Wecht received degrees from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (1956) and the University of Maryland School of Law (1962). After serving in the United States Air Force, he became a forensic pathologist. He served on the staff of St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh before becoming Deputy Coroner of Allegheny County in 1965. Four years later he was elected coroner.
Dr. Wecht established a private practice and has served as a medical-legal and forensic pathology consultant in both civil and criminal cases. This has included providing expert evidence into the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Sharon Tate, Elvis Presley, JonBenét Ramsey, Herman Tarnower, Danielle van Dam, Sunny von Bülow, Vincent Foster, Laci Peterson and Anna Nicole Smith.
Wecht was one of the medical experts who testified before the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978. During his testimony Wecht argued against the idea that President John F. Kennedy was shot by one gunman from the Texas School Book Depository. It was partly as a result of Wecht's testimony that the final report stated that "the committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy."
In 1979, Dr. Wecht was accused of performing autopsies for other counties at the county morgue and depositing the fees from these autopsies in his private business' bank account. The story ran in the newspaper the same day that Wecht announced his candidacy for county commissioner. This resulted in the claim that these allegations were politically motivated. In 1981, the six week long criminal trial began. After 10 hours of deliberation, the jury in the case acquitted Dr. Wecht of all charges.
Over the years Wecht performed over 14,000 autopsies and has supervised, reviewed or been consulted on approximately 30,000 additional post-mortem examinations. Other posts held by Wecht include clinical professor at the University of Pittsburgh schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine and Public Health and the professor at the Duquesne University schools of Law, Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Wecht is the author of several books including Legal Medicine (1988) United States Medicolegal Autopsy Laws (1989), Cause of Death: The Final Diagnosis (1994), Grave Secrets (1996), Forensic Sciences (1997), Who Killed Jonbenet Ramsey? (1998), Mortal Evidence: The Forensics Behind Nine Shocking Cases (2003), Forensic Science and the Law: Investigation Evidence in Criminal and Civil Cases (2005), Tales from the Morgue (2005) and A Question of Murder: Compelling Cases from a Famed Forensic Pathologist (2008).
During his career Wecht has served as president of the American College of Legal Medicine and the American Academy of Forensic Science, as well as chairman of the boards of trustees of both the American Board of Legal Medicine and the American College of Legal Medicine Foundation. He is also is a fellow of both the College of American Pathologists and the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.
On January 28, 2008, a new federal trial against Dr. Wecht began. Once again it was claimed that the prosecution of Dr. Wecht was politically motivated since he was a leading member of the Democratic Party in the Pittsburgh area. However, during the trial of Dr. Wecht, the judge barred the defense from raising the arguments that the case was politically motivated.
The prosecution's case lasted for twenty four days. Upon the prosecution resting their case, the defense rested without calling a single witness to counter the prosecution's case or witnesses presented. After eleven days of deliberation, the case ended with the jury informing the court for a second time that a decision could not be reached and the judge declaring a mistrial. The prosecution immediately informed the court they planned to retry Dr. Wecht.
Since the mistrial, jurors in the first case against Dr. Wecht have raised concern to reporters about FBI agents contacting them since the trial to schedule meetings with the US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan. John Conyers Jr., who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, commented: "I am deeply troubled by reports of FBI agents contacting former jurors who failed to convict Dr. Wecht. Whether reckless or intended, it is simply common sense that such contacts can have a chilling effect on future juries in this and other cases. When added to the troubling conduct of this prosecution, there is the appearance of a win-at-all-costs mentality."
On 14th May 2009, the new trial judge dismissed most of the evidence against Wecht because it was seized under illegal and improperly executed search warrant. On June 2 2009, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced that her office would be filing a motion to dismiss all charges against Dr. Wecht.
(1) Cyril Wecht was interviewed by Donald A. Purdy for the Select Committee on Assassinations about the single-bullet theory (8th September, 1978)
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, what are the major conclusions of the forensic pathology panel with which you are in disagreement?
