The recent discovery of film shot by American citizen George Jefferies seconds before the Kennedy limousine drove into Dealey Plaza - and history - is being touted as "proof" that the single bullet history, propping up the US Government's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin, is correct and hence there was no conspiracy.

All well and good then?

Far from it.

Opponents of the Warren Commission's critics have given much credence to Gerald Posner, chief supporter of the "Oswald did it alone" camp, while not giving much thought to the mechanics of the situation. Among those who gave Posner support are the BBC and hardly suprisingly, the highly partial New York Times, which gave Posner the following column inches on february 21st, 2007:

Single Bullet, Single Gunman


THE ability to use advanced forensics and minuscule traces of DNA to solve crimes, even cold cases decades old, has turned many Americans into armchair sleuths seeking to "solve" the unexpected deaths of people like Princess Diana and Anna Nicole Smith. But sometimes, old-fashioned evidence is as useful in solving puzzles as anything under a nuclear microscope.

Last weekend, a never-before-seen home movie was made public showing President John F. Kennedy's motorcade just before his assassination. An amateur photographer, George Jefferies, took the footage and held onto it for more than 40 years before casually mentioning it to his son-in-law, who persuaded him to donate it to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. The silent 8-millimeter color film was of interest to most people simply because it showed perhaps the clearest close-up of Jacqueline Kennedy taken that morning.

But to assassination researchers, the footage definitively resolves one of the case's enduring controversies: that the bullet wound on Kennedy's back, as documented and photographed during the autopsy, did not match up with the location of the bullet hole on the back of his suit jacket and shirt. The discrepancy has given conspiracy theorists fodder to argue that the autopsy photos had been retouched and the report fabricated.

This is more than an academic debate among ballistics buffs. It is critical because if the bullet did enter where shown on the autopsy photos, the trajectory lines up correctly for the famous "single bullet" theory — the Warren Commission hypothesis that one bullet inflicted wounds to both Kennedy and Gov. John Connally of Texas. However, if the hole in the clothing was the accurate mark of where the bullet entered, it would have been too low for a single bullet to have inflicted all the wounds, and would provide evidence of a second assassin.

For years, those of us who concluded that the single-bullet theory was sound, still had to speculate that Kennedy's suit had bunched up during the ride, causing the hole to be lower in the fabric than one would expect. Because the holes in the shirt and jacket align perfectly, if the jacket was elevated when the shot struck, the shirt also had to have been raised.

Some previously published photos taken at the pivotal moment showed Kennedy's jacket slightly pushed up, but nothing was definitive. Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists have done everything to disprove that the jacket was bunched. Some used grainy photos or film clips to measure minute distances between Kennedy's hairline and his shirt, what they dubbed the "hair-to-in-shoot distance."

The new film has finally resolved the issue. At the end of the clip, as the camera focuses on the backs of the president and first lady, Kennedy's suit is significantly bunched up, with several layers creased together. Only 90 seconds before Lee Harvey Oswald fired the first shot, Kennedy's suit jacket was precisely in the position to misrepresent the bullet’s entry point.

While the film solves one mystery, it leaves another open: estimates are that at least 150,000 people lined the Dallas motorcade route that fateful day, so there must be many other films and photographs out there that have never come to light. Those who have them should bear in mind that even the most innocuous-seeming artifacts, like the Jefferies tape, can sometimes put enduring controversies to rest. As Gary Mack, the curator of the Sixth Floor Museum said the other day, "The bottom line is, don't throw anything away."

Gerald Posner is the author of "Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of J.F.K."

Posner's account is disingenuous, even dishonest. Of course a jacket could bunch, but could it have ridden up nearly half a foot without any noticing? Even in his "Case Closed", Posner relegates the Bunched Jacket to a mere footnote, on page 305, viz:

"There was also some question as to why the location of the entry wound at the rear base of the President's neck is several inches higher than is indicated by the bullet holes in his suit jacket and shirt. Photographs taken during the motorcade show the President's jacket was often bunched and riding up his back as a result of his waving to the crowd. His back brace also pushed his clothing up. Therefore, measuring placement of the holes in the clothing is not an accurate means of determining precisely where the bullet entered the body."

It makes you think that authors will invent any spurious - but convincing sounding argument - to demolish nasty evidence that demolishes their claims. Or that they haven't thought the issue through. Or both.

Consider these points:
President Kennedy has his back to the "Snipers Nest" in the Texas School Book Depository.
The wound in the throat, was described by the Dallas doctors at Parkland as being "below the Adams Apple".
The direction from which the alledged shots came was above the limousine.

Therefore, regardless of the jacket, the wound to the back of Kennedy's neck should have been above the wound in the throat. We know the height of the book depository, we know the distance of the limousine from it at the time of impact, and we even have surveyor's angles from the window to the limousine. We even know the slope of Dealey Plaza. For the bullet to have hit below the throat wound, it would have had to have angled upwards to emerge from the throat, before hitting Connally, seated in front of JFK. Such mid-air pirouettes have long been the focus of derision by those who support the US Government's - the Warren Commission's version of events.

