HSCA: ‘… the brain … is among certain autopsy materials which are unaccounted for.’

“The panel itself was unable to examine the brain because it is among certain autopsy materials which are unaccounted for.”

— House Select Committee on Assassination, Volume VII, p. 177.

Dr. Cyril Wecht first reported that Kennedy’s brain was among missing autopsy materials. Unknown at the time, in April 1965 most of the autopsy materials were transferred to Robert Kennedy’s control under a “memorandum of transfer” of uncertain legality (see list of materials). In late 1966, these materials were transferred to the National Archives under a “deed of gift.” But the archivists inspecting the materials discovered that the brain, tissue slides, and certain other materials were missing.

Some think that the brain was put into the Kennedy grave during a 1967 reinterment; another possibility exists. In 1999 the National Archives released a set of documents relating to an event in early 1966, when the autopsy materials were under Robert Kennedy’s control. The documents describe how, under RFK’s direction, the casket used to transport JFK’s body from Dallas was drilled with holes, weighted down with sand bags, banded with metal, flown out over the Atlantic, and dropped into 9,000 feet of water, in the center of an area marked on an accompanying map as an explosives dumping area. Was this really done to dispose of an empty casket?

Besides the brain and tissue slides, also noted were the original autopsy protocol and seven copies. If that is true, what is the origin of the “original” autopsy protocol transferred from the Secret Service to the National Archives in October 1967?

33 comments

  1. Zebulon says:

    To me the only way that a conspiracy could have worked is with the cooperation of the Kennedy family. Powers and O’Donnell lied to the Warren investigators about the direction of the shots; Jackie fought like crazy to keep Manchester’s book from being published because he wouldn’t put out a whitewash, RFK did nothing to investigate the death of his brother. Why? It only makes sense if Kennedy insiders wanted to cover up a conspiracy. Who benefited from the death of JFK? LBJ, but also the greatest benefactor was RFK, who gained the sympathy of the country and would have been elected President in 1968. If he had the brain and wanted to get rid of it-his involvement in the plot is evident. We all know that RFK was the real power behind the throne, from the McCarthy hearings to the Hoffa hearings to even JFK’s advisors, who were all RFK friends before they worked for JFK.

    • JSA says:

      Zebulon,

      You seem to be leaving out a few key factors, the biggest one being BLACKMAIL. If, let’s assume, Robert Kennedy had multiple sexual affairs like his brother, Jack, who almost certainly did have, and if J. Edgar Hoover and Lyndon Johnson (they were good friends) had information, including some very incriminating evidence, of these illicit affairs—-wouldn’t they then hold this information up as blackmail over Robert Kennedy doing anything to expose their involvement in a conspiracy? Secondly, if Robert Kennedy was out of the loop regarding the assassination of his brother (he most certainly would have been just using common sense), and if he was trying to learn the facts about what happened in secret (or in private), how could he make any public accusations without first having some real evidence? After all, if you make serious accusations against another party or parties, you risk looking like an unstable loose cannon, if you don’t have enough information. People at that time weren’t ready to accept that their own government could do something like this (a coup). Bobby knew this and I think he felt he was powerless to make any accusations when he was shut out from having any power to formally investigate, using the Attorney General’s chair. He could investigate privately, as David Talbot seems to infer in his book ‘Brothers’. But he had to officially (publicly) state that he supported the findings of the Warren Commission, unless he didn’t want to run for the Senate and build any kind of future political career platform. As for the rest of the Kennedy family, I’m sure they took their cue from Bobby. They didn’t want to hurt his career either.

      • Jay sutherland says:

        What was also known were LBJ ‘ s numerous affairs and Hoovers homosexuality….seems everybody had something on all parties involved

    • That is correct. The Kennedy family covered up the JFK assassination and they do it today- just look at the behavior of Caroline Kennedy. Why? They did it so they would not be marginalized; to protect their priviledged status in society; they were not prepared to directly confront LBJ or the powers that be.

      Martin Schotz calls RFK an accessory-after-the-fact to the murder of his own brother JFK because RFK knew it was a conspiracy and did nothing: http://spot.acorn.net/jfkplace/09/fp.back_issues/27th_issue/schotz.html

      This is a bitter pill for Kennedy lovers to accept. RFK’s mistake was keeping quiet and thinking he identify & hold those responsible if & when he became president.

    • Jonathan says:

      Imagine if Jackie or Bobby had come forth publicly and said the Warren Report is not supported by the Commission’s investigation. Furthermore, the investigation ignore clear indications of a conspiracy. There needs to be a new, full and fair, and honest investigation of John F. Kennedy’s murder.

      Jackie or Bobby could have said that without pointing fingers and without stating anything not obvious.