Cyril Wecht: The major disagreement is the single-bullet theory which I deem to be the very essence of the Warren Commission report's conclusions and all the other corroborating panels and groups since that time. It is the sine qua non of the Warren Commission report's conclusions vis-a-vis a sole assassin. Without the single-bullet theory, there cannot be one assassin, whether it is Oswald or anybody else.
I am in disagreement with various other conclusions of the panel. I am most unhappy and have been extremely dismayed by their failure to insist upon the performance of appropriate experiments, which I believe could have been undertaken with a reasonable degree of expenditure of time, energy, and money to once and for all show whether a bullet 6.5-millimeter, copper-jacketed, leadcore piece of military-type ammunition could indeed strike a rib and a radius in a human being and emerge in the condition which Commission exhibit 399 is today.
I am extremely unhappy about the fact that a greater and more intensive effort was not made to locate the missing pieces of very important medical evidence in this case, which I pointed out back in the summer of 1972. Not that I was the first to learn of this, but amazingly, nobody had made that public disclosure prior to that time. I have raised same questions concerning the head wound and the possibility, albeit remote, of a second shot fired in synchronized fashion from the right side or the lower right rear, synchronized with the head shot that struck the President in the back of the head. And this is related to a few pieces, a couple of pieces of evidence and, again, emphasizes the necessity of having the brain to examine. These are the major areas. There are, of course, numerous facets of all of these disagreements that are related to the so-called single-bullet theory.
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, is it your opinion that no bullet could have caused all of the wounds to President Kennedy and Governor Connally or the Commission exhibit 399 could not have caused all of the wounds to both men?
Cyril Wecht: Based upon the findings in this case, it is my opinion that no bullet could have caused all these wounds, not only 399 but no other bullet that we know about or any fragment of any bullet that we know about in this case...
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, what is the basis for your opinion that Commission exhibit 399 could not have caused all of the wounds to President Kennedy and Governor Connally?
Cyril Wecht: It is a composite based upon several things: The timing of the Zapruder film, which we know runs at 18.3 frames or individual units of the film strip per second; the evaluation of the wounds in the President and Governor Connally; the timing of the test-firing in the hands of the most skilled marksman the Government could find in 1964 of this Mannlicher-Carcano weapon, the bolt action nonautomatic World War II Italian carbine, a grossly inferior weapon; the very vivid testimony of Governor John Connally about which he has been completely consistent for the past 14 years concerning the fact that he was struck by a different bullet; the vertical and horizontal trajectories that must be attributed to Commission exhibit 399 if the single-bullet theory is to be substantiated. These are the various factors that relate to the single-bullet theory.
Donald Purdy: So, Dr. Wecht, it is your opinion, that were tests to be conducted to simulate these wounds, such tests could sufficiently duplicate the wounds in question to have an accurate illustration?
Cyril Wecht: Let me point out, that these tests that I am referring to have been performed, in fact, by a pathologist, Professor John Nichols, University of Kansas School of Medicine, a full-time academician, who shot them through ribs and wrists. I know Dr. Nichols. He is not an independently wealthy man. He was able to do this; he was able to get the materials; he was able to set up the experiments and follow through. Why our panel of distinguished experts with all our expertise and this staff representing a very prominent committee which, in turn, represents the House of Representatives of the United States Congress, why such tests could not be performed is beyond me. I feel constrained to say that they were not performed because people knew full well what the results would be. I also want to take strong exception with the statement that if one were to shoot through bones that are not innervated and vascularized as they are in living human beings, one cannot be sure that one is getting similar reactions. Here, we are not talking about how the President's body would have reacted to the head wound. We are not talking about that. We are talking only about whether a bullet, as several members of the House Committee have questioned Dr. Baden, we are talking about what the condition of the bullet would be if it went through these bones. There is no problem in setting up that experiment.
(2) Cyril Wecht was interviewed by Donald A. Purdy for the Select Committee on Assassinations about the Abraham Zapruder film (8th September, 1978)
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, what point along the film do you feel corresponds with the time when President Kennedy and Governor Connally were,supposed to have been hit, according to the single bullet theory?