The photos of Kennedy's shirt and jacket show a bullet hole about 5 3/3 inches below the neck line. Warren Commission apologists have a problem: the "majority" of witnesses heard 3 shots, and only 3 spent cartridges were found. One bullet caused the fatal head shot; one bullet missed. Therefore the one remaining bullet must have caused the neck wounds in Kennedy and the other wounds in Connally. How then does one associate a low back wound with an exiting throat wound while still travelling in a downwards trajetory.

Two solutions: ignore the problem (a la Warren Commission); or lie about it (Posner et al.).

JFKs' jacket, showing a bullet hole 5 3/4 inches below the neckline
JFKs' shirt, showing a hole 5 3/4 inches down from the neckline

I have searched for a good profile shot of Kennedy with a bunched jacket. The closest I could find is reproduced below.

The photo is taken looking slightly down on Kennedy's left side, making the following points illustrative only. The green arrow indicates the trajectory of the bullet: the entrance wound would be in line, VERY rougly, with the position of the mouth. Using approximate dimensions for the height of the human head, I have measured down where 5 3/4 inches from the neck line occurs (the red blob).

Here is a little experiment for readers to try. Mark those locations (entrance, exit wound) on your body, and then find a jacket, measuring the hole from the neck line. Now try and line up the entrance wound with the jacket holes. Possible?

OK, try this then. Put on a shirt, securing it with a tie. Again, you have to mark a corresponding hole 5 3/4 inches down. Now try and allign entrance wound, shirt AND jacket. Obviously, as Kennedy was being driven down Elm Street, his clothing had ridden up so far above his body that his jacket was now around his head. Possibly, protection from the rain. Obviously the spectators who missed this spectacle of the President performing school-boy antics in Dallas were, in the words of the Warren Commission, "mistaken". Never mind, heres a photo of Kennedy actually in Dealey Plaza,

This picture was taken by Robert Croft about 2 1/4 seconds before Kennedy was first hit, well after the Jeffries was ever taken and hence is much closer to the assassination event. The Jeffries film, in this context, is a red herring, pounced upon by media hacks.

Dissenters of this page are welcome to attempt these shirt-jacket-tie gymnastics. Let me know how you get on. Here are our attempts.

I have placed a golden star on my wife's jacket, 5 3/4 inches below the neck line to indicate the location of the bullet hole.

Now, how do we get a downward slanting trajectory to exit below the Adam's apple, and yet still align the holes in the shirt and jacket? Heres the solution. Note that the top two buttons of the shirt had to be undone, never mind the neck tie!


A discussion on the Facebook "JFK Assassination Research Bureau" compelled me to analyse this in more detail. One gentleman on the group said that because of the angle from the Texas School Book Depository, the back wound lines up with the trajectory needed for a bullet to emerge from the throat. I was almost convinced by this and resolved to perform more analysis after sleeping on the issue.

One must bear in mind that a determination of the angles involved is no so simple, as it depends on Kennedy's posture and orientation at the time of the shot. I think a safe assumption, based on the photographs and films is that he was sitting in a near vertical state. Then we must consider when he was shot? This affects the position of the car, and thus the distance from the School Book Depository, and hence the downward angle. Our best guess is sometime around Zapruder frame 207.

The Warren Commission puts the angle from Kennedy's neck to the 6th floor window as being 21 degrees 34 minutes at Zapruder frame 210 (their level of accuracy in quoting the angle to seconds is not justifiable). They say that the slope of Elm Street is 3 degrees. The angle of the bullet going through the President's body is therefore the difference between these two values.

I used Don Roberdeau's expertly surveyed map of Dealey Plaza but I had to extrapolate. I found that the angle from the neck to the window was about 21.6 degrees (21 degrees 36 seconds) from the horizontal and the slope of the street was 2.4 degrees, or very close to the figures in the Warren Commission report.

I then found the following picture of Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963:

I have rotated the image to give it a 3 degree incline and marked on the trajectory (the green line) from the sixth floor window for the bullet to emerge from just below the adam's apple, which is just above where the neck tie was located; but to be honest, a few pixels or a fraction of a degree "off" does not make any difference in this analysis.

Where is 5 3/4 inches below the neck line? I measured my own ear and found it to be 3 inches high, and a scrutiny of texts on the internet revealed that the average human ear is 6.3 cms (2.5 inches) in height. To be generous, I took my own ear's dimensions to find out where the jacket etc. marks would be below the neck line, but sadly this location is obscured. I have therefore drawn the height of the entry wound as a red line. As you can see the line is well below where the trajectory impinges on Kennedy.

Back up a level

Recommended reading: