Philadelphia University to test the Single Bullet Theory

Philadelphia University has a good idea for commemorating the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination: create a learning experience where people can explore one of the central controversies of the story and decide for themselves. The question is whether the exhibit designers are truly open-minded.

Design students at the north Philadelphia school are building a life-sized, wire-frame of the 1961 Lincoln stretch limo that Kennedy rode in that fateful day in Dallas that will be the centerpiece of an exhibit called “Single Bullet: Arlen Specter and the Warren Commission investigation of the JFK assassination.”

Visitors will be able to sit in the limousines in the place of President Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally as well as explore documents and photos from Specter’s personal archives, which he donated to the university in December 2010 as part of its Arlen Specter Center for Public Policy. Specter’s controversial Single Bullet Theory posits that one bullet wounded JFK and Texas Governor John Connally in seven different places and emerged largely undamaged on a hospital stretcher.

The exhibit, which will be housed in the university’s Paul J. Gutman Library, “was not created to nudge visitors to agree with Specter’s theory one way or the other, according to the university’s press release.”

“We wanted to present what we felt was as unbiased a view as possible, but present his viewpoint and what Specter did to investigate and what the evidence was and how he meticulously went through the evidence to draw his conclusions,” said Karen Albert, the library’s director and coordinator of the center.

Specter meticulously evaded the testimony of John Connally who flatly rejected his hypothesis. Connally and his wife testified that the first shot hit JFK and the second shot him. “It is not conceivable to me that I could have been hit by the first bullet,” Connally told the Warren Commission. Connally maintained this position for the rest of his life. If Connally was right, Specter’s theory is wrong.

The Single Bullet Theory was endorsed by the pathologists who performed JFK’s autopsy. It has been criticized by Dr. Gary Aguilar and others. Computer animator Dale Myers says his reconstruction of the crime scene shows that the Single Bullet Theory is plausible.

The Philadelphia University exhibit cannot settle the question but if done properly, could help people understand the problematic nature of the evidence.





34 thoughts on “Philadelphia University to test the Single Bullet Theory”

      1. The technical quality of this video leaves something to be desired, but watch how carefully LBJ chooses his words. It’s worth noting that the interview occurred in 1969 and was suppressed for almost six years for “national security” reasons. LBJ had been out of office only eight months, during which time Nixon moved in to the White House. Nixon is reported to have inquired of the CIA about the facts of the JFK case.

  1. To do this re-enactment honestly and accurately by anyone truly seeking honest & accurate answers as to where from the rear JFK was shot will require:

    (1) Scaled replica of the JFK parade car with scaled occupant actor sit-ins
    (2) Scaled replica of the SS follow-up car with scaled actor sit-ins & running board stand-ins
    (3) Scaled replicas of the 4 motorcycle escorts with scaled actor sit-ins.
    (4) Accurate degree of street “drop” foot by foot the entire length of the attack zone
    (5) Sidewalk spectator stand-ins

    Trajectory lines matching the angle of the bullet entry to JFK’s back each and every foot of the attack zone leading back to all matching firing points behind JFK need to be filmed and photographed (from JFK’s back looking back towards firing points as well as each firing point’s shooter’s line of sight). Any and all trajectory lines that are blocked by the SS guards or their car need to be further explored for possible guard movement (ducking, leaning into vehicle, absent from running board, etc) and the guard stand-ins should be re-positioned in various postures to attempt to eliminate any line of sight blockage.

    There were several obstacles for a rear shooter to overcome when JFK’s car began descending the slope of Elm Street with his guards & their car tailgating him when the attack began & ended that a honest & accurate re-enactment requires consideration for:

    -JFK’s Lincoln had a continental kit on the trunk that could block some or all of him to a rear shooter (depending on where that shooter was located and the elevation).
    -JFK’s upper back, shoulders, one arm and his head were all that was visible to a rear shooter. This “sight picture” changed quickly as JFK began to fall towards his wife.
    -The SS follow-up car sat higher than JFK’s parade car, it’s windshield being it’s highest point. Its hood, fenders and the 4 men standing/ducking/squatting on its running boards were all obstacles that had to be cleared. Being taller and because of its close proximity to JFK’s parade car, the more JFK’s car dipped down as it traversed the steep decline in Elm Street the more the SS car & its guards blocked JFK from a rear shooter (depending on where the shooter was located & the elevation there)
    -JFK began falling in the direction of his wife’s knees (according to the Zapruder film) with his head pointed in the direction of the corner of the overpass & the South knoll (in the area where James Tague was standing). This movement caused his “sight picture” to change to a rear shooter because his car’s continental kit and the windshield of the SS follow-up car blocked his view to a rear shooter more each inch he moved (depending on where the shooter was & the elevation).