Cyril Wecht:. Commission exhibit of - I am sorry - an exhibit of this panel, of this committee, of 229, which is a blow-up of Zapruder frame 193, demonstrates the President and Governor Connally just before they go in behind the Stemmons Freeway sign. Both gentlemen are turned to the right facing the crowd and their right arms are extended in a wave of greeting or recognition. This exhibit F-272, is a blowup of Zapruder frame 222 and shows Gov. John Connally after emergence from behind the Stemmons Freeway sign, and F-244, which is a blowup of Zapruder frame 225, shows the President and Gov. John Connally. In my opinion, Zapruder frame 193 clearly demonstrates that neither gentlemen had been shot.
Donald Purdy: Wecht, based on F-229, what is the basis for your opinion that neither man had been struck by a bullet in that photograph?
Cyril Wecht: There is absolutely no external physical manifestation, no reaction of any kind on their part of a voluntary or involuntary nature which would even suggest they have been struck by a missile.
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, is it possible that either or both men have been struck by a bullet but are not yet manifesting a reaction?
Cyril Wecht: In my opinion, without any question, no.
Donald Purdy: referring to F-272, which corresponds with Zapruder frame 222, is it your opinion that Governor Connally is indicating a reaction to being struck in that photograph?
Cyril Wecht: No; absolutely not.
Donald Purdy: Referring to F-244, is there any indication on that photograph that either or both men have been struck by a bullet?
Cyril Wecht: Yes. President John F. Kennedy has definitely been struck, as seen on F-244, Zapruder frame 225. Gov. John Connally, in my opinion, has not been struck in that frame, as of that frame.
Donald Purdy: Referring again to F-244, what is the earliest prior to that point that President Kennedy would have had to have been struck?
Cyril Wecht: I would say probably somewhere like - well I can't - I would put it, based upon the timing of the Zapruder film and counting the frames, I would put it back somewhere about a half a second, maybe even a little bit more, somewhere along there. I cannot be precise. I do want to point out at this time, if I may, because there is some confusion on this, sometimes there has been deliberate misrepresentation of the period of time during which the two gentlemen are behind the Stemmons Freeway sign. That is a period of 0.9 seconds. I emphasize that because we see in F-229 that indeed Gov. John Connally is sitting directly in front of the President. We see in F-244 that Gov. John Connally is still seated directly in front of the President. When we bring up the question of the trajectory, that hopefully we will get into later, they say, ah, but we cannot know what happened when they were behind the Stemmons Freeway sign. I just think it is important for the record to reflect upon the fact that what presumably they are asking us to just speculate upon is that in that 0.9 second interval, the President bent down to tie his shoelace or fix his sock, he was then shot and then sat back up. I do not mean to be flip, this is a very serious matter, but I would suggest that is a movement that the most skilled athlete, knowing what he is going to do, could not perform in that period of time. That is very important to understand, because we see their positions before and immediately afterward. I think it is pure poppycock, it would be an insult to this committee for anybody to suggest that we can't really determine trajectory because we don't know what the physical relationship was between the two men when the President was shot, and when they say under the single bullet theory, John Connally had also been shot.
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, what was the nature of the wound through President Kennedy that indicates to you that he would have reacted to being struck as quickly as you indicate?
Cyril Wecht: He was struck in the back. There are a variety of nerves that innervate the skin, the musculature, blood vessels, and so on. He, as indeed Gov. John Connally, were both healthy, adult males, in a very vibrant, dynamic sensitive situation, attuned very much to their environment, and there is no question in my mind that the reaction would have occurred immediately in an infinitesimal moment.
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, based on the photograph, you have already gone into the issue of trajectory and articulated to some extent why you believe the President and the Governor were not lined up in such a way that a bullet could have passed between them. How certain are you that they could not have been lined up behind the sign when they were out of the view of the camera?
