Is there an audio recording of the JFK assassination?

Larry Sabato says no, and will make his case at the Newseum later today.

Dr. Randolph Robinson of Cookeville, Tennessee, says yes. He makes the case in a new presentation called, “Mathematical Synchronization of Zapruder Film and Dallas Police Department DictaBelt.”

Welcome to the “acoustics evidence,” the epicenter of one of those fierce polemical storms that plague discussions of JFK’s assassination. Sorting out who to believe is not easy.

Dr. Robertson (with whom I have a passing acquaintance) deserves a hearing. He isn’t a “conspiracy theorist.” He is a semir-retired radiologist who has devoted years to studying the JFK story He is the only diagnostic radiologist outside governmental review panels to have examined the original autopsy materials held at the National Archives. He is conversant with the complex array of crime scene evidence from the president’s murder. His methods are empirical. Whether you agree with is findings, his outlook is scientific and his purpose is civic-minded.

Download Roberston’s Powerpoint presentation and decide for yourself.

If you don’t want to dig that deep, you can read my summary of the acoustics evidence for Readers Digest in 2005. My view, after talking with the most knowledgeable experts, is that Robertson’s answer is not implausible. While not indisputable as his writing sometimes suggests, Robertson’s case has several strengths that his critics have not refuted.

Scholars of JFK’s assassination have argued about whether the sound of the gunshots that killed President Kennedy were recorded since 1977. That’s when JFK researchers in Dallas gave long-neglected recordings of the Dallas Police Department to congressional investigators. The recordings captured the conversations among police officers at the time of JFK’s assassination.

In 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) hired James Barger, one of the country’s leading acoustical engineers, to analyze the recording. Barger’s report concluded that the sound of the gunshots killed Kennedy had been captured by a open microphone of a nearby police motorcycle, and that the acoustic properties of the gunshots indicated Kennedy had been hit by gunfire from two directions. In June 1979, twenty-three members of Congress endorsed that finding, which was central to the HSCA’s conclusion that JFK was the victim of conspirators who could not be identified.

Plot twist #1: Two years later, a scientific panel led by Harvard physics professor Norman Ramsey reviewed the Dallas Police Department recording and concluded that the fatal gunfire had not been recorded, that the sound impulses that Barger identified as gunfire were, in fact, random noise.

Plot twist #2: In March 2001, Don Thomas, a U.S. government scientist, reviewed the findings of Barger and Garwin and concluded that Barger was correct. His findings were published in Science, a peer-reviewed British journal and reported in the Washington Post by George Lardner, perhaps the  most knowledgeable reporter in Washington press corps on JFK’s assassination.

Robertson’s findings match Thomas’s in some respects but differ on the sequence and time of the shots.

Thomas’s critics say he is mistaken. Dale Myers, a computer animation specialist who has compiled a photographic timeline of November 22, argues that the sound impulses were not created by gunshots and the “acoustic evidence” is not evidence of anything. You can read Myers study here.

Michael O’Dell, who has studied the Dallas Police Department recording equipment, says the sound impulses were created a minute after the assassination. Dell makes his case here.

Thomas responds to Myers here.

Sabato says the new findings of

Private investigator Tink Thompson backs Thomas.

In this video Josiah (“Tink”) Thompson, author of “Six Seconds in Dallas” and veteran insurance investigator, explains why he thinks the sound recording from Dealey Plaza matches up with the Zapruder film.



17 thoughts on “Is there an audio recording of the JFK assassination?”

  1. The tile of this article asks the question: Is there an audio recording of the JFK assassination?

    I should think anyone watching the synchronization of the dictabelt audio with the Zapruder film at the end of Thompson’s video embedded in the article would have to admit that it is indeed audio of the Kennedy assassination.

    It is absurd to propose that some unknown banging noises from another source could match the waveform analysis of rifle shots, and miraculously match perfectly (within 5/100ths of a second) with the timing of the hits in the film.


    Quote : The acoustics, mathematics, and Zapruder film together, prove mathematically that Governor Connally was not hit by the same bullet that passed through the President’s back and neck; Quote.

    Warren Commission Testimony Of Dr. Robert Roeder Shaw :

    Mr. SPECTER – Will you describe in as much detail as you can the wound on the posterior side of the Governor’s chest?
    Dr. SHAW – This was a small wound approximately a centimeter and a half in its greatest diameter. It was roughly elliptical. It was just medial to the axilliary fold or the crease of the armpit, but we could tell that this wound, the depth of the wound, had not penetrated the shoulder blade.
    Mr. SPECTER – What were the characteristics, if any, which indicated to you that it was a wound of entrance then?
    Dr. SHAW – Its small size, and the rather clean cut edges of the wound as compared to the usual more ragged wound of exit.

    So can any individual please explain how a separate bullet could hit Governor
    Connally and cause a “roughly elliptical” “approximately a centimeter and a half in its greatest diameter” wound in his back without striking something prior.?

    1. Connally himself testified to the Warren Commission and insisted he was not shot with the same bullet that hit Kennedy.

      “So can any individual please explain how a separate bullet could hit Governor Connally and cause a “roughly elliptical” “approximately a centimeter and a half in its greatest diameter” wound in his back without striking something prior.?”~JH 777

      Angular momentum – that is not hitting the target straight on. Entering from a higher elevation or from either side of the target.

      1. “Angular momentum” No in fact it was a tumbling bullet which first struck Kennedy and then struck Connally. The acoustics “evidence ?” is invalid. This has been proven beyond all doubt by Dale Myers. H.B McClain was not in the
        correct position in order for the acoustic evidence to be valid. Dr. Randolph Robinson’s theory is merely pseudoscience which also shows a blatant ignorance for the actual physical evidence and eye witness testimony. It is yet another futile attempt to perpetuate the myth of the the long discredited so called acoustic evidence.