    Once each foot of the attack zone has been re-enacted and rear trajectories established and visually documented the public will learn where JFK was NOT shot from and all possible firing points he COULD have been shot from. This alone will rectify the wrong that has been done in this critical area in the past.

    Chips need to fall where they fall. If the TSBD sniper’s nest window fails to be established as a firing point at any location the entire length of the attack zone, so be it.

    If 1 or more shot could have been fired from the TSBD sniper’s nest but not the kill shot, so be it.

    If trajectories point back to the guard’s car and not to any point behind them, so be it.

    50 years is a long time for the public to wait to get honest answers. A simple re-enactment conducted in the manner described was not done in the past by investigating authorities or the media documentaries that followed but can be done anytime someone is financially able to do it and desires to do it right. Removing the guards, their car and the 4 motorcycle escorts from any rear trajectory analysis is a blatant attempt to distort the historical truth of how President Kennedy was attacked and murdered for reasons only the distortion perpetrator knows.

    Notes: Conducting a re-enactment away from the actual crime site will not be totally accurate because obstacles that were present in the actual attack on JFK will have to be represented for all possible firing points that could have caused the angle of entry to the late president’s back. These include trees, structures, signs spectators, etc that would have caused a line of sight obstacle each foot of the attack zone (start to finish, 1st street ‘X’ to 2nd street ‘X’)

    I should also note that there are some who believe JFK’s back wound is an exit for the throat wound and that JFK’s clothing was manipulated to make it appear to be an entry wound. Others believe the throat wound exited either the back or top of JFK’s head.

  2. The Warren Commission tested the single bullet theory. It failed.

    On April 21, 1964 the Commission conducted a meeting with the three autopsy doctors, two of Connally’s doctors, three FBI agents, the Connallys, five Commission lawyers, Commission Executive Counsel J. Lee Rankin, Warren Commissioner John J. McCloy, and Dr.Alfred G. Olivier, Dr. Frederick W. Light and Dr. Joseph Dolce, all of the Army’s Edgewood Arsenal in Bethesda, Maryland.

    As Dolce later told filmmaker Chip Selby: “[T]hey wanted this to be the bullet that caused all of the damage” to Connally. Dolce told Specter, “Sorry it doesn’t happen this way. This bullet should have been deformed.”
    Dolce, in the documentary Reasonable Doubt (1988) told Selby: “When the ar-legal personnel could get, could not get us to agree with them, they said well, we think you ought to go back to Edgewood and carry out some tests. And so they gave us the original rifle, the Mannlicher-Carcano, plus a hundred bullets, 6.5 millimeters, and we went, and we shot the cadaver wrists…and in every instance the front, or the tip of the bullet was smashed.”

    As historian Michael Kurtz notes in the JFK Assassination Debates (2006), Dolce refuted a principal argument of the lone assassin defenders that by the time the bullet struck Connally’s rib and wrist bone, it had lost a considerable amount of its initial velocity, thereby allowing it to inflict the damage without suffering any mutilation. Dolce specifically stated that in the tests with Oswald’s rifle at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, which he supervised, shots were fired at both high and low velocities, and, “in every instance,” the bullets that broke bones wound up badly flattened and misshapen.

    Dr. Olivier and Dr. Dziemian wrote the final report concluding that CE 399 could have caused all the non fatal wounds to President Kennedy and Governor Connally.
    Dolce was angry over the fact that he wasn’t called to testify by the Warren Commission and by the fact that Olivier and Dziemian testified to the exact opposite of what the tests showed.
    Gerald D. McKnight wrote in Breach of Trust (2005): Arlen “Specter never asked any of these witnesses a single question about the results of the Dolce-Light tests on human cadavers.”

    1. This has been one of the MAJOR FLAWS with the SBT (besides the Zapruder film and the Tague curb shot) which I have not seen any Warren Commission supporter able to explain: the bullet fragments in Connelly’s body and the fact that Connelly said he was quite sure that the bullet that hit him from behind was NOT the same bullet that hit President Kennedy.

  3. Did Humes’ ever really endorse the single bullet theory? Other than the many revised autopsy changes, I believe he testified to the Warren Commission that there were too many fragments left in Connally for it to have come from CE 399. In NY Times 1992, he refers two bullets striking JFK from behind-not necessary an endorsement of the SBT, as one bullet could have lodged in JFK’s back, as Humes first reported at the autopsy. Connally’s doctors didn’t believe the SBT either. Nellie Connally might be the best witness, saying JFK and Connally were hit by different bullets. In hindsight the alleged bullet track through JFK to Connally was deduced, not tracked. Seems to me its more plausible the first shot lodged in JFK’s back (CE 399), and the second hit Connally. Much less explaining of the fragments, angles, timing of shots, etc. than with the SBT. Then you have the Secret Service testimony in Gerald Blaine’s Kennedy Detail book, where the agents say first shot hit JFK and second hit Connally.