Cyril Wecht: I am absolutely certain for the reasons that I have already given and as are demonstrated on these films. There is simply no way in the world that the kinds of changes of positions of these two men required by the single bullet theory could have been accomplished. There is no physiological way in which it could have been performed, there is no basis to speculate on why such a movement would have occurred. Quite literally, John Connally would have had to have moved a foot or more to his left and then moved back, and/or the President would have had to have almost leaned out of the car and then to have come back to his position. And I am not being the least bit facetious. That is what would have had to have occurred in that nine-tenths of a second interval if we are to assume that this bullet went through the two men in the fashion attributed to it in the single bullet theory.
(3) Cyril Wecht was interviewed by Donald A. Purdy for the Select Committee on Assassinations about the Abraham Zapruder film (8th September, 1978)
Donald Purdy: What is it about the normal paths of bullets which leads you to the conclusion that these diagrams illustrating the photographs, permit you to conclude that the bullet did not pass through both men?
Cyril Wecht: The inescapable fact that unless a bullet, especially one fired from a high speed weapon, reasonably high speed, approximately 2,000 feet per second muzzle velocity - unless it strikes something of firm substance, such as bone or something else, that that bullet will travel in a straight line.
Donald Purdy: Mr. Chairman, I would ask at this time that the item marked JFK exhibit F-245, which is a blowup of frame 230 of the Zapruder film, be entered into the record... Dr. Wecht, in your opinion, could Governor Connally have incurred the damage to his wrist which is described in the medical reports and still be holding the hat as shown in this photograph?
Cyril Wecht: No; absolutely not. In F-245, which is a blowup of Zapruder frame 230, we are told under the single bullet theory that Gov. John Connally, for a period of approximately one and a half seconds, has already been shot through the right chest with the right lung pierced and collapsed, through the right wrist, with the distal end of the radius comminuted and the radial nerve partially severed. I heard some vague reference to a nerve in the prior testimony, but I didn't hear the followthrough discussion that I was waiting for about nerve damage. There was nerve damage, yes, to the radial nerve. And the thumb which holds this large Texas white Stetson that is required for it to be in apposition with the index or index and middle fingers to hold that hat is innervated by the radial nerve. Note in F-245 that the hat is still being held and Governor Connally is not reacting. This is again a very alert individual, under a very special circumstance, and I do not believe or accept for one moment the story that we must accept under the single bullet theory that this gentlemen, at this point, one and a half seconds previously, has already been shot through his chest, through his wrist, and into his left thigh.
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, is it your opinion based on this exhibit, JFK exhibit F-245, that Governor Connally is not yet injured in any way?
Cyril Wecht: Yes; that is my opinion.
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, Is it possible that he had been injured prior to this frame but has not yet manifested a reaction?
Cyril Wecht: NO; I do not believe so, not given the nature and extents of his wounds, the multiplicity and the areas damaged, I do not believe that.
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, given the nature of his wounds, how much prior to the time that he manifests a reaction is the earliest he could have been struck?
Cyril Wecht: Well, a fraction of a second, again, an infinitesimal moment. It is possible that a fraction of a second earlier he could have been shot, although I do not believe that. Please keep in mind that now we must correlate that with the Governor's own version, and remembering that this bullet was traveling 2,000 feet per second muzzle velocity, much faster than the speed of sound. Please keep in mind that it does not seem at all likely. I doubt that it is possible that he had already been struck. The panel (of experts assembled by the House Select Committee on Assassinations), to the best of my recollection, was in unanimous agreement that there was a slight upward trajectory the bullet through President John F. Kennedy, that is to say, that the-bullet wound of entrance on the President's back, lined up with the bullet wound of exit in the front of the President's neck drawing a straight line, showed that vertically the bullet had moved slightly upward, slightly, but upward. That is extremely important for two reasons. One, under the single bullet theory - with Oswald as the sole assassin, or anybody else, in the sixth floor window, southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository Building, you have the bullet coming down at a downward angle of around 20-25 degrees, something like that, maybe a little bit less. It had originally been postulated, I think, by the autopsy team, and the initial investigators, at considerably more. How in the world can a bullet be fired from the sixth floor window, strike the President in the back, and yet have a slightly upward direction? There was nothing there to cause it to change its course. And then with the slightly upward direction, outside