Science and the ‘single bullet theory’

On the Kennedys And King blog, Millicent Cranor reviews a recent article on the ballistic evidence in JFK’s assassination, which appears in the December 2019 issue of the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology.

JFK head wound
JFK’s head wound was described by Parkland Hospital doctor Robert McClelland as an exit wound.

The article was written by Lucien Haag, former technical director of the Phoenix Crime Laboratory, who claimes nearly 50 years of experience in the field of criminalistics and forensic firearm examinations.

Cranor, an independent writer, says the article misrepresents the medical evidence. She writes:

Haag focusses on promoting a slightly tarted-up version of the single bullet theory: a bullet entered high in the base of JFK’s neck, exited his throat — traveling around 1800 fps (feet per second) — struck Governor John Connally while “yawing” (tumbling), perforated his torso, then wrist, and finally created a puncture wound in his thigh.

Cranor says the evidence shows the bullet was not “yawing,” undermining the rest of Haag’s case.

Haag argues JFK’s throat wound was an exit wound from a yawing bullet that came from behind. Cranor notes the Dallas doctors who sought to revive Kennedy observed a “contusion ring” around the wound, bruising that is typically caused by an entrance wound.

She writes:

No one can say for sure whether the wound was an exit, but I cannot find any record of an exit wound associated with such bruising. And the back wound was never proven to connect with the throat wound. It was never dissected, and could not be probed with a finger. And, while viewing the open chest from the front, an autopsy technician said there was no entrance into the chest cavity from behind, and the bullet seemed to have stopped at the apex of the right lung.

Which Cranor to one the key disputes in the scientific debate around JFK’s assassination.

A big problem for the government-approved narrative was, and still is, the location of the back wound. It was lower than the throat wound. How could a bullet from the sniper’s nest above come down, enter the back — then go back up again?

Worth reading: Cranor’s caustic take on the key issues in the medical evidence, published in WhoWhatWhy in 2018.

Worth watching: Dr. Robert McCelland talks about what he observed while looking at JFK’ head wound for about 10 minutes from a distance of two feet.

Source: Kennedys And King – More “Haagwash” from Lucien Haag, the Kellyanne Conway of Lone Nutterdom

I’m asking Lucien Haag to respond.

3 thoughts on “Science and the ‘single bullet theory’”

  1. Clarence Carlson

    I believe it was Dr David Mantik who pointed out that, for a bullet to enter the posterior neck and exit in the midline, it would have to come from a source that is not posterior (ie behind) but to the side. Much of what we call the neck is occupied by the cervical spine and any bullet transversing the neck front to back would have to hit bone, thereby leaving clear traces on xray. This is, incidently, easy to confirm. There are a number of excellent images of CT scans of the cervical spine on the internet. Try drawing a line from posterior to anterior without hitting bone. Such a bullet would then be traveling not only back to front but from right to left and could never have hit Connelly.

  2. I respectfully suggest that you also ask about WC wound ballistics data obtained from the Italian government. Or request an explanation as to its absence. No such request was ever made? That would be an answer, but quite worthy of explanation itself. For that matter, same question about HSCA.

    Note that Lattimer offers muzzle velocity averaging 2400 fps, rather than WC’s 2165. Meaning bullet would arrive at nominal muzzle velocity or slightly above. Would an extra 10% of velocity make a difference in the wound ballistics damage? I have no idea, but it does seem a pity that no one asked the question 40 years ago. Maybe Lucian Haag would like to weight in? Or Ms Cranor? p 14

    And,just to clarify, my opinion is Oswald as lone shooter with authorities then absolutely frantic to curtail any further speculation/investigation. And I make no claim to understand wound ballistics.

  3. The first sketch of this article, labeled “Doctor’s location of JFK’s back wound,” is actually a sketch adopted by Dr. Robert Shaw, who treated Gov. Connelly and described HIS back wound to Arlen Specter.
    As Milicent Cranor notes, JFK’s back wound was located by testimony and photos to the right of the upper thoracic spine. The so-called “exit” wound in his throat was near the midline of the cervical spine, above the Adam’s apple and above the knot of the president’s necktie.
    In addition to the ample evidence mentioned by Ms. Cranor, the single bullet theory is rendered impossible by the lack of any injury to the bony architecture of the president’s cervical spine. A bullet could not have exited the midline of the neck above the necktie knot without causing clearly visible damage to these structures.

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