  4. I watched the Myer’s exercise as well, several times. The first time, I saw precisely what he told me to see. The remaining times, several with the voice turned off, I saw something else entirely.

  5. Why would any real court admit a cartoon as evidence? Jonathan, is there a difference between a criminal cases and non-criminal cases as far as this kind of evidence? I know that my brother’s lawyers used a lot of charts and pictures when he got damages for getting rear-ended, but isn’t that completely different than this Myers looney tune?

    1. The rules of evidence are the same in both criminal and non-criminal cases. What differs is burden of proof.

      In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove each element of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt.

      In a civil case, the plaintiff must establish his or her version of the facts by a mere preponderance of the evidence.

      A cartoon certainly has no relevance in ei

      1. …in either type of case. A computer illustration, if the proper foundation is laid, may be used to illustrate facts in evidence.

    1. I liked this comment about the lunch meeting between Salandria and Spector:

      “JFK researchers are a lot like fundamentalist Christians — constantly seeking opportunities to score a conversion. Don’t you guys GET it? You were never going to convert a guy like Arlen Specter. The best you can hope for is to get the other guy to feel relaxed and blabby. In the course of that blabbiness, he might slip out something revelatory.

      You blew your chance, Mr. Salandria.”

  6. Paul may cites criminal cases.

    Have not found them.

    Paul, you pose as an honest person. As does Jean Davison.

      1. Jean,

        You do pose as an honest person. When you disagree, you do so respectfully. You link to John McAdams’s site.

  7. Jeff,

    The whole premise of the Philadelphia Experiment is false.

    Not merely the assumption that Specter analyzed all the evidence meticulously or that there was any evidence in the legal sense at all. Those are givens.

    Rather, like all reconstructions, it fails to take into account the SS follow-up car, which traveled five feet to the rear of JFK’s limo and had four standing agents. It posed a significant, although not absolute, obstacle to a rear shooter, depending on his location and shot trajectory.

    Dale Myers’s computer animation, which would not be admissible as evidence in a trial (relevance), fails in this way also.

    1. No so.

      The first use of forensic animation was in Connors v. United States, both sides used computer re-creations and animations in a case surrounding the crash of Delta Flight 191 on August 2, 1985. The crash resulted in the deaths of 137 people and extensive property damage.[9] In the resulting lawsuit a method was required to explain complicated information and situations to the jury. As part of the prosecution presentation, a 45-minute computer generated presentation was created to explain the intricacies of the evidence and thus began forensic animation.

      The first reported use of computer animation in a U.S. criminal trial was in the 1991 Marin County, CA homicide trial of James Mitchell (of the porno-businessman Mitchell Brothers). The prosecution used the animation to explain the complex details of the shooting incident to the jury. It showed the positions of James Mitchell, Artie Mitchell (the victim), the bullet impact points, and the path taken by bullets as they entered Artie’s body. The animation was admitted, over objection by the defense, and the case resulted in a conviction. The use of the animation was upheld on appeal and the success of the forensic animation led to its use in many other trials.

      Forensic animation is a science within forensics and is admissible in courts of law.

      1. Hey, Paul.

        I’m a lawyer, FWIW. So instead of referring to third-party sources, argue to me in a way a court would accept why Dale Myers’s animation should be admitted into evidence.

        1. Jonathan I am not a lawyer. However I did cite the initial case which was upheld on appeal. Are you in criminal law?

          1. Paul,

            You’re not a lawyer. Yes, I have tried criminal cases. You are not competent to comment as to law.

      2. For illustration of type of animation in the Connor case:

        In California, see People v. Duenas 55 Cal. 4th 1 (2012).

        In the JFK case, see “garbage in, garbage out.” The clothing and photos of the non-fatal wounds are sufficient to give rise to informed argument (e.g., where JFK was hit in the upper back, where Connally was hit near the armpit, etc.). The extrapolation of a trajectory of the fatal shot is speculative, since the head wounds do not afford a sufficient basis for accurate estimation of angles. After all, the HSCA differed with the autopsy physicians on the entry wound in the back of the head by four inches, for example, without regard to tracking an exit wound.

        1. PKM,

          Thanks for the link.

          In the Connor case, computer animation was used to illustrate known facts.

          You’re right, PKM. Garbage in, garbage out. The Myers’s animation purports to model the Z film, minus the follow-up car, pedestrians, etc. In court, the proponent of the animation would have to establish not only the admissiblity of the Z film (good luck) but also the completeness and accuracy of the input to the animation model (good luck).