the President's neck, that bullet then embarked upon a rollercoaster ride with a major dip, because it then proceeded; under the single bullet theory, through Gov. John Connally at a 25 degree angle of declination. To my knowledge, there has never been any disagreement among the proponents and defenders of the Warren Commission report or the critics, about the angle of declination in John Connally - maybe a degree or two. We have that bullet going through the Governor at about 25 degrees downward. How does a bullet that is moving slightly upward in the President proceed then to move downward 25 degrees in John Connally. This is what I cannot understand. My colleagues on the panel are aware of this. We discussed it, and what we keep coming back to is, "well, don't know how the two men were seated in relationship to each other." I don't care what happened behind the Stemmons freeway sign, there is no way in the world that they can put that together, and likewise on the horizontal plane, the bullet, please keep in mind, entered in the President's right back, I agree, exited in the anterior midline of the President's neck, I agree, and was moving thence by definition, by known facts, on a straight line from entrance to exit, from right to left. And so with that bullet moving in a leftward fashion, it then somehow made an acute angular turn, came back almost two feet, stopped, made a second turn, and slammed into Gov. John Connally behind the right armpit, referred to medically as the right posterior axillary area. The vertical and horizontal trajectory of this bullet, 399, under the single bullet theory is absolutely unfathomable, indefensible, and incredible.
Cyril Wecht: Yes; I believe F-246, which is a blowup of Zapruder frame 237, demonstrates that Gov. John Connally has now been struck.
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, what is it about his movements that leads you to the conclusion that he has been struck?
Cyril Wecht: The body is turning, the cheeks are puffing out, there is a noticeable grimace on his face, in contrast, for instance, to F-245, Z-frame 230, and there seems to be some dishevelment of his hair. These features can be seen very dramatically also one frame later, F-247, or Zapruder frame 238, which I remind you is one eighteenth of a second interval away, and you can see the hair movement, the twisting of the body. There is no question in my mind that the Governor has now been hit.
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, referring again to the JFK exhibits F-229, F-272 and F-244, which are the frames immediately before and the frames after the sign, you discussed the fact that the men did not line up in a horizontal trajectory?
Cyril Wecht: Yes. The panel, to the best of my recollection, was in unanimous agreement that there was a slight upward trajectory the bullet through President John F. Kennedy, that is to say, that the-bullet wound of entrance on the President's back, lined up with the bullet wound of exit in the front of the President's neck drawing a straight line, showed that vertically the bullet had moved slightly upward, slightly, but upward. That is extremely important for two reasons. One, under the single bullet theory - with Oswald as the sole assassin, or anybody else, in the sixth floor window, southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository Building, you have the bullet coming down at a downward angle of around 20-25 degrees, something like that, maybe a little bit less. It had originally been postulated, I think, by the autopsy team, and the initial investigators, at considerably more. How in the world can a bullet be fired from the sixth floor window, strike the President in the back, and yet have a slightly upward direction? There was nothing there to cause it to change its course. And then with the slightly upward direction, outside the President's neck, that bullet then embarked upon a rollercoaster ride with a major dip, because it then proceeded; under the single bullet theory, through Gov. John Connally at a 25 degree angle of declination. To my knowledge, there has never been any disagreement among the proponents and defenders of the Warren Commission report or the critics, about the angle of declination in John Connally - maybe a degree or two. We have that bullet going through the Governor at about 25 degrees downward. How does a bullet that is moving slightly upward in the President proceed then to move downward 25 degrees in John Connally. This is what I cannot understand. My colleagues on the panel are aware of this. We discussed it, and what we keep coming back to is, "well, don't know how the two men were seated in relationship to each other." I don't care what happened behind the Stemmons freeway sign, there is no way in the world that they can put that together, and likewise on the horizontal plane, the bullet, please keep in mind, entered in the President's right back, I agree, exited in the anterior midline of the President's neck, I agree, and was moving thence by definition, by known facts, on a straight line from entrance to exit, from right to left. And so with that bullet moving in a leftward fashion, it then somehow made an acute angular turn, came back almost two feet, stopped, made a second turn, and slammed into Gov. John Connally behind the right armpit, referred to medically as the right posterior axillary area. The vertical and horizontal trajectory of this bullet, 399, under the single bullet theory is absolutely unfathomable, indefensible, and incredible.
