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Jump to: navigation, search The single bullet theory (also known as the magic bullet theory by the majority of critics and conspiracy theorists) is the crucial element of the Warren Commission theory that only one assassin was responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The theory, generally credited to by Warren Commission staffer Arlen Specter (now a US Senator), posits that a single bullet, known as "Warren Commission Exhibit 399" (also known as "CE399"), caused all of the non-fatal wounds in both President John F. Kennedy and Governor John Connally. It is an important theory because its plausibility has been a popular point of contention. The 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations Report agreed with the theory, but differed on the time frame.
• • • • • • • •
1 Location of back wound 2 Importance of bullet entry level to theory 3 Theorized path of the bullet CE399 4 Discovery Channel's reenactment of bullet CE399's path 5 Criticisms 6 The single bullet theory in popular culture 7 See also
8 External links 
Location of back wound
President Kennedy's Death Certificate places the bullet wound to Kennedy's back at the third thoracic vertebra.  The death certificate was signed by Dr. Geoffrey Burkley, the President's personal physician and a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy at the time. Partially supporting this location is a diagram from the autopsy report of Kennedy,  which shows a bullet hole in the upper back, but landmarks are not shown. The bullet hole in the shirt worn by Kennedy  and the bullet hole in the suit jacket worn by Kennedy  both show bullet holes between 5 and 6 inches below Kennedy's collar. These do not necessarily correspond with skin wounds, since Kennedy was struck with his arm raised, and multiple photos taken of the president during the motorcade show that his jacket was bunched in the rear below his collar . The theory of a "single bullet" places a bullet wound considerably higher, at the sixth cervical vertebra of the vertebral column. The Warren Report did not authenticate a bullet entry wound specifically at the sixth cervical vertebra-- this conclusion was reached later (see below). At Bethesda, the official autopsy report on the president, Warren Exhibit CE 386  described the back wound as being oval, 6 x 4 mm, and located "above the upper border of the scapula" [shoulder blade] at a location 14 cm (5.5 in.) from the tip of the right acromion process, and 14 cm (5.5 in.) below the right mastoid process (the boney prominence behind the ear). The report also reported contusion (bruise) of the apex (top tip) of the right lung in the region where it rises above the clavicle, and noted that although the apex of the right lung and the parietal pleural membrane over it had been
See Warren Exhibit CE 386 . You can help Wikipedia by introducing appropriate citations. Representative Gerald Ford stated he changed a draft of the Warren Report to indicate the bullet entered the President's neck. and made its exit through the anterior surface of the neck. The report also noted that the thoracic cavity was not penetrated. rather than lower down on his back. did conclude from the data it had. the original Bethesda autopsy report. damaged the trachea. they were not penetrated. this position is consistent with publicly available autopsy photographs  although these themselves have been disputed because they have not officially been released and therefore. which the Bethesda autopsy physicians had missed. and then traveling downward from there at from a 45 degree angle to 60 degree angle would not have been capable of inflicting a throat wound in the President as theorized in the Magic Bullet theory of the Warren Report. which noted a defect in the C6 vertebra in the Bethesday X-rays. included in the Warren Commission report.  Theorized path of the bullet CE399 This article or section does not cite its references or sources. However. The missile contused the strap muscles of the right side of the neck. that this bullet passed through the president's neck. cannot be confirmed. CE399 side view . A bullet entering the President's back at the third thoracic vertebra.bruised. This missile produced contusions of the right apical parietal pleura and of the apical portion of the right upper lobe of the lung. . and traversed the soft tissues of the supra-scapular and the supra-clavicular portions of the base of the right side of the neck.  Importance of bullet entry level to theory The importance or how low or high the bullet struck the President in the back is a matter of physics. The concluding page of the Bethesda autopsy report  states: "The other missile entered the right superior posterior thorax above the scapula. but said he did not do it as part of a conspiracy." Many years after the Warren Commission report. The conclusion of bullet entry specifically at the sixth cervical vertebra was made in a 1979 report on the Kennedy assassination by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). . Moreover. The bullet was supposed to have been shot from the sixth floor and traveled downwards at a 45 degree to 60 degree angle .