  3. witness2history

    D.B. Thomas’s analysis of the acoustic work of James Barger seemed accurate. He said there were 5 impulses which passed threshold of intensity and their timing on the dictabelt matches exactly the Zapruder visual indication of 5 shots fired — over an 8.3 second period by frame count analysis. The chances of this being by chance alone is remote. The fifth shot or impulse as being a shot, was rejected by Blakey of the HSCA as not agreeing with the WC, which is confirmation bias/begging the question or plain hooey. The idea that the shots were not recorded by McClain [Bike Cop] are not persuasively “debunked” by McClain’s own words [as he himself could not tell if he were or were not Bike Cop Courson from the photo from behind] or photographic evidence. The absence of a bike Cop being McClain in the Altgens Elm Street Limo photo is not final as to McClain being wildly out of position to receive the mike shots and echos for this to work. Not proven by these words herein, but alleged by Thomas on cogent analysis and deserves revisiting.

    And the idea of the dictabelt being made 1 minute later [supposed refutation by NRC et al in the 1980’s and later in 2001] — was based on rather weak analysis of the cross talk. In fact the NRC et alia had to admit when Barger himself saw them in person that the proper principle to judge time from, since the dictabelt system was voice activated and was NOT real time, was to time the impulses/shots by the nearest cross talk, not the last thing heard presumably a minute later. To say they had some cross talk one minute later [cross talk between chan 1 and 2 being a hallmakr of the system according to the DPD who operated it] was not factual, as one minute on the time checks was NOT one tape-minute. [i.e. the tape had stopped for that period for reasons we explain from McCLain’s own testimony and how the stuck mike/tape system worked —> So if it was true [in the case where time cheks based on voice of the despatcher show time when the tape is known to be rolling under an open mike] — that the siren *did not* cut off the switch electrically — while the tape was operational — then the cross talk 20 seconds EARLIER was appropriate to use for timing. [not afterwards when the sirens cut in and shut the mike off ]And on that basis the shots/impulses [five of them] found at the mysterious intervals coinciding exactly to Zapruder evidence were indeed recorded in Dealy Plaza -and- subsequent biased groups who supported the WC at the outset were just spreading government sponsored horse puckey to say otherwise. Thomas was dispassionate scientifically and correct -IMHO- and it should be yours. Then you get your boy scout dictabelt badge from Jesus personally.

  4. I have a recording of the day
    It is on a 45 record
    When I listened to it
    To me it sounds like more than 3 shots fired
    There is also a sound of a motorcycle back firing

  5. Amazing.. we released the video in the link above, and what do you know.. There is a new study in the mathematical decompression and synchronization of the recordings and film.. Amazing.. But there’s more, MUCH MUCH more and the update “when we decide to release it” could actually, and scientifically, identify radio sets used to track the motorcade.. That’s all I am saying at the moment…

  6. That image showing a bullet is total fabrication. The bullett was traveling at 2000 ft/sec. The camera lense opening was 1/40th of a second. In that time the bullett travelled 50 FEET. With that exposure the camera would not have been able to capture the bullett image much less freeze it in a few inches.

  7. Clarence Carlson

    Yes sorting the acoustic evidence requires considerable effort, but I think it’s worth doing. I’ve been following Thomas’s work since his original paper and he does a good job of defending it by sticking to the data. When one looks at the acoustic evidence in it’s entirety it’s difficult to conclude that it is of no probative value.
    Thanks for including the Robertson link, it seems a good effort.

    1. Thomas’s work is not easy reading. But it is extremely important. He has explained his work and laid it out for all to see and critique. Myers and others, including some scientists who should know better, haven’t done that. Thomas’s work has integrity, something that has been sorely lacking in the investigation of this crime. That was the original problem, and it has been compounded by many “researchers” after the fact.

  8. Other than the Dallas Police tape, there is another audio recording of the assassination, that on the “Charlie” Channel that was used by the Secret Service and motorcade security and monitored and recorded by the White House Communications Agency.

    In Gerald Blaine’s book “The White House Detail,” Secret Service Agent in the front seat of JFK’s limo was on “Charlie” channel with the mike open when the second and third shots were fired, so they must have been picked up by his mic, and they were heard by the Captain of Air Force One who was monitoring that channel from the plane. The tape of this channel was not turned over to the ARRB, and there is no record of it being destroyed, so it is probably sitting on the shelf of a government archives somewhere, next to the unedited Air Force One radio tapes.

    And another acoustics expert, Ackennsasy (?) testified to the HSCA that Dealey Plaza gave the sounds of the shots fired there an acoustical fingerprint, and if told that the sounds on the DPD tape were recorded at some other location, he said he would ask to go there and expect to find a duplicate of the Dealey Plaza buildings and acoustical reflective surfaces.

    1. Interesting comment. If there was so much info coming over the Charlie channel why did Swindal have to watch the TV in the cabin to get information about what happened?
      Swindal didn’t even know JFK’s condition (aside from TV reports) until he saw the car bearing LBJ pull up next to AF1.

  9. Many witnesses claimed that they heard the third and fourth shots as being almost simultaneous, too close together to be from the same bolt action rifle claimed to have made all the shots that the Warren Commission (Lyndon Johnson’s Report) made. The audio from the open mike of the motorcycle I believe is genuine. Because this tape directly contradicts the Warren apologists, they have tried to smear it and say it can’t be real.

    Here’s a link to witness testimony on the close together shots:

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