      I believe Jackie and Bobby failed to grasp history and failed to understand the natures of their foes.

      • M. Ellis says:

        This sentence jumped out at me. “The majority of the panel believes that examination of the materials would support its conclusions.”

        Well, that’s a relief. The panel BELIEVES that non-existent evidence would support its conclusions. That’s what we pay politicians for I guess.

  2. Zebulon says:

    I believe that RFK decided on a closed coffin despite the statements of the JFK cabinet that it was essntial for the coffin to be open. The corpsmen that saw JFK’s autopsy said that the undertakers filled up the skull with plaster-of-paris and that he was entirely suitable for an open coffin. perhaps RFK is the key to the Lifton theory.

    • JSA says:

      One thing to consider: Jack Kennedy was Bobby’s brother, not just a political figure. He probably felt conflicted about exposing his brother’s dead body to the masses at that time. While he privately seems to have doubted the official story, I don’t think he was actively trying to aid in a cover up by wanting a closed casket ceremony. Let’s try to look at this in its context, folks.

    • Zebulon – I don’t think you are being serious, rather just trying to disrupt a thread with ridiculous insinuations. RFK & Jackie thought JFK looked awful in death.

    • Jonathan says:

      Zebulon,

      I have read that Bobby, upon viewing JFK’s remains in the casket, said, that doesn’t even look like him. This statement may be apocryphal, because it was reported by an author who believes Tippit’s body was substituted for JFK’s post-autopsy. (Tippit in some ways allegedly looked like JFK.)

  3. Zebulon says:

    I doubt that RFK was afraid of anybody-otherwise he never would have run in 1968. I think that everbody in that campaign knew that Bobby was a target.Even his kids had nightmares.
    I believe that RFK’s actions are more compatable with prior knowledge of a plot, not with any blackmail or fear. Kennedys never cry, they have never been blackmailed. It sounds terrible, but there you have it.

    • jeff pascal says:

      As I mentioned in another thread the dubious Ida Dox sketches of an intct back of the head, a definite wound shown high in the cowlick that no one saw at Parkland or Bethesda.We have another huge paradox-the brain photos have never been seen and all we have are the HSCA sketches that coveniently show the right front hemisphere missing perfectly compatible with the HSCA conclusions of a sniper( Oswald) firing from the 6th floor, but the big problem is many medical Doctors saw Cerebellum oozing from the back of the head wound and testimony to the ARRB by FBI Agent Frank O,Neill that not only was too much brain missing that doesn’t match the sketch, but also the damage he saw extended into the rear of the brain which looks intact in the sketch.

      • Zebulon says:

        So again we come back to conflicts between the Dallas witnesses, the enlisted autopsy witnesses, the FBI witnesses, the autopsy doctors – and a closed casket and brain that could resolve the questions held in secret and probably destroyed by the same man. That same man occupied the most powerful law enforcement office in the land and did nothing to look for the truth. Why?

        • jeff pascal says:

          That certainly is one of the biggest questions of all regarding RFK, heck if I know but I think we need to realize that Bobby with his heart broken after the Assassination was not the same tough as nails guy as AG. The interview with Joe Shimon’s daughter is important for several reasons, one being the sheer hatred Shimon who was connected to the plots to kill Castro had for Bobby. Shimon apparently knew William Harvey and the feeling was mutual toward RFK. However Dallas went down and I’m convinced like Robert Morrow that LBJ was at the epicenter of the plot and if anyone at the top level would get involved, they had to be certain exactly how Bobby and Hoover would reactor otherwise it would have been way too dangerous to proceed.

          • JSA says:

            I too am convinced that LBJ was at the center of a plot, especially when you consider his actions surrounding the event. Let’s remember also that he was just about ready to be indicted in the Bobby Baker scandal in November of 1963, and RFK was riding HARD up until then to help any journalist (including LIFE Magazine) get a story on LBJ’s corruption. It looks pretty damning.

    • JSA says:

      “Kennedys never cry, they have never been blackmailed.”

      Wrong. JFK was blackmailed by J. Edgar Hoover when he found out that he had files and recordings of his affair while serving in ONI during WW2. The woman whom Hoover taped JFK with was alleged to have been a Nazi spy (she wasn’t but it looked bad at the time and in the forties when JFK was trying to start his political career). The woman’s name was Inga Arvad, a Danish woman working in Washington, D.C. for the Times-Herald. Jack called her “Inga-Binga.”
      There’s more on Hoover and the Kennedys, using blackmail, if you care to look. As for the crying part, Joe Kennedy Sr. cried when he found out that his oldest son, Joe Jr. was killed during WW2.