and noted that although the apex of the right lung and the parietal pleural membrane over it had been bruised. the bullet exited President Kennedy's throat.5 millimeter. which is strong evidence that the bullet's long-axis orientation at the instant of penetration was slightly upward in relation to the plane of the skin immediately surrounding the wound. immediately over top tip of the right lung (the pressure wave causing bruising to both pleural membrane and apex of lung). medical researchers have found that ER doctors frequently make mistakes with regard to entrance and exit wounds. passed through President Kennedy's suit coat back. ballistically arced very slightly while traveling 189 ft (58 m) in a downward net angle of 25 degrees (allowing for the 3 degrees downward of Elm Street) then entered President Kennedy's rear suit coat at about 1700 feet per second (518 m/s). This abrasion collar was photographically documented to be larger at the lower margin half of the wound. passed through his shirt. This abrasion collar was caused by the bullet's scraping the margins of the skin on penetration and is characteristic of a gunshot wound of entrance. round nose military style full metal jacket bullet. however. whether the pressure cavity wave the bullet caused during its passage fractured the spinal vertebra). • • • • • • .The following description assumes that bullet CE399 hit high. Warren Exhibit CE 386  reported contusion (bruise) of the apex (top tip) of the right lung in the region where it rises above the clavicle. which was manufactured by the "Western Case Cartridge Company" and later stored nearly whole in the U. (there is debate whether the C-6 spinal vertebra seen in the x-rays was fractured directly when the bullet struck the vertebra. after he attended to the frontal throat wound. 161 grn. C-6. the skin of Kennedy's upper back slopes inward. or. passed through his neck. this neck frontal wound was described in an afternoon press conference by the Parkland trauma room #1 emergency physician. as being an "entrance wound". at the centerline below the President's adam's apple. impacted then entered President Kennedy 2 inches [50 mm] to the right of his spine. Within three hours of the assassination. was first theorized by the Warren Commission to have: • after an initial supersonic rifle exit muzzle velocity of 1850 to 2000 feet per second (560 to 610 m/s). they were not penetrated. Doctor Malcolm Perry. Navy Bethesda Hospital military autopsist. that the neck front wound was originally only "3 to 5 millimeters" in circular width before doctor Perry attended to the front throat wound (Humes documented Perry's "3 to 5 millimeters" wound size by writing it down during the phone conversation). both of which would suggest that a shooting position above Kennedy is possible. Doctor Perry also described via telephone to Doctor Humes. forming what is called an abrasion collar. National Archives. and the Croft photo (shot shortly before Kennedy was hit) shows Kennedy slumped forward. the bullet's passage near the spine slightly fractured the president's sixth cervical vertebra. After passing through the neck. but without penetrating the thoracic cavity or lung. Doctor Perry stated the neck frontal wound was an "entrance" wound three times during his press conference. creating a wound documented size of 4 millimeters by 7 millimeters in the rear of his upper back with a red-brown to black area of skin surrounding the wound.375 inches (137 mm) below his collar line. However. Within nineteen hours of his press conference statement (but unfortunately after the autopsy had already been completed). and 5. one of the three U.S. This is consistent with a bullet passing through the neck. at the sixth cervical vertebra rather than the third thoracic vertebra: The 6. just to the right of his spine..S.
. and even with the lowest point of the right lapel.into the assassination evidence) broke his right radius wrist bone at its widest point. • • • • • • • • • • • • • Of the bullet that he remembered impacting his back Connally has stated. It was the bullet from my body. depositing metal fragments. was not the same stretcher that Connally had ever laid upon. solid-gold “Mexican peso” cufflink was struck with a bullet and the cufflink was completely shot off during the attack. the bullet entered through Connally's right upper (outside) wrist. completely destroyed 127 millimeters (5 in) of Connally's fifth right rib bone as it smashed through his chest interior at a documented 10-degree anatomically downward angle.5 inches (650 mm) between President Kennedy and Governor Connally. (post-operative x-rays document that some of the metal fragments remained in Connally for life. buried itself shallowly into Connally's left thigh muscles. sucking-air. having hit something (presumably Kennedy). then. Ronnie Fuller. French cuff shirt cuff. was discovered on a stretcher located 91 ft (28 m) away from emergency trauma room #2 where Connally was first examined at Parkland Hospital next to a stretcher used for a little boy. the bullet fell out. the bullet entered the front side of his left thigh creating a documented 10-millimeter nearly round wound.. and worked itself loose from my thigh. the one that passed through my back. passed through Connally's shirt and suit coat front. at Parkland Hospital. Upon clearing the tie-knot the bullet had slowed to about 1500 feet per second (457 m/s) and then it started to tumble. impacted then entered Connally's back just below and behind his right armpit creating an 8 millimeter by 15 millimeter elliptical wound. blowout chest wound.the most curious discovery of all took place when they rolled me off the stretcher and onto the examining table. or that the bullet was tumbling.• nicked President Kennedy's tie-knot on its upper left side. perhaps when Connally was undressed. ". A metal object fell to the floor. landed on a stretcher that Connally had presumably laid upon. traveled the 25. with a click no louder than a wedding band. Connally’s cufflink is not found -nor was ever entered. seen in commission photos five inches (127 mm) to the right of the suit coat right lapel. wedged between the frame and the cloth material of the stretcher. chest. now slowed to 900 feet per second (274 m/s)(subsonic)." . The nurse picked it up and slipped it into her pocket. creating a 50 millimeter. indicating that bullet was fired from an acute angle to the entrance wound point. and wrist. and were buried with him many years later) exited slightly below his right nipple. (post-operative x-rays document that some of the metal fragments are still buried with him) exited the palm (inner) side of Connally's wrist. according to the man who found this bullet. now slowed to 400 feet per second (122 m/s). (but did not first pass through his suit coat nor shirt wrist area) (in 2003 Nellie Connally described in her book “From Love Field” that Connally's right hand. This stretcher.
