“I clearly heard Dr. Finck … complain that he had been unable to locate the handwritten notes that he had taken during the autopsy …. Dr. Finck concluded his story by angrily stating that he had to reconstruct his notes from memory shortly after the autopsy.”
— Affidavit of Leonard D. Saslaw, Ph.D. In 1996, Dr. Saslaw signed an affidavit recounting that JFK autopsy pathologist Dr. Pierre Finck had “with considerable irritation” told of his post-washup search for the notes he had taken during the autopsy.
The missing Finck notes join the litany of missing materials from the JFK autopsy, among them:
- The burned notes of Dr. Humes and the the burned first draft of the autopsy report. Humes told the Warren Commission he burned “certain preliminary draft notes (see also CE 397). In a 1996 deposition with the Assassinations Record Review Board (ARRB), Humes confirmed that he had destroyed both his original autopsy notes and the original autopsy report draft. His story that he had done so because they were bloodstained fell apart under questioning; he admitted neither document contained bloodstains.
- Photographs that the participants remembered having taken. Autopsy pathologist Dr. Boswell told the ARRB, “I’ve never seen the one of the inside of the chest.” White House photographer Robert Knudsen, involved in developing the autopsy photos, told the House Committee in 1978 that “I am certain the black and white negatives was one [sic] with the body sitting up with the probes through it,” a very odd claim corroborated by no less than Dr. Humes himself in a 1967 conversation with fellow churchgoer Jim Snyder of CBS, and by other participants such as technician James Jenkins.
- Tissue slides. Tissue slides from the autopsy, which could help illuminate the characteristics of the wounds, went missing sometime between 1965 and 1967 while under Robert Kennedy’s control. When National Archives officials inspected the footlocker returned to them, “It did not contain any of the material referred to in item 9 of that attachment.” Here is “the inventory of items transferred” via the 1965 “Deed of Gift” which, possibly illegally, transferred these materials from the government to RFK in the first place. Item 9 includes “paraffin blocks of tissue sections,” boxes of slides, the original autopsy protocol (which somehow later turned up in Secret Service files), various memos, and …
- Even JFK’s brain itself. Item 9 in the above inventory includes “1 stainless steel container 7″ in diameter and 8″ containing gross material,” widely acknowledged to be the brain removed at autopsy. The HSCA conducted a study to determine what happened to the missing brain. Some observers think it was put back with the body during a 1967 reinterment. Another possibility is that RFK had it dropped into 9,000 feet of water in early 1966 when he had a Navy plane dispose of the casket that had been used to transfer JFK’s body from Dallas (the documents surrounding this stranger-than-fiction event were released by the National Archives in 1999).