slight bruising of the trachea and upper lung was noted; but that is all. There is no report by the two FBI agents (Silbert and O’Neil) present at the autopsy that the doctors retrieved any bullets or fragments associated with the throat wound.
In addition, consider this. Crossfire and pre-autopsy proponents have always argued that the time-frame for any such surgery was relatively limited, somewhat less than an hour. That’s allegedly the time slot that begins when the president’s body arrives secretly in a plain shipping casket for pre-autopsy surgery; to the time that the body arrives (a second time) in the bronze ceremonial casket to begin the “official” autopsy. Yet if we accept that time frame, is it simply not reasonable to assume that pre-autopsy surgery was able to discover and remove a bullet or bullet fragments from a frontal throat shot and also accomplish all of the additional probing and surgery associated with other shots, including the massive head wound to the rear of the skull. Frankly, given the severe time constraints, that entire process sounds quite impossible.
Where Did the Bullet Go? (2)
There are several very sketchy reports that a bullet might have passed through the windshield and hit JFK in the throat area and that this windshield evidence was covered up. Yet if a (high-velocity?) bullet had hit the car windshield from the front, it most likely would have shattered it or damaged it severely…and well prior to the fatal head shot. No one saw that degree of damage to the windshield.
Yet there is witness and physical evidence that fragments of a bullet did strike the inside of the windscreen and also hit the chrome trim-piece above the glass inside the car. There are even several photographs of this modest inside-the-car damage. Moreover, there is the detailed testimony of Secret Service agent Roy Kellerman who said that he inspected the president’s car several days after the assassination. He told the WC that he examined both the inside and outside of the windshield with his fingers in the area of concern. He testified that the inside of the glass was clearly damaged with several spidery cracks but that the outside of the glass felt entirely smooth to the touch. There was no pass-through hole, small or otherwise, in the glass. If Kellerman is truthful here and if logic and photographs are to be believed, it is very unlikely that any bullet passed through the windscreen from the front and hit the president in the neck.
Where Did the Bullet Go? (3)
If the alleged bullet had exited far higher than the back of the throat (where there was no exit wound), it could quite possibly have blown out the rear of JFK’s head or exited through an already opened head wound from, say, another gun shot. Not possible. The massive back-of-the-head wound seen by all of the doctors at Parkland does not occur (on the Zapruder film and according to SS eye witness testimony) until many seconds after the alleged throat shot. Thus, a bullet entering the throat would have arrived far “too early” to be responsible for creating the massive wound to the rear of the President’s head or for exiting that area after having passed through the neck.
Finally, if there was a frontal bullet to the throat, some Secret Service agents in the president’s car and some of the SS agents in the car behind would likely have heard or seen such a shot. Yet, as already noted, no one in the president’s car or in the SS car behind JFK reported any shots from the front or experienced any evidence of an incoming missile passing through the President’s neck from front to back. Yet several of those very same Secret Service agents did hear what they thought was a shot or noise from the right-rear and did see a bullet hit JFK’s in the back below the collar near the right shoulder area. JFK’s jacket and shirt confirm a (bullet) penetration in that area.
Serious Questions Remain Unresolved
Aside from the initial impressions of several Parkland doctors (one of which changed his opinion significantly), there is little reliable corroborating argument or evidence that the throat wound was one of entrance. But having said that, none of this skepticism concerning the throat wound should imply that the Warren Commission’s theory of the assassination is correct. Far from it.
There could well have been other shots from the front (and rear). When JFK’s body was placed on the autopsy table at Bethesda, FBI agents Silbert and O’Neill wrote in their report that they noticed “surgery of the head area, namely in the top of the skull”. Yet there had been no “top of the skull” surgery at Parkland. The official skull X-rays of the head (if it’s JFK’s head at all) are clearly phony since they don’t depict the massive right-rear defect noted by all of the Parkland doctors. Even several of the (bootleg) photos of JFK’s face and head look doctored. JFK’s brain went missing as well as several X-rays and photographs taken at the autopsy; several rolls of film were turned over to the Secret Service and simply vanished. And as I have previously argued on this website some years ago, the 6th floor shooter, contrary to the WC, was probably not Lee Harvey Oswald.
In short, there are enough problems with the WC’s official explanation of the assassination to take very seriously the substantial research of the important cross-fire and pre-autopsy proponents. They have done extremely important work and we have all benefited from it. I happen to disagree that the throat hole was an entrance wound. Nonetheless, there clearly was a cover-up of many of the important events of November 22, 1963, including much of the medical evidence. Yet the dimensions of that cover-up (who was involved?) and the purpose of that cover-up (“regime change”?) still remain somewhat obscure for this author.