of the Warren Commission ballistics experts considered it possible that the same bullet that passed through the president's neck may have caused all of the governor's wounds.5 millimeter test bullets were test-fired by the Warren Commission investigators. Ballistics experts have performed test shots through animal flesh and bones with cloth covering. the bullet appears nearly pristine. The Warren Commission as a whole wrote that it was persuaded that the President's neck wound and all of the governor's wounds were caused by a single bullet. but not all. one has to posit several additional shots in Dealey Plaza. If one rejects the Single Bullet Theory. as well-. Its body is flattened and curved on only one of six rotated views side. was marked with no human tissue.5 % of its original average weight.see Discovery Channel reference below). (later tests show that such bullets survive intact when fired into solid wood and multiple layers of skin and ballistic gel. causing seven wounds while breaking two major body bones and depositing lead fragments along the way. then another shooter behind both men (given the timing of the reactions in the Zapruder film) had to have fired a bullet that hit Connally. If Kennedy's neck wound.The Warren Commission's "single bullet. Under the assumption of an adjusted relative position of President Kennedy and Governor Connally within the car." according to all documentation: • had no thread striations (fine lines etched onto a copper encased bullet tip and/or bullet side casing by clothing threads when the bullet first penetrates clothing threads). It has visible rifling barrel grooves. was an entrance wound. though numerous pictures of the bullet are available on the NARA website. The vast majority of . Several of the exact same type 6. was marked with no blood. Its tip was still perfectly round (a small slice was later removed for analysis testing). some. had no pieces of clothing attached. • • • • CE399 butt view After this "single bullet" theorized trajectory. CE399 is stored out of the public's view in the National Archives and Records Administration. The only test bullet that most matched the slight side flattening and nearly pristine. then another bullet must have hit Kennedy in the back. still rounded impact tip of CE399 was a bullet that had only been fired into a long tube containing a thick layer of cotton. If a bullet exiting Kennedy's throat did not wound Connally. had lost only 1. for example.
 Criticisms Critics claim that a bullet that passed through several layers of clothing and flesh. fired the same rifle model found in the Book Depository. It was also slightly more deformed than CE 399. that the theory. according to the Warren Commission. and bone-mock-up models have produced bullets with little deformation. The participants set up blocks of ballistics gel with a substance similar to human bone inside. almost exactly. gelatin. broke a wrist radius bone. who noted a steep forty-five to sixty degree downward angle and no exit. Taking into consideration the 3-degree decline of Elm Street at the time of the Warren Commission's single bullet. using a round from the same batch of the same "Western Case Cartridge Company" 6. The path of their single bullet (followed by high speed photography) duplicated. the wounds suffered by the victims that day. while technically improbable.Beyond the Magic Bullet atempted to replicate. From the Zapruder film one can see Kennedy already reaching up toward his throat in reaction to the bullet strike. but there are some witnesses who allege at least four shots. These studies showed that largely undeformed bullets were possible to produce. as he emerges from behind the sign at Zapruder frame 225. the CE 399 bullet is postulated to have been slowed considerably by passage though JFK's neck with little or no bone contact. Proponents point out that these questions have been answered by later study (see Unsolved History above): 160 gr. this bullet came close enough to duplicating all wounds in both men with a single shot.. with a bullet having little deformation. the only difference being that the bullet did not quite have enough energy to penetrate the "thigh" substance in front of the Connally figure. the "Oswald window" was only about twenty degrees above Kennedy at the time. as well as possible. 1963). supposedly. and a few who claim five or more shots were fired that day. after tumbling through more chest tissue. By the single bullet thesis.  The single bullet thesis suffers not only from questions about the bullet's trajectory and relative lack of damage.  Discovery Channel's reenactment of bullet CE399's path A Discovery Channel special Unsolved History: JFK . the conditions of that day. and interior bone-like cast) were set up in the exact relative position of JFK and Connally. if they were slowed by a passage though a tissue-like substance before striking bone.e. two mannequin figures made of ballistic anatomical substances (animal skin. A single bullet would have passed through both men in less than 1/100th of a second. is much more plausible than previously thought . and shed metal fragments (some of which are buried with Connally) could not be in such nearly pristine shape. destroyed a five inch (127 mm) section of a rib. in the book depository Nov. possibly for the same reason. 22.witnesses claim to have heard three or fewer shots. then to have hit rib bone side-on.5x52 mm ammunition purchased with the surplus Carcano weapon in early 1963 (and three expended brass from which was found with the weapon. same type "headshot" bullet. However. completely broke apart after passing through only two layers of less-dense skull bone. Critics also point out that the only known examination of Kennedy's back wound. from a distance equal to that of the sixth floor of the book depository building. Such tests in skin. due to striking an extra bone in the "rib" model (i. which means that a strike of both men by a single bullet would have happened too quickly to be caught on more than a single Zapruder frame (these were exposed at 1/18th second intervals). bullets of this type only fragment if they hit bone at high velocity. is from the Bethesda pathologists. A marksman. especially given that the. but also from the question of timing of hits to both the president and Connally. the interval between frame 223 and 224 is the time the same projectile passes through both JFK and . the first wound attributed to the nearly pristine bullet. one rib in Connally). Next. gelatin. it fractured 2 ribs in the model vs.