(4) Cyril Wecht was interviewed by Donald A. Purdy for the Select Committee on Assassinations about the direction of the shot that hit Kennedy in the head (8th September, 1978)
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, what evidence is there which supports the possibility that there was a shot from the side or from the lower right rear?
Cyril Wecht: Very meager, and the possibility based upon the existing evidence is extremely remote. There is a small piece of some material that is present at the base of the external scalp, just above the hairline, which has never been commented on before except by me following the 1972 investigation of the material at the Archives, and later commented upon by this forensic pathology panel. There is a total deformation of the right side of the cranial vault with extensive fractures of the calvarium, the top portion of the skull, and extensive scalp lacerations and loss of soft tissue, so that we cannot exactly know where the exit wound was. It is, therefore, possible that that extensive deformity of the scalp, underlying galea, underlying bone calvarium, could also be the locus of the second shot of some kind of frangible ammunition which would not have penetrated deeply or at all through the calvarium. I want to emphasize that this is remote but I have pointed this out because it is a possibility. The question of the President's movement after he was struck in the head makes us direct our attention toward such a possibility and, of course, the absence of the brain and the failure of the original pathologists to have conducted studies that are routine, perfunctory in any kind of an autopsy where the brain has been fixed in formalin, to serially section the brain 10 to 14 days later, and the absence of the brain and the inability or the failure of the staff to obtain that medical evidence, all of these things, I believe, make it important to just raise that possibility, remote as it may be, that a second shot might have struck the President in the head in synchronized or simultaneous fashion.
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, to what extent would having access to the brain itself enable a final determination as to whether or not the remote possibility of a shot from the side is supported or refuted by the evidence?
Cyril Wecht: Well, examination of the brain would help a great deal. Of course, if the bullet had not penetrated through the calvarium then there would be no evidence of a second bullet track in the soft brain tissue. If it had penetrated partly, or even a fragment or two, then certainly at that time, and even today, if the brain had been properly preserved and fixed and the formalin solution changed every so often, one would be able, I believe, to tell whether there is only one bullet track, that is, from the right upper occipital region down to the lower right temporal parietal area. The brain would be extremely important to help us determine whether more than one missile had penetrated or a fragment of a second missile might have penetrated the brain along with the one that we do know definitely penetrated. I am in agreement with the description that was presented today regarding the shot through the head.
Donald Purdy: Dr. Wecht, does the present state of available evidence permit the conclusion that to a reasonable degree of medical certainty there was not a shot from the side which struck the President?
Cyril Wecht: Yes, with reasonable medical certainty I would have to say that the evidence is not there. I have already said it is a remote possibility and I certainly cannot equate that with reasonable medical certainty.
(5) Cyril Wecht was interviewed by Gary Cornwell for the Select Committee on Assassinations about the direction of the shot that hit Kennedy in the head (8th September, 1978)
Gary Cornwall: Directing your attention, next, to the single-bullet theory, as I understand your testimony, it is not that one bullet of the Mannlicher-Carcano type would not have been powerful enough to go through the neck, the chest, the wrists and imbed itself in the thigh, is that correct, as a matter of mere power?
Cyril Wecht: Yes; I believe that it is possible for that kind of ammunition to go through those several portions of human body.
Gary Cornwall: And if the single-bullet theory is not correct, how many bullets, in your view, did strike the two occupants of the car?
Cyril Wecht: Of course, then - let me answer that, I believe that the President was struck definitely twice, one bullet entering in the back, and one bullet entering in the back of the head. I believe that Gov. John Connally was struck by a bullet, and I believe that another bullet completely missed the car. I think that there were four shots most probably fired. I eagerly await with extreme anticipation the results of the consulting firm that I understand your committee has retained in Boston, Bolt, Beranek & Newman, concerning their interpretative studies of the motorcycle policeman's tape from that day; as to whether or not they have definitely found evidence of four shots having been fired. But I think your question was, how many bullets struck the occupants, and I think that there is definite evidence for three. There is a possibility of more, but I can't really introduce evidence that would corroborate that; more than three.