      • Zebulon says:

        Not sure that JFK was blackmailed- I think that relationship ran its course; besides Jack wasn’t the heir at that time and told her that his claim to fame was to be the brother of the future President of the U.S., Joe Jr. If anything it was the old man who told Jack to get rid of the married Protestant foreigner. Almost certainly Hoover told Joe about the affair- Joe Sr. and Hoover were tight and almost certainly Hoover never spilled the beans on Jack for 20 years because of it.
        Joe Sr cried at Joe Jr’s death because it was the end of his dream of getting his son into the White House. Joe was a natural, not like the sickly Jack. It appears to have been the only time he cried about anything. Starting up Jack’s career was the only way he could deal with the loss.

        • “Joe Sr. and Hoover were tight and almost certainly Hoover never spilled the beans on Jack for 20 years” That is true. Hoover had spied on JFK when he was with Inga Arvad and had a signicant file on this affair.

          Hoover was a lot closer to LBJ; they were neighbors for 19 years, 1943-1961 and Hoover lived 57 yards away if you Mapquest it. Hoover would often come to LBJ’s for Sunday brunch. Hoover was very tight with LBJ’s Texas oil benefactors.

          Joe Sr had his stroke in 1961(?) and Hoover hated immensely working under RFK, very stressful for him.

  4. Jonathan says:

    My take:

    — RFK greatly helped the cover-up.

    — RFK did not want a full, fair, and honest investigation into his brother’s death.

    — The plotters knew all about RFK’s vulnerabilities.

    — Jackie’s main concern was to protect her children.

    Jeff Morley’s statement about the 1967 transmission of an autopsy report from from S.S. to the National Archives: An anomaly, at best.

    • Jason L. says:

      I think he was clearly afraid of what Hoover knew. Hoover had been blackmailing people for years based on their personal indiscretions. I do think he wanted an investigation eventually, but Hoover had to be gone first.

      The suggestion by someone above that RFK was in on it is preposterous. He probably went along, in addition to the above, because he was knee deep in the Castro assassination schemes, which he didn’t want to come out. JFK and RFK were extremely loyal to one another and very close. And we know that RFK’s first call when he heard about the shooting was to McCone and he grilled McCone about whether the CIA was involved.

      • Zebulon says:

        What is preposterous is believing that RFK was afraid of anybody. After Joe Sr he was the toughest, smartest and most politically astute of all the Kennedy clan. Unlike some of the slander here he was perhaps ruthless but not immoral. There isn’t a shred of evidence that he had any affairs outside of his marriage; he alone in that family was a true family man and squeaky clean. It just doesn’t make any sense that he frustrated any attempts to find the truth. It doesn’t make any sense why he hid or destroyed the brain. Unless you are willing to look at the obvious.

        • Gerry Simone says:

          If he hid or stored the brain, it would be to maintain that evidence intact for a future investigation, particularly if he himself was elected President.

  5. Jonathan says:

    An intelligence officer’s perspective: Who has access to this information? Can I rely on this person?

  6. Avinash says:

    Was RFK killed because the conspirators were worried that he might reopen the investigation of his brothers death?

  7. Tom says:

    With all the talk here of the Kennedy clan, I’m surprised that no one has mentioned magazine owner John F. Kennedy, Jr. (and maybe his primary reason for owning a mag) as wanting to expose the incriminating details of his father’s death. I suppose that it is a sheer coincidence that young Junior suddenly died in a private plane “accident.”

    There is no logical link, you say, between JFK Junior’s heart-breaking, boyish salute at his dad’s funeral, his natural inclination as a son, his owning a magazine, and his early death?

    Oh, right. That is about as logical as saying that MLK, RFK, Malcom X — and other leaders on the left — were all dead in the same five years under other mysterious circumstances as a coincidence.

    How much blood and how many bullet holes on the wall does there have to be before one says, “Murder!”? We all know there’s a conspiracy. The more informative question is not “Who?” but “Why?”

  8. Gerry Simone says:

    I read up to pagelink 70643 which includes a statement by the AG or legal provision to safeguard evidence crucial to the WC to thward any theories that may abound in future years.

    I doubt they would destroy or dispose of the brain.

    The disappearance of the brain remains a mystery, but it is not inconceivable, in light of other matters that suggest a cover-up or a conspiracy, that it was destroyed to thwart a proper investigation or later autopsy.

  9. That RFK would destroy the evidence while continuing a private investigation seems contradictory. Perhaps dumping the coffin was a decoy move. If the evidence was buried in 1967, I would guess it was in the coffin of the stillborn child and that the child was not.

  10. Mariano says:

    The brain, the pathology slides, almost all of the photos taken at autopsy, some of the x-rays, the pathology slides, the time of day and where with all to have conducted a proper autopsy …. unaccounted for … is there a distinct questionable pattern here?

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