At the close of his book, You Are The Jury, David Belin, attorney for the Warren Commission, cited 10 major contentions as the foundation of the case against Lee Harvey Oswald.
I examine these 10 points in my recent Op-Ed News article, How the Warren Commission Covered Up JFK’s Murder. In this article I address the chain of custody for the so-called “magic bullet,” otherwise known as Commission Exhibit 399 (or CE399). According to the Warren Commission, this bullet wounded both President Kennedy and Governor John Connally.
With unwarranted confidence, Belin asserted:
“Scientific ballistic evidence proved that the magic bullet found at Parkland Memorial Hospital came from the 6th floor rifle.”
In fact, the chain of custody for this central piece of evidence is non-existent. The true and amazing story about the near-pristine “magic bullet” found at Parkland Hospital shortly after JFK’s assassination has been carefully pieced together by analysts such as Sylvia Meagher in the ’60s and John Hunt in the past few years.
Although Secret Service agent Richard Johnsen received the bullet in Parkland Hospital by about 1:30 p.m., an hour after the assassination, Johnsen’s initials are nowhere on the magic bullet, despite regulations mandating Secret Service agents to initial forensic evidence.
Johnsen handed the bullet to the Secret Service Chief James Rowley at Andrews Air Force Base at about 7:30 p.m., who didn’t initial it either. Neither Johnsen nor Rowley could identify the bullet when shown it later.
The positive ID was finally made by FBI agent Elmer Todd, who received the bullet from Rowley and delivered it to Robert Frazier at the crime lab.
Todd swore that he initialed the bullet — but his initials are not on it either. The only initials on the bullet are those of Frazier and the other crime lab examiners.
The FBI maintains that the bullet — known as “Q1” — was delivered from Todd to Frazier at 7:30 p.m.
However, this does not jibe with Johnsen’s note stating that he gave the “attached expended bullet” to his boss Chief James Rowley at 7:30 p.m.
How did such a troubling situation come into play? Look at this …
Within an hour after the assassination, Johnsen was given the bullet by Parkland hospital security director O.P. Wright, after orderly Darrell Tomlinson found it by a stretcher. Like Johnsen and Rowley, neither Wright nor Tomlinson could identify the bullet.
In a 1967 interview by private eye Tink Thompson, Wright was described as a professional law enforcement officer with “an educated eye for bullet shapes.” Wright told Thompson that the bullet looked like a 30-30 round and had a pointed tip, not a blunt tip like the 6.5mm magic bullet.
It looks like someone originally planted a 30-30 bullet on or near a stretcher before the bullet was found sometime between 1:30 p.m. and 1:45 p.m., in an effort to align the evidence with the Dallas police dispatcher’s report at 12:44 p.m. that the 5 foot, 10 inch, 165-pound shooter used a 30-30 or some type of Winchester. (30-30 ammo has been used in Winchesters since the 19th century.)
Many years after Thompson’s interview with Wright, a FBI memo was found that said both Wright and Tomlinson thought the bullet in evidence “appeared to be” the same one that they had seen on November 22.
Thompson and his colleague Gary Aguilar sought out the memo’s author, FBI agent Bardwell Odum, and interviewed him about this contradictory evidence in 2002. Incredibly, Odum said that he never had possession of the magic bullet. Odum added that even though it was highly unlikely that he forgot such a significant event, the established procedure was to write up a report about something that important. No such memo has been found in the National Archives, despite numerous searches. The use of Odum’s identity is another astonishing piece of fabricated evidence.
The magic bullet would be excluded at any trial, based on the utter failure to create any sort of trustworthy chain of custody.