or has not. which is clearly seen in the frame before and after). Connally turns to see what has happened to Kennedy. In Midway's survival horror game "The Suffering. bluring all contents of the automobile. whether Connally has. who is still behind the sign at this point. and this is also what Connally himself believed. Frame 224 is precisely the best posited frame of the impact of the bullet to Kennedy. occupied the same position in both the "magic bullet" scene of the JFK movie and the subsequent Seinfeld parody. been hit. a third of a second earlier. many thought the delayed reaction theory was debunked. whereas JFK is hit about Zapruder frame 224. The actor Wayne Knight. After frame 224. including a slow rolling motion toward this side. Kennedy assassination Zapruder film .  See also • • John F. including a flinch in which he flexes both elbows and brings his hat up. However. in analyzing the frame-by-frame Zapruder film. but more serious. as the bullet collapses one of his lungs. Immediately after the arm spasm. while Kennedy behind him has already clearly been hit). with hat held up in front of his chest. Any delayed reaction would have to have been a neurological one. Others. He also is seen to look over his right shoulder at Kennedy and shows an expression of pain only after turning his head back toward Zapruder's position. even though he must have been hit before this point. the game's physics were slightly modified to make it easier to "win". Connally's immediate reaction after frame 224. But it is not obvious. forcing air into his mouth.  The single bullet theory in popular culture The main purpose of the controversial video game JFK Reloaded was to have the player attempt to re-enact the shooting with a single bullet. Connally. Proponents of the single bullet thesis argue that Connally is simply exhibiting a delayed pain reaction to being been hit by the same bullet that hit Kennedy. and his mouth opens as he begins to show the shock of the bullet. At the start of the 1995 Beavis and Butthead episode "US History. notably Posner  found new evidence for the single bullet. who portrayed the Newman character in Seinfeld. Connally begins a motion which drops his right shoulder and holds his right arm pinned to his right side.Connally's body. At this point. if hit by the same bullet. noting that Connally's right lapel flips up at Z-224 (it hides the right part of his white collar. in which baseball player (and guest star) Keith Hernandez allegedly spat a "magic loogie" at Kramer and Newman. in order to duplicate the Warren Commission's conclusions. Critics believe the puffing out of Connally's cheeks is simply physics at work." Daria Morgendorffer does an oral report debunking the single bullet theory. is seen as an unconscious reaction to the strike (single frames of this reaction appear to show Connally unharmed. where he is struck. This scene from Seinfeld was actually a parody of a near identical. critics of the single bullet theory believe Connally is actually hit by a second and separate bullet. scene from the 1991 movie JFK. In this same frame Connally suddenly becomes blurred with regard to the rest of the automobile (Connally is clear in frame 223). When an enhanced copy of the Zapruder film was released in 1998. The single bullet theory was parodied in a 1992 episode of the sitcom Seinfeld. Zapruder himself does not jump from the noise of this shot until frame 227. a third of a second earlier." one of the acts is entitled Single Bullet Theory. at this point (frame 224). identified his own hit at about Zapruder frame 230. His cheeks then puff out.
including individual frames referenced in this article -. 2005) . hosted at a site which argues that the film itself is a forgery Kennedy Assassination Home Page: The Single Bullet Theory photos. pictures and diagrams critical of the single bullet theory computer aided drawings supporting the single bullet theory The Warren Commission "single bullet theory" Single Bullet Theory New Documented Information on CE399 and its Provenance (April.• • • Conspiracy theory Coincidence theory List of alleged conspiracy theories  External links • • • • • • • Zapruder film footage.This is the "Costalla combined edit".
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