(6) G. Robert Blakey explained to the Select Committee on Assassinations what happened to John F. Kennedy's brain (8th September, 1978)
Following the autopsy of President Kennedy, Robert I. Bouck, the head of the Protective Research Division of the U.S. Secret Service in 1963, received all of the materials relating to the autopsy from Agent Kellerman, and maintained these items in the White House under security for Dr. George Burkley the White House physician. On April 22, 1965, Robert F. Kennedy authorized a release of all of these materials to Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln, who then had an office in the National Archives. Mrs. Lincoln was in the process of assisting in the transfer of President Kennedy's official papers to the National Archives. In response to this order, Mr. Bouck and Dr. Burkley prepared an inventory list and transferred these materials to Mrs. Lincoln. Included in those materials was one stainless steel container, 7 inches in diameter and 8 inches - 7 by 8, containing the inventory list indicated gross material. The best speculation is that stainless steel container held the brain. On October 31, 1966, Burke Marshall, a representative of the Kennedy family, formally transferred the autopsy material to the Archives. I don't mean this physically, because the materials were allegedly in the Archives at the time in the custody of Mrs. Lincoln. When that transfer occurred, the steel container was not included. The committee, as I indicated this morning has conducted a comprehensive investigation in an attempt to locate the missing materials. The people interviewed have included Dr. Burkley, Dr. Humes, Mr. Bouck, Ramsey Clark, Mrs. Lincoln, Ms. Angela Novelli, Robert Kennedy's secretary, Dr. Finck, and Mr. Marshall, and all of the relevant Archives people. As I indicated this morning, over 30 people have been either interviewed or deposed. The closer they came to the chain of custody they were deposed. We've even interviewed all of the people associated with the reinterment of the President's body. That interviewing and deposition process has not indicated with certainty what happened. As I indicated earlier this morning, a Kennedy family spokesman did indicate that Robert Kennedy expressed concerns that these materials could conceivably be placed on public display many years from now and he wanted to prevent that. I would infer from that that the most likely result is that the President's brother destroyed the documents.
(7) Michael A. Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (16th November, 2003)
Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, forensic pathologist and renowned-coroner-in-the-making, was in a Los Angeles morgue surrounded by corpses when the news broke.
Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Arlen Specter was stepping into an elevator en route to a murder trial. The clock at City Hall said 1:40 p.m.
It was 40 years ago next Saturday. President Kennedy, torchbearer of a new generation of Americans, trailblazer to the New Frontier, had been cut down by an assassin's bullet in Dallas.
Neither Wecht, then 32, nor Specter, then 33, could have known then they would soon become inextricably linked with that momentous event and the endless debate about what really happened during those "six seconds in Dallas" on Nov. 22, 1963.
Specter, now the state's senior U.S. senator, went on to work with the Warren Commission's investigation of the assassination, and wrote the famous or, depending on one's perspective, infamous "single-bullet theory" that supported the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald alone killed Kennedy.
Wecht, now the Allegheny County coroner and a power in local and state politics for decades, became one of the foremost critics of that official version. In his 1993 book, "Cause of Death," Wecht characterized the Warren Report as "absolute nonsense" and Specter's single-bullet assertion "an asinine, pseudoscientific sham at best."
(8) Walter Cronkite, The Warren Report: Part 2, CBS Television (26th June, 1967)
In answer to our major question as to whether shots came from a direction other than the Book Depository Building, indicating other gunmen and a conspiracy, we have eye - or ear witnesses inside the building saying the shots came from there. Now, Mr. Holland who was on the railroad overpass, here, insists that he heard a shot from here. And in Mark Lane's book. Rush to Judgment, he writes that fifty-eight out of ninety people who were asked about the shots thought they came from the grassy knoll.