          At the end of the day, Myers’s conclusion re SBT is:

          “The relative positions of JFK and JBC at Zapruder frame 223-224, and their subsequent movements, are consistent with the theory that both men were struck by a single bullet fired from the sixth floor sniper’s nest of the Texas School Book Depository.”

          Nothing here about the actual wounds to JFK and JBC. The animation gets rejected on the grounds of relevance.

  8. Epiphany. Warren had to lie in the Report. Not because of stuff covered-up or faked by the FBI. That stuff was good as gold.

    No, Warren had to lie in the Report because of st¨ff in the 26 Volumes. Testimony the Commission had taken. Documents that didn’t match up (e.g., Oswald’s school, work, and military records).

    Researchers should, therefore, become like Earl Warren. Look into the 26 volumes and see what scared the hell out of him.

  9. A reply to PKM and Robert Morrow:

    First, my conclusions: [1] The truth as to the wounds is hiding in plain sight. [2] Gerald Ford’s fakery goes much deeper than is apparent.

    As to [1] and [2]: Kellerman’s W.C. testimony (plain sight) blows the official story out of the water — completely, all by itself. Here is part of what Kellerman says in response to questioning by Ford and Specter:

    — He saw four wounds to JFK. An upper back entry wound. Athroat wound he assumed was of entrance. A low-occiput entry wound. And a 5-inch diameter hole in the back of JFK’s skull.

    Right there, too many wounds, too many bullets.

    — He saw NO CRACK in the limo windshield on 22 November, only later on 23 November in the WH garage.

    Clear implication: tampering with the crime scene.

    — The first shot was a “pop” off to his right or right rear. The next two shots were “pow, pow” in quick succession. At that point, a “flurry” of shots came into the limo.

    Yep, just as many ordinary witnesses said.

    Shifting gears and turning to Ford’s fakery. After James Tague turned up wounded, the W.C. needed to become creative; hence, the SBT, which involves a bullet entering JFK from behind, exiting his neck, etc. The W.C. also now needed badly to deceive.

    Even if the SBT could be sold to the public, perhaps with a little help from Jerry Ford, there was still an overwhelming problem: the entry wound to the low occiput. That represents one too many shots. That one’s in the autopsy report and cause the HSCA to lie extensively (see, e.g., the Ida Dox drawing of the head wound for HSCA).

    So what did the Warren Commission do about the wound in the low occiput? Just ignored it and used the SBT as a big distraction to divert attention.

    The students at Philadelphia University would do better to study the internal inconsistencies of the Warren Commission’s work. Far more profitable and enlightening.

  10. The second in the series of photos describing the project purportedly shows “the path of the bullet” that killed JFK. Check it out. I’m not sure what degree of distortion can be attributed to this “screen shot,” but it may raise concerns about the accuracy of the re-enactment. For a graphic on the interlineation by Ford to edit the location of the back wound on JFK, and a photo of the re-enactment in Dealey Plaza for the Warren Commission in 1964 showing a more accurate location, see JFK Lancer:

  11. Rather than examining the utterly crackpot fantasy known as the “Magic Bullet Theory,” I think a more revelent experiment for the Philadelphia folks would be into what I just learned is called “gaslighting.”

    Wiki: “Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity. Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

    The term “gaslighting” comes from the play Gas Light and its film adaptations. The term is now also used in clinical and research literature”

    With the murderers of JFK running the non-investigation into his death, one gets a (non) investigative record, Warren Report and media presentation that is filled to the brim with “gaslighting.”

    The “single bullshit theory” is just but one example of gaslighting in the cover up of the JFK assassination.

  12. Before anyone gets to “theories” let’s agree upon the facts. Principally, for the moment:

    — Where was JFK’s back wound located?

    — What was the angle of entry for the back wound relative to JFK’s back?

    — What is the likelihood the bullet entering JFK’s back exited his throat?

    — Does the Z film support JBC’s version of events or the SBT?

    As to the likelihood the bullet entering JFK’s back exited his throat, the autopsy report says:

    “The second wound presumably of entry is that described above in the upper right posterior thorax. Beneath the skin there is ecchymosis of subcutaneous tissue and musculature. The misSle path through the fascia and musculature cannot be easily probed. The wound presumably of exit was that described by Dr. Malcolm Perry of Dallas in the low anterior cervical region.”

    Humes doesn’t say here the bullet that entered the back exited the throat. He’s clearly making an assumuption, not drawing a conclusion. His statement that the “missile path…cannot be easily probed” is to the effect: I don’t know where this bullet went.

    So as to the likelihood the back shot exited the throat, I’d say the same as pure speculation, at best.

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