Now, expert opinions differ. All the experts agree that the shots could have come from the rear. But where some experts, such as Dr. Humes, say bluntly that they did, others - such as Dr. Wecht - find it highly unlikely.
CBS News concludes that the most reasonable answer is that the shots came from the Book Depository building, behind the President and Governor Connally. But if the shots came from the rear, and if there were only three of them, can all the wounds be accounted for? The President was struck at least twice. Governor Connally was wounded in the chest, the wrist, and the thigh. One bullet was recovered intact, as well as two large fragments. The Warren Commission concluded that of the three bullets fired, one missed entirely, one struck the President's skull and fragmented, and the third - this one - passed through the President's neck and went on to inflict all the governor's wounds. This is the single-bullet theory. And so we must ask: Could a single bullet have wounded both President Kennedy and Governor Connally?
We asked Arlen Specter, assistant counsel to the Commission, and now district attorney of Philadelphia, and the author of the single-bullet theory.
Arlen Specter: The possibility of one bullet having inflicted the wounds on both the President's neck and the Governor's body came in a very gradual way. For example, the first insight was given when Dr. Humes testified, based on his autopsy findings. And at that time it was made clear for the first time that the bullet that went through the President's neck hit no bone, hit no solid muscle. And, according to Dr. Humes, came out with great velocity.
Now, it was at that juncture that we wondered for the first time what happened to the bullet. Where did the bullet go? The probability is that it went into Governor Connally, because it struck nothing else in the car. That is the single most convincing piece of evidence that the one bullet hit both men, because looking down the trajectory, as I did through Oswald's own rifle, and others did too, the trajectory was such that it was almost certain that the bullet which came out of the President's neck with great velocity would have had to have hit either the car or someone in the car.
(9) Michael Kurtz, Crime of the Century: The Kennedy Assassination From a Historians Perspective (1982)
Forensic Pathologist Cyril Wecht examined the Kennedy autopsy photographs and X-rays. He calculated the angle of the bullet that entered the rear of the back and presumably exited through the "exit" hole in the throat. Dr. Wecht estimated the angles of the bullet path as 11.5 degrees downward and 17.5 degrees right to left. Both of these angles are incompatible with a shot fired from the sixth-floor southeast corner window of the Texas School Book Depository building. They are also incompatible with a bullet exiting Kennedy's throat and striking Governor Connally. The governor was struck on the right side of his back between the shoulder blade and the armpit. Since he was sitting directly in front of President Kennedy, a bullet traveling downward and right to left could not have struck Governor Connally unless the bullet made a right and then a left angle turn in mid-air. Dr. Wecht calculated that the bullet which exited the president's throat (an unproven assumption) would have passed over Mrs. Connally's right shoulder and over the left shoulder of the driver of the limousine, Secret Service Agent William Greer, and then would have struck the grass on the north side of Elm Street. Wecht believes that based on his computation of the angles of the bullet wounds in President Kennedy and Governor Connally, that the shots were fired from a lower floor of the Book Depository building and from the roof of the Dal-Tex building...
Even though precise angles of the bullet wounds are not known, Dr. Wecht's contention that a bullet fired from the sixth-floor southeast corner window of the Depository building and passing through President Kennedy's neck could not have hit Connally of the right side of his back is strongly supported by the known facts. Except for eighteen frames (or one second), the Zapruder film clearly shows Governor Connally to be seated directly in front of President Kennedy If a bullet fired from the sixth-floor window entered the rear of Kennedy's neck and exited from the front of his throat, it would have traveled at a right-to-left angle to strike Connally Since the entrance hole on Governor Connally's back was to the right of the alleged exit hole of the bullet from Kennedy's throat, that same bullet could not have struck the governor. Only during that one second, when the street sign blocked Zapruder's view of the limousine, could Connally have been struck by the same bullet. That is possible only under the extremely unlikely circumstance that the governor jumped out of his seat, moved four feet to his left, squatted down, received a shot in the back, then returned to his original position - all within one second.